Long ago, in the small kingdom of Arval, lived the good King Vester. Because of King Vester’s generosity and virtue, the people of Arval were blessed with a bounty of wealth and happiness.
The only problem was that the people of Arval were bored. They were growing tired of the same games, the same theater plays, and all forms of entertainment that King Vester had provided for them. Some were so bored they decided to leave Arval, in search of excitement. Even King Vester himself found the activities in Arval to be boring, so he called together his Great Council of Magi to find a solution to this problem.
The Great Council of Magi spent months presenting new forms of entertainment to the king, in hopes that he would approve. Not a single magi was able to amuse the king with their novelties. Slowly, the people of Arval began leaving, and the king was very worried about the future of his kingdom.
Then one day, a stranger arrived at the gates of Arval, wishing to speak to King Vester. He was allowed into the castle, and presented himself to the king.
“I am Zoft, a magi from the council of King Mankip, and I am here to present you with a gift.”
He hands a small grey box to King Vester.
“This mystical box will allow anyone who places it on their head to see another world. The magi from my kingdom have worked for years to create this wonderful box to bring happiness to the people of our kingdom.”
King Vester placed the small grey box over his head. To his surprise, inside the box he saw a tiny ballerina, dancing gracefully to the music from an invisible orchestra. He stared in amazement at the impossible vision. When the king turned his head, the music stopped and the ballerina disappeared into the darkness of the box.
King Vester removed the box from his head and addressed his visitor.
“This is outstanding! Why did the ballerina and music vanish when I turned my head?”
Zoft was not surprised by his question.
“Our ruler, King Mankip, assembled the greatest magi in all of the land to create this box. It has taken many years and a large fortune to build. The box has the ability to show you amazing things, but only if you look forward. If you look away, the magic box will stop working.”
King Vester was impressed with Zoft and his box. He knew that the people of Arval would find amusement in this new form of entertainment, and would want to stay in his kingdom.
The king summoned his Great Council of Magi to try this new mystical box. Every one of King Vester’s magi placed the box on their head, saw the dancing ballerina, and heard the music. When the magi turned their head, the box went dark.
King Vester and his Great Council of Magi were excited to show the box to the people of Arval, but Zoft stopped the king and gave him a warning.
“The box comes at a price. You must pay King Mankip three chests of gold for every person in Arval who tries the box. If you refuse, then I must bring the box back to my kingdom.”
Despite King Vester’s great wealth, paying three chests of gold to King Mankip to show the box to each person in Arval seemed unfair, but he agreed. A great festival was announced at the castle, and the entire kingdom was invited to try the king’s new form of entertainment.
On the first day of the festival, hundreds of of people lined up in front of the king’s banquet hall to get their chance to wear the box. One by one, each person would put the small grey box on their head, see the ballerina, and hear the music. Once they turned their head, the box would go dark and silent.
With each new person in Arval to try the box, Magi Zoft collected the gold from King Vester. The people were amused, but the cost was great.
On the second day of the festival, the people of Arval lined up again to try the box, but this time the crowd was much smaller. On the third day, only seven people showed up in line and this worried King Vester. He assembled his Great Council of Magi once again to discover the problem. Magi Tidder addressed the council.
“The people of Arval enjoyed the box, but many are concerned with the amount of gold you are giving to King Mankip for it. They are also displeased with the box going dark when you turn your head.”
The king was shocked.
“But I am the one paying for it! Why don’t the people understand that I am trying to save Arval? The box is amazing and if they don’t turn their heads, it works fine.”
The Great Council of Magi did not have any answers. The future of Arval was looking grim. Just then, a short hairy man walked up to the council table and spoke.
“I am Kleep, an inventor who lives down by the swamp. I have tried your new mystical box and I have heard the concerns from the people of Arval . I believe that I may have the answer to your problems.”
King Vester was interested in hearing more. Kleep stood in front of the Great Council of Magi and explained his plan.
“I want to build a new box. This box will be bigger and better in every way. You will be able to turn your head and experience everything inside the whole time. It will have much more to see and hear than just a ballerina dancing to music. It will be yours, and you can stop paying King Mankip for his box.”
This pleased King Vester, and he wanted Kleep to start right away on building this new box.
Kleep had two requests.
“I only need two things. First, I would like to become a member of your Great Council as a magi. Second, I need 500 chests of gold to build the new box.”
King Vester believed that this was his best chance to save the kingdom of Arval.
“I will allow you to become a magi and be on the Great Council, and you will have your gold. When will you have the new box ready?”
A week went by, then a month, then a year. Kleep had not shown a new box yet, and King Vester was getting worried. Kleep was summoned to the castle to speak to the king and his Great Council of Magi.
“Kleep, it has been one year since you promised us a new box. We have not seen or heard anything about it since then. Where is the new box?”
Kleep pulled a large scroll from his magi cloak and unrolled it. King Vester and the rest of the council gasped at the magnificent scene that was painted on the scroll. It showed a giant serpent, leaping from the ocean as a crowd of people stood watching in amazement. Kleep explained the painting.
“This is what I am building inside the new box. It will contain wonders that the people of Arval have only dreamt of. I must be allowed to keep working to get everything looking perfect. I also need another 500 chests of gold.”
This was enough for King Vester. The scroll painting was put on display in the town hall for every person in Arval to see, and Kleep was given more gold and allowed to continue working on the box without interruption.
Excitement for the new box grew. The people or Arval waited in anticipation, anxious to experience their new form of entertainment.
Another year passed, and still no new box.
Finally, as hope for the new box began to fade, Kleep requested to meet with the king and the Great Council of Magi. The time had come to show off his new creation. News of the meeting spread throughout the kingdom of Arval, and people began gathering in the castle courtyard with hopes of getting to see the new box.
Kleep presented his new box to the king. It was larger than the box that Magi Zoft had presented to King Vester two years ago, but it was shiny, and had rounded edges. It had a long black rope coming from the back that led down to another smaller box on the floor.
King Vester was anxious to try the new box. He placed it on his head and waited for the experience to start. Kleep pulled a level on the smaller box and the show began.
In the new box, King Vester saw a small clown juggling three brown stones. No music, no dancing, just a clown. When the king turned his head, half of the clown disappeared, but not all of him.
The king pulled the box off of his head and looked angrily at Kleep.
“What is this? How is this better than the box that Magi Zoft showed us?
Kleep attempted to explain the new box.
“The clown is juggling stones and doesn’t disappear when you turn your head. This new box is better.”
The king threw the box at Kleep in disgust.
“This is not what you promised us. Where is the serpent? Where is the entertainment? We gave you all the gold you requested, a seat on the Great Council as a magi, and two years to build a new box. You have failed.”
Kleep seemed confused.
“I made you a new box, and it is slightly better than the old box. I haven’t made the serpent yet, but that will come with more time and more money. I will keep working on it.”
At this point, the king realized that he has been a fool to trust Kleep. Yes, the new box was better in some small ways, but after two years and all that gold, King Vester expected much more. He stands up from his throne, grabs Kleep by his cloak, and drags him out into the courtyard.
“You have spent so much gold and wasted so much time on this new box. The people of Arval are not going to be happy when they see what you have built. In fact, I am not going to punish you for this. Instead, I am going to let you show your new box to the people, and let them decide the fate of Magi Kleep.“