Once upon a time there was a king named King John. He ruled a happy kingdom, because there were no taxes and free beer given out every day. Everyone was content except for one thing. That thing was that there was not much room to spread out. Everyone’s gardens were just a little bit too small. King John was upset about this, for it was the only bad thing in his kingdom.
One day, it was a Tuesday, he asked his advisors, “How are we going to solve this problem?”. The advisors disappeared off into the pub and came back many hours later and said, “I love you mate, you know that? I do. I really do.” Some time later, when they had sobered up a little they told the king what was to be done. This is what they said. “What you should do, your majesty, is invade the neighboring kingdom, ruled by the evil King *&$#. He is so evil, even his name has to be censored. We should gather an army and go and take some of his land.” “That’s a wicked idea” said King John, and promptly set up a poster campaign asking for volunteers for his army.
Loads of people were big up for this idea, consequently the army was very large. It numbered 1024 people and a goat. After much preparation and training this huge army set off with the King to invade the kingdom of *&$#. I would however take many days to travel all that way, but they did not mind, for the prize was worth it – more land for all (including the goat).
At the end of the first day the pitched camp, had a few beers, and some food, and fell asleep. When he awoke the next morning the king was shocked and upset to see that half of his proud army had been killed in the night. Only 512 remained. He was distraught, and ran around shouting for the others to get up. It was then that he saw, away in the distance, just going over the hilltop, a man. He was dressed all in white on a white horse. He had white boats and carried a white flag at the end of his white lance. King John yelled to the white man, but he ignored him. The king pulled himself together and sat down to breakfast. His advisors said, “Don’t worry, your majesty. We have more than enough men to defeat King *&$#. We’ll continue after breakfast”. So they did.
They journeyed all that day and by dusk were very tired, so they didn’t have so much beer. The king wasn’t taking any chances, so he posted guards around the camp. Then he went to sleep. Next morning he awoke and ran from his tent. “AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH” he cried. Another half of his men had been killed. Just as they were counting exactly how many had been killed the king noticed the white horseman again. Dressed all in white he was riding away into the sunrise. The king spotted that the white man had totally white hair. The king was a bit annoyed by now, as only 256 remained from his once proud army, but had no choice but to continue on his quest.
They traveled all day and in to the night, so that when the king finally called a halt, the men and him all slept straight away. The king woke first and could hear the sound of hooves outside his tent. He burst outside to see the white horseman galloping past his tent. In the horseman’s arms there was a white guitar, which the man was playing as he disappeared off into the sun. Upon looking around he found that half of his men were dead. A mere 128 remained. The king was beside himself with rage, and the remaining men had to restrain him and calm him down.
They sat down and came up with a new plan. “We’ll have to take the enemy by stealth, as there aren’t enough of us to kill them in a fight”. His army, now looking small and a little worried, agreed and set off for a day’s travel. They decided to take it easy that day and didn’t travel more than about 10 miles. The sun set and they made camp. They ate their rations, which had increased enormously, and settled down to sleep. All night the king was plagued by visions of the white horseman. He woke in a cold sweat just as the sun was rising. He opened his tent door with a sense of trepidation. As he looked around it became clear that half of the remaining men lay dead. The king, almost resigned to defeat, just shrugged. “Come on everyone, we might as well get going. We might be able to defeat King *&$# with 64 men”. Just then the white horseman burst out from behind a tent and started galloping away into the east. Once again he was playing his white guitar, and waving his white flag. The king shouted at him to stop, but he didn’t even look back.
The army packed up and started their long days march. They stopped just before nightfall and set up camp. As they were all very nervous about going to sleep, because they had seen so many of their friends murdered, they all decided to stay awake. Time passed and one by one they all nodded off. In the morning the king was awoken by the sound of shouting. He ran out of his tent and was met by some of his men. “Half of the men are dead”, they said. The king just nodded and gave the order to march. As they were packing up the king saw the white horseman trotting off into the distance. He just waved and started off.
All through that day the king tried in vain to think of a new plan which could be accomplished with 32 men. In the end he decided on a competition against the best of King *&$#’s men. The winner would take half of the other’s lands. That night they set up camp in a wood. Because they had had to leave most of their provisions behind (there were not enough people to carry them) they hunted deer to eat. After they had eaten their food they all fell asleep. In the morning the king guessed what was going to happen, and he was right. Half his men lay dead and the white horseman was galloping off into the sunrise. As he galloped he was throwing white rose petals from a white bag and scattering them behind him. The king looked at his 16 men. “Well, we’ve come too far just to turn around and go back. We might as well try”, he said. His men agreed and set off towards the *&$# kingdom.
King John was going a little crazy in the head at this point. More than a thousand of his men had been killed while they slept, and he could do nothing about it. “Not tonight” the king said to himself. That evening they stopped a little earlier and built a tall fence around the camp. They put spikes on top of the fence and went to sleep. In the morning the king woke and burst from his tent. He was eager to see if his plan had succeeded. Alas it had not. Half the men were dead and there was a large hole in the fence. Peering through the hole the king saw the white horseman riding away. He was distraught. The 8 remaining men comforted him. “Maybe we can ask King *&$# for a treaty. Then we can share lands”, they told the king. The king would not listen and gave the order to pack up and march.
They rode fast all day and had covered 50 miles by nightfall. The king said nothing as he lay down to sleep. The men decided that half of them would remain awake and stand guard. They drew straws and settled down for a long night. In the morning the king woke up, stretched, and had a coffee before leaving his tent. He opened the tent flap cautiously and peered about. Four men remained alive. The others (the ones who had been on guard) were all dead. The king yelled as the white horseman rode past on his white horse, waving his white flag, playing his white guitar and scattering his white rose petals. The 4 men packed up what few possessions they could carry and set off.
All that day the king sat on his horse and laughed to himself. When they eventually reached a place to camp they were very tired. They had been riding for days, they were hungry, thirsty and had seen many friends killed in their sleep. They sank down onto the ground and slept. “Oh. What a surprise”, was the king sarcastic exclamation in the morning. “Half my men are dead. Only 2 remain. And there goes the white horseman off into the sunrise”. He and his two men, Alan and Nala, set off. They were nearly at their destination, so they could not stop now.
They rode and chatted about this and that. The king seemed in a very jovial mood. Alan and Nala thought that he was all right until he jumped off his horse and started attacking a tree because it was “looking at him funny”. They thought that was a good time to stop for the night. They pitched their tents, one for the king and one for the two men, and slept a peaceful night. In the morning the king went outside and poked his head into the men’s tent. One of them, Nala, was dead. He woke Alan and started looking about for the now familiar white horseman. He saw him just mounting his horse and ran after him. The king could not catch up with him, and came back to camp. He and Alan were one days march away from the castle of King *&$#, so they polished their armor and sharpened their swords. Then they rode off towards the castle.
Near evening they saw the castle. It was huge and dark. They felt a little foolish turning up with the smallest army ever to try to take over this mighty army, but they could not travel home without trying so they pitched a tent and waited for morning. When the sun rose the king awoke to find that his last man had been killed. 1024 of his men had been killed while they slept. The king burst out of his tent. He was confronted with the white horseman. His clothes were white, his hair and beard were white, he carried a white guitar, and there were white rose petals scattered on the ground by his feet. The white man looked a little on worried and edged slowly towards his white horse. “Have you been killing all my men while they’ve been asleep?” asked King John. “No”, replied the man.