Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Fairy Tale Concerning Mosquitos

 Authors note: I promise that I’m working on blog posts and hopefully a new adventure module that should be coming soon, but things are still in development. In the meantime, please enjoy this little story I wrote in the style of a fairy-tale.

Listen; I will tell you from whence mosquitoes come. Once, in a kingdom next to ours, a prince reigned. His table was nightly piled with succulent meats, fine fermented cheeses, wine as plentiful as water, fruits that you or I will never taste, and other such finery. In this prince’s court, every night was a dream of pleasure and each day was spent hunting or other such refined sports. One of these nights, over the laughter of the court, the prince’s fool jested that, on the day the prince died, the rest of the court would also perish as they would be unable to procure these fine victuals themselves.

On hearing this, the prince was disturbed as he had not realized his life would end. He ordered the fool to be nailed to a tree where she quickly withered and died. The prince then called together wise ones from this kingdom, that kingdom, and many more kingdoms of which I have no knowledge. I was not invited—a shame, since, if I had been there, this whole affair could have concluded before dinner.

He asked these wise ones, “Is it true that I will die?” The wise ones dared not openly affirm the statement, but had to admit that the evidence would tend to show this to be the case. 

He asked them, “what then will become of me? Am I to become the mere feast of worms like those not born a prince?” The wise ones firmly denied this, saying that he would live in the memories of the people for ever. Some of the wise ones advised him to study the rhythm of the stars, since they are immortal. Others advised him to send prayers and sacrifices to the gods, ensuring a place among their ceaseless court.

This answer did not satisfy the prince, and so he ejected the wise ones from his court, asking them to spew their falsehoods, thin as watered-down broth, elsewhere.  As these ones left, the goddess known as Mother of Lions entered. Her teeth are sharp and her hair is black like polished obsidian. Her feet stink and her hands are clawed. She held out a stone for the prince, translucent and red, glowing dimly like the eye of a cat, and said, “Truly death is a thing for fools. It does not belong to a great prince such as yourself. I tell you the truth, some miles from here is a pool of brackish, black water. You will know the place as it is marked by a cairn of stones. Travel to this pool, let its water cover your body, and place this stone I give you on the altar at the pool’s bottom. Do this, and you will know no death. Bring no one with you or the magic will fail. Go now. If not, bother me no more.”

The prince set out at once, traveling night and day. His horse whispered “stop,” but the prince did not stop. The next day, the horse whispered, “please sir, let us stop to feed me oats and grain.” The prince had no oats or grain, and so he did not stop. The next day, the horse whispered, “please sir, let us stop by this brook so that I can drink water.” Finally, the prince stopped. The water; however, was tainted. The horse became sick and quickly died. The prince completed the rest of the journey on foot.

The prince walked in this way until he had to discard his fine shoes. His clothes became soiled with dirt and sweat. His hands and feet were scratched by the tall plants the held no respect for the prince’s birthright. Show me these plants and I would cut them down. I would burn them for showing such disrespect to the prince. But I can’t find them. Out from one of the prince’s wounds crawled the first mosquito. The prince had not seen such a creature since one had until then never been born; still, the prince batted it with his mighty hand and killed it. Such is the privilege and obligation of royalty.

In the prince’s travels, he came on the tree whereon his fool had been nailed. Her skin had sloughed off the bone and worms had conquered her meat. The worms lifted their heads and spoke as one.

“Prince, mighty one, I know for which crimes I was punished, but what called you to punish this tree so. He has become a great friend to me and complains bitterly at night of the nails that penetrate his skin, disturbing his slumber.”

The prince replied,” My friend, it is good that you still jest. The court has been absent of laughter for some time.”

“I have heard that you are seeking an answer to the riddle I posed you some time prior.”

“This is true,” the prince said.

“This is good fortune, then,” spoke the fool, “as I have contemplated the question and have uncovered the answer. Give me that stone, the glowing red one given to you by the Mother of Lions, and I will share with you the secret.”

“My friend, this I cannot do. I need the stone to complete an errand and I will not be deterred.” At that, the prince took up a switch and hacked the fool’s corpse off the tree in pieces. The fool only cackled in merriment at her joke.

If the prince had asked me, I would have directed him to the sacred pool in only a few hours. I was, however, not there, and so the prince spent many days in wandering until he found the place. The smell of the place was so strong that the prince feared to approach. The Mother of Lions was there, smiling a sharp smile from behind the cairn. With her clawed finger, she beckoned the prince to enter the water. He disrobed and obeyed her command. The mosquitos had been festering under his skin for some time, and, as he entered the water, they flew out like juice squeezed out of an overripe tomato. Stil, the prince allowed the water to flow over him. The stone escaped the prince’s hand and settled on the water at the pool’s bottom, but all that remained of the prince was his skin, like the sheddings of a snake, floating in the water. Above the pool was the first cloud of mosquitoes.

I swear all this happened just as I tell it and is the true origin of the mosquito. I do not recall the prince’s name. Sleep now; there is much work tomorrow.