Short Story : Poor Warrior


You want to hear a fairytale?


How about a legend?

I have one in mind, the greatest of them all, and a story about how our generation came to be.

It’s called Poor Warrior.

Casimir Viccinous the III of Allourienne, a mighty village where Prairie West is now, was the only one that made it back home, to his surprise, completely abandoned. Thankfully, there were no signs of death, no wreckage to the architecture, just barren. He stopped by every dropped item along his path to his very own hut.

Imagine how different it must have felt without anyone around. It must have been unrecognizable, huh, like an eerie clean slate.

Casimir looked for his tribe in their sacred meadow, where his people held rituals and celebrations, where their Gods, believed to be living on the bright sun that now shines on us, could see them clearly. Yet, they were not there. He was left to wonder where they could have fled, shattering his hope that they would be waiting. Though, in a way, he was glad. The soldier did not want them to see his precious markings, those that were etched into his skin under the red moon by the great Elder of his time, the ultimate indication of manhood and grace . . .

His defined designs were covered in dirt and blood; a shame to him.

This proud man took in a hefty breath of prairie air and thought, ‘This may be the last time I walk through the wildflowers’, while envisioning his little sister collecting bundles of chamomile and corncockle for their mother, interrupting the bees from their feeding, a simple sight he loved. He slowly spun around and stared at the beauty, the lush landscape, which he expected was the last of its kind, destined for what he saw.

So much land . . . destroyed, painted in red.

The lowly regular, only 20, barely survived the slaughter, the only battle his tribe faced in their peaceful history. As he ran his fingertips through Indian grass, a preferred touch over cold steel, he considered, ‘We were fools to think we could withstand such a might enemy’.

It’s been said, till this day, they fell from the sky. Some say they climbed out of the pit of the far wastelands. Either way, they were cloaked in black, covered head to toe, not one hole, even for eyes. Casimir volunteered for the mass effort to stop the madness from traveling any further. He really did it for his father’s approval, who gave him assurance he would not only turn the tides of their village, but save the world.

Casimir and an army made of several territories traveled deep into tainted land. When they finally stopped to rest, everyone so unsettled, they were ambushed from all directions. It looked as if they danced towards their pray, hypnotizing every victim with the choreographed movement of their black fabric, allowing them to enwomb every combatant whole, only to discard them in shreds. The opponent did not hold back, did not spare anyone, lurid in their endeavors.

The memory of the carnage, the aftershock from their actions, pushed Casimir to his knees onto the moist soil, just like the battlefield. When he realized there was no chance of winning, he ran off, inspiring others to do the same, which only initiated a wild goose chase. The mere sight of the sacred meadow’s surrounding forest reminded him of the black drapery swinging from branches above, twirling down on fellow sprinters with pinpoint accuracy, pulling them up and making it rain man. His sudden tears blurred his vision similar to the bloody mist that thickened the further he ran.

In the center of the meadow, where his people rejoiced on a cleared circular patch, he sat against one of the ancient headstones, which have stood for countless generations, and finally, he let his emotions break free and begged the Gods for salvation.

Abruptly . . .

Something scurried up his back and across his shoulder, like an insect, like a spider. He looked over and gasped.

Standing on his shoulder was a creature of folklore, a character in fables that is mischievous, though helpful, said to appear in times of desperation and sadness.

On his shoulder was an imp, a human-like being, though about an inch and half tall with a big oval shaped hairless head, pale skin, lanky limbs and blessed etched patterns of its own. His grin, exposing large shiny teeth, took up most of his face, his nose, eyes and ears quite small in contrast.

The imp’s smile brightened Casimir’s frown.

Casimir felt a few tingles on his legs and saw three more imps, as another appeared on his knuckles. He looked around and saw a few dozen more stampeding towards him. The imps climbed up his feet to his toes, tickling him, making him giggle and tremble, shaking some off. It didn’t stop them from getting back on board.

The tiny creatures skipped across his long legs to his lap and reached for a lift. He lowered his hands and the imps clambered up his arm, beaming when they locked eyes with him. Casimir became their amusement park, all eventually surrounding his head, some actually on top of it, cuddled in his hair. Others took turns swinging on his earlobes as one tried to squeeze inside his ear canal, making the trooper shiver. A group lined up to hop off Casimir’s chest to roll down his stomach as an audience lounged on his collarbone flirt with the young bachelor.

The smiles were contagious and addictive. He felt a surge of happiness inflate his soul with every glimpse of their grins and sound of their laughter. He became accustomed to the sensation of their little feet on his skin, almost like a comfy blanket settling on top of a sleepy toddler. He wished he were one of them, thinking, ‘There’s a freedom in being so small, capable of avoiding the world above, even though their presence is so grand’.

Casimir thought of his little sister. She would have loved them all. He saw her rush into the meadow after waiting all night, knowing she would have a special spot amongst the wildflowers to meet them. The imps would have loved her too.

He saw her dressing them up in little clothes she sewed herself.

He saw the imps tie flowers to her long wavy locks after swinging about.

He saw them sharing a bite with her, bringing berries, nuts and clovers.

He saw them sat on and around her, charmed by the fairytales she was able to create on the spot.

Gruffly . . .

Layers of black fabric fell on his sister and the imps.

You must know the imps have a great influence. They can cast blinding delusions from one’s euphoria. The echoes of sharp screeches from the towering trees drew him out of his personal trance. He saw they . . . them, bustling through the arms of bark and splinters. He panicked and stood but could not because, to his disbelief, he was mummified in leafy twigs, the imps finishing the bind. Others were on guard, hissing at them as they began their approach.

All of the imps collected around Casimir and lifted him off the ground, some positioned under him. Casimir squirmed, so confused, but his efforts did not topple the strength and grip of the imps. The tiny men marched forward to a hole in the ground, plunged in and dragged Casimir with them. Poor warrior. His last sight, before vanishing beneath his tribe’s meadow, was them . . . they.

Yet, this tale is not over.

They continued their mission of slaughter, reaching beyond the high mountains, a tour only the prideful alpinists can achieve. They invaded the valleys, coastlines and great waters where more tribes suffered execution. They even traveled across the vast deserts, both blizzard and blistered, thriving off dire climates, skidding across sand and snow. Their conquest led to a new order and landscape suited for their nature . . .

Except . . . for one place . . .

The sacred meadow.

From Casimir’s grave, a tree sprouted and grew quickly, fully matured in the midst of their intended development. The monumental trunk bore thick branches that twined in all directions, able to resist the foul weathering of the monstrous reality, covering the land they took, splicing through what they built, becoming one with their presence. Some of them were even trapped within the tree’s advancement, proving their black covering was penetrable, left to hang like ornaments.

Every square-foot they conquered, the tree took back. They tried to cut down its loins but nothing stopped the evolution. In fact, the pruning helped, as for any healthy plant.

Years passed and the branches eventually expanded past the sky and broke into the unknown realm atop, a placed feared and respected by every existence, even them. The natural light we’re blessed with dimmed until totally blocked out and their robes became one with the darkness. That’s when they assumed the destiny of the tree.

The sun.

With the slightest touch from a leaf to the fiery globe, the great wood ignited and flames raced down to the spoiled land. The great fire scorched our surface, melted our ice, boiled our waters and shook our core, until nothing was left, not even the tree.

Just ash.

The world was left still. Some say it was purification. It took many generations for everything to settle and for life to grow again.

The beauty we have now is remarkable, is it not? I’m sure you feel cradled in the mountains we protect, safe above everyone. I love your curiosity of exploration. Honestly, I would be so worried, there’s much to see and many humans to meet. I forget there are others here with us and how long it took for life to be as it is now.

Well, anyway, what do you think about all that?