One day, in the land of Kreadea…
“This glorious solid gold treasure chest, is declared the most wonderful birthday present for King Snoodle in all the land of Kreadea,” exclaimed Lowder, the king’s royal spokesman.
“Penter, the craftsman who made this beautiful treasure chest will receive a thousand pieces of gold for the fabulous work he has done for the king,” continued Lowder.
The crowd, who had gathered in the royal garden for this annual event, cheered in approval as Penter, the craftsman, stepped forward to accept the applause and the reward from the king.
Every year, King Snoodle, who governed over the entire land of Kreadea, would have a contest to see who in his kingdom could provide to him the most wonderful gift to celebrate the king’s birthday. Not only was the winner given gold pieces but everyone in the kingdom would honor the winner of the contest with fame and kindness.
Suddenly, through the roar of the crowd, the voice of Weese, the royal magician, rang out. “Surely, we have found a wonderful treasure chest, the craftsman has performed with excellent workmanship. However, is this truly the most wonderful present to give to our king to honor his birthday?”
The crowd became silent.
“What do you mean?” asked the king. “Of all of the gifts that I have received through the years, I believe this gold chest to be the most prized of all of my possessions.
I doubt there is anything in the kingdom that could properly fill the box.” Weese continued, “Perhaps you are correct, Sire, but still…”
“Weese, you are one of the wisest men in all the kingdom, you have advised me throughout the years, you are the most learned man in all the land, but what could possibly fill a treasure chest of this magnitude?” inquired King Snoodle.
“Imagination!,” declared the magician.
“Imagination? You have got to be kidding? Weese, explain yourself!,” demanded the king.
“Imagination fills the halls of our minds, it takes us on voyages across all of time and distance; it allows us to escape despair and relive joy. You can become a servant if you are the king or a king if you are a servant. You can live life in your mind before you live it in life. It truly fills the vastness of all space while being contained in your mind.”
“Imagination is as wonderful and limitless as the creator of thought,” answered the king, “but how do you capture that power and place it in a box?”
“To control imagination, one must possess the key to imagination,” proclaimed the wise magician. “He who finds the key to imagination unlocks a wonderful new world of excitement and discovery.”
King Snoodle stood quietly for a moment, then turned slowly to the curious crowd. “Weese, the royal magician, has opened my eyes to a new potential for our kingdom. I now make a new decree: he or she who finds the key to imagination and presents it to me at my royal birthday in one year’s time, will receive 10,000 pieces of gold and will sit at my side in ruling our vast kingdom.”
As the crowd dispersed, word quickly covered the entire kingdom and beyond. “10,000 pieces of gold and co-ruler of the great kingdom of Kreadea“, it was beyond what the average person could even think. The kingdom became a frenzy of people making great and glorious keys to present to the king. All of the most talented craftsmen were hired by the rich to make golden keys with exquisite designs. Merchants came from lands far away with keys made in gold, silver and copper. Keys with sapphires, rubies, and diamonds. Keys that are small and large. Keys that would sparkle in the light of the sun with gleaming radiance.
Everyone in the kingdom had to have a key to present to the king before the assigned day. People sold their farms in order to get the money to purchase the most beautiful keys that the merchants sold. Others sold off their livestock to get the money. Some even sold off their family homes in order have a chance to obtain the cherished key that the king sought.
Others chose to go hungry and cold in order to have money to buy jewels and gold for their gift to the king. Robbers went from house to house searching for the family keys. People began to distrust their neighbors for fear of losing their keys. So they buried their keys where no one could find them. The people became desperate to gain advantage over the other contestants. They sent forth messengers across the land to find witches and warlocks who could cast spells upon their key to provide mystic powers. For great sums of money these witches and warlocks would conjure up spells that made the keys sing, glisten and even glow in the dark.
Finally, the day arrived. Everyone came to the castle to present their keys to the king. The line of people stretched for miles through the kingdom. So many people and so many keys given to the king, it took many days for the gifts to be presented.
King Snoodle sat patiently with Weese to see the presentation of each key. With each key, the king would look to the wise magician to see if this key were the one and only. So many keys, so many styles, so many jewels, so many sparkles, but not one was the key to imagination.
As the last key was presented to the king the magician slowly turned his head. “No this key is not the key to imagination,” said Weese. “Can no one in this great kingdom understand the meaning of this simple request?”
The crowd stood in confusion, no one moved or spoke. Many had put everything they had, and more, into their present. What more could they possibly have done to produce this key?
Suddenly a small boy, dressed in simple clothes, approached the king and the magician. The crowd looked on awkwardly as the boy walked up to face the king.
For a moment the king stared into the eyes of the small boy, whose eyes glistened with the innocence of youth. The boy stood patiently with a smile on his face. The boy bent down at the feet of the king and grabbed a small stick of wood that lay upon the ground. As he stood, he brushed the dirt from the stick. The boy waved the stick around as if it were a sword, than the boy blew on the stick as if it were a trumpet, than twirling it about in a circle he placed it in the hand of King Snoodle.
The King glared at the boy and then at the stick in his hand. “What is this?”
“That, my dear king, is The Key to Imagination”, declared the wise magician. “It appears as a simple stick to you, but to a young boy, whose heart is full of adventure and excitement, that stick is a key that unlocks a whole world of imagination.”
The King slowly smiled as the words of the magician sank deep into his heart. Then he pulled the boy close to his side and raised the stick to the kingdom.
“This boy is your new ruler… he has the Key to Imagination!
© 1999 Karl Egbert