The Magician

Once a country blundered along in the typical unjust and oppressive fashion until it eventually came to be led by a particularly powerful leader in the possession of deep magic.

His power came to him out of the hard things he experienced in his younger years. Once he was beaten for trying to save the life of a thief. He grew in perspicacity.

Another time he was stabbed because he took the blame for a friend’s violence. His prescience increased. With each of his hard experiences he gained arcane knowledge into the ways of the soul.

He experienced the contempt and scorn of authorities and suffered the pity of his peers. These experiences did not make him vengeful; they made him compassionate, and they gave him his deep magic, so that when he eventually came to power, he did not weld authority through laws and the courts but through intuitions, subtle stratagems and situational ironies.

Under his leadership, one citizen became very rich by exploiting his workers, and so the magician-leader, through deep magic, deceived the man and led him into poor investments. All his wealth was lost. Then the magician gave him a way to become rich again, and after this the citizen became very altruistic and generous.

This irony went undetected by the populace. Another citizen secretly killed some good people. Seeing this, the magician blinded him, left him to brood, then healed him. The man spent his life serving others.

Inexplicably the leader-magician fired a member of his cabinet. He saw ahead that one day the man would betray the state. He replaced him with a woman with no experience in government but deep experience in conflict resolution; she excelled.

He appointed another woman to a high position in the courts. Unfortunately she betrayed her office, but the offense was forgiven by the magician and the woman was put into an even higher place. The general populace was disturbed, but the forgiven leader excel in her new role. She became incredibly loyal to the leader and the country.

Another man, a rogue doctor, duped his patients by telling them they had diseases that they didn’t have and then prescribing power remedies that caused them great expenses and physical suffering. Through these stratagems he became very rich and by means of his powerful lawyers was not adequately punished.

In this case, the magician-ruler used his magic to deceive the doctor’s own doctor. He diagnosed the rogue physician with a terrible disease — that he didn’t really have — and then prescribed the very same terrible remedies to the punished doctor that he had described to his hapless victims. The rogue doctor gradually wasted away.

None of the magician’s strategies were discovered, and so after a time, thinking that their leader was negligent, that he ignored good and failed to punish evil, the citizens rose up and rebelled. They removed the magician from rule over them, grumbling that his magic was useless, and they began to take matters of vengeance and punishment into their own hands. They brought the former leader to trial, accused him of dark magic and executed him.

Then they wrote new laws, increased the role of the military and police, fortified the courts and built new prisons. But the problem was that without the deep magic of their former leader, they couldn’t figure out who was good and who was evil, nor could they determine what punishments and rewards would be effective in changing the behavior of citizens.

After a time, the entire country fell back into the traditional mode of justice, and evil began to thrive again precisely as it always had, within the system, in the most traditional manner possible, respectable, acceptable and particularly harmful to all but the most powerful.


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