Long ago, there was a kingdom. In this kingdom lived an old king, twisted and bent. A lonely girl who'd lost all hope. An old man full of regrets, and a little boy with no one left to love.

The kingdom was doomed. Everyone knew it, but most chose to ignore it. The people were bent beneath the weight of taxes and hunger and misery. They pleaded for justice, but the nobles simply looked away, closing their ears to their cries. They cared not for their fate, just as long as they were full and comfortable. And in a land where no one listened, it seemed the people cried in vain.

The king in his castle was too busy counting gold coins to notice. His eyes looked to his money for safety. But the princess knew, and she wept for the fate of her people.

In a small wooden shack an old man lay wheezing on a ragged bed. He thought back to all the years of his life, and tears welled up in his eyes. He stretched his hands in front of him, grasping vainly for something that wasn't there. His time was up, and he wept for days that were lost forever.

Alone on the street, a little boy sat in the dirt. His face was pale and his large eyes were filled with sorrow. Slowly he laid down, thinking of a time when a loving hand gently caressed his forehead, and a warm voice told him how much he was loved. His eyes stung, and he longed to be held once more in the embrace of someone who loved him.

Time passed and things stayed the same. The king continued to raise his taxes, despite the people's pleas for mercy. Disaster was inevitable. But the princess was determined to avert it. So she stormed into her father's chamber where he sat at his usual spot, counting his precious coins. Her voice trembled, but she held her head high as she spoke.

"You can hide away in your castle. You can try to ignore the problem. But no matter what you do, people are dying. And while you sit here counting your money, they cry out in pain and hunger. They are starving, and if you continue to oppress them, they will perish."

But the old king refused to heed her words. He had ruled unchallenged for too long to listen to anyone. So he sent her away without a word, turning his mind back toward his money. But the princess was heartbroken. She opened her window to look down upon the kingdom, gazing sadly at the people who suffered below.

"If this goes any longer they'll revolt, and then there will be more suffering than before."

And she was right. The people grew weary of the old king's tyranny. Sorrow turned to anger, and they resolved to put an end to the king's reign.

The streets were full of tension. People whispered fearfully about what was going to happen. Even the old man heard of it, and he shuddered in his bed.

"It seems mine and the kingdom's days are numbered," he muttered to himself. "But we all knew this would happen. If only…" and his mind became lost in the thoughts of things he wished he'd done long ago.

The little boy sat in the street, wondering why everyone was more scared than usual. "It's because of the rebellion," they said, but he didn't understand. From what he saw he knew it wasn't something good, and he wished for things to go back to how they once were. His mother would have protected him. She always made him feel safe. But she wasn't here anymore, and he was on his own. So he swallowed his tears, determined to bear whatever storm was coming.

But when the storm came, no one was prepared. Up in his castle the king froze like one struck dead, his gold coins slipped from his fingers. The people were rioting in the streets, stealing and burning. Nothing seemed to stop them. And though the princess begged for mercy, the king ordered his soldiers to stop the rebellion by force.

The princess looked down from her window to the fiery streets. Soon, they would all be stained with the innocent blood of her people. Her heart fell into despair and she wept for their fate. She knew there was no hope for her kingdom.

The heavy stride of many feet filled the air as the soldiers arrived in the streets. The people heard it and were afraid. They knew what was about to happen. The old man heard it, and he trembled. Tears ran down his face, and he wept for the pain soon to come upon them all. The little boy heard it and he hid his face, too afraid to see the nightmare unfolding before his eyes.

So the story ended how it began: an old king, twisted and bent. A lonely girl who'd lost all hope. An old man full of regrets, and a little boy with no one left to love.