(I have always imagined the grand rulers in my dreams to be played by Yul Brynner who also took up the majestic role of a brave, intelligent sovereign in the classic movie King and I. Image source: Pinterest)
Note – this short story of an Old King in a secret forest was expanded from a dream that I had some time ago and was published in another blog of mine.
In the whole country, there is a secret hidden place, hidden away from the masses and only known to certain people in the Government. It is a place where a grand old King still rules over his subjects and despite living within a very modern country, their lifestyle and way of living have remained ancient to the time of early Romans.
This secret place lies hidden within a large area of forest surrounded by treacherous mountains and no one is allowed to enter the forest without special permission. Its borders are guarded by a series of crocodile-infested rivers, high electrified fences and ruthless border guards.
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The only sense of modernization in the kingdom is a lone railway track that passes through the edge of the forest and stops in the only station in the whole kingdom. A special train runs through it, delivering mails and some items from the outside world but takes out nothing back. The train only stops for exactly 10 minutes and only one man with full-body armour is allowed to step down on the train station to offload the items from the train. Once done, the train will reverse and heads back to the outside world.
The palace where the Great King stays is within a large stony mountain that oversees most of his land. It is made from fine glass, solid wood and rare steel and it shines brilliantly in the morning sun. The barrack of the King’s special guards which forms a formidable boundary surrounding the palace. One can see that they often march and practice the swordsmanship in the mornings and evenings. Dotted among the barracks are merchant shops and high officials’ residences.
The King’s subjects live on the other side of the forest where it is not assessable from the railway tracks. They work as hunters, loggers, miners and farmers. It is a self-sustaining nation without any need from outside help and it has remained so for thousands of years.
The forest surrounding the kingdom was indeed enchanted for whoever stayed within the vicinity of the forest will never fall sick and grow old except, of course, the King who gotten old over the years but remained immortal. It is also covered by an invisible but magical dome that is generated by the forest so the air within remains fresh, clean and hidden from anyone who dares to fly over it.
It was a fine day when the King and his trusted men adorned full body armour and shiny swords, took a ride in their mighty horses towards the edge of the forest for their routine patrol through the edges of the forest, inspecting the borders. It has been one of their favourite pastimes, other than hunting and feasting of course.
It is rather rare that the borders will be breached as the security on the outside has been very effective all these years. Despite so, there have been instances of someone from the outside world managed to sneak into the kingdom, only to find them deep in the enchanted forest and much disoriented. Soo they find themselves feeling sleepy and would fast asleep at the bottom of the tree. When they regain their consciousness, they are no longer inside the secret forest but outside in the modern world.
The King and his men rode their horses in silent and remained hidden from anyone. They reached the peak of a small hill overlooking the railway track. It was time for the special train from the outside world to come and stop at the station. The King likes to watch the train in the morning so he called the special train as the Morning Express.
But something was not right that morning. The Morning Express was late, something that never happened in the past. The King looked at his men and wondered the same. Then there was a sound of a train but it was obvious something was not right.
By the time, the train had reached the train station, instead of the usual man with body armour getting down to offload the items from the train, a well-dressed man got down and waited inside the empty train station. The train then reversed and returned to the modern world, to the outside world.
Who is the brave man who had stepped down and had remained back? What does he want?
The King never had any guests from the outside world except for one many, many years ago when the rulers of the outside world wanted to get the King’s agreement on how to guard his borders. They had pledged a solemn promise that no one will ever intrude without the King’s consent.
The King rode his horse towards the train station and in his hand, his shiny, sharp sword ready to strike the intruder down. The stranger came out from the train station and before the King does anything, the stranger bowed himself down and informed that he had no choice but to come to deliver a very urgent message. He called himself the Emissary and he has an urgent message from the concerned rulers of the outside world.
He handed a letter to the King and remained bowed down as the King start reading the letter. His expression had changed from anger to fear. He looked at the Emissary one more time and then back at the letter.
The day that the old King had feared had come…