God’s Rival- Draft One
By Jennifer Anne Glenn
For thousands of years the legends have spoken about the great King Canute’s successful conquers over many mighty nations that crumbled away the moment Canute raised a sword against each nation resulting with each one falling into his great reign. Yet, as this incredible legend continued throughout the long and darkened ages it seems these whispers began to form a lie, a lie that blinded the minds of so many people that they knew not of the real mind of King Canute. The stories passed down were twisted and mangled into the world seeing Canute as a kind, courteous, considerate leader…
But, oh, how these people were fooled.
Here, I come to you, to tell you the right and truthful accounts of the devious and lying, once thought to be righteous, King Canute the Great. Let me begin with telling you about the hellish, ungodly sins that Canute dared to commit. He dabbled in self love and self worship. He saw nothing more than himself. Yes, he was a great conqueror and he succeeded in winning many battles, but he did not perform this magnificently for the greater good, this was for him gain riches, wealth and status. His narcissistic attitude bought down strong and well established kingdoms, tore apart many leader’s life-long work, just so he could gloat and mock those he destroyed. Even his own family had to suffer under his incompetence, his own daughter Gunhilda was forced into a loveless marriage of another ignorant and selfish emperor just like her father, even though she vowed she would never marry a ruler for the fear of reliving the remainder of her life in hell. However, Canute did not know his limits, his own vanity and pride acted as his vile conscience, and so he declared war against England. He clumsily chose to declare war and become the new ruler of an incredibly religious country, where the people would not dare revolt against their God for the fear of being sent to hell and punished for eternity, even though he was a disbeliever in God himself. Canute attempted to take siege over England expecting the people of the country to bow down at the feet like many had done before, he was blinded by such powerful pride he did not realise that a country as strong as England would fight for their freedom.
King Canute sat smugly in his throne centred in the middle of the dimly lit hall, his hands curled over the bronzed wooden handles of the throne the muscles twitching as hands tensed. A cold sneer crawled across his yellow coloured face. He turned and locked eye contact with a near guard who stood lurking in the dark shadows near a far corner of the huge, eerie hall. Canute nodded slowly with a lazy wave of the hand. The guard returned the nod as he stepped out of the shadows, a cruel smile twitched at the side of the man’s mouth as he gave a creaky bow to the King and turned hastily out of the hall as the great wooden doors opened. As the doors remained open, a chilling breeze swept in through the room dragging with it a deathly silence for a companion. Moments passed by as the court and King sat waiting. Soon, a heavy booming could be heard from a distance, as the loud and heavy sound came close to the entrance of the hall it became clear that this was not the only sound either, a rough, rasping, wrenching noise joined in.
Canute’s eyes fell onto the open doorway on the great hall. He dared not blink. The muscle under his right eye began twitching with tension and anxiety. His breathing became slow. He crept forward to edge of the throne. As the unsettling noises came closer and closer a great, sinister shadow emerged from the depths of the dark and gloomy corridors that met with the mouth of the hall. The previous guard stepped into the chamber; he took a few large steps into further into the hall so that the dim light cast grey shadows over his ugly face; his black, watery, beetle like eyes found the King’s. He heaved a loud grunt as he did so; he raised an arm the size of a thick tree trunk. In his grip, he clutched a handful of white hair that was specked with grey dirt. As the guard gathered up more fine hair into his hand, he pulled the hair fiercely wrenching at a skull that was attached. The skull was covered in a thin and worn of layer of skin that looked like broken and burnt leather. The man’s eyes were nothing more than sunken sockets of tried and rotted flesh. His lips were chapped and faded.
The old man was flung viciously to the floor by the guard as if he was merely a sack of rubbish. The man’s frail body crashed against the floor, his every bone being crushed almost against the heavy force falling onto a solid marble floor. The feeble old man groaned quietly in pain, he murmured something quietly under his breath as he tried to push himself up but just fell back down to the floor.
Canute perched on the edge of his throne with a self-righteous air. He raised his head arrogantly, and peered down his long and broken nose at the wreck of man on the floor. His upper lip curled in utter disgust. His blackened eyes looked about the silent court, who all stood staring at the elderly man on the floor. As he watched the prisoner with disgust, Canute arose from the throne and stepped slowly, his hands entwined with his tacky and mattered furs. Canute took the final step down from the throne so he was now towering over the old man; the arrogant king threw in his head and looked around at his leering courtiers. He opened his arms wide in a mocking welcome to the prisoner and projected his overly-confident voice and cried, ‘Here, my people, I give you the great and wise King Ethelred!’ Canute spoke these words mockingly, as he leered at Ethelred, who remained hunched on the floor. ‘The past King of England…Wise King Ethelred, do you have any words of wisdom you wish to share with your new ruler? ’ Canute chuckled at his own stupidity, the court following suit.
‘You…you stole my kingdom,’ the Ethelred’s voice came out hoarse and croaky, as if he had not spoken for a long period of time. At this, Canute crouched down in front of Ethelred, ‘You know my friend they really should have called King Ethelred the Unready, as taking yours was far too easy!’ Ethelred struggled as attempted again to pull himself up right. He pushed himself forward with his weak and scrawny arms; he managed to raise himself to Canute’s level, his weary eyes just about focusing on the ruthless man in front of him. ‘God will…’ Ethelred began coughing violently, his body shaking. ‘What was that?’ Canute spoke this in a patronising tone. ‘God will have his vengeance on you Canute…he will find you, he knows…’ Ethelred managed to speak those words before he collapsed back down to the floor trembling.
Canute remained crouching, staring at the trembling body of the past King, his face contorted with new, fresh fear. Canute may not have been a believer of the almighty God, but he did have his suspicions, suspicions he was willing to ignore. He focused once again Ethelred; Canute extended out a spider like hand and grabbed a hand of the old man’s hair, a wave of wrath flooded through Canute as he tugged harshly at Ethelred’s hair. In Ethelred’s ear Canute spat the words, ‘Tell me old man, if you’re got exists, then why is leaving you to enter hell? If he does exist, then I will send him to my very own hell and you along with him. Mark my words! TAKE HIM AWAY!’ Canute slammed Ethelred back down onto the floor just as the troll like guards took by his arms and dragged him away into the dark corridors that led out of the hall.
That night, when Canute retired to his chamber, sleep did not come to him. He lay awake restless in his bed. Fear still lurked inside him as the words of Ethelred echoed inside his ears. There was no such thing a higher cause, no such thing as a God Canute thought to himself, as he was the highest cause. He was Canute the Great, the almighty conqueror, nothing or no one was above him. He would not allow it.
As Canute pondered on these thoughts and ideas, he found sleep began taking over him. He found himself falling into a deep and daunting darkness that seemed to follow him up. The darkness seemed to weigh down heavily on Canute; he tried moving buts limbs seemed to have become twice as heavy as normal. A sudden sense of emptiness began filling his insides, sending a deathly chill into his bones. Canute turned around several times but he could not see anything for the darkness, he cried out, cried for help but for the first time in his life he was on his own.
Canute felt his jolt as he heard his named being whispered.
The whisper echoed loudly across the darkness. Canute froze in fear. ‘Be gone, or show yourself you foolish coward!’ Canute’s voice faltered under his own cowardice fear. He couldn’t see anything for the daunting darkness. The whispers appeared to have stopped for a short period of time, leaving Canute,
Silence echoed loudly in Canute’s ears. He closed his tight shut, as if closing them would get rid of the darkness, but it only more darkness engulfed him. He dug his fist into his eyes sockets, pushing his eyes back till he cried out in pain.
Canute. The whisper came again.
Canute whimpered quietly as the voiced called him again. Canute, Canute the Great. You tested my powers the moment you took reign over this land. My people have suffered because of your incompetence. The voice was powerful and stern. Canute quacked under the voice’s firm tone.
‘Who are you?!’ Cried Canute. The voice did not reply. ‘WHO ARE YOU? You…You fool!’ A blinding light coursed through the darkness, eating away at any shadow that lurked about. Canute was forced to shielding his face before as the lights intensity increased.
Fool am I? The voiced boomed. The same fool who created the very world that you take advantage of. I am God! The very God that you threatened earlier. The voice of God shouted these words in bitter anger. Canute froze motionless; his heart beating frantically inside his chest, his blood seemed to have frozen over inside his veins. ‘My, my God!’ stuttered Canute.
SILENCE! God’s voice echoed across the brightly lit room. You say that you are the highest cause of the earth Canute, even higher than myself, so prove yourself. Tomorrow, when the morning sun rises, you will gather all of the members of your court and the council and take them down onto the northern beach. But you shall carry your throne with you and take it to edge of the beach, where the sand and see meet. You will place the throne in the waves and sit on the throne, and command the waves to stop. If they cooperate for you, then you are the highest cause on this earth. If they do not, then you are no higher than any other human being on this earth. God’s voice fell silent. The scorching, blinding light faded away into the air. Canute found himself lying in his bed, his quilts entangled with his body, sweat dripping down his neck.
As the great waves of the northern sea crashed viciously against the strong and towering rocks that stood locked into the golden field of sand. The waves with white broken crests danced gracefully in take down onto the shore. Wave after wave competed against each other as the currents velocity began to increase more and more. As the rising sun peered over the seas head across into the beautiful landscape of the English country side, a long and dark trail of movement could be seen from a far. The trail snaked around the sharp bends in the paths; it weaved gracefully in and out with a steady gait. Moments passed as the trail of movement came closer to beach, as it did, it became clear that trail was a huddle of people moving gradually down through onto the sandy shore.
It was made clear that leading the moving crowd was Canute. A strange lay before the world. Canute walked with a steady gait onto the beach with an inscrutable facial expression a change to his face being contorted in arrogance and smugness. In his arms he carried a throne, his own throne. Behind him a gaggle of the king’s council trailed in his wake all calling him name, ‘Canute! Oh Great Canute! Allow us to carry your throne, your gracious!’ Each on chanted these words while bowing gracefully behind him. Yet the King just replied back with, ‘No. God has requested for me carry this throne to the sea bed,’ and that was all the King replied with as he carried on walking closer to the sea. The large crowd followed behind him, confused, unknowing to what the King was trying to prove.
As the King reached the sea, still holding the large and heavy throne, he turned round to the crowd who hovered awkwardly behind him. Canute uneasy with thousands of pairs of eager eyes all focused on him. He braced himself for the speech God had provided him with, he felt his heart thud strongly against his rib cage. ‘My people, I stand before you as no longer a great conqueror or a king of many. But I stand before you to give you my humble apology for how I have acted towards my own countries children. Last night, God came to me. He showed me what sort of life I had been living, a life of sin and shame, and now I have bought you all down to hear to prove I am just a man…not even I can control the earth,’ Canute broke off abruptly as chanting and yelling came from the crowd.
‘But you’re a King!’
‘You told us you can control everything!’
In reply to these, Canute braced himself one more time. ‘Yes, and I was wrong to compare myself to God. So now I will demonstrate to you that I am merely a mortal man. I will place this throne in sea and will sit on it. If the waves stop flowing, then this proves I am higher than God. But if the waves do not, and carry on as usual, then I am no matter than any of you who stand me before me’.
Canute turned away from the crowd that had now fallen silent, he felt their heavy gaze on him and he placed is throne in the sea bed and sat down on the throne. He closed his eyes and listening intensely on the sound of the waves crashing down onto the sand. To Canute, it felt like that he had been sat there for eternity. He opened his eyes slowly to find that the waves were flowing as normal. He arose from the throne, stepping into the warm depths of the sea; his skin tingled lightly as small tinkles of water splashed against his bare skin. He turned to face the gaping crowd; the sun’s rays kissed the skin on the back of Canute’s neck. He exchanged the stares of the crowd’s confused and dazzled expressions. He opened his arms wide and raised his head to the heavens feeling a strong sense of hope fill him as he said the words, "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings. For there is none worthy of the name but God, whom heaven, earth and sea obey"