Friday, February 10, 2006

A Bedtime Tiger Tale

Once upon a time there was a king named Norman. Norman was beloved by his subjects in the Kingdom of Columbia despite the fact that he was never as victorious as other kings. His people loved him, however, because he often defeated the foul birds of Lawrence and the invaders from east of the Great Archway.

Norman was growing old, however, and decided that he would rather spend his golden days privately enjoying a quieter life free of the burden of ruling. He turned his kingdom over to a handsome young prince who had grown wise in the shadow of the Great Duke. The prince had golden locks of curly hair that made the young maidens swoon as he walked into the Court of the Kingdom.

The prince pledged to his subjects that he would honor the tradition of King Norman, but his feats would be greater. His goal was to enter the realm of the Four Great Kingdoms and challenge the greatest of kings for supreme victory.

At first, the prince showed great promise. His men won great victories, and at one point, he even challenged his former master, the Great Duke, and almost defeated him, but alas, it was only "almost," and "almost" was all that the prince could accomplish.

As his men began to lose not only to the great kings but the lesser fiefdoms who should have been swatted away like flies, the prince heard the grumbling of his subjects. Desperate, he hired a mercenary from the West with a dark past. The Lords who governed the rules of the court decreed that the prince had to forfeit a portion of his treasure as retribution for his transgression. The mercenary turned on the prince and his knights, and the kingdom began to crumble.

The prince found that the most promising young squires in his kingdom were leaving the land to serve in the courts of other kings. The land under the Great Archway was closed to his searches for potential new knights, and only the lesser squires chose to serve the prince.

The prince experienced a humiliating defeat to the Eastern power, but successfully defeated the birds of Lawrence. The kingdom hoped that perhaps the prince would fulfill his promise. Alas, the end had already come. His knights refused to serve him any further on the court, and the subjects of the kingdom demanded his exile.

Despite his determination to keep fighting, the prince knew that his fate had already been sealed, and rather than face the executioner's axe, he chose to leave the kingdom. He left in sadness because the promise that he once showed had been so greatly dimished, yet he left determined to seek success in another kingdom, one in which he might perhaps remember the lessons that the Great Duke had taught him.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Columbia, the subjects long for the golden days when King Norman was on the throne and wonder who the next prince might be. The kingdom is in a sad state of affairs, and it will take a ruler of strong will and mighty vision to restore the roar of the Tigers.

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