By noon the next day, the travelers had reached the edge of the forest, or so it seemed with the trees less dense and the sunlight more penetrating. By this time the dark secrets seemed much less intimidating, and the king was beginning to hum softly as he stepped.
Wildflowers lightened the forest floor with relief from the monotony of the ferns and weeds and bushes and grasses, all which clothed the relics of a dark past. Those plants themselves in fact seemed to adopt the shady traits of the weapons and bodies and armor that they hid. The wildflowers were a very pleasant distraction from that ugly world.
But after some time, even the flowers became customary and even their novelty and light spirits eventually gave over to the grumblings of the king’s stomach. The king was once again unhappy and he made that fact quite known.
“I could summon up a feast at any moment I liked,” his step became slightly slower, heavier as he went on.
“Perhaps if you were king, you could, but now you are just another traveling man,” merchant slowed to match the king’s lagging pace.
“I’m still king.”
“Well you may call yourself king, but it doesn’t really make you anything more than just another traveling man.”
“I have the king’s ring, and the royal hood.”
“Well if rings and caps make you king, then I suppose that a king you are. But nonetheless, you are king of only yourself, and a king without subjects is not much of a king at all.”
“Rings and caps don’t make me king! You really are being strange now. I am a good king, as anyone could see from my kingdom’s wealth and flourishing trade. My people are content and my table is always without want,” and at the mention of a full table, the king’s belly spoke louder.
“Perhaps these things are true, but what really makes you a king?”
“My father was king before me,” king knew his answer was not sufficient, but he really didn’t have anything better to offer.
“Then you are not a wise king at all, but rather a well-advised one. And now, without your land, or your subjects, or your advisors or your father, you are no king at all.”
So they continued with a scowl on the king’s face and a frown on the merchant. (The frown was due to the whining and moaning that the king- and his belly- were endlessly producing.)