I’m starting something new on my blog. I will be publishing short stories I have written. I mean, what else can you do with them? Sometimes they will appear with lavish illustrations (I can’t tell you how exited I am to be able to use the word lavish here!) and sometimes not. I will run a disclaimer each time – These are short stories, usually under 800 words. They often take on the tone and style of fairytales. I write these (A LOT of these…) to avoid my real work and I don’t always get around to illustrating them. Or I only complete one or two illustrations. Putting them up here is better than leting them diminish on the hard drive.
First up is a tale about the malleability of history. So take a few minutes and read a story. Why not?
Fantastical Tales of Occasional Oddness
The Forgetful Kingdom.
Once upon a time there was a powerful King. A fierce lion and a flaming sword adorned his Kingdom’s crest.
This King was going mad. He commanded the royal architect to build a sturdy tower and stock it with provisions for 30 lifetimes. At the very top a window was cut into each side of the tower. Once the King entered the tower it was sealed with masonry.
His army formed a circle around the tower and stood guard all day and night.
After a year of this, the King began to worry that his soldiers would turn against him, smash down the tower and kill him. So he yelled down to the Royal Alchemist ordering him to plant a grove of giant, poisonous trees around the tower.
The alchemist could not create a poisonous tree with barbs that would kill on contact. Instead he planted fast growing Skeet trees. They bloomed a terrific red each spring but they were not poisonous. He wondered, how could he please the King and keep his royal standing?
The alchemist devised a plan. He selected a troop of soldiers and each morning had them charge the tower. But when they reached the trees they fell flat and pretended to be dead. The King would see the soldiers collapse and would feel secure. Every night under the cover of darkness the soldiers would get up and return to their barracks.
Each spring the trees burst into bright red flowers. This carpet of red impressed the King and he asked the alchemist what name he gave to so deadly and yet so beautiful a tree. The alchemist called them Blood Trees and said they become more deadly as each year passed.
The King rewarded the alchemist and he grew powerful and wealthy beyond his dreams. All the while the King stayed hidden in his tower, surrounded by poisonous trees that weren’t poisonous, under attack from soldiers who were not really attacking.
Each evening the king would peer out the windows and search the horizon for enemies and traitors who might come to take his crown. He heard beautiful music coming from the forest of Blood Trees, which now stood 40-feet high. The king saw a tiny yellow bird land on a tree branch. He expected it to die, but instead it flew into the sky, than came back down to a nest it had built in another Blood Tree.
This powerful bird greatly impressed the king. The King asked the alchemist what kind of bird it was. The alchemist said it is a magical bird called the Switter. Each night it sings an enchanted song that keeps it immune from the Blood Trees. But the Switter bird (and had the King any common sense he would have known) was actually just a common Barn Swallow.
The King believed the Switter the most powerful of all nature’s beasts. He yelled orders to change his royal crest by replacing the lion with the bird and the flaming sword with the Blood Tree; the true and loyal protector of the King. The King ordered that Blood Trees should never be cut in his kingdom and no one must harm even a single Switter.
In time the King grew old and walked less to the windows to shout orders. The trees spread further and grew higher until the King could no longer be seen or heard at all. The alchemist died in a most unfortunate way and the Kingdom came to be ruled by various of its citizens.
Soon, no one remembered the King in his tower. In time the kingdom developed into a prosperous country.
Now in the center of the country, in its greatest city, is a majestic park filled with towering Skeet Trees and yellow birds. At the center of the park are the ruins of an ancient tower where it is rumored, the bones of the greatest King of ancient times lie; the King who protected the forest and celebrated the birds. People come to the park each spring when the trees are in bloom and the yellow birds dart about. They lay bundles of flowers upon the tower ruins in memory of the wisest of Kings whose name has been forgotten but his great deeds live on.