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The young Count David Paon stood on a hill above the capital, Rouge, trembling with rage. He had a copy of the French Bible in one hand and a bottle of alcohol in the other.
„Christians,“ he said with hatred. „How nice the world would be without them!“
He stared into the distance for a moment, where the coast of France was visible on the horizon. There they knew how to treat them. More than eighty years have passed since the famous Bartholomew’s Night (1572), and the Edict of Nant was released long ago in France, guaranteeing Protestants almost the same rights as Catholics from 1598, but David still thought that such a small Bartholomew’s Night would benefit this island.
Cygnes de Pays was an independent kingdom with over two hundred thousand inhabitants. As the Huguenot Wars began in France, a number of French Christians fled here, to this sparsely populated island country. On the other side of Mount Tranchant, this created a whole new city, filled for the most part with these people. No wonder. French was spoken on the island and the kings were favorable to the new refugees.
And so the population kept growing. There has been some persecution of Protestants in Europe all the time. Waldensians also ran here. From 1560 they could no longer be sure of what awaited them in Savoie. That’s when they lost some of their alpine valleys and privileges and harder times began.
And if anyone could infuriate David, it was the Waldensians. Actually, he knew nothing about them, but they were much more zealous and convincing in their faith than the others. In the capital, they had a beautiful new church, in which a fiery old preacher had been preaching for a few years, and his jokes were entertaining the whole city. And the worst part was that Princess Annabel liked the Waldensian teachings. And David was engaged to her.
David drank angrily from the bottle. It was late afternoon and he was quite drunk. But he still stayed on his feet and was also able to read.
He opened the Bible and found a place in it at random. It was the first chapter of the prophet Ezekiel. He shook his head, took one more sip from the bottle, and after a while began to read aloud:
Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
„Rings with eyes? Seriously?” He shouted angrily at the sky. „Why should I read this nonsense? Is that why I should lose this country? I’m supposed to be king here! Can you hear me, God?” He shouted. „This is my country. I will be king here, and this nonsense will not deprive me of it.“
This was too much for him. Somewhere down in the castle, the princess’s sixteenth birthday party began. David was a year older than her and had been engaged for several years to her. Annabel was an only child, and her husband was to become the king of this country. And for years he had been sure that he would be the husband.
„If you do not humble yourself before God, I will have to cancel our engagement,“ he muttered angrily each sentence from her letter. „God will give you a new heart and a new life – the fountain of wisdom I found in the Bible. And shouldn’t it be rather a fountain of nonsense?” He shouted angrily again and took a sip from the bottle. „What will be there next? After those rings with eyes? For example, flying plates or even a talking toilet?”
As he walked, he reopened the Bible. This time he opened it at the page with genealogy of Jesus Christ.
„Is this really your word, God?“ He shouted toward the heavens, drinking again. „Do you want to bore us here to death when you gave us this to read? Can’t you write anything better? What if you hired a more talented writer, obviously you are not able to write books!”
He came to the castle very drunk. The celebration took place in a large ballroom on the ground floor, and he stumbled among the guests, his eyes searching for Annabel. He saw her in a crowd of friends staring at him in disbelief. After a moment, she recovered and headed for him.
„What are you doing here, David?“ She said quietly. „I told you not to come here today.“
„I came to greet you, beauty,“ he said drunkenly. „Besides, you said I shouldn’t come until I at least opened the Bible, if I remember correctly. And I’ve already opened it and it’s just nonsense. Flying plates and talking toilets,“ David said, no longer knowing what he was really reading and what his own expressions were.
„Go home, David,“ Annabel hissed at him. „You’re obviously drunk.“