The sun was just beginning to set behind rich green trees that covered every last bit of the horizon, and Louis XIV., king of France and various colonies that I will not list specifically, was content.
He truly was, and normally, that was a hard thing for him to achieve, if not, dare he say, nearly impossible.
But as he gazed upon his kingdom that lay vast in front of him and that stretched for what seemed to never end, he exhaled and rested his elbows on the golden balustrade that surrounded the luxurious terrace he was currently standing on.
Why was he so content, you may ask. Well, for various reasons.
First of all, Louis had just won an important war against one of his arch enemies, William of Orange, that has threatened his absolute power. With the help of just a few thousand willing soldiers, Louis had crushed every last instance of revolutionary thought that William has spears among his people.
But he had also just this morning become proud father of a beautiful little girl, Louis Françoise, that his favourite, Madame de Montespan, had given birth to.
And, even if it was not right of him as king of France to feel this way, he secretly was more content about the latter than about the successful crushing of the revolution, for revolutions, or at least attempted ones, were nothing special to him, but a healthy and royal child surely was.
Oh, how her little hands had tried to touch her father’s cheek when he had entered the room as soon as the screams stopped, and how happy he had been for the few minutes he, the new-born and his favourite were given as a small family before royal duties had called him elsewhere.
Still, he treasured that memory, buried it deep inside his skull so as to never forget it and search for it and look at it in moments of need.
Really, Louis was content that evening, leaning on one of the many balustrades of his enormous, luxurious palace, watching the sun set as it drew paintings of pure light onto his face. The sun looked down on him, and Louis smiled back, knowing he was radiating no less than it, for he was the sun on earth.
Meanwhile, his brother, Philippe d’Orléans, also called Monsieur as he was the king’s only brother, was not quite as content.
He was sitting on the edge of his king-sized bed but he felt lesser than the poorest beggar that crawled the streets of Paris.
He had just had a fight with one of his lovers, the Chevalier, and the words they had hissed at each other in anger echoed in his head, over and over until he could take no more.
They has been arguing over a minor issue that hardly seemed worth the argument now, but it seemed as if the Chevalier based at least half of his character purely on being overly dramatic. And while Philippe normally enjoyed his quirky companion and his way of being quick with words and his sharp tongue, he sometimes wished that he could just snap his fingers and his lover would vanish into thin air.
But, alas, that was, of course, not possible, and so Philippe sat on his bed for what seemed like an eternity, contemplating whether or not to bring his golden-haired companion an expensive gift or to rather punch his sanity back into his beautiful skull.
Just when he decided for a bottle of rich red wine, a servant stormed in and cut off Philippe, who was trying to ask what on earth a simple servant was doing bursting into his sleeping chambers without at least knocking first.
“Monsieur, Monsieur, come quick!”, the young man panted, his locks all untidy and his face beaming in the light of the few candles Philippe had lot himself just a few moments ago.
“What...”, Philippe managed to say before again being interrupted.
“A man, Monsieur, a man! He collapsed in front of the palace gates just a few minutes ago, Monsieur!”, the servant explained hastily.
“Quickly, Monsieur, your presence is required!”
And with that, the servant stormed out without any further explanation.
Philippe would not have bothered with this nonsense if he was not so unwilling to go after his lover, so he groaned, quickly threw on a light coat, grabbed his sword and ran after the servant.
When Philippe arrived at the gates of the palace, half of the court must have already been there as at least one hundred large dresses occupied his view.
Without hesitation, he coughed slightly, but when no one even bothered to turn around, he groaned even louder and started pushing people aside.
After one or two minutes, he finally saw what all the fuzz was about.
His brother Louis was standing, back facing the crowd, in front of the silhouette of a person that lay in the shadows. Only a small strand of blonde hair was visible from Philippe’s position, so he walked up to his brother.
When he finally stood next to him, he looked at his older sibling. Louis was not looking at him, though, he eagerly looked at the stranger on the ground, whispering something.
Only then Philippe realised why not only half the court but the king himself was greeting the unexpected guest.
The stranger’s hair was not simply blonde, no, it was shimmering in the most luscious colours and the strand of hair that was visible was shining golden in the dark shadows.