There once was a magnificent kingdom with lands that reached up to the most northern tundras and grasped onto the most scorching deserts. The castles and palaces practically drowned in gold and, it was said that the silk was used cleaning rags. At the apex of such an unparalleled empire was his majesty the king. All the scribes agreed that he was truly the peak of humanity, the greatest, most intelligent, just, and most powerful ruler, surpassing his father in every way. The scribes neglected to mention any examples of the king's virtues, but that was usually forgotten about during the glorious ceremonies in which the scribes' praises were read out.
The king sat, slumped sadly on his throne like a doll thrown against a wall. He was miserable, but could not fathom why. Surely he had everything, absolute rule over what everyone assured him was the most vast kingdom on earth, riches inconceivable, even as a fantasy to most, yet he had them as a reality. Truly, he was a god among men, just as his advisors told him, but that thought did not stem the sadness that flowed from his mind like blood from a wound. Not that he had been allowed to see what a wound looked like, for the hero king to even sustain an injury would obviously be obscene. Then, an idea flooded the king's mind. Of course! He could just ask his subjects what filled them with the bright glow of joy.
Within a week after the call for the happiest person in the kingdom, the palace swelled with pompous chatter from hundreds of people, smiles glinting like flashes of gold across their faces. Peasants were banned, of course, they couldn't mix with the nobles and especially not their king. The first man was called up. Sahrail, the governor of the asique desertlands, was a man who had become immensely wealthy shortly after the money being brought from the year's great trading expedition was lost mysteriously to the desert sands. Sahrail ascended the steps with the dangerous elegance of a prowling cat, with his head bent and his cast to the ground. Why? Well why on earth would the mighty king be viewed by anyone? To even gaze upon his majesty would be to proclaim yourself equal to him. That would be treason, punishable by death. What strange place do you come from that people can commit treason without punishment? The king sighed, he had not seen the face of another person for so long. He wished to command Sahrail to look him in the eyes. However, I could not force the man to commit treason and suffer death. He instead called out ''Sahrail, what is your secret to happiness?''
''My king, I believe that you yearn to have greater power and riches, you are not satified with this meagre living, and you want more. That urge is a trait shared by many great people. I myself have felt it. That is why I redesigned my desert palace, extending it and making it reach up towards the heavens themselves. I tall you there is no greater thrill than standing at a height that my entire domain look miniscule. It easily affirms your strength in this world. I suggest that you create even greater structures in your image and decorate yourself with more extravagant beauty until you are no longer human, but a work of art.''
The king was disappointed, he had already attempted this, towering strructures, great fortresses, beautiful palaces, none mitigated his melanchol. He waved Sahrail away. A grimace slashed across the man's face and he muttered about the fool of a king he must endure, however this went unnoticed by the king.
The next noble, a general, told him 'Conquer foreign lands for your glory.' The third, a banker advised him 'Increase the wealth of your kingdom for your greatness.' The advice of the fourth, fifth, and sixth blurred together and was forgotten by the king almost instantly. Nothing helped, yet the king kept consulting the nobles for hours until the sun's eye drooped and it slept beneath a pale moon. Eventually, he grew weary of their transparent, useless advice. He dismissed the nobles and stormed away to his bedchambers. In the darkness of the room, he could see nothing of it's grandeur, and felt lonely and weak with no one to comfort him, except the inviting pull of slumber.
Upon the next dawn the king left the castle, pondering his situation. As he entered the capital city of Carrowmore, trumpets sounded to herald his arrival, and all the people retreated into their houses so as not to bother his majesty with their presence. The king dismissed his personal guard who were surprised at being given orders from him, but nonetheless compiled. He walked through the streets without any signs of life, past the familiar city square, past the houses of the merchants and doctors, streets becoming stripped thinner and thinner til they became alleyways. To parts of his city that were completely foreign to him, but equally empty at least until he turned a corner and found a man looking directly at him. Had the guards been there the man would have been killed, yet the king simply looked upon him with fascination. He wore ragged clothing, hos face was dirty and rugged, yet it wore a smile brimming with contentment. The king was perplexed, how could this man, was one step above a beggar, happier than the most powerful man on earth? He asked the man what he was doing outside. The man replied that he was waiting for his friends to come out of their house, while enjoying the sunlight. The king was taken aback, never in his life had he been referred to without copious honorifics. This peasant spoke while looking him in the eye and talked like he was a regular person. The king found it... refreshing. The man did not wear a porcelin mask when speaking to him, the man talked like he was a person. For once the king felt like he was with true company, all from a few simple words.
The two men spoke for hours, the king learning about the people of his kingdom, and the peasant learning of the sadness that afflicted the king. When sunset bathed the sky red, the king came asked the man to come to the castle as his advisor. He replied that he was happy where he was and didn't believe he would be of use in the royal court. The king thanked him for his help and the two men parted ways. The king now knew that he was not the greatest, nor the most intelligent, and bis power was merely a facade. But he now wished to discover humanity and understand his empire.
The scribes and bards would remember him as a fool, and would ingrain this into the minds of generations after him. That was his official legacy. However, the people of the kingdom secretly held him in their hearts and revered him, not as a fool, but as the king who cared.