It’s a story from the times before long long ago, from a place that is farther than far far away. There were no men then, not even animals. Trees ruled the earth, protected the rivers and the mountains, cleansed the air and became the guardians of the planet.
Idyllic as it may sound, it was a never ending war. There were destructive forces, such as fire, frost, asteroids and volcanoes, each more dangerous than the other. However, the worst enemy of the planet was a ferocious demon – Dirt. It did not have a body, could not be killed and permeated every part of the living world. There was no way to defeat such an omnipresent and all-powerful enemy.
But such was the impossible task of Tree’s eldest and favorite son – The Cotton King. For millions of years, Cottonians had fought Dirt relentlessly, but never given up. The warriors of Cotton were the only things standing between Dirt and complete destruction of Planet Earth.
Both the forces had been equally matched for centuries, until now. Dirt and its marauding army had marched to the most pristine corners of the world and dowsed all life under a thick blanket of darkness. The forces of Cotton, always on their heels, had sacrificed themselves to keep the living alive. In the whole living world, only they had the strength to soak up Dirt and hold it prisoner within their own bodies. Even the strongest of warriors didn’t survive for long once Dirt entered their veins. But it was the only way.
At the helm of the global war against Dirt, it always came to the Kings of Cotton to marshal their forces wisely. Their army was never too large, their numbers never enough and their reach always left some part of the world uncovered. In a battle impossible to win, the Kings were pushed too far – leading a fight here, motivating the forces there and tending to the sick somewhere else. All this would have been easy had they not been a constant target of the Dirt lord’s forces.
The kings never lived long enough to sustain the war. A few brave ones had ever reached their youth, only to perish soon after. Living in the eye of a Dirt storm during the whole duration of their short lives, they never survived too long.
Though it all may sound too hopeless, Cottonians had a force of nature on their side – the Lake of life. Its holy waters had the power to cleanse the Kings and warriors of Cotton of all the Dirt they had accumulated. Each day survivors were carried back from distant battlefields and immersed in the Lake for the purge. But the Lake was losing its magical power; there was just too much Dirt. Now, the warriors had to spend longer and longer under water for the cleanse. Rather than curing, the long periods under water was killing them.
Now, the war of a million years was soon going to end. The Cotton warriors, having lost their battles all over the world, had receded to their own land, from where they drew their strength. It was their last dominion on earth, their last place to defend and, probably, their last battle to fight. But they did not have a king.
The most recent King, Ragada, was one of the bravest they had ever known, but it had only fastened his days. Gravely injured in war, he immersed himself in the Lake hoping for an extension of life. Even after twenty nine days, he had not surfaced. As per the tradition, if the reigning King was absent for more than thirty days, a new King had to be chosen. So, a decision had to be made, but it was not easy.
The only surviving son of the King was a child, only ten years old – Tanaya. Let alone fight a war, he had never been outside the palace walls. But there he was – the youngest king in the most difficult time in history. Though he was young, he was not without talent. He was well read, a man of deep thought and he listened. These were not traits of a warrior, of which Cotton had many. Tanaya intended to change the course of the war without fighting a single battle.
Unaware of his plans, the Warrior Council saw him as just an innocent boy that he was. While they didn’t have much faith in his leadership, they were rule bound to crown the sole heir as their new King, as so they did.
Tanaya understood that they were fighting a lost war. He had to bring back the magical healing power in the Lake of life and find a new weapon that the warriors could fight with. He also knew that he didn’t have much time.
So, on the very second day of his becoming the King, Tanaya set out to find the magical power that could somehow restore balance to the war that would soon be lost otherwise. His task was not easy, if the warriors knew, they will declare him mad. But he had faith in his father’s last words. King Ragada, knowing the severity of his injuries had anticipated that he may never return from the immersion in the Lake. As per the royal tradition, he had passed on the family secret that only kings new.
Though many kings considered it just a fable, the secret went like this. In the distant lands, far in north, there were Frost Mountains that hid magic crystals in their high icy walls. These crystals emitted a powerful white light, the only weapon that the Dirt Lord feared. As it happened, the task was impossible and no one had taken the story seriously, until now.
Tanaya knew that he was not ready to lead an army and even if he did, his army could do little to change the course of the war. This little believed story was his only hope of bringing lasting peace. There was one more difficulty that he had to face – he had to get the crystals and be back within thirty days. If he took a moment more, he would no longer be the King.
So, King Tanaya set out on his journey alone, without a single word to anyone. He was alright if the Cottonians thought that he had deserted, it was better than their thinking that he had lost his head. Better still, if he never returned, they would have gotten used to his absence.
The journey of young King Tanaya lasted twenty nine days, twenty three hours and fifty three minutes. He had fought with dirt dwarves, who though short were incredibly fast and hunted in packs. He also overcame ice trolls, flesh eating ants, swamp ogres, frost giants and numerous other obstacles thrown in his path by the Dirt Lord. But he was not alone. Trees protected him from the sun and the rain, birds showed him the right direction, a small army of squirrels kept an eye while he slept, he swam with fishes and raced with deers and did much more that this small story can’t tell in its lifetime.
However, before the end of thirty days, King Tanaya had returned with the magic granules – the ones with the magical White Light that no one had seen or heard of before. Followed by the people of his kingdom, he walked to the edge of the Lake, took out a few granules from his bag and threw them into the water while chanting “Soak No More.” The water churned and a tide rose in the quiet lake – even the warriors stepped back not knowing what was happening. When the tide receded, they could see what miracle the young king had done. All the Cottonian warriors who had been soaking in the waters were coming to on the shore, as if waking from a long sleep.
The Lake’s waters had got back its power to heal and the Cottonians had got a new weapon to fight the Dirt Demon – White Light. They knew they could win the war now, it was only a matter of time.
P.S. : I understand you may love to read the details of King Tanaya’s journey. But such a magical journey can be written only on an equally magical device: the iPad. This post is written for Surf Excel contest on Indiblogger and I will continue the story if I win one.