A Prince’s Progress
“People passed me on the street today. They didn’t even know who I was as I begged them for change,” Gideon marveled. “Thank you for helping me achieve this, Safa. Without you, this would not have been possible.”
“What did you learn from them?” I asked.
“The people in my kingdom are kind and generous,” he said producing a small cache of items from his cloak. “They gave me a coin, as heavily as they are taxed. They gave me bread and fruit as hard as they live. One small family even gave me shelter in their barn for the night.”
“What else did you see?” I asked, “Did you meet anyone of importance?”
Prince Gideon’s smile faded, “yes. The reeve and his sheriff. A handful of nobles passing through. They are all so cruel… I’m so cruel to have treated the commoners the same ways they treated me…”
“No, you were cruel. You are learning the truth and finding the brighter path,” I said as I walked over and took his hands. “You are seeing the truth of nobility and the truth of the people. Money and power easily corrupt the weak.”
His eyes were welling up as he looked into mine, threatening to let go the flood of emotion he had only ever shown me in private. I smiled at him, feeling my love for him wash over me. This sad, broken man, who had been a tyrant was once more growing and learning in the process.
“I need to fix it, but I don’t know where to begin,” he admitted.
“Start with the village. Send a paladin, one who is above corruption, to see the people. Reward them for their kindness and generosity, and allow him to strip the reeve and his sheriff of their power. Give the power to those who are kind so they can make good things happen in your lands.”
He pulled his hands away, and the wall went back up in his mind as his face turned to stone, “No.”
“No?” I asked, hoping to soften him once more. “The people in the village are suffering, and in spite of that are kind and generous to a beggar.”
“Giving the commoners power helps them overthrow me,” he said, “The people of the kingdom fear me now. If I strip the nobility of their titles and lands, I will have no one to fight for me.”
“I feared you once,” I said, “I was in your dungeon not three months ago.”
“You’re different, the dreams and the mages-”
“Only told us what fate, and the gods, wanted,” I said, cutting him off. “If we were meant to be together, would it not be for a reason? You have grown so much since we first met, and there is still much more to be done. Whether you choose to listen to me now is your decision, but I can promise you, the people will come to love you as I have…”