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Kiklos' Problem (Key-close)

Written by xero_infinities

Cortina was the name of a wealthy and powerful city-state. It’s most active “city-builder” was called Kiklos. He died in his old age, which is unusual for conquerors.
His Barony is said to have been the largest of its time. Every battle he fought in, he won. The empire was prosperous under his rule. His lands were rich in minerals, the black soil was ideal for many crops. His name was only mentioned in whispers by his enemies, and cheered loudly by his people.
As the Baron grew older, and the wars were over, he found himself feeling anxious. Not always- only at certain times. Those times were becoming more frequent and more certain.
BN Kiklos found himself, at other times, believing the stories that called him a god among mortals; even as his reflection became wrinkled and his dark hair showed tints of gray. At times only, he almost believed them. Those times were often while reading correspondence, in which he was flattered, and sometimes deified.
Sadness sometimes crept up on him. Usually this happened when he was alone.
Sometimes it happened, always uninvited, when the BN was among his treasures. He used to be particularly joyful when he was surrounded by silver, jewels, and other precious materials.
As he peered on the beauty of the jade serpent, his favorite, it would invade him. Even then, but only some of the time.
He spoke with trusted advisors about this dilemma. Begged for the key to relief from these seemingly random spells of avarice.
“I know who and what I am. These vexing moments must desist!”
Yes,” the advisors would chirp back, “we must not allow things to vex Lord Kiklos!”
The Baron was shadowed by jesters. This answer proved to be more vexing to Him, than not.
Many cloths were used to make the finest clothes. Trousers, shirts, shoes. and overcoats with such delicious appearance and comfort that it was considered miraculous. Such had never been seen before, or again. This helped at times, not all the times.
Jewelry, it was decided, by someone, would be the answer. As Kiklos thought it was his idea, he agreed.
“Jewelry to make our Baron happy when he is sad is needed! Each piece to be presented in ninety cycles, at mid-day! The winning jewelry maker will receive all the riches one can desire, as well as every other jeweler’s losing pieces!”
“To make him low when he is high! A piece of jewelry is needed! Become rich! Presentation in ninety mid-days!”
“Make your Baron’s melancholy go away! Bring him a new piece of magnificence, and a wish will be granted!”
“One winner only! All the losers donate their trinkets to the treasures that the one, single, winner gains!”
It was announced every day, for 29 days. The 30th day was a mess; Particularly in the eyes of the Barony's protectors, the Protamina.
Crafters who focused on jewelry were the first who began to appear at the castle after the announcement. Gardeners came too; making rings or necklaces of berries, or some other grown materials. Butchers, of sorts, slaughtered beasts for bone, or entrails, to make jewelry.
All to help BN Kiklos. He was beloved, and most people want wishes granted.
"People of the Seas" had jewelry made of seashells and other materials, normally unobtainable to “air-breathers”. Some makers built ovens, and others made complete smithing stations.
Both sides of the uneven, gravel road were filled. It was easily wide enough for two vehicles to travel between the rows. Enough room was left for travellers and onlookers, of which, more were arriving with each passing moment.
The traffic was tumultuous the morning of the 30th day. The Baron had not been feeling well since the last day of the first week. The noise did not help. He did not like all the commotion, and several times had to send His Personal Stratos to help maintain the peace; Maybe acquire some silence for him as well.
Before the light was at the brightest hour of the day, a low whistle from a steam engine was heard. It was coming from inside the home of the Barony, "Ateilotos Keep," and startled many.
The metallic doors creaked and moaned as they opened and drawbridge came slowly across the quiet river below it. Those closest to the edge instinctively moved back, some abandoning their stalls. BN Kiklos appeared as a silhouette. There was an audible breath, or gasp, taken amongst the populace outside the gates.
Saying nothing, knowing how his appearances affect the citizens, Kiklos walked. The staff in his left hand grinding, or tapping, with each measured step.
Behind him came attachments. Always trying to keep an even amount of space between them and their sovereign. Three of the Protamina followed, each leading a line of three stratos.
It was his first publicly viewable appearance since the end of the Baronic War, over a decade prior. It wasn’t planned, and the advisors weren't asked.
The crowd murmured, guessing at what the purpose could be, and taking bets in some of the cliques. When the Baron was close to a display on the northern side of the road, closest to Ateilotos, it became eerily silent.
Slowly, methodically, crissing and crossing from booth to table, from stall to shed. Assuring himself along the way that one of these items would be the answer to his problems.
Primarily it was the trinkets he wished to gaze at, but made sure to look at each citizen crafter, individually. Nodding slightly after eye contact became established.
He looked at the items that had been put out for display with an expressionless face. BN Kiklos said nothing while he traversed the long rows created by the contestants. His movements were slow, but even.
A flow to his walk was achieved to a degree that few are able. The great age Kiklos had survived to was being displayed by his conteneance, still noticed by few. Each of the flowing steps taken knew the grace of dance the was second nature. The one dance that experienced warriors attain. Kiklos thought of the practiced movements as "wisdom of the body." He's went so far as to make claims, possibly out of being humble, that his "great ability to destroy and create" were gifted to him, rather than learned.
It took hours, much longer than He anticipated, for each potential winner to be glanced upon. Lord Kiklos was enjoying himself. The Protamina behind the Baron were unabashedly annoyed, though silent.
"There should not be clues given to the crafters yet," the whispers told him. "Do not contaminate the well of hopefuls with your smiles or eyes," The political mind BN Kiklos honed in his many years leading, was reminding him of his position. Secretly, He hoped the winning piece would involve jade.
He smiled at the children. Bowed His head to people as he approached. A few anxious animals were calmed by His light shush and pats of His hand.
Lord Kiklos told the Protamina to make an announcement. Give thanks for their patience, and express joy that fills the air having so much beauty, and so much strength in such a small area. He was assured of the inevitablitity of fulfilling his desires, and was nearing an oversized bed, far from the gates separating the keep from the crafters before the speech was given to the Cortina people.
He orderd a feast to be made the following day, to thank the people for their efforts. The cooking staff had to recruit servants from their normal roles within Ateilotos in order to meet the needs of so many. Eventually, the impromptu festival of food filled the bellies of all the people.
Kiklos came out again on the 90th day, about an hour before mid-day. He wanted to get started immediately. Finding the happiness that one of these people would gift him had been the primary thought he had, moreso since his last appearance to these crafters.
One adviser, Dickie Dillon began reciting the rules of the contest, without being consulted, informed him of the contest rules, then added "those were words of a Baron given to the people, Lord."
"You must keep your words pure, Lord," another explained from somewhere behind Dickie, out of sight to Kiklos. He whispered the advice in a tone usually saved for begging.
BN Kiklos had been extremely anxious that morning. From the first beams of light the crystal sun washed over him, until the first steps within sight of the massive crowd waiting for him.
He woke up with a start, as he usually does, quickly donning the robe that was kept in the spot his wife once claimed was "her side" of the bed. Kiklos believed, or wanted to believe, that it still carried her scent after 3 years of her succombing to, or escaping, life.
The anxiety was quickly pushed behind his morning rituals, ignored as much as they could be. The contest, he knew, would alleiviate that negativity.
Kiklos walks with his usual grace, a little faster than usual until the first trinket was handed to him. Everywhere around him were uncounted numbers of unique things.
Beautiful things, scary things, magical things, disturbing things, plain things and extravagant things. Many couldn't be described with words, as no words yet defined had enough power to come close to the reality.
Kiklos was tired and awash with disappointment as the last few contest trinkets were being shown to him. All these things, and none were more than that; A thing.
None of those things examined so far had helped the Baron release the anxiety he felt as the only judge in this important competition. Not even 1!
"How will they take the sorrow of loss, or the fear of emptiness, if they cannot relieve this," Kiklos thought as meancholy began to sneak up on him. Then he sees an insult being presented. A simple, silver colored ring at one of the final contestant's stall and the Baron's thoughts began to race.
"Nothing so far had stopped the sadness and anxiety of now! Of the search! Of finding or not finding something that can stop anxiety or sadness," Kiklos thoughts seemed to happen too fast to think them. The thought tornado was paired, audibly, by a low "AHHH!" “After all the things presented here today,” Kiklos thought upon gathering himself outwardly, (not before all those near him feeling and seeing a complete change in demeanor) "this simple thing should help me? I think not!”
He was offended at its simplicity. The color was slighting him by being barely enough to catch the eyes! Why would anyone bring THAT? The sheer audacity of this... what... JOKE???
The three Protamina closest to their Lord, without being prompted, had their hands on the edge of their weapons. The middle of them, raised a hand with two fingers in the air, bent slightly; as this happened the stratos who followed spread around their Baron. They created a half circle that began at the front corners of the table in Kiklos glared past. They put one knee on the ground and looked outward to the crowd.
A man stood behind the long table, which was empty except a few smithing tools. The man presented his contest trinket from the palm of his dirty and calloused hand. It was laying loosely on a blue cloth sheening like silk. Surrounding him was a pregnant woman, close to birthing, Kiklos assumed was the man's wife, and a younger boy, teenager. The boy was collecting the tools from the table. He had bent his back and dropped his head, looking very solidly at his feet before taking a few steps back under the cover of their tented work area.
“There’s something on the ring, my lord,” said its crafter as he bowed his head as the ring was placed on the table, still using the blue cloth as a bed. As he pulled back from the ring, his worn, powerful hands were rained up near his chest with the palms out.
“Please don’t pass judgement yet. Not until His Lordship sees the details.” His young assistant took a couple more steps back after the words dropped from his mouth.
Kiklos realized himself again. It felt like a battle prelude he'd sung in his youth, and he didn't like it. Heavy eyelids went down.
His departed wife spoke in his mind, "Be dangerous, and the danger will be called to you. Be dangerous only when you want the call to be answered."
Kiklos realized his surroundings when the blink of thought ended. "The Protamina are feeding off my reactiond and have went into a protective formation... the crowds of people around me have followed their lead, as they should. Everyone in sight, except this family before me and the 3 Protamina behind me two step, also took a knee down to the ground, with most having their heads bowed low. They are afraid, and think I am dangerous," BN Kiklos thoughts happened with a stoic smile appearing on his face. His brown dark eyes lightened a bit as he looked the man directly in the face. "There is a lot of weight pressing down on them, and it ss necessary weight, in order for all to go down. The weight must be crushing," the Baron Kiklos was thinking. "Why is it crushing them down?" down, as he knew it to be unneccessary. upon Even the wind seemed to be making an ominous howl, where it seemed to be singing before. “There are lines!" Kiklos spoke loud, using the same voice he had rehearsed a thousand times. "They always thought your favorite recipes would cheer me up" Kiklos' mind wandered while he tried to focus his eyes on the little shards, "I don't.... hmmm... what are those... but no, i don't do dinners anymore... those... deffinitely lines... what was that you'd always say?.. that looks like jade shards!” Kiklos had the ring between two fingers at this point, a palms width from his eyes, and with the grin of a child discovering a crater on the sun with his first telescope. “There are words written here," Kiklos spoke loudly, overly so, and never noticed, the smile was still bright. He pulled a thin crystal shard from a pocket in vest and held it between his eye and the ring. “It’s titanium, my Lord,” said a young, puberty stricken, voice. “Strongest we got! And this whole 59 other days it took Da to write those words,” he met the gaze of a smiling Kiklos, and took a step behind the ring’s maker. “Did it now? That’s a long time,” He spoke clearly, looking at the man with a practiced smile. His eyes quickly went back to the ring. The blurry words slowly came into focus. It was only four words, and no punctuation. The words were messy, but He was able to read them just before he slipped it onto his first finger. It fit a little loose, and Kiklos had to make a fist before he rushed around the long table, dropping his staff. The man was startled, but stood his ground. His wife and son each blocked by an arm. The arms of Kiklos were thrown around the man, about chest high, as the Baron was not a very tall man. “Thank you! Your every wish shall be fulfilled and I will bless your children, both born and unborn,” He squeezed as tight as he could and tears were in his voice as he spoke. The maker relaxed his body and returned the hug when the words sunk in. Tears in his eyes also. He repeated the words from the ring, in a whisper, to BN Kiklos.
"This Too Shall Pass".

Summary

The story of the most celebrated Baron on the Shelf.
Date of First Recording
1080 AD
Date of Setting
1043 AD

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