One-Minute Epics: “The Underlore”

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…


The Underlore

Shosha the young scribe boy looked puzzled. He’d been practicing runes on the dungeon’s dirt floor for hours as all beginners did, but this shape was odd; he’d not seen it before. It was simple yet hurt his hand to draw and made him drop his wooden stylus. “Master,” he asked of the gaunt monk sitting nearby, “what is it?” His fingers burned.

“Ah!” said the sallow-skinned man, not needing to look, “You’ve met the devil’s mark, I see.” He stood. “It’s the same for every apprentice. You’ll learn to take the pain.” The bald monk pushed back the hood of his thick, brown robe. “Let’s check your progress, boy.”

A cluster of candles lit the dim dank room, which washed it in muted gold. The monk inspected Shosha’s work and nodded, “Faithfully done — not bad. Just mind your cusps on lunar runes like this one.” He gestured with his hand.

The boy beamed. “Thank you, Master Garn, but…”

“Yes, lad?”

“May I ask a question?”

“Surely.”

Shosha glanced at the parchment he’d copied his text from. “What does it say?”

The cleric stepped to the scroll unfurled on the table and kissed it solemnly. “This, my son, is the vow of our Order, a pledge to the black-eyed Woman of the Wood, which you shall take one day. It’s written in secret language like her prophecies, full of rhyme and riddle. We guard those songs with our mortal lives to keep their verses safe and pure — for there comes a time when they’ll be needed…”

Shosha was curious. “What did this seer foretell?” His deep brown eyes were wide.

A shadow crossed the monk’s long face. “A future world that’s come to be called the Underlore; pray you’re dead by then. For a great black bird shall block the sun while a Dark Lord rules the lands below it. And heroes yet unborn must give their souls, or join the living dead.”

“Oh!” said the boy scribe, awed by what he’d heard. “But how do we know it’s so?”

Brother Garn opened an ancient, dusty tome. “Let me show you something.” He ran his finger down the page then tapped three times with its yellowed nail. “This list predicts the keepers of Anak’s prophecies. Tell me, what do you see?”

The pupil looked and blinked his eyes. “It’s my name, Shosha. When was this written?”

The monk smiled. “A thousand years ago.”

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