Once upon a time there lived a king. He was old and said to be very wise. He had an enemy, a neighbouring king. They had been at war for a very long time, with no end in sight. There was a great hatred between them.
The king had in his court a wizard. From his books and scrolls that had in them the lore of ancient magic and spells in near forgotten languages, the wizard learned of many treasures and things of power that were lost, hidden, or locked away in places near and far. The wizard had some servants he sent out to search the world for these things and bring them back to him. This, he had them do in greatest secrecy. He charged them, on pain of death, to reveal their missions to no being, natural or magical. They knew their master’s skill in the ways of magic, light and dark. They obeyed his command.
One day the wizard came before the king with one of these servants. He whispered some news into the king’s ear. Hearing it, the king ordered all his servants, guards, and ministers out of the room, and out of all the rooms and passageways adjoining the throne room. When they were alone, the king said, “Now, wizard, what has this servant of yours found?”
“The Wishing Stone of the Enchanter of The Dead Forest, Sire.” the wizard replied, in a voice mixed equally between excitement, pride, and fear.
“I am more ignorant in the tales of magic than you.” said the King, “Does this Enchanter yet live? Need I guard against his vengeance?”
“No, Sire.” said the wizard. “He lived in the time of legend, so long ago that even his castle has crumbled to dust. Of his home, nothing remains but the curse he laid upon the place.”
“The man is dead, and lis curse lives on?”
“Such was his power, My Lord. No living thing can survive a day and a night in that place. An hour on that ground and a man or beast is driven mad. Even the foulest of demons are afraid to venture there.”
“What of this Stone? Is it accursed as well?”
“No, the Stone was made by the Enchanter as a gift to a lesser wizard who had allied with him in some conflict. To the Enchanter, it was but a trinket.”
“Good,” said the king. “Now, I have questions for your servant.”
“He is at your disposal, Sire.” said the wizard. And, he motioned the servant to step forward.
“Have you journeyed long and far to find this Stone?” asked the king.
“Yes, Your Highness, I have been gone from our lands for ten years. I have crossed high mountains, deserts, and two oceans in my search. I have suffered hunger, cold, thirst, and sickness to fulfill my master’s charge. I have succeeded where six others before me have failed and died.”
“And are you quite sure that no human, beast, or spirit in all that time and distance has known or guessed your mission?”
“Then you have done well and I shall reward you. Go and stand half way between here and that window. Look out the window. Soon you will see your bounty.” Saying this, the king pulled on a bell rope to summon a page. When the youth arrived, the king whispered in his ear and the boy ran out again. Soon the sound of a procession reached their ears. Drums and trumpets sounded. As the procession drew near and the sound was loudest, the king came down from his throne to stand behind the servant. He drew his sword and separated the servant’s head from his body with one blow.
As his consciousness faded, the servant heard the king say, “Dead men tell no secrets to the living. Wizard, lay a spell of silence on his ghost.”
Back on his throne, the king addressed the wizard, “Now, what is the power of this Stone?”
“It will grant one wish, Sire.”
“One wish, is that all? What are the limits of the wish?”
“It will grant one wish, with no limit to any person.”
“How do I invoke it?”
The wizard whispered the formula to the king. Then, the king sat long on his throne pondering the stone as it lay before him. When day was nearly gone, the king spoke to the Stone. “Awaken, Stone of the Enchanter. I have a gift to ask of thee.” The Stone began to glow, at first dimly, then brighter. Many colours played and flowed within it. A strange humming filled the room. Within the sound, a word formed. “Speak your wish.” said the Stone.
The king smiled grimly and said, “Stone of the Enchanter, do you know my enemy?”
“Yes, mortal, I know your enemy.” said the Stone.
“Stone of the Enchanter, I will speak my wish now if you are ready.”
“I am ready now to grant your wish.”
“Let my enemy know his heart’s desire.” said the king.