In a drab, dull, drudgery of a morning the messenger arrived with the dispatch written with, undoubtedly, the holy quill and the blood of peasants. He had dreaded this moment, as a matter of principle, yet delighted in the thought of it in equal measure. He knew for a long time that the decision was in the making, however fantastical it first had sounded, yet great democracies have these strange ways of rewarding the enterprising and the steadfast. As soon as he read it, while the messenger waited, patiently kneeling at the foot of his marble bed, he felt a nagging itch on both of his shoulders.
He was to report to the Council of Gentlemen presently. He dismissed the emissary and pressed a button on his bedside table. He loved pressing that red, fat button every morning, the result of which was the appearance of two girls, whose age nobody knew or could guess. They brought him coffee and kissed him good morning. They took his hands and led him in front of the mirror. That was the only time in his life that he allowed himself to be led. The girls rubbed virgin tears to his face, snake oil to his skin that held the voluptuous body together. He stared into the eyes of the great man in the mirror and practiced his regal pout. The girls dressed him in hand-woven silk undergarbs and finished off with robes that were made of a combination of gold and mink and cashmere in the farthest corners of the empire. The itching had gotten worse, but he could see no indication of a rash.
He decided that abandoning breakfast was not on the cards. It was going to be a day like no other, what might be called by many as an emotional rollercoaster. He needed a full tummy to withstand it. Shredded heart of dolphin was served with Almas caviar from Caspian beluga, the world’s greatest and most-expensive, obviously. He liked the name more than the taste. Almas. Diamond. His kind of brilliance.
The electric chariot was prepared for immediate departure, with fresh flowers arranged in vases that were attached to its interior walls. There were two robots in the exact shape and form of stallions, efficient and self-driving. All the attendant needed to do was to tap in the coordinates of the destination and pour the champagne. The intelligent horses got pulling at a max speed of 23 miles per hour. The ride was so smooth it felt like walking on clouds, while being tickled in all the right places.
The glorious gates of the Council of Gentlemen, gold-plated top to bottom because of his own generosity appeared in the horizon. The carriage pulled inside and stopped at the far end of the courtyard, a structure reminiscent of Roman imperial palaces. The horsebots produced a natural horsy sound that got diluted in the music emanating from the marching band who played their welcome tunes in his honour. They were all dressed in the ceremonial orange for the big day. The chairman of the council greeted him at the bottom of the stairs and they ascended those steps hand in hand, in a much-needed gesture of bromance, guaranteed to go viral.
Inside the building, hefty columns held the roof above them and councillors, those great, really great gentlemen of the land stood by those columns, with their heads slightly bowed as a mark of respect. They were each accompanied by a theremin player, whose harmonious melody provided a rush of spirituality much needed for the day. As the two of them approached the top of the hall, guards removed the cover and stood by the sides of the peacock throne, a new embellishment to the royal scene, specially created using a 3-D scanned model of his firm-ish bottom. The chairman nodded to him as if to say take a seat. His shoulders were killing him. The chairman spoke and the musicians played but he could not really hear anything, not just because it was fucking boring, but because all he could think of was scratching those damned shoulders.
His attention was back as they banged on the coronation drums. He sat straight as the chairman and the high priest stood on his right and left. The guards brought the crown forward on a titanium tray and those two most distinguished of the gentlemen raised it, placed it on his head, bowed and stepped back. “I now declare you the King of the Big Principality,” the chairman shouted. At that precise moment that he was named the king, the itching stopped and two serpents grew out of his shoulders. Their eyes resembled balls of fire as they hissed on his sides. The two frightened men on his sides jolted in fear and fell to the floor.
As if hysteria had hit them, the guards and the gentlemen rushed to the new king and each went through the motions of helpfulness. Alas, the ailment was not something that any of them had encountered before, or had a solution for. The theremins wailed in the background, their sounds now feeling rather ominous and horror-movie-like.
In unison, they stopped their madness, as if a light bulb moment had been bestowed upon them by divinities and brought them to a halt. There was only one man who could offer real insight in matters of profound complexity like this, a man whose wisdom and his love for the land was beyond any other mortal.
Bannofaki had advised the new king all the way through his ascendance to this imperial highness. He prided himself in being a direct descendant of Iago. When opposed that Iago was a fictional character that Shakespeare’s mind had created, he eloquently begged to differ: “What might appear as one’s fiction, could be the other’s absolute truth. Never underestimate the alternative facts.”
Since Bannofaki lived in another dimension, only his hologram could be present, and that happened immediately when he was summoned. Many congratulations on this momentous day, your majesty, he said, flickering half way between the king and the gentlemen of the council. And commiserations on this most strange affliction, it most certainly is the result of some bewitchery committed by your haters.
Those losers! What do I do Bannofaki? I cannot appear in public to address my subjects like this, can I?
It appears to me that your wriggly friends might have now assumed the position of being one of your royal limbs. We cannot detach the serpents. There is only one solution, my Lord. All we can do is subdue them, very gently.
And how do we do that?
We should feed them each the brain of a young foreign cunt every day.
The gentlemen of the council gasped in admiration. How did Bannofaki know the answer to every possible question in the universe? How could one mortal being be so astonishingly, so very frighteningly wise?
Master Bannofaki, when you say that, do you mean to say each of those lucky candidates whose brain shall become sustenance for his majesty’s serpents to be of female persuasion? This was a question from the councillor who was tasked with overseeing the tranquility of the king. The best-suited man with a history of butchery behind him.
But of course, confirmed Bannofaki, what other use do we have for women if it is not for the qualities associated with the said part?
And when you say young, do you have a specific age range in your wisdom?
Anything younger than twenty and five would do.
And foreign. Any countries or islands in particular, or continents, for that matter?
Let that be an experiment. The serpents shall show us their displeasure if they don’t find the taste of a race to their liking.
The hologram scratched his meaty face and excused himself. That’s how he rolled. He appeared for brief moments to enlighten and to delight and as soon as he solved the problem, removed the danger, suppressed the unnecessary noise, or destroyed what deserved to be destroyed, he would leave. Yeah!
Bannofaki’s scheme worked like magic. Think of viagra. Now think of its opposite. That’s exactly how the brain of a young foreign cunt affected the serpents. After having a good meal of it in the morning, they went into such comatose state of being that the king’s servants slid them right inside special pouches that they had now appended to his robes. They slept there like babies until their next feeding time. The king had grown fond of the snakes’ flaccid state, as if they reminded him of something very familiar, very intimate.
But that was not all. As a side effect, the population of the Big Principality decreased dramatically. The society became more homogeneous and united. The King served his subjects for a long, long time. Until, of course, Bannofaki thought it was no longer in the national interest.
*Inspired by the ancient Persian myth of King Zahhak.