Who would ever want to be king?

I used to rule the world.

This dark room was once so full of unwashed bodies you couldn’t see the floor, but the soft, slow flickering of wicks was the only sound. It was impossible that seven hundred people could be that quiet, but they were. Not a step, not a stir, not a whisper.

Now the room is quiet once more. The only sound is the wind and snow drifting in through shards of broken glass.

Seven hundred souls, but when I ascended the steps of the dais, I felt the eyes of thousands. A sea of eyes, weighing, measuring. What did they want? Pinpricks of uncertainty prickled my scalp. The people would rise up, charge the throne, cast me down. My head would roll like a plaything in the square.

Then a cold circle of heavy gold was placed on my head and the bishop raised his arms.

“The old king is dead! Long live the king!”

“Long live the king!” they yelled. “Long live the king!” The world screamed it. From outside the palace, thousands of shouts were flung through windows and walls. “Long live the king! Long live the king! Long live the king!”

Seven hundred voices. But it wouldn’t stop there. Nations would bow to me. Kings and dukes would fall at my feet. The continents would make war at my command, and seas would rise when I gave the word.

This morning I woke to absolute stillness. I roamed the streets with a broom, sweeping fallen snow.

I used to roll the dice. I made leaps, took risks, and felt my enemies’ eyes widen in fear. Fate flung garlands around my neck. I sang and danced, and my enemies bled on the pavement. The city was an everlasting treasure trove and I held the key.

But for a key you need a door, and I soon realized that I had walls on every side. I was locked inside Gomorrah, and discovered it was built on pillars of sand.

From outside the shattered windows comes the sound of drums. It’s almost time.