Time to start adding things again! Here’s some short fiction. Incidentally, I wrote this when I was in college, and later had it illustrated by the talented Ryan Armand. In a further incident of unknown consequence, that image is this site’s header, so I thought it would make an appropriate first fiction post. But what are we waiting for?
The Boy Who Would Kill the Wind
Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived with his mother in a small house in the woods. His father had been a great warrior, with a magic sword, but now he was dead and his sword hung on the wall. The boy and his mother raised chickens and a garden, and gathered firewood to sell in the town nearby. The boy saved promising pieces of wood and played at sword-fighting, sometimes with the other boys from the town but more often alone.
One day he came into the house and took his father’s sword down from where it hung on the wall. His mother asked him why and he answered, “I wish to avenge my father’s death.”
“But your father fell from the roof,” she said, “as you know full well.”
“It is high time the roof answered for its sins,” he replied. “Too long it has looked down on us.”
“But if you slay the roof, what will protect us from the rain?”
“Mother, I cannot leave my father’s death unavenged for convenience’s sake. But don’t be troubled; I can build a new one before the next rain.”
His mother relented, and the boy went outside and stood at the top of a ladder to address the roof. When it saw that he had a magic sword, it begged for its life. “Have I not served your family all these years without fail?” it said. “And besides, it is wrong to punish the whole for the fault of a part. Your father fell because he was standing on the loose shingle that you see, here in the front.”
At this the boy menaced the offending shingle, but it too pleaded with him to spare it. It said, “I meant no harm. Your father stood on me for some time without falling. He would not have died if a gust of wind had not taken him off-balance.”
Immediately, the boy climbed down from the ladder, for he knew better than to fight the wind while balanced up in the air. After some thought, he went through the forest to a hill and strode up it, and there at the top he stood with the sword in his hands, waiting for the wind.
After a time, the wind came and swirled around him, and asked what he was doing. He told it, “We must fight, because you have killed my father and I would avenge him.”
“That seems foolish. How can you fight that which you cannot see?” asked the wind.
Listening to its voice, the boy felt confident that he could find the wind even on a dark night. “I must do the best I can. This is my father’s magic sword, which can even cut you if it must.”
The wind was a little frightened to hear this news and the boy’s unwavering tone, so it tried a different argument. “If you do kill me, then who will turn the windmills on the plains below? Who will carry the birds in the sky? And who will carry the clouds to bring you rain?”
“There are other winds,” he reminded it. “And besides, I am sworn to avenge my father.”
The wind saw that frightening the boy off with bluster was useless. “You are picking the wrong fight anyway,” it said. “I was merely flying along and doing my work as I do every day; it was the earth that pulled him down and struck him.”
“Then I must slay the earth itself!” said the boy, and would have done so had it not protested.
“Mercy!” it cried. “I can see that you will not stop even for the sake of all the living things that walk my surface, but in any case I am too soft to have killed your father from such a short fall. The blow was struck by the stones that make a path to your door.”
Finally the boy felt that he had discovered the real killer, and ran back to the house in a rage. In the meantime the earth felt bad for betraying the stones, who were its children. It warned the stones, but neither earth nor stones could think of anything more to say to the boy that would stay his hand. Soon he arrived, and set himself for a blow that would shatter the first of the stones, when a bird flew up and said “Stop!” in a commanding tone.
“Why?” The boy lowered his sword.
The bird alit on the stone in front of him. “I have been living in this forest for many years. I saw what has happened today, and I saw what happened when your father died. You have not yet found your father’s killer.”
By this time the boy was tired, but he still had enough fire in him to make good his vengeance. He begged to know who was responsible. The bird said, “Your father built the roof of your house, and affixed one of the tiles wrong. When he went up to repair the chimney, he stood on the loose tile and so was unprepared when the wind blew. When he fell, the stones were there only because your father had placed them to mark his front path. So you see, your father is responsible for his own death.”
“Then must I kill my father to avenge him?”
“Your father is already dead. He avenged himself even as he died,” said the bird.
Finally satisfied, the boy went inside the house and ate dinner with his mother, who was much relieved to hear his tale. Later on, the boy journeyed to the baron’s castle and made a gift of the sword to the lord there. In return, he and his mother were granted enough land and money to move into town and open a business there. So they all did live happily ever after, especially the earth and all the living things on it, most of whom did not know how close they had come to destruction.