I took the story sheet back from Ross. "There is nothing in the story that has been sent to us that suggests to me that the king of either country has the brains to say no, and command a stop to the madness! Evidently it takes a greater man to stop the retaliations than those royal bags of shit that the story parades before us as kings. With them, there will always be more revenge, more escalation once the game has begun?" I told Heather that I would change the first scene into something that Steve would have told if he had to deal with this kind of setup. I opened the story sheet and began to read it once more in the way I felt Steve might have read it. I began at page one.
On a planet a long time ago, in the third solar system beyond the North Star, two kingdoms developed a feud with each other. It happened on a fine day during the time of the feud, when most people enjoyed the sunshine, cutting hay, washing their clothes, or sitting by the river catching fish, that his royal Lordship of the sovereign state of Greenfield sat in his exalted palace to which he had summoned all his lords and officers that they should give account of themselves. Over a hundred people had assembled for the occasion in the great reception hall near the bank of the river.
Here I added that his Lordship had rarely taken the time to observe his people by the water, excitedly catching fish, or in their small villages tending their gardens or nearby fields. But on this particular day, the day of the great assembly, something happened that caused the king to stop the royal carriage now and then during his morning drive through the kingdom. The king seemed fascinating seeing the people at work and at play, pursuing their living. Perhaps the difference was that on this occasion he had his daughter with him at his side that day. She had laughed and pointed things out to him and had opened his eyes to the simple beauty of life that surrounded them everywhere in his kingdom as well as his people.
On past occasions during his morning travels the king's thoughts had been at a much higher level. He had rarely noticed those ordinary things that fascinate children as do most beautiful things and things that are bright and interesting to watch. But this morning everything was different. His daughter reminded him in so many ways that living is beautiful. Also the official business was different this time with his daughter being present. He had come to the great hall with a brighter mood. Nevertheless, this didn't change the nature of the business at hand, or the duty that he had to fulfill to maintain his power as the king. Things became different when the child intervened and opened his eyes to things he hadn't seen before either, concerning his kingdom.
Of course, the child was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the proceedings. So his daughter sat beside the mighty king and watched and listened and pondered.
When the time came for the court alchemist to give account of himself, his Lordship rose from his throne as he normally did to display his power and shouted with his accustomed voice that echoed through the vast chamber; "What, no gold yet?"
The lad Vico kneeled before him, shaking at the bottom of the cascade of stairs leading up to the royal throne. He bowed his head ever deeper to the floor without as much as uttering a whimper in reply.
"You are a scoundrel, a cheat, and a liar!" his royal Lordship bellowed. "You came to me boasting that you could produce gold if I gave you a laboratory. Well, I have given you all that you asked, and more. Where is my gold? Are you withholding it from me?"
The lad replied by shaking his head.
"Search the smithy," his Lordship commanded the guards.
"Nay Milord," the lad answered almost imperceptibly, his body trembling with fear, "there is no gold in the smithy." He raised his head shyly and looked up. "I have combined every substance on earth with every other, the formula for gold should have emerged, Milord. Maybe it can't be done."
"So, so, it can't be done?" his Lordship mocked him in front of the assembled court. "You, scoundrel, I wasted a fortune on your wild dream!" His Lordship called for the guards. "You pay for this!" he shouted to the lad. "Off with his head!"
His Lordship's voice still echoed through the room as the guards took hold of him.
"No, not so hasty, Milord. I have served you well," the lad cried and struggled against the guards. "I have done better than create gold. I have created steel, a metal tougher than any metal known. If you forge swords out of this steel you can conquer every kingdom near and far, for your swords made of steel would cut all other swords to pieces like they were made out of wood. Then, gold would be like sand in Milord's hands, and Milord will have power over the nations."
These words must have sounded like music in the ears of his Lordship, for the king stepped down from his royal throne and caused the guards to release the lad, while he personally lifted him up and praised, and rewarded him.
While he yet spoke, the court armorer stepped forth and confirmed that the plan was a good one. He said that the royal spies had seen no evidence that the Gourdlanders had swords made of steel, swords that can break lesser swords asunder.
"Every fighting man in my kingdom shall have a sword made of steel," the king proclaimed in a royal degree.
I put the story sheet down. "That's where I would bring in the ending," I said to Heather. "It needs to be introduced here. Maybe it should have been introduced sooner, but here would be the last chance for a radical turnaround in the story to be possible."
I leaned back. "So let me tell you how I think the story should end. Here is where the Treaty of Westphalia should be signed. In historic terms it should have been signed at the end of the 16th Century, to avoid the fifty-year madness of killing and destruction that ended with the Thirty Years War. The madness that erupted became an escapade of horror that no one had found the wisdom to stop for over half a century. Endlessly the wars continued that quickly became an orgy of rape, looting, and murder by poorly paid and undisciplined armies that frequently disintegrated into roving gangs of criminals of the worst sort. The resulting nightmare of wanton destruction and violence became the most horrible 'military' episode in western history prior to the 20th Century. Ten million people perished in the final rampage of that period that became known as the Thirty Years War. The madness didn't end until a high-level foundation for peace was finally established that should have been established much earlier before the Golden Renaissance was destroyed."
With this said, I picked the story sheet up again, and continued as though I was reading the story as it might have been written with its proper ending. "It should logically end like this," I said:
While the last words of the royal degree still echoed through the chamber calling for the court armorer to appear, a child's voice rang out, shouting, "NO!" The voice was that of the king's own daughter. "Don't interfere in the affairs of the kingdom, my child," the king said in a firm, but not entirely angry manner.
"But my father, you don't understand!" the king's daughter protested against the king's command. "This is my world that you are toying with. I don't want my world to be consumed in a rage that is focused on killing one-another, or be turned into an instrument that exists for no other purpose than ruling over one-another."
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