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The Bull King
A submission for Ironage Media's prompt "The Oblation."
A splendidly dressed man led his royal highness into the throne room while the rows of hired mourners sobbed and cried out, working themselves into hysteria. Hanrick XXVII, their beloved king, was a giant bull. The servants entering his chambers two years ago had found not the king but this bull. Now, to show the kingdom’s sorrow and love for its unfortunate king, mourners were gathered every time the king would have made an appearance. What made things many times worse was that the king showed no signs of his former self; he was nothing more than a dumb animal.
The king’s sister, an ubiquitous woman with a laugh like an old cicada and a fondness for good meals, was standing in as queen. She was a pleasant, kind person who loved a good joke, even one directed at her, and who doted on anyone in her presence, never letting anyone go away emptyhanded. Some whispered that she had turned her brother into a bull and secreted away his wife and daughter so she could have the throne. Anyone who knew her, however, or simply saw her, knew that this could not be so. It was a Grave Injustice to even think such a thing of person such as she!
The Bull King stood where the throne had formerly been and bellowed. All fell silent, except for some of the more elite mourners. They continued to cry out, wringing their hands and tearing their hair. Those who had beards tore them as well. The king bellowed once more, and the finest hey in the kingdom was brought out. Two servants draped a black cloak over his back since red was not used in the kingdom anymore.
The ceremony proceeded, and the crowd cheered when they were supposed to. Emissaries from adjoining and far off kingdoms came to pay their respects to this pitiful king. Then, those citizens who would and could approached the king in the hopes that he would give them his approval and blessing in whatever matters they brought forth. Never before did the bull king show any signs of interest or understanding. But still they came, and still they were ignored.
Out in the countryside, many miles away in a small cottage, were three happy people. One was a queenly woman, for queen she used to be. The second was her daughter, a handsome lass of seventeen summers who often could be found singing and dancing merrily about the little cottage or the verdant meadows nearby. She looked so much like a princess because she really was a princess. Her father, the third person, was King Hanrick XXVII himself. He sat, laughing with his wife about the giant bull they had placed in his chambers when they left. The citizens were quite content to follow, cheer, and mourn a bull they thought was king, so he let them. His sister was doing a fine job ruling and enjoying it too. He was happy to live a simple life in a cottage unbeknownst to any but his wife and daughter, although his sister had guessed the truth, or close to it, like the king had counted upon.
Back in the palace, the Bull King was being led back to the Royal Stable, formerly known as the Royal Chambers. There he would wander about as he pleased in rich luxury while servants ran to and fro, quite happy to cater to every imagined whim. The Queen retired to her own chambers, wondering when she might find a husband who would put up with this nonsense and when she might secretly escape so as to see her brother again.