The Two Kings

It was the custom in Apple John's time to take a newborn to see the oracle to read the baby's future.

On the day Apple John was born, his parents asked the oracle what lay in store for the life of this new boy. The oracle told them:

And so they called him Apple. Word spread of this prophecy, and the kings of the East and West kept close watch on their people, in search of the legendary fruit.

It so happened that Apple John grew up to become an apple farmer.

Now, Apple John's orchard lay in a peculiar place. It was on the border between the Kingdom of the West and the Kingdom of the East. There was a low stone wall marking this border so that there would be no confusion as to whose land was whose. Apple John's farm was on the side of the Kingdom of the West, but one tree grew very close to that wall. Over the years as it grew, its branches reached over the stone wall into the air of the Kingdom of the East.

One day, while Apple John was out checking his crop, he noticed something glinting in the sun in the branches of this tree on the border of the two kingdoms. As he walked closer, he saw it. There, hanging from a branch of his tree, was a golden apple.

Apple John was no fool. He knew if he took the apple for himself his king would eventually come to his farm to take both the apple and his life. So he went to the court of King of the West to report what he had found.

The king assembled his cavalrymen and rode out to the tree with Apple John. As they neared the tree, however, the thundering of the hooves shook the branches. And the apple fell to the Eastern side of the wall.

This in itself was not the only problem.

The spies of the East had alerted their king that the West had assembled a cavalry group and were charging east toward the border. The Eastern King had rapidly assembled his cavalry and rode out to meet them. And so there they all arrived and all who were at the wall that day saw the golden apple drop to the earth in the Kingdom of the East.

“Ha!" laughed the Eastern King. “We have found the golden apple at last and fate has placed it in my kingdom. The power belongs to the East." “Not so fast," interrupted the Western King. “We must examine facts. This apple has grown on a tree in my kingdom, nurtured by the care of my loyal subject. It is a product of my kingdom, therefore the power must belong to the West." “Facts, you say?" retorted the Eastern King. "The only fact that matters is that the apple has fallen onto my land." They continued like this for some time. Tempers rose and the soldiers became agitated. A skirmish broke out. Many men were killed.

So the decades of peace between the East and West ended. The war had begun.

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