There was once a proud and noble king who ruled over an ancient kingdom, high in one of the remotest mountain ranges in the world. He ruled with sincere honesty and merciful compassion. And just like all good kings in all good kingdoms of all good stories, he was loved by all of his people.
He would distribute the excesses of his wealth amongst the poor. He would ensure lasting peace with all of the kingdom’s neighbouring friends and rivals. He guaranteed all his people were treated fairly and insisted they should all come to him for any personal disputes or hardships. Despite the harsh conditions and simplistic lifestyle, the people were happy and content with their lives in this cold mountain kingdom.
After one especially cold spring and summer, one of the villagers went to visit the king.
“We only have a few crops but this year they did not thrive. We may not have enough food for ourselves or the animals in the winter”, he informed the king.
“With a cold summer, perhaps we will have a warm winter and will be fine. Let us pray. I am with you”, the king replied as he donated some of the food reserves to the farmer. And with that, the villager left content and hopeful.
However, this was not to be. The following months bought the worst weather the kingdom had ever known. The winter suffered with a continuous snow and temperatures far lower than the experienced mountain people were used to. Food shortages quickly became critical and the people became sick.
The strongest men huddled together and went to the palace, asking for their king’s guidance and help.
”Pray”, he replied. “I am with you. God is with you, miracles can happen, we will survive”.
With this renewed hope and lasting faith in the king, the villagers left and prayed with all their might.
The next morning, the people woke up to a golden light and heat throughout the kingdom. The weak suddenly felt stronger. The huddled in the cold became warm. The hungry became content. As they stepped outside, they saw upon the highest mountain, a flame, flickering in the snow but radiating brightness throughout the sky. They were all astounded and rushed up the steep slopes and rocky paths to the site of the flame.
On a plateau, embedded within the ice was a small candle and the tiniest flame flickering. In spite of the howling winds and the thickest snow, the candle continued to burn strongly and endlessly. And oddly, despite the soothing warmth from the flame, the surrounding ice did not melt. No one could fathom how this magical candle had been placed here, so far from everyone.
The people went to the king and told him of their amazing discovery. He smiled and told the people to pray to God and offer their thanks, for it was God and not the king that must have placed this light in the land. The people were happy and celebrated. Over the coming years, the flame of this candle never diminished, lighting up the hearts of the entire population throughout all the seasons. The summer became prosperous, the winters comfortable. The discovery of the flame travelled through the neighbouring lands and people from afar came to visit and pay homage to the flame. And all who came near it were touched and blessed by its beauty.
Soon the people became successful, their lives became richer and pleasant. However, they continued with their rituals as they always had and they continued to love, respect and admire their king. But with this new happiness amongst them, they also worshipped and celebrated the candle in the mountain as much as their beloved king.
Despite the people’s ongoing devotion to the King, with time, he became jealous of the candle. He grew angry and believed that the people loved the candle more than himself. He was increasingly irritable whenever he heard any of the messengers at court discussing its beauty. Soon his irritation became hostility and he banished any mention of the flame in the palace. But each night he still could not sleep, the candle continuously on his mind. And with each sleep deprived night, his thoughts would become more concerned of the candles influence on his people.
Eventually the king became manic, truly obsessed with the magical candle invading every thought as he summoned for the flame to be extinguished. He called his soldiers and told them to destroy the flame. When the people heard of the king’s forthcoming actions, they grew sad. But they reluctantly agreed, for they loved their King and held their faith in him despite disagreeing with his wishes.
The soldiers climbed the mountain and stamped on the flame but it would not extinguish, flickering as brightly as before. The soldiers returned with buckets of water and threw it over but it would not extinguish. They tried to dislodge it from its place in the ice but it would not move. Eventually they returned to the king, explaining they could not destroy the flame. The king became intolerable as he shouted abuse at his soldiers. He vowed he would destroy the candle himself.
He raged through the fields and passed the villages, its people cowering together, looking on. He climbed the tallest mountain in his finest attire and came upon the ever glowing flame. And with one vicious stamp of his foot on the candle, the flame disappeared. The kingdom suddenly became dark and cold. The king made his way back to the palace in peace, satisfied with his work.
The crowds looked up at the site where the flame once had been. They gasped in sadness at their loss but did not complain. They did not grow angry at their king. In colder days and darker nights, they would still look up at the highest mountain in search for the light but with time, even the location of where the flame had been became uncertain. And soon later, the people forgot the flame had existed altogether as they returned to their previous lives. However, even though the light had gone, their lives remained just as prosperous, with no further droughts, famines or extreme weather conditions.
The king became happy that his people were back with him. He no longer had difficulties in sleeping and found peace within his kingdom again. But each and every night, when he laid to bed, a small flame softly alighted from under his shoe, lighting up the king, the palace and his kingdom for the rest of his days, without him or anyone ever knowing of its hidden everlasting light.