A formidable force
— WHYYY?! — a desperate scream filled the vaulted ceilings of the Throne Room. The screaming man was already seized by the guards who quickly led him away.
Psychologist Royal of King Thyon IV made an unhappy grimace. He had been in office for a mere week and that was already the fifth case. And, according to the recounts of the veterans, such cases were all but singular. The Counselor thought it was about time to commence his work.
— Your Grace, — opened the Psychologist addressing the King. — Do not you reckon that you might be, perhaps, too cruel to this poor fellow? In fact, he did no wrong.
— He brought terrible news, — uttered the King with a gloomy face. — Hence, he deserved to die.
— Since when, Sire, a message of a child birth, especially one issued by one of Your Grace’s official consorts, is bad news?
— But no, not this fool Princess Kotai! — replied the King, still gloomy. — She does have a pretty face, but all her family is poorly witted. Why, on Earth, do I need a stupid or, even worse, mad heir?
— Your Grace is certainly exaggerating. Or, perhaps… — the Psychologist hesitated for a moment — or are you a pessimist perchance, Sire?
— Who?! — wondered the King — What? an insult?!
— Not at all, Sire! — the Counselor hastened to justify himself. — Very broadly, people can be divided into two types. Some prefer to see the good in everything, we call them optimists. The others who, on the contrary, note only the wrong are called pessimists. It seems that you, Your Grace, belong to the latter category. I have been observing your behavior for a week. Every piece of news, even an objectively good one, is perceived very negatively by you. Initially, I even wondered why they send only convicts and the condemned as messengers to Your Grace.
— And where shall I see all that good? — asked the King with sudden interest. — Here, for example, a few weeks ago, a dragon came from a neighboring Kingdom and burnt a few villages before being shot down. What good can it possibly be?
— Well, since the dragon came from our neighbors, it was already considerably tired. Had it been in its full force, I doubt it would have ended with just a few villages. Not to mention that it must have seriously weakened our neighbors’ defenses.
— Ehm.. And what if we are invaded by the wild Orcs’ horde?
— That would be a formidable circumstance to give our Army a good shake. They have become too lazy lately. And the many exploits of our heroes would be praised by minstrels and immortalized by sculptors, greatly increasing the prestige of Your Grace’s Kingdom.
— And what if they defeat us? — wondered the King?
— It would mean that our Army is rubbish. Hence a reason to reflect, regroup and try to improve upon our own mistakes in order to avoid them in the future — cheerfully replied the Counselor.
— What if they also burn down the Capital?
— We shall then build a new one, an even better one! They scattered building all around with no plan or project whatsoever, one can barely find his way in this city.
— Ehm… the King became silent again, thinking and sweeping his courtiers with his gaze. — Baron Wood has a huge wart on his nose. Is that good for him?
— It is wonderful! — replied the Counselor all excited. — It makes him notable among other equally noble men.
— I reckon this deformity distinguishes him rather badly.
— The very fact that Your Grace’s look fell on him first already witnesses to the contrary. You will not forget that man quite certainly, Sire.
— Ehm… the King glanced around him again. Here — Count Tucan’s wife is unfaithful to him.
— It is very good indeed that the Count has a wife. An isle of stability in a man’s life.
— And the Duke of Rigge is unmarried — the King snidely tried to regain the initiative.
— His body and soul are free, then. The man has got everything ahead.
— And Captain General of my Royal Paladins is only interested in boys. Is that also good?
— Certainly, Sire! One less competitor for the numerous young noble men looking for a match.
— Enough! — suddenly roared the King, foreseeing a defeat in the argument. — You are seeking good everywhere. What if — and his voice assumed a gloomy note — what if I have you beheaded for insult, will it also be good?
A shiver ran down the Psychologist’s spine, yet he had no intention to retreat.
— Very good indeed, Sire! — he replied with the selfsame cheerful voice. — Firstly, the abolition of my office will save a considerable amount of funds which could be allocated to other, more useful, projects. And, secondly, according to my faith, violent death is equaled to martyrdom; I will thus automatically go to heaven. It isn’t so bad, is it?
— It isn’t indeed! — reacted the King with a stupefied look on his face, totally defeated by such persuasive arguments. — But… but… how can I learn all this?
— That’s exactly the raison d’être of my office, — said the Counselor with a barely concealed sigh of relief. — I have developed a special method that will allow Your Grace to change his outlook on life. With your permission, shall we commence our training? And you shall soon discover,
Sire, the formidable force of optimism.
The courtiers silently scattered away, casting venerating glances at the new Counselor. Thyon IV, nicknamed “the Gloomy”, had become a notorious disaster for his subjects, and if anyone could change him — that person certainly merited to become the hero of the entire Kingdom.
(Ten years later)
The War Chief of the ferocious Orcs of the West Obould the Horned strode triumphantly through the arcades of the Royal Palace heading towards the Throne Room. Who could imagine that everything would go so smoothly? His Horde that barely a week ago invaded this rich kingdom had effortlessly annihilated the local army, captured the capital without a siege, and were now starting to loot it. The most abundant bounty was, certainly, in the Royal Palace. But the Horned Chief who, by Orcs’ standards, was considered of rare wits, decided that mere plunder wouldn’t be enough. He desired to become the local ruler recognized by the neighboring sovereigns. But for that the former ruler — what was his name? Thyon the Fourth — had to abdicate in favor of Obould.
…Silence ruled in the Throne Room. All the noble lords and dames fleeted away trying to hide their treasures away from the Orcs’ greedy hands. Only the King, with an indifferent look on his face, sat on the stairs beneath the Throne playing chess with his Counselor.
— Thyon the Fourth! — fiercely yelled the Orc — I crushed your miserable army!
— I totally agree — replied the King without removing his gaze from the chessboard. — Next time we will be more diligent in military matters.
— I defeated your knights!!! — continued the Chief.
— Incompetent fools. And they dare call themselves an elite! We shall establish a Military Academy.
— I shattered your city’s gates!!!
— I will have the contractors hanged. Now I know where they have cut the costs.
— Why hanged? Better have their property confiscated and they themselves sent to forced labor — to partially compensate for the damage. This will also provide a cheap workforce. Isn’t that better? — interjected the Counselor.
— Wonderful! — smiled the King moving his piece. By the way — check!
— My warriors captured your kingdom! — roared the Horned, infuriated by being ignored.
— Very good, I hope they feel welcome here.
— They will rape your women!
— The next generation will grow stronger. You know, interracial breeding produces a better issue.
— They will burn your homes to the ground!
— We’ll finally rid ourselves of this archaic architecture.
— They’ll reduce your city into ruins!
— Finally an excuse to replan our Capital.
— They’ll take your treasures!
— Gold corrupts the soul. We shall rather grow spiritually.
— I’ll take your throne!
— I shall finally repose then. This office is quite a burden. I barely had a proper vacation in twenty years.
— We… I… — the Orc stammered nervously, shocked by such an unexpected resistance. — I will then kill you!
— An excellent circumstance for me to canonize myself — replied the King without raising his head. — Posterity shall never forget my name.
— And the statues, Your Grace, the statues! — the Counselor interjected again. — Sculptures of King martyr. If it comes to that, I’m acquainted with a few young but promising artists, they will do all it takes. Marble or bronze, you name it. By the way, checkmate, Sire.
— I see. But this time I was close to winning.
— Your skill improved notably, Your Grace. It is the consequence of viewing the world positively, without crushing the board after a dozen of defeats in a row.
The Orcs’ Chief fell to his knees stupefied. He had seen many rulers defeated by him. Some of them he despised, others gained his respect but never had he beheld such a fearsome resistance. Although the king accepted all his demands, the Horned Chief inexplicably felt the bitter taste of defeat.
— You are a great shaman! — he uttered in a hoarse voice. — I won, yet I am defeated. What have you done to me? How could you bewitch me?!
— How? — the King scratched his head reflecting, then straightened his crown. — Well, you shall rather discuss it with my Counselor. He is a better expert.
— With great pleasure, Your Grace. — the Counselor briskly jumped onto his feet. — This also gives a rare opportunity to study the wild invaders’ psychology. He approached the Orcs’ Chief. — Well, before explaining everything, I am rather curious about the source of your aggressiveness. Why did such a wild and proud folk suddenly uproot itself and assembled into a horde?
— We are great warriors — said the Orc gasping for air. — We are stronger than anybody under the heavens.
— Sounds like a classical complex of inferiority — sentenced the Counselor with a content expression on his face. — No worries, I reckon it will take about a week to deal with it. Follow me, if you please…
The Horned Chief felt forceless. All his might and ferocity suddenly evaporated and he permitted to lead himself through the labyrinth of palace rooms, bound by a web of strange incomprehensible words, telling to his companion about his childhood, his family, and Orcs’ life in general.
…King Thyon IV calmly fetched a diary (one that he had started long ago following his Psychologist’s advice), and, smilingly, marked:
“City’s population doubled. Problem of new army recruits solved. Shall double Counselor’s salary. All-winning optimism is a formidable force.”