A Story to Set the Mood
Three young creatures scamper along the path to a small private plantation style home. The party of beasts include a fox, a rabbit and an otter.
“Try not to embarrass us, Ransy.” exclaims the fox.
“I won’t” replies Ransy Rabbit in a slight whine.
The otter adds, “Good. Otherwise we won’t let you come up here again.”
The group reaches the door and knocks tentatively. A minor slit in the portal slides open to reveal a pair of suspicious eyes.
A voice emanates from the eyes, “Hmm? What’s this? Bandits!! Please, leave me be, I’m just an old man…”
The fox responds with a giggle, “Sir, it’s not bandits. It’s us! Hetman said we could come visit if we finished our chores.”
The otter speaks hopefully, “We brought radishes!”
The eyes grow attentive, “Radishes, you say?”
The door opens easily, permitting the children to enter. Now revealed is an old raccoon dressed in simple, comfortable clothes.
The raccoon speaks invitingly, “I suppose I could open the door for bandits who bring me radishes. Come in, come in. The pot is near boiling already.”
The scene dissolves to nothing and expands centered on a boiling pot over a quaint firepit. The children huddled to one side and across from them is the raccoon stirring the contents of the cauldron.
The raccoon addresses them, “I see a new face today. Ransy, isn’t it?”
Ransy Rabbit answers timidly, “Um, yeah…”
Satisfied that the stew is doing fine, the raccoon leans back takes on a narrative note, “Young Ransy, I’ll let you pick the story today. What would you like to hear?”
Ransy Rabbit brightens noticably, “Um, …something with… wizards in it?”
The raccoons eyes turn up in thought, his hand scratching subconciously at his chin as his tale begins.
“Hmm… wizards… let’s see… Once, a long time ago, the land was not as we know it today. The buildings were made of silver and gold, and towering spires glistened above the landscape. In those days, the wizard-kings, the Autarchs, ruled the land by means of their arcane powers… Despite their great knowledge and prowess in the magical arts, they were short-sighted and greedy, ever eager to expand their empires. The Autarchs fought wars on a scale never seen before or since, with each Autarch wreaking havoc and devastation than the last…”
Images of a great war flicker across the minds of the listeners. Row upon row of magical creatures facing each other, blinding lights and burning sorcery scorch the air between them.
“Inevitably, the damage they wrought was too great for the gentle earth, fields became barren, mountains were laid low, continents were sunk beneath the sea. The Autarchs’ quests for supreme power brought only their self-destruction.”
The pictures in their thoughts change to a deserted landscape, devoid of flora or fauna, the sky a burnt copper bowl, the land a blackened crust.
“Our ancestors knew that upon these ashes must be built a new world. One not of madness, but of reason. New skills were learned, new cities were built, and the new races learned to respect the land, water, and air as part of themselves.”
The raccoon stretches and rises. The young group blink themselves back to reality, the spell of words broken and real life descends.
“And with that, my young friends, I’m afraid I must continue our stories another time. These old joints ache and beg for rest.”
“AWWWWWW…”, goes up from the trio.
“But… what about the knights? and monsters?”, they add.
Grinning contently the raccoon claims, “Another time, another time. If your here after the sun sets, the Hetman will have my hide.”
“Yes, sir.” is heard from the dutiful fox.
The otter whispers to himself, “…next time, we’ll have a story about monsters…”
The avid listeners have now departed and the old raccoon stands at the closed door, a relaxed sigh escaping his lips. He prepares to finish the meal he started earlier as he contemplates youth aloud.
“To be young again, and see the world as a place of wonder…” Detecting something behind him, his eyes look over his shoulder, recognition in them, “So–when did you first come in?”
A shadowed figure responds with a low, breathy voice, “A while ago. Tsk. Telling stories to children… I hope you still have mettle in your ‘old bones’. I have come to call on you–our lord has need of your services again.”
The raccoon straightens and responds quickly, “I pledged to serve, I will do so. When do we leave?”
The bat steps from the shadows to eye the pot, “After we eat. Where we are going, there are no radishes…”