Corky was a brave young man, an expert swordsman, and he dreamed of becoming the best fighter in the world. In the whole army there wasn’t a single soldier who could beat him. He hoped to become head of the army one day, so he could replace the cowardly old General who was currently in charge. The King liked Corky, but when Corky told him about his ambition to be appointed , the King looked a bit shocked and said,
“Your desire is sincere, but I’m afraid it can’t happen right now. You still have much to learn.”
That was the worst thing that could have happened to Corky, who became so furious that he stormed out of the palace, determined to learn all there was to know about fighting wars. He went to all kinds of schools and colleges, improving his technique and his strength, but without really learning any new secrets, until one day he went to a very special school, a huge grey fortress on top of a great mountain. He had heard it was the best military school in the world, and only very few students were allowed to train there. On his way he learnt that the old General had studied there, and Corky proceeded, ever more determined to be accepted into the school to learn the great secrets of war. Before entering the fortress, he was made to hand in all his weapons.
“You won’t be needing those any more. Here you’ll be getting better ones”, said the guard. Corky was impressed, and he handed his weapons to a little grey man who immediately threw them into a pit. One of the instructors, a serious old man of few words, accompanied Corky to his room.
As he left, the old man said, “In a hundred days the training will start.” A hundred days! At first Corky thought this was a joke, but he soon realised the man had been serious. The first days were filled with nervous tension, and Corky tried all manner of silly tactics to try to get them to start the training. It didn’t work, though, and he ended up waiting patiently, enjoying each day as it was.
On the hundred and first day the first lesson began. “You have already learned how to use your main weapon: patience”, began the wise old teacher. Corky could hardly believe it, and he let out a brief chuckle. The old man went on to remind him of all the crazy stunts Corky had pulled in the first days, when he had been overcome by impatience. Corky had to admit the teacher was right. “Now it’s time to learn how to win every battle,” said the old man.
That sounded good to Corky, that is, until he found himself tied hand and foot to a chair; a chair standing on top of a small pedestal, and with dozens of villagers climbing up to try to give him a good whack. He had little time to act, and the ropes were tight; he couldn’t get out of this one. When the villagers climbed on the pedestal, they set to work, giving him a good beating.
The very same exercise was repeated for days, and Corky knew he would have to try some new tactics. He tried, and failed many times, until it dawned on him that the only way to prevent the attack would be to deal with the villagers’ anger. In the following days he kept talking to them, until he managed to convince them that he was no threat to them, but rather a friend. In the end, he was so persuasive that they gave up their hostility by themselves, and such a friendship developed that they offered to avenge Corky by turning on the teacher. It was day two hundred and two.
“You already control the most powerful weapon – the weapon of words. That which you couldn’t achieve with strength or sword, you managed with your tongue,” said the old man.
Corky agreed, and he prepared to continue his training. “Now, this is the most important part of all. Here you will face the other students”, said the teacher. He accompanied Corky to a hall where seven other warriors were waiting. Every one of them looked strong, brave and fierce, just as Corky did. Not only that, but in each one you could detect hints of the wisdom gained in the first two lessons. “Here you will fight, every man for himself. The winner will be the last man standing”, said the teacher.
And so, every morning, the seven warriors would fight it out. Each one disarmed, each one wise, they called for the group of villagers, and the warriors set about trying to influence the villagers against their opponents, using only words and patience. Each one devised tricks and deceptions to attack the others when they least expected it; and without so much as aiming a blow themselves, they succeeded in directing a ferocious battle. However, as the days passed, Corky realised that both his own strength, and his villagers, were weakening. So he changed his tactics.
Using his gift of the gab, Corky gave up the fight, and he proposed using his villagers to help the others recover. His opponents were grateful to have one less enemy, as well as the welcome offer of help, and they intensified their fighting. Meanwhile, more and more villagers began to join Corky’s group, until finally one of the seven, named Thunder, managed to triumph over the others. At Thunder’s side there now remained only a few villagers. When Thunder had finished the fight and seemed victorious, the teacher stepped in, saying “No, only one can still remain standing”. Thunder sent Corky a threatening look, but Corky stepped forward and said,
“You really want to fight? Can’t you see there are fifty times more of us? These men gave up everything for me, I have let them live freely and in peace, you have no choice.”
On hearing this, the few villagers left at Thunder’s side moved over and joined Corky. He had won!
The old man then entered, grinning from ear to ear. “Of all the great weapons, peace is my favourite. Sooner or later everyone joins the side of peace,” he said. Corky smiled. Truly, in that school he had learned to wield much more powerful weapons than those he had handed in at the gate. Days later Corky said his goodbyes, giving thanks to the old man. He returned to the palace, prepared to ask for forgiveness from the King for his imprudence. When the King saw him approach humbly, with neither shield nor weapons, he gave Corky a wise and knowing smile.
“What’s new, General?”