King Snurl wasn’t what anyone would classify as a genius. He was no idiot, but what he lacked in book smarts was more than made up for in charisma and a passion for his beliefs. With regard to how others should be treated, he absolutely knew what was right and what was wrong. Unlike the myriad of monarchs before him, he was going to be a different sort of leader. He was a reformer.
In his mind, forcing fellow Squids to live under the whip limited them as a society. If the kingdom stayed on this path, there was no way they could keep up with the rapid rise of the neighboring Horsefish city-states. Their cooperative nature and benevolent leader, Harmonium, was surely behind the recent increase in economic output and prosperity. Snurl felt it was only a matter of time, likely sooner than many thought, that his own people would demand similar empowerment. He thought it the duty of the government to give them stronger minds and stronger bodies. That was the only way for true greatness to arise. He viewed the citizens as precious children, endowed with skills that needed to be nurtured and brought to bear on society. They needed to swallow vitamins, not harbor vendettas. The only thing a frightened child will ever give you is the bare minimum, and that’s assuming you haven’t beaten her beyond even that.
King Slaygo, Snurl’s father, had recently been killed when a saboteur discharged a bomb that had been planted in the Royal Ballroom. It was supposed be a night of distractions and better things as the battle for the Starfish province had recently taken a turn for the worse. But there was to be no joy for those within the castle walls as power was thrust into Snurl’s unwitting hands with more than an ounce of uncertainty. He could have chosen to hide behind his advisers and carry on with the status quo, but he knew that his conscience would not allow him to escape responsibility. He was not his father’s son and it was time to put his beliefs to the test.
As the clock neared ten in the morning, Snurl arose from his throne and made his way toward the great hall. His nerves tingled and his body shivered as he walked through the chilly corridors. When he entered the large room, he discovered an anxious crowd of politicians and those of great wealth gathered around a large table. They were chattering away and talking about everything from political matters to celebrity gossip. As Snurl neared his seat at the end of the table, everyone became aware of his presence and a silence overtook the room.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Snurl announced as he walked up behind his open chair at the head of the table. “I’d like to thank you for joining me on this momentous occasion.” He took several second to take in all of the faces around the room. He’d known many of them for years and there were several sorts. Men and women who had been dear friends of his father. Some of them supported the old ways. Others held sympathies for those who sought to reform their kingdom before it was too late.
“I know many of you were well acquainted with my father, and several of you even had my grandfather’s ear.” Snurl took a deep breath. “There is a lot trepidation and concern for the future of our nation. We’ve all heard rumors and hearsay about what is to come, but my friends and fellow citizens, I don’t care to have any of that repeated this morning. My concern is merely to tell you the truth.”
“Truth,” Snurl said, “is an interesting word. It’s something we simultaneously love and hate. We love it because it frees us. We hate it because it brings about change. But if one thing is certain, it’s that change has a mind of its own, whether you and I like it or not. We can either choose to take control of that process, or let it pull us into a ruinous abyss.” At this point, Snurl pulled out his chair and sat down at the large table. He reached inside his coat and pulled out a piece of rolled parchment. He untied the string and laid the document out upon the table. All of the participants were greatly focused on the presumptuous king.
“Before me is our first step in gaining control. With this document, I declare that the monarchy shall be dissolved, a parliamentary system shall be formed and elections will be held for all government offices. It was my wish that you would all be here for this historic moment and join me as I put ink to paper.” Snurl rolled up one of his sleeves and extended a tentacle toward the bottom of the paper. The crowd remained silent and all that could be heard was the scribble of the ink emerging from his pores, hitting the page and igniting the transformation about to overtake them all.