Τετάρτη 6 Φεβρουαρίου 2013

Wednesday Story: The Island

η ιστορια στα ελληνικα εδω

Once upon a time there was a big beautiful island sourrounded by the vast blue ocean.

There were several villages of local tribesmen along its shores and a thick, tropical forest that covered it almost at its entirety, as well as a tall mountain with an inactive volcano on top.

Nobody would dare go near that mountain, for there was a ferocious,big, evil dragon that lived in one of its caves. And a real, fire-spitting dragon it was, as ancient as the mountain, as evil as devil himself.

That ancient creature would go out to hunt once a week, fly over the villages of the forest and feed on humans or wild animals. But he was getting on in years and he was not as strong, quick or agile as he used to be.The tribesmen would throw fiery arrows at him whenever he ventured near their villages and as for hunting in the forest it was too daunting a task because smaller animals would hide so efficiently that they were practically invisible to him. And beasts like lions or elephants that were part of a pack or herd would attack him all at once whenever he got near any of them.

Yes, feeding was becoming increasingly difficult for the old dragon. Sometimes a month would go by without his having any success in his hunting game.He was constantly hungry and miserable.

One day after he had thought long and hard  about his situation, he decided that it was time for more drastic measures.

He called a meeting with the snakes of the forest with whom he was affiliated with brotherhood ties.

He told them : 'Brothers, you and I are of the same blood. We are reptiles and all warm-blooded creatures are our enemies. You are loathed and feared by them as much as I am. Although we are clever and more worthy than they are, we have to tolerate their stinking presence and dominance over this island. Let us put an end to this. Help me be the master of the forest, and I promise to let you rule over your enemies along with me.

So he explained to them the plan he had conceived.

The forest was governed by a pack of lions who were thought of-by consensus of opinion- as the worthiest of this title because they were in charge of protecting the forest from intruders of all kinds. So the snakes succeeded in arranging a meeting between the lions and the dragon. A few days later a very meek and harmless-looking dragon stood several feet away from a very suspiscious and  quite nervous pack of lions that listened to what he had to say.

'My friends', said the dragon,'I come to you in peace, seeking  to sign a pact with you. I am offering you my protection, guardianship and help in exchange for your friendship. I will be helping this forest thrive. There will be more food for everyone. I will be keeping humans, your worst enemy, away from here. In exchange for my protection, all I am asking of you is to trust me an let me drink water from your river,as the spring in my mountain has gone dry.

The lions promised to think about it. They discussed the dragon's proposal amongst themselves. Several lions voiced their concerns over this pact, stating that  throughout history no dragon was ever up to any good. But those doubting lions were in the minority, plus most of them were found dead -snake poison, some said- over the next few days and the dragon's proposal was voted for and approved of.

For the first time in the history of the island there was a pact between the dragon and the animals of the forest.

At first everything worked out fine, even better than most animals had anticipated.

The dragon started frequenting the forest and his frightening presence drove all huntsmen away, as none of them would dare venture near the forest.

The creatures of the forest breethed a sigh of relief. By getting rid humans, of their worst enemy, life became so much easier for them. What was more,the dragon, true to his word, would regularly come down to the forest, flap his enormous wings over the trees and shake their foliage so that fruit and seeds fell onto the ground like mana from heavens.

The animals had never experienced such abundance of food before. The entire forest ground was covered with food for the herbivorous animals which grew so fat and heavy that predators, in their turn, would not even need to chase them ,their prey would practically fall into their mouth by themselves.

Yes, life became so much easier for all animals ever since they made the pact with the dragon.

Everyone would say so,and of course the snakes were hard at work convincing them of this, crawling around and hissing the dragon's praise to everyone that would listen. The dragon's presence grew to be familiar and comforting to the animals, as he would go about his business carefully dragging his enourmous tail among the trees in the forest.

Then one hot and dry summer's day the dragon set fire to the forest.

He made sure the fire spread evenly throughout the woods by blowing hot blasts of his fiery breath in all directions. When the whole place started resembling a hell's pit, he sat quietly in a corner and waited. As he had anticipated, the lions hurried panting to him.

-'Help us, brother!' they pleaded with him.'You are the only one strong enough to put out this fire! If you don't hurry to our rescue, the whole forest is going to burn down in a matter of hours.'

The dragon was in no hurry to answer.

'You are such careless, worthless creatures', he said. 'You cannot be trusted to be on your own even for one hour without my protection and guidance around here. Yes, I can put out the fire for you. But in return for saving your lives I want to be able to hunt in the forest every day from now on.

Upon hearing this some of the lions stepped back in horror, knowing only too well what this meant. But there was no other option left. If they refused, their forest would burn down and they would all die of hunger. Reluctantly, the accepted the deal.

Then the dragon swallowed gallons and gallons of water from the nearby river and poured it over the fire until it was put out.

The animals breathed a sigh of relief again. And again the snakes were out singing the dragon's praises:  'If it weren't for  him, we'd be all dead. We  owe our dragon our lives, all of us. He is our savior'.

So a new era begun for the animals.

Having the dragon hunting in the forest every day meant a couple of very nasty things for its residents.
For one thing, the dragon's appetite was enormous and he needed a crazy amount of food to satisfy it.Sometimes he would eat an entire herd of antilopes before he felt full. His constant feeding meant that the population of the smaller animals started dwindling dramatically.

This in turn meant that food became scarce for predators as well, not only because of the decrease in the numbers of their prey, but also because no animal felt safe venturing out to hunt any longer and would rather hide -and starve- in their nests. An atmosphere of terror and gloom was constantly looming all over the forest.

The presence of evil was even felt by trees and plants.Due to the fact that the dragon was constantly eating, he needed enormous quantities of water to quench his thirst and so the level of the river in the forest fell dramatically too. As a consequence, plants and trees suffered from lack of water. That, in turn, meant even less food for the animals.

Every living thing was starving. Flocks of birds would migrate to other islands in search of food. Some animals tried to do the same by swimming across the ocean, but most were drawn by the strong currents.

The lions asked to see the dragon again.

'The entire forest is starving', they said. 'We need more food'.

The dragon laughed sarcastically.

'It seems to me that you are not fully aware of your nature, lions', he told them.
'You are predators, just like me. You feed on pathetic, weaker animals who are your prey specifically because they have neither your strength nor your cleverness. Survival of the fitterst, my friends. You are stronger than them, so they end up in your belly.

I am stronger than all of you lions combined, but I will let you live. I will be giving you a daily portion of my prey, on one condition. From now on, you and everyone in this forest must accept me as your lord and master, the sovereign ruler of this entire place, with powerof life and death over each andevery one of you. Everything and everyone here will belong to me now and forever.'

A few lions growled, outraged at such a claim. But again, they were in the minority... Most lions were only too grateful to secure some food for their hungry bellies, so they promptly turned over the entire forest to the dragon's tyranny .

Some time later a group of famished animals consisting of a panther, a bear, a wild boar, a couple of hares, a wolf, a fox, a beaver and a mole had a secret meeting of their own in the middle of the night. The big black panther was presiding over the meeting.

'You fools!' growled the panther.'You dont need any more meetings with the lions to convince them to negotiate with the dragon for better living conditions. The lions are sold over to the dragon. And the dragon is your real enemy, not your savior. He was the one that reduced you to this in the first place. He wants you all dead in his belly. Once he exterminates all of you, he'll fly over to other islandsto do the same there, if they let him. We need to get rid of this monster, or else we are all doomed, you understand?'

'The dragon is strong, much stronger than all of us and we are weak and famished', said the beaver. 'He'll slaughter  us in no time if we try to overcome him.'

A deep, guttural growl came out of the panther's throat.

'Can't you see that you are already dead and done with?

'Whether you physically die tomorrow or in a few months from now makes no difference, because you are aready dead inside! The life you are now leading is not worth being called a life.

You are famished, hungry and thirsty and scared to death all the time, hiding away your shame and fear and cowardice in your nests. This life of yours is worse than death itself, because you are dying a hundred deaths every day. Either you risk to die fighting to get your lives back or go on dying each and every dayuntil it is your turn to be eaten by the dragon and die a dishonorable and miserable death. The choice is yours.'

The black panther ceased talking. Silence fell among her listeners.

The animals were looking at each other. You could tell that the panther's words were working miracles in their hearts and minds.

Then the bear spoke, on behalf of everyone present:

'We are all in. Let us think of the best way to go about it.'

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