An old copper ring sat in a jewelry case on display for years. Surrounded by emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, the buyers ignored it for they saw neither splendor nor significance. One day, a young boy asked the store owner why he placed the equivalent of a peasant alongside royalty? The owner responded, “The peasants are the true masters of the land for they till the soil and produce the grains we eat. Whilst the nobles all seek an entrance to royalty, they forget who they actually serve”. The young boy nodded and bought the dull looking band. A heir to the throne, he would win the support of the people as he came of age. On the day of coronation, the copper ring could still be seen on his hands, this time radiant in the eyes of an entire nation.
Two magicians planned to cheat Death out of a game of chess. A timeless being who had never lost a match, Death could easily calculate any board position to its logical end. Knowing this, both magicians summoned the Grim Reaper to simultaneous games, each wagering 20 years of their morality in exchange for an additional 20 if they either won or drew. The first magician took the white pieces and the second magician took black; they intended to play the reaper’s moves against itself! Death accepted the conditions, appearing either unaware or unfazed by the magicians’ little trap, began to play…
The board position remained even for the first twenty moves and the tag-team thought they had the draw in the bag. On the 21st move, a questionable play was made and by the 25th, it was clear that White was losing. Frantic and not wanting to forfeit 20 precious years of his life, the first magician deviates from the plan and tries to salvage his position. He would lose the match in ten moves. The second magician, who thought to convert his lead into victory, continued playing for another thirty moves in dismay while Death made his inevitable comeback.
Under the sea sat a long forgotten statue of Socrates, poised to contemplate the depths of the universe for the rest of eternity. A thousand years later, the statue was discovered and raised from the ocean’s floor. When the sailors cleared away the centuries of choral and algae, the philosopher came to and yelled. Where’s Plato? I have a word or two for him!
A stowaway pack of mice aboard a merchant galleon enjoys a sumptuous meal of grains and seeds amidst its transpacific voyage. Unbeknownst to them, the vessel will hit a violent maelstrom that shipwrecks the cruise; the sailors perish in the sea but the mice will survive. Upon leaving the destruction, the pack found themselves on a deserted island without natural predators. The ship’s delicious cargo littered the coast, the makings of Utopia… Almost a year after its inception, the kingdom of mice swelled to critical mass. With most of the cargo grains gone and the island vegetation almost consumed, cannibalism became a real possibility. If mice could pray, they prayed for deliverance of what they were about to do. Fate would smile on them for on the next day, the same maelstrom returned and shipwrecked another merchant galleon, this time of the exotic-animal trade.
In the underworld, a labyrinth of tunnels separates the world of the living from Hades, the world of the dead. Souls who refused the passage of Styx found themselves lost in the maze wandering the depths for eternity. One by one, their senses would fail them: Darkness invaded their eyesight; humidity suffocated their touch. Smell and taste were forgotten. Hearing was the last to go. Thus to find each other, the souls would shout words into the abyss, hoping to elicit a response. This caused much confusion as the cacophony of voices was near indecipherable. One soul, whose name was Echo during life, began repeating the voices she heard. Hearing one’s own voices repeated, other souls were drawn to her, eventually finding one another by adopting her system. As the groups expanded, their collective voices grew louder and could often be heard by the living when shouting into the deep.
A single candle burns into the night as a male scholar scours ancient tomes for a lost treasure map. The fabled map was known to be elusive for it never stayed long on one page, preferring to erase and write itself into nearby tomes that could be seen. Late into the excavation , the scholar discovers the map for it immediately began to expunge itself after the first impression. Frantic and without time to lose, he tries to commit the fading image into memory but fails. Collapsing onto the table, the exhausted and dejected scholar snuffs out the candle and succumbs to sleep. In his dreams, he successfully memorized the map and copied it onto a piece of parchment so that he wouldn’t forget. The next morning, the dream was forgotten and the candle a pile of wax.
A feral child, raised by wolves since infancy, lay dying by the river-side at night. Hounded by the villagers who had mistaken him for killing their sheep, and abandoned by his pack after a change in leadership, he fended for himself. The moon goddess of the hunt, ever keen on the boy’s circumstances, materialized over the reflection cast on the river. She offered him a pact: Become my champion and I grant you both strength and virility of wolf, with intelligence and cunning of man. Look upon my visage and become werewolf, man-beast and hunter of the night. Bring me game ever larger than the last lest madness overtakes you. The moon turned red and a new legend was born.
A final bridge separates Alexander and his army from their homes in Babylon. His men, pining for comfort and familiarity after years of brutal conquests, rush the bridge en mass. The suspensions, unable to sustain the stress of so great a weight, snaps and the crossing collapses. Half the men drowned in the raging river below. The other half spent another month retrieving the bodies, lamenting their haste.
Four flower petals, swaying in the after-breeze of a great typhoon, fell together in a cup of tea. The first petal, a golden Chrysanthemum from the East, brought a cheery disposition to a long-life. The second petal, a magenta Lavender from the West, would develop a meditative and rational mind. The third plant, a ruby Orchid from the south, engendered beauty and splendor to the growing body. The fourth plant, a zaffre Iris from the north, instilled faith and wisdom to the aging soul. Drinking from the teacup, the queen of the middle-kingdom gave birth to the future Monarch who would unite the lands.
Water! I’ll give you anything in my land for a sip of water cried the thirsty King who was at his wit’s end. The desert merchant, pitying the king’s predicament, gave him his water pouch free of charge. Heading West, the King encounters a beggar dying of thirst. My King! Spare me a sip of your water and I will guide you out of the desert. Nonsense! Retorted the King. My kingdom is just over the other side of that canyon… Traveling between the high ridges, a flash-flood sweeps through the valley and the King drowns.