Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Progressed Land

Once upon a time there was a kingdom ruled by a king who learned.

You enter the kingdom and immediately notice something is off. There are people around, but they are preoccupied. They don't notice you. They don't notice anyone around them. They look lost in thought.

Towards the center of the kingdom, you enter a large amphitheater. Inside, there appear to be ten concentric stone circles.

There are people sitting on the first stone circle, but they're eyes are closed and they look asleep. Going past them, you near a second stone circle with more people sitting. These people have their eyes open and as you walk past them, they follow you. Their faces don't turn, just their eyes. You say, "Hello?" but none of them answer you.

At the third stone circle, the people begin to speak. "Hello? Hello. Hello. Hello?" they repeat. You try to talk to them, but all they say is "Hello."

At the fourth stone circle, the people are moving their legs, wriggling their fingers and saying, "Hell. Oh. Oh. Hell." You try to introduce yourself, but they just stare at you.

At the fifth stone circle, the people are repeating more of your words. "My. Name. Is. Name. My. Is. Is. My Name."

At the sixth stone circle, the people say your name over and over again. You walk hurriedy past them.

At the seventh stone circle, the people are walking around, talking to each other, trying out different tones of voice.

At the eighth stone circle, the people ask you questions. "Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are you going?" You try to answer as many as you can, but you have to move on.

At the ninth stone circle, the people speak normally to you. Their eyes are wide and their hair is wet, but otherwise, they look normal. You feel relieved and yet, somewhere deep inside, you are unnerved.

At the tenth stone circle, a small group of people is gathered around a large raised pond in the center. "Hello," you say. "Hello," the group says your name. "Come, meet our king." You walk forward, but cannot see anyone else, just the pond and the water inside. They motion you forward, but still all you can see is the pond and your own reflection. "Meet our king," they say.

The pond swirls, but no one is touching it. It swirls and swirls and then a thin tendril rises, growing larger and larger. You realize that the pond is their king. This is the Learning King. They grab you and hold you still as the tendril moves upward. They say your name again and tell you that your words have amused them. The tendril takes hold.

The group lets you go. They go their separate ways and the people on the stone circles move forward one circle each. You stand up and walk to the last circle at the very end and sit down.

And you close your eyes.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Wilderness of Whispers

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom in the wilderness ruled by a wild king.

The Wild King did not sit upon any throne, but hunched himself on his hind legs in the middle of his court. He wore no clothes and had the palest white skin, with eyes as black as coal. When he opened his mouth, rows of sharp teeth could be seen surrounding his pale pink tongue. His fingers were long knives that could cut flesh from the bone.

Each citizen constructed their own home from the wilderness around them. Each day, they would toil in the fields or cut wood to build up their homes. They taught their children to be thankful when they awoke, for waking meant that you were alive for another day.

After the day's work was done, when night descended and the canopy of stars was overhead, the citizens of the kingdom in the wilderness would carefully look around and silently say goodbye. Then, they would lay in their beds and close their eyes and pray for sleep.

And each night, the Wild King would go from home to home and whisper. He would whisper to husbands and wives and children. No one knew what he whispered. If he found someone who was still awake, he would slit their throat with one sharp, quick cut and feast upon their flesh. And in the morning, when the citizens would find the body, they would declare the dead to be one of the Awakened, shades cursed to stay awake forever, unable to tell anybody what they know.

And the Wild King would sit hunched in his court waiting for nightfall, waiting to whisper once again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Cold Country

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled over by a king who was a child.

The Child King was a little boy who giggled and laughed at things, like boys do. But his laughter often froze the hearts of those who heard it.

The kingdom he ruled was perpetually in winter. The snow never melted on the ground and piled up into walls, forcing the citizens to plow the snow day after day. Crops wouldn't grow, so to prevent themselves from starving, they made plots inside their homes and built up roaring fires near them, so the cold wouldn't seep in and kill what little harvest they could manage.

The Child King's castle was made itself of ice. If a person were to brave the castle walls, they would find ice statues littered around, made into various poses. If one were to examine these statues closely, they might even notice that they weren't statues at all.

Occasionally, the Child King would go skipping through the kingdom, passing door after door, until he came to a home seemingly at random. Then, he would knock on the door and start to sing:

               I'm not a grown-up, I'm not a crone, 
               I know you're in there all alone.
               I'll be your friend, the one and only,
              There's no more need to be lonely.

              Open up and then we'll play,
              We'll have fun, so with me stay.
              I'll be quick and you'll be clever,
             We'll be friends and cold forever.

The door always opens and someone (man, woman, child, it doesn't matter) steps out. They take the Child King's hand and he leads them back to his castle and throne room and they are never seen again.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Kingdom of the Blind

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled by a king who was blind.

The Blind King wore a blindfold over the place where his eyes should have been and a heavy cloak. He always carried with him a large tome. In this tome were the names of every person in his kingdom.

His kingdom was a strange one. When children grew into adults, they forgot their parents. They forgot their pets. They forgot all their lives before. And because they couldn't remember being children, they treated their children unkindly. They had all promised never to do so as children, but those promises faded away with the rest of their memories.

Sometimes, someone new would arrive in the kingdom. The citizens would arrange for them to be brought forth immediately to the Blind King and he would write their name in his tome. Then, they would either become a citizen themselves or leave the kingdom, wandering forever in search of what they had lost.

Sometimes, someone would go to the Blind King with a dispute over land or animals. The Blind King never spoke, but somehow things always got resolved. Men often couldn't remember what their argument had been or even what their names were.

Occasionally, however, there were some citizens who rebelled against the Blind King, even without their childhood. They wanted to be free, to be able to remember what they wanted, to be able to be children again.

The Blind King would have someone bring them to his chamber, where spiders crawled on the walls weaving an endless tapestry of lost innocence.

Nothing is known after that. Those who rebel are never seen again. And those who serve the Blind King try not to notice how much the spiders have grown.

The Wounded King

Do you know of the Wounded King?

The last owner of the Sangraal, the Holy Grail, the Wounded King is injured in the leg or groin. The King is the land and the land is the King, so as he is wounded, so is his Kingdom. His Kingdom is a wasteland, as barren as he is. He can do nothing to help, so all he would do is fish, giving him the nickname of the Fisher King.

There have been many Fisher Kings over the years. The land has always reflected them. When they are happy, the sun shines. When they are sad, the rain pours. When they are angry, the thunder roars and the ground shakes. The King and the land are one. Always.

I am but a humble storyteller and these are my stories. They are fables of kingdoms from far away and long ago. Kingdoms of the blind and countries of the cold. Stories with monstrous kings that you should rightly fear.

They are not true. Nothing is. After all, life is but a story waiting to be told.

And like all good stories, it begins with once upon a time...