Once there lived a king named Aberkios. He was the richest king in Europe, but he still wanted to have so much gold that it would be impossible for anyone to count it.
One day, one of Aberkios’s servants came and bowed in front of him. The servant had brought with him a man called Eleon.
“Lord,” said the servant, “I found this man wandering in the jungle. He is lost.” Eleon too bowed in front of the king and introduced himself. When the king came to know that Eleon was the friend of the god of air, Enki, Aberkios said, “I will let you stay in my castle for ten days. I will feast you and treat you well, but on the eleventh day you have to take me to your friend, Enki.”
Aberkios did as he had said. He feasted and treated Eleon well. On the eleventh day, Aberkios went to God Enki with Eleon.
When they arrived at the gardens of air, Aberkios saw Enki sitting under a tree. Enki was delighted to see Eleon when Aberkios took him there.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” said Enki.
Aberkios thought for a moment, this seemed to be an opportunity for him to become the richest person in the world. “Alright, if you want to repay me, then grant me the power that will help me turn everything I touch into gold,” he said. “Let me have the golden touch.”
“Do you think that it would bring any happiness to you?” said Enki.
“Yes it would!” laughed Aberkios.
“So let it be,” said the god of air.
Aberkios soon went away with his servants. On his way out, he found a pebble. He picked it up and watched as it turned to solid gold in front of his eyes. He touched his garments and they too became shiny gold. As they had become very heavy, Aberkios had a hard time travelling through the jungle. When he arrived at his castle he touched his apple tree and it too turned into gold.
It looked repulsive but Aberkios thought that it was the most beautiful tree in the world.
He then went to his large dining table. There was a huge cake and bottles of the cold drinks to refresh him from his journey.
When he picked up the plate with a cake piece, it turned into a plate made of gold. He was really pleased with it but when he touched the cake, it turned into gold too!
Now he became confused — how on earth was he going to eat it, he wondered. Hurriedly, he picked up a glass to have a drink.
The glass turned into gold as soon as he touched it but Aberkios was relieved to see that the juice in the glass had remained unchanged. He quickly started to drink it. It turned into gold in Aberkios’ mouth and poor Aberkios choked!
Anything he tried to eat became gold and soon be became feeble due to starvation. One day, to make himself feel a bit better, Aberkios went out to his garden. He saw his children playing. He went towards them happily and embraced them. In front of his eyes they became golden busts.
Aberkios started crying and asked his men to get his carriage ready and take him at once to the gardens of air where Enki lived.
“I was wrong about my wish,” cried Aberkios. “Please take this magical power of the golden touch back. I have had enough!”
“So, it happened as I had said,” said Enki. “If you want to leave this golden touch, then go and take a bath in the sacred pool and also take some water to your palace for reviving your children.”
Without saying a word, Aberkios rushed to the sacred pool and quickly took a bath and stored some water in a pot for his children. After the bath, he cautiously moved towards an apple hanging from a tree nearby. He plucked the apple and was delighted when it didn’t turn into gold. He knew he was cured and ate the apple hungrily.
He then rushed back to his palace and sprinkled the water on his children. His children soon came to life again and Aberkios happily embraced them. After that Aberkios started hating gold and he gave all the gold he had to the poor people of his land.