Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, there was City of Brothers. The city lived under a great cloud of disappointed hopes and unfulfilled wishes. And the brothers of the city shared a longing–a longing for victory.

One day, a prince came to the City of Brothers. He came to fulfill their longing. He came to make their dreams come true. The heralds of the city cried out that he was a great prince. They told the brothers of the city that Prince Scotty of Jasper would bring championships to the city. Prince Scotty was strong and good, they said. He would love the brothers as they loved him. The prince’s skill and power and work and fire would bring glory to the City of Brothers.

So the brothers loved Prince Scotty. They cheered him when he was fast. They roared when he was strong. They cried out to see him when he did great deeds. They believed that Prince Scotty, although a quiet prince, loved them. They held fast to the hope that he shared their dreams. They believed.

For some time, the brothers’ love of Prince Scotty flowed easily. But the prince accepted their love grudgingly. The brothers saw this and thought it was good. They believed Prince Scotty was a modest prince. So they loved him all the more.

Then, one winter, from his warm southern palace, Prince Scotty spoke. He told the heralds that the courtiers of the city of brothers did not share his passion to conquer. He told the brothers of the city that they deserved better from the courtiers. And the brothers of the city agreed with their prince. The brothers shouted out to the courtiers that they must make Prince Scotty happy. They begged the courtiers to please their prince, so he would not dream of leaving them for another city.

When Prince Scotty returned to the City of Brothers for the heat of competition, the prince’s army won many battles, even though his warriors did not share Prince Scotty’s strength or skill or speed. But few warriors in the land possessed such gifts. Then it became clear some of these warriors did not have Prince Scotty’s fire. And the brothers of the city rumbled with displeasure when the warriors did not show desire. But Prince Scotty loved one heartless warrior with a strong love. And when the brothers of the city murmured against this warrior, Sir Travis of San Diego, Prince Scotty was displeased.

In spite of this, the courtiers tried to make Prince Scotty happy. They told the brothers that they had plied Prince Scotty with an offer of great riches, greater riches than had ever been bestowed on any prince of the City of Brothers. The courtiers began to build a beautiful palace for the prince, a palace more beautiful than any of the brothers had been able to imagine. And the courtiers showered worthy warriors with much wealth, to ensure that Prince Scotty would have a strong army with which to wage war.

But Prince Scotty’s heart had turned away from the brothers. His eyes had turned to another city near the place of his birth. He longed to play in the City of Saints. Still, he spoke words to the heralds that encouraged the citizens of the City of Brothers. But the brothers could sense that Prince Scotty’s heart was no longer with them. They began to mistrust their once-beloved prince. A few at a time, the brothers began to murmur against Prince Scotty. The prince became more and more truculent. And when the brothers cried out to see him after great triumphs, Prince Scotty refused to show himself to the brothers. He said he was not that kind of prince. He did not realize he was saying he was not a gracious prince. But some of the brothers could see, and they were disillusioned.

The brothers who still loved Prince Scotty prayed he would not turn from them. They cried out to the courtiers to do whatever it took to keep Prince Scotty in the City of Brothers. But the courtiers knew Prince Scotty could not be pleased. And over the screaming protest of the brothers, they escorted Prince Scotty to the gates of the City of Brothers and bid him go.

The outcry in the City of Brothers was great. The brothers condemned the courtiers for being faint of heart. The warriors grumbled in their barracks in disappointment and fear of defeat. The courtiers could do nothing to calm the brothers.

Then the heralds of the City of Saints began to call out their news. Prince Scotty of Jasper was now a prince of the City of Saints. On his first day in the City of Saints, Prince Scotty declared, “I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.”

The saints rejoiced at the arrival of Prince Scotty. They had been in mourning. Their Prince Darryl of Garden Grove had died and left the saints without a great warrior. Still they did not see the inappropriateness of Prince Scotty’s declaration. And they welcomed Prince Scotty with exultation.

The saints did not sympathize with the brothers. They believed evil lies spread about the brothers by the heralds of the City of Saints. They believed that Prince Scotty had been driven away by the brothers. The saints had not heard the pleas of the brothers to Prince Scotty not to desert them. The saints did not see the tears of the brothers as they watched their prince ride away. The saints embraced Prince Scotty just as the brothers had once done.

That winter, a great prince was cast out of the City by the Lake because the city had no warriors for him to lead. The people of the City by the Lake wept. But still they loved Prince Jim of Peoria, because they knew he left only to lead a great army. Prince Jim came to the City of Brothers to lead its young and powerful warriors. The brothers were jubilant at his arrival. Here was a truly great prince of the people.

Prince Jim loved the brothers with a great love. He brought the warriors to him and trained them in the way they should go, both at war and in the city. And the warriors learned from him and gained heart at his leadership.

In the next season of battle, one warrior for the City of Brothers, Sir Pat of Eureka Springs, failed in battle as he had never failed before. But very few brothers murmured against Sir Pat. Most of the brothers had seen and remembered that he had great skill and power. And when those brothers who did murmured caused consternation, Sir Pat acknowledged that he shared their frustration. He did not rail against those who despised him. When Sir Pat succeeded in battle and the brothers cried out to see him, he did not appear. He explained that he did not deserve their love, because he won so few battles. And in his strength of heart, he won the brothers to him. And they ceased murmuring and began to encourage Sir Pat.

When the wars of the season gained importance, the City of Saints engaged in a battle with the City of Brothers. Prince Scotty was no longer the greatest prince among the saints, but he was still much loved by them. When Prince Scotty entered the palace in the City of Brothers the brothers murmured against him with one great voice. A great number of brothers gathered to see their new and worthy Prince Jim defeat the disappointing Prince Scotty, whom they had loved in vain.

Their pain and anger against their once-great prince was awesome to see. No one could remember such a loud murmur against a once-beloved prince.

The heralds of the City of Saints expressed outrage. They could not comprehend the brothers’ outcry. Why would they hate a prince they had driven out. They did not understand that the brothers did not send Prince Scotty away, but that Prince Scotty deserted them and their hopes.

The warriors of the City of Brothers vanquished the warriors of the City of Saints. Their jubilation at the victory of Prince Jim and the other warriors of the City of Brothers was loud and swelled with joy and pride in their worthy warriors. And their love was returned in full measure. When Prince Jim and Sir Pat struck mighty blows against the warriors of the City of Saints, the brothers rose as one and shouted their approval, their cries bringing Prince Jim and Sir Pat forth to receive their due adulation.

The heralds of the great union of all cities were perplexed. They had not seen the love of the brothers for Prince Scotty. They did not understand the pain that still tore the brothers’ hearts. They had believed the false witness of the heralds of the City of Saints.

These heralds of the nation also said that the brothers were inconsistent in their joy for Sir Pat. The heralds of the nation claimed that the brothers had murmured with great anger at Sir Pat, these heralds did not look with their eyes to see the rising brothers in the part of the palace where Sir Pat did battle. They did not hear the cheering for Sir Pat to encourage him in his battles. These heralds did not report the truth from the City of Brothers. They spoke in ignorance and spread misconceptions about the brothers and their warriors.

When warriors of the City of Saints left the City of Brothers without a single battle won, ringing in their ears were the murmurs of the brothers against Prince Scotty. These murmurs are a warning to the citizens of the City of Saints. Look carefully at your Prince Scotty. Yes, he has power and skill and speed. But see that there is no joy. Beware of loving a prince who has no love in him.

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