Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The Storm
By Christopher Grey

Her bare heels pattered through the wet wild grass as she barreled toward the entangled gateway of the Storm. Vines wrapped with undergrowth into a wall of webbed leaves growing upward like a river of foliage into the tall dew-capped canopy above.

Mother told her to stay away from the Storm, that only caravans guarded by the kings knights could pass, for there were dangers in those woods older than the trees themselves. Older than the village. Older than the kingdom. And those dangers cared not if she was a young child, cared not for her fiery nature. Cared not for anything at all, save to keep the Storm free from intruders.

But like most things, Mother was wrong. The Storm did care for her. It called her on evenings after the fires were out and the watchmen helped the pig farmers to rally their roaming livestock. It called to her on mornings when the southern mists would draw its frigid curtain from the bay. It called her in the winter, when the canopy looked more like the snow capped mountains of the eastern ridges. It called also in the summer when the only respite from the sea’s heat was beneath that ancient canopy.

But the Storm ate men. The village lost no less than fifty during the harvest alone. The king’s men ordered that the harvest trade be halted and so a seasons worth of gourds, barley and apples lay rotting in the fields.

But they didn't know the Storm like she did. She saw it in her dreams. And the people there, she called them Dandy Lions for their colors and the way they played, didn't mean to kill. That is, it wasn't in their nature, like it was with the King’s men. She never saw the tiny lords of the Storm rip open a woman's legs and use gauntlets to hold her cracked, bleeding face down as he tore his loins into her, like the Kings Men did with Mother. The Dandy Lions only loved and played. And when they saw the men, they would take their mystical fog to them. Their aromas would drive the men mad and they'd turn against one another. The Dandy Lions never killed--they let the men kill. For those aromas bring out the heart of men. The true nature of them. Is it the fault of the Storm that men know only death and murder?

On this morning, there was a decree. The watchmen told the village that the Storm would remain closed through the summer, for another a scout was lost that eve.

She knew the scout, his name was Randolf, and he was a beautiful man with crystal eyes. He had danced with her during the winter festival, and he was warm and chivalrous. Even Mother approved.

But Randolf was a man of the king. And his heart was exposed, as were all of the kings men. Yet, she couldn't believe it. Not him. Not dearest Randolf, with his tall stature and broad smile. With his polite bow and gentle kiss. Certainly not him.

So she needed to see the Dandy Lions and beg their mercy. See his safe return.

As she wiggled through the vines, the familiar damp scent of the storm cooled her senses. She tightly bound her robe and walked one bare foot in front of the other.

It took no time at all to see one. Its monarch wings flittered in the mist and so she sprinted after it. The run was long and brought her deep into the Storm before at last she arrived in a clearing with a circle of radiant mushrooms.

The Dandy Lions were there, swimming around the sleeping body of Randolf. Tiny fingers from pale bodies swarmed his naked skin.

“Please don’t—I know him.”

The voices sang in her mind as they always did, “He is not yours to save.”

“Please, I know him. He is not like the others.”

“Then you must make a trade.”

She frowned at them, feeling a cold terrible feeling in her stomach.

“I have nothing to trade.”

“It is the way it must be.”

She bit her lip and said softly, “I’ll find someone.”

“Then we shall wait.”

Running back to the village she saw the day proceed like any other. The watchmen patrolled. The farmers tended. The marketmen sold wares. Who would she choose? How was she to know who was a good man and he was a bad man?

She stood in the path to the Storm. Lost alone. Afraid.

And as the dawn air licked her face, she knew at once what she must do. Returning to the Dandy Lions she looked at her bare feet, not saying a word.

“Who did you bring?” They asked.


“Child, you sacrifice yourself for this man?”

“It is not sacrifice. I know the nature of my heart.”

“Then come,” they beckoned her in haunted unity.

Without hesitation she stepped into the ring of mushrooms. At once Randolf woke and looked at her confused, disoriented.

The Dandy Lions crawled over her. She felt their tiny hands like insects envelop her skin, crawl into her dress and down her legs, into her mouth, across her cheeks, into her hair and then she slept.

When she woke she saw only flowers and the green beyond.

“Where am I?”

“You are home. And you are our mother.”

There were thousands. No, more. Each tiny body accentuated with beautiful wings and brilliant hair. She could see each and every one of them.

“Your mother?”

They said in unison, “None other can have a heart as this.”

And there she remained until one day, many kings later, when the Storm grew sick and every tree perished. And in her closing eyes she remembered her sacrifice and held no regret.

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