There was once a young prince who lived in the richest kingdom in the known world. The palace was made of pure gold with golden pillars and golden arches encrusted with sparkling gems; golden flowers were planted beside the golden pathways that ran alongside beautiful golden fountains.
But the prince wasn’t happy. Although his parents showered him with golden toys every day – clockwork golden mice, golden swords and golden bicycles – and even offered to extract all of his teeth to replace them with golden ones just like they had (“A golden smile is a royal smile!” his father always reminded him), yet in his heart of hearts – though he would never have dared to admit it when his parents were around, yet he knew that gold wasn’t the most important thing in the world.
So when, one day, the prince’s parents died in a tragic accident (their golden boat sank and, weighed down by their golden clothes they sank to the bottom of the river at once), the prince knew his time had come.A grand ceremony was arranged for his coronation at the palace and a golden crown was brought to set on his head the prince frowned and raised his hand to address his loyal subjects in their golden gowns and dresses that clinked along the ground as they walked.
“My good people, can gold really buy us everything? Can it bring back my dear, departed parents? Can it keep us warm at night when the cruel winter winds blow? And when we have scarred the earth with our gold mines, poisoned the rivers with our melting refineries and neglected our fields in our quest for riches, will we then understand that we cannot eat gold?
“I think we all know in our hearts that there is something far more precious and dear to us than a shiny metal, something that can nourish and unite us all in peace and harmony – I speak, of course, of… chocolate.”
The young kind snapped his fingers and 2 servant stepped out bearing a beautiful crown of the finest dark chocolate, encrusted with raisins and cashews. The king bent his head to receive his crown and, feeling a little peckish after his speech, broke off a piece and placed it in his mouth.
And with that the kingdom changed overnight. Without a word needing to be said, his generals sent off armies to conquer the cocoa fields of the tropics and large factories were set up to process the cocoa beans into the finest chocolate the world had ever seen. The golden palace was demolished and a new, chocolate palace was built in its place with dark chocolate pillars and arches delicately embellished with flaky chocolate pieces that sent a fine chocolate rain upon the royal court each time a breeze blew. Chocolate pathways ran through the gardens to the fountains that gurgled with liquid chocolate that then flowed through the palace and the rest of the city in luxurious chocolate streams.
An order was issued for every house in the city to be knocked down and rebuilt with chocolate and it soon became the fashion for all of the people to wear chocolate clothes as they went about their daily business. The army was equipped with chocolate weapons and armour and every restaurant in the city adjusted its menu to serve chocolate pasta, chocolate bread and chocolate soup.
The king himself kept his carpenters in constant work by eating parts of his palace as he walked around and he sent many a young woman running off in fright when he couldn’t help but devour their chocolate dresses. When he woke in the morning he often had breakfast in bed by eating his bed – the blankets and mattress were made of chocolate, after all.
And yet the king still wasn’t satisfied. He ordered his cosmeticians to prepare for him a chocolate paste that he might smear all over his body and, remembering the wishes of his father, he had all his teeth taken out to be replaced by a precious set of hard, chocolate teeth so that the taste might never be far from him.
And so, after 6 months of his rule, the chocolate king stood one evening on the chocolate balcony of his room, sipping a mug of hot chocolate and looked out over his domain contentedly; his gardeners had planted forests of cocoa beans that sent the scent of chocolate onto the evening breeze and in the plazas artists worked night and day on chocolate sculptures of the king, working hard to contain their frustration when he passed by to take a nibble. In the distance he could hear the royal band playing the national anthem through chocolate tubas and trumpets, the percussion section shaking cocoa beans in their pods.
His rule had achieved perfection. He looked out on his chocolate domain and dreamed that his dark, sweet kingdom might last a thousand years.
But, ah, hubris! Time and nature seem designed to mock all ambition and glory! What is left, after all, of the great civilisations of the past but a piles of rubble and a few broken pots?
And so the end drew near as spring turned into summer and a mood of unease grew in the city as the sun climbed higher and higher in the sky and the aroma of warm chocolate filled their air and pervaded the senses until people began to dream they were drowning in the stuff.
Then, one sultry night, it began: Drip! Drip! Drip! Large chocolate drops began to fall from the roofs of houses, from the statues in the street and the very chocolate clothes that people wore. What began as a tiny trickle quickly grew into a steady flow and then a surging torrent as possessions and furniture and homes melted into a ferocious chocolate river that swept away the inhabitants of the city, leaving very little behind to suggest that there had ever been a city there at all.
As for the chocolate king, when the chocolate roof began to drip onto his face, he simply opened his mouth while sleeping to catch the drops. When his bed melted beneath him and his entire palace dissolved into a giant chocolate flood, he simply floated along with it and though he opened his eyes, it didn’t occur to him for a moment that this was actually happening.
“What a delightful dream!” he murmured and lay back on the chocolate tide to let it bear him where it would. After some time the river died down to a trickle and the king found himself in a desolate place with not a plant or animal to be seen. To his surprise, he found that he was hungry (he didn’t know that was possible while dreaming) and he looked around for something to eat – but alas! There was no chocolate in sight apart from that that coated his body.
“I wonder…” the king said thoughtfully, reaching down to snap off a toe and, placing it in his mouth, he found to his joy that, having consumed so much of the stuff, his body had turned to chocolate! He munched his way through his feet and then his legs; he devoured his belly and back quickly, shoveling handfuls of the stuff up into his mouth. His appetite now whetted, he rammed his left arm down his throat and then the right, chomping on both right down to the shoulder until nothing was left but his head resting on the ground.
He at once regretted eating his hands as now he had no way to eat his own face but -what luck! – his nose began to melt and, by sticking out his tongue, he was able to catch the drops as they fell.
Soon, all that was left of the king of chocolate was a small brown puddle and, having melted away without trace, the glory and splendour of the kingdom of chocolate passed away into memory and then into myth until, finally, no one believed it had ever existed at all.