The King of Diamonds - A Letter: Part One
To the editor of the Neopian Times,
I am certain you do not know who I am, even when you see my signature. I had hoped to start this letter in a friendlier manner, but I cannot lie; do not worry, for it is not just you who cannot recognise me, good sir, but everybody. However, if I were to attach a photograph of my good self for you to view, I am certain you would know who I am immediately, for I am the Royal Boy Gelert who graces the King of Diamonds card.
It must be a surprise for you to receive a letter from such an anonymously famous Gelert. The reason is simple; this year will be the fiftieth year since I committed a most extraordinary act that has sadly fallen into the depths of history. The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to revive what has been lost, and to present my story to you, and to all citizens of Neopia.
In my youth, many years ago, when Meridell and Brightvale were ruled by only one monarch, I was the King, and indeed the direct predecessor to King Skarl. I was eighteen when my father passed away, and five days older when I became King. I was still a naïve boy, unfit to rule, handle power or accept responsibility; my greatest feature was laziness, jesting, and occasional swordsmanship, although I was never terribly strong, and had only just grasped the basics of fighting when I first sat on the throne.
My early days heavily relied upon my advisors, whose wisdom and sagaciousness continue to outstrip me to this day. My laziness and unwilling nature did not allow me to be independent in thought, and I hung on their every word, nodding at every piece of advice they gave me, and letting them do most things without so much as resistance from me. One could argue that I had let them run amok, but they were loyal advisors, and although they could have easily abused my weak nature, they encouraged me, taught me the basic foundations of being a King, helped me understand state politics, and a year later, when our trust in each other was mutual, they found me a suitable queen.
She was called Louise, and she was the daughter of a baronet. She was a Royal Girl Eyrie, and when my advisors suggested her to me by inviting her to court, I knew immediately they had made an excellent choice. She was elegant in everything – appearance, manners, and most importantly, personality; she had a very patient and serene disposition, and her sagaciousness greatly outweighed mine. Within months, she was officially Queen of Meridell, and it was her unerring support that matured my mind and heart.
When it came to my second anniversary as King, I was much more mature; I no longer yearned for laziness as frequently as I once did, my judging skills had considerably developed, and whilst I began to take matters more seriously, I could never let go of my ability to jest. I still enjoy jokes and the odd prank, and it was a love which arose from seeing many jesters entertaining my father over the course of my early years.
Even though I had changed, I had never fully gained the trust of the Meridellians; my reputation as a feckless young King never really went away, and I knew that Louise’s popularity was greater than mine. Although it pained me to know that I was seen so negatively, even though I had done much to improve myself, it was never a burden to be situated under my Queen’s shadow, simply because she didn’t have one; she took the popularity very modestly, and in my eyes, she possessed too much light to allow even the tiniest strip of shadow to ruin her character.
During the third year of my reign, I received some peculiar intelligence, exactly at the same time as Lost Desert, Terror Mountain, Krawk Island, Neopia Central (incorporating Roo Island and Kiko Lake), and Tyrannia. The intelligence was conveyed to me through Richard Mixin, a highly accomplished spy and part-time advisor at my court.
“Your Majesty, I have received word of a unique diamond, the Everlasting Diamond,” the green Ixi had told me in great haste. “It is said to be thousands of years old, and it possesses magic beyond even the strongest sorcerer’s works. To have the Everlasting Diamond would be the ultimate weapon a monarch could possibly have!”
I confess I became a victim to the Diamond immediately; why, if I had that gem, I would become the most feared monarch of all Neopia! My people would no longer regard me as feckless! Ah, the intelligence had such an unnatural hold over me, and it proved just how weak my character was. Louise never succumbed to the Diamond, and had she not displayed such character and unaffected wisdom through the following months, I doubt I would still be here, writing this letter to you.
That night, I received a whirlwind of letters, all from the other monarchs. It became evident that they wanted that Diamond too; one particular letter I received came from Queen Katrina of Tyrannia – the Queen of Spades – and it read as thus:
My dear Edward, I believe I have never written to you before. Forgive my rudeness, and allow me to congratulate you first on three years of being King. I assume you know why I am writing to you, and seeing as I do not enjoy playing riddles, I shall be very straightforward with you; the Everlasting Diamond will be mine. I know your nature, I have heard many rumours about you; though they may just be rumours, when one pieces them together, there are certain truths to be found, and a very common pattern emerges. I have taken great delight in writing my first correspondence to you, and I sincerely hope this shall not be the only time you sample my words.
I formed an immediate dislike for Queen Katrina, and I never wrote back to her. I doubt she lamented the silence; even when I met her much later, my opinion had been confirmed, and has remained stubbornly the same ever since.
I may not have been the brightest monarch, but I knew that this rivalry could only signify war. Until one of us had the Diamond, there could be no peace. Thus, under a move which my advisors and Louise approved of, I ordered Mixin and several more spies to start seeking the Diamond; I knew that the other countries would also be likely to do the same, and so I sent some of the best, most experienced to go.
Whilst the spies were doing their job, I was forced to take charge of the troops. I had never imagined that being King would require me to do such a thing, but had I known, I would perhaps have been more attentive during the swordsmanship classes. I was even required to have a new set of armour fitted for me! If it were not for the good of the country, I would have refused such a movement; I had never been keen to fight, for I was very sensitive to excessive violence.
I can still recall seeing the troops being trained for the first time. Everybody looked so patriotic, standing in long rows, their silver armour gleaming under the typically hot Meridellian sun. I didn’t know what to think; I was proud, yes, but also sad to know that if war really did happen, I knew them only as armour, and not by name or personality. It was so daunting, so chilling, I wanted to use my powers to end the madness.
Fortunately, I had no need to do so, for within a week, the news transpired that the Diamond had been found. At first, I was elated, for I was under the belief that it was Mixin who had beaten my opponents to it; alas, it had been Captain Trueheart of Krawk Island who had found the Diamond. I suffered dreadfully from such a ruinous piece of intelligence; it was the cherry on top of a very dark cake, the final blow to what had already been a rather emotional week.
I barely slept that night; I was convinced the world was going to end. The Diamond had fallen into my opponents’ hands – and I was convinced that Captain Trueheart would use its powers to make him the ultimate weapon – the weapon that would end the world, and declare him the supreme leader of all. Louise, who had no such burden as I did, could have ignored me and slept without so much as a troubled thought on her mind; yet she knew I was troubled, and she spent the night awake, consoling me, supporting me, and providing me with much comfort. I truly believed I was in the care of an angel, and I owe a lot to her. She was always the only person who really understood me.
At dawn the following morn, I noted how unusually bright it was; I was convinced the sun was smiling at me, yet I was puzzled, and thought the sun had found the wrong Neopian. I could not see what was supposed to enlighten my mood, for I still had heavy shadows weighing down my heart. It was not until noon, when I was still suffering from a lack of appetite, that Mixin entered.
I noted how astonished he looked, and I eagerly pressed him for news. “My lord, I have received a request from Captain Trueheart and Princess Safara of Neopia Central.”
“What is he requesting?” I recall asking him immediately. My mind was already being thrown into turmoil of wonder and fear – Captain Trueheart, the current possessor of the Everlasting Diamond, could be asking for anything! Not to mention that Princess Safara was with him...
“They are requesting a private meeting with your majesties at one o’clock.”
To be continued...