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…
Of Ogs and Oggers
Jurykynd Ogger was barely awake when he stumbled outside for the morning chores. He crossed the snowy courtyard barefoot and shirtless, buck naked but for his britches, and seemingly unaware of the calendar or the frigid winter air. Six moons had passed since his love, Lam Lan, was lost and Jury still wasn’t himself.
His father, Jurgo, was waiting for him in the og barn, where he’d been working since dawn. It was warm there and dry and bathed in a lamplight that turned the sweet-smelling straw to gold. “Yer late again,” groaned the bronze-skinned man. “Them ogs, they ain’t gonna slop themselves, son.”
“Sorry Da,” said the young man meekly. He reached for an old oaken bucket of swill.
“Leave that,” his kind-eyed father commanded. “It’s time I showed ya something, lad.” Then he tossed his son a soft, worn blanket and led him to the nursing pens.
Soon they were standing in front of an open stall full of hay bales and dozens of frisky young ogs, flat creatures shaped like a sea ray but eyeless and tailless and made of flesh. A few of them flew around the room and flocked to the two men when they sensed them. Jury petted one flapping at his side. His father smiled and said, “These beasts us Oggers breed and train — haven’t ya wondered why they’re so dern strange? Like how they can change their look like magic? I’ll let ya in on a secret…”
Jurgo motioned past the pen to a square slab set in the earthen floor. He used a shovel to flip it over. Jury was awed by what he saw.
It was a tablet, the olden kind, a tale in stone from another time and place about a race of men who lived when wizards ruled the land. After the Witch Wars, they were enslaved by the nineteen nether lords and enchanted — half turned into handy changelings, the rest made keepers of those creatures. “Ogs and Oggers”, the black runes read.
Jury reached the panel’s end as his mind raced with a thousand questions. “Ogs and us are kinda kin?” He sat down to think on a bench by the pen, an old birch log, which had been there forever.
“Son,” said Jurgo, “there’s one more thing… Ogdog! Come on out o’ hiding.”
The log rolled out from under Jury and turned to a folded up old og.
“Oggie was my boyhood pet. Our fathers’ too fer generations; that’s why he needed a little rest,” laughed Jurgo. “Now he belongs to you.” The og unfurled and flapped like a pup, happy to be himself again. Then he nuzzled Jury’s leg and purred like there was no tomorrow.
“Belongs to me, Da? Are you sure?” chirped Jury excitedly. “Got to show Yooper…”
“You boys go and find yer friend, but take care — ogs have a taste fer adventure!”