Another short story. This one, however, was something I have been playing around with for a little while, I just needed an excuse to jot it down.
Todays 365 Creative Writing Prompt was:
4. Dancing: Who’s dancing and why are they tapping those toes?
It takes me a little while, but I get there in the end.
Once again, I must stress that this is unedited and written without much re-write, so there may be spelling mistakes and it may read a little crummy, but there you go!
“The Stone of Light lies beside The Victor’s killer.”
That was what the scroll of parchment said, according to the Client, and was the single line that had started this whole farce! An entire year wasted in search of an ancient treasure that wasn’t even there! No wonder there were mutterings and unease between the crew! If the treasure wasn’t found and delivered to the Client, the whole thing was a waste of time and a waste of resources!
After the disheartening exploration of The Beast’s foul lair came to nothing, with not even the slightest hint of the treasure we sought, the company’s guide, Kent (a nickname, his original name was Kentzentotl, or at least that’s as close Charles could come to transcribing the name in Danandrian letters), had led them back to the Vonoti Village. The small clearing in the thick jungle was just as it was the first time they passed through – dirt paths trampled between trees and primitive huts, leading to a gathering circle at the centre of which a huge firepit roared.
Charles’s men were, as before, eyeing up the Females of the Venoti tribe. It was hard to blame them considering the significant lack of modesty and clothing that was part of their tribe’s culture. Even the tribe’s men walked round with nothing but a scrap of fur holding their balls together. The evening entertainment, however, was slightly different.
Almost in celebration of the explorer’s safe return, even without the sought after treasure, the tribe put on a banquet for us all. As the last rays of light fell behind the distant mountains, the fire was lit along with smaller torches around the meeting circle. Three large caldrons of spiced stews and curried meats were readily available. A large vat of some form of alcoholic drink – some form of sickly sweet coconut based drink that Charles wasn’t keen on, but seemed to do the trick – was brought out and dished out to people in carved wooden cups.
When the night was deep and the crowd was swaying under the influence of the peculiar coconut water, an old man took stage in front of the roaring fire. Everyone hushed as he spoke loudly and made elaborate gestures with his arms and a staff held in his right hand. Then in an instant he quieted. The gathered crowd sat silent. Charles was intrigued and kept an eye out. Then, with a sudden explosion of sound, bells rang and drums resounded. A cacophony of noise these people thought of as ‘music’ rang out with irregular rhythm and disjointed melody. And then, without any signal or warning, the instruments joined together in perfect unity.
Three figured stood before the flames, dressed head to foot in robes or royal reds and gold. A hideous mask hid the face of one and the three danced a jagged yet well choreographed and rehearsed dance. Unnatural movements and poses were performed with natural perfection, at times flowing with the unified music, yet elsewhere as frantic as the violent sound.
Charles’ men jeered and scoffed, they shifted awkwardly and yet others drank and eyes up the tribal women, but Charles himself was transfixed. His eyes were blank as he watched the movement, as though his mind had been transported back to another place, or another time. His men couldn’t see what was going on, what was being re-enacted, but Charles recognised the characters, he recognised the story, he recognised countless years of history and mythology passed down through the generations keeping this tribe’s culture alive.
And he knew the story.
It was why they were here.
The words of the myth swirled in his mind, over and over as the dancers performed their story
“When the Brothers came faced the Beast, the fight was fierce. The Brother known as The Victim launched a ferocious attack, his emotion fuling every move and every hateful strike. But those led by emotion find mistakes come too easy. He was struck down by the Beast. Just before it could land the finishing blow, the Brother known as The Victor struck at the Beast’s weakness and destroyed it. The two Brothers left the Beast’s foul layer with the Stone of Light in their possession, The Victor carrying The Victim. The two Brothers brought the Stone of Light back to the Village, and restored the land.
Shortly after, The Victor was found dead, with the Beast’s Dark Blade in his back and the Stone of Light taken.”
The performance ended, the crowd cheered and cried out, but something weighed heavy on Charles’ heart. He grabbed Kent with hopes he could communicate with one of the dancers.
‘Ask her who she played,’ he requested. Kent didn’t really understand the Dandanrian language, nor that of the Vonoti, but he tried his best to communicate with gestures and movement.
‘Brother,’ he said in response, with a gesture that signified The Victim.
‘Yes, I thought as much. But then why did she play him with a frown? I mean, The Victim is the one who gets the most out of the Beast’s defeat; it is on his shoulders that this entire quest rests! Surely he should be happy that the beast was vanquished and the stone retrieved?’
Kent looked at him puzzled. There was no way he could translate all of that!
‘Why then, did she have such an angry face at the end?’
Kent spoke a few words to the dancer, pulled a few faces, and she responded. Kent responded with a charade. He took a prop from the dancer, signified it was his, then she took it from him. He then pulled an angry face.
That was it. That was the answer.
Charles ran over to his second in command. ‘It was jealousy! That’s what killed The Victor, jealousy!’
‘What are you talking about, Charles?’
‘Don’t you get it? The Victor wasn’t killed by the subject of The Best! It was his Brother!’ Charles waited for a moment for his words to sink in. ‘The Victim was just that – a Victim. He sought justice from the beast, but more that that, he sought revenge! A revenge he was denied by his brother, a brother who went on the be known throughout the ages as The Victor. That should have been him! The roles were reversed, switched! The Victim killed The Victor!’
‘So what you’re saying is that we have been looking in the wrong place?’
‘What I’m saying is that The Stone of Light is hidden in The Tomb of The Victim!’
Charles’ companion considered this for a moment. ‘We were there only a month ago. We saw nothing there.’
‘Don’t be a fool!’ Charles responded, ‘We saw nothing there because we weren’t looking for it there!’
His companion considered this, then stared Charles in the eye. ‘Then let’s go.’
(C) Oz Durose 2017
image credit: vovkin.ru