Monday, January 26, 2015

Historical Rulers Challenge: "How the Mighty Fall" -- Hazel West

Here's my contribution to the challenge.

How the Mighty Fall

Author’s Note

This is essentially a rant about my personal feelings on Richard the Lionheart. I have never liked him, he was an incompetent jerk and left his people to starve, waging war, just so he could get away from England. I never got why he was so great, he couldn’t even do his duty. So this story is in answer to that, and yes, this is my opinion, you don’t have to like it. This is narrated from the point of view of Robin Hood.

Many years ago now, I took up my bow and fought for my country. As a king should do. Because we had no king to do it. There is nothing more shameful than a king who runs from his own country when his people need him most and then outlaws the men trying to keep the people from starving. A man who seeks war just to stay away from his throne, and one who gets captured in battle, forcing his impoverished people to pay his ransom fee. And like the loyal, jaded, fools they were, they paid it, thinking it a glorious cause. It would be treason to say anything else, and once I might have thought that too; I did think that. But no more. Not now. After everything, I have sought to seek an end of the matter myself, when even the enemies he fought against didn’t have the gall to do so.
            Too long, I have watched my people, England’s people—Richard’s people—suffer. I saw them starve to death, their children crying for naught but a crust to stave off their empty bellies. I saw them scrape the money for taxes together, taxes the king who was not even sitting on his throne demanded. So many people saw John and his lackeys as the villain, and I did too, at one time; I too fought against him, but I have grown wise to how it really went. John stayed while his brother left, he at least tried to rule England instead of abandoning his people to fight a useless war in a foreign land, taking the able menfolk to leave the women and children to starve, not knowing whether their fathers and husbands would be back at all, dying for their king but not their country in a land far away. Too far for any of them to comprehend.
            So I was going to end it. My bow has been my trusty companion these many years and my aim has not failed me yet. I hoped it would not fail me today.
            We were in France now, that country our glorious king so professed to love above England. It was some petty argument this time. Some land dispute, acting like a spoiled peasant just come to riches. It sickened me. We were besieging the castle, and I roosted in a tree, as I had many times in the old days when I was an outlaw. I could see the king watching the people in the castle. There was a bit of shooting going on between the two armies. It was the perfect time.
            Richard was laughing. That barrel of pig tripe. It was as if this was all a game to him. And that assumption wouldn’t be wrong. He seemed to enjoy war so much, how could he not laugh at it? Even his ‘imprisonment’ had been a luxurious one as his station required, while the men who fought under him while his people who had been captured rotted under torture and harsh treatment in the horrid prisons. At the moment His Majesty was watching one of the Frenchmen from the castle wall deflect the arrows our men were shooting with a cooking pan. I had great respect for that Frenchman. He was braver than the so-called Lionheart.
            I drew an arrow from my quiver, nocking it on the string. It was the perfect time, he was distracted and I had chosen a tree on the dividing line. No one would know where the arrow came from. Not that I cared. If they wished to kill me for this, they could. I knew in my heart that it was for the good of everyone.
            He was laughing so hard, he was bent double. I drew my bow, pulling it back until the fletching tickled my cheek. I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly before stopping just as Richard stood up. I released the string.
            He cried out as it struck him high in the shoulder and fell to the ground. I slid silently from the tree, taking up my bow and my pack. I wasn’t staying to see how it turned out. I didn’t care about the outcome. It still felt better than anything I had done in my entire life.
            Now to make my way back to England and see what I could do to help repair his mess once again.

Copyright© 2014 by Hazel B. West


  1. Ooh. Now that is some clever alternate history! As for the view of Richard, no offense taken here.



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