The Embattled King and Other Tales

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The Embattled King and Other Tales

Postby shireling » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:47 pm

Once in a land, far, far away, there lived a good and loving king.

His kingdom covered a vast valley, sitting like a rich bowl between the legs of a range of tall mountains. The sun shown brightly on this realm, and you would have thought that the king would be content. But he was not. Because all of his subjects, from the lowliest serf to the most famous cleric, could agree on nothing.

Each and every day, the king awoke to fresh arguments and new battles, over what was to be done with what. The small and timid servants, not liking the conflicts round about them, would stew, swallowing their resentments. When these became too much to bear, they brought them forth in passive-aggressive behaviors that did nothing but annoy those of arrogant and self-righteous mein. These, in turn, would out-talk, down-talk, and talk-talk their fellows into submission, so that only they prevailed. By default, the sanctimonious would win, while the powerless would seethe and the decisions made pleased no one.

So, the king, hearing such squabbles from his throne, was most unhappy, until one day, when three wise ones appeared on his threshold. One wore raiment like a star; another like the moon, while the oldest and most venerable, resembled the sun.

"O king," said the Star Mage. "We have heard thy troubles and have come to assist thee, if thou wilt have us."
"Wonderful," said the king, smiling for the first time in many years. "Welcome, with all my heart." This in turn, brought cheer to the Three, and all agreed that the Star Mage should try first to end the chaos.

Going out among the king's subjects, he chose one from among the peasants, one from among the tradesfolk, one from among the clerics, and one from among the nobles. The peasant would, alone, decide all things for his fellows and they would have to obey, without complaint. The same would be so for all of the others, doing only what they were told from their chosen peer, and with glad hearts - no matter how they felt. Well, as you probably guess, this was far worse. No one liked being lorded over by one who was no better than they were themselves, and by the end of the first day, the selected four were fleeing for their lives to the castle, begging for rescue from the mobs at their heels. If it could be thought possible, the king was even sadder than before.

"Fear not," said the Moon Sage. "Perhaps my solution will appease thy wayward servants." And he would have it, that word should go out to each and every one in the kingdom, that all must wear the exact same clothing, regardless of age, size, deformity, health or gender. In addition, all were to have the same possessions, live in the same manner, eat the same foods, and follow the same schedule, no matter their occupation. In this way, reasoned the Moon Sage, all would be equal and none would be able to denigrate the others. And just as before, the plan was laid out and the denizens of the kingdom were made to obey. But the people were even more unhappy - wearing dress which did not flatter some, eating food which disagreed with them, and made to own items that may or may not benefit them. They complained to the king, and he agreed.

"In the case of the Star Mage, those chosen were puffed with pride and saw themselves above the rest. As for the Moon Sage, that was mere conformity and no hearts were gladdened by it. I thank thee, Gentlemen, for thy assistance, but there is nothing that can be done. My servants are a quarrelsome lot, and to that, I fear, I am resigned..."

"But thou hast not heard from me, O king." said the Sun Witch. "What if thy people were to surrender their wills and come to cherish one who has loved and cared for them, in spite of all their doings?"
"Truly," said the king, "I had not thought of that. Whom is it that you have in mind?"
The Sun Witch smiled tenderly upon the king.

"Why thy gracious self, majesty! Thou has stayed, and heard, and loved these foolish subjects, expecting nothing in return. Perhaps they should be made aware?"

And the king, humble in his greatness, agreed. Summoning all to his presence, he asked, from the lowliest serf to the most high cleric, if he had in any way, offended them. The people were stunned by the question, but within moments, there was a sea of blushing faces standing before their lord. No, they said, right honestly; their king had never offended them. He had always loved them, though they were not deserving, and even the most grudging had to admit this. The Sun Witch came forth.

"Then, if you are all agreed that your king loves you, will you not love each other, for his sake, and cheer him?" And with that, the hard hearts of the subjects melted. In truth, they were equally tired of things as they had been; seeing the justice in this, they knew they loved their king, and he them, and they, in turn, each other.

The moral is this: that one can lord over others, insisting that only by following them, oneness can be achieved. Or, one can demand unity, and shame others into embracing conformity. But, in the end, it is the love of one true-hearted Lord, love from Him and love for Him, and wishing only His good-pleasure, that, alone will unite the servants.

"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus

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