King Klarence of Karenott was the richest ruler in the world. His wealth was legendary, not for any good reason, but because he was also the greediest man in the world. In fact, the only people willing to be around him for any length of time were his three financial advisors, whom he seldom listened to anyway. They stayed only because King Klarence’s wealth was easily redirected into their own coffers since the king’s intelligence, to say it kindly, was always one wick short of being a candle. Each evening he would count and weigh his barrels of oil, the source of his enormous wealth, and each morning he would count and weigh it again.
“Someone has robbed me.” The king screeched each morning as his advisors arrived. “How are they getting into the castle?”
“Perhaps the barrels are leaking.” suggested one advisor, knowing full well that his own stolen booty had been taken out in his empty wooden leg.
“It could have evaporated.” the second advisor said as he patted the water pouches filled with oil that hung around his bulging belly.
“Could you have counted incorrectly?” asked the third, hoping to get an opportunity to juggle the books to hide his own theft.
“No… it’s none of those things.” King Klarence stated. He looked at all three advisors. “I know the truth of what is happening to my oil.”
Each advisor swallowed hard and braced themselves for the worst. King Klarence puffed himself with regal resonance.
“It’s the peasants.” He said. “They are somehow climbing the wall of the castle and stealing my oil.”
In unison the three advisors bowed and chimed “How wise you are, Sire, to have discovered this truth.” They then returned to their usual business of stealing the king’s oil right out from under him.
King Klarence, though, went to his throne room, sat on his throne and did something he had never done before. He thought up a plan to stop the peasants from stealing his oil. That evening, when it was time for the king’s advisors to call it a day and go home, they were met at the drawbridge by the king.
“Stay with me tonight in the castle.” King Klarence commanded. “I have need of your eyes and ears to let me know when peasants have arrived to steal my oil.”
“But, Sire, we are not guards… we are only advisors.”
“Then advise me of when you hear or see a peasant in the castle. I have a fool proof plan of attack.”
All three advisors knew they needed to stay, otherwise the king might start suspecting them. The four of them, confident king and unwilling advisors, went to the top turret of the tallest tower and waited.
Finally, one of the reluctant advisors asked the king if he would share his plan with them. The other two joined in and nearly begged the king to reveal the plan, in hopes of finally being able to go home. The king refused.
“It is a brilliant plan that only a king could have thought through.” King Klarence confided. “When you hear a peasant at the wall then I will put my plan into action. After tonight I will never have need to wonder who is stealing my oil.”
Now that was something of which all three advisors could take advantage. Almost instantly they cried out an unfortunate lie. “I think I hear a peasant at the wall.”
King Klarence giggled with glee as he reached for a rope that was strung though a wall. He pulled the rope with all his might and jumped for joy at the sound of flooding corridors in the castle below them.
“Sire, what is that flooding sound?”
“I have released all of my barrels of oil to flood my enemies. Brilliant.”
“But, Sire…” screamed one advisor.
“All the lanterns…” shouted the second advisor.
“Are lit.” cried the third advisor.
The explosion, heard across the entire kingdom of Karenott, happened so quickly King Klarence didn’t even have time to regret his mistake.
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