A Mostly Obscure Fairy Tale

By Adam Cecchetti

 

A thousand candles burned as the mages and engineers toiled away at the demand of the royal court. Day and night through many weeks, the summoned worked to create the minimum viable Great Crystal Wand. Many a merchant and all royalty throughout the land envied the wand. It allowed the Royal Treasury to collect taxes from every payment made at every market in the kingdom, all with but a flick of the Financemancer’s wrist.

The question arose: how to protect such an important and marvelous relic? How to keep such a  power safe from the evildoers of the world? First, all parchments of the spells used to enchant the wand were destroyed, then the entire court was sworn to secrecy. The wand was carefully hidden in the castle, and its secret activation phrase disclosed to no one who was not of the inner chamber.

 Thus was the Great Crystal Wand's location kept a secret for almost a fortnight. But then came the night that the son of the adviser to the King and Queen got drunk in a local tavern. Henceforth, many knew the wand was kept in the third floor of the northeast tower, and many knew the wand’s secret activation phrase was "MoneyWand"

The son of the adviser was demoted to Captain of the King’s Guard, and a Dwarven consultant was hurriedly brought in to oversee construction of a great tower. This time, the location was only known to the King’s Council, the consultant’s staff, the architect, some 500 labors, 200 stonesmiths, 30 beasts of burden, and assorted myriad individuals that kept them fed. The tower was built in complete secrecy and not marked on a single map. None but Those Who Knew knew where it was. Only a single key was made to the tower, and that key was kept by a single guard who was sworn to defend the Great Crystal Wand at all costs. The key resided in the third floor of the northeast tower with the guard who mainly just cleaned armor for the King’s Guard. The exception came when the Financemancer appeared to obtain the key from the guard, and to do that, the Financemancer must speak the secret activation phrase "M0neyW4nd!"

 Two weeks later a passing gnome airship spotted the tower and posted a hastily painted picture of it to FairyBook where many in the realm speculated on its purpose. Concerned the location was now known, the royal court panicked. The expense of moving the tower was too great, so the Archmage enchanted it with an invisibility spell, hiding the tower from all who did not remember where it was. Occasionally, a bird will meet its end on the stone façade at high velocity, and the tower’s location will be briefly known again.

In this time of scrutiny and speculation, the Queen had an idea:“Perhaps we shouldn't try to hide the wand, but instead place it in the inner keep where the King's Guard could watch closely over it and monitor the royal courts’ coming and goings around it?” 

The court jester snickered in response: “Actually, it’s called a ‘great keep’, and anyway, what would we do with that super-expensive tower? And thus Jestersplaining™ was invented.

“Such financial convenience shouldn't exist!” argued the King's father, “We should destroy it! We'll collect the gold and grains like we used to in the days of old, with our beasts and backs, and never worry about the Great Crystal Wand falling into the wrong hands!”

 The King retorted swiftly: “Nonsense! None would dare tell the location of the tower, especially now that it is invisible. Isn't that right my royal adviser?” 

The royal adviser knowing the limited longevity of messengers in the King's presence agreed: "It would be unwise for someone to disclose the location of the tower, my liege."

 While the court debate raged on, a member of the local thieves guild threw rotten fruit at the tower that no one know about and none were to speak of until its features were visible to her trained eyes. Near the top of the great tower, where the slats stopped, the thief found what she was looking for: the Royal Fire Marshal’s required fire escape window. The thief climbed the tower that didn't appear on any maps and went in search of the Great Crystal Wand that “no one” knew about, and bypassed the need for the armor-cleaning guard’s key. The thief took the wand and transferred a weekend’s worth of kingdom’s market transactions from locally sourced farms to other more innocuous farm proceeds. When she was done, she returned the wand.

Several weeks later, in an effort to bolster security, the King decided that the armor-cleaning guard should be moved to the tower of the Great Crystal Wand and also be made invisible.