"My Father was a fool", the prince of the kingdom of Midas said as he looked down on the body of his father. King Midas had just died of a broken heart. For the gift he had for turning what he touched to gold had gone horribly wrong. He had accidently touched his own daughter, his pride and joy, killing her. He cried over her golden statue, frozen in her last movement to kiss his hand. He cried and cried, until finally he too died.
Prince Midas scorned his father and removed the ring of Midas from his hand. The ring had belonged to the ruler of the land for over 1000 years, and now he was the hier to the throne. "I will learn from my fathers foolish mistakes" the Prince claimed.
He went to the alchemist, who had given his father the golden touch and instructed him to empower the ring with such a gift, so that its wearer can turn what they touched into gold. The alchemist worked for many days and nights, but finally succeeded in the Princes request. The Prince tested the ring and indeed it worked. He promised to pay the alchemist in gold, immediately upon receiving his bill.
The Prince set foot immediately to expand the empire he had spend his whole life learnign to run. He had been schooled by the finest tutors and wisest minds of the kingdom, he spoke 5 languages and was reputed by many to be the wisest monarch in memory. Prince Midas summoned many experts to his courts, the finest minds in the known world and together they designed the development of his kingdom.
His political advisors suggested that he give as much freedom and power to the people of his country as he could without giving up the throne. They advised that he use his power of wealth creation to insure that there was a prosperous middle class and that even the poorest of the poor were not sick or in need of food or shelter. The Prince followed this advise and soon local councils were coordinating many tasks thru directly elected officials. The free press sprang up like mushrooms on a rotting log.
The economic advisors suggested that he invest heavily in universities and research facilities to improve the condition of industry and commerce in his kingdom. They suggested he hire the best talent from away lands and bring them to the capital with large salaries and well equipped offices, laboratories and facilities. The Prince agreed with this council and soon institutes and creative places covered the land.
The military advisors suggested that the Prince tour all of the neighboring countries and establish trade relations and strategic alliances with them to increase their wealth as well and reduce the chances of a military assault on the land of Midas, which would be perceived as growing too rich. The Prince appreciated this wisdom and soon set off to make friends and business partners in other lands.
All of the advisors recommended that he tell no one about the power of the ring. He was sure they were right in this also, and they all swore a blood oath to secrecy.
One of the Prince's trips was to the kingdom of the East, here he met the fair Princess Marcella and they fell in love. Soon the two were married in a gala ceremony in the capital of Midas and the beautiful princess was the source of great pride and joy for the Prince.
Many years passed and the kingdom of Midas prospered, trade relations helped the surrounding kingdoms, increased democracy encouraged the populace to take part in policy and solution building, Midas was heralded by his free press and by that of the neighboring countries as the best ruler in the history of world.
Then one day the monarch of the kingdom of the East died, leaving only Princess Marcella as an heir. The Princess offered the kingdom of the East to her husband to rule and there was another great celebration at the joining of the two kingdoms and the Easterns welcomed their new with the land of Midas.
But word of the magical ring reached the ears of the incompetent ruler of the kingdom of the South. There the arid land and lazy subjects had not been able to take much advantage of the trade offered from the great kingdom to the north and as unrest began to sweep the land of the South, the ruler declared that the kingdom of Midas had attacked the frontier. The story was completely false, but the Southern King was desperately in his need of enemies and felt the resentment in his own population of the wealth of his northern neighbor. Soon a patriotic Southern army was assembled and headed for the front lines.
Prince Midas's military advisors suggested that the kingdom to the south be granted a small symbolic victory and concessions of land near the border to attempt to bring the aggression to an early end. The Prince agreed and the strategy seemed to work.
The military advisors also demanded that creative production be turned towards weapons production, to insure that Midas's army was always the strongest. The Prince understood the logic of this and commanded it to be so.
But the King of the South, having been celebrated for his only successful action in his long carrier (the invasion of the north border) felt he must go further. He brought in his most treacherous spy and together the conceived a most evil plan. The spy infiltrated the kingdom of Midas and kidnapped Princess Marcella and brought her to the kingdom of the south.
Prince Midas was furious with his military staff, which had become so lax that even the royalty was not safe. The general for internal security was imprisoned. Midas's military advisors suggested that he quickly reclaim the land which had been ceded to the south, to show their superior force, but stop at the old borders with visible superior military strength. Midas agreed and within a day they had recaptured the territory without a single casualty. None the less the press was critical of the invasion, saying that it risked bringing the kingdom to war before discussions with the kingdom of the South had even started. A small demonstration in the capital was the first against the Prince in his reign, riot police gently removed the protesters, there was little attention paid to it.
Then came the shock. The kingdom of the South offered a trade, they wanted the Prince to give back their land and give them the magical ring of Midas and in exchange they would return the Princess. This was the first time the magic ring had ever been mentioned in public and immediately the wisdom of Prince Midas was doubted. Nearly everyone was convinced that with such a ring they too could rule the vast empire as well or better than Midas. The stock market crashed the same day and gold became nearly worthless.
Midas's military advisors said the exchange was impossible. The South King knew that if he gave up Marcella, that Midas's superior military force would be able to recapture the ring before the South King could build his economy. All the experts and advisors to Midas told him such a trade was a mistake, the South King could not be trusted and he might well loose the ring and his lovely bride. The Prince went into a depression.
With the collapse of the stock and gold markets, numerous food deliveries from the eastern part of Midas's kingdom did not make it to the kingdom of the North. There was rioting as the food shops ran out for the first time and Midas was blamed. Prince Midas snapped out of his depression and sent diplomats and emergency food shipments to the North Kingdom, with his apologies. But soon it became impossible to support all aspects of the economy which were in trouble, especially because resources were being diverted to build the tools of war. Many people no longer had faith in Midas.
As the press became more critical and the local councils attempted to restrict the power of the central government, Midas's political advisors suggested he role back these political freedoms for they were endangering the center. Reluctantly, Midas agreed and there was censorship and restrictions of local autonomy.
The Kingdom of the South invaded the territory once ceded to them. The Midas's armies effort to push the Southern aggressors back, the troops of Midas entered the Kingdom of the South. There were many casualties on both sides - the press was extremely critical of this, saying that Midas had not yet attempted to negotiate in good faith and was driving this peace loving country towards a terrible war.
Unrest also started in the former kingdom of the East, where Marcella was once heir to the throne. A large demonstration in the former capital turned into a riot when federal police from Midas classed with both protesters and local police from the Eastern kingdom. Midas quickly found his relationship with this part of his own kingdom strained. He withdrew the federal police.
The South King demanded that within 100 hours the exchange must take place or he would kill Marcella. Midas's military advisors showed the Prince a decoded message from within the secret police of the Southern Kingdom, which seemed to prove that the South King had no intention of returning the Queen. They knew full well that Midas's superior military could simply then roll in and take the ring and the territory back, especially with gold prices nearly zero. Prince Midas had to agree that it seemed unlikely the South King would play his only card. Midas's spies also said they had located the place where the Princess was and would attempt a daring rescue, but could not complete it within the ultimatum deadline.
Midas appeared before his people and asked them to understand that no one love Marcella more than he and that he would do everything he could to bring her home safely, but the kingdom could not give into the demands of terrorist nations, or else no one would be safe. But just as Midas was giving this speech, investigative journalists broke the story that secret negotiations had been going on between Midas's minister of trade and the council of the King of the South. There were more riots in the east. Prince Midas closed the press and dissolved the regional local councils.
Tragically, the intelligence of Prince Midas was incorrect and on the fourth day the king of the South did kill Princess Marcella. Midas's mixed army with the eastern lands was shattered and there were massive desertions, eastern militias attacked the center as did armies from both he South and North.
Soon, the great kingdom of Midas was in ruins, thousands of acres were burned and all the accomplishments of his rein were lay to waste. The kingdom fell into anarchy. And as Prince Midas looked from his castle tower, he could see the enemy troops coming over the gates, knowing it would be but moments before they were on him. He took off the enchanted family ring and threw it from the balcony into the castle moat and said "i am no wiser than my father".