Once upon a time, the great country of Englonia was ruled by the benevolent leader Neelios. He was famed for his mathematical methods of problem solving, and peasants and landowners alike would come to Neelios for justice and fairness to be calculated for them. Of course, his success was, in part, due to the strong support he received from his five noble and wise aides.

Drove ‘the Car’ was in charge of healthcare and had almost supernatural healing powers for those especially in need. Nijller was a master craftsman. There wasn’t an arm, a leg or an antique table that he couldn’t slice up and restore to its original glory. Natalya was a master of communication and instilled a great love for language throughout the nation. Legend has it that she was once a cat. However, to this day, nobody knows the truth behind the mystery or where she actually came from. V-Ray was a cyborg. A keeper of the peace and master of justice, he enforced and optimised the law. Finally, Aware was a master of aesthetics and design. He also moonlighted as the court jester.

After many years of harmonious leadership, Neelios unfortunately became very ill. According to Drove’s diagnosis, there wasn’t much time left for him. Not wanting to leave things unsettled, Neelios had to decide how the 48 counties of Englonia would be allocated before he died. With his last gasp, he announced how the country would be split:

“I have decided what will become of Englonia after I depart. I give V-Ray control of Greater Londonium, our nation’s capital. Of the remaining 47 counties: Drove shall receive half, Nijller will receive a third, Natalya shall get a twelfth and Aware will get a sixteenth.”

And with that, Neelios passed on. His corpse was traded overseas for chocolate.

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Everyone was very excited by the prospect of ruling their own lands. Whilst V-Ray toddled off to Londonium, the remaining four were left to think about the delegation process. They sat around a round table and contemplated over cappuccinos and chocolate croissants. After a short while, Nijller scrunched up his face. The others asked him what was wrong.

“Well” said Nijller, “I’ve just calculated our shares of the counties. It doesn’t look good.”

Drove agreed, but Natalya and Aware weren’t too sure why. Maths wasn’t their strongest suit. Drove explained the issue to them.

“Our shares of the 47 counties were: 1/2, 1/3, 1/12 and 1/16. However, when we work out how many counties that means for us each: I would end up with 23.5, Nijller would get 15.66666…, Natalya would get 3.91666666… and Aware would get 2.9375!”

Natalya sniggered because apparently Neelios wasn’t as great at calculations as he thought. But amusement quickly turned to bickering and frustration as the quartet argued about how this would work.

—————

Whilst Nijller was trying to cut Cornwallinium into thirds, Aware (who was quite unaware of the sheer magnitude of the task surrounding the others, and who had said nothing thus far) exclaimed,

“What if we ask V-Ray if we can borrow Londonium for a bit?”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!” cried Drove. “You think we’re going to kick him out of his only county? The one Neelios specifically held for him? I don’t think that will go down too well…”

But Aware was on to something.

“We’d give it back to him tomorrow!” he replied.

Whilst Drove and Nijller proceeded to give Aware wedgies for his absurdness, Natalya began to think about his crazy scheme.

“Hang on!” said Natalya, with some authority. “If we borrow Londonium, then we’d have 48 counties to divide right? I think that could make things easier.”

She called V-Ray to explain the situation.

“Okay, I’ll let you borrow Londonium. But if I don’t get it back tomorrow and find out you’ve divided it among you, I’ll kill the lot of you.” V-Ray said, worryingly calmly.

He was a cyborg after all. Nobody wanted to mess with those bionic biceps. Natalya agreed.

After calming down Nijller and Drove (and sorting out Aware’s underwear), Natalya proceeded to explain why she had done what she did (it apparently wasn’t because she used to be a cat).

“We have 48 counties now. Drove, you get half so that’s 24 for you.”

“Great!” said Drove.

“Nijller, you get a third, so that’s 48/3 = 16.” Nijller could dig that.

“I get a twelfth so that’s 48/12 = 4 counties, and Aware gets 48/16 = 3 counties!”

Natalya was delighted that her plan was so effective, and blew raspberries at Drove and Nijller. The pleasure was short-lived, however, as the fear of death by V-Ray’s v-ray set in.

Nijller started doing some sums.

“24+16+4+3. That’s exactly 47 counties! Perfect! There’s exactly one left over!”

Natalya quickly called V-Ray to return Londonium to him. All that was left was for the four to decide who got what. At least they had a lot more chocolate to help them through that decision…

—————

And so, the problem had been solved. The famous five lived happily ever after and made their counties even better than they were before. Englonia had turned into a haven, and it was all thanks to some clever mathematics, a little bit of inspiration and a lot of chocolate.

The End