THE IDES OF JANUARY 2019
This year we are taking on a new focus for our site by providing a glimpse into different aspects of lost lore we have discovered, or explored. In coming postings we shall feature tales from some of our clients. We hope that it will help them gain exposure, readership, and encourage them to persevere, as they learn to manage the realities of writing.
However, we shall begin with with a tale we learned of during our early research into myth, legend, and lore. It relates an account of an unlikely explorer, whose unintended travels carry him through a land of novel wonders, and unique challenges. In time this journey shapes his fate, and changes the lives of all he meets.
This is the fable of “The Cookie” and it unfolds in a younger world, where magical influence is mingled with all that is known; and the mysterious forces of the Earth still hold sway. We’ve decided to present a portion of the saga here. Any thoughts and/or comments on this tale are asked for, and appreciated. This story is a work of fiction, and the intellectual property of Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc.
Chapter One: It’s All Mine
He pushed the heavy coal cart slowly, down the dark tunnel. His back ached from the ten and a half hours of nonstop labor he had already performed today. Today? Tonight? There was no way he could be sure, as he had never been out of the mines since the morning he’d left the witch’s kitchen; or, to be more accurate, her huge oven.
The slight incline of the uneven tunnel floor made the arduous task of pushing the laden cart to the loading dock, just that much more difficult. He gave no thought to how he looked; but if one of the townsmen had been able to see him, they would likely have been amazed: for ‘he’ was a two-foot tall ‘man’ made entirely of enchanted gingerbread, and icing.
Although they might not have guessed that at first glance since he was covered with dirt, and grime; from the white icing that coated his feet, to his yellow and white, icing coated head. Unlike most gingerbread men one might find in a bakery, his hands had been carefully designed with thumbs, and separate fingers; and his feet thoughtfully crafted to allow for walking.
He had orange eyes, which allowed him to see well enough for the mining labors the gingerbread men faced. In order to do the work necessary, he’d been given strong arms and legs; and a fine grip. His mouth worked, so that he could talk. A spell animated him, so he did not need to eat food; but it did not prevent him from getting tired, or needing to rest.
He was at that point now, which made pushing the cart along even harder. And although he was made of gingerbread, the coal cart he steered was built of wood and iron. It was piled with rocks which might hold gold ore, other precious metals, or raw, unrefined gemstones; as well as his pick and a shovel. He could not perspire, and so he had no way to cool himself as he forced his way along.
Yet he dared not dawdle, for fear of the witch’s great wrath. He hadn’t been given a name, since common workers like him seldom lasted longer than a month, or two. If a worker wasn’t crushed by a cave-in; or worked to pieces mining rock; or lost in a fall to the mine’s seemingly bottomless depths; they faced the real possibility of being eaten alive by the cruel witch.
As he neared the loading dock, he came under the gaze of one of the larger, bulkier, gingerbread men who worked there. Their icing was light brown; and they sorted the raw ore – by size, type, and weight. They also filled larger railcars, which moved on tracks; with the sorted ore. Then they hauled them away to some other part of the mine he’d never seen. These sorters were much stronger than workers, and might last as long as six months.
He then noticed there were a line of other workers with carts, ahead of him. The sorter pointed to the end of the line and motioned for him to push his cart there. Grateful for the chance to rest, he found the strength to hurry to that spot; then leaned against his cart. He did not sit down. No only was it hard to do, but the witch was quick to punish any cookie she caught sitting.
After resting for a few minutes, he lifted his gaze and looked around. Right away he saw why no one was working. The witch was here! A small group of sorters and workers stood near her; and they stared up at her nervously. From where he stood, the worker could not make out what she was saying, but it was clear that she was very angry.
It occurred to him that the safest thing he could do would be to stay where he was. Even so, he found himself edging closer to her, as if he were being summoned; drawn forward against his wish. Soon he was close enough to hear her words. The witch stared at a supervisor, who was larger than any of the sorters, and in fact stood as high as her waist.
His features were more fully developed than any of the others, and he wore clothing. Unlike the other gingerbread men though, he was clean. His arms were raised almost as high as his well designed face, as though he feared being struck. This was understandable, for her tone was sharp, and angry.
“Crumb told me that a yellow crystal has been found!” She snapped.
“Yes! Yes! It’s true Mistress Strelia!” The supervisor squeaked. “It was on that railcar, earlier this morning!” The trembling gingerbread man pointed toward the car in question.
“Why didn’t you bring it to me yourself, Treat?” She demanded.
“Mistress!” Treat spoke in a shocked tone. “You have told us not to touch the yellow stones!”
“Someone has touched it,” she said. Her voice was quiet now, but its’ tone was menacing.
“ONE OF THEM, Mistress!” Treat screamed, NOT ME!” He gestured wildly at the sorters as he spoke.
“Silence!” The witch demanded.
She turned her gaze toward the railcar tunnel, and gave a loud whistle. Out of the shadows bounded two huge dogs, which were at least as tall as the supervisor. When these creatures appeared, many of the gingerbread men closest to her turned to run.
She raised her hands above her head and shouted, “Stand where you are!”
They all stopped where they stood, as if frozen in place; while the massive beasts raced to her side. “Now,” she said in a loud voice, “Where is my Wizin Stone?”
No one spoke, but one of the sorters began to back away slowly.
The witch pointed at him, and said to her dogs, “That one.”
The sorter tried to flee, but the dogs were on him in a flash. Each of them grabbed him by an arm and dragged him before the witch; who stared down at him angrily. Soon however, a twisted smile came to her thin lips, and she pulled a wand from within her robes.
She pointed the wand toward him and asked sweetly, “Is there something you’d like to tell me, little one?”
The witch waited briefly for an answer; but when the sorter did not speak, she touched the top of his head with her wand. Soon the gingerbread man began to squirm, and then struggle; but that effort was wasted in the grip of those gigantic dogs. Soon the icing at the top of his head began to melt, and drip down onto his panicked face.
He suddenly shouted, “They took it!”
“WHO took it?” She asked insistently.
“And you’ll never get it back!” He spoke with sudden defiance.
“No?” The witch said quietly.
She put her away her wand, and then winked at her dogs.
“Have a cookie!” She said suddenly.
The sorter barely had a chance to shriek, before the dogs promptly snapped him up. The crowd of watching gingerbread men stared in horror while the dogs made quick work of him. Soon nothing remained except a few crumbs on the tunnel floor.
To read more of the story, follow this link: A Word More About A Story.
J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc