The Kingmaker’s Son

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The weathered and noble king sits on his throne. His chamber is adorned with mementoes of his prior campaigns and conquests. He is at peace. No longer is he engaged in expanding his empire, he relishes the days gone by when the world knelt at his feet.

The massive chamber door creaks as it opens. A timid boy peeks through the gap. The king belts out, “Come here, my son!”

The obedient prince scampers to the foot of the throne and climbs up onto his father’s lap.

“Papa, what are you doing in here? Come out and play,” says the energetic lad.

“I’m doing my job, can’t you see?” says the king.

“I see you sitting, is that your job?” asks the prince.

The king replies “No, I’m creating wealth and power.”

The boy laughs, “Sitting creates wealth and power? You’re funny.” He jumps off his father’s lap and sits on the floor with his legs crossed.

The king leans forward and begins to explain. “When I was a young man life was different. The world was ruthless and brutal. I fought in several campaigns and emerged victoriously. For that, I was anointed, King. I went on to battle dozens of campaigns and build this empire you now see before you.” The prince perks up as he is engaged in his father’s story.

“About 15 years ago, one of these battles was a disaster. I lost and was badly injured, I retreated to my fortress and pretended the wounds were superficial.”

The boy asks curiously, “Did you recover?”

The king looked down and shook his head “no”. He then continued. “Unable to fight like I used to, I fought battles on lands that I had previously won. It was easy, I already knew how to win and what I would be winning. The risk was minimal.”

“When was the last time you battled Papa?” the young prince asked.

“Not for many years. I only engage once in a while to maintain the illusion of power and if the risk is virtually nil,” replied the King.

“I don’t understand, if you aren’t expanding the empire and conquering new lands, how do you build more wealth?” asked the prince.

The king smiles and replied with approval. “Ah, you were paying attention, this pleases me. All of the properties we have acquired over the decades continue to pay. We nearly need to remind the world we are relevant and we will continue to collect wealth. If the world believes we have the power to make others famous, wealthy, and powerful they will pay us even more. My job is to create that illusion…I am more than a king, I am the Kingmaker.”

The boy is agitated and begins pacing back and forth. He then stops and asks, “But nobody comes to see you, you are always here by yourself. I’m missing something?”

The king laughs aloud and explains. “This is the illusion at work. Because nobody can see me, they think I’m very powerful and have very important things to do. They think I can’t be bothered by whatever it is they want or need. They would pay a fortune to see me with the belief that I will grant their wish like I’m some sort of god.”

The prince looks at him sideways with narrowed eyes, “You make wealth by pretending to be busy?”

The king nods his head, “Yes when you are older, you too will make wealth by perpetuating this illusion. You will tell people you are the Kingmaker’s son and they will pay you hoping you will introduce them to me.”

The boy’s eyes widen, “So by denying access to see you, you’ve created a demand that has value. That’s brilliant! I don’t have to go to battle? I don’t have to risk wealth? I simply promote the illusion that wealth is created! Amazing! But, what about making people kings? Won’t they figure out the illusion?”

The king humbly responds, “You charge them a fee for the chance to meet the kingmaker, and a monthly fee until they can no longer afford to pay. The ones who are truly king worthy become kings by their own accord but think I granted it, the ones who are trapped in the illusion will continue to pay until they realize they are not king-worthy. Now run along, I grow tired of this conversation.”

The prince grateful for his lesson excuses himself, “Thank you, Papa, I will begin practicing the illusion.”

The prince goes into the village and starts to announce he has the ear of his father who will do virtually anything the prince asks. After a while, someone approaches him. It’s a very old man. He appears to be a farmer. The old man asks “Young Prince, will your father grant me more land so I may grow more crops to feed my family and the other villagers?”

The Prince gleefully responds “Why yes, for a generous offering, I will see that the king considers your request.”

The old man pulls a small sack from his coat and gives him all the coins he has.

“Consider your request acknowledged,” confirms the lad.

As he’s leaving back to the castle, he sees a group of children. He engages them and joins in on the fun and games. One of the children is a sweet pretty girl. He takes to her and they become fast friends.

After several hours, the children go home and he proceeds to the castle. The king greets him at the gate, “Where have you been all day? We’ve been worried about you.”

The prince enthusiastically replies “Papa, It works!!! I did what you said! I told a villager you would consider his requests for a hansom offering,” and pulls from his pocket the coins the old man gave him. “He said he wanted more land to grow crops,” the boy disclosed.

The king kneels down and says, “Son, I don’t care what they want. The answer is always NO. But don’t tell them I said NO, instead tell them I need to see a drawing of how they will use the land and ask them for more money. Then next time ask if they have permission to use more water. Every time, use your imagination and create a new obstacle they must overcome requiring additional payment.”

The king pauses, and hugs his son, “You did good, now go wash up and get ready for dinner.” The excited boy scampered up the stairwell out of sight.

A week passes and the young prince anticipates playing with the other children in the village. He sneaks out of the castle and ventures into the village. He passes the old man who asks him, “Did you ask your father if I could have more land to grow crops?”

The prince responds confidently and assuredly, “I did! He would like you to create a drawing which shows how you will use the land, I will gladly relay it for an offering.” Distracted, he sees the children and the little girl and joins them in play. Hours pass, he grows fonder and fonder of the girl and asks if she would be his queen when they get older. The girl giggles and runs away. He is going to chase her when the old man intercepts him and gives him the drawing with some more coins.

“Please present this to the king urgently, we must get our crops planted to feed the growing village through the winter.”

The boy responds, “I will present it to him hastily.” The castle trumpets sound to call the boy home. He turns to his friends, “I have to go, I’ll see you soon.”

The king greets his son at the gates, “Did you play in the village again? You mustn’t leave without telling us where you have gone.”

“I’m sorry Papa, I wanted to see this girl again. I want her to be my queen when I get older,” said the prince.

The king laughs aloud “Lovestruck at such a young age! I see, but still, you should tell us before leaving the safety of the fortress.”

The boy replies, “I won’t do that again. Papa! I did what you said. It works like a charm,” as he pulls the coins from his pocket and hands them to his father. “He even made a drawing.” The lad presents it to the king.

The king hastily rips it to shreds without even looking at it, “You did well. You’ll make a fine kingmaker when you get older.”

Several weeks pass and the prince asks his father for permission to play in the village. He had completely forgotten about the old man, but certainly not about the girl. He dashed off to find the other children, but once again he was intercepted by the old man.

“Did you present the drawing, has the king granted me more land for crops?” the old man asks in distress.

The boy gleefully responds, “Yes, and he was very optimistic. He needs you to provide an estimation as to how much water will be required to yield crops on the new land.”

The old man is perturbed, “Sire, you don’t understand, if we don’t get the crops planted we’ll starve come winter.”

The boy responds, “I understand, please get me an estimation and an offering for me to present to the king. I assure you he is taking this matter very seriously.”

The prince continues on and finds the other children and the little girl. An hour or so later, the old man returns with the estimate and a few coins.

“This is the estimate the king requests and the last of the coin I have. I must have an answer tomorrow or we will suffer dire consequences.”

The prince replies, “Yes, yes, I’ll deliver the message as soon as I’m done playing.”

The old man is furious, he yells at the other children “Stop playing, go home this instance!”

The children scatter leaving the prince standing there alone. “You’re done playing, now deliver the message,” scorns the old man. The prince is shocked, he’d never been talked to like that. He runs all the way back to the castle.

The king sees him running up the path and greets him at the gate. “What’s wrong my son?”

Almost in tears, “The old man made all the other children stop playing with me and told me to get the message to you urgently,” the boy exclaims.

“Did you get an offering?” asks the King.

“Yes,” the prince replies as he empties his pockets into his father’s hand.

“Then, you did well,” says the King as he comforts his son.

“He said it was urgent and..,” the prince tries to explain but the King interrupts him.

“Now, now, what did I tell you. It doesn’t matter what they say, the answer is No, but wrapped in endless demands.”

“Yes, I understand but he was really mad and he spoke to me disrespectfully,” complains the prince.

“Of course he did, he is beginning to realize he is unworthy. Don’t let it bother you my son, it’s part of the process. Soon he will stop asking you for my help,” explains the King.

Several more weeks pass, the prince is now reluctant to visit the village because he doesn’t want to encounter the old man. But he really wants to see the little girl, he can’t stop thinking about her. He tells his father he’ll be playing in the village. He apprehensively makes his way to the village sure to avoid the old man. He sees two children playing but not the little girl.

“Hey, where is everyone?” inquires the prince.

One of the boys explains, ”Many of the villagers have left, the rest of us are soon to follow. The wasn’t enough land to grow a crop to sustain us through the winter.”

The prince eagerly asks about the little girl. “Did she already leave?”

His friend is confused, “You haven’t heard? Shortly after your last visit, she took ill. Her grandfather, who is the village farmer, couldn’t pay for her medicine and she passed away.” The prince is grief-struck. He runs all the way back to the castle in tears.

The Prince barges into his father’s chambers, “She’s gone! I’ll never see her again,” he blurts out while gushing tears.

“What’s this all about?” the King asks in concern.

“I took the money from the old man, he was the village farmer and the little girl’s grandfather. He couldn’t pay for her medication and she got sick and passed away! Now the villagers are leaving because they can’t grow enough food to survive the winter. It’s all my fault! I don’t want to be the Kingmaker’s Son!” wails the distressed boy.

The King sighs and squares his son’s shoulders. “You haven’t the skills to grow a crop, smith iron, or practice alchemy. You are the Kingmaker’s son. You will have to outsmart and deceive everyone in order to survive. People are taken by injury, disease, famine, and poison all the time. The notion that a little girl’s fate was in your hands is absurd. The old man was a fool and should have moved where he could grow crops to sustain himself and his family. That in itself is the lesson. You need to look out for yourself and your family. Even if people are directly or indirectly hurt by your actions. Your station in life means you are now and forever the Kingmaker’s son. You will see, next spring there will be another wave of villagers to take the place of the villagers who left, a never-ending source of wealth.”

The prince erupts. “The little girl will never be replaced, she was my queen! These lessons you’ve taught me are bad and lead to misery! I will never be a kingmaker!”. He then runs out of his chambers slamming the door behind him.

The king says aloud, “He’ll be back once he calms down.”

But the boy never comes back. He runs for days to lands far from his father’s reach. So far away, that nobody even knows of his father’s kingdom. He rejects his father’s teachings and finds a new path. A path of charity, compassion, and thoughtfulness. Through the years he grows strong and becomes a fierce warrior knight who defends his new homeland with devotion and heroism. He is anointed King for his worthiness and good deeds. His kingdom prospers and grows. Nobody is denied access to his court. All can speak to the king for free. He listens to his people and grants all that benefits the community. They live in happiness and harmony forever after.

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Rating: 8.75/10. From 20 votes.
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- Total nr. of readings: 1,168 Copyright © The author [2020] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.

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