Anna of Clevs
In order to save her village from starvation, a poor farm girl tries to sacrifice herself to the Gold King and ends up getting more than she asked for.
Tropes – Royal Romance, Meet Cute, Fairytale Retelling
King Midas is dead. His son, the newly crowned King Chrysos, is everything his father was not.
King Chrysos is fair and generous. He is not indifferent to the suffering of his people. His first act as king was to invite his poorest subjects to the palace every Monday and Thursday to have any item of their choosing gold-touched. Unlike his father, Chrysos did not believe in hoarding his gift. He believed the Gods blessed his family so that they might spread prosperity to the entire realm, beyond even the borders of their kingdom.
On the third Monday since he opened the palace doors to the proletariat, a young woman approached the throne empty-handed. She was slight with the wide hips and tan skin of the farming folk on the south side of the kingdom. She settled on her knees before him and bowed her head to the ground.
“Rise,” said the King, weary after hours of gifting and fielding exclamations of gratitude. “What shall I touch for you?”
The woman rose but kept her head bowed, eyes curtained by long tawny bangs. “Your Majesty, if you please, touch me and send me back to my village so they may take advantage of this gift.”
The King straightened, his fatigue forgotten, and leaned forward peering at the woman anew. Yes, she was slight, but she appeared healthy and of marriageable age. She did not wear the garish makeup of a prostitute, and her clothes were threadbare but clean and well-kept. And yet, what she asked of him was tantamount to suicide. “What is your name? Why do you ask this of me?”
She tipped her head up, flashing dark eyes, before looking down again. “I am Anna of Clevs, Your Majesty. My village is very poor. Because of the drought, we have not been able to grow enough food to sell. We are along the main trade route, but since we are less than a day’s ride from Khalessi and a short trek to Verus, many do not stop in Clevs. Regardless, we have not much to trade.”
She took a deep breath. Her shoulders were hunched. “However, if the girl gold-touched by our King was on display, people would come from far and wide to visit the village, and it would grow and prosper for many years.”
The King leaned back and considered her words for many minutes. Anna remained stiff at the center of the room. The guards held their positions. No one made a sound while the King deliberated. Finally, he said, “I will not grant your wish.”
Anna looked up in shock but didn’t dare question him. He continued, “You are brave and selfless. What you propose is very clever. You will come work for me. I will send a stipend to your village in exchange for your services. More than enough to see them through this drought.”
“My services? What can I offer Your Majesty?” Her eyes were downcast again. Her hands gripped in front of her to stop the trembling.
“You will join my council as liaison for the working class. My goal is to make this the richest, most sought after kingdom in all the lands. The working class is a significant part of the population. There can be no change that does not take into account their needs. Do you agree?”
She visibly unclenched as she bowed. “Yes, Your Majesty. I will do my best.”
“Good.” He turned to a clerk at his side, “Find her a room in the West Wing, make sure she has everything she needs befitting her status as a Diplomat, and send the first stipend of 10,000 gold bars to the mayor of Clevs. The stipend is to be delivered monthly, used to feed and clothe all the villagers.”
The clerk bowed to him, “So it shall be, Your Majesty.”, then turned to Anna. “Please follow me.”
Anna was led through a side entrance that took her deeper into the palace, into a whole new world.