There was once an old man who was a fool – royal fool, to be exact. He would dance and contort in front of the King and the courtiers. He would joke, play with words, play with props exotic and mundane. The royal family adored the fool; the king was generous and gave him all manner of expensive trinkets over the years as gifts. The fool always wore the same plain clothes though, and lived in the same simple shack with his son. In this way, no one paid much notice to the old man; no one envied him, nor acted to make his life more difficult, as was not uncommon a pastime in that court, at that time. One night, Death came for the fool, ethereal, dressed in black robes. Death carried the hourglass whose grains of sand marked the Fool’s lifespan. As the last of them ran out, the Fool began to dance – the funniest dance he’d ever choreographed, in fact. In his last moments, the old man was spry again, free.
After his father’s burial, the fool’s son found the chest where his father had kept all the gold he had ever received from thing king. In this way, the old man had ensured that the son would not be forced to take up the Fool’s mantle in his father’s place, and instead could follow his own path, whatever path it was that his turned out to be. The young man, uncertain at first, opted to join the ranks of the king’s pages. But there was Fool’s blood in the boy, and he didn’t make a very good page at all: he spent too much time dreaming, sketching ideas for contraptions he might someday create in the dusty ground. He was a curious young man, one who wanted to learn more than there was to learn among the pages and knights of the court. One day, a member of the king’s Academy of Science saw one of the boy’s sketches; impressed, he offered the page admission and apprenticeship instead. Thanks to his father, the young man could pay the fee, and so joined the ranks of the king's inventors instead.
Freed of the military garb of the page, his mind allowed to run wild in the halls of the Academy, the Fool’s son began to dress not unlike his father once had, and as his training progressed he created ever more interesting gadgets. One day the King decided to hold a contest – he erected a large obstacle course and decreed that whoever could pass all of it would be granted a boon. The Fool’s son, using his inventions, won out against the knights on horseback and the noblemen who competed, and as he was crowned winner asked the King for the hand of one of his daughters. The king shrugged – if one of them will have you, fine, he said. The king had two daughters, and the women were intrigued by this strange young man who had beaten their father’s challenge. So together they went to meet the young man. They talked with him, asked to see his laboratory, examined his strange clothes. Afterwards, they conferred. The older sister decided first – I don’t see a husband for myself in him, she told the younger, and shrugged; in truth, she already had her eye on another, a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Then the younger pondered a bit, and after a while nodded. Yes, I like him, she stated. I’ll choose him for a husband. And so she did, and the two youths were married, and to the surprise of much of the court, turned out to be quite well-matched. At the wedding feast, the groom even danced for a few moments just as his father once had, all those years ago.