The Thunderous Advance of the Last King of the World



    The great King looked down from the high, thin towers of his mighty palace. The grand capital city beforecityscape2.JPG him was full of people and beyond, as far as the eye could see and much, much further than that, his lands stretched. His armies were powerful and well trained. He was loved by his people and feared by every one else. All was well in the Kingdom.


    The King pummelled the windowsill with his fist.

    "It isn't good enough!" he roared, loud enough that the people in the street stopped and looked up. The King descended the stairs to his throne room where his generals were waiting. They stood as he took his place among them.

    "Are our armies strong?" he asked.

    "Yes," chorused the generals.

    "Are they well fed and well paid?"

    "And well trained," chorused the generals.

    "Then I want the world conquered by Friday," ordered the King. The generals looked at each other and turned pale.

    "It is not possible," said the bravest of the generals.

    "Remember when I ordered a dragon for the midwinter roast?"

    "Yes, majesty and one could not be found-"

    "One could not be found. What did I do?"

    "Chopped the heads off all the cooks, majesty."

    "I want the world conquered by Friday, gentlemen."

    The Generals had a great meeting where they argued back and forth about the King's proclamation. Finally, they agreed on a plan.

    "Mount our heralds on the finest steeds and send them to the four corners of the Earth," said the General of Diplomats, "so that every prince, emperor, king, queen and prime minister has a herald at his or her door by Friday morning."

    "Have every soldier go back to his village," said the General of Procurement, "have them bring back twenty people for the army and each one is to bring two blocks of wood and a tool to carve them."

    So it was that a great commotion arose in the land. By Saturday night, all the heralds had galloped away. By Sunday night, every soldier had press-ganged twenty more. By Tuesday, the new army was forming on the great plain outside the city and by Wednesday, every one of them was carving a new pair of clogs.

    "An army marches on its feet," said the King agreeably, "but they will need to march fast to conquer the world by the day after tomorrow."

    "Never fear, mighty King," said the General of Generals, "for we have a plan."


    Night fell on Thursday. Exhausted heralds had arrived in every capital city of the world and the great army was asleep on the field outside the capital city.

    "Behold," said the King to his Queen, who was very lovely indeed, "the very snoring of my army shakes the Earth. You will soon be Empress of the World, my darling."


    Friday dawned. A herald knocked upon the palace door of the most wonderous palace of the world. The herald who was very young and very brave walked in to the high throne where the Emperor of Half the World stared down, both terrible and awesome.

    "What do you want this time?" he asked.

    "Behold!" roared the Herald, "listen to the armies of the Great King, you must surrender immediately or be enslaved!"

    "What army?" laughed the Emperor of Half the World. The morning was silent except for the song of sparrows in the trees outside.

    "Behold!" roared the herald, silencing the sparrows. 

    The Emperor of Half the World drummed his fingers on the great arm of his throne and raised a great, bushy, scented eyebrow.

    "I'm beholding," he growled.  

    "Behold?" squeaked the herald.

    At which moment the wonderous palace began to rattle and the sound of a great marching army filled the room. Courtiers panicked, running this way and that, nursemaids scooped up royal babies and flapped away, as did all the sparrows. A commotion arose.

    "Ah," said the Emperor of Half the World thoughtfully, "give us a moment."

    The great King watched his army marching and bellowed with mirth. All he could see was the mass of his million soldiers on the plain, stomping on the ground. Although they didn't move, the sound of their clogs on the Earth shook the world.

    "Very clever," he proclaimed, "how very worthy of my greatness."

cityscape_2b.JPG In the Palace of the Emperor of Half the World, the Emperor leant forward, beads of sweat running off his brow.

    "What are your terms, herald lad?" He asked.

    "You may keep your kingdoms as vassal to the King of All the World, just sign this."

      The Emperor bent forward and took up a pen to sign the scroll. The walls still shook and the sound of marching was painful to his ears. Outside, people proclaimed that the army had reached the gates, yet others that it was inside, yet another that the city was in flames. The marching reached a mighty crescendo, followed by a roar and a rumble, and then silence.

    The Emperor of Half the World looked down at the herald.

    "What happened there?" he asked.

      "I don't know," said the herald, "I'll go and find out. Excuse me."


    Seven days later the herald crested the hill above the endless plain before the capital city. The mighty army sat about looking sullen and miserable.

    "What happened?" asked the herald.

    "Behold," said the General of Generals, "the capital city is gone and in its place a mighty palace of rubble has arisen over the bones of the great king, who is now dead."

      "How did that happen?" asked the Herald.
    "We marched a little too long and a little to loud and alas, we marched not to victory, but to an earthquake."



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