This story about political transmission is excerpted from a forthcoming book of parables by Stanley Moss and Pierre d’Huy, entitled Legacy and Power, to be published in 2012
The Journal of the Medinge Group, vol. 5, no. 1, 2011
GENERATIONS AGO in the time of the Ancients, and long before the current era of peace, two kingdoms lived side by side, separated by a mountain range and unending war. They had been enemies for as long as anyone could remember. People had forgotten what started the quarrel in the ﬁrst place. There were years when an uneasy truce would prevail, but one side or the other would eventually break it, causing the kingdoms again to lay siege on each other, advancing, retreating, attacking, defending, plundering. They understood nothing but perpetual struggle.
Finally, in the Year of the Hawk in the 10,000th Dawn, the advantage fell to the kingdom of the west, Jandrigar. They had worn down Indrigar, to the east. The ruler of Indrigar was an elderly monarch known as Karek the Wise. It was his misfortune to have presided over a disastrous campaign, which left the countryside in ruins, his subjects starving, his fortress surrounded. His councilors and generals were summoned, but they were of no help, and he dismissed them in exasperation.
He had the further disadvantage of an impatient and disrespectful son named Prince Lorono. This short-tempered youth knew one day the throne would be his own. This particular prince kept his head in the clouds, and had a romantic notion about the power of political causes. He would often admonish his legions, urging them on with the hollow words claiming that together they could change the world. He pretended that he trusted and believed in his father, and falsely asserted that he knew in his heart there should always be hope.
But behind closed doors, in the dark throne room of the king, amidst the light from torches hung upon the stone walls, and in desperation of their dire circumstances, he accused Karek. ‘You led us into this battle, and it is because of you we suffer now. We have no weapons left.’
‘Weapons will not win this war,’ his father countered. ‘We need to listen to the ancients.’
‘Will the ancients feed our families?’ the son asked. ‘All the food is gone. We have no sorcerers.’ He shifted his heavy shield to the other arm, and moved his sabre to the opposite shoulder. ‘How do we live today?’ the prince asked. ‘How do we live when your solution is not working? In the world of the ancients the king ruled, and you do nothing but recite the old words. Your father used to tell us, let the throne look to the mirror. I’ve looked in that mirror a hundred times and I don’t know what it tells me. I am trying to ﬁnd acts which can change the world, or at least learn a way to behave in this situation.’
‘You don’t know what to think,’ the king said. ‘You don’t remember the great heroes—so how do you expect to act if you do not study our legends?’
‘Exactly,’ the prince thundered. ‘I am looking for a solution, any solution. I seek the ancient knowledge.’
‘The greatest person is the one who holds the blue box,’ the king said wearily. ‘It is so written. Let the throne look to the mirror. The person who holds the blue box will not be touched. Look to the mirror,’ the king repeated. ‘The truth is in the mirror.’
The prince said, ‘That old story had been often repeated, but it does not help us with the invaders outside our walls.’ He knew the words by heart from childhood, yet the meaning eluded him. Still, he decided to placate his father, so he said loudly, ‘Yes, I think I begin to understand. We are supposed to look deep inside ourselves for the wisdom, as in a mirror, and the blue box represents the answer.’
‘The answer,’ his father said, ‘is something you deserve to get. You receive it at the moment you need it. Soon a secret will be revealed to you.’
The Prince could take it no longer. He thought of the ragged people huddling along the walls, starving, frightened, sleepless. He remembered the army encamped outside the city walls, its bonﬁres blazing, war machines at the ready. Soldiers standing in a menacing line along the western horizon. He thought of the hardship of the war campaigns.
‘There is nothing left to do!’ he shouted. ‘Nothing left to think! I have seen enough of the mirror!’ And saying that he hurled the heavy shield at the mirror, which broke into a thousand shiny pieces. Behind the space where the mirror had been they could see the entrance into a chamber. Inside the chamber, all could see that the legendary blue box rested on a mountain of gold.
‘All you needed was the right key,’ Karek the Wise said.
‘We are saved,’ Prince Lorono exclaimed, and ran to the treasure, taking the blue box in his hands. He reached the parapet, where he stood facing the enemy. Then he held the blue box above his head.
The enemy knew what had been written, that peace would come from the blue box. Nobody really believed in the legend any longer. But the time had come to sue for peace. One by one, the enemy put down its arms.
Three days of feasting reunited the kingdoms of Indrigar and Jandrigar. And thus from the frontiers of the kingdom of the East to the deepest ends of the kingdom of the West began an era of lasting peace and joy.