At a time when the world was a small village, there lived a King. His name was Theo. He had twenty four elders, an army of Angelos and Archangelos and a house of other messengers.
King Theo had no child but there were two young men, Helel and Mikhail, close to his heart. They served him and had risen to be loved dearly as sons.
By age, Helel was the older one. With his rise in rank, he became complacent and extremely proud ; always brewing trouble. Being very handsome, he was the light bearer of the Kingdom. He was an orator and was able to buy anyone over with his power of oration. He was the King’s second-in-command. He was feared and respected for his beauty and rank but inwardly, he sought to be worshipped as the King. He yearned for the Latria given to the King.
Mikhail on the other hand, was humble and hardworking. Despite being favoured by the King, his primary aim was to carry out the King’s bidding and to please him always. Being an archer and a swordsman, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the King’s Army. He was very powerful and more respected in the Kingdom than his brother, Helel. In his spare time, he hunted games for his pleasure.
It happened that on one of Mikhail’s hunting sprees, he came upon Helel trying to molest a maiden in the forest. As he dragged her across a clearing in the forest, she was crying and pleading with him. Seeing that he wasn’t giving an ear to her pleas, she gave him a vicious kick in the groin which got him yelping. As he struggled to regain his composure, she began to run away. Realizing that she might tell people what he did, he threw his spear at her. The journey of the spear was interrupted by an arrow that deflected it. Helel was surprised because he was unaware they had company. Then, he became enraged. That moment, the air was still; even the birds and trees stopped their chirping and swaying. It seemed they felt his anger.
“Who dares deflect my spear? Show yourself!” he bellowed.
Mikhail stepped out of the shadows and walked towards him. By then, the girl stood at a safe corner hugging herself as she watched the drama unfold.
“You shouldn’t do this, it’s not right,” Mikhail said. Helel just sighed. He wasn’t ready for the lecture on code of conduct that was on the way.
“You can have any girl that you want in the Kingdom. Just go and talk to the person, but don’t try to do it in a harsh manner. The people look up to us as gods, you know.”
“You won’t understand. There is more to it than meets the eye”
Helel answered hotly.
Mikhail could swear that he saw a flicker of hurt and anger in his eyes.
“Then make me understand,” he said coolly.
Helel just walked away without uttering another word. He was a trifle disappointed that Mikhail had to stand in his way, but there was nothing he could do about it. One thing he was sure of, however, was that Mikhail wouldn’t breathe a word of what he witnessed to anyone. Mikhail went to where the girl was then sitting at the stump of a tree.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“What were you doing here in the forest all alone?”
“I was picking wild fruits for my mother,” she replied quietly.
She was visibly shaken by her experience. He cleaned the tears from her face with the back of his palms.
“What’s your name?” he probed further.
He nodded as he pulled her up.
“You must not tell anyone about this”
She simply nodded.
Not satisfied with her response, he lifted her chin and her gaze met his.
“Do I have your word on it?”
She nodded again, this time more firmly.
He apologised on behalf of his brother as she straightened her hair and dress before sauntering off in the direction she left her basket.
Helel relayed to his friends how Mikhail spoilt his plans. They were the people he was able to convince that he was better than the King and could give them better lives. They were more of his followers and their utmost goal was to overthrow the King.
King Theo had mentioned that he had an eye on Mareeah, to be the mother of his child because she was pure and carried a unique grace. Embittered by the thought of the King fathering a child, he resolved to destroy Mareeah’s innocence or kill her to obliterate the King’s dream. He had her followed for weeks; this was the only window he had and Mikhail destroyed everything.
“My lord, is this why you’re sad? The situation can be salvaged,” Samail, one of his followers said.
“But how?” he fired.
Samail, being a very fast thinker replied,
“we can eliminate the root of the matter.”
Helel nodded him on.
“Our physician has certain amount of extraordinary powers. My lord, you can easily talk him into working for you and when this power is harnessed, killing the King will be easy for us.”
He let his gaze fall on Helel as he finished and so did others. Helel was very confused. His head felt ethereal. The thought of killing the King had never crossed his mind; it was a sacrilege, yet here was someone who believed in him asking him to do the unthinkable.
For a brief moment, he was sobered as he remembered all that the King had done for him but the hunger for power came back with a force much more greater than before. He stood abruptly and began to walk towards the door. As if on cue, he stopped and turned,
“We’ll meet tomorrow so that you all will know my decision.”
With that, he dismissed them with a wave of his hand.
He went home straight and locked himself in his room. His relationship with the King had been strained for a while. King Theo summoned him one morning and expressed displeasure over the news that he, Helel, had followers. He had rebuked him gravely, telling him that his sole duty was to keep the Kingdom together and not dividing it into factions. He further reminded him that the Latria was for him alone and admonished him to disband any group that was in loyalty to him. He had disobeyed the King. Dwelling on those thoughts, he drifted off to sleep. He awoke later in the evening with the conviction to go ahead with his plans. With that, he headed to Raphael, the physician’s house.
Raphael was tall and handsome. Though very courteous and respectful, he wasn’t easily intimidated. His loyalty was to the King alone. He listened patiently as Helel showered encomiums on him; he was the King’s second-in-command and he deserved that respect. When he finally hit the nail on the head, Raphael shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Helel kept rolling out reasons to justify what he wanted to do.
“You’re just an afterthought in this kingdom; you’re only called upon when your services are needed. Join me and I will make you my second-in-command. Just think about it. You will have whatever you want. You have nothing to lose but much to gain, my friend.”
Helel pressed further.
Raphael told him that he would give him a reply the next day and he took his leave. Raphael was greatly disturbed. Helel’s offer was tantalising.
“I think I will join forces with Helel. Afterall, I have nothing to lose,” he concluded after battling with his conscience for what seemed like eternity. Then, he went to bed.
The next morning, he sent a messenger to Helel asking him to meet him behind the village square with his cohorts as they were going to embark on the task as soon as they arrived. Before noon, Helel and his followers arrived the stipulated venue chattering animatedly. They met Raphael waiting there and they proceeded to map out strategies.
They were so engrossed in their plans that they didn’t notice King Theo’s Army creep up to them. It was when the King cleared his throat that they looked up to see that they were totally surrounded. They drew their swords in defence but when the soldiers failed to attack, they took no further action. Raphael went to stand at the King’s side as Helel shot daggers at him with his eyes. Then the King addressed Helel and his followers,
“I am very disappointed in you all. Who wishes the King dead? What you’ve failed to realize is that I’m both King and God; I neither have a beginning nor an end. I was not created and I cannot be destroyed.”
At the wave of his left hand, his Army attacked Helel’s men as Mikhail went for Helel. The King was so pained in his heart that tears gathered in his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. Just about the time a tear drop fell from the King’s eye to the ground, the sun was directly overhead them. The ground quaked terribly, creating a wide, bottomless pit. As the teardrop dried up, the chaos subsided.
Just then, Mikhail got hold of Helel’s right shoulder and buried his sword in Helel’s belly. Helel sank to his knees as Mikhail with tear-filled eyes, whispered into his ears,
“Pride goes before a fall. Goodbye stranger,”
he pushed him into the pit. On the King’s command, the other traitors were also thrown into the pit as well.
Sanity returned to the Kingdom and everyone strived to do the right thing, to please the King always, for fear of the bottomless pit. It was the right thing to do, anyways.
Damilola is a content curator and creator, he writes for the passion and the thrill. He has been published on Tuck Magazine, SGNT, VivaNaija and also shares some of his stories on jonathanoladeji.com. He has an eye for juicy content and loves to make brand ideas sell.