The figure said, “I am your death, and I have come to warn you: Don’t forget the right place, and the right time to meet me.” Only this much he said, “Don’t forget the right place and the right time to meet me tomorrow.” And the shock of his statement was such that the dream was shattered, the king woke up. It was in the middle of the night but he immediately called his wise advisers, astrologers, dream-interpreters, future-predictors, all sorts of people; and he told his dream.
They all started quarreling and discussing and arguing about what the dream meant. The old servant of the king, who had been almost like a father to him – he had raised him from his very childhood… The king’s mother died early, and his father was constantly going on faraway journeys, invading countries, conquering, expanding the empire. So he was left with this trustworthy servant and he treated him almost like a father.
The old man was standing by his side. He whispered into the king’s ear, “Don’t waste time! These people can quarrel for centuries; they have been quarreling for centuries. These philosophers, these astrologers, these prophets – they have never agreed on anything. And it is going to be morning; tomorrow is just going to begin and there is not much time. My suggestion is: take your fastest horse and escape from this place.” The advice appeared to be solid: “And let these people argue. They are not going to come to any conclusion at all. The evening will come soon – they will take centuries – and there will be no conclusion. If you depend on them, you will repent; just escape! Leave these people here, let them argue and I will listen to their arguments.”
The king simply slipped away, took his fastest horse and rushed as fast as it was possible, away from the palace where the dream had happened. By the evening he had gone hundreds of miles, and he was very happy that he had come so far away: “Now it will be difficult for death to find me at the place, at the fixed time.”
The sun was setting. He had reached the outskirts of the city of Damishk. Just to rest…because the whole day he had not eaten, he had not even taken a cup of water. Time was so precious. Thirst is not going to kill you in just one day; hunger is not going to kill you in just one day. He was going to rest in a garden just outside the city. He went into the garden and was tying the horse to a tree, and was thanking the horse, because the horse was perhaps really the best horse in the world. He was thanking the horse and saying to him, “You really proved your mettle today. Even I was not aware that you could go so fast. Now rest, and I will arrange for your food and for your water.”
Just then, he felt a hand on one of his shoulders. He looked back. The same black figure was standing there, laughing. The king was shocked; he said, “Why are you laughing?”
Death said, “This is the place and this is the time. I was worried whether you would be able to make it or not – but your horse certainly is the best horse in the world. I also thank him.”