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…
Anak the Prophet
In an age before the written rune when the lands of the world had names now forgotten and empires rose or fell at the magi’s whim, a girl named Anak lived. She and her sisters, all bronze-skinned and blond, were water maids for their family’s village of shepherds. They climbed the hill each day to fill their jugs at the sacred well.
But one fair morn as they frolicked and sang by the headspring, the sisters three were beset by monsters, bear-wolves from the wild with fangs like daggers and claws like scythes. The older two, Lanak and Pran, both bravely fought the beasts to spare sweet Anak. “Run love! Don’t look back!” they cried. So Anak ran till she was lost.
She found herself on the edge of a deep dark wood, which beckoned her to enter. “Girl,” it whispered gently, “we’ll protect you…” And innocent Anak believed it. She followed the voice to an opening in the trees and vanished out of sight.
A thousand suns rose, shrouded in clouds, without her. A thousand blue moons set.
Then one day as Pran, the sole survivor, mourned for her sisters and scars by the spring, Anak appeared on the hilltop strangely changed, her green eyes turned to black. The siblings embraced. Anak’s touch was magic and healed Pran’s deepest wounds. Then together they went to Lanak’s tomb with holy water and brought her back. The villagers fell to their knees and kissed the ground the risen sisters walked.
Before long the song of Anak spread far and wide, beyond the hill folk’s world, and multitudes set out seeking the black-eyed witch, their hearts set on hope, gold, or vengeance. Though her hamlet was so remote that none could find it — till a warlock did.
The jealous Wizard upon the Mountain came down with darkness on his mind and a staff full of spells he planned to use on Anak, his rival sorceress. He set the village afire. “Surrender the girl!” he roared as people ran.
Anak beckoned from high on the hill to draw him away from her sisters and kin. Then she fled back to the dark wood, the source of her power. The sorcerer caught her there. The trees shielded Anak from view, still the conjurer sensed her, “No use hiding, child. Show yourself and I’ll spare your precious folk. I promise that death will be painless.”
But Anak stayed concealed and the wind sent her answer on a summer breeze. “Great wizard, I don’t deserve such a generous offer. I have a gift for you too.” And suddenly music filled the air.
She sang of things to come in the voice of an angel, for prophecy was his weakness. The wizard stood enchanted until she was done. He begged for another one, “Please…” The voice from the forest laughed, “Of course. Tomorrow. When the sun rests in the west.” So the warlock sat to wait, under the spell of Anak the Prophet.
Some say the wizard wasted away to nothing but a cold gray mist that lingered by the wood each evening waiting for the siren’s song. But the songstress was long, long gone — a black-eyed ghost who frolics still with her sisters high on a moonlit hill by a spring.