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The Quest for Fire

I

Not so long ago
and not so far away
the rain beat down on a little town
where a sleeping hero lay.
A great big man he was,
with a great big snore to match
that shook the walls of his little house
and its sturdy roof of thatch.
But nothing shook him from his sleep,
not his snore and no other sound,
not even the knocking at his door
which soon became a pound.

First the knocking,
then the pound,
but finally the screaming
's what brought him around.
"Thag!" they yelled.
"You lazy turd!
Kingy wants
to have a word!"

Thag awoke all bleary-eyed
and quite a groggy mess.
He told the men he'd be there
in an hour, maybe less.
But naked as a newborn babe
Thag knew he'd be refused.
So he grabbed his spear, his loin cloth,
and his favorite pair of shoes.

Quickly, quickly through the village,
he briskly made his way,
only stopping for a dump,
his only one that day.
He came upon the kingly complex,
a great and shining house,
the greatest in his village,
or of any in the South.
A moat of the clearest blue,
extended 'round the sides,
some fifteen meters deep,
and at least as many wide.
Raindrops filled the moat,
on that dank and dreary morn.
Distant bleats could be discerned
of sheep just newly shorn.
Thag called to the gateman
who was just a simple lad,
the gate was raised, Thag strode in,
he entered the kingly pad.

"Welcome Thag, my friend,
champion of our town,
Kingy has some work for you,
so please, do sit down."
Kingy entered,
took his throne,
seeing Thag arrived,
cleared his throat,
then he spoke,
gravity in his eyes.

"Thag, my friend, things aren't well,
as you plainly see,
for that there is no one to blame,
no one that is, but me.
A caller came not long ago,
a year or more, no less
of great things he claimed to know,
great magicks, he professed.
A thing by the name of 'fire,'
a great and wonderous plight,
like dragon's breath or phoenix feathers,
that makes both heat and light.
'Ha!' I scoffed, 'poor wizard,
Don't take me for a fool.
There's no such thing, from the heavens above
to the depths of the Stygian pool.'
The cur I swear, he glared at me,
not peeved the slightest bit.
Just up and turned and out the door,
I thought that that was it.
He stopped just short of leaving
and turned towards me again.
'Don't worry, Kingy,' he replied,
'I'm on to Nefarian!'
None too happy to hear that name,
I purged it from my thoughts,
that notorious city to the North,
with whom we've often fought.

Not a month later, news came my way,
news of the disturbing kind,
It seemed there was something that city had,
a new and most curious find:
A magical substance that cooks their food,
that keeps their houses warm,
that lights their city through the night
and through the fiercest storm,
an ally in a raging battle
that burns their foes to ashes,
surely we could use this stuff,
to kick our enemies' asses.
So now I see I had it wrong,
this fire stuff is real.
I tried to get it from the man,
but he wouldn't make a deal.

Thag, my friend, our city's champion,
hero with feats unmatched,
now to why I've called you here,
to hear the plan I've hatched.
That nefarious city to the north,
its name, I hesitate to say,
in one months time, maybe less,
has a great siesta day.
All the people, man and woman,
newborn to almost dead,
leave the city for a day,
for a siesta like I said.
That's your chance to steal inside,
to steal that magical stuff,
to maybe steal a little more
if the fire's not enough.
But be fair warned,
it's not so simple
getting in and out.
There's guards at the gate,
perils within,
and the Horrible Wickygroute.
A horrible creature nobody's seen,
or lived to get a description,
most, like me, tend to believe
it's a simple case of fiction.
But no one knows,
if it is,
or if it isn't real,
So just in case,
I have this for you,
to aid your quest to steal."
"A pouch of powder," Thag perceived,
poking his eyes inside.
"How is this to help defeat
the monster?" he replied.
"You will know,
what to do
when the time is right,
but you must leave,
right away,
before this day is night."

Accepting Kingy's answer
like the hero that he was
Thag turned and left him
to do what a kingy does.
The gate slammed shut
as Thag strolled out.
The rain had stopped,
the sun was out.

Copyright © 1997-2021 Brendan Andersen