A beggar came everyday to the court of a king. Each day he gave the king a piece of fruit. The king had the fruit tossed into a storage room with nary a thought. After ten years of this the king playfully handed that day’s fruit to his monkey. When the monkey bit it he found a jewel inside. Checking the storage room the court found a pile of jewels along side the rotting fruit. The next day when the beggar came to the court for the first time he asked a favor of the king. He asked the king to help him in a rite of exorcism.
In the dark of the night, sword in hand and disguised as a villager, the king went out to meet the sorcerer in the cremation grounds. When he arrived the place was full of charred skulls and the air was filled with the screeching of demons. The sorcerer was scratching a magic circle in the ground. He told the king that across the burning grounds, in a large tree, was a hanged man’s corpse. He must cut down the corpse and bring it to the magic circle.
The king finds the tree and cuts down the corpse which lets out a sigh as it hits the ground. The kings speaks to the corpse but the moment he does, the corpse flies back into the tree. The king goes back up to cut it down again, this time determined not to speak. Animated by a vampire, as the king carries it to the circle, the corpse begins to speak.
The corpse speaks a riddle to the king and then lays on the double bind, “If you know the answer and do not reply your head will burst into a hundred pieces.” Twenty four times the corpse confronts the king with its riddles, twenty three times the king cannot help but speak their answers as he thrills in solving them. Twenty four time the corpse is whisked away back into the tree and the king must return to cut it down again.
The final time the king remains puzzled and puzzled, remains silent. The spirit seems pleased. Before the king reaches the magic circle it gives him this warning. ‘The beggar-priest is a dangerous imposter. With his powerful spells he will reanimate my corpse and placing it in the center of the circle worship it as an idol. During the worship he plans to sacrifice your life to its divinity. You will be ordered to worship me like a slave, with head, hands and shoulders on the ground. At that moment the beggar-priest plans to cut off your head with your own sword. You must say ‘as a king I am not used to such prostrations, please illustrate for me’ and when he does you must take up your sword and decapitate the sorcerer.’
Which is exactly what happened. As the sorcerer died his malicious necromancy failed and the air was filled with grateful ancestors freed from their slavery. The spirit that had animated the corpse, grateful now, promised he would grant the king any one wish. The wise king chose that this tale should be told and retold all over the world and throughout all the ages. And so it has been.
I have done my part in telling you this tale. Now do your part by telling it to others.