The Keimathea Chronicles, Part II
King Ma’alekei continued to rule his realm with wisdom, and the people continued to enjoy prosperity and peace. During one of the King’s nightly banquets at the palace, a young man joined in the festivities for the first time of his life. Joronae was exceptionally handsome, his mind razor-sharp. He was well-loved by his fellow Keimatheans, and King Ma’alekei inwardly held Joronae to be the pinnacle of his kingly work. Ma’alekei had personally taught and guided the young man for years, instructing him in botany, alchemy, architecture, zoology, astronomy, and law. Joronae had come, at a tender young age, to understand the intricacies of royal law, and had a very bright future before him serving in Ma’alekei’s court.
When Joronae attended his first royal banquet, however, he began to see things in a new light. Literally. The crystal chandeliers in the banquet hall caused the royal jewels in Ma’alekei’s royal diadem to cast rainbows of color across the floor, walls, and ceilings. The diadem glittered and glistened under the penetrating light of the chandelier, enhancing its already-glorious beauty. Joronae found that he could not take his eyes off of the royal diadem. He was absolutely captivated by the diadem’s splendor.
Joronae’s neighbor elbowed him gently and commented, “King Ma’alekei is in fine form tonight, isn’t he?”
Joronae briefly lowered his eyes from the diadem to the regal bearing of the one wearing the crown. But he immediately refocused his attention upon the glittering jewels. The diadem was stunning. Suddenly, a single, stray thought crossed his mind – “I wonder what wearing the crown would feel like?”
Back at home, Joronae was able to put the thought of the diadem out of his mind. He put his efforts back into his family’s garden, and continued his tutelage under King Ma’alekei. When not at the royal palace, Joronae was untroubled by thoughts of wearing the diadem. But Joronae came to many more banquets in ensuing days, weeks, and months. Each time, he found his attention more and more pre-occupied by the glorious, splendiferous crown perched atop Ma’alekei’s brow. Eventually, Joronae could not even partake of the bountiful feast. The pit of his stomach ached, and he was possessed with an insatiable desire to wear the diadem himself, even if only for one moment.
Finally, one night, Joronae could contain himself no longer. When the guests dispersed after the banquet and returned home, Joronae concealed himself in one of the royal restrooms and waited several hours until the castle was completely quiet. Joronae knew where the diadem was kept at night – in a locked cabinet in the foyer outside King Ma’alekei’s bedroom. Joronae steeled his nerves, and crept silently up the stone staircase to the foyer.
At the top of the stairs, Joronae gaped in shock. There it was! The crown! The diadem! It was right there! The King hadn’t locked the crown in the cabinet tonight! Joronae could simply pick it up and put it on his head! There was nothing stopping him! No obstacles, no difficulty, nothing to stand in his way!
Joronae barely noticed that, without the chandeliers lit, the diadem lacked its luminous splendor—it didn’t glistened, and seemed almost positively dull, almost as if the greater part of the light cast by the diadem in the royal banquet hall stemmed from the one wearing the crown rather than the crown itself. Had Joronae been thinking with the clarity and wisdom the King had imparted to him, he might have noticed all of that. But all Joronae could think about was the crown, and how he longed to place it upon his head.
He paused momentarily: the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up. What was that about? It almost felt as if someone were watching him, anticipating the tragedy about to ensue. Joronae reached out, touched the ruby at the center of the diadem, caressed the gold filigree, and swiftly picked up the diamond-encrusted band to place the magnificent crown upon his own head.
It was far heavier than he had imagined! Joronae staggered under the immensity of what he had done, and the immensity of the royal crown that he had just claimed for himself. If the King could wear it, why couldn’t he? It seemed only fair that the best and brightest of Keimathea’s citizens should share the ability to wear the royal crown, didn’t it? Why did Ma’alekei alone claim the right to wear it? Come to think of it, who crowned Ma’alekei king to begin with? In fact, why shouldn’t Joronae himself be the ruler of Keimathea? The king had, after all, taught Joronae so much, and it seemed to him that he was beginning to exceed his sovereign’s abilities in several disciplines. Perhaps trying the diadem on for size was just the beginning of great things for young Joronae …
Just then Joronae noticed strange things about the lighting in the foyer. It wasn’t that the room was getting brighter; but rather, if such a thing were possible, the dark room was getting darker. Indeed, the diadem seemed to be drawing in darkness from outside. With horror, Joronae immediately knew what was happening. The protective shield around Keimathea, the Kingdom’s protection from the dark forces outside—somehow Joronae had deactivated the shield.
“Yes, my son.” Joronae was shocked by the quiet, calm voice in front of him. The King – not asleep, not oblivious to what was happening. He had felt someone’s eyes watching him! What had he done?
“Yes, my son,” King Ma’alekei repeated. “The shield is generated by the diadem when it sits upon the head of the rightful ruler of the realm. So long as the crown is not usurped, not worn by one unworthy of it, our shield remains intact. You have broken the shield. Keimathea will never be the same. You will never be the same.”
Joronae crumpled to the ground, crushed. How could he have been so foolish? He knew that Ma’alekei was the only rightful king. He knew that the royal crown belonged on the King’s head, not his own. He knew there had been good reason for the King’s edicts. But he had been so overcome by desire for that which was good that he could not see reason. And now all was lost. What would become of him? What would become of Keimathea? What would become of King Ma’alekei?