October Lore Submissions
Pink Neon Bamboo – A New Species is Discovered
Research by Fatteus “Fatty” Thorsson
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or living exclusively on Rocktropia) you may have gone to the new Carnival Island here on Next Island. If so, you surely have seen something astonishing indeed! A new species of Neon Bamboo has miraculously emerged! In this report, I will go over the prevailing theories as to how this occurred, and we may even shed some light on why as well.
Neon Bamboo is not new to Next Island. In fact, you may have read my report on it a couple months back. If so, then you know a lot more than most people. I daresay most people simply walk by this bamboo without even a second thought. Neon Bamboo is difficult to cut down and impossible to eat for most creatures, us included. There is but one critter capable of eating it, and as of yet is still purely theoretical as it has yet to be captured. I speak, of course, of the Night Panda. What does this mythical beast have to do with Pink Neon Bamboo? Why, everything, of course! You see, the Night Panda is how Neon Bamboo procreates. It eats it (not a mean feat) and spreads its seeds. That’s the other thing about Neon Bamboo that I neglected to mention in the last report. Bamboo on Earth spread through under-soil root systems known as Rhyzomes. Neon Bamboo has seeds that are encased in its metal-hard shell which need to be broken down and fertilized to grow. Generally, you get several new shoots for every one shoot eaten.
But what about that pretty, pink hue? My thoughts are on the sandy soil of Carnival Island itself. There must be a property of this soil that gives the Neon Bamboo growing here (as well as other plants – don’t get me started on the magic flowers here) a pink coloration. That is the only thing that explains it. Other than that, there’s not much more I can say about Pink Neon Bamboo. I seem to have developed a bit of a cough, so I am going to lay down for the night. There will be more reports tomorrow!
A Day In Ancient Greece – Part 5 A New Shadow Falls
Short Story by Fatteus “Fatty” Thorsson
The sky darkened as though it were about to storm. The land cracked under her weight as she slithered ever toward Mount Olympus. Would Zeus soon rule over a dead world where nothing could live but him and his fellow Gods and Goddesses? The wind picked up in a zephyr and blew dust into her scaly, hideous face. She spat, the moisture of her spittle quickly dissolving and leaving the ground none-the-wetter. At this rate the swamp would be a desert as well.
“Dreadful, isn’t it?” the silky-smooth voice came from out of nowhere. Gorgon looked around. Then, her shadow twin appeared between two dying bushes, slithering into view like a dread wraith. “Zeus put his blood into the ground. It does wonders for beings like us, but apparently it has the opposite effect on the Earth.”
“You,” Gorgon began to speak with loathing.
“Yes, me. I am your best side. A reflection of everything you could have become if you just followed your every ambition.”
“But you’re real, not just a reflection.” Gorgon stated in breathless disbelief, still with a hint of irritation at her Shade’s presence and brazen attitude.
“Yes, perhaps. Maybe even more real than you are yourself.” Gorgon’s Shade took note of the look in her twin’s eyes and added, “but I did not come to mock you. I came to make you a deal.”
Gorgon’s features, which had begun to contort with rage, softened a bit before she responded. “What could you possibly offer that almighty Zeus has not already given me?”
“Insurance.” the shade said simply. “That your newfound eternal life is a comfortable one. I should care about you,” she added quickly anticipating Gorgon’s next jab. “We were once one together, were we not? I am you,” the shade slithered around her twin, “and you are me. Let’s work together. I have managed to give us quite the reputation in these lands. Surely this will come with its own challenges. We will need to join forces to defeat those who would rob us of the greatness which we deserve.”
Gorgon closed her eyes and meditated on this for a minute. She listened to the sibilant sounds of her shadow twin circling her and tasting the air with her tongue as all of the snakes on her head did the same. “What good is eternal life in a dead world?” she finally managed to utter in response.
“Why don’t you ask Zeus?” the shade offered.
“That’s where I was heading when we met.” Gorgon answered in earnest. “I need to know something.”
“The extent of your immortality?” her shade asked innocently.
“Fair enough question. Can we be killed? She is wondering. I too wish to know. Find out for us. I will await you at our lair.” And with that her shade had seemed to vanish as soon as Gorgon opened her eyes.
Mere miles from this rendezvous, Creon, Archon of Thebes, was in a heated meeting with the Elders of Thebes about the state of Ancient Greece.
“We must know what is causing this death and decay of the land and our crops! Creon, could this have anything to do with how you got the serum to cure us?”
Creon’s temples were hammering in his head and sweat drizzled down his face. He was also concerned that this may have been partly his doing once again. “Yes. It can be nothing else, of course.” He stood and crossed the temple room, speaking as he did so. “This must be Zeus’ judgment on us for defying him.”
“So, you believe this was caused by none other than Zeus himself?” the Elder said in disbelief.
“It’s only a hunch, of course, but I’d be more worried if it were some other all-powerful entity, wouldn’t you?”
The Elders were silent as they contemplated this point and Creon continued to pace.
“But what exactly did he do and how do we undo it? That is the question that may be our undoing if we tarry too long in answering it.” Creon looked at his most trusted advisor, Aegeus. “We will need the expertise of the Atom Pylis if we are to hasten a solution in time to save us. Our food stores are going to dwindle before too long, and there will likely not be any harvest this season to replenish it.”
“That is sound advice.” Aegeus answered. “I will call upon the Haruspex that they may travel to their world and retrieve the Atom Pylis for us. May the Gods grant them haste before we waste away like the waters in the harbor.”
“Indeed.” Creon stated stoically and he turned his back and walked out of the temple, leaving the other Elders to consider what they had discussed that evening. Creon walked toward his home where his daughter worriedly anticipated his return. “Don’t worry, Thebes. Creon is on it.”
A Day In Ancient Greece – Part 6 Curing the Land
Short Story by Fatteus “Fatty” Thorrson
The ground broke under the weight of every step Creon took, leaving nothing but dust in his wake. The air smelled of charred trees, but there were no fires. A fire could be lit, perhaps, but could even fire survive this blight? Creon harbored doubts such as these as the Atom Pylis arrived from the door that was in Orpheus Cave. Led by the Haruspex Elder, they marched at both his sides, dressed in a variety of other-worldly garb and armors.
“These are the finest men and women I could gather from the other world,” the Haruspex recited officiously out of no mouth, it appeared, just glowing bio-mass. “They are prepared to receive your orders, honorable Archon.”
“Very well!” Creon barked and the new arrivals jumped. “We will cover every last inch of this land. We will look under every leaf and every stone. We will question every sentient thing. We will hunt, mine, and craft if we have to. Leave nothing to chance!”
The Door People saluted and one asked, “when do we start, Archon?”
“If you can find a way to start yesterday, do it!”
With that, the capable men and women of The Door dispersed, going about their business as ordered. Creon looked across at the Haruspex who led them. “These all the Atom Pylis you could muster, Elder?”
The Haruspex bounced and flashed brightly as it spoke. “The finest!”
Creon’s brow creased in worry. “I hope so. This world depends on it. Last night I had a vision. A nightmare, that the ground heaved and broke until there was nothing left but a dead crater. And in that crater, there were three shining gems it seemed, emblazoned fiery in the night. Not sure what that all means.”
“Those could be the sources of this problem, perhaps.” The Haruspex said jovially. “Three objects. Hmmm. I wonder what they could be? Clearly this was a vision entrusted to you by a rogue God or Goddess who does not agree with Zeus’ actions.”
“I certainly hope there’s a higher power on our side, because we certainly need it.”
The two moved down the path back to Thebes from Orpheus Cave in quiet reverence for the gravity of their situation as the last waves of the sea lapped at the intruding shore.
Meanwhile, Gorgon had reached Olympus at last. She slithered up the crumbling face of the mountain until she was at Zeus’ very doorstep. Her breath was labored as she looked around for that familiar nimbus cloud and finally saw it snoozing a little way down the balcony outcropping that she was now on.
“Zeus!” She called in his direction.
Zeus grunted and rose from his slumber, wiping dirt from his eyes and growing irritated. “What is it now? Who disturbs my royal slumber?”
“You said that concoction would give me power, yet I feel as weak as ever! And not only that, there’s an obnoxious twin of me running around now!”
Zeus was finally upright and scratching his beard. “Oof. Where to begin? First of all, I’ve seen you rip a man’s head clean off his neck, and that was AFTER you turned him to stone. You are anything but weak. Secondly, you now have twice the power, twice the intelligence, since there are two of you. What more could you possibly want from me? Have you killed that blight of a man, Creon yet?”
“First of all, there is something else I want, and that is confirmation. Is my immortality absolute or is it just figurative?”
Zeus splashed his face with droplets from his nimbus, irritation growing again. “I have half a mind to show you.”
Gorgon was confused, “What do you mean, show me?”
Without warning, a white, hot dart of pure plasma forked from Zeus’ right hand through Gorgon’s chest. The sensation was like getting cut open and closed up at the same time as she was blasted into oblivion by the sudden violent attack which both eviscerated her and cauterized the damage at once. In that instant, she was no more, just bits of flesh jiggling like jello on the stone of Olympus. The next moment, she was back, standing over her old carcass. She felt her body with her hands and started to laugh like a mad woman.
“See?” Zeus said in a booming voice that was both angry and jolly, joining her in the laugh. “You cannot die! Wasn’t I right again as usual?”
Gorgon sucked in a great breath and let it out with relish. “Wonderful.”
“Now let me finish my nap,” Zeus said waving her away.
“Wait! One last thing,” Gorgon said, daring rising in her now that she was truly untouchable. “Before I kill Creon and his family for you… I must know.”
Zeus raised his eyebrows again, “Hmm?”
“Can this land be saved?”
“Yes.” He said simply in reply, then elaborated, “As soon as the Humans are gone. I will bring this land back to her old pastoral beauty so that we can all gaze upon her again uninterrupted by filthy little Humans dancing in the fields or building cities too close to my mountain.” He slumped back down into his comfy, fluffy bed of clouds.
“Will it not also kill all of your other followers?”
“Maybe. But not all of them. The strong will survive. The Molochs are safely in their Depths. The Brontes are tough as nails, I’ve seen them subside on nothing but dirt before. Oh, and the Centaur have their medicines. They’ll all be fine.”
Gorgon, who normally was not too concerned about anything other than herself, didn’t quite understand his indifference to the creatures who surrounded him, but she supposed it must have been born of his immortal nature. Mortals simply didn’t matter to him. They were dust in the wind, but he was forever. Even so, it sickened her slightly, so she decided it was time to leave him be.
She left the mountain top, Zeus’ snores following her. “You would think there was thunder rolling,” she said coyly as she glissaded down Olympus.
“That’s it! OOOof!”
Back at his home in Thebes, Creon had just come to the answer as an Atom Pylis Miner presented him with a glowing vial of what appeared to be the same blood he took from Zeus. “He’s using the thing that saved us to destroy us! That crafty bastard!” Creon had bumped his head again, this time on the top of his door frame, and was now rubbing it gingerly.
The Atom Pylis Woman who mined it up flushed red with embarrassment.
Creon looked over at her and waved her off, “Never mind me, we need to report this back to the council. We now know where to look. We just need to get these vials of blood out of the ground and the land and seas should return to normal.”
Finally, Thebes’ hope had been reignited.
A Day In Ancient Greece – Part 7 Defeating Gorgon’s Shade
Short Story by Fatteus “Fatty” Thorsson
An unnatural dawn had come, blood red and hot. The inscrutable heat haze left all feeling dizzy. Creon and Aegeus went down the line of volunteers from the ranks of Atom Pylis. They all stood at attention; their faces impossible to read because they were all covered by black visors. The troops of Hades itself, they seemed.
“Troops, do you know what we must do?” Creon barked in military drill sergeant fashion.
The column did not answer, but they all knew.
“Dig up those vials of blood. If my vision is anything to go off of, there should be two more.” He held up a vial of the living blue liquid that sparkled in the day’s new light. The awe and reverence were palpable though it was unheard. The soldiers all saluted and took out their Finders, fantastic machines that could deploy mining probes into the ground that exploded and marked where any resources might be found and extracted. They fanned out in every direction, the ground shook with every probe dropped until they were thousands of meters away.
“I sure hope they find the other two, and that your vision was correct, Archon.” Aegeus confided in Creon.
“If the count of blood vials is off or we don’t find them all in time, we’re doomed even if we try.” Creon returned with a sigh.
“But we can die heroes for having tried anyway.” Aegeus said back confidently.
“You speak the truth, Aegeus.” Creon replied.
“Archon! Elder!” A panicked soldier, his black visor shattered, revealing the terror in his eye came skidding back to them moments later.
“What is it, soldier!” Aegeus said before Creon could.
“The Shade of Gorgon! She’s wading through our forces like a Hippo through water! She’s tearing us apart out there!”
Creon’s eyes grew wide with both fear and anger. “What?!”
Just then a body was thrown at them, nearly bowling the two over and the Shade of Gorgon slithered into view from over a hill.
“Delicious. Flesh is so much juicier than stone, wouldn’t you agree?”
Creon, who had become skilled in Mindforce before he came to Ancient Greece, had a hand lifted over his own head, and it was pulsating with energy ready to strike. “Cursed Shade! What is the meaning of this?!”
“Oh, so feisty,” the Shade cooed playfully. “I’ll savor you as well, Archon of Thebes. Daddy Zeus sent me to deal with you personally. Your toy soldiers were no match for me. Don’t be afraid, I won’t turn you to stone like I did to some of the others.”
Creon released a volley of energy attacks at her that she dodged with perfect, reptilian reflexes, joy showing in her evil features as she drew closer. And closer. And closer.
“You are certainly a fun one, Creon. I knew I’d enjoy this. But I wonder if I should finish you off now or kill your lovely daughter first and make you watch.” With that, Gorgon’s Shade cackled and trampled over Creon and Aegeus heading straight into town.
“No! Please, no!” Creon cried out in vain as Gorgon’s Shade disappeared between buildings and streets. Then, a moment later there was the shriek of a woman. “No…” Creon said as he collapsed, all will to live taken from him. It was all for nothing now. His wife was long gone, his daughter, whom he had fought so hard to save, must be dead now as well. But then.
Pffflumpfh! The body of Gorgon’s Shade had fallen right in front of him as though it were tossed like a toy to his feet. A look of shock and horror was ingrained in the grotesque visage.
“A-Ath-Thena…” it croaked and then it passed out.
“What?” Creon asked and then for answer, a brilliant light shone and there was an armored maiden in his midst. This could only be Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Defender of truth. Thebes had been founded by her long ago, the reason many of her statues stood erect here. The Temple, though not there to honor her directly, honored her mother Metis, who it is believed was eaten by Zeus and birthed Athena inside him. Athena then escaped Zeus by bursting out of his forehead, but that’s a tale for another time. Right now, we have a Goddess to attend to.
“Creon, Archon of Thebes.” Her voice was like sweet flute music wafting on a warm spring breeze, yet it carried authority. Creon wept openly as he kneeled before her. He had never seen Athena, or any other Deity other than Zeus, but he held out faith that they were watching over Thebes.
“Do not weep, Creon. Your child is unharmed, and I am here to right many wrongs. Yes, it was I who sent you your vision of the three lights under the Earth. It was I who guided that young miner to find the first vial. Most of your miners are also unharmed, though some need attending to. My medicinal arts should restore them and strengthen them.”
“Goddess Athena. We are humbled and unworthy.” Aegeus began to say when Athena held up her palm in a motion that commanded that he let her speak.
“Zeus has done a heinous thing by polluting this land in hopes of eradicating all Humans. He thinks nothing of mortals or their contributions. See now that Gorgon’s Shade has sunk back into the Earth and has gone into hiding. She doesn’t know but I have already figured out her riddle. She intended on confusing and delaying you with it.”
“Riddle?” Creon said dumbfound.
“Here,” Athena said and tossed him a scroll of silk parchments. “You’ll find a list of all the things you need to call forth the Gorgon’s Shade to defeat her once and for all.”
Creon read the parchments, on them were three different paths, a path of The Book of The Gorgon’s Shade, a path of The Gem of The Gorgon’s Shade, and a path of The Elixir of The Gorgon’s Shade. Creon wiped his brow. “But even if we could get all this stuff, it would take days! Surely this world won’t last two more!”
“Indeed. Your assessment is correct. This world will not last two days more. But you have hope. You have a small army to assist you.
Creon smashed his palm into his forehead. “Right, I don’t know what I am saying. Of course, you know the answers, my Goddess. But why help us? What is in it for you?”
“First, I love this land. I helped to found this city behind us. And last, look at the path of The Book of Gorgon’s Shade. I do believe I may be able to get a Temple of my own out of this deal, wouldst you agree?”
Aegeus beamed. “Yes, of course! It’s high time Athena gets her own temple!”
Athena nodded and smiled. “Gather your warriors and set them on these tasks. We should have all three by the end of day today. We can attack Gorgon’s Shade and her Twin, the original Gorgon, at dawn tomorrow. We have 20 hours.”
The work was furious, all Atom Pylis, Creon, and Aegeus were tireless in their pursuit of summoning and killing the Gorgons. They received the Book and the Gem easily. They still looked for the Blood, but it had eluded them thus far. Creon approached Athena, who’s brilliant guidance made all of this possible.
“Your Majesty,” Creon said, and Athena perked up in his direction, “to get the Elixir of Gorgon’s Shade, it says we have to kill Zeus.”
“Is that a problem?” Athena said tersely, yet Creon felt that this wasn’t exactly all directed at him.
“Well, uh, he’s a God.”
“Let me tell you something about Gods, young Creon.” Athena said with the authority that scholars have when they know what they are talking about. “Gods may not be able to be killed, but they can be bested. Zeus has yet to be bested, and I have a feeling it’s about time he has. This will make Zeus fear you and he will leave you alone for the rest of eternity.”
Creon didn’t know what to say, he was dumbstruck yet again. “I don’t have the power to best Zeus, your majesty. Do you?”
Athena giggled. “Well, I did best him once as a baby, but I’m a Goddess. He needs to fear YOU, not me.”
“Does anyone here think they can beat Zeus?” Aegeus called out, partly in jest. He didn’t expect that anyone would answer.
“I do.” A warrior stood next to them. They were covered and visored. They crossed their arms obstinately.
“Well, ok, you show him then!”
“I will.” And that was all they said before vanishing.
“Who was that?” Aegeus asked Creon.
“I’m not sure… Our prayers go with them, though.”
“Indeed,” Aegeus agreed and went back to work. “You should probably follow them, though. Make sure they don’t get in over their heads.”
“Good idea,” Creon responded and went in the direction he thought the mystery warrior went.
It wasn’t that long before he found them jumping from cliff top to cliff top. “I’m going to have to meet this one at Olympus. No way I’m following that path.” Creon said under his breath as he made what he felt was the most direct route to the God’s Mountain.
It was night now. The Moon shone in the darkening sky and wisps of cloud drifted past it. The bugs were not chirruping anymore. They either died or went dormant since there was no edible vegetation anywhere to be found. Everything from the ground to the dead grass was cracking under Creon’s hurried steps.
On Olympus, Zeus was snoozing again, enjoying the quiet of a dying world. Then he had to scratch something that felt like a bee sting. He reached back and rubbed the area. It was hot and wet. He sat up suddenly and spun around in his nimbus. He saw a dark form standing 100 meters away black against the deep blue, star studded night sky. A fury was building within him, and electricity started sparking around him.
“Who are you, and how dare you shoot at me?” Zeus spoke calmly, but it only belied the storm brewing in his mind.
“The dark figure said nothing but released several more shots into Zeus. Each one stung more than the last and blue fluid began draining all over his body. Beginning to panic a little at the thought that someone was dumb/fearless enough to try and kill him, Zeus eschewed further discussion and posturing and let loose a volley of his own. Bolt after bolt hit his assailant, who shook as the shock registered with them.
“Oooooh, yeah. Harder, daddy…” The voice came back, a voice that actually sent a shiver down Zeus’ spine. The Assailant took out a box or sorts, opened it, and a light emitted from it, saturating his form with light. The figure groaned with delight. “All better. Now die.”
Many more shots came from his weapon. Some kind of blunderbuss was Zeus’ best guess, but there were no bullets. Just light. Light that dug into his pale gray skin and opened him up. The loss of his precious blood, the blood that had saved Thebes and was to doom Thebes to death, began to make him dizzy. He threw several more bolts of hot lightning at his assassin, but they all went errant. “Damn it,” Zeus thought, “I can’t aim. Can’t think. Is this the end for me? No! I am immortal!” He burst back to life and aimed one more well aimed shot, but that was deflected somehow by his assassin.
The assassin was now right next to Zeus and was whispering in his ear, “Bye bye, Zeusie.” with that another shot was sent directly to his skull. He hadn’t felt pain like this since Athena burst out of him all those millennia ago. Athena. Damn her. She had something to do with this. All faded to black. Zeus awoke sometime later, sweating profusely and babbling to himself, a blubbering mess.
“Huh? Wha? Who? Get away from me! No! No more! I’ll leave you alone! I swear! Just don’t attack me again!”
The assassin walked away confidently. When they were far enough away that Zeus couldn’t hear them, they smiled under their visor. “All in a day’s work.”
Creon couldn’t believe his eyes. Never in his lifetime did he expect to see anyone take on Zeus and live to tell the tale. He intercepted the hunter. “Hold on, wait. Who- Who are you?”
The Hunter turned their head to him, without stopping, and said, “Call me God Slayer.” With that, they vanished into the night, leaving Creon in their dust.
After a minute or two standing in his disbelief, Creon shook his head and smiled. “Well, damn. We did it.”
In the ensuing day, the warriors joined together at Gorgon’s Lair. They had to bring down the Gorgons, their final obstacle, to get the last vials of blood out of the ground without being impeded. Some miners went off to find them while the hunters distracted the Gorgons just to be as efficient as possible. Athena stood at the entrance like a guardian angel.
“Ok. We’re ready. We have the Book, the Gem, and the Elixir.” Creon listed as he pointed to each on the mystical parchments.
“Very good. You let me take care of the summoning. We have a couple Gorgons to defeat.” Aegeus said taking the items. As soon as he took them, a legion of Daudomurs burst from the crust underneath them as though they had been laying in wait. The hunters made quick work of them, suffering few casualties. Then they heard it.
A sibilant laugh/hiss emitted from around them. “Oh, poor, lost souls. Did you lose your way?” one voice said, then another, slightly different voice came from another direction. “It’s too late to turn back. You killed our pets. Now we’re going to avenge them.”
Two Gorgons crawled up from what seemed like the pits of Hades, erupting from the dead swamp floor. The Shade released a malodorous barrage of poisonous gasses that choked everyone. Her Original twin, regular Gorgon, was clawing at everyone around her. “Get out of my home, intruders!”
The mysterious assassin of Zeus stepped up and put a hand on Creon, who was using his mindforce powers to repel the two Gorgons, and simply said, “I got this.” They began shooting their amazing weapon, blazing light emitting from it tore into the Gorgon Twins’ flesh and they writhed in agony. Everyone was emboldened then and all began shooting, hacking, slashing, and bashing until both Gorgons were inevitably laying in a new marsh, one of their own blood. They would return again once everyone was gone and began weeping in one another’s arms.
“I’m so sorry, I let you die.” Gorgon blubbered into her twin’s breast. “I don’t know if I am glad we’re immortal or wish we had died. They’ll be back one day, and we’ll have to suffer again.”
Gorgon’s Shade nodded apathetically. “You’re right, but we can’t think of that now. Let’s just wait and see.” She also heard that Zeus had been turned into a blithering wreck by the Atom Pylis Hunters as well. They would get their revenge somehow. Maybe not now, but some day. The mortals would pay.