The Foolish Emperor

by Noah Fregger

"This is it." the Emperor thought to himself. "They are attacking!" He was in a puddle of sweat and a state of confusion. The floor shook from the vibrations of hooves hitting the ground. He felt light headed. Then a thought came to him! In the battles he had won, he had kept the armor of his enemies. He had armor from these invaders. He could put it on, fill the chest plate with diamonds and gold and escape in the confusion. He had always wanted to see the world. But being King had always kept him close to home, or the castle shall we say.

They were knocking down the door to the castle. He could hear the crude, thump, thump, thump. He had to move quickly. By the time he had his disguise on they had already broken in. As he stumbled towards the back window, for the armor was almost to heavy for him to carry, he spotted a golden lamp laying on the ground. Although he could barely manage the weight of his treasures, he found the strength to crouch down and pick up this one little gold lamp. Then climbing out the window, he made his way down toward the courtyard where there lay hundreds of his warrior's crumpled bodies.

As he walked through the piles of bodies to get to his horse, he noticed that some of the soldiers were still alive and swung their swords at him. "Calm down." he said to them.

"Thank god." one of them bawled. "Take us with you!" he pleaded.

"There is no time." he told the man and hopped on his horse. As he looked back he saw one of his wounded men reach out toward him, then slowly, lowering his head, he died.

When the Emperor was a good 25 miles away he stopped to see what he had brought with him. He came across that little golden lamp. "Funny." he thought. "I don't remember seeing this before." But he had had so much treasure, it was impossible to keep track. Still, there was something strange about this lamp.

He turned it around to read the writing. It suddenly shook him that this was not the Empire's writing. He had never seen this writing before and wondered which trader had brought it to his land and from where. The lamp shook in his hand and he dropped it. The top popped off when it hit the ground. A snake flew out of the lamp, it looked at him and hissed. The snake then split in half and there stood a small demon.

"What do you want?" the demon screamed.

The Emperor just stared at it. "C'mon, lets get it over with." the demon urged.

The Emperor finally found his breath and spoke. "Who are you?"

"You brought me here!" the demon said. "You should know. Didn't you read the note on the lamp?" demanded the demon.

"No." The Emperor answered. "I couldn't read it."

"Well, I'm here to grant you one wish." the demon said. "Yes, that's what I said. Only one, that's one wish, not three, only one!"

The Emperor looked at him. "But in the stories ..." the Emperor stammered.

"I don't care about the stupid stories. Why should I want to spend all my time with greedy people like you?"

"OK" the emperor said without much thought. "I wish I had my empire and all my subjects back." he said.

"Now usually I wouldn't do this, but I like you." said the demon. Then the Emperor found himself standing with the demon in his castles courtyard surrounded by the dead soldiers, all beaten and slashed.

Just then the bodies began to move and their wounds to heal. Soon all the solders were on their feet and walking toward the Emperor. One of them spoke. "You would not save us and now you want us to be your subjects again?"

They all pulled out their swords and closed in on the Emperor. The Emperor stared down at his tiny companion from the lamp, with a look of shock and confusion.

"Hey, they don't call me a demon for nothing."

Copyright 1995, Noah Fregger. All rights reserved.

Harvest Moon Fables Noah