Long ago, in a time much like our own, there stood a kingdom on a hill. It was vast and strong, with large fortified walls and guards keeping post. They didn’t guard against invading countries or even against man. Surrounding the bright and glorious kingdom was a wood, and concealed in its darkness was an unspeakable fiend. Wolves.
Every child in that kingdom knew how to raise a bow, aim, and fire. Every woman knew what to do should a wolf find its way past the mighty gates. And every man was vigilant and brave. The king himself tarried not, and if the very sound of a howl reached his ears, be it day or night, he would lead a hunting party himself into the wood to destroy the beast.
They weren’t ordinary wolves you see, not the mild type that eat only woodland creatures, they had a different hunger, a thirst for man, a hatred for the kingdom on the hill. It was an evil thing, that made the wolves appear larger than normal, darker than night, and with eyes as vicious as a snake. The kingdom never suffered a loss, however, because they slept with their swords in their hands, and woke up aware that they were fighting a battle.
After many years of this, it seemed that the number of wolves appeared fewer, and the howling altogether ceased. The woods were silent and still and the kingdom began to lower their defenses.
It was then that idleness took over.
The children were no longer taught to shoot a bow, the women became plump and content, turning their attention to parties and dances. The men slept, ate, and turned their eyes away from the woods and the gates. And the king? he thought highly of himself and his kingdom saying, “what could ever come against my perfect kingdom, who could ever break down my mighty walls?”
It was night, and not a person stirred, everyone was asleep.
The panting of many wet tongues and the pattering of paws ran across the open grass towards the mighty gates. Dirt flew, and the gate rattled and still, no one stirred. The gate was all rusted from neglect, and the ground was soft as it hadn’t been pounded down by guardsmen feet in many years.
The wolves climbed under the gate and broke into pairs of three, threading themselves throughout the sleeping kingdom. And just as the sun was about to rise above the horizon, casting an eerie red glow over the face of the stone houses, a chorus of screams rang out through the land.
The king awakened with a start and gasped as he took in the view from his window, people were running to and fro with large beastly wolves nipping and snapping at their heels. Already, half the kingdom lay in bloody waste, with unused weapons tucked safely and forgotten in closets and cupboards. Not a single man raised his sword out of fear and shock, never had they prepared for this moment, and never had they seen a wolf. It was larger and more terrifying than they could imagine.
The king wept. He had brought this upon himself, he had let his great land fall to the wolves of the wood. He had grown idle and unfocused, had believed that his kingdom was invincible.
He wandered through his quite castle in defeat, walking down the hall he hadn’t much traveled soon brought him to the library. He reached out towards a red bound book covered in dust and opened it. He skimmed the many pages and stopped just as he reached the final page. It read:
“Lo to the kingdom that forgets to watch the gate, lo to the people that forget their enemy the wolf and turns their faces from the wood, lo to the guards who drop their shields and lower their swords, and lo to the king who watches it all unfold and holds his tongue. This kingdom will not stand in courage, this kingdom will not taste victory, for when there are wolves at the gate and no one to greet them, the battle will be decided. The kingdom will fall.”
The king placed the open book down and with it, he laid down his pride. The wolves never slept, while he ate and drank, they plotted and devised. While he sat on his throne, they moved about, becoming stronger and more agile. While the gate rusted, their teeth and claws were sharpened, and while he slept, the wolves rose up and the kingdom fell.
Never let yourself become this king, and never step foot inside such a kingdom as this. For the bible says, “whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” -Proverbs 18:9