02 November 2011

Moonwater; 08 July, 2011.


In a small kingdom long ago, a man returned from a long journey to the far reaches of the unknown world and presented his king, an elderly man, with a particularly special find.  It was moonwater, melted down from ice taken from the far side of the Moon.  The traveler explained to the king that the properties of the liquid were such that one who consumed even the smallest drop would obtain everlasting life, along with all his posterity.  He gave a drop to the king, and the old man instantly felt as if he were decades younger.
Being a generous and loving ruler who sought the best of life for his people, the king decried that everyone in town be given a drop of moonwater so that they also might be able to enjoy the gift of everlasting life.  By sunset the next day, everyone in town lined up for their share; and as if it were meant to be, the precious resource ran out just after the last person in town consumed his drop.
Everyone in the kingdom lived happily with a fierce love and passion for life.  The king was pleased with his decision to share his secret with everyone.
It wasn’t until one hundred and fifty years after the introduction of the moonwater that any real trouble came.  Everyone who had partaken of the moonwater was, indeed, still healthy and living.  Additionally, the kingdom continued to thrive in an era of peace under the direction of their gracious ruler.
The problem of moonwater was the same as its blessing: no one died.  While the benefits of immortality were endless, the space available in the kingdom was not.  The population was becoming unmanageable; the resources would soon be depleted in a matter of years, the king realized.  As there was not enough room for expansion, the king began his quest for mortality.
He appointed a leader in his absence, and the king left his kingdom in search of a cure for their immortality.  He walked for days through forests, valleys, and rivers until he came upon the dwellings of a young gypsy girl.  They introduced each other, sat in the forest outside the girl’s tent, and the king explained to her his troubling situation.  Might she know of any solution to his problem?
The girl slipped into her tent, and the king could hear her rummaging around.  He hoped she would return with magic beans for his people to swallow or a special piece of jewelry that would counter the effects of the moonwater, but when she returned with nothing in her hands, the king was disappointed.  She returned to where she was sitting before and pulled from her clothes a small bottle with a flame inside.  She explained to him that she was giving him sunfire, a flame taken from the Sun that would never go out.  All the king had to do was hold the fire in his hands and mortality would return to him instantly.
The king asked the gypsy girl if it would hurt to hold the flame.  She shook her head, but held up her darkened hands.  There would be scars left, but they were a small price to pay for no pain of burns and the return of mortality.  The young girl held out her hands with the bottle, and offered the new gift to the king.  He took it from her and was shocked at the softness of her hands in spite of the scarring.  With a smile she returned her hands to her lap and wished the king luck on his journey back home.
When the king returned to his people, he reported to them his findings and ordered that everyone line up once again in order to take their turn holding the sunfire.  Because people were afraid of the fire, it took much longer for everyone to go through the process of obtaining mortality, but after three days everyone returned to normal.
Except for the king.  He did not hold the flame in his hands.
By the end of the third day, 58 people died of old age.  Of everyone in town the king mourned mostly heavily during this time, as he had known each of his people for so long.  The loss of life was unfamiliar and sad, but it was a small comfort to know that each of those who had passed enjoyed decades of happiness and prosperous living.
When asked why he hadn’t yet held the sunfire, the honest king reluctantly admitted to his people, I  have lived longer than anyone in this kingdom, surely I will die of old age once I become mortal again.  I am afraid of dying.
They all understood, and because everyone liked him and they were not sure they wanted a new king, they let the issue pass.  The sunfire would remain in the king’s castle should he change his mind, but for now he would remain immortal.
The king was grateful to his people for their consideration and was happy to be able to continue on living.  But after a month, another hundred people died.  By the end of the year, the village population dropped immensely – though, still to average rates in relation to other towns nearby.  Still, the king was so distraught over the losses and couldn’t bear to suffer the heartache anymore.  Within the secret walls of his home, he opened the bottle of sunfire, let it fall into his hands, and felt the immortality leave him.  He died shortly after.
When word got out that the king had died, everyone in the kingdom worked to prepare his funeral.  They brought the most beautiful flowers for display, cut down the finest trees for his casket, and selected the most eloquent people in town to speak at the service.  And last but not least, they held a party after the services to celebrate the king’s homecoming.

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