The Untouchable

March 30, 2011
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The year is 1327. Young Prince Edward IV of England is watching his father King Edward III conduct his court. Prince Edward IV is twelve years old. He has dark brown hair, but very pale skin. For four years now he has been instructed in the ways of noble etiquette and is seemingly ready to watch his father do his job. Prince Edward IV sits in a large chair that makes his diminutive frame look even smaller.

"Now presenting King Francisco of Castille!"
Prince Edward IV straightened his back and reminded himself not to speak.

A short man walked into the room. He had dark skin and dark hair. When he spoke, his voice sounded exotic, of the southern lands.

"My lord," he began. "I have recently borne a son. I also hear that your wife will soon bear child. I propose that if your child is female, that we wed our children, and unite our countries."
King Edward III thought for a moment, stood up, walked to King Francisco, took his hand, and shook it.

"If my wife bears a daughter, I swear to you, by our God, that your son shall have her hand in marriage. I shall send you a message the moment my wife gives birth."

"The deed is done," King Francisco replied. He then nodded his head and left the court for Castille. King Edward III returned to his seat and awaited the next appointment, smiling. He was quite confident the child would be a girl.

"Here is a Jew"
King Edward III's smile faded instantly. An old man, beard gray, walked into the room. He was wearing a black hat. He faced the king, but before he could speak...

"How DARE you face me, your king? Turn your eyes away and keep your distance. Are you trying to kill me like you did my savior, Christ?"
The Jew would not bow, and simply said,

"I'm so very, very sorry, but Jews don't bow."
Furious, but acknowledging this, King Edward III coldly said, "State your case."

"Englishmen have been attacking our town for two months now. They've stolen money, food, they've destroyed property. I implore you, make them stop and leave our peaceful community alone."
King Edward III said that he would look into it, and that the Jew was dismissed. The Jew thanked King Edward III and left. As he left, the guards were laughing, mumbling, "Look into it" the entire time.

Later, Prince Edward IV was talking to his father.

"Father, why were the guards laughing when you told the Jew that you'd 'look into it'?"

"Because they know I won't look into the Jew's dilemma."

"But you said..."

"The Jews act as if they're a separate part of the island. They rarely buy goods from us, they don't pay taxes, and frankly, I couldn't give a damn about how rough their lives are. You saw how he refused to bow to me. I say to Hell with them all and good riddance. They're nothing but a plague upon society."

Sixteen Years Later

The year is 1343. Joan, King Edward III's eldest daughter is preparing for her trip to Castille, to marry her young prince. This marriage will mark the union of England and Castille. This is a very important marriage. She bids her father good-bye and heads to port. Along the way she crosses a crowd huddle around the body of a young female covered in black boils and blood. As she approaches the crowd, a Jew rushes up to her, urging her to flee, that this place wasn't safe. Joan ignored the Jew and simply pushed through the crowd, making her way towards port.

Reports of a new disease are starting to spread. In Mongolia it is said to have destroyed entire villages. The signs of the disease are always the same. First, a fever. Then the neck and groin start to swell. Then large black bulbs would appear on the body. The afflicted ones may even cough out blood. The lucky ones merely died. The unfortunate ones live. They lived, and felt the excruciating pain as they died. If that wasn't the worst of it, as soon as you were found to be sick with the disease, your kinder relatives would throw food at you. Normally your relatives would leave you to die, fearing for their own safety.

King Edward III would soon fall victim to this “Black Death.” He lies in his bed alone, suffering, yet still he would issue commands from his bed-side.

“Next,” the priest asked. “What shall we do about the Jews in our land?”
The king looked up at the ceiling. He could barely breathe, his eyes glazed, his body in extreme pain.

“Tell them that they’re...” the king trailed off. And just like that, he was dead.

Queen Victoria began to cry. England was without a lord, and she without a husband. The priest turned to Prince Edward IV.

“As eldest, you will inherit his land, his title, and his subjects. Long live King Edward IV! We must make haste for your coronation. The king is the only thing keeping the Vikings away.”

Prince Edward IV was soon made king. He liked to sit in his room and just think. He’s a 28 year old man, with the mind that enjoys being occupied. He attended his duties as expected.

One night, as he was sitting on his bed thinking, his youngest sister Katelyn came up to him. Katelyn is eight years old. She is the last of Victoria’s children.

“Brother, what are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m thinking.”

“Hey, I wanted to ask you something.”

“What is it?”

“How did father die?”
King Edward IV was astounded that Katelyn would ask such a thing. Yet, he still answers, “The Black Death.” But the next thing Katelyn said would like a great rage within the king. It would cause the greatest atrocity in England, it would bring catastrophe upon them all.

“Oh, you mean that disease the Jews spread by poisoning our wells?”

“Leave me, I require time to think,” King Edward IV said.
Little Katelyn shrugged and skipped off happily.

King Edward IV sat on his bed and thought. How do I stop the Jews from spreading such evil? The answer was so simple. Force them never to leave their little village! If they don’t leave Jew village, then they can’t poison more wells, the people won’t get sick. I must also determine which wells are infested and not let people use them. This plan was good. Surely it would save England. King Edward IV sent people to test the waters of all the wells.

At first the Jews protested that they could not leave their village, but when threatened with force they submitted. Many Jews lost their jobs but they figured that now they would be safe from the English. Surely the English wouldn’t attack them when they feared the Black Death would fall on them if they so much as touched them, even if by accident. What a terrible mistake that was...

“We come to report the status of the wells,” a messenger said. “They are all clean.”

“Yet my people still die. Jews must be intermingling with us. Take this message to Captain Richard. Tell him to assemble his men outside the Jew village under the cover of night. Let no Jew in nor out. That is all, you may leave.”

The messenger fulfilled his duty, and soon the Jew village was surrounded. The guards stood sword and shield in hand around the entire perimeter. It looked as if the knights had formed a gate enclosing the Jew village in cold steel.

Months continued to pass, people continued to die. Oddly enough, the Jew village didn’t have a single outbreak. Yet the world outside continued to perish. It was almost as if the knights formed a protective shield. Keeping stuff out of the Jew village, rather than keeping things in.

King Edward IV paces in his study. Why is this happening? I’ve kept the Jews holed up, the wells are all clean, how can the Jews still be doing this? My people die every day, nay, every hour! I didn’t want to resort to this, but I must have all the Jews killed.

“Messenger!” King Edward IV called. A young man answers the summon. “Take this message to Captain Richard,” King Edward IV said. “Unfortunate as it may be, I want the Jews exterminated. Dismissed!”

“Right away, my lord,” the messenger said, and sped off.
As the messenger left, another came in. “I have an important message for King Edward IV,” he said. “I am sorry to say, but Lady Joan has died. The cause of death was the Black Death. I’m so very sorry, my lord.”
Again I have lost a relative to this infernal Black Death! King Edward IV thought. This has to stop! King Edward IV sighed. It would soon be over. The Jews would be eradicated within a week. England will be safe.

The messenger arrives at camp around the Jew village. There is an officer meeting inside a tent.

“Are you sure those were his orders?” Captain Richard asked.

“Yes. Exterminate all the Jews,” the messenger answered.

“What? Even the women and children?” Lieutenant Frederick questioned.

“Every Jew is to be killed. All of them.”
The tent went quiet. There were no Jews among the ranks, and they’ve all been told the Jews caused this plague. The men would be ready and willing to slaughter. But the Jews are innocent. Surely they did not cause this plague? Many thoughts swirled in Captain Richard’s head, but the one that stood out most was, Can I issue this order?

“You know the order must be fulfilled,” a voice said from outside.
A man stepped inside the tent. It was Royal Physician Harry. An old man with a full head of gray hair, clean shaven. His bright green eyes pierce the air around him.

“My lord, King Edward IV has sent me here to care for your men if they get wounded. This is a ‘deadly’ enemy we’re facing. Poor Jews. They won’t even be armed,” Royal Physician Harry said. “I know you don’t want to issue this order Captain, but you must. These are king’s orders. If you don’t issue the order, he will find someone that will. You have good men in this tent. Neither you, nor I nor your officers want to issue that order. But what must be done, must be done.”

Again the tent goes silent. Captain Richard continues to think. He begins to think about his life. The youngest captain appointed, a great commander on the lines. Respected by those who follow him, respected by those who know him, and feared by those who oppose him. He thought long and hard, and finally he says, “Assemble the men.”

The men were quickly assembled. The messenger and Royal Physician Harry stand off to the side. Captain Richard begins to speak.

“Friends. You have followed me for twelve years now. We have lost many a good brother within our ranks. You have followed me when I needed you most, and even when I did not ask for you to follow me. However, I must now ask you not to follow me unless your heart is really in this. I have just received orders to destroy the Jew village.”
Murmurs of excitement fill the crowd. Captain Richard continues,

“But I will not issue this order.” The crowd goes silent. “I cannot issue this order. It is completely morally wrong. I have talked this through with the officers, they agree. So we have all agreed to return to London, to face the king for our weakness. We will be charged with treason and we will be put to death.”

Captain Richard pauses. Then he gazes up at the sky, recalling something fondly.

“I once read a poem. Beowulf. It is the oldest treasure in writing we have. It’s centered around a great warrior named Beowulf. Now a great dragon is attacking Beowulf’s people, and he knows he has to take it out, but he knew he couldn’t do it alone. So he summons eleven of his greatest warriors. He leads them into battle. When the dragon arrives, Beowulf charges into battle. Beowulf and the dragon are locked in combat, and this is normally when backup would come in, but his ‘great warriors’ appear to have fled. Only one of his warriors remain, the youngest of them, Wiglaf. And when Wiglaf saw that some of Beowulf’s ‘great warriors’ had fled, he had much to say, but one thing he said stuck out to me most. He said, ‘It is better to die in glorious battle, assisting our lord, than to live a coward in disgrace.’ This is the path that I have chosen, that we have chosen. My fellow officers and I will return, to die. Death before I issue this order. Anyone who follows me will also be killed. I will appoint you a worthy leader of the remaining soldiers. Please follow him the same way you would follow me.”

Captain Richard took a deep breath and finished,

“Men, you have been a great team. I’m sorry to have to leave you like this. Just, please, don’t forget that each and every one of you is my brother. I hate to see a brother die, and I have seen many brothers die. I love you guys, I really do. I pray that you will continue to care for one another like brothers and may your missions always be successful.”

Captain Richard, the officers, and a small squad of truly loyal soldiers (also believe in the cause) set off to London, knowing the only thing that awaited them was death. Of the soldiers that remained, a new Captain was chosen and the Jew village was razed to the ground. The Royal Physician makes it his personal duty to bury the dead Jews. “It is my duty as a Christian,” he would say.

True enough, when Captain Richard and his soldiers returned, they were charged with treason, and executed. King Edward IV paces in his study.

I don’t believe this! My most loyal captain betrays me, saying he refuses to obey his lord to kill the source of our suffering, my Royal Physician still hasn’t returned, worst of all, my people are still falling victim to the Black Death! The Jews, they should’ve been untouchable. They’ve spread this plague upon us by merely touching us. They’re like a filth, but their filth doesn’t wash off. King Edward IV sighed. I guess it comes down to this. King Edward IV called out, “Messenger!”

“Here, my lord,” a messenger came.

“Inform your fellow messengers of this message. I want it spread all throughout England. This is my new law, and it requires ‘irrevocable’ status.”
The messenger gasped. An irrevocable law stood for all eternity, no king could repeal it, not even the one that placed it into effect.

“The law is, anyone that has the Black Death, or has ever touched a Jew is to give a list of everyone they have touched after falling ill or touching the Jew, and is to be killed. Then, using the list, continue to process. This system will assure that our land will be rid of the Black Death. I will use the knights to enforce this law. Dismissed.”
The messenger stood in awe, but he must recover and do his job. He sets out to work, like a loyal subject.

The horrors this law would rouse. Many shopkeepers were killed because a Jew had touched their hands as purchases were made. This led to food not being sold, so it was stolen instead. And the knights were bloody in their murder. One would begin to think they actually enjoyed it. King Edward IV now walked with knights on his every side. Their orders were to kill anyone that tried to touch him. Many a man, desperate in their reaching to their leader, hoping he would save them, was killed. Towns were burned, and many more people died. Riots rose everywhere, people began to no longer care if they were touched. England is almost devoid of human life.

Practically out of nowhere, the Royal Physician returns. He was in good time too, because little Katelyn had recently fallen ill. The Royal Physician was ordered to care for her at once, and to make sure it wasn’t the Black Death. God bless, she only had a slight cold. King Edward IV was relieved, but now he had a certain business to take care of. But not before Royal Physician Harry asked a few questions.

“My lord, what has happened? I return and there are virtually no houses left standing! Bodies litter the streets, yet very few afflicted! There’s no food, and I scarcely saw a single person as I walked here to return to you!”
King Edward IV paused and answered.

“I have issued orders to kill all the afflicted in a desperate attempt to kill off this plague. The Jews are gone, yet the plague remains! I had to do something!”
The two sat down.

“What about you?” King Edward IV asked. “Where have you been all this time?”

Royal Physician Harry told King Edward IV the story.

“The massacre of the Jew village, it was too much. The blood, the bodies, the faces. I couldn’t just leave them there. I had my duty as a Christian. I had to bury them.”
King Edward IV’s eyes opened wide in horror. “Did you touch them?” he asked.

“My lord, I buried them. I carried them to their resting places. I had to touch them.”
The knights in the room shifted uncomfortably. Everyone knew what was next, save for Royal Physician Harry.

“And my sister Katelyn, you touched her, right?”

“I had to my lord. How else am I to examine her for the Black Death?”
The Royal Physician had killed them all. King Edward IV rushed out of the room warn his mother not to touch Katelyn. He came across his mother with her back turned. King Edward IV tapped her on the shoulder.


“Yes, my son?” she answered, turning to face him.

King Edward IV dropped to the floor. His mother was hugging Katelyn, assuring her that everything would be fine. Royal Physician Harry comes running into the room.

“Is it all true? Were you truly that foolish?” he asked.

“Yes, I was,” King Edward IV answered. The knights that had so faithfully followed King Edward IV’s orders began to close in around the four. King Edward IV’s pleas to spare him filled the room, but they failed.

“I revoke the law!” he shrieked, but the law, was an irrevocable one.

“I’m sorry, my lord. I’m only following orders,” a knight said. And the deed was done. The only humans left in England were scarce survivors and the knights. England is devastated.

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