The Trouble With The Dark Lord

100 words –

Hail brave warrior!

The entrance to the labyrinth is open, waiting for you to explore the inner earth and it’s dark denizens. The Dark Lord awaits you eagerly. Fight bravely one more time and there will be a special place for you in hell – where heroes go to brag about their savagery and great deeds until the sands of time run out.

That’s the price you pay to play the Dark Lord’s game of war.

Go forth now and slay a demon to get the Dark Lord’s attention, or spend eternity with the souls of the people you’ve slain.

Sleep Denied

When Morpheus, one of a thousand sons of Somnus couldn’t sleep the rest of the gods were troubled.

Without healing sleep, anger began to creep into casual conversations that turned to fights among the stressed-out gods. Sleep-deprived Zeus shattered the heavens with violent lightning followed by thunder that shook the earth.

Mankind trembled and prayed.

Another son of sleep, Icelos the long serpent, wrapped around Morpheus’s mind and kept him awake speaking of strange things in archaic languages. There seemed to be no hope for him.  

Finally, Thanatos, god of death, called out to Morpheus and offered him eternal sleep.

Dawn of the Gods

In a time before time was even kept, the gods assembled on earth.

They came from throughout the universe, and galaxies far away. Each a splendid specimen of their race seeking dominion over the man creatures crawling out of caves.

The competition turned to war as the gods fought in the sky and on the earth. Conquering gods rose, and fell, with civilizations. Their otherworldly presence having influenced cultures from many nations.

The gods could be bloody, or benign.

Very few gods are worshipped today. Most have been slain by atheists. The end time draws near for the rest.

Flight

Icarus flew too close to the sun and his wings melted, but mankind’s desire to fly through the ages withstood mythologies warning. Tales of the old gods slipped into oblivion and were translated into technology… opening the door for new gods to worship.

All powerful Thoth, the Ibis God, gave way to airplanes and spaceships…the spawn of the transformation and worshipped by mortals who love flight. The natural world shifted and birds (god’s messengers) shared the skies with machines.

Mankind’s lust for flight takes each spaceship further into the cosmos in an endless search for the furthest limits of universes. 

 


The Maze of Xipe Totec

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Doris sobbed in pain as she stumbled down the dark tunnel looking for a way out of the maze.

The day before.

Eric and Doris were on vacation celebrating their fifth anniversary. They were in a rented motor home at an RV Park just outside of the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho.

They were sitting outside at a picnic table eating their breakfast when they saw an old man going from one parked RV to another, stopping and talking with the owners and handing them a piece of paper. What caught their eyes was his clothing. He wore a long-sleeved red shirt covered in beads hanging from his scrawny neck. His wide-brimmed hat was topped with two large peacock feathers sticking out from the headband. His jeans were worn thin with age and he wore moccasins.

They watched him with curiosity as he slowly walked over to them with the aid of a twisted walking-stick taller than he was.

“Howdy folks!”

“Right back at ya,” Eric said cheerfully.

“Having a good time exploring?”

“Well, we haven’t done anything yet. We just got here,” Doris explained.

“Pleased to meet you both. My names Charlie Sweetwater. I live a short ways from here. Not too far from the Snake River, and just a mile from the Maze of Xipe Totec.”

“What maze?” Doris asked, “I don’t recall reading about one in our tourists guide.” 

The old man smiled and said, “There’s many things to see in this world that aren’t in tourist guides for one reason or another,” he suggested.

“Isn’t Xipe Totec an Aztec god?” Eric asked, changing the subject.

“He is, my friend. When the Spanish drove the Aztecs out of Mexico they fled to many places in this country. I am a descendent of those Aztecs. I know this area well, and have been sharing the location of the Maze of Xipe Totec with visitors who come to this place to camp for many years.”

“Where is this maze,” Doris asked.

“Here, I have a simple map for those who wish to explore the maze. You should also know there’s a legend about Aztec golden idols and other artifacts made from pure gold hidden in its depths.”

“Thank you for sharing that Mr. Sweetwater,” Doris said.

“If you wouldn’t mind, there’s little work in this area for a man of my age. People’s donations help me get by...”

“Certainly,” Eric said, and stood up and fished around the back pocket of his cargo shorts, pulling out a wallet. He peeled off two twenties and handed it to him.

“Thank you. Enjoy your stay,” Charlie said, as he set off down the road towards the next RV.

“Was that you feel-good donation of the day?” Doris mocked Eric.

“Hey, it was an interesting story, and just look at this authentic map that directs us to a maze in a cave somewhere that’s supposed to be full of Aztec treasures,” he teased.

“Okay,” Doris moved on, “What is our agenda for the day?”

They sipped coffee for another hour before deciding there was no place they wanted to see nearby.

“Wanna leave early and head for California?” Doris asked.

“What about the maze?” Eric said while holding up the map Charlie gave him.

“Really Eric? You believe that old man’s maze story? It’s just a way for him to make money from warm-hearted and well-to-do tourists.

“I know you’re probably right, but what else is there to do? We wanted to spend at least a day, or two, in each state. The maze isn’t that far from here. If we don’t find it, we’ll still enjoy the hike. It’s a beautiful day.”

Between driving and hiking, it took them three hours to find the cave. Both were amazed one was really there. They took off their backpacks and pulled out flashlights.

Eric pulled a rope out of his backpack and tied one end to a pine tree near the cave’s entrance. “You have your rope too, right?” he asked her. She nodded.

“Are you sure you want to explore that cave?”

Yeah, I have to admit I’m curious. I’m glad I brought my camera along.

They weren’t walking that long before they came to the end of Eric’s rope. “Now what? Do you want to keep going?” he asked while shinning his flashlight ahead. In reply, Doris took out her rope and tied it onto his. “Let’s go.

They followed the twists and turns and got stuck in a dead-end several times. Using the rope they were able to retrace their steps and go in a different direction. After an hour they stopped to rest and drink some water from the bottles in their backpacks.

Doris heard the sound first.

“Do you hear that?” she cried out.

“Hear what…what the hell is that?”

“Sounds like chanting...” Doris guessed with a growing dread in her voice.

“But who? What? Are there other people in here?” he wondered out loud.

Then they saw them.

They were short, maybe three-feet tall, and dressed up in ceremonial Aztec trappings. Some appeared to be priests with red robes. Others were bare-chested warriors who held obsidian swords and knives at the ready. The priests continued chanting as the warriors slowly moved forward in fighting stances.

“Run!” Eric shouted.

Doris didn’t need to be told. She was running, when a small spear hit her left shoulder from behind. She stopped and pulled it out with her other hand while Eric fought with the spear-thrower. When she bent down to retrieve the rope he screamed “Go!” as two more warriors attacked with their swords!

Doris accidently dropped her flashlight but kept stumbling forward into the darkness using her good arm to hold onto the rope. She heard Eric’s scream of pain and then there was silence. She would have to find her way out if she didn’t want to die. She could hear the sound of bare feet as the warriors stealthy followed her in silence. She held onto the rope and kept moving. Hoping to escape the maze.

The next day.

Charlie Sweetwater watched as the state patrolmen looked around, and inside, Doris and Eric’s RV. He sighed in pleasure that his offering was taken by Xipe Totec. It had been a long time since he’d found willing victims.

As It Stands, park rangers at Craters of the Moon National Monument will neither confirm, or deny, that Charlie Sweetwater is a local legend.

A King Comes In The Age of No Reason

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Barka decapitated one of the trolls with a vicious backstroke of his sword, then spun around in one smooth motion and cleaved the other troll’s skull open like a ripe melon.

The remaining two trolls turned and ran as fast as their stubby legs would carry them. He wiped the blood off of his sword, Avenger, on one of the dead troll’s rough jerkin. After slipping the mighty sword into the sheath on his back, he set out on the King’s Highway.

The highway was eons old, built by a civilization that no longer lived in Mid-Earth. The cobblestones still showed hints of gold, the color the whole road was once painted. It connected the three Kingdoms of Asortia, and was a major trade road that saw commerce for hundreds of years. But that was before the cataclysmic events brought on by two evil wizard brothers seeking complete control of Mid-Earth.

The ensuing war between the wizard brothers and their minions, versus the First People, the Elfish people, and the white wizard Heroon Dar, nearly destroyed Mid-Earth. Some survivors were so scarred by a lifetime of brutality and war they became hermits, wandering off into the hinterlands in search of peace. Others clustered together in little groups to protect themselves. 

One of the wizard brothers was dead. The other, Jeezera, was confined by a spell that Heroon Dar cast on him, and was buried deep within an ancient salt mine. Afterwards the white wizard disappeared without an explanation. Most of the remnants of the First People and the Elfish went their own ways when the war ended. They returned to their burned-down villages and rebuilt them. Decades passed as Mid-Earth rested from the cataclysmic times that threatened to destroy all living things.

During that time, a tribe of trolls from the East moved into the forests near the Great Plains where the First People were settled. Their presence wasn’t welcomed by the Elfish People who lived there first. The brutish trolls were not only warlike, but they were not driven by any ideology or king. They had no stated purpose to their lives, other than to kill, eat, and to procreate.

It was during this Age of No Reason when Barka, the son of a First Human, and an Elf, was born. The village he was raised in was a rare equal mix of both races. All he knew growing up was a harmonious way of life where respect was important. He spoke both languages fluently and was exposed to both races histories preserved in tomes written by long dead scholars.

One of his First Human traditions was that a man must learn to use a sword to defend himself and his family. An Elfish tradition was the handing down of a magical family sword to the first-born son. Barka was given the sword Avenger on the day he left the village. His mother presented him with the sword, and an Elfin bow and arrows. 

When he chose to leave home his parents understood their son was a seeker of knowledge and his destiny lay beyond their little village. His lust for adventure made it a given the day would come when he needed to set out on the King’s Highway and to explore.  Tears were shed, and Barka left the only place in Mid-Earth he knew.

The rumors he heard about trolls raiding on the King’s Highway were true. He killed two on his first day out. Keeping a sharp eye on the tree line, he briskly walked down the road towards the ancient capital of one of the three fabled kingdoms; Stroom. Before leaving home he heard numerous rumors that a new kingdom was springing up in the North, in the vicinity of Stroom. It seemed like a good place to start his anticipated travels.

It was a week before he ran into other people on the road. A group of six were on their way to Shan Tar, a growing city that Barca assumed was the new kingdom in it’s infancy. They talked about their travels and troubles with trolls who seemed to be everywhere. One of the men, the oldest in the group, told Barca that the new city was in response to the growing troll threat. Small villages were being sacked with no survivors left behind. Farmer’s crops were being stolen. The attacks were becoming more frequent and more organized. Village elders realized it was time for the First Human’s to come together in force to resist the growing tide of terror.

Barca listened closely to the old man, sometimes interrupting with questions. When they came within site of a large stone wall and tower, the small group broke up and went in different directions. Some had relatives already there. As Barca walked through the city he was impressed with how well the people worked together. He seldom saw anyone who appeared to be in charge. Those who were leaders in the massive mission to build safe fortifications worked alongside the laborers. He sensed the single driving purpose that drove them all – survival.

He also had a sense his destiny was here. 

The leaders of the burgeoning city’s progress met weekly to discuss challenges and solutions to them. There were twelve leaders. All chosen by the people for their knowledge and skills. The first time Barca went to one he sat nearby with a group of onlookers and was silent; listening intently and observing how they interacted. When their meeting was over he approached each one and introduced himself. He offered his services to the cause which seemed to please them all.

Between helping build the city’s perimeter wall, he found time to conduct classes on swordsmanship. It quickly became apparent, after outdueling the best sword fighter’s in the growing camp, that Barca was the most skilled. The people respected him because he was a hard worker and a modest man who could talk with anyone and put them at their ease.

One of Barca’s favorite pastimes was hunting. Food was always needed for the growing population, so he didn’t feel guilty about doing it. He carried his Elfin bow and was a skilled archer. He always brought meat back. The hunt gave him an opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside. For the next year he rotated his duties and grew more popular with the general community. The leaders became more comfortable asking him questions and listening to his counsel.

One day while out hunting he came across a wounded man. He was sorely wounded and exhausted from his efforts to elude the trolls who attacked him. As Barca tried to comfort the dying man he warned him, “Evil is back on the land!” he cried. “The evil wizard Jeezera is free! Somehow the trolls freed him!”

Barca’s blood went cold. It was the last thing in the world he expected to hear. He stayed with the man who died a few hours later, and buried him. On his way back to the city he thought about the situation facing them. He hoped the elders had some ideas on what to do.

An emergency meeting was held that evening. As he told the elders about his encounter a nervous buzz began among them. The eldest of the leaders was a learned man who was steeped in the history of Mid-Earth. It was he who addressed him, “Brother Barca, a new age is dawning. Whether evil or good prevails will be up to us. This was written in the Chronicles of Lar Hak, which predicted this time would come.”

“What shall we do master?” he respectively asked.

“The time has come for our new kingdom to have a king. We believe you should be that king!”

“I don’t know what to say,” he said.

“Say, yes,” the elder urged. “Your destiny is here.”

And so it was.

King Barca re-united the Elfish community with the First Humans, forging a powerful bond that turned the trolls back despite their massive numbers. In his greatest achievement, Barca was able to find Heroon Dar who stopped the evil Jeezera by killing him in a world-shaking duel that lit the heavens for a day!

As It Stands, the eternal battle between good and evil is fought in many worlds.

Auggie and the Little People

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Auggie was the eighth child born to Louis and Lois Turner in 1926. He came into the world in the same family farmhouse as his brothers and sisters.

Unlike his siblings, he got an extra copy of chromosome 21 in his cells, causing Down’s syndrome. His parents, and siblings, did all they could to make life normal for Auggie. They all loved his flat face, small mouth, and tiny ears. He had a smile that automatically triggered a return smile, whoever it was.

When Auggie first met the Little People they scared him. He was seven-years-old when he first saw them in the family’s corn field. He was chasing a ball that one of his sisters tossed him that ricocheted off of his stubby little leg, when he encountered a little man who stood no more than four-inches high next to the ball he was looking for!

He was so startled that he broke into tears and ran back to his waiting sister, Alice. She comforted him. She didn’t believe his story, but that didn’t matter. He was her little brother, and she overlooked a lot of things that he said. Alice was actually delighted with Auggie’s imagination. The rest of the family took it in stride.

A year later, Auggie was playing in the cornfield with a toy metal truck his parents bought him for his birthday when he heard a tiny voice.

“Hey boy!” the voice called out. “Over here!”

He was already down on his knees when he looked around and saw two little people waving at him. His first response was fear, but the little woman assured him they wouldn’t harm him. They just wanted to talk. Being a good-natured kid full of curiosity Auggie said, “Hi. I’m Auggie.”

“Pleased to meet you” the little man and woman, both replied.

“We’d like to be friends,” the small coupled explained. “Would you like to be our friend?” they asked.

“Yesss...”Auggie said happily. He loved having friends.

“You can’t tell anyone about us though Auggie. Can you keep a secret?

He pondered the question for a moment. “Can I just tell my sister Alice?” he asked.

“Maybe someday. Just not right now. We don’t trust most humans. We’ve been watching you for a year however, and everyone in the colony agrees your nice and would be a good friend.”

Auggie smiled brightly. “Okay. Let’s play.”

By the time Auggie was sixteen-years-old he was a hard worker; keeping the big barn fresh with new hay, and feeding the donkey and the pigs. He was seemingly tireless, always doing odd jobs around the farm throughout the day, and never complaining.

As his brothers and sisters got older six of them got married and moved on. The only one that stayed was Alice. She couldn’t bear leaving Auggie, or her parents who were getting old and who were forced to hire help to bring the crop in.

The hired help consisted of four men who were allowed to sleep in the barn. Their job was to plant and harvest the corn crop. It wasn’t a year-round job. The men came and went. Many were hobos who only wanted to stay in one place for a short time. Other’s were neighbors whose crops kept failing, and who were desperate for money.

The Turner family farm was blessed with fertile ground. The crops always did well, as the family worked hard maintaining the fields, and rotated each season’s crops on the 140 acre spread.

Auggie never felt lonely because he either had his sister Alice’s company, or the little people who followed him around throughout the day. They would share their lives with him and their adventures. It was a mutual friendship that grew stronger over the years.

One night, one of the little people came into Auggie’s room and woke him up. The woman, whose name was Tina, was frantic and wanted him to follower her. Auggie was groggy until she said his sisters name.

“What about Alice?” he asked, suddenly awake and alarmed.

“She’s in danger!” Tina cried.

Auggie didn’t bother changing his night-clothes or putting his boots on. He picked her up and asked “Which way?

She led him out to the cornfield. It was just weeks before being harvested and was ten-feet tall. The full moon cast fantastic shadows between the thick stalks as Auggie blundered his way through the field.

Then he heard his sister scream out nearby!

Auggie was built solidly. Not tall, but with powerful arms and legs with strength earned by hard work, and the adrenaline that was pumping through his veins as he bulled forward. Then he saw a man sitting on his sister with one hand over her mouth and the other tearing at her night-gown!

He plowed right into the man and knocked him off her. Even in his rage he recognized that it was one of their workers. He hit and kicked him until he didn’t move anymore. The worker’s blood was sprayed onto the nearby corn stalks and was slowly dribbling down to the rich earth when he stopped. The worker’s face was unrecognizable. His body beaten to a pulp.

Alice watched in utter amazement. She never would have guessed Auggie could be capable of that kind of violence. Little Tina had disappeared. She got up off the ground and walked over to Auggie. He was standing still with his arms at his side, and his head hanging down.

“Auggie dear! Are you all right?” she asked and hugged his still trembling body. “How did you know I was in trouble,” she gently asked.

He looked around on the ground and saw Tina with two other little people. They nodded their heads at Auggie and he understood it was okay to tell her about his little friends.

“The little people helped me,” he said, his voice husky with emotion.

Alice didn’t challenge him. “Tell them thank you.

“You tell them. This is Tina,” he said, and picked her up for Alice to see.

Alice’s eyes opened wide in surprise. “Thank you, Tina!

As It Stands, this tale is another version of a myth told by other cultures.