Spring, Year 602 of the Second Coming
The city of Temira
King Miran the Bold is a liar. Everyone knows that. His men know it, the rich suck-ups know it, even the poor, voiceless folk know it.
And nobody’s surprised by the degree in which he rains idiocy upon the folk. Moreover, they take those lies and foster them, repeating the same stupidities over and over again until they truly believe them.
But not me. I have a privilege that escapes all those foul minds. I’m an adviser and an entertainer, a sage and an idiot, a saint and a sinner. I’m the only person madder than the king himself. And that’s only because I can do one thing — speak the truth.
My name is Mimi and I’m a Fool.
I’ve been a fool for all my life, but for the past few years, I’m an official one.
King Miran the Bold is my boss. King Bald, I call him, because no matter how proficient he is in hiding that hairless spot on top of his head, it reflects the light perfectly. “The king has a moon on top of his head,” one of the poor kids said ages ago. Needless to say, I stole the joke from the hungry lad. Didn’t even thank him. But it’s not like that would fill his belly, right?
I thought about it a lot, I have to admit, because it’s not so hard to mouth a nice, juicy ‘thanks.’ Yet it never came easy for me. Call me what you want, but I’m not fond of thanking people in any kind of way. But the king sure is. At least toward me.
He’d always thank me for fetching him random shit, and he’d do the same whenever I insulted him in front of the Court. He even paid me for that. Such was our relationship and such was the life of a fool. I was both dog and master. And I swear I’m the only person in the entire kingdom capable of fulfilling both roles.
For years I’ve been loyal to him. Officially, I’ve been loyal all my life, of course, but didn’t have to mouth the words until I kneeled before him for the first time. It was the best and the worst day of my life.
I knew something was wrong since the day Bald chose me in his Household. He had this mix of puppy eyes and those stares little girls have when seeing brave knights. I tried looking away but ended up laughing. It didn’t last long, though.
My smile died the moment I realized the King wasn’t about to share his secrets with anyone besides his new fool. So what he did — he slaughtered my competition. Right in front of the entire Court. It didn’t take me long to realize King Miran was a madman. But he got my respect — it was a Bold move. Some may say it was unnecessary, but I found it quite… foolhardy.
No matter how mad Bald is, he’s still sentimental. A strange trait for someone who butchered people based on impulse.
“It’s been a long time, Mimi,” the nostalgic man said the other night. We were sitting at the same dinner table I sat on my first day in the Court. “A long time…” he repeated as if only to interrupt me in stuffing my face with cakes. And I had to be quick, for Bald’s appetites were ruthless. “You’ve been a loyal servant of mine. It’s time to reward you.”
In my humble opinion, I was neither loyal, nor could I keep track of time as good as Bald did. But I sure enjoyed being rewarded. I mean, who doesn’t? And if he had anything better than those delicious cakes, I was all for it.
“My King, serving you is the best reward a man can get,” I lied, hoping he’d take me seriously. Judging by the shake of his second chin, he smiled. He didn’t take his fool seriously, who would’ve thought?
“I know you’re loyal,” Bald continued nonetheless, suspiciously eyeing the last cake on the plate.
“Don’t,” I interrupted him. “You’re getting fat, my lord.”
He laughed, forming his mouth in a thin line, lips barely parted. Only to let out some air. Yet he still took the last cake. It was hard to watch and something in me broke in half the same way the cake crumbled under his greasy fingers, spilling the juicy filling. Half of it landed on the floor and his dog rushed to lick it off. I was apparently not loved as his dog was.
As painful as it was to watch, I found humor in the way he licked the filling. Mostly because it made him a really naughty dog. When he was done mopping the floor, he started jumping the king’s leg. He really got into it, that brave champ, oblivious to Bald’s kicking. Finally, the king struck him hard. The dog cried and Bald grunted. I chuckled.
“You better not make any jokes about my dog humping me at the table,” Bald said, still torturing the cake in his hands. “Or both of you will leave the Household.”
“Of course not, my lord,” I replied. And of course I made the joke anyway. And of course the king got the dog killed, and not me. What no one expected was seeing me pissing all over his carcass, cheering “Hope you enjoyed your cake,” over and over again. Fun times.
Since we haven’t had a chance to talk about my reward, Bald invited me to his chambers the following day. I put my sad face on while trying the new outfit he’d sent to me overnight. He wanted me to wear it while we discuss my whatever-year-anniversary reward. “Too formal,” I thought, pushing my limbs through the tight holes. The outfit reeked of formality.
It didn’t suit me, of course. I mean, the cut pressed against my skin perfectly, as if the tailor himself groped me while sewing. It was also in accordance with the latest fashion. But it just felt strange. The colors were dark. The edges too sharp and it lacked about a hundred buttons and bells I adored so much.
It was a general misconception, this outfit thing. Just because they made me wear the fool suits, it didn’t mean I disliked them. On the contrary, I even slept in them. I loved them more than I loved anyone. They were the partners in my bed and companions on my adventures. Most importantly, they trapped the stench of my body efficiently. So I walked everywhere in them. And why wouldn’t I? I guess I had to risk being called crazy behind my back. But the king was called crazy too, so what?
Despite my constant frown, I still slipped into the suit. The cloth bit my skin and pressed hard against my crotch and armpits. The latest fashion was kinda feminine, but that didn’t concern me at least. It was the impracticality I detested — it made me limp as I strolled through the halls. I didn’t complain out loud, though, for I’m a brave man.
As usual, the king welcomed me with a big smile. He was wearing the crown which meant we weren’t going to be alone in the room. I took a seat across the table, disappointed by the lack of cakes on plates. It was a slap in the face, but I guessed that was Bald’s way of mourning his horny dog.
Soon after, the gates opened and an older, skinny man entered the room. “A scribe,” I thought, judging by the smell of ink and unwashed armpits that filled the room. The king stood up to greet one of his most loyal men.
The scribe had gray hair and the only thing bigger than his bony fingers was the hunchback he sported beneath the robes. He kneeled before the king and bowed so low his nose brushed the floor. Never did it occur to me that a hunchback was a side effect of ass-licking.
And the man was so deep in Bald’s behind that even the king himself urged him to stand up. As Bald lowered his head, the moon greeted me with a shine and I chuckled at the sight of my old, ever-expanding buddy.
“This is Ulian, the royal scribe,” the king said, waving a hand at the boot-licking fossil.
“This is Mimi,” I replied, keeping my arms glued to the torso. The stupidities coming out of my mouth seemed even worse while wearing a formal outfit. Without the fool’s suit, I was simply… an idiot.
Ulian forced an old-man smile. One of those that begged for approval and mercy. Or, as I like to call it, I’m-gonna-die-soon-so-respect-me smile. Old people… The only thing worse than their behavior is their wrinkled hands. Yuck.
And of course he wanted to shake hands. With a wry grin, I let my hand fall into the messy texture of his worn grip. A piece of me died that day. And then Ulian put his other hand on top of our shake. It was a horror.
“Ulian’s services are your reward for being such a loyal servant, Mimi,” Bald said when the agony finally ended and the scribe drew back a couple of feet.
I looked him up and down, scanning his ugly features. “Not my cup of tea, boss, but if you insist, I’ll—”
“Oh, Sevens save me!” the king yelled. “He’s going to teach you to read and write. That’s the reward for your services.”
“Alright,” I said. Nevertheless, I winked at the scribe. He ignored me.
Ulian preferred calling me ‘jester’ because, according to his words, he didn’t want to insult me by calling me a fool. So I called him a fool, for what a stupid man do you have to be to respect someone like me? I gladly took advantage of the weak man.
Glancing at his enormous hunchback and shaky hands he actually used for writing, I struggled to maintain attention. He talked at the speed of a dying man battling pneumonia and had a thick accent of those primitives over the northern mountains.
Down Longs his homeland was called. The name kinda resembled his lungs.
I learned a lot about him since he had an irresistible urge to speak of his life. He did this and that, been here and there and so on and so forth. I didn’t care at all, but he talked so slowly I simply absorbed it all. At first, I believed he thought I was stupid, but then I realized he had the tone of a teacher. I was but one of his students. Though I was, by far, the oldest one.
Thankfully, the king arranged private lessons so I didn’t have to embarrass myself by being worse than eight-year-olds. They sure would mock me. Man, I’d mock myself for how hard the letters actually were. They danced on paper, obeying unique styles and brushes, being violated by men too weak to violate others. Whoever thought of writing really hated life.
Nevertheless, I started mastering the letters. One by one, I managed to draw them on paper, realizing there were more strokes than it looked like at first. Each letter had curves, lines and whatever those dots on top of them were called. I never asked and Ulian never explained, so I called them Balds. To honor my king’s hairstyle.
Days passed. Weeks passed. Even… months passed before I got a grip on all the letters. Yes, it was embarrassing, but it was hard learning that stuff at my age and with my background.
After our lessons ended, Ulian wanted to test me. “The king demands perfection, and I’m here to make sure of that,” he said painfully slowly, refusing to let me go until I pass the test.
I failed the test. And I felt awful. To such a degree that I had to get some sort of revenge on Ulian. He was the one who taught me poorly, of course. I started by putting a snake in his chamber pot. Then I failed the test for the second time. So I set his bed aflame when he wasn’t in his room.
It all turned out pointless — my trickery might’ve upset him, but he wasn’t about to let me pass. Which made me stop and reconsider my actions. I was a naughty student, I realized, so I decided to change my approach.
When the next test was about to take time, I showed up with more confidence than before. I sat down at the table and solved it. And I finally passed.
Ulian responded with something I didn’t understand. He had such a thick accent, it was no wonder. Or it might’ve been the spice I’ve put in his lunch before the test. Well, who knows. It’s been days since then. And I apparently have learned how to read and write.
Wearing a proud grin, I put my ‘jester’ hat on and went to see the king. On my way, I was picturing the letters that spelled Bald’s name. None of them had those bald dots in it. The lack of irony left me a bit down, but I kept on smiling.
“And there were fingers and crumbs, between Dirty Mara’s sweaty bums,” I sang the latest tune as my dashing feet carried me through the Household halls. The servants greeted me, but I didn’t respond. For what kind of royalty would I be if I spoke to illiterate folk?
I waved them with the proof of my literacy when I stopped before the entrance to Bald’s chambers. For a moment, I swear I heard a weep from the inside. As curious by nature as I was, I opened the door before knocking. And my mood slackened instantly.
Inside the chambers, Bald sat at his table. Alone and broken, cleaning his wet face with a napkin.
“My king,” I said and approached his table. A yelp escaped him, the kind that a dying dog would make.
“There, there,” I came closer. “Hush, my dear king,” I pressed on. My apologetic hand rested on his head, covering the bald spot.
“Sit,” Bald said decisively. Struck by his rudeness, I backed away and took a seat next to him.
“Mimi…” he said.
“Master…” I replied.
It was one of those situations in which you have to try hard not to laugh. Sort of a funeral situation. So I stood up and walked to the window to pretend how much I admired the king’s gardens.
“It’s Eleanore,” Bald said. “She’s given birth to a boy.”
“She’s given birth?” I turned around, shocked by how shocked I actually was. I mean, what’s to be expected of a pregnant woman? But, nonetheless, it came before its time. “That’s quite early, my king.”
“Yes, it is,” he said.
“What are you going to do? You can’t leave the kingdom.”
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. In those days, Bald was completely alone. His wife was dead and all his kids were away. Two sons and a daughter. None of them even close to the throne.
Well, I guess that’s a stupid way of putting it. To be honest, the king himself locked up both his sons and sent his daughter far, far away when her belly swelled. It was a really tough situation. But that’s a story for another time. For now, it’s important that Bald ruled with no stable successors, and Eleanore gave birth.
“You’re going to see her, Mimi.”
“I’m going to see her,” I repeated and only then realized what was Bald asking of me. “No, no, my king, I can’t do that. I’m only a fool!”
Bald shrugged as if realizing how stupid he sounded. But he continued. “You’re the only man I trust in this piggery people call a kingdom. I don’t even trust my children!” he yelled at me as if I was one of them.
“I’m sorry, my lord, but…”
“You leave in a week, Mimi. I was hoping it’d take another month or two, but I was wrong. The child is born and you’re not done with preparations yet.”
“You’ve been preparing me?” I asked as I dramatically put my hand over my chest.
Bald ignored my idiocy, but it gave him a moment to recollect himself. “I believe that’s the proof of your literacy you’re holding, Mimi?”
“No, it’s not,” I shook my head, then bit off a piece of paper. I chewed fast because Bald started chasing me around the room.
“Give me that!” he said after the chair I bumped into defeated me. I swallowed the piece of paper I’ve bitten off, but Bald seized the remnants.
“Don’t read that! I drugged Ulian so I can pass the test!”
He ignored me and nodded at the scribe’s signature at the bottom of the half-eaten paper. “You’re going to Beben in a week. In the meantime, you’ll use the time to perfect your court manners. Because only perfection is expected of the king’s ambassador.”
Maybe it was the mad look Bald gave me. Or the fist he raised in my direction. Or the death threats he mouthed. Whatever it was, at that moment, I remembered the king can be madder than a fool. For Sevens’ sake, the man imprisoned his own children.
So I realized I had no choice. No one asked for my opinion. I was going to Beben.
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That same night, I found myself at the working table in my room. It was the first time I used the wooden surface for anything besides drinking. Even though the night had fallen, I had no intention of neither drinking nor sleeping. And I really, really liked doing both.
But it had to wait for I had only a week until the journey east. And if I come back in a coffin, I’d be very regretful. Because no one would know about me and I’d soon be forgotten. I couldn’t allow that, for my life is worthy of a story. I had to use my new skills and write it all down before Bald sends me away.
So there I was — an idiot with a quiver and a bunch of overpriced papers. A dangerous combination. Or it would be, if I remembered to ask for ink. An idiot indeed…
Let’s try this one more time.
So there I was, an idiot who had to wake up the scribe to ask for ink, armed with a quiver and a pile of papers. It indeed was a dangerous combination. Once I had something to dip my quiver into.
Using all the hard-learned letters, I started writing down the voices in my head. It might sound mad, but it was the same thing as thinking, only I was forced to form the thoughts instead of letting them overflow my mind. As I was pressing the ink on the paper, the bells on my uniform clinked. I chuckled like an innocent boy, knowing I was the first fool to be writing a diary. The first fool to write anything at all, as a matter of fact.
In the following hours, the voices went beyond control. They told me stories I’ve lived through, talking to me like I was some kind of an observer, and to shut them up, I had to write down everything they spoke of.
A dangerous journey awaited me in a week. And is there a better motivator to tell a story than potential death?
As I was listening to the voices, I got so immersed in the stories I was barely aware of what was going to happen. The narrative took over me. But, most importantly, the voices spoke only the truth. I know it because I read everything they told me once I’ve written it down.
And I smiled as I was writing, for it was my past, my life. It might’ve been too late for a diary, but each word had a feel to it — a feeling like I was writing it ages ago. It was my life compressed into pages, imprisoned by the blackness of the ink. The tiny muscles of my hand burned when I was done with the first session.
I flipped the pages a couple of times, admiring how much was I capable of writing after so little time of learning to do so. At first, I laughed at the spot where I spilled too much ink. But in the end, I cringed after realizing I won’t have enough ink to finish my story. Still, I kept on writing.
Such were the voices in my head. They didn’t care if I had to wake up the scribe to get more ink or even write in my own blood. And I hated myself for thinking of that idea because the next thing I was doing was cutting a finger of my left hand. It hurt.
“Ouch,” I said.
So the writing continued into the night — all until I passed out. Was it tiredness or the loss of blood, I’ll never know.
I only knew that, by the time I woke up, the voices finally shut up. Outside, the birds were singing and the sun was high up in the sky. It was a beautiful day. But it will only last until the night falls again. And then the voices will command me to finish the story. My past had to be recorded before I depart for Beben.
The only thing scarier than an ambitious madman is the one who’s aware of his actions. I’ve done a lot to get here and I only plan to do as much before they bury me. Or hang. Or burn alive. Because what I’ve done and what I plan to do doesn’t end well in times like these.
I came here laughing and joking and intend to leave in the same fashion. But before I do, I’m writing it all down. Ink and blood will stain my hands. All in the purpose of truth.
My name is Mimi and I’m a Fool.
Welcome to the diary of me.
Diary of a Fool Chapter I ends here.
Click next story for Chapter II.