One-Minute Epics are new micro tales from John Klobucher’s Lore of the Underlings, a lyrical fantasy-fiction world. Here’s the latest installment…
It was a feast day throughout the land and Morio Yoop’s mother, a typical Nordswoman not to be crossed, had sent her son out on a mushrooming mission. “Murklees… and lumpums too, at least a pouchful,” she squawked from the kitchen window. “Or there won’t be any woodly stew!” Morio knew that wasn’t an option.
But he was a cheerful, agreeable lad — a mop-topped, porkly seventeener — and didn’t really mind the assignment. Not this morning anyway. Everyone seemed to be away, his best mate Jury Ogger included, and Morio needed something to do. So he whistled his way down Olde Wood Road and was deep in the cool, dark forest in no time.
“Hello again, friends!” he sang out loud to the trees, a great stand of ancient gray swillows, “I hope you’ve got something yummy for me.” He pulled out a small, worn sack from his pocket and took a big sniff of the musky air. “Tootstools?! Mother will be pleased.” Then he fell to his hands and knees and crawled.
Morio trolled the treasure trove before him, his tan eyes on prize after prize. He filled up his bag full of fresh, fragrant fungi until it was bursting. “There’s room for one more…”
But his reach reaped something unexpected this time — nothing. A fistful of air.
Morio looked up and into the void where the forest had been, and the farm field beyond. Only a hellish hole remained, a wide crater greater than Larnlark Lake. It was as if the hand of a giant had scooped up the land and everything on it. “What in the world could do this?” he stood and wondered. He found it overhead.
High in the blue sky a black apparition eclipsed, for a moment, the mourning sun. “Who are you?” muttered Morio, shielding his eyes from the glare. He heard a distant voice. It sounded familiar and came from the wounded ground. He leapt down into the crater.
Morio tumbled and stumbled his way to the hole’s dead center, the source of the voice, and discovered a tiny plateau capped with soft green grass and white flowers that looked like an altar. It took all he had to scale its tall, steep side but he pulled himself over the top.
Morio found his lost friend on a round bed of petals in fetal position, writhing and rolling his red eyes back. “She’s gone, my love,” moaned the lanky young man. “Lam’s gone. That monster… the dark angel took her.” Then he suddenly recognized Morio’s pudgy face. “No, Yooper — you shouldn’t have come here… Go. Run before it gets hungry again.”
Morio comforted Jury, “Don’t worry, chum,” and slung him over his shoulder. “We’re going home. It will all be alright.”
Jury slumped into unconsciousness pleading, “Save yourself… leave me… I want to be with her…”
“We’ll save us all, Lam too,” vowed the Yooper, “if it’s the last thing we ever do.”