Happy Ever After - A Fairy Tale Adventure
Let me tell you a story. Like all the best stories, it happened once upon a time. There were three, pretenders, let us say. The eldest was a dark and brooding man. He had managed the kingdom well, for half a generation. The people knew it, since he had told them so. As the Seneschal of the former King he had bided his time, though he had felt it very long indeed. The virile young King had scarce been gone a year or two before famine, pestilence and war caused people to recall with fondness the toothsome smiles and the healthy appearance of that man. Especially, when they thought of the frowning, louring troll who had replaced him. Besides, the elder pretender had declared himself regent, much to the disgust of the younger two. Perhaps the people would have been content even so, had he been handsome – but he was not.
At last, the elder pretender heeded the jeers of his rivals and, possibly, even the distressed cries of the people. He stood before the multitudes and announced a quest, so that it might be decided who should be the rightful King. Of course, the quest necessitated the slaying of a Dragon. The people were excited, until the invisible mist caught their attention for a few days. Some blamed a volcano in the nearby Kingdom of Ice. Some muttered darkly that an invisible mist might well not even exist.
When the people's attention finally returned to the matter of choosing their king, they paid a little more heed to the details of the quest. In an undefined place, or in a lair so hidden that none might find it, there dwelt a fearsome, noisome Dragon. As everyone knows, a dragon is a hoarder of treasure, but this dragon, Deficitus, had stolen all the riches of the kingdom quite away. The quest itself sounded simple, the winner would be he who could resolve the problem of the dragon and restore the kingdom to wealth and happiness, if such things do go together.
The Elder, Frons, proposed to solve the dragon by giving it more treasure until it was satisfied. This was not so foolish, in truth, for Deficitus kept giants, goblins and all manner of evils from the kingdom.
The Second Pretender, Pandus Tumulosus, was a combative fellow and put his trust in the cutting edge of his sword. He was convinced he might reduce the dragon's power by administering a thousand cuts. He claimed that he would convince a smaller dragon to deal with the giants and goblins. He whispered only in taverns that the people's taxes might become more punitive to purchase the services of this smaller dragon, and perhaps he was wise to do so.
However, the Third Pretender, Calculus, was younger and had been considered a ne'er-do-well by his older rivals from the very first. He knew that he had no hope of defeating the Dragon on his own. He met Pandus Tumulosus in some of the very same taverns in which whispers about taxes had been overheard. Calculus proposed that they defeat Frons in a tourney. The people felt a little cheated that two lances had been used to un-horse Frons in the lists, but many said they could remember a dim and distant time when such a thing had happened before. Thereupon, Pandus Tumulosus and Calculus proclaimed themselves Regent and Seneschal and began to rule the country.
The dreaded dragon Deficitus never was slain or removed or even exchanged for a smaller one, for the two could never agree on how to go about it. In time the Grand Wizard, Elemosinarius Filius magicked both away and he ruled for ever and a day, and he, at least, lived happily ever after.