03 January, 2007

Interview with King Robert

The interviewer in this story is a generic person that represents any TV personality, though I was thinking mostly of Larry King while I wrote it. Otherwise, it could be anyone.

John Smith: Good evening and thank you for tuning in to our show. We have a very exciting show for you today. Our guest for the hour has been in the news quite a lot over the past month, so most of you know his story by now. Last month, he was a teenager living on his parent’s ranch in a small Midwestern town, now he’s a fifty-something ruler of a kingdom in another dimension. Please welcome King Robert!

KR: Thank you, John, for having me on the show. It’s a real pleasure to be here.

John: The pleasure is ours, Your Majesty.

KR: Please, just call me Robert. I may be a king on another world, but I’m still an American citizen.

John: Thank you, Robert. To get us started, would you mind recapping briefly for the audience the events of the past month.

KR: Well, John, first of all, it may have been only month for you, but it’s been about forty years for me.

John: Yes, we’ve all heard about your bizarre passage through time, but what do you say to those who doubt your claim to have aged so much in so little time? Those who say this is simply an elaborate hoax?

KR: Quite simply that the DNA and fingerprints prove I am who I claim to be, and the records show I was born fifteen years ago.

John: But you’re clearly not fifteen. Just looking at you, I would have to place your age in the fifties

KR: And extensive medical testing has confirmed that guess.

John: So, what happened?

KR: I was struck by lightening.

John: (smiling) Lightening?

KR: (laughing) Well, that’s how it started. I was out in the pasture at my parents’ ranch when I was struck by lightening out of a clear blue sky, and disappeared. This lightening somehow transported me to another world entirely, where I have lived for the last forty years. Now, lightening seems to accompany me whenever I move between worlds

John: But only a few seconds passed here before you returned.

KR: Yes, that’s perhaps the most difficult part of all of this to understand. It appears that time only moves when I am present. I’ve been here for two days since my last trip back, but only a moment will have passed when I return.

John: Amazing. And during your time there, you not only became the ruler of a nation, but also married and had children.

KR: And one grandson. My parents were a little shocked at that, but have welcomed their daughter-in-law and grandchildren, and great-grandson, with open arms.

John: I also understand that on this new world of yours, you are a wizard of some repute?

KR: Yes, but only there; it doesn’t seem to work on this world. Magic is a vital part of my new world, and there are now several scientists from this world over there studying the physics of it. I left when I was still in high school, so my scientific knowledge is minimal, but as I understand it, I and any other wizard on my world can manipulate electromagnetic energy with our minds, though not all wizards are equal in strength or skill.

John: Are there many wizards on your world?

KR: I’ve estimated about one in a thousand people have the ability to some extent. Every town of any significance has a wizard that serves in whatever capacity he or she can. Magic is considered a trade or craft much like any other. I was fortunate to be found by a wizard who recognized my latent abilities and took me as an apprentice.

John: And how are your powers compared to other wizards?

KR: I can honestly say that I am by far the most powerful wizard that world has seen in the memory of the people. Even legends and myths do not describe wizards as powerful as I.

John: Is this power what made you a king?

KR: In no small way, yes, but it goes much deeper than that, and those reasons are also the reasons I came back.

John: You are referring to the war.

KR: Yes, John. For the past thirty years, my people have been fighting, and slowly losing, a war against forces of a very evil nature. Though, before I get into the war itself, I would like to backtrack a little in order to provide a little background information.

John: Please.

KR: Thank you. When I arrived, I found myself in one of several very peaceful kingdoms, all ruled by very wise and benevolent kings, and a couple of queens. There had been a very long succession of such leaders, and they had introduced some very progressive concepts, such as basic human rights and equality, which was leading away from a feudal society and towards a more democratic society. When I arrived, there was already a parliamentary body in every nation, with representatives elected by the general populace. These parliaments had varying degrees of power, but one nation had gone so far as to give their parliament veto power on the king’s choice of heir.

John: So these nations were progressing in a very similar fashion to England’s own move towards democracy, as opposed to the revolutionary methods employed by France and the United States.

KR: Similar, but with even less bloodshed and more cooperation among the nobles. The nobility, for the most part, prided themselves on how much their people prospered. And they recognized that for a people to prosper and be happy, they have to have a voice in their own destiny.

John: You say the nobility was like this, for the most part. Were there some who did not agree with these new ideas?

KR: There were, unfortunately, and it was these malcontents that started the war. A few nobles tried to hold to the ancient tyrannical ways and they were deposed by either a general uprising, or because their rulers stepped in. Most then fled to one of two nations that still held to the old feudal system. There, they managed to convince everyone to go to war. Obviously, I’m giving you the very short version; there was a lot of politics on all sides, and it took at least a couple of generations for hostilities to grow, but that was it in a nutshell.

John: Wow. That sounds like quite a tale.

KR: It is, and I only saw the last ten years or so of it, before the war actually broke out. I learned most of it from my master’s history lessons.

John: And the war? Can you describe that for us?

KR: Like I said, the war started about ten years after I arrived. The first month was a huge shock. Considering the peace of the last few generations, it’s easy to see that many signs of war were ignored out of disbelief, so no one had a standing army of any worth beyond the parade grounds. Our enemies conquered as fast as they could march for the first couple of months. The nations soon rallied, though, and united under one banner we were able to slow their advance to a very bloody crawl.

John: Is there any war in our history that you could compare it too?

KR: That’s hard to say, first because I never finished high school so I’m not that familiar with this world’s history, and because the weapons are a mix of ancient medieval type weapons, swords and the like, and magic.

John: They use magic in war? What is that like?

KR: Very different from anything this world has ever seen.

John: But I imagine it wouldn’t be too different from modern war technology.

KR: That is what I imagined at first, but as I learned and grew in my own power, I found that this was not the case. Imagine having all of our modern technology as well as some that is still in the future, and being able to deploy it as easily as wishing it. I’m talking explosives, air force, biological and chemical weapons, as well as communications and spy technology.

John: That sounds…like hell. Devastating.

KR: It is. But then imagine that you can counter these things as easily as you can deploy them.

John: So, are you saying these horrors are never used?

KR: Oh, they are used, but they are also curtailed. The war wizards on both sides fight a battle of stealth, speed, and wits. And when something gets through the magical defenses, it is devastating. I enlisted in the army about halfway through the war, and when my magic gets through, I can kill thousands at a time.

John: That is a terrifying thought.

KR: Yes it is. Many would call me a monster for what I have done, and there are times I would agree with them.

John: But you claim to fight for a better cause.

KR: I like to think I fight for the same ideals that the founding fathers of this great nation fought for. But sometimes I question the cost, and whether it would have been better to surrender long before now.

John: What has the cost been so far?

KR: Many hundreds of millions dead.

John: Hundreds of millions!?

KR: Yes. The entire population of the world before the war was estimated at about one billion. On our side, there are now only a few thousand left, and the enemy has about ten times that number. Frankly, I don’t know if the population will ever recover, or if we will fight ourselves to extinction.

John: That is hard to imagine.

KR: An entire generation has been raised in war, and sometimes we find it hard to remember why we are fighting in the first place.

John: You have described hell.

KR: It is.

John: Now, tell us how you became king in the middle of this war?

KR: Well, a few years before I joined the fighting, my master was elected to represent our community in the government, and since I was still his apprentice, I went with him. By the time I became a wizard in my own right, I was heavily involved in politics, and already well known as a leader that held very strongly to the new ideals. I was even responsible for expanding property rights throughout the kingdom. As soon as I was granted master wizard status, I went straight to the front where I could be of greatest help.

John: I assume you started as an officer?

KR: In a manner of speaking. War wizards hold a place somewhat outside of the normal chain of command, but I was included in the higher leadership councils because of my reputation.

John: So how did you make the leap from war wizard to king?

KR: Quite literally, I was the last candidate left standing. As the war progressed, we went through several leaders. By the time the war had crossed our borders, the population had been severely depleted already, and there simply was no one left to lead. I was made king by common acclamation, having proved myself capable enough.

John: You certainly describe a dire situation for your world. So now the question is, why have you returned?

KR: To ask for help.

John: What sort of help are you asking for?

KR: Everything. I would like to thank the Red Cross and others who have already provided a great deal of humanitarian aid, including food, medicine, and even a few doctors. But this is not enough to win the war. I am here to recruit an army.

John: You mean you are here to hire mercenaries.

KR: In a way, perhaps. But I do not offer money to any one who joins us. Instead, I offer citizenship, and a chance to start over. We want people to fight with us who share our ideals.

John: You offer citizenship in a war-torn country. That doesn’t sound too tempting to me.

KR: You have to look to the future. If we win, and we can with help, we will have an entire world with only a few thousand to inhabit it. Any one who fights alongside us will have more land than he could possibly handle. And there’s always the possibility of becoming a wizard. One man who has joined us has already been apprenticed to a wizard, though he probably won’t be as strong as I am.

John: That’s quite a deal. How long do you expect the fighting to last?

KR: Either way, it will be decided in a month. My people have nothing left to give. Once I recruit enough people, I will return with them and offer our enemy the chance to surrender, explaining the new situation to them. If they don’t surrender, then it will be a brief struggle, using the technology of this world.

John: What happens to you if do not meet your recruitment goals?

KR: The U.S. Government has already agreed to grant asylum to my people, and I’ve already purchased a great deal of land in Colorado, near where I grew up, with gold from our treasury. No one wants to leave their homes, and it will be a difficult adjustment, but my people will be safe.

John: How would one go about joining your army?

KR: I’ve set up a recruitment center in Colorado and there is an 800 number to call for information.

John: Forgive me, but I must play Devil’s advocate with this next question. How do we know you lead the good guys?

KR: That’s a fair question. After all, I am familiar with American history and culture, so I would know how to pull the heartstrings of the people here, and no one here has experienced the history there, so I could potentially make anything up I wanted.

John: So what proof do you offer?

KR: Independent observation. I invited several people, including the scientists I spoke of earlier, as well as sociologists, psychologists, and diplomats from this country and the U.N. to conduct their own research and come to their own conclusions. They interviewed extensively many of my own people and some of the prisoners we hold, and some were able to witness first hand the atrocities being committed by the other side, including human sacrifice.

John: And do these independent observers confirm your claims?

KR: They do. You can read their detailed reports on our website, or you can refer to their many press releases and articles in scientific and political journals.

John: What do you say to those who are still skeptical in the face of this evidence?

KR: I can offer no other proof but what time will tell.

John: Well, I for one am convinced. We are out of time, but I will end by saying that my heart goes out to you and your people, whom you obviously care for very much.

KR: Thank you.

John: Thank you. We look forward to hearing good news from you in the future. Thank you all for watching, I’m John Smith reporting.

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