It’s been over a year since I’ve posted a short story here. This is one I kind of forgot about, and had published in a short story anthology called “Something To Take On A Trip,” Volume 1, which is no longer available. People who enjoy fantasy should like it. People who hate fantasy, even more so.
He Will Lead Us
The young warrior adjusted his sword and walked down the long, ancient hall. He’d been called by the Eldin Council on a matter of terrible urgency. Faraway in the distant east, Metadon, the Darkling, was massing his forces for a final assault on the Krazhen Weel, a failing bubble of protective magic wished into existence by a lost race of magical beings.
After a brief hesitation, he entered the dark chamber of the Eldin. There were five of them, chosen among the wisest men and women in the West, each cloaked in a different color: red, blue, yellow, black, and white.
“State your name, young warrior,” Red said.
“I am Aret,” he said.
“Know ye why you were summoned before us?” Blue said.
Aret shook his head. “I … was told it had something to do with the Darkling, councilor. But I am but one warrior.”
“What is more powerful?” White said suddenly. “An earthquake, or a single drop of liquid?”
Aret frowned. He knew the answer must be the drop of liquid, otherwise it’d be too easy. But he wasn’t wise enough to know why.
Resignedly he said, “The earthquake, sir?”
White’s finger shot up triumphantly. “No, you fool, it is the single drop of liquid!”
“Sir, I am sorry, I am young,” he said. “Why is the single drop of liquid more powerful than a mighty earthquake?”
Yellow whispered sadly, “The answer to your question, young warrior, is lost to us…”
A sigh swept through the assemblage of Eldin. A sad, weary sigh.
It was then that Black spoke. “The Mihuru Prophecy states that a young warrior shall come forth who will answer our questions—and that, if he answers them wisely, he will lead us to victory!”
Aret shook his head, and was about to speak, when—
“And,” Black continued, “if he does not know the answers, he will be thrown into the Pit of Eternal Nightmare.”
“But before being thrown into the pit,” Yellow said, “he will be tortured to the point of madness. And then he will be thrown into the pit. So sayeth the Mihuru Prophecy.”
Five heads bobbed in unison.
“So please, young Aret, answer the drop of liquid question,” Black said. “Or … you know, prophecy’s prophecy…”
Aret thought furiously. Now he regretted answering the summons at all. So many young warriors had answered it, never to be heard from again. Now he knew why. Still, he was young and he was brave. And the Darkling was a threat to all.
“Right,” Aret said. “Ok. A single drop of liquid is more powerful than an earthquake because … um…”
All eyes watched him. He wiped his forehead. His clothes felt sweaty and close. How was he supposed to answer this? It seemed impossible, and yet … and then he had it!
“A single drop of liquid could be Azhnasi poison! Azhnasi poison, they say, can kill a dragon, whereas an earthquake would only, you know, bother a dragon. And hey—I bet that poison could kill Metadon. What do you think?”
The five heads leaned together in conference.
“There’s just one problem with that, young warrior,” Red said, a minute later. “Azhnasi poison is … lost to the arts of men. So even if we could use that on the Darkling, it’s not like we have any.”
“Well, what else could we use on the Darkling?” Aret said, feeling good about this for the first time.
“That’s why you’re here, you fool,” Yellow said. “How indeed?”
Aret thought again—and again, he thought he had it.“What if we use the Sword of Sorrowful Menace?”
An Eldin said, “The sword of which you speak … passed beyond the mortal world, eons ago.”
“Really?” Aret said. “Well then, what if we unearthed the Book of Fell Demise and used that?”
An Eldin said, “The language it was written in, sadly, has been forgotten.”
“What about the Bracers of Purposeful Thought? With a set of those, I could—”
“Lost too,” an Eldin said. “Take my word for it.”
“The Spear of Blinding Light?”
“Lost…” Red said.
“Hammer of Darkness?”
“Can’t find it,” Blue said.
“Cloak of Destruction?”
“It was with the Hammer of Darkness,” White said, “so, you know…”
Aret was getting frustrated. “What about the Ring of Pure Truth?” he said.
Blue looked up. “That might work. Last I heard it was up on Terror Mountain, guarded by a great and terrible Woggim.”
White shook his head. “That won’t work. The Woggim, sadly, has sailed beyond our realm to a faraway land that has faded from the knowledge of Men. And even if you found him and he gave you the ring, the power to use it requires the wearer know the Chant of Twenty Verses. Do you know the Chant of Twenty Verses, Aret?”
Aret shook his head sadly. “I only know nineteen of them, just like everyone else.”
Blue looked at his fellow Eldin and said, “You know, perhaps we made a mistake in choosing young Aret here. I heard about this other young warrior, over in Ni’jat…”
Aret thought quickly, then pointed behind the Eldin and said, “Oh no, the Darkling has come!”
The Eldin spun quickly to look, then turned back and saw Aret’s young, healthy body sprinting down the hall as fast as his powerful legs could carry him.
“Yes,” Yellow breathed. “It just might work.”
Black nodded, seeing it finally. “Of course! Sheer genius!”
“What is?” White said.
Red scratched his head in confusion. “Metadon the Darkling will be here in less than a week to destroy us all,” he said. “How do we destroy him?”
“We don’t destroy him, obviously,” Yellow said. “The prophecy states that a young warrior shall lead us. So—we follow Aret!”
As one, the five Eldin, wisest of all the land, tore after Aret as if chased by all the demons of the east.