The great hall hummed with revelry, a cacophony of music and chatter fluttering from ear to ear.
And the most cheerful voice of all was the King, resplendent in his emerald robes and golden crown. Even now he swayed unsteadily on his throne, face flush as he swigged from his goblet. Those closest smiled with sycophantic sweetness, while others conversed and danced with the music.
A wave of his hand sent the musicians silent, the King staggering to his feet as his courtiers obediently gave their attention.
“Friends! Tonight, we celebrate! It is true our nation has suffered a great blow, afflicted by such a horrund… a horrendy… horr… such an awful blight. I know that many of you *hic* have seen the lands under your care rot. Your people have seen starvation! They have seen ruin! And they have seen starvation! *Hic* But we have overcome this trial! And at dawn Our Lady” His goblet gestured to the western window, where all could see an ebony tower stretching to the heavens. “shall ring her bell to declare that we have made it! So drink your fill of pleasure!” Applause erupted, the King raising his goblet and draining the last of the wine. “Now, let us have some entertainment! Jester! Regale us with some *hic* humorous farce!”
Eye slithered across the room to a male figure sat cross-legged on the marble floor, pale skin standing out against a costume of garish red and yellow. A wide smile stretched across his features as he bowed his head, his body tilting further and further until he tumbled into a forward roll. Without missing a beat, he flipped onto his feet and gave a quick twirl, bending into an elaborate bow. A smattering of laughter was soon followed by applause. Pleased at this reception, he raised his face to the King.
“Ah my illustrious Majesty, I hardly think a mere farce can keep you entertained. Why, you are surrounded by farces even now!” His gloved hands swept across the room, earning a ripple of giggles and murmurs from the surrounding courtiers and a loud guffaw from the King himself. “May I instead propose… a perfectly ridiculous notion.”
More murmurs, this time with a tone of confusion. But after a nod from the King the Jester stood up straight. His gaze slid around the room, smile still unmoving as he began to speak.
“Before me I see the golden masses. The great patrons of wealth and power in our wonderful kingdom each enjoying the festivities. Safe in this hall, drinking your wine, all happy and healthy under the protection of our glorious ruler.
The outside world has been cleaned of its pestilence, once again it can be left to the common folk. What a relief this must be; they understand the dirt far better than you!
For now, think only of this soiree.
Do not think of the servants working tirelessly to keep your goblets full.
Do not think of the kitchen sweltering with the cooking fires.
And do not think of the rumblings down in the depths of the dungeons.
What rumblings, you ask?
Why… the rumblings of the Fools revolt.
I hear your laughter, and indeed it is a strange image. Dozens of faces powdered white, clothed in all shades of the rainbow… tumbling and fumbling through the shadows.
Hardly an intimidating sight. To see them coming is not to quake in fear but to tremble in laughter.
Until the first blood is spilled.
Yes yes, blood I said.
For these clowns hold no pipes or lutes, and all they juggle are blades. Performing their murderous charade with a smile and a song. Soldiers come. Servants flee. They see the spectacle but oh how their minds spin! Such a contradiction; increasingly heinous actions all under the guise of joviality. Unable to comprehend, they fall; firece knights who toppled armies dropping at the hands of mere buffoons.
I would call it their greatest joke, were it not for what happens next.
Up and up and up the castle they tumble, painting it red as they go. Even now you can see it. Look, the shade matches what rests in your goblets.
Then… what’s this? ‘Ding dong’ goes our Lady’s tower, though she should not sing so soon. But sing she does. Her bells herald the plague of painted faces.
They throw open the doors and descend upon you, setting all ablaze in an inferno of insanity.
The King is dead.
All… hail… the Fool.”
With a flourishing bow he finished his tale, smiling directly at the King.
Silence hung heavy over the revellers, faces contorted; unsure what expression to wear.
Then the King began to laugh.
He laughed and laughed. And each time he laughed a courtier joined in until the walls shuddered with the echoes of shared mirth. The Jester remained in his bow, cheeks rigid with his unending smile.
“You were right my *hic* good Jester, that was a perfectly ridiculous notion!” Tears streamed down the King’s scarlet cheeks. “And tell me, what purpose would such a reign serve?”
“It is quite simple, Your Majesty.”
Amidst the dying chuckles came different sounds.
Faint at first but growing louder.
Clanks of metal.
Lips curled into frowns, and all eyes grew wide with alarm. The King was the last to notice the change in atmosphere. Sobriety started to penetrate his brain, at first seeking the guards only to see none at the doors.
The doors that now shook as someone knocked from the other side.
“We wish to ravish the world with laughter.”
A bell began to chime.
I am currently supposed to be focusing on other projects but inspiration came out of nowhere so I ran with it.