TWO SHORT STORIES OF CRILIUM
by Michael Llenos [Copyright 2014]
It was noon on the beach, and the sun and blue sky couldn't be more perfect.
The newlyweds were enjoying their quiet time in the paradise like setting.
Most people would normally assume that a couple on vacation are truly on vacation,
but that’s not true the morning one checks into a West Pirea villa. And it is also not true
the morning one checks out of a West Pirea villa.
It was no exception for this newlywed couple.
However, now that they were officially checked in, they were now officially on vacation.
Both man and wife basked in the West Pirea sunlight--on their sturdy, reclining, specially made rattan chairs--enjoying every
single second of salty air breeze, and soft-white sand in between their toes and feet. Right now, life was good for the newlyweds: better than it had ever been before.
"Darling, you should really try this coconut oil on your skin," smirked the man's wife as she applied the coconut oil to her arms. "It smells so fresh..."
The husband leaned over and turned to his wife and smiled, pinching her shoulder. "Not as fresh and as lovely as your skin, my dear!"
She laughed. "Flattery will you get you no where, my dear husband..."
"And being frank will, my dear?"
The wife giggled and then turned to her husband earnestly. "Perhaps, Ronnie, just as long as you stay within certain boundaries of behavior."
"And what boundaries would that be, dear Trisha?"
"Why total loyalty and commitment, of course..."
"Is that all?" queried Ronnie, curiously.
Trisha's large green eyes soberly widened as she stared down her husband's sparkling brown eyes. "I want your undivided, untiring attention and empathy as well: no ifs, ands, or buts..."
Ronnie quickly turned away, picked up his book and started to read at where he had previously left off. "No problem," he mused, "my dear, no problem at all..."
Trisha's nostrils flared as she shook her head in disgust. She immediately--and without hesitation--picked up her cup of water and flung its contents into her husband’s face.
"Brilliant!" balked Ronnie, carefully putting his book down onto his woven mat below. "Why did you do that?"
Trisha snorted then rolled her big green eyes. "I did that because you ruined my honeymoon, ex-husband!"
"Please, honey, I was just kidding around! You don’t want me to become old and boring on our honeymoon, now do you?"
"Oh, please Ronnie, you are kidding me right?" Ronnie's wife rolled her eyes again.
Ronnie leaned over, from his rattan chair, and gave his wife a sweet smile and a gentle kiss on the lips; he then leaned back as both husband and wife meditatively closed their eyes for a while,
caking the sand in between their toes.
It wasn't a long time that both of them sat there without opening their eyes. They again started to scan the horizon and beach in front of them.
A young man, probably in his teens, basically wearing frayed and tattered shorts, came running up to the newlywed couple somewhat suspiciously.
"Do you need something?" asked Ronnie in his usual cool, nonchalant mood.
The young man, who Ronnie and Trisha could easily tell was not part of Cornwell's upper-class category, smiled at the newlyweds and then burst out with: "The emperor is coming to Middle Town, man! And then to West Pirea ma-a-a-n!"
Trisha rolled her eyes immediately and then countered what she thought was a very silly statement for
the very young man to say. "I hope you realize, young man, that Cornwell doesn't have an emperor.
All we have is an elected senate and elected president..."
The youth was oblivious to Trisha's words. He then yelled out: "That's what you think, man!
But I know as a fact, man, that the Emperor of Crilium is coming here because there is going on, right now, a great invasion of the Lesser Delta!"
This time it was Ronnie who rolled his eyes. "Please, young man, you are obviously delusional.
You should know that I am an important tribune of West Pirea, and I know for a fact that no emperor,
or royal for that matter, is coming here. We are basically living in seclusion out here.
And I also know that there is no invasion of the Lesser Delta. Now either you get out of my presence now,
or I will have to call the authorities..."
The young man was undaunted by Ronnie's authoritative like manner.
"Man if I can't talk to you can I at least talk to your wife?" The youth turned towards Trisha trying to make hand signals and gestures, as he tried to explain the impending doom that was coming to all of Cornwell.
"Get away from me you imbecile!" yelled Trisha, obviously agitated and feeling quite a bit violated at having a lower class teenager in the same vicinity as herself.
"That's it!" yelled Ronnie, feeling a need to protect his newlywed wife. He immediately picked up his signaling whistle, lying on the bottom left side of his chair, and blew three long whistles for the porters to hear.
The porters immediately came on scene and tied the youth’s hands behind his back.
"You are under arrest!" yelled out one of the porters.
They carried the youth off the beach and put him in a large prison-wagon (stationed by the chief porter's tent)
which quickly sped off to the county jail.
The chief porter saluted Ronnie, and he also asked if anyone was injured by the youth.
"No one was hurt, thankfully," replied Ronnie, a bit shaken up.
The chief porter then gave a sharp salute and took off.
"Violated on my own honeymoon," Trisha remarked shakily. "How rude can one be around here..."
"Don't worry, my dear," said Ronnie soothingly. "West Pirea has its criminals and insane, just like any other town of Cornwell. Being at the end of the world doesn’t mean one is safe from nefarious crack pots at every turn. However, never forget that your husband will take good care of you!"
Trisha felt reassured as she looked into her husband's large brown eyes. "I guess you're right,
sweet heart, I guess you're right."
Soon the couple relaxed back into their chairs and soaked up the beautiful sunshine and cool gentle breeze that whisked by so pleasantly. But it wasn’t long before the newlyweds got out of their stupor and scanned the beach and horizon once again.
"Who are they?" questioned Ronnie, as he grabbed hold of Trisha’s arm, and pointed with his left hand down towards the sea shore.
Trisha laughed. "Must be going to some kind of costume party."
Ronnie chuckled as he got a better look at the circus heading up from the water's edge.
The group consisted of some twelve people who were walking at a sure, steady pace. They were all
wearing many layers of fancy clothes; however, Trisha and Ronnie thought the clothes were better to be used at a great ball instead of at the beach. What was particularly clear was the fact that four of the people in that group looked like they were some type of important personages while the other eight of them were their servants, who were carrying umbrellas to protect the four nobles from the sun’s rays.
Trisha and Ronnie were about to comment on the peculiar costume wearers when one of the lead male servants ran up to Ronnie and his wife and then took a deep bow before them.
"How marvelous," Trisha commented. "Is this some kind of act?"
The male servant bowed low again. "His highness wants to requisition this spot.
And he wants those rattan chairs for his family's own personal use.
Please evacuate the vicinity immediately."
"Preposterous!" yelled Ronnie as he stood up, flexing his tanned abs and biceps, which sparkled
in the bright sunlight. "I have you know that my father is a council member of West Pirea. And that I am an
official tribune of this community..." He then sat back down in his chair and started to blow his whistle several times.
"You are a tribune of West Pirea?" asked the man.
"Yes, I am you little nit wit," scolded Ronnie. "Now get out of my presence this instant!"
"Then I guess your West Pirea, highness, won't mind clearing out of here for some true people of royal blood and for a true emperor of Crilium..."
The servant looked behind the two newlyweds, and the couple turned to see the chief porter
(and his crew) pick up the newlyweds, in their chairs, throwing them flat on their faces, and onto the sandy ground below.
With such a loss of power, that both Cornwell citizens never felt before in their entire lives, the
newlyweds: shocked, surprised, and very much puzzled, picked up their scattered belongings hastily, and ran off in the direction of their cabana. And they ran towards their cabana as fast as their feet could carry them.
by Michael Llenos [Copyright 2013]
Gold: there is almost nothing like it. Bury it in the sand for over a thousand years and it comes out almost the same as it went in.
You can fashion gold into almost anything.
A sword made from gold you can use in battle at one moment in time and then smelt it down later to use as currency at some other time.
Today a certain miner, of the eastern hills, was happily coming down from one of the ridges that lead to the Great Fort below.
An abandoned mine, one of the few that freelance miners could lawfully excavate, happened to be his lucky pick of the day.
Miner Glucky Tonnage was able to freely excavate close to sixteen pounds of gold from Hill 268, its veins were hidden beneath some rocks in its main cavern.
Climbing up the hill, this morning, from the valley below, was the hard part.
But carrying the excavated gold downhill to the Great Fort, this afternoon, was now a much welcomed felicity.
That day Glucky was happy beyond words. That was until he witnessed the dark valley scene below…
Glucky first realized that something was amiss as he entered the first major clearing from the top of Hill 268.
He didn’t really hear anything at first, but his good eyesight detected something was wrong. As Glucky was descending southwest, towards the Great Fort,
he thought he saw below many things sparkling in the afternoon sun.
Then suddenly Glucky’s mind conjured up a fear of one of the greatest catastrophes that a miner of the Gold River could ever imagine.
Did the Gold River's cataracts spill over?
Was the Great Fort now a victim of a flash flood from the southeast? Glucky had to find out…
Glucky ran towards the edge of the clearing for a closer look.
To his surprise, he soon realized that there was no loud cacophony, or sight of water, that he could detect,
but rather masses of armed men standing still in formation—their armor and arms glittering in the sunlight.
And to Glucky’s horror, this army included soldiers that he had never seen before.
Glucky’s mind told him the only possibility for this huge grouping of men:
this army was an 'invasion force' that has traveled from beyond the southeastern origins (or major cataracts) of the Gold River,
that has now come from a place that no Crilium citizen, or miner, for that matter, had ever been before.
Perched on a rock, to get a better picture, Glucky made sure that he was unseen by the men down below.
Glucky did see, however, something that raised his spirits just a little.
He did spot the Great Fort below, and it seemed to him that many miners were crowded within, or inside the eastern part of the Great Fort,
and that some soldiers (about one hundred of them) were standing in formation outside of the fort, ready to resist the enemy’s manifest onslaught.
However, Glucky somberly realized that the amount of invaders had to be many times more than the number of the besieged miners at the Great Fort.
It made sense that their resistance was not going to last a long time. He knew it was futile…
All of a sudden, great swaths of arrows came reigning down on the Great Fort’s defenders.
Many were unequipped for any kind of confrontation with these men from the southeast.
Bound prisoners were taken out of the enemy ranks and paraded before the fort.
Glucky swallowed his spit and could only assume what would happen next.
Sure enough, the prisoners were executed one by one. Then a group of show-offs, from the enemy ranks,
danced around and waved what appeared to be wooden rattles in the air—creating a loud snake-like noise in the distance.
"Those miners are doomed." Glucky thought to himself, as he realized that he had to do something to spare his own skin.
"Looks like I won’t be able to cash in today..."
Glucky peered down below and noticed something spooky.
It looked like some of the enemy horsemen were testing out the steep stone roads that lead up to the ridges the miners used for going to the mines.
"I'm out of here." Glucky whispered to himself, as he falsely imagined something crawling up the back of his spine, a feeling quite queer, sinister and ghastly.
He quickly looked to his six o’clock. "No one there..." Glucky then turned northwest (on a path that he well knew) and headed straight onto the side of Hill 268 and towards the northern coast…
* * * * * * * *
It took Glucky Tonnage three weeks to make it to the northern shore of Crilium. The route he took were some old miner’s paths (including stations) that lay sprawled out throughout the hills north of the Great Fort.
To no great surprise, all of the miner’s stopping stations were abandoned,
and Glucky took the most abandoned route towards the coast: thinking it was harder for those foreign soldiers to track him.
Plus, Glucky was able to get water from the wells at each abandoned station to keep hydrated;
he was also able to fend off hunger through the fruit orchards planted near every well.
Not knowing exactly what to do once he got there, Glucky was hoping to find some expeditionary vessel from Crilium (or Cornwell) that could rescue him from any enemy force that might be following him from behind.
There were some survival skills that Glucky was very knowledgeable about.
He knew never to sleep under a coconut tree (or to sit or stand anywhere near coconut trees for that matter) as falling coconuts have caused many a traveler’s death in the past.
However, date-trees and palm trees, he knew could be fair game.
But, even so, he slept mainly under palm trees (which bore no fruit) as he wanted to be cautious against falling date stones: Glucky thought that one could never be too cautious.
There was an abundance of fresh coconuts, date trees, and fig trees along the coast—so no matter how long his rescue took, Glucky was able to live comfortably, with enough food and water, to supply his needs for quite a long time.
During the day, Glucky would sleep under a canopy of trees, not coconut trees, and he would scavenge in the morning, and at night, for some food whenever he was not resting under some type of shade.
Glucky did not want to cook with fire, as he was not sure how far towards the coast the enemy would travel. Plus, he wanted to make sure that the ships he would signal would be Crilium (or Cornwell) ships and not some murderous pirate's version from somewhere else.
It was two weeks that Glucky Tonnage lived on the beach of northern Crilium before he spotted a large Cornwell trading ship, flying the Cornwell flag.
To his surprise the ship dropped anchor near the shore in front of him, and all Glucky needed to do was yell out to the ship’s crew that he needed to be rescued.
The ship's crew immediately lowered a jolly-boat and came to the shore to Glucky’s great relief.
One of the men, the boatswain, asked Glucky why he was not prospecting in the hills to the south. Then Glucky told his tale about how he barely escaped the onslaught of a foreign army that was killing everybody in sight.
"And let me tell you," warned Glucky, "there is not a big enough army in all of Crilium to stop them. For at first I thought that those nefarious men were actually a raging river in the valley below!"
"These are grave times for the peoples of Cornwell, and Crilium," remarked the boatswain. He then very
soberly asked Glucky if he had any gold on him.
"Several pounds of gold," answered Glucky, suspiciously and nervously.
"Then keep it and hold on to it tight," voiced the boatswain. "The information you have just given us is gold enough..."
Then the boatswain gestured Glucky to come along, and the small boat took Glucky (and its small boat crew) back to the trading cog,
where they set sail for Pirea, as fast as the winds could take them.
Copyright Michael Llenos 2000-2013