A good king ruled a peaceful and prosperous nation. The king kept a bright fire burning in a tall watchtower, at a corner of his castle, as a sign to everyone that he was a great and powerful sovereign. Soldiers were charged with keeping the fire stoked, using, as fuel, timber from across the king’s domain. The radiance of the tower flame was so bright it could be seen for many miles in the day, and many more at night. The people regarded it as the Watchtower Star. Of all the treasures the king possessed, the Watchtower Star was his favorite.
One day an envious sorcerer cast a spell over the kingdom. All the people were suddenly spirited away to the other side of the world. Once there, they were free to return to their home. But the evil sorcerer offered no assistance, so the people’s return journey took a very long time.
Meanwhile, the king was all alone. He didn’t know about the sorcerer, so there was no explanation for the emptiness of the realm. Still, he was the king, and he had decisions to make.
The watchtower consumed a lot of fuel, every day. But, Winter was coming and the fires of the castle would need fuel to warm the rooms. The king realized that he could use his timber to either fuel his precious signal star, the symbol of his power, or stay warm and safe in his great house, but not both.
Meanwhile his lost citizens were slowly trudging home.
The king made his decision. Instead of staying safe and warm, he would light the Watchtower Star, even knowing there was no one to see it. With his own hands he piled more timbers into the fire than ever had been piled before. That night the star beamed. It shown. It shimmered. Its bright glare penetrated so far into the darkness, that the snowy crystals on the faraway peaks of the mountains, at the kingdom’s frontier, shimmered and glistened. The king basked in the glow, overcome by his own pride, forgetting that with the dark night had come a bitter cold winter doom. Only a few hours into the night, the watchtower fire burned out, having exhausted all the fuel in the kingdom. With nothing to burn to warm the castle, amid plummeting temperatures, the king froze to death.
The next morning, as the sun lifted the shades of night, the first of the kingdom’s weary subjects crossed the faraway mountains, finally finding their way home.
In a short time, fresh timbers were brought in. Fires were relit. The castle was made warm, the Watchtower Star was reignited, and the king, good but for his own pride, was forgotten.
THE SAD BUT TRUE END