Knight of the Golden Goose [UNFINISHED ...]
Litrasaurus has a challenge, and he needs your help !
Dodo found this long, lost story, written by somebody called John R, which he then sent to Litrasaurus hoping to save it from extinction. The only thing is that the story is unfinished.
Neither Dodo nor Litrasaurus know who John R was (you never know he might even have been a king, because Kings and Queens always write their name with an ‘R’ after it); what they do know is that John’s wish was that the story should have a happy ending.
Litrasaurus has thought long and hard about how to fulfil Johns’ wishes, before he realised, of course, he could ask YOU to work on the story and give it a happy ending !
Once upon a time there was a lovely kingdom called Socradia. It wasn’t big, and nobody pretended that everything was perfect all the time, but in general the old king ruled wisely and well, the economy was well-managed, and most of the people were happy, most of the time.
In particular, the king was supported by five fiercely loyal knights who spent their days and nights fighting for the rights of the people, justice and truth. So popular were these knights that when they rode around the country - as they often did - cheering crowds would wave banners and invite them into their homes
In the fullness of time, however, the old king passed on, but his only daughter, the princess, was too young to rule the kingdom in her own right, so the king left everything in the hands of his trusted Grand Vizier, who had himself been a knight (the Knight of the Golden Goose) before being raised to high office.
Unfortunately, once in charge of the country the Grand Vizier revealed his true self. He announced that the people had been ‘too comfortable’ for too long and that they needed a more ‘edgy’ life. Few or none agreed with him, but this made no difference: he undid many of the old king’s good works and, most worryingly, closed the local newspaper, on a pretext. The king had always encouraged the people to contact the court with their thoughts and feelings, but the Grand Vizier wanted none of that, in case they were critical of his rule in some way.
The five knights were troubled and, as honest knights, voiced their concerns, but this did no good. Indeed, as time passed, the Vizier became deeply jealous of the popularity of the knights, as well as weary of affairs of state. ‘I was a knight myself’ he mused ‘and I can be a knight again!’
In a series of secret meetings he sought five other knights, who would be loyal to him and who had no allegiance to the old king. He garlanded them with lands, wealth and castles and confirmed them with titles and honours to buy their loyalty. Some of these were flawed and mercenary knights who knew little of the country and cared nothing for its people, but they were happy to take the Vizier’s gold, and pledged their loyalty to his nefarious scheme in perpetuity.
Meanwhile the five original knights knew nothing of this, and continued in their quest to serve the people of Socradia to their best ability, but this achieved nothing. Once the secret deals had been signed and sealed, the Vizier announced that they would all be banished to distant lands and would never set foot in Socradia again.
By this time the princess was of age and ascended the throne, but it was too late: she was horrified to discover that the economy was in a mess, loyal servants and citizens had become little more than a commodity to be bandied about and, as for riding through the streets in triumphant panoply, the new knights kept their heads down and hid in their secret cells for fear of abuse and insurrection. So far from fighting for the rights of the people, their main interest lay in lavishing praise upon each other and telling the people how wonderful they were.
The former Vizier - now The Knight of the Golden Goose once more - paid no attention to this, insisting that it was just a temporary misunderstanding, and that within the year everything would smooth itself out and he would be as popular as the original knights and the old king had been.
Six months into her rule, the princess realised that she had no power to overturn the patents and lands handed out to the new knights by the Vizier, but she was an exceedingly clever young woman. She had visited other lands and learned to understand their cultures and the way things were done differently... Not necessarily better, nor worse, but differently. And she was considerably more intelligent than the former Vizier. She developed an ingenious stratagem to give Socradia back to its people. It was a daring and courageous plan, but these were times when daring and courage were the only weapons not possessed by the rich, complacent new régime.
Sadly, her efforts eventually came to nothing and she, too fell under the spell of the former Grand Vizier. In due course the weak and venial knights who had taken the Grand Vizier’s gold departed, one by one, skulking from their castles by night with their tails between their legs, but by this time many people had left the country and the damage was done. New people had come in, of course, but they knew nothing of the previous régime and paid scant attention to the court. Still, however, the former Grand Vizier retreated to his cell, convincing himself and anyone who would listen that his régime was a great success. Outside the court his blustering fell upon largely deaf ears as more and more people turned their attention outward to neighbouring countries where they and their local customs were still valued.
And the moral of this tale is, sometimes, the golden goose just lays a golden ego.
Hmm, this needs a Fairy Godmother or Genie of the Lamp or some other character like that to bring about a happy ending. Perhaps the Princess could develop magical powers and bring all the lost citizens back with much merrymaking and celebration? John R