By the time you get to read this card, Camp Nano will be over for another year.
The first draft of Big Pete and the Swede’s first full-length adventure is done 🙂 I don’t think the pacing is right, and this time I didn’t keep track properly of the timeline – who was doing what when in their parallel adventures – so that’s going to need a careful review. I started to lose track of who knew what and when last week, but I write myself marginal comments of things to check when I’m writing, so I can sort out problems I suspect I’ve introduced more easily.
I woke up last Friday knowing I had to write the legend of the Perihelix – the three main characters in it had turned up in a clue two weeks earlier. So at 1900 words, this should get us back into the swing of Flash Fiction again….
The Legend of the Perihelix
There was a time, long ago, when men were knights, fighting for honour and freedom from tyranny. In the land of men, they were happy, healthy and grew enough corn to feed themselves and to store against famine. They helped the cavies and their families eat well in the hunger days from solstice to spring. Both were friends with the dragons in the mountains, who came to their aid when the fires went out in the icy season.
All was prosperous, and the friendship of the three was bound through love, honour and respect.
In the west, though, there was darkness: a blue-tentacled monster spread disease and pestilence all through the lands of the west, drying them and leaving dustbowls where there were once crops. The men of the west hid in their mountain caves. The alchemists among them tried all manner of potions and spells against the monster, seizing lesser animals to test them on rather than risk poisoning themselves. When there were no victims left, they sent ships across the sea to steal animals from the east. Thus were the cavies enslaved, trapped in pens hardly big enough to turn around in, and forced to endure pain and suffering.
Still the monster grew, and the men of the west called it a dragon, and called upon all men to fight the dragons and wipe them out. But the men of the east remembered their friendship with the dragons, and they made a pact to defend each other from the men of the west and the blue-tentacled monster.
Then King Arthur of the cavies came to King Michael of the men, and begged for aid to prevent the seizure of his subjects. King Michael knew nothing of this slavery, so he sent a party to lie in wait for the next ship to cross the sea. They followed the raiders and witnessed the butchery and enslavement of a complete cavy warren. They watched as babies were stolen from their mothers, as brave fathers fought with tooth and nail, but were stabbed and used most cruelly. The raiders even skinned them as they lay, wounded but alive, to carry the pelts back in their ship.
Sir George led the observation party and, by chance, his guide from the cavies was also named George, a younger son of King Arthur. Cavy George was wise in technical skills and had aided men in the past when they needed engineering feats such as aqueducts to bring water to their settlements. Sir George and Cavy George returned to King Michael to bear witness to what they had seen, but still King Michael did nothing. It was only when the king of the dragons sent his son, the bronze dragon also called George, to ask for aid to free their mountains from the predations of the men of the west, that an old woman came forward to remind them of a prophecy that she had learned in her youth:
The three lions will unite, and George will slay the monster that spirals out of control.
There was much murmuring at the court when she said this, and King Michael asked, “But which George will it be?”
The old woman shrugged her shoulders. “I‘m only the message bearer,” she said. “Don’t expect me to know what it means.”
“Does it matter which George it is?” asked Sir George of the men. “We three have been brought together by fate, it seems. Surely we should go together to tackle the monster.”
“But who is the enemy?” asked Bronze George the dragon. “Is it the men who steal the animals and torture them in the name of freedom from the monster, or is it the monster itself?”
“Maybe we should remove the cause of the suffering of the animals,” said Cavy George. “Then the men of the west will realise they have no need to torture the innocent.”
“We go together!” shouted Sir George raising his sword to a great cheer from those assembled. “We go to destroy the blue-tentacled monster and free the men of the west from their folly!”
More cheers rang out, King Michael stood proudly as he kissed Sir George good-bye on both cheeks, and shook hands, or rather feet, of George the dragon and George the cavy. “Fare well!” the king cried. “May the forces of good go with you!”
When Sir George, Cavy George, and Bronze George arrived in the west, it did not take long for them to find traces of the monster’s evil deeds. They followed its trail of blue slime up into wooded mountains where the early morning mist rises like smoke up through the native pines.
“This would be a good place to live,” said Bronze George. “I hope we can rid it of the monster.”
They followed the trails of slime over the mountains onto some plains beyond, where grass of a subtle blue-green shade grew extensively. Cavy George tried it and pronounced it delicious.
“This would be a good place to live,” said Cavy George. “I hope we can rid it of the monster.”
They followed the trails onwards, and came to a place of fields, but in the centre of the valley where two rivers joined, there were black buildings and towers over holes in the ground and smoke and the smell of metalwork.
“This would be a good place to live,” said Sir George. “It’s got a bit of everything, really. Do you think it’s where the monster is?”
Bronze George sniffed the air and said yes. Cavy George looked at all the trails of blue slime leading into one of the holes in the ground and said yes.
“Well, let’s go then,” said Sir George.
“Do you think we’ve got enough weaponry?” asked Cavy George, looking at the machinery lying about.
“I have my sword and my armour,” said Sir George.
“I have my teeth and my fire,” said Bronze George.
Cavy George looked at his feet, and rubbed his nose. “I have an idea,” he said. “Come with me.”
They followed Cavy George away from the trails of blue slime, and he led them into a workshop.
“Please would you lend me your sword,” he said to Sir George. “I’m going to make it invincible.”
Sir George was highly impressed with this idea, so he handed over his sword gladly.
Cavy George placed the hilt in a vice, and heated it in a forge till it was white-hot. Then he carefully moved it to the centre of a turntable and started it turning, faster and faster until it was a blur.
“Now, Bronze George, please would you breathe on it with your magic fire?”
Bronze George took a deep breath, his eyes went all twirly with golden sparkles, and he breathed out long and steadily over the spinning blade.
“Keep going!” Cavy George encouraged him, until Bronze George was completely spent, and collapsed in a heap on the ground, his eyes dull and his lungs empty. “Well, done!” said Cavy George. “Look!”
As the spinning slowed, they could see the sword was now silver flecked with gold and bronze, but it had a strange green and blue light around it in a spiral pattern. “Behold the Perihelix,” Cavy George said. He reached towards the hilt as it slowed to a standstill, lifted it and handed it to Sir George.
“This sword is now invincible,” Cavy George said. “It will defend any world from the forces of tyranny and oppression, but only if wielded by the righteous.”
“I hope I’m up to it,” said Sir George, waving it gently from side to side. “It feels as good as ever, but somehow… lighter.”
“It carries the Dragon’s Breath,” said Bronze George. “It is indeed invincible.”
“And the metal has been transformed into orichalcum,” said Cavy George. “It can never be destroyed.”
“Well, we’d better go and sort out the monster,” said Sir George.
They returned to the surface and slipped into the tunnels where all the slime met. The tentacles flowed up the tunnels to meet them, but every time one appeared, Sir George lopped it off. Finally they reached a cavern deep in the rock. It glowed eerily blue and yellow, and mingled with the blue slime were white streaks of monster blood. The monster lay in the centre, its arms pulled into its sides, its soft body pumping up and down.
“You have killed me!” it said to them. “Why?”
“Because you have made the men of the west destroy our communities, our lands and our freedom because of your tyranny, you foul creature,” said Sir George, righteously.
“If you think they’re going to stop just because you’ve killed me, think again,” the monster said. And it curled up what was left of its tentacles and died.
“That doesn’t sound promising,” said Bronze George.
“Do you think we’ve still got trouble?” asked Cavy George.
“Let’s go and tell them they’re free,” said Sir George.
The three Georges travelled to the stronghold of the men, explained they had killed the monster –showing one of its lopped off tentacles as proof – and asked them to free all the animals in their laboratories and join with them in rejoicing the end of tyranny.
“Why on earth would we do that?” asked the leader of the men of the west. “We’re having much too much fun inventing non-toxic mascara for our beautiful women, and dual-purpose drugs.”
“Dual-purpose?” asked Sir George.
“Yes, in small doses they are excellent cures for headaches and the like. But what they’re really good at is…” and he threw a large bucket of liquid over Bronze George, whose skin started to blister and burn.
“Help, stop it, it burns, it eats me!” he cried.
“Yeah, and that’s one more of your kind out of the way, you nasty brute. Join us, Sir George, and you will become leader of the whole world, and no more pesky dragons to worry about.”
“But what about the cavies?”
“Oh, we have other plans for them!”
They leapt towards Cavy George, but he was way ahead of them and had already planned his escape.
“Wait for me, George,” he heard as he scuttled up the tunnel, and wondered if he could trust Sir George anymore, or whether he was tainted by the men of the west.
Cavy George reached the sunlight, and found hundreds of men pouring out of the other tunnels, converging on him. He raised the Perihelix and swiped it at them, and it laid them open without even touching them. Their red blood mingled with the blue trails of the monster and the white of its blood and spread all over the land as the power of the Perihelix took over and destroyed all the men of the west, their homes, the den of the monster and even the baby monsters it had left safely hidden.
Sir George came up behind Cavy George, puffing and panting. “Gosh, what a mess,” he said.
“I think you’d better take this,” Cavy George said, offering him the Perihelix.
Sir George looked at it. “With a weapon as powerful as that, I could rule the world,” he said. “I think we’d better break it into pieces so it can never be used again.”
“Good idea,” said Cavy George. So they split it into five pieces and hid them in places all over the galaxy so that the Perihelix could never be used again.
(c) J M Pett 2014