The Royal Guard flanked Lieutenant Doyle as he entered quietly into the Kings chambers. King Jorje was grinning widely at him and appeared to be in a jovial mood, his unusual jolly demeanour unsettled the already nervous Lieutenant causing him to hesitate for a short while before dropping to one knee at the foot of the throne. King Jorje dismissed the reverent gesture and idly motioned him to stand.

“Glad to see you back so soon Doyle, good news you’ve got for me, is it? Finally removed the savages blocking our border, have you? I knew you were the man for the job Doyle! I’ve always admired your strength of character and thought you were a credit to my nation. If I had a hundred of you Doyle I‘d bet my kingdom that all the wars in the land would be extinguished within a week”.

Doyle shuffled embarrassingly, uncomfortable with the praise his monarch was bestowing upon him. He paused for an instant before reluctantly answering.

“Your Majesty, my battalion was decimated, only a handful of us managed to escape” the words lingered in the air for a moment as the advisors of the Kings court exchanged awkward, frightful glances.

Jorje rose from his throne, placed a hand upon Doyle’s shoulder and continued with his pleasant, almost sympathetic tone.

“Ah Lieutenant Doyle, you’re such an idealist, these things happen from time to time. It’s an unfortunate necessity but there will always be casualties as long as there is resistance from these savage nations that trouble us. At least they are all dead too, now we can turn our attentions to more important matters and push on with the expansion again, yes?”

Doyle lowered his head and hushed his voice, not daring to look the king in the eye.

“I am regretful to inform you my liege but we have failed, there were too many of them. They still occupy the passage in the east; we could not break their defences with the limited forces you have made available to me. I am deeply sorry my lord“.

“What…” the kings smile dropped from his face and was replaced with a bitter grimace

“WHAT?! Do speak up Doyle because I fear that my hearing is deceiving me in my old age, what do you mean ‘Failed’?” the final word passed his lips through gritted teeth.

“B-b-begging your pardon Your Majesty but there were just too many, if only…“

“Shut up, you idiot!” the king cut him dead mid-sentence.

“How dare you interrupt me when I’m talking! I always thought you were a bloody fool Doyle but you are really excelling my expectations today. Do you honestly think I’m as bloody stupid as you are, you wretched little maggot?! You will cease your pitiful whining and you will muster some reinforcements and you will go back out there and you will rid me of this infestation that is halting my expansion, DO YOU HEAR ME? I will hear no more of this childish nonsense from you today. Now get out there and win me this war!”

He stomped his feet as he spoke, his tone akin to that of a spoilt child who had just been deprived of its favourite plaything.

Doyle dropped to his knees pleading with his monarch “Forgive me Your Majesty but I am afraid that the task you have set is impossible to achieve.”

King Jorje raised a finger to his lips and gritted his teeth “Impossible”

his face flushed a deep red as his anger grew “Impossible” he continued

“IMPOSSIBLE! There’s no such bloody word!”

His rage exploded and the veins in his neck bulged as he screamed in the face of the lieutenant, his temper reaching its threshold as he paraded angrily around the chamber. He poured himself a goblet of wine in an attempt to calm his tantrum and greedily took a large gulp from it, dribbling it down his chin as he drank; only to then launch it and its remaining contents furiously in the direction of Doyle who narrowly avoided being hit by the improvised missile. Its sticky red liquid absorbed into the already tarnished carpet behind him and the cup rattled against the door for a moment before finally settling into place. King Jorje intensely gasped for air and took a few moments to compose himself before continuing his verbal assault.

“Do you know what a traitor is Doyle? Well do you?”

The lieutenant continued to stare into the ground and passed no comment nor did he make any gesture of understanding. He was too frightened to do anything at this point, the terror causing him to be frozen stiff to the spot. The king eyed him suspiciously before launching into a fresh tirade “Allow me to educate you then you simple buffoon. A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me. Is that understood?”

He grabbed Doyle by the chin and turned him to face him, staring intently into his eyes until the troubled lieutenant returned him a cautious but respectful nod.

“Now listen up and listen well, you snivelling little cretin! It would be in your best interests to adjust your attitude to one of a more agreeable nature because if you don’t I shall have you castrated or hung or burnt; or maybe all three together. Maybe I might even chop off your head and decorate the walls of the palace with your innards, plus whatever else I can think up in the meantime! You don’t want to test my imagination as you have tested my patience do you, Doyle? No, you don’t Doyle, you really don’t! Now remove your disgusting presence out of my sight you bloody shambles of a man!”

Lieutenant Doyle hastily arose to his feet and swiftly but silently exited the quarters, the guards shoving him through the doorway as he went. He was barely out of the room when King Jorje appeared in the arch.

“Doyle, just one more thing before you go. One final thought to squeeze into that tiny, diseased lump in between your ears. Do not fail me this time whatever the cost, it will be better you die out there serving the empire than ever darken my kingdom with your depressing miserable face and your dismal reports of failure again. You know I won’t stand for such uselessness, you treasonous coward! I expect better of you, show some proper Britanan grit will you man?”

The King slammed the door shut abruptly and returned to his throne. Doyle sauntered down the corridor dejected, a miserable expression etched into his face and the Kings words of dread still ominously echoing in his head.

King Jorje was correct in his assessment he thought, believing himself to indeed be the fool that he was proclaimed to be, he was most definitely a fool for having considered the absurd idea that nutty King Jorje would have ever listened to his reasonable requests.

He resigned himself to his fate and readied the reinforcements for war. King Jorje’s final words of encouragement were most affective in Doyle‘s motivation, he decided at once that it would be far better to fall in battle in the name of the glorious Britanan empire than to meet his end by a grisly macabre method of the mad Kings own twisted design.

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