Nestled in a peaceful river valley was a
The silliest thing I've ever written
Nestled In A Peaceful River Valley Was A was written for the April Fool’s Day challenge on LegendFiction, where the requirement was to “Write the worst short story you can come up with.” So I did. The result ended up being extremely silly, so good luck with reading it. I mean it!
Word count: 3300. Reading Time: 13 minutes
Nestled in a peaceful river valley was a quiet, peaceful village. It was so peaceful that the populice had given up all of their weapons and tools of war long ago, to prove their peacefulness and somehow avoid future conflict through a kind of reverse psychology against any potential enemies. This tactic was effective, except for the few skirmishes that had occurred over the years against bandits, brigands, and barbarians. But what was a few times rebuilding the vilage when it meant lasting piece? Even if there were rumblings in the north of a fearsome force of un-peaceful warriors that had been threateneing settlements with attacks and fighting, and a brazen warrior-king who dared call himself a king and made threats agains the entire land? They were just rumblings. Peace was, for the moment, a sure reality.
The latest white houses in the small, peaceful town were made of wood, whitewashed to a white color, most with wooden roofs, to maintain the wooden scheme. The nearby forest provided an abundance of wood, due to a large number of trees, mostly oak and ash with a few birch and pine here and there. Hickory and chestnut provided some extra food during the lean ears, but all together the main export of the forest was wood. Except for the berries, there were plenty of those during the summer and leafs could always be gathered for adding to gardens or burning.
One young boy worked as woodcutter under his father. Actually most of the young boys worked as woodcuters, unless they were farmhands, or the blacksmith's son, who did what the blacksmith did. Since the blacksmith primarily smithed black, and since the village was so peaceful, his main export was nails. He made nails by the bucketful, for people to build their houses and barns and sheds and outbuildings and outhouses and chicken coops and chicken sedans. In fact, it was said that if the blacksmith's river of nails ever dried up, if he ever became sick or had to go away to the main castle town for a long visit, that the village would have a hard time building anything, and likely become much less peaceful, especially if people had to use something else to build their main houses, like those fancy new things the eccentric man who lived ont he far side of the woods had brought from the city, strange little twisty nails that he called screws, but everyone else in the village called crazy.
The boy woodcutter was not called crazy, instead he was called Rall. It had been his father's name, and his father's father's name, and his father's father's etc on up the generational lines. It was largely considered an auspicious sign of peace to name your children after yourself, and it made the decision making much easier when a bundle of joy came into the world. Rall was a fine young lad of twelve years, the perfect age to set out on an adventure. But Rall had no idea what sort of adventure to set out on. He enjoyed his life as a woodcutter, felling trees with his father and friends, cutting them up using tools that were just sharp enough to do the job but not so sharp as to threaten the potential piece of the village.
It happened one day, though, that he did not set out upon his adventure as much as his adventure set out upon him. He had been cutting wood in a section of the woods far away from the main section of the woods that he normally cut wood in, because cutting wood is an excellent and peaceful thing for a woodcutter to do. In fact, he was such a proficient and skilled wood cutter that he was spoken about among the Woodcutter's Guild as the main candidate for oneday assuming the position of Head Woodcutter. This didn't mean that he would cut head wood, whatever that may be, but that he would be the authority and man-in-charge of all the other woodcuttters. He would also be the one that everyone else would turn to when such deep philosophy questions came up such as: How much wood could a wouldcutter cut if a wouldcutter could cutter wood? Considering that the Guild voting body consisted of his father, his uncle and the father of his best friend, this seemed a likely course for his life to take. But that would all have to wait until after his adventure had began.
And begin it would. While cutting wood in the remote place, he cut a wood that permitted him to see a young girl standing there, in the middle of the remote woods, with a traveling cloak over her snow-white hair and a satchel over her shoulder. It was clear from the fact that he did not know who she was that she was an outsider tot he village, and therefore a traveller. It was also clear from her posture and bearing, the cut of her clothing, the quality of the fabric of her dress, and the determined fire in her eye, the intelligent-looking chipmunk perched on her shoulder, and her presence in the middle of a remote place of woods, that she was a princess, but Rall was too much of a peaceful country sort to notice any of these things. He did notice her, though, which was useful because if he hadn;t, then the wood he had cut just moments earlier might have landed directly on Her Royal Head. This would've been a poor way to start and adventure, but you just have to take these things as they come.
The princess, for it was clear that she was this even though she was attempting to pass for a humble, peasanty sort and avoid attention while traveling across the countryside with nothing but a few meagere supplies and an animal companion. The princess was grateful for her not being clobbered by a cut wood and asked for directions to the nearest peaceful village, naming his village specifically by name. Rall was only too glad to oblige providing such directions, pointing down the path he had come to get to that place of remoteness, and then lifting his ax to continue doing what he had been moments earlier, which was cutting wood. The princess, who wile as patient and sagacious as a young noble could be, asked again of the yokel that he would not only show her where the village was, but actually take her to it directly, so that she might avail herself of the beneficient benefits of such a settlement, such as being inside and not standing in the middle of the remote woods while trying to get a country bumpkin to give her directions to the very same benefitting settlement.
WHILE RALL THE WODCUTTER WAS A VIRTUOUS LAD, strong in both arm and leg and elbow, and he always made sure to say his prayers and lay flowers at the grave of his deceased father, who had passed away many seasons ago, thereby providing him with his motivation to do good in the world and help others and bring the world to a better place of being, not to mention giving his mother a tragedy and providing her reason to dote on her only son, since she had no other children. Rall may habe been virtous, but he wasn't particularly clever. Cleverness is not necessarily a thing that is needed in the hero of a story, especially if he or she can attract other companions on their journey in order to supplement or overcome the lack of cleverness possessed by the primary heroing. One of the examples of Rall's lack of clevering was the time his poor bereaved mother asked him to go out tot he village market and by a quantify of flours for making their humble, daily, peasant, bread. The lad herd the words his mother spoke, felt them entering his head by way of his ears and settling themselves in and around the region of his brain which is desginated for such rememberings, but when he came home carrying buncles of lilys and rosys and daisys his poor mother was not amused. She made him eat several of the flowers in penitence to show him that flowers are not nearly as good nutritives as flours are. And not very tasty besides.
So it was due to this factor of the personality of the boy woodcutr that the princes, for it was certainly she, the daughter of the king, the only remaining member of the royal line after the unfortunately raid on the palace that had claimed the lives of her living siblings and driven her into exile with nothing but a nursemaid and her steadfast animal companion, and her clothing, and a small amount of money, and her wits and cleverness and princessly grace, was rather impatient when speaking to this obviously slow fellow. She grabbed him by the arm and forced her to guide him to the nearest peaceful village, which was his own, while still dragging the axe that had a piece of partially cut-wood still attached to it. Unfortunately this had the side effect of causing the simple fellow to fall in love with her, but she had no way of knowing this was the case until much later, and unfortunately due to the woodcutter's low levels of sense, he had no way of knowing it until much later either.
The princess declared that the first step on her journey was to visit the old man who lived at the edge of town in a mysterious shack, from which mysterious noises could be heard at all hours of the mysterious knight. This was to be expected from a mysterious individual, and was in deed the reason he lived all out at the edge of town on his own, due to this mysterious nature. And the noises. This was also not the first step of the princess' journey, as she had taken many steps to reach the point of the front door of the olde man, but as it was implied that she was speaking metaphorically, this slight logical oversight could be forgiven.
The Rall knocked on the door of the old men's hutch, having been familiarized with him several times due to his bringing wood to his doorstep for use in his small, black, pot-bellied iron stove that he used to burn woods in the winter and also to cook his simple, mysteirous, ascetic foods over. Something that everyone must do, that is, burn woods for warm and cook simple foods to eat. Since the foods are very poor for burning and the woods are very poor for eating. The Oldman opened the door with the flourish that was befitting his mysterious nature, and the large eyes above his nose, but below his forehead, grew wide at the sight of the young fellow standing there with the princess. For though he was a wise and mysterious fellow, and knew of the coming of the royal girl far in advance due to mysterious guidance, his guidance-meter had shown they day of the coming to be next Tuesday, and he hadn't prepared the roayl welcome that befitted a royal person of such royal and not-mysterious bearing.
Princess nearly fainted with delight and shock and joy and happiness and wonder and delight at the sight of the gentle man. She proclaimed with much regal airs that sourced themselves from her regal lungs that she had come at the behest of the court magician, whose name was so mysterious and important that they, the people of the court, only called him the court magician, but only after he had prevented them from calling him The Court Magician, since he was so humble an individual that he did not even qualify for capital letters in his name. If that was indeed his name. She showed the village magician a letter from t.c.m. that she had been given, which would prove her claims as to her identity and lineage and princessly-ness, despite the fact that only members of the royal family had hair as fine and white and snow-like and fair and pale as hers. Rall had been focused solely on this royal hairs due to her removing the hood of her traveling-cloak to back up the veracity of her claims, but only after having come inside the mysterious hut so as to avoid the suspicious and questions that would no double come after it was known in the small, peaceful village that a member of the royalty had arrived. She did ant want to spend all afternoon blessing newborns and autographing shovel handles, there was a journey to get on with.
And get on-with it would. For within moments of Princess introducing Her Royal Self and also her steadfast animal companion, Chiply, the red chipmunk that had been resting on Her Royal Shoulder This Whole Time, than the old wizard muttoned an incantation and the animal was surrounded by a glistening, glittering gilded glibsome ball of golden shimmer. The old wizard man declared that this was no more her animal companion than a ball of earwax, at which the Princess balked at the accusation, not to mention the comparison. After some more incants, the not-animal-companion was transmorphgrified into an ungly black crow, and declared by the old man wizard that it was in face, a servant of the brazen warrior-king who threatened her kingdom, and obviously knew a little bit about magic himself. Shocked, horrified, amazed, bemused, amused and hungry, the princess sank into a nearby floral-print chair, stuffed with fine sheeps wool and studded with brazen buttons, but not as brazen as the warrior-king, and her hair was hidden by the back of same chair. Rall the woodcutter snapped out of his trance as soon as Her Royal Hairs escaped from his view, and he was wondering why he was there and what was going on with the crow inside the magickal gold ball.
After the wizmanard stuffed the evil creature of darkness and gloom into the magical cabinet where he put things he wanted to forget about. He and Princessy began to discuss the next steps on their journey to defeat the darkness and gloom. She lamented loudly that she was not even a princess any longer due to her lack of an animal companion, and where would she find another woodland creature with enough spunk, pluck, chops, moxie and/or courage to replace her dear, sweet loving Chiply?
It was at this moment that Rall felt his heart stirring, that call to grateness that all people's feel at some point in their lives, especially young wodcuters who have fallen in love with princesses but who don't know it at the time due to their exceptional lack of wit. That yearning for the liminal and the numinous, the limericks and the numerals, the world outside his world and the unknown and the underdone. Deep within his soul, he felt something, yearning to get out, grasping at the infinite, but perhaps it was just a bit of undigested turnip. Nevertheless, he spoke up at once, within moments, and declared that if The Old Wizard used his magic to turn he, himself, into an animal companion for the princess, then she could continue on her journey to defeat the darknes and doom that threatned the kingdom.
Missy Princess declared this was a fantastic idea, due in no small part to her wanting to be rid herself of the bumpkin and not having to deal with his constantly bungling their adventures and saying inopportune things at inopportune moments and speaking the most irritating words to Her Royal Ears which were "Excuse me, princess" and generally doing the things that all country folk did when confronted with royalty and adventures and other such doings-on. Within moments, Rall found himself possessing not the body of a young, elbow-strong boy any longer, but the body of a small red chipmunk. Perhaps his body had been put int he magical cabinet where he (the wizard) put things he wanted to forget about, or perhaps it was in bed sleeping, he had no way of knowing. He did have away of knowing that The Wiz was speaking to him then, using words that he still understood, accepting them through his ears and into the portions of his now much-tinnier brain, that he needed to learn how to be a woodland creature through practice, and stirred by his then-unknown love of the princess and her really really nice hair, he went out into the woodland that very hour, to run among the trees and gather nuts and seeds and berries and whatever else it was that woodlanders ate.
The trees turned orange and yellow, and then they dropped their leaves. Not all at once, but over the course of several months, that is, a literary device to show the passings of time. As the air grew colder, the Rall-munk knew he would need to find a place to shelter. He knew this from some deep understanding in the deeps of his deepness, and also because all of the other chipsmunk that he encountered went around yelling about how winter was coming and they had to prepare at that very once.
So he found a hollow hole in a hollow tree and slept.
When he awoke.
He found that the snow was melting and the world was looking much greener than when he'd left it. He marched at once to the Wizardhut, on his little stubby chupmink legs, and slipped in through an open window instead of knocking at the door, which would have been difficult anyway. The ManWiz recognized him at once, being a Magical Creature of a human transformed and not a chipmunk at all. After returning Rall's body to him through magical means, and giving him a bowl of nuts to soothe his nerves, he, Rall, asked where the princess was and how soon they could continue on their epic journey to rescue the kingdom.
The Wizard sadly declared that the Princess had left many weeks ago, and that he would not be journeying anywhere, as during the winter his family had celebrated his thirteenth birthday for him, having been informed of the entire situation by the Primcess herself, and having been given a small stipend from the Royal Treasures, or what remained of them, for the loss of their only bread-winner, who was actually a woodcutter, but the effect was the same. His mother would be overjoyed to see him, the wizard told him, and had some of the leftover nut-cake she had made in his honor, waiting for him at home.
Rall asked why his age corresponded to his adventuring, only to be declared at that only those of only twelve years of their age could be qualified to adventure on or with those who were or were on adventures to save the city, kingdom and/or world from an oppressive evil, barbaric or otherwise maleficent force. The Wizard read this out of an old book labelled Adventuring Rules, 16th Edition, not only for the benefit of the narrative but also for Rall, as he couldn't've read it himself. But, Rall counter-declared, what about the Princess, as she seemed much two regal and stately and graceful to be twelve years of old herself. Section 26, sub-paragraph B contrarily declared that princesses, magical maidens, or other similar protagonists could be anywhen from nine to sixteen, inclusive. The Wizard shut the book with a decisive snap, declaring that was that, but with his gesture, not with his words.
Rall sighed, shrugged, went back home to his mother, ate the remaining nut-cake, went back out into the woods to cut them.
I warned you it was silly! To find more serious stories (but only slightly), visit ZMT Books and find all the things. All of them.