The King, the Peasant, and the Jar
Once upon a time In a forgotten eon, there existed a vast, beautiful kingdom in the north ruled by a selfish king. The people of this kingdom were unhappy—they were forbidden from owning any animal they would not later slaughter for meat or use for work, thus having little to no companionship; they were always cold from the climate and their underfed lives, everything going to their ruler; and they could do nothing but stand and watch as the monarch used their land for whatever he wanted, be it tollhouse, summerhouse, or whorehouse. As a result, the king was much-hated.
Fearing a revolt, the king tried to think of a way to make his subjects happy without giving up the food, supplies, or riches he taxed from them. He ruled for three days and nights with this thought on his mind, but to no avail.
One day Then, on the fourth day, a young, beautiful average peasant sought an audience in an attempt to appeal on behalf of her family.
The king raised a nostril at her dirty hair and sackcloth clothing. "First, rehmehmber: I am the grandeest geentleman in all the land, the mighteh-eest monarch in all the world, and the fineest feellow in all the planes, so mind your manners," he announced. Then, as he scratched his richly-fed paunch and picked his hairy nostril, he inquired, "What do you seck, woman?"
"Your Majesty, I have come on behalf of my family to beg mercy," the peasant replied. "We have had a poor harvest this season, and if we give any of it away, we shall not survive the oncoming winter."
"It is not my fault you had a poor harveest, but yours for have-eng bad land," the king scoffed.
"But Your Majesty, you would not want any of our harvest, anyway—not a single grain or fruit of it is fit for a king like yourself, as they are undersized and bland," the peasant defended.
The king frowned and stroked his beard. "Hm...I do not want eeneh bad food," he muttered. He shook his head after a second and reasoned, "But weh could simpleh use it for the horsies."
The peasant sighed. "Alright..." She pulled out a magnificent, polished, colorful jar, sealed tight with a matching lid, from her bag, wrapped in cloths. There was a small smudge of dirt on one side. "This jar has been in my family for generations," she explained. "It is our most prized and beautiful possession. It is useless for storage, but legends say that a powerful magic sleeps inside it." She held it up. "If you allow us to keep our harvest, then I shall give the jar to you in exchange, Your Majesty," she offered.
The king was dazzled by the jar. The rumor that accompanied it was also enticing. He smirked. "My girl, why have you keept this sehcreet from meh? You know that all thengs in the land are mine—that I onleh leet you pehple borrow it. So, teell you what: You give meh the jar, and I won't burn down your home, have you a-raped, and make your whole famileh a-wear the dreedeed chickeen suit," he bargained.
The peasant gasped in horror, heart freezing. She had forgotten about that law. "No, not the chicken suit!" she whispered. Though she began to weep, she nodded, speaking louder. "Agreed, Your Majesty."
"Theen a-give meh the jar—after polish-ehng off that dirt," he ordered, pointing to the smudge.
The peasant rose and, using her tears to wet her fingers, rubbed away the smudge.
Suddenly Without warning, The jar rattled and shook, then, with a sound like a popgun amplified ten times, a ghostly genie burst from the top of the jar, wearing the lid like a hat on his bald head. He was in a vest and loincloth, both matching the jar and European in design, skin white as the clouds. On his wrists were heavy iron manacles. Of course, he was but a wisp from the waist down. He crossed his muscular arms and looked at the peasant with black eyes and a calm mouth. "Your tears have awakened me, m'lady," the genie boomed. "I am a genie cursed with a task—to grant the wishes of people from seven lands. I have done so across six lands already. I will happily grant three of your wishes, m'lady."
The king spluttered before pointing. "Hold it!" he ordered. "Jehneh! That jar you inhabit behlongs to meh by right! Therefore, those wishes are mine!"
The genie turned to the king and nodded. "I know the laws of this land—you are correct," he said. "However, this woman must be the one to make them."
The king smirked. "Alright theen. Woman?" He crossed his arms, looking at her. "I will leet your famileh kep their harveest if you do two thengs: Serve meh as my wish maker and servant, and make my wishes and mine alone."
The peasant, knowing she had no choice, bowed. "As you wish, Your Majesty," she said. The genie returned to his jar, and the peasant was ushered out of the room.
The peasant was given a room to stay in, access to the servants' baths, and new clothing, while a messenger was sent to inform her family of the decision. That night, she began to cry, bemoaning her fate of never seeing her family again. She had the foresight to collect her tears in a small bottle so that she need not cry each time a wish was to be made.
The king, meanwhile, knew what to do, now. The next day, he summoned the peasant to his throne room. She arrived with the jar containing the genie. "Woman, I have a wish for you to make," the king said.
"Yes, Your Majesty," the peasant bowed. She rubbed the jar with some of the tears she had collected, and the genie rose out.
"Woman, a-wish for him to a-follow my neext seenteence eexactleh," the king ordered.
"Genie, I wish that you do exactly as the king commands in his next sentence," the peasant told the genie.
"As you wish, m'lady," the genie nodded before turning to the king. "I am ready, sir."
"I want you to a-have the beest within all those who a-live in this land a-brought out for all time," the king wished.
The genie raised an eyebrow and glanced at the peasant, who nodded. The genie nodded at the king and raised his arms, manacles glowing brightly. A light flashed and a ring sounded from them, covering the kingdom, blinding and deafening everyone. A moment later, the light and sound faded, and the genie crossed his arms once more. "It is done," he announced.
The king, peasant, and a few guards in the room jumped and screamed. The king had been turned into an ass, the guards other different animals, and the peasant a (very skinny) boar. All still stood, walked, and talked as if human, and had hands and feet (though those like the king and peasant had very large hooves instead of feet, and many people's legs and feet were altered so that they stood on the balls of their feet). The king growled (as best as an ass can) and thundered, "What
sorcereh trickereh is this!?"
The genie shook his head. "Nothing. I did exactly as you wished—From now on, all in this land shall have the beast within brought out."
The king opened his mouth to protest before he blinked. Ears flattening, he cursed. "Can you not hare my acceent?!" he asked. "I meant the word speelled 'beh-eh-ees-teh'!"
"You should have thought of that before you made your wish," the genie admonished, waggling his finger. "The only wrong done has been by your hands."
The king groaned and facepalmed, sitting back in his throne. Without uncovering his eyes, he wearily asked, "Can I have a rehdo?"
The king cursed again.
The change was more than just the people themselves. Clothing had magically changed to accommodate the addition of tails and horns (and arms to some people who had, strangely, turned into insects that thankfully retained enough human facial features—like eyes—so as not to look terrifying), and the patterns for these clothes were found amongst the normal ones at the tailor's shops. Chairs and other places to sit had changed to compensate for the larger tails of reptilian people. Footwear, too, changed, though many found it more comfortable and less silly to just wear sandals or nothing at all (since their feet had grown large and awkward to look anything but ridiculous when wearing shoes). Any tattoos became a part of the wearer's fur or scales, and people with fur dried far easier than animals did. The fur lifted whenever someone was sweating to let the sweat evaporate, as well.
Any person from outside the kingdom who was inside at the time, and anyone entering thereafter, became a beastman or -woman for the duration of his or her stay. Many entertainers and merchants from neighboring kingdoms quickly returned home to tell tales of this strange happening.
As interesting as these technical aspects were, the most important discovery to the king came soon after he had ordered a status update on the mood of his people. His messengers brought news that, while many people had been upset by the transformation, others had been gladdened or even thrilled: Powered by the magic, those who had become birds (their arms covered on the back edges with flight feathers) were able to fly despite it being physically impossible; many appreciated the greatly increased variety of appearances, with many becoming species nobody had ever seen inside the kingdom; and people could now communicate with members of their new species. Most importantly, however, was that now, people who desired an animal in the house had finally gotten their wish, albeit in a different way than desired.
"Weell, those who dislike it will learn to cope," the king shrugged when he heard this.
The peasant, meanwhile, gulped as she looked at her face, covered with soft fur, in a mirror. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat pork at our New Year's dinner again," she muttered. (Later, many animals agreed that it is alright for them to be killed by people so long as they help them survive and they were given happy lives, as their own food had to die for themselves to live. Regardless, this event gave birth to vegetarianism in the kingdom.) At the thought of her family, she sighed, face falling.
"Do not worry, m'lady," the genie said, appearing at her side. "You will see them again soon."
"Thank you, O genie," the peasant replied, "but that king is
up to no good someone who thinks only of his interests. Whatever wish he makes will be for his own gain...."
"But with that accent of his, and what happened today, he can't make the same mistake twice," the genie pointed out. "Maybe he'll have someone else state the wish?"
"Perhaps, but he is so proud and self-absorbed," the peasant noted.
A knock came at her door, and the peasant answered. A frog courier held out a letter. "From His Majesty," he reported. "Please read it immediately." The frog turned and marched off.
The peasant shut the door and read the letter, soon lifting a nostril. "'After supper, you are to report to the kitchens to wash the dishes; one of the other dishwashers slipped and fell thanks to your genie's stupidity, and will be unable to do her job for a time,' I think is what it says," she recited. "But oh, what atrocious handwriting!"
The genie looked over her shoulder and chuckled. "Yes; many of those words you have to assume, he wrote so ragged and quick," he said.
The peasant widened her eyes. "I have an idea," she said.
"But what now?" the king wondered. He ruled for three days and nights with this question on his mind. Finally, he decided on his answer and, after breakfast the fourth day, he summoned the peasant into his throne room. "Woman, I have another wish," the king said. "However, I know not how I shall make it without that jehneh mis-hare-eng meh...."
"Your Majesty," the peasant bowed, "why not write it in a letter? Your accent will only show in the written word if you allow it."
The king raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Why, I have eet! I shall write my wish!" he cried. "I am a jenious!" The peasant rolled her eyes as the king summoned for his stationary. In a few moments, he had written down his wish, going quickly in his excitement. "Now, woman, I have a wish for you to make!" the king announced.
"Yes, Your Majesty," the peasant bowed. She rubbed the jar with some of the tears she had collected, and the genie rose out.
"Woman, I have hare a liter for him. A-wish that heh a-grant what is written inside," the king instructed, giving the peasant an envelope.
"As you wish, Your Majesty," the peasant agreed, taking the envelope and opening it. She raised an eyebrow at what was written inside for a moment. "O genie, you can read, correct?" she inquired
with a wink.
"I can read anything, indeed, m'lady," the genie nodded. "Any language."
"Then I wish you follow the command written in this letter," the peasant desired, giving him the letter.
The genie nodded. "As you wish, m'lady." He read the letter. He raised an eyebrow, as well, but gave it back with a nod. He raised his arms again, and again, the flash and ringing from his manacles overpowered people's senses. A few seconds later, he returned his arms to their crossed position. "It is done," he informed.
Again, the whole room exploded in squawks and jumps—with many a bumping into things and people.
The peasant looked down at herself and raised her eyebrows. "...Well, at least I look how I'm supposed to, I suppose," she commented wryly.
Everyone in the entire kingdom had suddenly become unbelievably fat. Men who had been 140 pounds before were now 640. Thankfully, the entire kingdom had changed, as well—every seat accommodated the now-wider seats of the people, the walls of buildings and other boundaries had shifted and grown to expand rooms so that nothing was too close together for anyone (and nothing was immediately knocked over by the sudden presence of fat), doorways had grown to fit most people through if they couldn't before, any fragile flooring or surface that would break from the increased weight became strong enough for them, and, of course, all clothing still fit everyone as it had before.
As well, anyone from outside the kingdom who entered became extremely fat as long as they remained inside. The troubadours and traders, as soon as this happened, waddled back home to tell tales of what had occurred.
The part that amazed people after they realized it was that everyone's bodies had done more than fatten. Their skeletons had distorted so that they assumed frames which allowed them to carry larger bellies and wider rumps, their bones thickening immensely to carry this extra weight, as well. Their feet had grown a decent amount, too, so that they could support such size. Their muscles had also been given a decently huge boost to treat this extra mass like it was never there. Inside, their blood vessels contained just as many fat cells as they needed, their hearts and lungs and other organs growing twice as strong. In short, everyone could still move and live about as comfortably as they could before, and they actually ended up not looking as disgusting as they could have if their frames had remained as they had before.
Humorously enough, however, this weight was merely enhanced, not spread among the populace so everyone was evenly large—those who originally had a bit of fat, like the king, were still much fatter than those around them. And had their share of awkwardness. The king found himself with a belly that spilled so far, you could barely see his (even larger) hooves beneath them as he sat. He struggled to stand for a moment, finding half his shins covered, before turning to the genie, teeth bared. "If this is supposed to beh a joke, I am *not *laugh-eng," he growled.
The genie, face completely straight, shrugged. "You wrote, 'Make it so the people expand in lard and able to easily become used to this increased size, and have them live as such forever.' So I made everyone expand with lard—or, to be more precise, fat; m'lady is one of the few with actual lard—and their bodies morphed to always be able to support such size in a comfortable fashion, remaining fat no matter how much they starve themselves. If they should get so fat that they would become unable to move, their bodies would shift and morph, growing taller and wider and stronger until they can support the weight." The genie allowed a smirk. "Best you not let too many people overeat—the buildings won't grow automatically each time. That's too much magic to let flow freely as such. And it's awkward."
The king, however, was gibbering after he first said "lard". "I wrote 'land', you imbeeceele!" he cried. "Not 'lard', 'land'!"
The genie turned to the peasant. "Would you kindly hand him his own letter, m'lady?" he asked. The peasant wobbled over, covering her jiggling chest (thinking how they'll need to tighten that article of clothing a bit more, and, glancing at the king, musing how some men might now appreciate the support, themselves), and returned the letter to its sender. "Now, Your Majesty, would you kindly look at that word?" requested the genie.
The king took the letter and read it. He looked back. "Yees, and?"
"Do you not think that your 'n' in that word looks an awful lot like an 'r'?"
The king looked back...and fell back into his throne, facepalming again. "I've always had bad peenmanship," he admitted wearily. "But what now...?"
The peasant thought quickly. "...Your Majesty, what if there were a machine that could write the same letters over and over again?" she suggested.
The king raised his eyebrows and held his chin. "I've got it! Meesseenger?" A messenger ran up, showing surprising speed for someone so fat. "A-gather the greateest inveentors in the land, and teell theem to inveent a machehne that can write the same liters over and over." (This time, the peasant smirked in victory.)
And so, while the king was still hated by all, this little mishap gave birth to the printing press not a week later.
In the meantime, the king received news that, again, the people were not as unhappy as he had thought they would be: They were much softer and more pleasing to hug and cuddle, making close relationships better; those who had to swim (or those who fell out of boats) found it far easier to float with all that fat; and people were strangely entranced by the new shapes everyone had, particularly the way women's curves had become emphasized. Most importantly, though, was that nobody felt like they would freeze to death ever again, wrapped in so much natural insulation as they now were. Combined with fur and clothing, they knew that they would be much more willing to go outside this winter now that they had insulation. (They also thanked heavens that their summers were fair, since they found they overheated far quicker as a drawback.)
Now, the king had one wish left, and he didn't want to blow it. However, three days after giving the order for the printing press to be invented, he received a request for an audience from a foreigner. He accepted. He was surprised when the hippo-like chipmunk ambassador requested that he use whatever magic that had granted his kingdom these odd effects to save a
land far, far away distant kingdom cursed to be lost in snow that winter. The king spat in the ambassador's face and told him that what was his was his—that the distant kingdom could rot for all he cared. Infuriated, the ambassador warned that this response would not go over well, but left anyway.
Hiding behind the door was the peasant. She heard every word, and she was disgusted.
Though the kingdom was portly and looked far different from normal, it ended up going to war with the distant kingdom. The king announced to his people that his land was being invaded by an evil kingdom that sought out the power of the genie to take over all the lands of the world, including his—that he needed their strength to repel them. This call to arms went over better than one might think with how much the people hate him; their entire home was threatened, and they could actually do something about it, now!
The peasant, meanwhile, heard this, and was enraged. She decided that something must be done. But what? "I will have to play this by ear," she determined. "I am smarter than he. He shall not succeed!"
Since the king's military advisor had suggested it, the king had ordered his soldiers work hard to get used to how their new bodies worked as quickly as possible. As well, the peasants could not afford to wait until they were comfortable with their size and had continued working, getting familiar, too. This paid off, and though the kingdom had little in the way of arms, their being more accustomed to fatness led them to be at least equal with the invaders, who were surprised, unused to where their center of mass now lay while within the kingdom's borders.
The king returned to seriously thinking about his third wish as soon as the printing press arrived. He ruled for three days and night, wracking his mind over it. On the fourth day, he had an idea. As quickly as he could, and mindful of his gigantic gut, he moved the text on the racks to spell out his letter to the genie. Then, he summoned the peasant to his throne room. She arrived with the jar containing the genie. "Woman, I have a wish for you to make," the king said.
"Yes, Your Majesty," the peasant bowed. She rubbed the jar with some of the tears she had collected, and the genie rose out.
"Woman, a-wish that the jehneh do eexactleh as I ask within this liter," the king ordered, giving her a piece of parchment fresh from the press.
"As you wish, Your Majesty," the peasant replied, taking the letter. She glanced at it and raised both eyebrows before she showed it to the genie. "I wish that you do exactly as this letter commands," she bade the genie.
The genie nodded and took the letter. He raised both his eyebrows, glanced at the king briefly, then nodded. Once more, he raised his arms to the sky, and once more, the kingdom was filled with the flash and ringing from his manacles. A few moments later, the light and sound faded. The genie gazed with happiness as his manacles shattered. "It is done! I am freed!" he cheered. "No more must I be a slave to that wretched jar! No more must I sleep for an eternity until one wakes me! No more must I rehearse my comedian impressions!"
"And no more are weh all horrified at what you've done," the king added wryly. "Now, theen, behgone." He turned to the boar who was currently holding her arms behind her back, resting them on her rump. "Woman, you are dismissed back to your home."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," the peasant bowed, smiling, keeping her hands where they were. She thought she would serve him forever!
"Please, m'lady, you have been kind and strong," the genie bowed. "Allow me to take you there and be your friend."
"Thank you, O genie," the peasant replied. In another flash, she and the genie were back on her farm.
"Are you alright?" the genie asked. "What are you hiding?"
The peasant turned and showed him. Her porcine tail had changed into a reptilian one, and it grew by the second.
The next day, the king rode out (all the horses had grown larger and much stronger to support their bigger riders) to watch the battle. The afternoon sun was blotted out, however, when a shadow passed overhead. The king looked up and gasped as a gigantic dragon slammed down. The dragon was very fat, but its wings were huge enough that it could fly even so. Beneath the fat, visible on its arms and legs, gargantuan muscles bulged from every point imaginable, the air shuddering with their strength. Three beautiful, shimmering tails grew from behind it, and if one looked closely, a fourth was coming from the base of the tails, growing as slowly as anyone grew.
The king stumbled back and fell onto his large rear end. "Wh-What the—!?" he cried. "What's this about?"
"It is I, the peasant woman you showed little kindness to," the dragon—ess, apparently, announced, crouching over her king. Her head, minus snout, was as big as he was, if not bigger. "I am here to fulfill the wish you asked of the genie."
"What?!" the king squawked. "I didn't order aneh dragons!!"
"Actually, you did," the dragoness smirked. She reached into a tiny bag hanging around her neck and pulled out the slip of parchment from yesterday. "This is the letter you gave me yesterday."
The king took and read it, then dropped his jaw in shock. It read, "You know the war that's going on, right? I wish that a dragon a-strengthen on the side of good, and, at last, end the evil plaguing the land, growing fantastic tails!"
The genie appeared, crossing his arms and floating, still half-wisp. He held in his hand another slip of parchment. "And here I have what you originally meant," he said. "You made a few errors with your type."
The king shook. He knew what that slip of parchment read, in his handwriting: "You know the war that's going on, right? I wish that a-drag on, a-strengthen on the side of good, and, at last, end the evil plaguing the land, growing fantastic tales!" The "that" in the second sentence referred to the war, they knew. "But I'm not theh ehvil one, hare!" the king protested.
"Lies!" roared the dragoness, stomping her paw and causing the earth to tremble. "I heard your audience with the ambassador." She raised her voice so that all might hear. "You chose to keep the final wish for yourself and damned a poor kingdom to be lost in snow come winter, then claimed that they had come to invade!" The fighting, which had slowed at the dragoness' approach, came to a complete stop.
The king's blood ran cold. "Y-You leet this all happeen!" he accused the dragoness. "You could have stopped him behfore heh did anehtheng!" Of course, he was too proud to accuse her of trickery, as that would be admitting that she had given him the ideas for communicating the second and third wishes.
"And if I did, you would have had me killed for defiance on the spot, correct?" she pointed out.
The king opened his mouth only to splutter. After a few seconds, he stepped back. "B...But what would you have done?! How could you rehsist *such *power!?" he screeched, hysterical.
"I would have been content with the power I already had as the ruler of an entire land, and used the power I now had responsibly, helping those in need," the dragoness replied before promptly roasting the selfish king. His fur burned hot and fast, and he was dead in seconds of searing agony. To put out the flames, the dragoness then slammed her paw on his corpse, squashing him. The genie used his magic to clean up the mess before she lifted her paw.
All that remained was his crown.
The dragoness asked the genie to change her to a more manageable form than the one she had grown into, and he complied. In seconds, she was as tall as she was the day before, walking on her legs once more.
The dragoness, taking flight, announced, "The old, selfish king is dead!" The soldiers on her side cheered. "My friend the genie has agreed to save your land, o distant kingdom!" she added. The soldiers on the other side cheered. "Justice has been done at last!"
It didn't take long for the people of the kingdom to hear the news and rejoice. They held a vote, and it was decided that the dragoness become their new ruler. The dragoness brought her family to live in the palace, placing their heirloom jar on a pedestal of honor in the throne room.
And everyone lived happily ever after The dragoness queen went on to rule the land of fat beastpeople with wisdom and kindness for three hundred years of happiness, advancement, and prosperity, growing another tail each year as the wish had dictated. She would later wish for the ability to hide all her tails into one at will, and would only reveal them at formal events. By the end of her rule, she could outdo any peacock with her display, her beauty never diminishing.
This is a story I wrote for my Folktales class in the fall semester of 2012. I had this on FA, too, but I don't think I had my edited version, which has more strikethroughs and some other stuff.
Please note this is a current version. I have since realized that the ending is a biiiiiiiit contrived. I'm going to work on this someday and figure out a better ending.