To the Victor...

the king
The King

Once upon a time, there was a good king and his people loved him very much. The king had only one sorrow, that his queen had never provided him with an heir, and he was growing old. He did not want to leave his subjects with a stupid or weak king after his death so he decided to sponsor a contest. He called his herald to him and sent him out to spread the following message:

“On the Ides of March, in the Valley of Death, there will be a great battle. The sole survivor of this battle shall be the next king.”

The herald first went to the castle of Duke Gillis and read the proclamation. Duke Gillis said that he would be there on the Ides of March, in the Valley of Death, with 500 of his best knights to fight for the throne.

The herald then went to the castle of Baron Weslanshire and read the proclamation. The Baron said that he, too, would be there on the Ides of March, in the Valley of Death to fight for the throne, but he was going to bring 600 of his best knights.

The herald went to the other shires of the kingdom but when the lords heard that Duke Gillis and Baron Weslanshire and 1,100 of the best knights in the kingdom were going to fight for the throne, they declined to fight.

The messages being delivered, the herald headed home. On the way, he ran across a lone squire. When the squire queried the herald about his mission, the herald read him the proclamation. The squire said that he, too, would be there on the Ides of March, in the Valley of Death, alone, to fight for the throne.

The herald returned to the king and reported on who was going to fight for the right to become the next king. When the king heard that an unknown squire was going to fight, he was curious. Who was this man who was so self-assured that he was not going to bring help? Was there sorcery involved? As the Ides of March drew closer, he sent his herald to the Valley of Death to spy on the squire.

The herald went and examined the camp sights of the armies of the Duke and the Baron. The knights were practicing and fixing their weapons. The usual preparations for any big battle. The squire, however, had a simple camp site. The herald saw him fixing dinner in a big black pot. When his dinner was finished, he attached a noose to the pot and suspended it high up in a tree to keep the local wild life out of it. Then he went to sleep. This behavior continued until the day of the battle.

At sunrise on the Ides of March the battle commenced. Dust rose from the ground stirred up by the fighters and blocked the view of the fighting from the observers of the melee. All they could hear was the clash of weapons and the screams of the dying. Towards sunset, the sounds became fewer and then all was silent. As the dust settled, all the audience could see the squire still standing in the middle of the battlefield. The lone survivor.

The king called the squire to him and said “I have promised that the survivor of this battle would become king after me, but I am worried for my people. I need to know, did you win by magic?”

“No, Sire.”

“Did you win by treachery?”

“No, Sire.”

“Then how did you win against a total of 1,102 of the greatest fighters of my entire kingdom?”

“It is simple, Sire. The Squire of the High Pot in Noose is greater than the sum of both sides.”