Friday, October 31, 2008

“Warriors of the Midnight Sun” - Act VIII

This is it! The last act and the story is 100% complete! Enjoy!


“Warriors of the Midnight Sun”
© 2008 by Charles Shaver. All rights reserved.



THE BEJEWELED NIGHT: Wherein Gogi the Grasshopper Ascends the Giant Demon-dog Yaska Selith; Xiao-tep Faces Fei Li Mi Once More; Fei Li Mi Steals the Jewel of Zingtai; Loved Ones Are Reunited



Szu Ri fluttered fiercely against the wicked winds whipping across the Plain of Adoration. The battle roiled far below as she clutched little Gogi close to her chest. Balori followed after them with Momoki on his shoulder.

The screams of men and women filled the air around them, as did their clang of weapons and fighting. Gogi shivered nervously, afraid.

Szu Ri held him closer still, feeling his little body shivering. Tears welled within her eyes. She cried out, “I love you, Gogi!” but he did not hear.

Closer they flew to the giant Yaska Selith. Gogi shivered more fiercely as he clutched onto his hat that was threatening to fly off.

Szu Ri’s heart hardened against the pain she felt, against the fear she felt.

Balori flew into the face of the demon-dog, tossing Momoki at him. Momoki grasped onto fur and began stabbing at the cheek of Yaska Selith as Balori flew in, stabbing the demon in the other cheek with his battle axe and slashing with his kopesh. Both knew they could do little to harm the demon-dog, but that was not their purpose and as they witnessed Szu Ri fly overhead with Gogi, unnoticed by Yaska Selith, they knew their true purpose was a success.

The head of Yaska Selith came under Szu Ri and Gogi. Szu Ri, crying, fearful, hurting with pain far larger than she then did the hardest thing she had ever done in her life.

She let go of her love.

Gogi fell onto Yaska Selith’s head.

Szu Ri flew to Twila’s side, pressing herself into the neck of her friend and sobbing greatly, deeply there.

Gogi struggled, crawling his way through the fur. Szu RI had held on too long and he had been dropped far onto the back of the demon-dog’s head instead of near his forehead. He fought against the rushing winds and moving Yaska Selith. As he reached the forehead of the demon-dog, the rushing winds picked up in ferocity, whipping Gogi’s hat from his head and disappearing. He watched after it, making a quick, soft apology to Szu Ri for losing it.

He turned back round and crawled down the forehead of the demon-dog. There he found the small lids of the third eye. He shook with nerves one last time, refused to look out at the battle far below, closed his eyes and reminded himself if only he could do this one small thing for Momoki, they could all return to the Chamber of Despair together where he could quietly go about his gardening.

Gogi’s eyes snapped open, focused with determination. He removed from the small of his back his toothpick where he had tied it. He crawled down to the lids. He pried them open and, when no ruby beam of destructive light came forth, forced his way into the socket.

Yaska Selith raised his hand and swatted Momoki away. Once more Momoki fell to the plain far below.

Balori refused to move, attacking repeatedly the demon-dog all about his head until he saw, at last, Fei Li Mi streaking through the sky, descending towards the rear of Yaska Selith. Balori paused in his attack long enough to watch Fei Li Mi digging at the ground there. His trunk lifted up, trumpeting loudly and growling angrily, “He goes after the Jewel of Zingtai!”

Balori removed his battle axe from the back of Yaska Selith’s head, with both weapons in his hands, flew swiftly down to the plain to challenge the catfish.

Wu Chan Chu, Comet Fox and Roku delved back into the fray of the battle upon the plain.

Xiao-tep flew high into the air, the Spear of Sorrows outstretched, its blades biting at Yaska Selith’s skin, though not deeply. He came up some distance from the demon-dog, level with his head. He peered closely and saw the rear of Gogi wiggling, sticking out of the third eyes, struggling before he finally slipped behind its lids.

Xiao-tep spoke softly, “May the gods be with you, little one.” He then raised his spear and streaked down Yaska Selith, slicing at his skin once more.

Fei Li Mi found the Jewel of Zingtai protruding from the ground behind Yaska Selith. He dug his guandao into the dirt there and free the jewel. He then pondered how he could carry it, freeing his hands, so he could fly with it back to the Eternal Empress.

The strong winds carried to him Renorio’s cloak made of skin that had been loosened by an angry Dian as she severed the head from the vile murderer.

Fei Li Mi picked up the cloak, tied off the ends to form a makeshift satchel, placed the jewel into it and placed this whole thing over his shoulder.

Balori descended on him, trumpeting his approach.

Fei Li Mi lifted his guandao in time to fly sideways out of the way of Balori’s attack and cut his right bicep. The elephant trumpeted in pain, turned and attacked Fei Li Mi.

The kopesh first came down on Fei Li Mi. He flew sideways to dodge it but could not retreat from the sideways slashing battle axe. A large gash appeared on Fei Li Mi’s stomach, blood pouring out of it.

Fei Li Mi, panicking and wanting to get away, turned and flew away.

Balori chased after.

Xiao-tep came level with the ground after his attack on Yaska Selith an witnessed the chase. He, too, took up the chase, pulling to the side of Balori.

Unable to catch Fei Li Mi as the flew over the Black Mountains, Xiao-tep arched back and threw his Spear of Sorrows at Fei Li Mi.

The catfish, looking back, saw the oncoming spear and turned, pulling up to knock the spear out of the air with his guandao.

Balori came to Fei Li Mi as Xiao-tep chased his falling spear.

Balori lunged, striking out with his battle axe. Fei Li Mi backed away and brought his guandao up to block Balori’s slashing kopesh. Balori pressed the fight, pulling nearer to Fei Li Mi.

The catfish, busy with parrying the elephant’s weapons, did not see Balori’s trunk lashing out until it was too late.

Balori tightened his grip with his trunk around Fei Li Mi’s throat. Fei Li Mi’s eyes widened. He tried to raised his guandao but Balori knocked it aside with his kopesh.

The elephant lowered his head and brought his trunk up, raising Fei Li Mi to smash him in the face with his head.

Fei Li Mi grunted in pain. He eyed Balori and said, “I know what you want, elephant.” Fei Li Mi swiftly raised a free fin and untied the satchel about his body. Both satchel and jewel feel free from him. Said Fei Li Mi to Balori, “Go get it.”

Balori let go Fei Li Mi and flew after the fallen jewel. He snatched it up in the air.

Xiao-tep came to his side and together they watched Fei Li Mi escape.

“Should we go after him?” asked Balori.

Xiao-tep shook his head. “I doubt he’ll return to trouble us this day. You have the jewel. We should instead return to the plain and help our friends.”

Xiao-tep began flying back towards the Plain of Adoration.

Balori did not.

When Xiao-tep noticed the elephant was not with him, he stopped, turned and called out, “What is the matter, Balori?”

Balori eyed the jewel. He looked to Xiao-tep. “I came only for the jewel.”

Xiao-tep, saddened by the elephant’s response, flew back to his side and said, “But those are our friends upon the plain, many of the m dying, perhaps dying without our help. You have the jewel, it is safe now. It can wait a moment longer as we give aid to our friends.”

Again Balori eyed the jewel before looking at Xiao-tep. “What of my people? They’ve waited long enough. They’ve suffered long enough.”

Xiao-tep could give no answer. He turned and flew back to the Plain of Adoration.

Balori looked northeast to the land of the Bizo. He looked at the jewel and longed to return it to Zingtai so the Eternal Empress would free his people. He thought of Negkendra, wondering how he was faring on the plain, not yet knowing of his death and sacrifice upon Owl Bridge. He then thought of Shabar, a man that became a friend. A man that was so long ago so kind to him an the other elephants. He wondered how he was faring, as well, not knowing of the loss of his leg or his healing within the kingdom of Aniabas.

They had traveled a long way to help him, to right the wrings they and others had committed. They had not abandoned him. He knew then he could not abandon them.

Balori tied the makeshift satchel and slung it over one of his shoulders. He turned to face the Plain of Adoration before flying there, following Xiao-tep.



Gogi struggled, crawling his way deep into the third eye’s socket. Yaska Selith felt him there, but could do nothing to remove the grasshopper.

Gogi crawled deeper, covered in blood and gore, until he came at last to the socket’s base and there he found the slightly dislodged Ruby Bug. He could not breathe the air here. It was thin and putrid. He knew he had to hurry lest he grow weak with struggling and breathing the rankness hear. He brought forth his toothpick made long ago on Taliesin, the Mountain That Lived in the Sky, and struck deeply in the muscle behind the Ruby bug. He sank it deep and pulled backwards, his legs stuck out to the sides of the eye and forcing him backwards.

The toothpick slipped. Gogi thought he would have fallen out the eye if it were not such a cramped space. He placed the toothpick behind the Ruby Bug once more, now slippery with blood. He applied force once more and pulled.

The toothpick, much to Gogi’s despair, broke in half. He eyed the piece in his hands. He wanted to cry for he knew no other way to pry the Ruby Bug loose. His mind raced with thoughts. He wanted Szu Ri to be at his side, to hold him close and comfort him. He wished he had the strngth of Momoki so he could simply latch onto the Ruby Bug and pull it free.

And it came to him that was what he should do.

Gogi placed the broken half of the toothpick behind the Ruby Bug. He held it fast with his left hand and with his right reached around the bug and grabbed the other half of the toothpick still lodged there. He closed his body around the Ruby Bug and ppuleld with all his might. He pulled and pulled, not wanting to fail Szu Ri or Momoki, Twila or Xiao-tep. And when he was thinking he could not succeed at pulling the Ruby Bug free, it tore loose from the muscles holding it fast. Blood welled within the eye socket, causing pressure. Blood and bits of muscles geysered out from the third eye, pushing Gogi out as he held the Ruby Bug tightly, afraid he would lose it.

Gogi flew through the air, falling, crashing, slamming hard onto the plain until he rolled, getting battered and bruised.

Szu Ri watched it all from the comfort of Twila’s side. She lifted onto the air and flew, searching for her love. She found him at last and lowered herself to his side.

She approached slowly. She called to him, “Gogi?”

Gogi did not answer. He did not move.

She drew near him, listening. She touched him and felt his heart, felt his chest moving with small, labored breaths.

“Oh, Gogi,” said Szu Ri as she lay behind him, holding him close to her.

The demon-dog Yaska Selith shrank in form, growing smaller. The fighting all around him ceased and as he became the battered dog Pup once more, the Bone Warriors found themselves without their master and broke from the plain, running in fear.

Xiao-tep flew to Gogi’s side. Behind him came Balori. They had come over the Black Mountains in time to see Yaska Selith destroyed. Twila came next, crawling. Soon all the surviving fighters of Aniabas, Wu Chan Chu and Balori drew near. They all stared down at Gogi, still desperately clutching the Ruby Bug.

Momoki came to his side.

Gogi’s eyes opened. He coughed fitfully. He looked up at Momoki, looked to Szu Ri crying and kissing his cheek.

As Momoki looked at his small friend, in awe of his courage and will, he thought of the words Gogi had once said. He spoke them softly now, “Some have paths set before them that lead them into greatness, while others are destined to be their friends.”

Momoki knew then that he was the friend.

Gogi coughed again. Weakly, he pushed the Ruby Bug out towards Momoki and said, “I-I did it, Momoki. I did it.”

Momoki smiled. He said, That you did, my friend. Thank you.”

One by one all the warriors, mercenaries, soldiers, men and women, each in turn, thanked the little grasshopper.



Ebi ran to the side of his Pup. The dog’s body was beaten and had many cuts all over. Pup was badly beaten all over.

Ebi kneeled next to him. He reached out slowly and pet the dead dog. He wept for his Pup.

A bark came to Ebi. He turned and there, at his side, was Pup now black as a shadow with wounds all over him glowing crimson like his eyes, bright as the Midnight Sun.

Ebi smiled an unseen smile. He picked up and played with Pup, his laughter echoing in haunting, warm tones.

The forms of both Pup and Ebi slowly dissipated as smoke, disappearing from sight. The two old friends were finally together. The two old friends were finally at rest.

On another part of the plain, Dian continued to wail. So loud, so haunting, so anguished was her cry no one dared draw near her. Only her husband tried to comfort her, but as he did she pushed him away in anger and fear. Her cried, her sobs, her wails were long and sent chills through all who heard them. She threw herself upon her dead daughter.

Not one of her allies knew what to do. Not one moved to help her, not knowing if she could be helped.

One of her fellow Warriors finally came to her side. Roku the Misfit stepped forward. Joto Ba, kneeling beside the body of his daughter, looked up at him as he approached.

Roku knelt. He reached a hand to Dian. She raised up and slapped him away. Joto Ba grabbed his wife and held her.

Roku bent low.

Dian and Joto Ba watched him.

Roku placed his mouth upon Inno’s. He breathed out and as he did his form dissipated, dispersing and Inno’s lungs filled with life.

Roku was gone.

Inno breathed easily, alive yet unconscious.

“Now that was a hero,” said Angolas the Soldier.

Comet Fox, who was standing nearby, thought a moment. He cocked his head curiously and asked, “Who was a hero?”

But neither could remember whom they spoke of. High in the Heavens, Stork picked up the slates holding Roku’s life and smashed them against the floor.

Roku the Misfit had been erased from the Record of Memory.

King Aniabas approached Joto Ba and Dian. Vitor followed behind him with several of his soldiers. He said, “I can take her. I will give her a home and we will care for her.”

Dian and Joto Ba nodded and thanked the king before dissipating, fading from the world and resting, at last, in peace.

The men of Aniabas picked up Inno and carried her gently back to their kingdom.

Aniabas and Vitor then approached Angolas.

Aniabas eyed him a moment before saying, “Vitor, let it be known, when we return to our kingdom, that Angolas, soldier with my army, died with full honors this day.”

Vitor said, “Yes, my liege.”

Angolas nodded. “Thank you, my liege,” he said and faded into peace.

Aniabas then approached Momoki. “Momoki, it has been an honor.”

Momoki bowed. “The honor was mine. Thank you, your highness.”

Aniabas eyed the body-strewn plain. “I think it will take many days, but my people will make sure they will all be properly buried.”

“Good,” Momoki was thankful.

Aniabas and his men returned south to their kingdom.

Zom Loa came to Momoki. He eyed the Ruby Bug within his hand. He said, “Dear marmoset, I know I’ve not been fully trusted thus far, but my heart is now with you. I know some alchemy and many mystics. I think I could find a place for that jeweled bug.”

Momoki was wary.

Wu Chan Chu approached. She thought of Zom Loa helping Ebi in battle, of his changed loyalty. She said, “Momoki, he came be trusted.”

Momoki took Wu Chan Chu’s word, nodded, and handed the Ruby Bug over to Zom Loa.

Said Zom Loa, “I know not how as yet, but I will find a way to destroy this thing.” He then left the Plain of Adoration.

Balori turned to Xiao-tep. He adjusted the weight of the jewel slung over his arm. He said, “I should go,” then added hesitantly, thinking back to their confrontation on the Mountain That Lived in the Sky, “I’ll have to return to Taliesin.”

Xiao-tep said, “Balori Shongoyo is always welcome in Taliesin.”

“Thank you,” said Balori. He mounted his mystic cloud once more and flew off the plain.

Momoki mounted Twila, resting upon the back of her shell. He then lifted Gogi and Szu Ri upon his shoulder. Twila crawled in front of Xiao-tep, Wu Chan Chu, Comet Fox and Stavros.

Said Momoki, “Thank you for your part, Xiao-tep.”

Xiao-tep bowed low at the waist. He said, “It has been an honor, Master Momoki.”

Momoki considered the four friends a last time. He said, “Xiao-tep, you and your friends are on a most righteous path. Stay to it.”

“Thank you, Master Momoki,” answered Xiao-tep.

Momoki’s horse appeared beneath him. With his friends he rode off the Plain of Adoration, riding home for the Chamber of Despair.

Xiao-tep touched his wound.

Wu Chan Chu watched him and asked, “How are you, brother?”

“I’m well, thanks to you.”

Wu Chan Chu croaked happily and smiled. “What will you do now?”

Xiao-tep said, “I’ll be returning home.”

Asked Wu Chan Chu, “To father? Or your mother?”

Xiao-tep shook his head. “No, to Taliesin. You should visit me some time, sister. I would like you to visit. I think you would appreciate Taliesin and its rolling, flowing fields. It’s quite beautiful there.”

“It sounds wonderful,” said the frog demi-goddess, “but perhaps some other time. I think I’ll return to the Peony and recover my championship.”

Xiao-tep smiled at his sister’s desire for fighting. He could not share her desire. He looked at Comet Fox and Stavros. “What of you two?”

Comet Fox rubbed the back of his head nervously. His ears twitched. He said hesitantly, “To tell the truth, I could really go for a drink right now.”

Stavros laughed uproariously. Wu Chan Chu and Xiao-tep joined in the laughter.

Stravros slapped Comet Fox on the back, saying, “I think you and I are going to be good friends.”

Laughing, each enjoying the company of the others, the four friends left the Plain of Adoration.



Over every countryside, through every valley and woods, Shabar hitched rides with many different people including merchants and a moving family. At last he came to the farmlands outside of Bizo. He had ridden as far as he could and did not have to travel through Bizo itself. He wondered if the Eternal Empress would ever release the elephants. He wanted to know, but moved on, limping slowly towards his farm. Aniabas’ people had replaced his leg with a wooden peg lashed to his leg above the knee with thick leather straps and buckles. It made walking difficult. He wondered how it would affect him working his land.

He hobbled on and on, walking, limping towards his home.

As the sun was setting, as Kalavata flew overhead, Shabar came to his farm.

He saw his house from a long ways off. He kept watching for movement, watching for his wife. He saw none around the house. He wondered if she had left, if she was staying with Old Man Arnas, if she had left the country completely.

He watched his home as it grew larger.

As he drew near, he was hesitant to enter, but he did.

There he found the wife of Old Man Arnas. She was cooking at the stove. Nearby, in a crib, lay a baby.

She turned and eyed him. “You’re home.”

Shabar nodded. He looked to the baby.

Old Lady Arnas said, “You’ve another son.”

Shabar smiled. He limped to the crib and picked up the child. “He beautiful.”

Old Lady Arnas looked at Shabar, was happy to see him smiling, then considered the wooden peg where once his leg had been.

Shabar kissed and held his son. He looked to Old Lady Arnas. “Where is Alia?”

“Despite my protests, she’s working the field.”

Shabar sighed. “That’s my stubborn wife. How is she?”

“The birth was difficult, but she’s stronger than she’s been.”

Shabar nodded. he thanked Old Lady Arnas and kissed her on the cheek. He then exited his home and limped into the fields.

There, working diligently, was both his wife and older son. They were harvesting from the field.

His son saw him first. He cried, “Daddy!” and ran to him.

Shabar bent and picked him up, kissing and hugging him. He then set him down and told him to go into the house.

The boy touched the wooden peg. “Daddy? Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yes, boy. Now mind your father and get inside.”

The boy ran joyfully into the home.

Alia stood motionless, staring at her husband.

They stood a long time looking at one another.

Shabar’s mouth, his chin quivered. The sides of his mouth lowered into a frown. Tears welled within his eyes.

At last, he said, “I-I didn’t know if you’d… have me.”

Alia wept. She dropped the basket she had been placing her harvest into and ran to her husband. They embraced and cried together.

Shabar kissed her gently around her face, on her lips, on her neck.

Aia pulled gently away. She straightened her husband’s clothes. She reached down and touched his wooden peg, but said nothing of it. She would never speak of it. She looked him in the eyes and said, “Come, come inside and meet your new son.”

“I already have,” said Shabar.

Alia appeared momentarily saddened by this. She then smiled. “Then let’s go eat supper. Old Lady Arnas is a wonderful cook.”

They smiled, kissed, embraced a last time and then went into their home together.



Balori Shongoyo flew high into the clouds and landed gently upon the bright, green field of Taliesin. He carefully climbed the mountain to come to the side of Aglina and Zingtai. He produced from the makeshift satchel the bright emerald.

Zingtain squealed excitedly. She examined the jewel. She found the chips missing from it and wondered if it would still fit.

“You should try,” encouraged Balori.

Zingtai grew to immense size, part of her hanging off the sides of Taliesin. Balori walked slowly to the outer reaches of her wing and found the hole there where the jewel had been removed. He raised it above his head. The jewel fit. It stayed. Zingtai’s wing healed over.

Kalavata’s head peeked over the horizon.

Zingtain flapped her wings with anticipation.

Aglina cooed a loving goodbye.

And as Kalavata flew overhead, Zingtai lifted off Taliesin and joined him, chasing Etain across the world, restoring the stars to the night sky.

All over the world, people came forth from their homes. They craned their necks and looked skyward. And there they found the beautifully sparkling night sky.

Celebrations were held.

Bonfires were lit.

Fireworks were lighted in honor of the stars’ return.

The world below the night smiled together as one.

Balori mounted his mystic cloud and flew beneath Zingtai a long time, chatting, telling her of the grand adventures he and Xiao-tep had, of the Battle Upon the Plain of Adoration. He made friends with Kalavata. And for the first time in a long time, Balori smiled and laughed and was filled with joy.

In the world far below, the Eternal Empress and her children witnessed the return of the stars and she remained faithful to her word. The next morning, before a gathered crowd of her people, she declared the Elephants of Ife free and outlawed slavery in her country for all eternity.
Balori left Taliesin to follow his people. A few stayed in Bizo and other parts of the world, but most made the long trek back to Ife and Balori went with them. He then returned to Bizo and thanked the Empress.

With his task in life, Balori found himself restless and wondering at himself. He returned to Taliesin. Xiao-tep was there and welcomed him. Balori stayed with Xiao-tep, cultivating the mountainside, harvesting the gardens and tending to the fields. Each night they would picnic with Aglina and waved to Zingtai as she flew overhead.

Xiao-tep and Balori become friends and together they took on the role of caretaker of Taliesin.



In a far part of the world, in a sea made lastly by the misty hands of the Cosmos, on an island brought into the world as an afterthought where men and women came long after its birth there lived a family called Toya. The family was headed by a father who worked hard at fishing each day and his wife was a good gardener that loved to grow things and with them make preserves. They had a child named David and they loved him dearly. David would often work the seas with his father, fishing for their family’s food.

Lastly, perhaps firstly, there was Gramps, father to Lady Toya. He did not live with them, but rather made his home on another part of the island. But from time ti time throughout the year he would come to them for a brief visit.

Such was the day Gramps told David of the stars.

“Father,” called Lady Toya. “Can you go to the pantry and bring forth a few jars of plum preserves?”

“Certainly,” said Gramps. He left the hut behind and descended into the makeshift underground pantry where Lady Toya stored preserves.

He gathered up three jars of plum preserves.

As he returned to the hut, he overhead a conversation between David and his mother.

“Mother, can I go to the beach with my friends tonight?”

“No,” said Lady Toya. “You’re grandfather visits. It would be nice if you stayed at home to spend time with him.”

“Spend time with Gramps?” asked David. “But all he ever wants to do is talk, to tell stories about things that happened long ago that no one truly cares for. He is so very boring, mother.”

“Hush your mouth!” Lady Toya was appalled. “That is your grandfather, my father, that you speak of. He has lived a good, long life and without his work neither I nor you would be here now.”

Gramps heard David moan. He sighed, sad and feeling suddenly lonely. He entered the hut, acting as though he hadn’t heard a thing.

“What goes on here?” asked Gramps.

David started, afraid Gramps had heard his unkind words.

Lady Toya worked diligently in her kitchen, eyeing the jars of plum preserves. She said, “Thank you, father. If you can bring them here, please.”

Gramps set the jars on a table near Lady Toya. He asked David, “What are you doing tonight?”

“We were discussing that before you returned with the preserves. David wants to spend time with his grandfather,” said Lady Toya.

David sighed, yet smiled at his grandfather whom he loved dearly.

“Aw, go on,” said Gramps. “There is not a kid in all the world at the age of ten, such as David, that wants to spend time around a dusty, old, crotchety man like me.”

David lowered his head, ashamed of what he had said.

Gramps reached out, placing a hand upon his grandson’s shoulder. He said, “Why don’t you go on and play with your friends tonight?”

David looked up at his grandfather, his eyes alight with hope.

“Father,” said Lady Toya, “he should spend time with his grandfather.”

“Nah,” argued Gramps playfully. He winked at David. “Go on, boy. Go out and be with your friends.”

David cried, “Thanks, Gramps!” and ran from the hut.

“He should be home with his family,” scolded Lady Toya.

“No, he should be off having grand adventures with his friends,” said Gramps.

Night came to the tiny island. Father Toya, Lady Toya and Gramps ate a fine meal together. Father Toya apologized for himself, but said he had to sleep early if he wanted to get an early start on fishing the next day.

Gramps was fine with Father Toya turning in early.

As Lady Toya cleaned the plates after their meal, Gramps asked, “Would you mind if I go for a small walk after that large supper?”

Lady Toya smiled. She said, “Go on, father. I know how you like to walk after supper and smoke.”

Gramps smiled, kissed his daughter on her forehead and left the hut.

As he walked the beach he came to a small hill covered with wild grass and two trees. one of the trees had fallen long ago and its trunk used for fires so all that was left was its stump. Gramps sat upon the stump on the grassy hill overlooking the sea. He watched the moon and the stars. He watched Kalavata flying high overhead.

He produced a pipe that had been carved from briar and shaped with a skilled knife into the image of a marmoset sitting atop a rock. He placed some fine tobacco into its bowl and lit it, drawing the thick smoke down the pipe and into his mouth, tasting the strong burleys. He sat, watching the night.

The sound of children playing, hollering, laughing came to Gramps. He sat, looking for his grandson. He saw him as his group of six friends crested the hill and drew near.

Said David, “Oh! Gramps. I didn’t know you were here.”

Some of the children asked David if he knew the old man.

“Yes,” said David. “He’s my grandfather.”

A few of the children kindly introduced themselves. Gramps gladly met them, thick smoke rolling from his pipe.

“I didn’t think anyone would come here,” said Gramps. “I’ll be out of your way.”

“No,” said David. “It’s okay, Gramps. You can stay. We came only for a moment to look at the stars. This hill has the best view of all the nighttime sky on the island.”

Gramps looked to the stars, nodding in agreement. He said, “Well, as long as you don’t mind an old man smoking his pipe and sitting on a stump sharing the stars with you, then I’ll stay.”

A few of the children said he could stay.

One child, a boy a year or so younger than David, approached Gramps. He asked, “That pipe, it’s awfully grand. What is that carved on its side?”

“That?” said Gramps, happy to be talking to the children. “Why that’s Momoki the Marmoset. In fact, he helped to restore the stars to the nighttime sky long ago. Have you heard his story?”

The children all shook their heads. Gramps looked to David, thought of his words earlier. He said, “It’s a good story, but I won’t bother you with my old, boring stories.”

David frowned.

“Besides,” said Gramps, “Who would want to hear about elephants and grasshoppers and warriors and battles and such. That’s all old stuff, long ago dead.”

Gramps turned on the stump, looking out over the sea, his back to the children.

The children looked at one another curiously.

David blushed, ashamed he had been found out, overheard.

“Wait a minute,” said a girl. “Who wouldn’t want to hear about such things?”

“Yeah!” said a boy. “I’ve heard of elephants. They’re supposed to be huge!”

“Gigantic!” said another boy.

“I want to hear about warriors,” said another boy. “Some day I want to leave the island and become a soldier in some king’s grand army. Please, tell us!”

Gramps, his back to the children, smiled. he then straightened his face, even furrowing it in confusion and turned round to look at the children. “Are you certain? I mean, they’re simply the old ramblings of an old man.”

It was David who spoke. “Of course, Gramps. Who wouldn’t want to hear about elephants and battles?”

Gramps smiled internally. He shrugged, puffed his pipe. He said, “If it’s truly what you children wish.”

The children agreed that they wanted to hear the tale. They all sat round Gramps upon the stump. David sat right in front of his grandfather, attentive and listening.

When the children were settled and staring at him, Gramps said, “It all began long ago in a land called Taliesin. On this Mountain That Lived in the Sky lived its caretaker, Momoki the Marmoset. And with him lived his friend, the mighty warrior known as Gogi the Grasshopper…”


By the gods, this was along tale! This is the first full-length novel set within The Choldren of Gods Universe. I do hope you enjoyed it. And thanks for reading!

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