There was once an old King named Ebioniol. He ruled over a vast and peaceful land of farmers, sheepherders and merchants; there were no wars and little illness; it was, by all accounts, and perfectly happy kingdom of people bustling about with the business of commerce.
Old Eboniol saw this and his heart swelled. “Look at my people,” he said to his advisors, “look at how happy and content they are. Surely we are wise to have ruled this way.”
“Yes, sire, it is true your people are happy,” one of his most senior wise men remarked. “But perhaps you are too content—with all the traveling men have to do to sell their wares, we are vulnerable to advances by the Dark King—in truth, he gathers his troops on our northernmost border.” Old King Ebional thought long and hard. The thought of losing his crown to the hated Dark King in the next valley was just too much to bear, so he smacked his fist against the armrest of his throne and decreed a new resolution:
“From this day forth, there will be a MarketFair at which people buy and sell goods.” It will be free to all who come, and no one will be turned away from selling their hard-earned products.”
Now before the MarketFair, farmers and merchants would have to travel thoughout the Kingdom in order to sell their wares; it was an arduous and dangerous way to make a living. Those who avoided the robbers and raiders did so after many days and weeks away; not a few honest farmers came home to empty homes and burned out barns. So you can imagine how successful the MarketFair became. It was simply the best place to buy and sell things–as this was a Kingdom of commerce, the idea was pure gold. At the Market Fair, the merchants and farmers would show up and pay a modest entry fee, find a stall and sell their goods. And though at first not many came, once word got out the people came in droves; they packed the MarketFair and the surrounding area. In order to stand out, merchants began building extravagant stalls; some were so fancy that it was hard to figure out how to enter and what, if anything, was for sale. Some even began to give things away. In fact, just about all the merchants gave out prizes and threw gold coins at the crowds; it began to resemble a carnival more than a MarketFair.
Still others, would follow customers home and bang on their doors. “Let me in, let me in,” I can make your life much easier if you just tell me about yourself.”
Eboniol took note and grew dark. “Surely these farmers and blacksmiths are a dull-witted bunch of louts,” he said to his advisor. “Surely, they will come to their senses.”
But they did not, and so it was that people began to avoid the MarketFair. Some of the merchants began to grumble a little, and talk began in the caverns and at the laundry stone. True, not enough people are coming, but I’’m sure that will change. And even if it doesn’t, old King Eboniol will help us out again.”
Ebionol heard these things and grew angry; saw the merchants in their fine new satin clothes and prancing horses and set his jaw: no MarketFair vendors would receive another penny from the Royal Treasury. “From this day forth I set this decree: no MarketFair vendor shall receive as much as a bronze farthing from me, unless he can tell me how and when he’ll show a profit at his stall.”
The merchants just laughed. Times were good, and many people still enjoyed the MarketFair. So they kept building vain stalls to honor themselves, and kept giving away horses and tossing gold coins. Pretty soon the Market Fair got a little smaller; and then smaller again. The merchants and farmers who did not offer the best service, a fair price and a valued commodity were soon closing their shutters and selling their daughters into slavery. Some even took up in the queue outside Old Ebionol’s Palace: rumor was that his advisors would select a handful of merchants and fund them; thus giving them another shot at entry to the MarketFair.
And the Market continued to shrink, and times were bad. Merchants filled their bellies with good meat and beer; songs were sung and poets wrote odes to its brilliance.
Then one day the Market Fair got small enough that the remaining the merchants began to grow alarmed. Your Majesty, you must help us,” said the group’s Speaker to Eboinol. “The farmers can’t grow enough wheat to offset your fees, and the merchants can’t make goods fast enough just to turn a simple profit.”
It was then that Eboinol cried. And became regent to the Dark King for a farthing and a roasted pig.