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Fiction #252
(published November 10, 2005)
The Northern Kingdom: 4 Minute Stories
by Papa Osmubal
Prologue: These are ones of the stories told by a sage to teach virtue and fraternity . . .

i. the hurricane

The most powerful kingdom in the world, the Great Northern Kingdom, boasted of its strength. When its king called other kings of other kingdoms for a royal meeting, the latter could never refuse. At the meetings, the only voice that would command respect was that by the king of the Great Northern Kingdom.

The Great Northern Kingdom had all the wealth. It had the power and strength. It was home to the greatest warriors and knights the world had ever seen. It had all the most advanced and sophisticated war equipments, which were all fruit of its schooled scientists and inventors. No doubt the entire world was convinced, by will or by fear, that the Great Northern Kingdom was the most powerful on earth. If the Great Northern Kingdom said yes, it was yes, because it, because it had to be yes, because the Great Northern Kingdom was deemed infallible. A no had to be no, because, again, the Great Northern Kingdom could never be wrong. Its word was non-debatable. Its voice was the voice of God.

Other kingdoms, especially minor ones, which refuted and challenged the infallibility of the Great Northern Kingdom's voice, were living witnesses to the bitter wrath of this powerful kingdom.

But one day a hurricane came, pulling the trees to their roots and destroying many towns and villages in the Great Northern Kingdom. Many people left homeless. The forts and even the king's palaces were literally pulverized. Farms and livestock were devastated. In the wake of this hurricane so many things made by man was leveled to the ground. The king of the Great Northern Kingdom finally realized that its kingdom's power was nothing compared to the invincible and unpredictable power of nature. The Great Northern Kingdom did not have anything to show against the hurricane, how much more if it was the mighty fist from heavens pounding his entire kingdom to dust?


ii. the annoying king

Besides being haughty, the king of the Great Northern Kingdom was notorious for being so annoying. When inviting guests from neighboring kingdoms he would not treat them seriously. At the banquets, he would eat at his selfish way and phase and when done would even nap and snore at the table while others were still eating and conversing over the meal. He would put on the clothes he liked to don even though they did not fit the occasions. Many of his fellow blue-blooded friends knew of the Great Northern Kingdom's king's idiosyncrasy and childish folly, but no one had the courage to tell him for this king was notorious in meting out severe punishment to people who would criticize him. Many a times he engaged his men to meaningless war just because of being told of his unpleasant manner of speaking. None of his court ministers, knights and subjects would tell him of his behavior and manner for fear of being thrown into the dungeons, or worse yet beheaded.

One day he happened to have a conversation with a wise man that was invited to the palace banquet. He heard, of course, of the infamous personality of the king from words that went around, but it was just to him a mere unfounded hearsay, until he proved it true himself.

With all his heart and courage, the wise man criticized the king's behavior and manners. He would not stop until he said all he had to say in order to improve the personality of the king, because he knew the king was the icon and representative of his people, so whatever others think and say about the king the same goes to his entire kingdom and people. As was expected the king was burnt up with rage.

"You do not know that you will surely swing at the gallows for your impolite and treacherous words?" the now big-eyed king told the wise man. To which the wise man answered, "I know. For I know telling the truth has its expensive price. I know that suffering and, more often, death precede the much-desired change. One has to suffer or die before he can change something."

No one knows what happened to the sage after that incident. And no one knows if the king had changed or improved his behavior.


iii. the king and the artist

The king of the Great Northern Kingdom told his court ministers that he was looking for an artist to become the official royal painter. The court ministers made the king's desire known in the entire kingdom. They ordered the court scribes to write an announcement and posted it in every corner of the Great Northern Kingdom. When the day for the king to choose his royal painter came, almost all the artists in the land came. They were all assembled in the hall of the royal palace. Each artist was bringing samples of his work to show to the king. Their work represented various schools — from realism to abstraction, from classical to contemporary. But the king noticed one artist who did not have even one sample piece with him.

"Where is the sample work you are going to show me?" inquired the king to the artist.

Meek and nervous, the artist apologetically answered, "Pardon me, my Lord, I did not bring any, but I brought with me my brushes and colors, with the intention of asking you first what art you want to see and I will try my best to paint it for you. I have to make it sure what art you like, or else I might bring the wrong piece."

Upon hearing this, the king dismissed all the other artists without even looking at their work samples. The king had not only found an official painter, but also a court philosopher, a thinker and an adviser.


iv. snow in the northern kingdom

The Great Northern Kingdom was an incredibly rich place that its subjects and nobles considered it a paradise. It was the envy of the little kingdoms in the south, poor as they were. One of the things the people of the Great Northern Kingdom boasted of, as though their greatest source of pride, was their kingdom's weather — especially the snow, the white winter.

To the envy of people of southern kingdoms, they would tell of stories of snow, its beauty, its purity, how it shone when the sun was up and bright, how children played in it, how people held festivities in it, and how royal events were held in it.

Everything was like beautiful fairy tale to the ears of the peoples in the southern kingdoms, since only those well-to-do few had ever seen snow. Everything they knew about snow was from the words of mouth and from the pictures in the books and magazines.

"You have not seen snow yet? There is no snow in your kingdoms?" Great Northern Kingdom people would ask sarcastically to the peoples from the southern kingdoms when the latter would ask how snow really looked like.

Southern kingdom peoples were thinking why snow would never fall in their lands. They were thinking why they had only green trees, noisy rivers, roaring rains and blinding sunshines.

One day a great snowstorm ravaged the Great Northern Kingdom for weeks. In the wake of the storm was an entirely barren place: castles, houses, and stables beneath the ocean of snow only roofs could be seen; trees and poles collapsed; farms and meadows covered with white thick snow. The entire kingdom was buried under a white pall of death.

The once-great Great Northern Kingdom would not have survived such catastrophe and would not have been able to return to its former glory were it not for the help of the lesser kingdoms in the south.

The Great Northern Kingdom now realized that its snow, its magic, its beauty, its source of haughtiness, was also its downfall.

Since the tragedy, every time the snow fell, every time winter came, the Great Northern Kingdom would remember its helpful little southern neighbors, revering the beauty of its snow with simplicity and virtue. The Great Northern Kingdom stopped bragging of its beautiful snow, for it knew one day in the future once again one big storm would come with its black intent that man possesses neither science nor might to ward and stop it.

Epilogue: . . . but the world is devoid of ear to hear and heart to feel.

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