DOGS AND DAGGERS.
A tale from the lost Legends of Lazarus.
The kingdom is vast, from dry dusty deserts to green life filled jungles there is everything to see with enough time and will for those that travel the lands of the kingdom. However nowhere else is like the floating capital city of the Great Lakes, here it is said that you can find your imagination desires, even a magical sword carrying dog!
The origin of this unusual creature is not one of grandeur or one that is told across the kingdom, it’s a little known tale that starts with a boy with even smaller beginnings. Alatar was a boy, homeless and hungry. He was born in the capital city and had never left, he had no ideas of what lay beyond the city walls and had no desires to know. All he thought about was where his next meal would come from or where he could bunk down to sleep for the night. He had a routine, all the children of the streets had their routines but this was Alatars. He would wake early, just before the sun rose, this was when the great markets of the city would set up for a hard day of trading. Travellers would travel from all over the kingdom to the capital to trade unusual artefacts, spices, potions and weapons, this was the place to be for those that wanted everything. This was the perfect place for a lost hungry child of the city, Alatar would take advantage of the busy traders setting up their stalls, like an unnoticed breeze of the wind he would nimbly pass through their chaos picking up the odd dropped apple or piece of bread from one end of the street to the other. By midday he would be gorged with exotic foods from the east and strange wines from the west, although he was a street child he ate like a king.
Alatar repeated his routine day in, day out, living on such an exotic diet he would occasionally pick up something strange, a potion that would make you grow taller or a fruit that would turn you green. But usually the effects would wear off after a day or so, usually. One particularly uneventful Tuesday he wondered upon a strange bottle being kicked around by the clumsy feet of the traders as they chatted and dealt deals between themselves. What a peculiar bottle he thought, small dark in colour with a picture of what looked like an animal on the label. He scrambled amongst their feet to grab it. Success! He held it in his hands and sat under the shade of a market stall. He could not read the strange language on the bottle so popped out the cork and gave it a sniff. It smelt sweet and fruity almost like liquid candy, without another thought he drank the tasty liquid. He went about the rest of his day as he normally would and as the sun set found a spot to sleep for the night. This particular evening Alatar had the most unusual dream, one of a wizard who was cursed by a dark force transforming the wizard into a dog. The wizard travelled town to town trying to find someone who could lift his curse but to no avail, years passed and the wizard trapped in a dogs body had nearly given up. He was desperate, he longed to be human again and decided to venture into the infamous forest of gloom to seek those with dark powers that may be able to lift the curse.
He wandered deep into the forest, through the twisting Thorn bushes and across the murky rapids of the river of despair. After some time he came upon a clearing, in the centre, a well. A wishing well. He jumped up onto the wall of the well and gazed down into its darkness. He heard a deep voice, dear creature it said. I know your pain and I know what you seek, what would you do to release yourself from this curse? The wizard replied, anything! Please help lift this curse. The well replied, as you wish, but it comes with a price. The wizard without hesitation said, no price is too much! The wizard closed his eyes and opened them, he was his true self. By his side a basket of small bottles lay, the voice from the well then spoke again. Everything comes with a cost, you have your wish and now you must pay me back. In the basket are 13 small bottles, each contains a portion of your curse. I need you to take these bottles and distribute them across the land and curse 13 individuals. This is a business my friend, these 13 will eventually seek my well and each will want to make their own deals and thus my power will spread across the kingdom.
With this the wizard set off across the kingdom spreading his curse at the fear he would once again lose his human form. Alatar had never had a dream like this before, and as he woke he realised what it meant. He saw his reflection in a small puddle of water to realise he was staring back at the image of a Labrador. Not just any Labrador, but the face of the dog he was now trapped within. He knew what he needed to do, the message in his dream was clear. He had to seek out this wishing well for himself and make his own deal with the dark forces that lay below.
A short story by Andy Williams