From the silent voice of death come the soundest lessons in life

Once upon a time, in a far away land...

There was a very well to do and rather shrewd Queen with a team of well informed officials - not to mention a myriad of loyal keepers to maintain law and order to the castle and surrounding kingdom.

Ahhh...all was calm and tranquil...if one ignored a wee small issue going on outside the walls of this grand castle.

You see, beyond the walls lurked thousands of critters.  Most of the more powerful critters were very good critters, Virtuous in fact.  The Virtuous critters actually brought about great wealth and prosperity to the kingdom - and they in turn enjoyed prosperity and wealth.  However, mixed in amongst the Virtuous critters were the Iconoclasts.  They camouflaged so well amongst the others, they were often difficult to spot unless one entered their mansions.  The Iconoclasts were also very powerful and wealthy but these critters accrued their wealth on the gluttonous practise in which they sacrificed other innocent critters for gold.

These innocent little critters were called Acolytes and their numbers ran into the millions.  Their gift to the kingdom was their amazing ability to make gold.  The rule was that they could not make this gold for themselves though, they could only make it for the more powerful critters.  The rate at which this precious gold came depended on how contented they were.  The Virtuous critters would see this and make the Acolytes comfortable, feed them good food and treat them with kindness - and give them some gold to take home to feed their family.  A steady stream of gold would come from the Acolytes as a result.  

The Iconoclasts discovered many years ago that if you squished the Acolytes, they would literally ooze liquid gold - about as much as it would make in 20 whole years depending on how old the Acolyte was.  It was much cheaper this way because there was no need for fancy food or nice lodgings for the Acolytes but the practise of squishing Acolytes was illegal.  Yes it was, by the law of the kingdom the shrewd Queen declared it a crime to kill the Acolytes for their gold.

Anyway ...moving right along...many years later and Acolytes continued to be squished and the Queen would send out her helpers to investigate the ‘accident’ - because it was always by accident.  Hohum...

The shrewd Queen declared that she would not force the law onto the Iconoclasts and encumber them (thereby upsetting the creation of wealth in the kingdom) rather, she announced the need for ‘self regulation’.  Everyone would have to do the right thing or go to King’s court to be told off.  

The King is the ultimate authority of not only the Queen’s kingdom but many others.  No one really knew what the King did with his day but he was often on the TV looking very polished and saying things that sounded like spun gold.  The King enjoyed many royal parties where both the Virtuous and Iconoclasts (because they look the same remember) would come to offer their gold for his approval.   

Sometimes a very brave Acolyte would make the difficult journey and approach the Queens castle to tell the officials there about a squishing machine that was being built.  The officials had to follow very important protocol.  They needed to follow rules.  First of all, they had to form a new committee to inspect the Iconoclast.  Then another committee had to be formed to write a list of things down so the Officials would know what to ask the Iconoclast when they went there. These were called ‘audit tools’ and they were very important.  Without these the Officials would surely get lost outside the castle walls?

Off the Officials went, albeit some days and sometimes weeks later, with their useful audit tools.  To do the right thing, the officials would call the Iconoclast to let them know they were coming.  I mean, how silly would it be to go to all this effort only to find no one was there!  When the officials arrived at the Iconoclast’s mansion, there was nothing to be found.  In fact it was spick and span.  Yep, they all patted each other on the back.  

One of the Officials recognised the Acolyte that came to the castle.  He looked very anxious but didn’t say anything because the Iconoclast was watching all the Acolytes and the Acolytes could not feed their families without serving a power.  This Official was incapable of doing anything though so he left with the others wondering whether they’d been misled.  He wishes they could act more quickly but the rules are the rules and without the committees and sub committees and audit tools, they say things would surely fall apart.  If only they could get to these things quicker...if only.  Hohum...

Alas on their way back to the castle they were called to a mansion in the outskirts of the kingdom.  There had been a terrible accident and 12 Acolytes were missing.  They all rushed to the site and got to work investigating.  They found all kinds of suspicious things that would explain why the accident happened.  Yes, the King’s law would surely come down hard on this Iconoclast.  Yes indeed, there’s going to be a really big ‘telling off’ by the law this time!  Alas, the Iconoclast denied everything. The Acolytes that were at the scene would not say a bad thing against their ‘power’.  Acolytes have to feed their families and there is always the risk that if they speak out about a powerful Iconoclast, they might be ridiculed or worse, they lose their homes.

And so ... In this far away beautiful land, Acolytes continue to be squished for their gold by the well disguised Iconoclasts and the Virtuous continue to try to do things the right way.  The Queen has a dungeon full of long sticks.  She could use these to persuade the Iconoclasts to stop squishing Acolytes but she decided that sticks are just too harsh and uses them to feed her warming evening fire instead.  The Queen continues to feed the Iconoclasts carrots to entice them to abide by the law of the kingdom but they have gold in their eyes and nothing is as lovely or as valuable as liquid gold.

The Virtuous are frustrated.  The Iconoclasts lived happily ever after.