Humbert and Alfhard were on the way home from the festival. On their way they came to a large stone sitting on a fork in the road. They bent down close to see what it said:
“If you’re reading this then take the left road into the forest and walk until you come to the bank of a great river. Dive into the water and swim to the other side. On the other side you will find a shewolf with her pups. Take one of her pups and run up the mountain without looking behind you. At the top of the mountain you will find a hut and inside the hut you will find the good life.”
Alfhard turned to Humbert, “let’s swim across the river, get the puppies, and take them to the hut at the top of the mountain so that we can find the good life.”
“There is no way I’m going into the forest to chase after wolf puppies,” cried Humbert. “And you should not go either.” He warned, “we don’t know if this stone is telling the truth, it could just be a sick joke. Even if it is true, what if we get lost in the forest? Or what if we drown in the river? And do you really think a shewolf is going to allow us to abscond with one of her puppies? How do you expect us to outrun a wolf up a mountain? This stone doesn’t even say what the good life is!”
“You are wrong,” replied Alfhard. “This stone is sitting here at a fork in the road for a reason. Nothing bad is going to happen to us for trying. If we don’t try someone else is going to read this and find the good life instead of us. If we don’t make the effort then what good can come to this world? And besides I’m not a fearful man.”
The brothers parted ways. Humbert went right and Alfhard went left.
Alfhard made his way through the forest finding the riverbank and swimming to the other side. There, Alfhard found the shewolf dozing with her cubs. Taking one of the cubs, he sprinted up the mounting without looking behind. At the top he entered the small wooden hut finding a golden crown on a steel table. Alfhard put the crown on his head and walked through the back door. He was met by a large group of people who made him their king.
Alfhard ruled for over six years. At the beginning of the seventh year the King of Säch declared war on Alfhard who was defeated and driven from his kingdom.
Alfhard became a vagabond and wondered the land for another six years before, by chance, arriving at the village were Humbert lived. They were very happy to see each other and quickly told their life story. One story was far shorter than the other.
“I told you so,” scolded Humbert. “I knew I was right all along. I’ve had nice quiet peaceful life and you, even though you were king, you have suffered greatly.”
“I don’t regret a single step. The journey through orderly woods, chaotic rivers and steep mountains taught me to experience all the extremes of life. From the blindingly uniform to the maddeningly random; from the small pebble at the base of the mountain to looking 100 miles in any direction. You wear the middle road like a cloak of armour but it doesn’t allow you to move well and exposes your flanks. Why did you choose the default life?”