Friday, August 8, 2014

Tales from the Jungles

Soundtrack: [1]

What follow are two short stories about locales within the Great Jungle. They represent local folklore and a tidbit of history. I do not speak to their veracity, but what is truth but a statement retold until the spirits make it true?

The Massacre at Shade Lake

Long ago in darker days before the Swallowed City was swallowed, there lived a chieftain who tired of having his villages raided and razed, assembled a great war host. Armed with spears and shields, they marched through the jungle on the terrible city to make war, but before they could arrive, the fell lords of the nameless city fell upon the army. They slaughtered everyone to the last man.

Not to allow such a show of insolence to go unpunished, the dark lords set their armies loose on the chieftain's lands. This time, they did not butcher, rape, pillage, or burn anything.  Instead, they collected every person – man and women, young and old. They bound their captives and marched them through the jungle to the battlefield where their brethren were slain. There they were made to look upon a lake, but rather than water, all they could see were floating, bloated corpses cloaked in a miasma of flies.

Horrified, many tried to run. They were the first to fall. Eventually, the dark army killed every single subject the chieftain had and dumped their bodies into the lake until all of the water was pushed out and what was a lake became a massive pit of rotting corpses.

No water every truly returned to that lake. Over the centuries, plants moved in, and with them, but the ground was never the same.  So tainted it had become that now all the remains is a canker on the land, a blighted swamp where the water runs red with memories and the bright pink soil speaks to atrocities of a forgotten age. That is how the Whispering Marsh came to be.

The Pillars of Heaven

Long ago, some time after the fall of the Black City, a great forest spirit aspired to divinity, but its spark was not strong enough. Consumed by pride, it decided to climb a nearby mountain in hopes of waging a war for godship against the heavens, but the celestial spirits rained down fire upon him, defeating his forces and halting his advance atop Mount Aserat. There, he reached to the sky in frustrated hatred and spat curses at the gods even as they transformed him into a stand of tremendous trees.

Today, those trees and their saplings still grow in the cloud forest atop the summit of Mount Aserat, possessed by that spirit doomed to spend eternity so close to the heavens, yet never touching their glory. Their sap burns to this day with his impotent rage, and sometimes causes entire trees to burst in massive, fiery explosions when they can no longer contain his vehemence.

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