Chapter 1: The King Sits
The King sat on his throne, as he’d done every day at that same hour. He would sit and stare. Before him was a temple built in his honor. It was an impressive monument, covered in elaborate images fashioned in the finest gold, which depicted the King’s many victories in battle.
Regardless of the urgency of any situation, the King demanded that this time of reflection be undisturbed. It was his time to contemplate his greatness as King––a time to remind himself of his vast power, his sovereign rule, and his enduring legacy.
Now, in his old age, he also needed this time to feel young and alive again.
“Oh, how I envy the days of my past,” he said to himself.
The hour was almost up and, as was his custom, the King walked over to embrace the temple and said,
“I see my life before me: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”
After giving his image a kiss he descended to the King’s Hall.
To Be a Fool
The King’s Hall had many entertainers. There were dancers, musicians, wizards, and performers reenacting stories of old––stories of the King. Their sets were elaborate with extraordinary and outrageous costumes. Of all of the players, the King gave greatest authority to the Fools.
In the minds of most, being a Fool was both admired and feared. Fools were admired because they had sole responsibility for keeping the King entertained. They were also charged with assembling and training many of the performers.
The Fool himself must be well versed in every form of entertainment. When the quality of a performance fell short, it was up to him to step in quickly and bring it back to a level the King would find acceptable. If successful overseeing the King’s entertainment, the Fool was handsomely rewarded, not only with lavish gifts but also with the respect of all the merchants and performers.
A Fool’s position was feared, however, because the cost of failure was extremely high. Failure to entertain the King meant either a mark on the forehead and exile from the Kingdom, or––depending on the severity of the offense––death.
To be a Fool took much more than mastery of all forms of entertainment. A Fool also needed confidence, charisma, leadership skills, and most importantly, a sharp mind. The most talented Fool would be able to convince the King he was entertained even when a performance was poor. With a sly tongue and the shrewdness of a snake, there had been none better than Greedy Fool.
Every Fool was named by the King. Greedy Fool had come from a long line of Fools. His father, Angry Fool, was named for his intensity when preparing or rebuking the other players. This alone was entertaining enough for the King who rather enjoyed the abuse coming from Angry Fool. His reign as the King’s Fool had never been matched before. Due to his intensity, and the stress along with it, Angry Fool was destined for a short life. He managed to die peacefully in his bed muttering the words,
“I’ll kill…I’ll kill you if you don’t get it right.”
Greedy Fool was given his name by the King because of his greedy nature. After the death of Angry Fool, the King sought a suitable successor. To gain favor with the King, Greedy Fool manipulated and sabotaged his rivals. This was to the King’s liking.