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 had become an annual ritual, one special day on the Ides of Lune when Lord Plesh summoned the children of Nord to gather and celebrate his reign. This was the thirteenth by most counts and in honor a vast new parade ground had been cleared in the Underland’s very heart, denuding the wood beneath the Pendant. That specter, the coming of which had set the Governor’s rise to power in motion, loomed above it still like an alien moon. The tribute was meant to mock it.
Today a throng of thousands strong encircled the sunbaked site like a restless sea, some having waited weeks or more. At last they had something to cheer for. The younglings, the wee ones, marched in with songs on their lips and flowers in their hair. They waved and bowed and the crowd ooed back adoringly, as if graced by angels.
That’s when the Lord himself appeared — from out of nowhere. And he spoke.
“Welcome!” gestured the dark-robed man, “You honor me, Underlings, with your presence. Yes…” The multitude rose in a great ovation. “Ah,” he drank it in. “Women, men, and tender spawn of Nord, I treasure this adulation and more so your subjugation to our cause — the end of this phantom menace.” The Governor shook his fist at the sky while the celebrants fell to their knees before him. “The heavens shall be ours again, this home world purged of the specter’s agents, I promise — my Legion will see to that…”
Then Lord Plesh suddenly paused a moment. “But this is a day meant for child’s play,” he laughed. “Let the festivities begin!”
On cue, a column of captives in chains was led out onto the plain by guardsmen with whips, the Governor’s own Grim Stormtroopers, who were known to show no mercy. The prisoners, all from the Wide Eyed cult, were skin and bone — they barely looked human. Those too weak to walk were dragged by the Grims. The cherubs danced out to greet them and showered the chain gang with petals of lillylorn white as snow. The crowd was enchanted.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” somebody swooned. “Precious, just precious,” another one gushed.
Then the younglings, wielding child-size gutting knives, gored and quartered their Wide Eyed guests.
“We’ve taught our children well,” the proud Lord nodded. “Treat them all to sweets.”