One-Minute Epics: “The Yooper”

One-Minute Epics are poetic micro tales from John Klobucher’s Lore of the Underlings, a lyrical fantasy-fiction world. Please enjoy this installment…

The Yooper

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.”

One-Minute Epics: “Lam and Jury”

One-Minute Epics are poetic micro tales from John Klobucher’s Lore of the Underlings, a lyrical fantasy-fiction world. Please enjoy this installment…

Lam and Jury

Long ago, on the warm clear morn of old Nord’s Midsummer’s Day, two teenage lovers, Lam and Jury, lay together in a field of white lillylorn gazing up at the eye-blue sky. Lam was a doll-like beautiful girl with silken black hair, sweet smile, and bright eyes. Jury, a tall lanky boy, adored her and had sworn so in blood at the shrine of Nor Dool at last moon, the moment he’d come of age. The resident seer, a prune of a man, foresaw for the nominal fee of five farns their destiny — joined forever in lore, entwined in a love story worthy of song.

Now the young man squeezed her hand. “Lam, come run away with me tonight and we can be married tomorrow.”

“Don’t be silly, my heart,” she giggled. “Father would cross the Desert Sea to find us. We’ll hide better here.”

But no sooner had the words left her lips than a strange sight appeared in the azure above them. An object from out of the blue. A darkness. It hung in the air as a pendant hangs from a necklace, motionless, but like it was watching.

Jury and Lam were all but dumbstruck, transfixed as if they were pinned to the ground. But all around them everything levitated like magic, drawn up to the sky — petals of lillylorn pure as snow, green leaves of grass, thick sticks, even stones. Beasts too, creatures great and small, were called to the black mass.

And then Lam followed.

Her limp body rose like a marionette while Jury, still frozen alive, watched in horror. He saw her float up up up to the specter unable to help her or even call out her name. She vanished in deafening silence.

Jury awoke in a crater alone, except for the shadow eyeing him. Nothing would be the same again.

But that’s a tale for another time.

One-Minute Epics: “Blink of an Eye”

One-Minute Epics are poetic micro tales from John Klobucher’s Lore of the Underlings, a lyrical fantasy-fiction world. Please enjoy this installment…

Blink of an Eye

“Three farns a bunch!” cried the blind old woman, hawking her bruised, rotten fruit on the side of the road. “Pepper pears! Ripe blood poms!” But the village folk all passed her by as usual, like she was part of the dusty landscape or some crumbling landmark they’d learned to ignore. After all, she’d been there forever it seemed — since before the Governor’s death squads, the blight on the orchards, the darkness taking Nord. She’d owned this spot for seventeen years from the day when the specter first appeared, that eye in the sky most people called the Pendant, which watched but never blinked.

This morning some boys saw fit to taunt the hag, or “Pommy” as they called her. “How ‘bout a sample?” one snickered. “They look so yummy.”

“Yeah, Pommy, we’re really hungry!”

She stabbed at their voices with her crook stick but missed them. They toppled her barrel and laughed. “Make us some pom jam, you ancient prune.”

“Curse you!” She shook her fist and spat.

Moldy blue poms spilled in all directions, some rolling way down the road where the boys had run. The blind woman picked up a plump one and hurled it. She didn’t miss this time.

Just then the noon bell tolled in the village square; the old crone pulled on her shawl. She expected the specter’s long shadow to fall any moment and turn the day to dusk. But somehow she still felt sun on her weathered skin and screwed up her blank white eyes.

Other townsfolk took notice and stopped in their tracks. They gawked at the changing sky.

“Look at the Pendant!”

“It’s different.”

“Why is it spinning?”

“Something’s going on…”

The witchy old woman knowingly sniffed the air. “Prepare yourselves, fools. They’re coming.”

One-Minute Epics: “The Ogmont”

One-Minute Epics are poetic micro tales from John Klobucher’s Lore of the Underlings, a lyrical fantasy-fiction world. Please enjoy this installment…

The Ogmont

Ogdog hadn’t been home in a hundred years, but something was calling him now. It was on the air, in his skin, a weight to the raindrops falling black as oil, a howling in the lightest wind. His kind, the ogs, had instincts for times like these, and those old as he was the more so. So Ogdog had no choice when destiny beckoned. He took to the slate gray sky.

Far, far north of fair Nord province he flew, up into the wastelands of Merth, a wilderness vast as the ocean sea yet much too deadly for men to cross. The permafrost turned to icescape, the icescape to peaks of twisted rock that clawed at the stars. None of those spires were named, except for the one Ogdog sought — the Ogmont. No wonder, for it could be seen from a thousand leagues. He circled its craggy summit.

The mountain was covered in flat fleshy creatures, his brothers and sisters, and more kept coming. They clustered together, forming a thick black mass; it flapped to an unheard music. Ogdog landed and joined in the silent ogsong. He felt young again.

By moonrise every og alive was one with the mountainside and their changeling kin. “Cousins,” they sang to each other, “the sky is falling. We must decide.” Then they murmured all night long till the muted dawn brought purrs and peeps of agreement. It meant that the clan had chosen — to hide from the world and wait for doom to pass.

For Ogdog, however, hiding was not a choice. His master and friends would need him. “You’ll be alone, dear brother,” his siblings warned. He was resigned to that…


The old freckled og looped the mountaintop one last time, waving a wistful goodbye to his family and their nest amidst the clouds. “Farewell,” he sighed out loud. Then he turned south, not sure he’d ever see them again.

He had reason to worry.

One-Minute Epics: “Lam’s Song”

One-Minute Epics are poetic micro tales from John Klobucher’s Lore of the Underlings, a lyrical fantasy-fiction world. Please enjoy this installment…

Lam’s Song

Jury stood watch at the edge of a lonely outpost, far from the heart of Nord. It was midnight but lit by a full blue moon that turned the nearby forest into a netherworld, dancing with shadowed things that came to life at the slightest wind. He was dead on his feet, having paced the same stretch for days. He fought back an epic yawn.

But then he heard something, a noise from the blue, and Jury drew his pike. “Who goes there?!” He heard it again, this time more clearly — a voice… a voice he thought he knew. “But it can’t be.”

Lam Lan called his name.

Jury squinted and listened harder. “This is a trick or some kind of witchcraft,” he muttered. “It’s been seventeen years…”

“Dearest,” she beckoned him. He couldn’t help but harken. Soon he was in the woods.

“Show yourself,” Jury cried from an ancient grove of pynes and swaying swillows. He sensed that something was watching him, like a hawk, and somehow he’d lost his weapon. But then an angel appeared amidst the trees — and all was well again.

She whispered softly the same way his long lost love had the day the specter took her. Yet it was her visage that left Jury stricken, too dumbstruck to understand her words. Those eyes, the shiny black hair, her mischievous smile — the memories flooded his mind like honey wine. Jury was good as drunk by the time the siren started singing.

She sang him a love song he could not resist, the music of his dreams.

We’ll be wed by the evening star
One someday when
The end of time is near
And skylarks sing our names
Till moonfall
Till forever dawns…

Jury awoke with the morning sun in a soft bed of lillylorn, all but naked. The vision was gone, his only companion a songbird. It chirped a familiar tune.

And he wondered. Was she an echo or a prophecy?

He would soon find out.