“It’s the dogs,” the King declared. From high upon his balcony, he glared at the citizens stumbling after their beloved pets, muddying the green of the Royal Park. The dumb yawps and yips of the dogs filled the sweet spring air.
The King turned his back on the scene, slamming the french doors shut. “Close the curtains so I don’t have to see that garbage.” The footmen obeyed; the room grew dark. Candles were promptly lit before the King could trip on his way back to his gilded desk.
“Dogs are man’s best friend, Your Majesty.” A wise old man sat across from the King, and offered a gentle, understanding smile. The King ignored him, and pulled out his favorite quill and parchment.
“Look at me, Maurice. Never owned a dog, and I’m just fine. I think you were the first to advise me against dogs, too.” He filled the scroll with his scratching, scathing scrawl.
The next day, the King’s Herald read his proclamation:
That a Ban of ALL DOGS is Necessary
for the PROTECTION of the KINGDOM.
An Evil Sorcerer has cursed ALL DOGS IN THE LAND,
making their owners Mindless Slaves to even more Mindless Beasts.
The only Solution is to KILL or BANISH the furry creatures.
“Your Majesty, my advice to you about canine ownership was purely related to your passion for other pursuits, like golf.”
“I have a great instinct for this kind of thing, Maurice. Don’t question me.” The King pursed his lips in front of his grand cheval mirror, admiring the drape of his green plus fours. “This respect and affection for other living things…. It’s strange. Not good.”
It took Maurice three days to decide to dismiss or defend the King’s statement. Unfortunately within those three days, hundreds of dog owners had already killed or banished their boon companions. Of course, Maurice had to change his mind.
“The King is correct,” he told the kingdoms. “There is indeed an evil sorcerer, the most evil the world has ever seen! The King would never have his subjects endure the agony of losing their cherished pets for anything less.”
Strangely, many now rid of their dogs did find their minds clearer, and their spouses delighted. So they believed the lie.
Yet some were tormented with grief and regret– Sure proof that there had been no curse. “If it had been a curse, we’d be happy now!” they cried.
A small but significant number still did not believe the curse, and continued to defiantly walk their dogs across the Royal Lawn.
Having soothed the minds of the many, Maurice locked himself away to consider how to soothe these few regretful and doubtful. At the end of the third day, Maurice realized what they had in common: They did not fear the consequences of disobeying the King’s edict. So he tried to purchase fear.
THE MOST EVIL JASPER WITHERWAND
The sign clattered against the sorcerer’s cottage door. Jasper locked the door behind Maurice, then offered him some freshly baked gingerbread. He groomed his raven while Maurice told his shameful tale.
The story once told, the sorcerer blinked tears back from his eyes. “Why not curse the King before this gets any worse? Today it’s dogs.” He looked fondly at the black labrador sleeping peacefully at the foot of his bed, then wiped his hands angrily on his embroidered tea towel.
“Tomorrow it could be children, by God’s nails!”
“That would be madness,” Maurice murmured, but he didn’t disagree. Instead he added, “A cursed King contradicts the lie. Things should get better, not worse once the dogs are gone. From the King’s perspective, I mean.”
“Then let me be the bad guy,” Jasper offered. “Vanquish the evil sorcerer.”
“Instead of creating a new lie, I’d prefer to improve upon the first.”
So the dogs of the regretful emerged from hiding, albeit with a suspicious necromantic glow. The curse, Maurice explained to the masses, had rendered their owners mad and unable to locate their dogs. Once rapturously reunited, dogs and their owners disappeared to parts unknown.
Following a mass midnight transformation, the dogs of the doubtful proved to be cats, verified by the Royal Veterinarian.
The King could not be more pleased. “What did I tell you, Maurice? I’m always right.”
Children screamed with delight in the Royal Park. A ball bounced onto the balcony, then broke glass.
For different reasons, both the King and his advisor frowned.