Two Kings

By: Tk.T

There once was a very long time ago, a selfish king in the cold tundra of Europe. This selfish king was named Vaunter Hubris, Vaunter Hubris of the Rinjiski Highlands. And he, this Vaunter Hubris was no ordinary king. He was the most powerful king of all northern Europe and the richest. But, because of this, other regions of the world came to fear and to loathe his pompous and self-centered peacock of a king, for this, he was.

He was a lavish dresser, wearing only the finest silks and robes and the most expensive pieces of jewelry. He insisted on wearing gold from the beads in his hair and to the belt around his rich furs and robes. He was considered conceited and selfish among his kingdom, but no one ever dared say it to King Vaunter Hubris's face! Even though he was a pompous and self-absorbed young man he was still the young king of Rinjiski.

Vaunter Hubris was no more than twenty years old, and as such, yielded a handsome young face of a boy's. He was quite muscled in swordplay and fencing and wooed just about all the girls in the kingdom if he so much as smirked in her direction. Yes, this King Vaunter Hubris of Rinjiski Highlands had all the wealth, power, and fame of the world. He was a god not only among his own kingdom, but also to neighboring kingdoms throughout northern Europe.

One day, while the young king was resting in his jeweled throne, his general came in to bring the report of the other kingdoms.

'My majesty,' addressed the general gravely through a bow.

'General Ramsey!' cried the young king with an impatient expression crossing his features. 'What is it? Can't you see that I am relaxing right now?'

'My lord, King Hubris! Kingdom Tatoris and kingdom Brighnick are invading Rinjiski!' cried the general wiping his brow in panic. 'Our troops have seen them! They're on the move, my lord! They are already crossing through our northern border in Varack!' he cried.

Vaunter Hubris sneered, 'What are you so worried for, general? My army will surely stop them! I have the greatest and largest army in all of the northern regions!' and as he said this he snapped his fingers for a servant to come near.

The servant bowed before his king and said in a quivering voice, "What is your wish, King Hubris?'

Vaunter Hubris smirked at the trembling servant, 'Tell me, slave,' he said with a snort. 'Who has the richest kingdom there is?'

'You do, my king,' answered the servant.

'And who has the greatest army with the strongest soldiers?' continued the king slyly.

'Why, you do my good lord! You do! You do!' answered the servant.

'There it is!' laughed Vaunter Hubris turning to his sweating general. "I have the richest and strongest kingdom in the world! Tatoris and Brighnick are nothing!' he scorned.

'But, good sir,' cried the general looking round incredulously. 'Their armies are destroying our villages! Very soon they will be inside our palace walls! Surely you must give me the command to stop their invasion or the whole kingdom will surely parish!'

King Hubris sneered at his general arrogantly. 'Who are you to question a king? Get out of my sight, Ramsey!'

'They are destroying the towns! Give me the order to intervene, I beg of you! People are being killed!' cried the general pleadingly to his king.

But the king only smirked at him, 'You said Varack, didn't you? Those measly villages are only filled with disgusting peasants and poor folk! They aren't important, general, so let their armies come! Those villages have no value anyway!' he waved his hand in disgust. 'Now get out of my sight!'

The general held the most incredulous expression, then he meekly bowed. 'Yes, my lord,' then he departed and left the haughty king to gloat in his throne.

And so, Brighnick and Tatoris came and ravaged the poorer villages of Rinjiski. Varack was destroyed and left in ruins, and so were Yarmin and Faladore. Many of the peasants ran to the castle beating before the great stonewalls pleading to be let in.

'My king! My king, please let us in!' screamed the peasants banging and screaming from the outside of the castle. 'Brighnick and Tatoris are coming! Their armies will kill us! Let us in! Let us in!'

Meanwhile the selfish young king was covering his ears from inside his room. 'Will their screaming ever cease?!' he cried wheeling himself to his window to peer outside the castle. And there before his eyes were the peasants screaming to be let in the palace walls, and right behind him the armies of Brighnick and Tatoris rounding the valley.

There was a sudden knock at his door, 'My lord!' cried a female voice.

'What is it?' growled Vaunter Hubris angrily.

'Survivors from Varack, Faladore, and Yarmin are begging to be let inside the gates,' cried a servant peeking her head inside his door. 'Shall we let down the drawbridge and let them through? Brighnick and Tatoris are growing ever nearer!' she cried in a shrill voice.

'Let us in! Let us in!' screamed the chorus from outside the king's window.

Vaunter Hubris covered his ears and leaned back outside his window, "Feeble peasants! Be gone! Your screaming gives me a headache! Be gone! Be gone!' he shouted down at them.

'King Hubris, you will not let them through?' shrieked his servant.

'No! I shan't let them through! Leave them there, they are only peasants after all,' snarled the king brushing past his servant and down the main hallway where his soldiers and general stood waiting for him.

General Ramsey came forward, 'If we do not let out our army out, Brighnick and Tatoris will invade the castle! Shall we fight?'

'Yes,' ordered King Hubris seating himself in his throne. 'I will go with you and help the attack!' he said, for he cherished wars and fighting.

'This way, my lord,' said a soldier herding him outside and to the stables where he was dressed and mounted on a great white stallion. 'Your sword, my king! Good luck!'

'Be gone, I don't need luck,' laughed the haughty youth kicking the sides of his horse. He rode beside his general surveying the battlefield. 'We will attack?' he asked.

'Yes, when you give the word, my king...' said the general adjusting his armor.

Vaunter Hubris took a look at his vast army behind him, then raised his sword towards the approaching enemy. 'ATTACK!' he screamed charging forwards.

His army gave a battle cry and lurched forwards towards their enemies. The armies clashed together in a vicious battle.

The young king fought bravely as with his soldiers, but not bravely enough. The king was thrown off his horse from a swordsmen belonging to Tatoris. He rolled on the ground staring up at the swordsman with fear. The swordsman raised his sword above his head and brought it down on the trembling young king but missed.

The king took his chance and fled away on foot. He ran through the forests with several of Brighnick's horsemen chasing after him. Vaunter Hubris jumped down a little ravine and rolled down to a roaring river. He looked over his shoulder at the snorting horses and screaming horsemen and jumped in, his only hope if he did not want to be killed.

The current was swift and took the youth under the water. At first he tried to swim back up, but the current was too strong and he was cast back under.

I am going to drown, realized the young king in a panic.

He felt arms pulling him out of the water and on the shore. The young king was too weak to fight these arms and fell into unconsciousness.

When he came to he was lying on his back on a bed of straw and leaves. He sat up looking around in fright, 'Where am I? Was I taken prisoner from Tatoris and Brighnick?' he asked looking around him in panic.

A knock sounded from outside the hut he was situated in, and a small wooden door opened revealing a young man, perhaps his age entering his chamber. The young man was dressed in raggedy burlap clothing and carried a spear.

'Who are you and where am I?' demanded Vaunter Hubris trying to sound brave and unafraid of this imposing stranger staring down at him.

The young man grinned at him, 'So, you're finally awake!' he said seeming very pleased. 'I found you in the river nearly drowned. I was the one who pulled you out and carried you here to my village.'

'Tell me who you are!' barked King Hubris angrily.

'I am King Hero Valorous!' answered the stranger with another smile. 'You are in my kingdom, kingdom Wyre of the Midlands.'

The young Hubris had no idea where Wyre was or ever heard of King Valorous!

'You don't look like a king!' sneered King Hubris looking over the stranger's plain dress and homely face. 'You are a peasant!' he declared.

The king laughed at him, 'I am a king! Why is that so hard to believe, my friend?' he asked seeming very amused.

Vaunter Hubris shivered in his soaking robes and silks, 'I am King Hubris of Rinjiski,' he said with an arrogant toss of his head. 'Am I far from Rinjiski?'

King Valorous shook his head as if bemused, 'You are the wealthy King Hubris? Well! It is an honor to finally meet you, good sir,' said the king extending his hand to shake his, but Vaunter turned his head away in disgust. Hero Valorous lowered his hand.

'You will show me the way to Rinjiski at once, slave!' ordered the youth.

The stranger laughed again, 'Slave?'

'You are a peasant, and as such will follow my orders!'

Hero Valorous stared at him bewildered, 'I hate to inform you, King Hubris, but you are far away from Rinjiski. Your word has no meaning here!' Then the stranger set down his spear and handed the shivering king a bundle of warm clothes. 'Your teeth chatter, here, take this.'

Vaunter Hubris looked at the burlap clothing in his hands and sneered. 'I wear only the finest silks and furs! How dare you! Do you insult me with such disgusting clothes, I will not wear them!' cried the young king crossing his arms over his chest.

'You will catch your death of cold,' said Hero Valorous bewildered. 'Do you wish to freeze to death? That would be most troubling,' he said with a smile. 'Wear these and you will be warm,' said the smiling king handing them to him and leaving his chamber.

What kind of king dresses in such ragged clothing? The youth thought to himself in disgust. That man is no king, he's a measly peasant pretending to be a king! Oh, I must find Rinjiski!

Suddenly the king wondered if Brighnick and Tatoris had defeated his kingdom and had already left it in ruins. The idea frenzied the poor young head of the king.

After an hour or so the stranger from before poked his head through his chambers, 'You are not dressed yet?'

'Take me back to Rinjiski!'

'Rinjiski is a week's horse ride away!' cried Hero Valorous grinning. 'You cannot be serious!'

'I order you to take me back to Rinjiski!'

'If you were to go back there it would be very unwise,' said King Valorous mockingly.

'Why?' asked Vaunter Hubris growing weary.

'I just got word from a nearby village that all of Rinjiski has been taken over by the Brighnick and Tatoris armies,' informed the stranger gravely. 'You will be beheaded if you return back to your kingdom, so why don't you stay here?'

King Hubris sank to his knees, 'My kingdom...gone...'

'Afraid so,' said the other king with a nod. 'But anyhow you should change clothes before you freeze to death, and get some sleep! Tomorrow we will talk, but for now, get your sleep,' he said leaving King Hubris to himself.

Vaunter Hubris sank into despair. What ever would he do without his kingdom?! He had to claim it back...but how? It was hopeless! He should have listened to his general when he had warned him of his enemies taking over Varack!

The young king cried at his foolishness. He crawled back into his bed of straw and leaves and went into an uneasy and troubled sleep, not bothering to change into the dryer clothes that King Valorous had presented to him.

When Vaunter Hubris woke up he found that his clothes had been taken from him! He patted himself down to find only the burlap clothing and leather moccasins on his feet. What had happened to his silken garments and his golden beads? Were they stolen from him in the night while he slept?

Angry, he ran outside his chambers looking around him. Immediately he shrank back from doing any obscene act of anger for a row of warriors with spears stood in front of him staring at him. He was very afraid and nervous of this new plight he was in, for none of the warriors looked too friendly.

'Can any of you tell me where my clothes might have gone?' asked the king trembling.

'King Valorous wants to see you,' said one in a gruff voice. 'Follow me, King Hubris,' he said guiding the weary king past huts and cabins, until finally the warrior stopped in front of a long wooden cabin.

Hero Valorous stepped outside of his cabin, once seeing him he smiled. 'You've come! Now, we have much to discuss.'

'Yes,' said Vaunter angrily. 'Where did you take my clothes, armor and gold? They were on me last night, but when I woke up...'

'You shan't worry about that, my good man!' laughed Hero patting his shoulder. 'They are in a safe spot. But you were freezing and you did not dress into warmer clothes, so several of my village women dressed you in...'

'I want my clothes right now! I will not wear these disgusting clothes! A king is supposed to wear silks and expensive linen!' cried Vaunter Hubris in a temper.

'I am a king, and I do not wear furs and robes,' said Hero Valorous mockingly.

King Hubris clenched his fists, 'You are no king!'

Hero Valorous looked at him startled, then smiled in his good-natured way again. 'Come now, we have much to discuss! I have asked about your kingdom and it seems that reclaiming your kingdom is hopeless.'

'Tatoris and Brighnick have invaded my kingdom,' moaned the despairing youth gripping the sides of his head. 'Without my kingdom I am nothing but a measly peasant!' he cried.

'Are you a king or a woman?' asked Hero Valorous giving the sobbing youth a hard slap across his face. 'A king does not cry over such trivial accounts! You've lost your kingdom, but you can always go back to your villages can't you?'

'...My villages?' cried Vaunter Hubris wiping his eyes. 'You mean I should speak to the peasants for help?! Have you gone mad? What can peasants to do to help a king like me?'

'With that kind of attitude you will never regain your people or your...'

'I don't care about my people!' Vaunter Hubris shouted at the other king angrily. 'I want my castle back! I want my servants and my slaves and my gold! I want my jewels and my paintings back! That's what I want!' cried the selfish king breaking into a sob again.

Hero Valorous shook his head.

The weeping youth sank to his knees pulling at his hair. 'I am nothing more than a peasant! Brighnick and Tatoris have everything that belonged to me!'

'A true king knows that the real wealth lies in his loyal men, not his material objects,' said King Valorous still shaking his head. 'If you are to proud to ask your peasants for help, then you were never a king in the first place!'

'I...I...' sobbed King Hubris.

King Valorous sighed, then stood him up. 'I will assist you, sir Hubris! I will take my army and go into your villages to round up any that will be willing to take back your kingdom. They are you only army now.'

'They will not help me,' said the crying king.

'How do you know? Aren't your men loyal to you?' asked Hero surprised again.

'Yes! Yes they should!' said Hubris wiping his eyes. 'They will do anything I ask them to do so yes, they should help me! Will you really help me, Valorous?'

The homely king smiled and patted his shoulder, 'Of course I will! We shall set forth into Varack, Faladore, and Yarmin at once!' he said grinning.

So, they went the following afternoon on a fleet of horses. King Hubris looked around his shoulder for the children and women of Hero's village came out of their huts waving them off and laughing. 'Good luck!' they cried waving their hands.

King Valorous, to Vaunter Hubris's surprise turned round on his horse and waved back at them! Peasants and royalty were not supposed to behave in such a way, but Valorous waved back to them as if they were old friends. 'Take care!' said the smiling king to the women and children seeing him off, and he continued waving at his village until at last they were lost from sight.

My peasants would never wave to me, thought the selfish king to himself, and was almost a little jealous with how respected this King Valorous was with his men.

The two kings and Valorous's army rode without stopping to Varack, or, what was left of Varack. 'Here,' said Hero Valorous jumping off his horse. Then he gasped at the ruined sight before his eyes, 'What happened to this village?'

King Hubris jumped off his horse and ran into the broken and defeated village. 'Good people, if there are any survivors among you step forward! It is your king!' he shouted into the gloom of the rubble and wreckage.

A band of trembling dirty peasants peeked their heads from the crumbling walls. There were only twenty of them left or so.

King Hubris stopped in front of them, 'It is I, your king! You will come with me and help me regain my castle!' he said with his eyes flaring.

But the peasants went red with fury, 'You are not our king!' they shouted and began to pelt the youth with rocks. 'You did not help us when Brighnick and Tatoris invaded our homes, so why should we help you?!' they screamed.

Vaunter Hubris shielded himself with his hands, 'Stop please!' he cried.

'Go away! You selfish brat! You deserve poverty! If we see you here again we will kill you!' they shouted chasing the king back to Valorous and his army.

'They did not help me!' cried King Hubris crying into his hands again. 'They showered me with rocks and threatened to kill me if I ever returned!'

'Then we will move on to Faladore and see if any men will be willing to help you,' said Valorous with a shrug as he got on top of his horse.

The two kings rode without stopping until they reached the crumbling remains of Faladore. Once they arrived Vaunter Hubris jumped off his horse and looked around for survivors, the ones he found were women and children.

'Good people,' began the arrogant king stepping forward, but the woman threw eggs and rocks at him. 'No wait! It is King Hubris! I need your help!' he pleaded as he shielded himself.

'You are no king of ours!' shouted the women as they threw their eggs and stones. 'You did not help us when Brighnick and Tatoris invaded our village! And you took our husbands away to join your army just a few months ago! We will not help you, go away! Go away!'

Again he was chased back to King Hero Valorous and his waiting army. 'They will not help me! They will not help me!' cried Vaunter Hubris sadly. 'My kingdom is lost! I am finished!'

'We still have Yarmin,' offered the other king hopefully. 'We will ride there and see if there will be men willing to help you,' he said.

So they traveled to Yarmin without stopping. When they arrived there Vaunter Hubris jumped off his horse and sought out the ruined village before his eyes. 'Hello? I am King Hubris! If any of you would be willing to help me reclaim my kingdom...' he stopped for several young peasants jumped in front of them with spears in their hands.

Their eyes were red with murderous intent, 'You spineless coward!' they hissed raising their spears. 'We've been waiting here for you so we could kill you!' they cried chasing him.

'But what have I done to you?' screamed the king over his shoulder as he ran away from them.

'We begged to be let inside your castle when we were being chased by Brighnick's and Tatoris's armies, but you did not let us in! You said that our pleas caused you a headache! You are no king of ours! We will kill you for all of the innocent blood you have spilled!' screamed the peasants chasing the poor king back to Valorous's army.

King Hubris flung himself at King Valorous's feet. 'I am finished! I am finished! No one in Rinjiski will help me! I am nothing!' he sobbed.

Hero sighed but didn't say anything for a long while until King Hubris had finished drying his tears and had stood up again.

'What will I do now?' asked Vaunter Hubris.

'I guess you will have to live out the remainder of your life in poverty, since you have no one to stand behind,' said the other young king remotely.

'Please! Let me live with you!' cried the young Hubris pulling at King Hero's clothes. 'I will change my ways! No more! No more! Just don't leave me out here by myself! I just know that I'll be killed!' he cried pleadingly.

King Valorous smiled at him, 'Of course you can live with me, just as long as you keep in mind I told you. A true king's wealth is in his men, not his possessions, can you remember that?'

'Yes! Yes!' sobbed King Vaunter Hubris gratefully. "I will! I will! Thank you so much for being my only friend!'

'You are welcome, sir Hubris,' laughed King Valorous jumping on his horse. 'We will go back to Wyre and forget all of this. There, you will be safe, my friend,' grinned the homely king.

King Hubris nodded and followed after the king, the true king, and his army back to Wyre.

And so King Hubris, or now just peasant Vaunter Hubris, lived the remainder of his life in Kingdom Wyre. Vaunter Hubris would time to time look up in the sky and remember his days as king, but knew now, that the true success to happiness and power rested with the loyalty and trust of his fellow man. And thus, concludes the story of the selfish King Vaunter Hubris.