Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dreadful Zhang

The dreadful Zhang roars, his long tusks thrusting into the air. Before him cowers a maiden, her skirts ripped and torn in her haste to escape; but in this she has failed, for behind her is a deep, dark crevasse, like a tear in the earth itself. Her eyes dart left and right, but she makes not a move, seemingly frozen in place with terror.

"Womons..." the Zhang mutters appreciatively, moving towards the maiden with his seven cloven hooves on his seven twisted legs. Trailers of drool slip from his fang-filled mouth as the maiden squirms backwards to the very edge of the abyss, trying to avoid the Zhang's advance.

Then comes a cry from behind: "Cease, foul creature!" The Zhang wheels, swifter than any creature of his size has any right to be: and there sees his bane, the foe of all evil, Ser Matthias, returned from the lands of the East at long last. "I am returned from the lands of the East at long last!" Matthias shouts, "We have fought before, and you emerged triumphant - but I have been seasoned by my journeys of the last two years! I have fought blizzards, baptised children, and taught youth. And more - I have practised the skills of battle! You were my better when I left - but now you will find that I am the master!"

The Zhang snorts and rears, bellowing in wordless rage. Something like words seem to emerge, for a moment - "Only a master of Mormons," perhaps - but it is twisted by the hate and pain that fills the Zhang without end. He charges, tusks moving to gore Matthias and his mount (the horse Mosiah); but Ser Matthias spurs Mosiah, turning him aside, and places his silver spear in the space he had occupied a moment before. The Zhang slows, reducing what might have been a fatal wound to a severely painful one; but the spear sticks, protruding from his forehead, and as the Zhang rears again, screaming in hideous agony, Matthias pulls his sword from its scabbard, urges Mosiah closer, and delivers unto the Zhang its death-blow.

The Zhang roars once more. Certainly it is a roar of pain - perhaps of anger - perhaps, too, of relief at the ending of its too-long existence. But it falls, blood pouring from its wounds, and its life ends. Ser Matthias salutes the maiden, who has begun to rise to her feet, tentatively elated at the defeat of the Zhang, and retrieves his silver spear from the Zhang's corpse. He makes to wipe the blood off it - then halts. There is a terrible realization within him, as the blood begins to crawl up the spear towards him:

The Zhang's blood is made of Nikolas-spiders.

Ser Matthias's face is filled with sadness. He looks about him, but it is clear that are too many Nikolas-spiders to kill - they swarm endlessly from the wounds of the Zhang, coming nearer and nearer to Ser Matthias. He is no coward, to ride away and leave the maiden to their tender mercies. This is not a choice he can make. So he rides to the maiden's side; passes her Mosiah's reins, asking her that she might "feed him and water him, please, that he should not suffer in his absence." Then, as the Nikolas-spiders bite at his feet, brave Ser Matthias turns and dives, falling into the crevasse; the Nikolas-spiders follow, and in their absence, the maiden and Mosiah are alone.

That is the story of Ser Matthias: for it has been three long years since these events occured, and no word since has come to us of his fate, be it good or ill. We tell this story every year, that his memory might live on among us; and we pray, as we do every year, that Brave Ser Matthias might have survived the fall, defeated the Nikolas-spiders by some clever ruse, and might, some day soon, be returned unto us.


Calvacadeofcats said...

a terrible tale that evoked quivers in the heartes of many young childe and stillrs the bloode colde

Cavalcadeofcats said...

But they are cheered some little bit by the heroism at the end, yes? I would hate to leave little children perpetually afraid of the terrible Zhang and his blood-Nikolas-spiders.