Chapter Twenty

Now, The King had been busy with other matters and the feud between The Old Fox and The high Priest had nearly left his mind. So he thought nothing of The High Priest coming to him with what sounded like a reasonable request.
2 "My King," announced The High Priest, "the day of your birth approaches, and great celebrations are planned. I have thought of a special celebration for your birthday.
3 Let every head of household in your kingdom bring a sacrifice to the temple of Tr on the Worship Day before your birthday, and let them request a prayer for your long life and wisdom."
4 "Now that is not an unreasonable thing," thought The King, "Let it be so!" he proclaimed.
5 The next day one of his councilmen came to The King.
6 "Your Majesty," he warned, "you have been deceived! The Priest of Tr has tricked you. You have sent out a proclamation that the head of every household in your land must present a sacrifice at the temple of Tr and pray for your long life and wisdom. Your Majesty, according to their Teachings, The Children of Spirit can make no such sacrifice. It is forbidden. They will be forced to disobey your decree."
7 "Damn that accursed demon!" The King cursed. "What has he done to me? The last thing I wanted to do was provoke The Old Fox and his people, especially after the loss they have just endured. Was not murdering his brother enough for that temple rat? I did not begrudge them the blood they took in revenge. I will issue another decree saying that The Children Of Spirit may pray to Their Lords instead of making sacrifice to Tr."
8 "I'm afriad, Your Majesty," the councilman explained, "it is too late for anything like that. If you had made that part of the original decree, perhaps it would have been acceptable. Now you can only sit and wait to see what The Old Fox is going to do."
9 "That is true," acknowledged The King. "I can only sit and wait."
10 Now when The Old Fox heard of the decree, he simply sent very precise instructions to all the Worshipers of Spirit, then returned to his other business. His little family Temple had grown too small to serve the people. A committee had come to him desiring that a new Temple be built. The Old Fox had given them instructions for the construction of a large tent.
11 "A tent?" asked the people, "Why a Temple made of cloth and skins, surrounded by a courtyard of curtains?" As The Fifth Day before The King's birhtday approached, the further instructions that The Old Fox sent were even more confusing. For he told them to sell their land and their houses, for each family to buy a sturdy tent and ox carts; to buy goats, sheep and cattle, and to gather up stores of food, gold, silver, and precious stones.
12 Now, the people thought these instructions strange. "Sell your property," insisted The Old Fox, "and tell the owners they may take possession by mid-winter, at the latest."
13 The people obeyed. Come The Fifth Day in question, every household of Spirit had fowl for the midday meal, and that afternoon the head of household took the head of the fowl to the temple of Tr as sacrifice, and gave the priest a written prayer, which said "Tr, god who is no god, grant my prayer. Let our King live long, and may he know how to wisely rule his people."
14 By nightfall messengers were hurrying to Tr from every city and village of the kingdom. The temple of Tr was in an uproar. The High Priest went about striking novices with his staff. With the first light of day, he was at The Palace, and as soon as The King awoke, was before him.
15 Now, The King was both amused and angry at once, but he knew he would have to call The Old Fox before him.
16 When he arrived in his court, The King threw a bundle of prayers at his feet, and asked him "Why did you not simply disobey? That, I would have endured, but you insulted my god." He rose to his feet, seized his staff, and banged it on the floor. "And by his glory, you insulted me! Why? Why, damn it, why?" And The King banged his staff on the floor again.
17 "Your Majesty knows why," answered The Old Fox. "We had to obey your decree, yet we could not bring an animal to sacrifice. We had to make a prayer to Tr, but we could not admit his existence. Your High Priest set his trap well! We did what we had to do."
18 "And I will do what I have to do," roared The King, "but I am not sure what. I have read your Teachings, I have read The Book of The Law, and I find nothing in them offensive other than that you will have no god. Though I think that is wrong, that is your decision. But this once you could have compromised! This once you couldve bent a little.
19 Now, I will give you a choice. Next Worship Day you will send your people to the temple of Tr with a proper sacrifice and a prayer, or I will double your taxes!"
20 "Very well, Your Majesty," answered The Old Fox. "If you wish to use this incident as an excuse to double our taxes, do so. If you triple them, it will make no difference. We will not present a prayer to Tr, or, a sacrifice."
21 "Very well," proclaimed The King, "by your own words shall you be punished. The taxes for every man, woman and child of your people is tripled. Now get out of my sight! Go, now!"
22 The High Priest of Tr came forward. "Your Majesty," he screamed, "this man has insulted your god, made a mockery of his temple. He should be hanging from the city gate."

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