William Crump and the end of the line
The fortnight was up. William Crump had to hand over the golden crown he had found to the authorities. Give the crown to the crown, as he’d joked at least a hundred times already.
He put the object on his head one last time. A foolish gesture, but he was a foolish man, as he’d willingly admit. Who but a fool would go out every weekend in all weathers, hunting for gold. Yet this particular fool had come good, he had found his treasure, and had approximately ten more minutes to enjoy it. His friend Brian from the town museum had given the relevant officials a tip-off and there was a small party of historians waiting for him.
“I am standing down as king,” he announced to no-one in particular. He just had to say the words.
Now he was ready to leave. He placed the crown in the special sealed container Brian had given him. “Don’t for goodness sake tell anyone you’ve been wearing it around the house. And make sure you don’t leave any hairs on it, you don’t want everyone thinking they’ve found DNA from an ancient king.”
“Any other orders?”
“Yes. Don’t tell anyone I’ve already seen it.”
The gods missed all of this. Boess, rules of the old gods, had been watching Crump’s every move, but today he had other things to do. He was busy preparing Crump’s downfall, unaware that it had already happened.
He had spent the day looking through an old pile of parchments. “You’d think,” he said to himself, “that the ruler of the gods could just work a miracle with a click of his fingers, but no, I need a spell to remove a king. But which spell?”
It took him most of the day, even with several lesser gods helping him. In fact they probably slowed things down, working as a team to a shared goal isn’t something gods are good at. Squabbling, fighting over parchments, making farting noises and generally disrupting each other from reading are.
Eventually Boess dismissed the other gods and found the parchment himself.
‘To remove a king’ it read, and listed a long complicated spell.
Boess drank a glass of water, to clear his throat, and read out the spell. It took a long time, but he said every word accurately and clearly.
His wife, Karen the Queen of the gods and goddess of womanly things, arrived just too late to stop him.
“You silly fool,” she said. “You have ended another line of kings.”
“I didn’t like this king. He kept threatening to spank us gods.”
“You need a spanking, maybe the king could slap some sense into you. Haven’t you realised, without a king for us to watch over we shall go to sleep again, as we did before.”
“Ah, I didn’t think of that,” Boess admitted, for until William Crump found the long-abandoned crown and announced himself king, the gods had slept for thousands of years. for in the old religion the gods were there to serve the king, and now the king was no more.
But it was already too late.
The god’s curse fell on an unworn crown, as it sat there in the museum, being carefully analysed by some of the finest historical minds in the country.
Down the Red Lion the former king was in residence, being interviewed about his find (for the price of a couple of pints) by a local journalist. The small amount of press coverage and the consequent fame it would grant him would be his kingdom from now on.
“You silly fool,” Karen repeated, but her voice faded, and the very realm of the gods faded.
The gods returned to sleep. A long, long sleep.
Except one, of course. Wiggley, god of sunshine, as he liked to be known, had made a promise to the king, and was thus bound, to go down the Red Lion every Thursday night and buy many a round, and afterwards, after much beer had been drunk, to make it rain, briefly, a new colour every week.