Standing on One Foot For as Long as Possible

A troll, an elf, and a goblin each wanted advice from a certain one-footed wizard, and traveled by individual routes to visit him. The troll reached the wizard first, and was told that to receive the wizard’s advice, he must pass a test. The test was to stand for as long as possible on one foot.

The troll lifted one leg, bent it back at the knee with a sound like crunching gravel, and kept the other leg planted firmly in one place for a week. “I could stand here forever,” he finally said, “but I must continue quest. Please give advice.”

“Have you stood for as long as possible on one foot?” asked the wizard.

“No,” said the troll, “but I must continue quest.”

“I’m sorry,” said the wizard, “but I cannot help you until you stand for as long as possible on one foot.”

So the troll left in disgust without the wizard’s advice, because he wasn’t about to stand there forever.

After the troll left, the elf arrived, and the wizard gave him the same test as the troll. “Just a moment,” said the elf, and he disappeared into the nearby woods, to emerge some time later with a rabbit’s foot, minus the rabbit. He dropped the rabbit’s foot on the ground, stepped on it with one of his feet, and kept his other foot on the ground. “I’m standing on one foot,” he said to the wizard, and the wizard nodded in acknowledgement of the elf’s ingenuity, for while the elf was supporting his weight on both of his feet, he was also indeed standing on one foot.

(The wizard thought to himself that the elf could be said to be standing on one foot, on two feet, and on three feet, all at the same time, and this amused the wizard greatly, but he said nothing of this to the elf.)

A week passed, and the tireless elf was still standing on the rabbit’s foot. “I could stand here forever,” the elf finally said, “but I must continue my quest. Please allow this test to end, and give me the advice I seek.”

“Have you stood for as long as possible on one foot?” asked the wizard.

“Well, no,” said the elf. “But I must continue my quest.”

“I’m sorry,” said the wizard, “but I cannot help you until you stand for as long as possible on one foot.”

So the elf left in disgust without the wizard’s advice, because he wasn’t about to stand there forever.

After the elf left, the goblin arrived, and the wizard gave him the same test as the troll and the elf.

The goblin lifted one leg, teetered back and forth for a moment, and then put his foot back down. “Okay,” said the goblin. “Give me your advice.”

“Have you stood for as long as possible on one foot?” asked the wizard.

“Hell, yes,” said the goblin. “I have a quest to continue.”

The goblin received the advice he sought.

m4s0n501

Published by

Michael K. Eidson

I'm a software engineer, an author, and a music lover. I've written and published a few speculative fiction short stories, online tools for gaming and fiction, and a number of Tunnels and Trolls supplements and adventures. I'm currently writing my debut fantasy novel, currently untitled. I listen to all sorts of music, primarily with female vocalists, while I'm working on all my projects.

14 thoughts on “Standing on One Foot For as Long as Possible”

  1. Epilog: Some time later the Troll, the Elf, and the Goblin met and compared their experiences with the wizard. The troll especially liked the elf’s story about standing on the rabbit’s foot. He scratched his rocky head, and said, “It occurs to me that I was standing on the wrong foot.”

    “Would it have mattered what foot you stood on?” asked the Elf. “You could have stood there forever unless you had the low goblin cunning to answer the same way he did.”

    The goblin smirked. After all, he had finished the quest.

    “Oh, it would have mattered,” said the troll, “if I had been standing on the wizard’s foot. I think he would have agreed that even 1 second is as long as I could possibly stay there.”

    –end

    1. Hey, Ken, that is quite a cool epilogue. I edited it to reference the wizard’s “foot” rather than his “feet” since he only had one foot (see the first paragraph and the illustration). Hope you don’t mind.

      The problem I see with the troll’s solution is that the wizard would likely be magically protected from such abuse. Otherwise, that would be a great approach to passing the test.

    1. Thanks, Paul, and I agree with you. I’ve always considered goblins as roguish types of critters–not as strong as warrior types or as educated as wizard types, but with a certain low cunning, as Ken described it, that makes them more formidable as foes than most people give them credit for.

  2. Hey, guys — you DO know where the term “low cunning” originally comes from, right? “Zork I”, by Infocom. that’s where! That was the game “of low cunning” (according to the leaflet to be found in the small mailbox outside of West of House)!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Glenn, but consider this. The phrase “low cunning” also appears in the story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1839, which predates Zork I by over 100 years. And I can imagine it would have been in common usage even before Poe made use of the phrase.

    1. Thanks, Taran. I suppose the wizard only having one foot could be seen as irrelevant. I thought it made sense for a one-footed wizard to be interested in giving tests that dealt with only using one foot, and that’s mainly why that little tidbit is in there. Plus I had that illustration I wanted to use for the wizard.

Any thoughts?