Grandpa: That the Boy Prince would ascend the throne and take his place in the Line of Gandhars had been prophesied ever since the Young King, his father, fell to an assassin from the Deep South Lands.
Little Girl: Ohh the Line of Gandhars? You told me about them before.
Grandpa: Yes I have little one. Remember The Rose Monarch who started the line of Gandhars and the Iron Empress, his daughter, in front of whom all enemies trembled, the mother of the Young King?
Little Girl: Yes yes I love their stories. But tell me, being the Prince, he should have ascended the throne right after his father’s death right?
Grandpa: Yes he should have. But the Wise Men of the Hand, a secret cabal of powerful nobles, were of the opinion that The Boy Prince was not yet ready to rule. He was too young and there were enemies all around. They decided to let the Queen Mother rule in his place, till he was able to take what was rightfully his. But there was a problem with her ascending the throne.
Little Girl: What Grandpa?
Grandpa: The Queen Mother was from a distant land of the Pasta-Lasagna and many of the subjects objected to being ruled by one with pale skin and blue eyes. In it they were instigated by the Orange Knights, the sworn enemies of the Line of the Gandhars. The Queen Mother, who was very intelligent, stepped back from the throne, an act that was seen as virtuous and noble and self-sacrificing.
Little Girl: But it is noble, isn’t it?
Grandpa: Well the Queen Mother did not stop ruling. She just did not sit on the throne. She figured “Why take the responsibility of failure or the daggers of enemies when I can get someone else to do it for me?” Plus she needed to keep an eye on the Boy Prince and his enemies, which she could do only off-the-throne.
Little Girl: So there was no ruler in the Great Lands?
Grandpa: Oh there was. A satrap, a throne-warmer for the Boy Prince, came to rule—-the one they called “The Silent”. As the Green Ghosts attacked with explosive charms and the nobles of the Wise Men of the Hand looted and sacked the land, “The Silent” sat there quietly whispering to the butterflies.
Little Girl: What was the Boy Prince doing all this time?
Grandpa: The Boy Prince was growing. He had become a handsome lad, with eyes as blue as a rainless sky and a body that would put Apollo to shame. He learned the art of War from the Raja of the Middle Grounds, a grand wizard of Truth and Falsehood who became not only his Master but also the Boy Prince’s Voice, concentrating his attention and that of the Boy Prince on whom they perceived to the biggest enemy of the Line of Gandhars—–the Orange Knights.
Little Girl: Why did the Boy King need a voice? Was he unable to speak?
Grandpa: Of course he could speak. He would speak in whispers to the Ambassador of the Great Eagle, telling them that the greatest enemies to world peace were the Orange Knights. But on issues and matters that needed speaking, he would not open his mouth. The Queen Mother and the Wise Men of the Hand were afraid that if his opinions were heard, people might begin to understand what the Boy Prince truly was. So he spent his years doing what the Big Books calls PR-stunts, meeting a commoner or shaking a hand but absolutely nothing of any true significance. And yet his fame spread far and wide, and people awaited his coming.
Little Girl: How did that happen? How did he have fame based on nothingness?
Grandpa: Aaah. The Wise Men of the Hand controlled the Troubadours through a system of honors and incentives. They it were who made sure that the halo around the Boy Prince’s head stayed intact. They made sure that the words of the Wise Men of the Hand got to the people—-every success (and they were not much) of the Satrap were credited to the Boy Prince while every failure (and they were much) were credited to the Satrap. Who merely smiled and shook his head and stayed Silent.
Little Girl: So then what happened?
Grandpa: A time of great trouble and strife came onto the Lands. The greedy nobles overstepped the boundaries of greed. They sold the rights to the Air itself, they looted the coffers with nary a look over their shoulder. The Mad Monk and the In-and-out Breathing One would each stop eating for days together, unless they too were given the right to govern. While the Glorious Lady with the Priceless Bag came to charm the Silent and his men, her minions the Green Ghosts killed and massacred by the dozens. In all, bad times.
The Wise Men of the Hand had been forever confident about handling the Orange Knights, weak as they had become, digging their knives into each other, old and infirm, sometimes dancing for no rhyme or reason. But then their real enemy, an Orange Knight himself but still distinct, the Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces, hated and feared and loved, grew in power and influence. The strategy of shielding the Boy Prince and giving him Troubadour-manufactured successes was now coming to an end.
Finally when the Queen Mother fell ill, The Wise Men of the Hand now decided, together with the Queen Mother, that the time was right to give the Boy Prince the Great Sword, a mythical weapon that is held by the ruler of the Line of Gandhars, the one the Queen Mother had been guarding. He was not to be made the king yet, the Silent was to take the fall-out of the strife that had engulfed the lands till the time was right. But the world was told that the Boy Prince was now ready to rule, ready to take over the mantle of what was his by birthright.
Little Girl: Then? Did he ascend the throne? Did he cross swords with the Renegade Ruler of the Western Provinces?
Grandpa: I shall tell you some other day little one. For now I must watch TV. Rakhi Sawant’s “Gajab Desh Ki Ajab Kahani” is about to begin. I need my fairy-tales too, don’t I?