Once upon a time in a land far away, there was a magnificent kingdom ruled by a magnanimous king. The fields bore fruits and vegetables that were ripe, sweet, and juicy. The forests had many trees of multiple varieties. The other natural resources were plentiful, making this kingdom rich and prosperous, and its people so very content and happy that none bothered to venture beyond its borders.
However, one day a messenger arrived from the neighboring kingdom to the north.
“Your majesty, I bring terrible news. Raiders from the frozen lands far to the north have marched south; destroying all of the other kingdoms, and robbing their lands of their riches. Only your secret vault remains, with the treasure yet intact you promised to loan us. My king sent me here to give you back the key, but you must hurry and send only your bravest knights to retrieve it.”
So the king immediately called his subjects together and made an announcement.
“To the brave knights and any others who bring back this treasure, I will give one-half – to be divided into equal shares among those who carry it to me.”
Two dozen men shouted, “I will go!” and gathered their arms and other supplies to make ready for the arduous journey.
The road north was most treacherous in this kingdom, for it was closest to the headwaters of the river they followed that connected all of the kingdoms in this part of the world. At the base of the mountain range whose long, towering peaks created the border between the southernmost kingdoms, a tunnel had been dug; for the river was too treacherous to float upon, and the cliffs too steep and rocky for a trail. Halfway through the mile-long passageway, the only knight who had ever traveled through it spoke.
“Something is amiss. We should see the light at the other end at this point!”
True enough, when they got to the end, a huge boulder blocked the path. As hard as all of them together tried, they could not budge the enormous rock.
“It is an impossible task!” most cried. “A sure sign from God to turn back!” said the others.
So with heads hung low, the knights from the southernmost kingdom retreated.
Among these men strode a young scribe, small for his years but with the heart of a lion. His name was Conlan. His skill using all weaponry was remarkable, but overlooked due to his size. As he neared the light at beginning of the tunnel, a weird feeling developed in his gut. He recognized it was telling him to remain. Conlan was also a clever young man, so he turned to his knight and said, “Sir Knight, I beg your pardon for I wish to stay here until the raiders from the north return; whereupon I will rush back to you to carry the warning of their arrival.” Being a fairly intelligent man. Sir Knight understood the logic of the plan, and granted Conlan’s wish. He also slipped Conlan the keys to the vault, “just in case.”
As soon as the others had walked out of sight, a strange wizened man trudged out of the forest and walked-up to Conlan. He said his name was Conan.
“Your companions left too soon,” Conan said. “They didn’t try enough ways to remove the rock. They are all quitters.”
“How many ways are ‘enough’?” aped Conlan, angry at the way Conan spoke of his fellows.
“As many as it takes to succeed!” answered Conan.
Then Conan told Conlan several things he knew he didn’t know Conlan didn’t know. He told the scribe that the raiders had stopped raiding as soon as the first snow had fallen. They had won so much treasure that they knew they couldn’t get back to their homeland carrying both their ill-gotten gain and their armory, so they had decided to dig a great pit and hide all their weapons in it until they would return early next summer. The giant boulder at the end of the tunnel covered the pit. Conan also told Conlan he knew a way to remove the huge rock.
“These cracks run deep into the heart of this boulder,” Conan told Conlan as they inspected the rock. “If we can trap enough water inside, the freeze that will soon come should expand the frozen water enough to split this rock into many smaller pieces. Small enough to easily remove them.”
And it came to pass that Conan’s plan worked to perfection, and he and Conlan removed the debris and brought-up the raider’s weapons: which were superior to their kingdom’s in all ways. The weapons were stored in several large carts, so the scribe and old man emptied one and headed for the vault.
The kingdom went wild with excitement when Conlan returned with the weapons and treasure. He rightfully claimed his share, then introduced Conan.
“Forgive me, your Highness, but I must dampen the mood of this celebration. There will be time to celebrate later, but now is the time to prepare for the raiders’ return. For if you fail to plan, you are planning to fall into destruction!” warned Conan.
So the wise king gathered his forces and plotted different strategies for the raiders’ return. And it came to pass that early the next summer when the raiders revisited they were ambushed as soon as they entered the tunnel, and forced to surrender without a fight.
When the good king confronted the raiders, he spoke these words:
“I can appreciate your need for the riches you have taken from our neighbors, for I have heard many tales of the harshness of your barren land. Therefore, I shall give you two choices. You may remain and join my kingdom and work-off your share of what your people have stolen: or, you may return to your lands and keep what you have already taken, but only after you sign a treaty that states you must never return to any of our kingdoms with hostile intent.”
Most of the raiders signed the treaty and returned to their homeland. The king gave his half of the treasure to the neighboring for them to use to rebuild. Conlan also gave a large portion of his share, but not until he married a pretty girl and built a nice home.
And Conan returned to the forest by the tunnel, and contemplated things he didn’t know he didn’t know he didn’t know until the end of his days. Which was actually another beginning.