This little fable was originally composed on Twitter. For the sake of authenticity, I’ve left it as is, including word choices and composition required to meet the Twitter character limit. Enjoy!
Once, there was a powerful queen. She ruled a beautiful castle on a hill, where she was protected by a brilliant wizard and a mighty dragon. The wizard stayed by her side, casting spells to enforce her will and ease her troubles, while the dragon coiled around the castle walls, protecting it from the outside world.
There was also a knight – young and brave, with bright prospects and a love of adventure. For a time, the knight resided in the castle beside them, where she enjoyed their generosity and protection. The knight cherished their favor, and in return, she fought many brave battles in their name.
All seemed well in the kingdom. After several years, the knight realized that it was time to seek adventures elsewhere. So she quested in neighboring kingdoms, but she always returned to the castle with tales and trophies from those journeys. But eventually, she noticed that something was wrong.
The queen’s edicts had become cruel. The wizard’s spells became murky and muddled, as if he’d lost control of his magic. The great dragon’s temper became worse, and his booming roars echoed across the kingdom like thunder. The knight was sad. This was not the kingdom she loved.
She tried to help. She tried to soothe the dragon with kind words, but he was distraught at the queen’s cruelty. So the knight went to the wizard and asked what could be done to calm the dragon, and the wizard did not listen. He remained loyal to the queen, while the dragon was pushed ever farther away.
Then, after a particularly long and distant quest, the knight returned to find that the queen had died. In their grief, the wizard and the dragon had turned on one another. The wizard cast vexing spells around the castle, causing it to overgrow with impenetrable vegetation which was somehow immune to the dragon’s raging fire.
In return, the dragon promised to tear the kingdom apart. His temper had always worried the queen, and now he was more angry than ever. The knight no longer recognized him. When she reached for him, she found his stone-like scales too hot to touch.
The dragon and the wizard vowed to fight a war. They were beset with grief at the queen’s passing, for while she’d become cruel, she was all they knew. They remembered the times before, when she was wise and kind, and without her, they did not know what to do.
The knight spoke to the dragon. “I am afraid he will be destroyed by his own magic,” said the dragon, “But I cannot reach him.” With that, the dragon continued to rage, clawing at the castle and spouting plumes of unquenchable fire, and yet the castle stood.
So the knight approached, drawing her sword and slashing through vines surrounding the castle. She called out to the wizard again and again, but it seemed that he could not hear her. Sorrow overtook her, and in time, she was overwhelmed with exhaustion. The dragon was right. It was impossible.
So the knight dropped her sword. She realized that the conflict between the dragon and the wizard had always been inevitable. Their anger and madness had always lurked, and that the queen had always been cruel. The kingdom the knight loved so much had never truly existed. So she cast off her armor, and she wept.
But there was no queen and no castle. Only a woman and her house. There was no dragon or wizard – only a pair of sons. And when she passed, the years of pain and suffering so suppressed in her house boiled over. Conflict consumed the brothers, and the granddaughter was left helpless.
She cried for them to stop, but the suffering ran too deep. Helpless, she succumbed to her own demons. At the sight of her family’s ruined kingdom and at the sound of their rage and madness, her anxious hands tore at her skin, casting it off like armor.
She’d only pretended to be a knight.