Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
The Athlete and the Author
(Containing the second exciting story about a second pair of twins.)
This is the story of Otto the Outstanding, as told by Otto the Outstanding, and heard by King John the Cute and his party.
As the king and his party of trusted friends, ministers, and advisors left the cave of Magno the Magnificent, they headed to the other side of the mountain. On the way, they came across the cloud Chariot, who waited for them patiently. “If you need me, give me a shout,” Chariot told the king. “Until then, I am waiting here.”
“Very good, my friend,” said King John the Cute.
A few hours later, the party arrived at Otto the Outstanding’s camp. Otto the Outstanding was six hundred and fifty years old and did not look a day over fifty, and a muscular fifty at that. His hair was only marginally white, and his spirit was high.
Upon seeing the king and his party, the adventurer asked them to sit down and eat and drink.
The king accepted the offer. Then he said, “Otto the Outstanding, how is it that you look so young and yet you have lived for over six hundred years?”
“A while back I drank a powerful potion that prolonged my life and gave me great strength,” he confided. “But my sharp senses and keen eyes tell me that is not what you seek. Ask me any question, tell me to perform any task, and if it is honorable, I shall fulfill it gladly.”
“We come seeking information about the Original Monster. He possesses knowledge that will help us save the Land of All Legends from the illness that has befallen it.”
Otto the Outstanding whistled. “The Original Monster? I haven’t heard that name for a while. Yet I have thought of him each and every day for the last six hundred years. But what good will it do you to hear my story? I have not seen the Original Monster in six hundred years.”
“Perhaps you possess a clue that will aid us,” said King John the Cute. “Please, tell me your story.”
Otto the Outstanding bowed and began to tell his tale.
My name, he said, is Otto the Outstanding. And I am as my name implies. I am a great adventurer. I take risks and I don’t think twice. I leap into danger and always come out victorious. I quest and I complete my quests. Women fall in love with me, and then grow angry that they have fallen for a foul cad. I save the helpless and vanquish the evil. And always I treat my adventures with self-deprecating humor that everyone finds endearing.
One day, six hundred and forty years ago, I set on a quest to find the Original Monster. I tracked stories and rumors, I followed footsteps in the sand and the smell of ancient fur in the air. And thus, after years of questing, I found myself on the River Red Continent.
I am not used to waiting during my quests, but for the Original Monster I waited. I waited in a spot in the jungle where he is rumored to move every few years. I lay down a trap – a net that would grab anyone who walks on top of it. And then I waited. I waited for three years, three days, three minutes and thirty-three seconds. And at that precise time there was movement in the net. I ran out of the bushes, and saw the Original Monster there, hanging in my net. He looked as if he was half human, half monkey: hairy all over, but huge. And yet his eyes shone with wisdom.
“Please let me go,” the Original monster spoke, and his voice was soothing and relaxed. He did not fear being caught, for I can smell fear, and I did not smell it on him.”
“I am Otto the Outstanding,” I introduced myself. “And once I have caught my quarry, I never let him go. We shall go together to the mainland – you shall be my prisoner – and I will show you to the world. And everyone will know that I am truly outstanding.”
“I will give you something you want, Otto the Outstanding,” the Original Monster said. “I will tell you a story. It is a story about yourself.”
I shrugged. “Tell it to me or don’t tell it to me. I will not let you go.”
“I choose to tell you the story,” the Original Monster said. “Please sit down. It is not a short story.”
I sat down, certain that he would try to trap me. And yet, his suggestion to tell me a story about myself seemed strange and… special. I listened to his tale.
“This is the tale of Otto the Outstanding,” the Original Monster began. “But to understand it, you must understand where I have been over the last few centuries. I have found a path to another world. It is a path paved with the imagination of children, and it leads to a world of no magic but much imagination. It is a world with many people, but few creatures and no talking animals. It is a world of buildings as high as the clouds and of lights that burn on the ceiling of every room without fire and no magic. I have seen things in that world that shocked me… And I have also learned that stories told in that world create this world.
“Whenever a new story is written in something called a book, and when many people buy that book and read it or tell it, the stories told in that book become true in our world. That is how people and places come to existence at the Border of Nothing. That is the secret of almost everyone who lives here.”
“That is absurd,” I said. “Such a place cannot exist. You try to trap me with confusing words.”
“It seems absurd. And yet I have seen it. I have been there. And I have read stories that later came to be true here. Some of these are the stories of the great adventurer, Otto the Outstanding. Other stories are stories of others you and I know well. And so I made it my life’s new quest to find the story behind the stories, to discover the stories of the storytellers, those who write and tell the stories, and to learn how their minds could create living beings. During the last centuries I have spent most of my time in that other land, traversing the path paved with the imagination of children, to that other world. I spend years there, and then I return to breathe in the magic of my land and be refreshed.
“In my journeys, I have discovered the story of Wyatt Whalen, the author of Otto the Outstanding and his adventures. That is the story I would like to tell you.”
Then the Original Monster fell silent and did not talk again. After a minute, my appetite whetted, I said, “Go on, then.”
“This is the story of Wyatt Whalen, the man who invented Otto the Outstanding. This is also the story of William Whalen, Wyatt Whalen’s brother. Wyatt and William were born together, on the same day and to the same mother. They were identical twins, similar in looks but in nothing else.
“William was outgoing and was always among friends, while Wyatt was shy and kept to himself. William liked to play ball with friends. Wyatt liked to play with himself for hours: his imagination would conjure up characters, and he would play with them without ever growing bored. William was the adventuring type, always going off to climb trees and explore. Wyatt remained in his room always, dreaming up adventures in his mind.
“As the two grew older, William became an athlete, which is a man who competes in physical competitions, and Wyatt became an author, which is a man who writes books. William loved to run and to push his body to its limits. When people of that world without magic exert themselves physically to the fullest, they are suddenly washed with a feeling of accomplishment and joy, a feeling that they can do anything, that they are super-powerful. William felt super-powerful all the time, since he pushed his body to its limits all the time. Wyatt, meanwhile, never exercised, and his body was weak and could not exert itself even a little. Wyatt would sit all day in his room and write his books, while William would spend all his days outside, exercising his body.
“And this is where the odd piece of the story comes in,” the Original Monster continued. “Even though William spent all his days feeling super-powerful and even all-powerful, no one knew his limits better than him. He knew that he would never outrun a speeding bullet, or that he could never lift a house. The super-powerful brother knew his limits well, for he ran against them every day. Meanwhile, Wyatt Whalen, the weak brother, whose body had no strength, sat in his room alone and invented story after story of an adventurer who was super-powerful and had no limits. The weak brother believed that there are no limits to the body or to a man’s abilities, and so that is what he wrote when he wrote Otto the Outstanding’s adventures.
“And that is how I learned, Otto the Outstanding,” continued the Original Monster, “that the stronger a man is, the more he knows his limitations, of himself and the world, and the weaker a man is, the more he believes that anything is possible. And that is the story of Wyatt Whalen, William Whalen, and Otto the Outstanding.”
Otto the Outstanding rested from his story, then looked at King John the Cute and continued, “That is how I learned, King John the Cute, the truth about myself. It was so plain and felt so right that I knew it to be true right away. With the help of the Original Monster, I have seen the deepest truth about myself, and I have never been the same since. Sure, I have had more adventures. But I was more mature this time, I knew who I was. And even though I performed impossible task after impossible task, I knew my limitations well. And that is the story of my experience with the Original Monster.”
“But wait,” King John the Cute said. “Did you release the monster? What happened in the end?”
Otto the Outstanding hesitated and did not answer.
“Otto the Outstanding?”
Once more, Otto the Outstanding hesitated. Then, he spoke, “Is the Land of All Legends really sick and dying?”
“It is,” affirmed the king.
“And will learning the truth about the Original Monster really help you?”
“I believe it will. He knows deep secrets about how we are born and about the very fabric of this land. He knows secrets of the land that created us. The illness of the land lies in those secrets.”
Otto the Outstanding nodded. “I understand. Then, even though I had promised I would not, I am forced to tell you the other half of this story.”
“The other half?”
“Yes. The other half of the story is the story of the Original Monster himself.”
And so Otto the Outstanding began to tell the second half of the tale, the tale of the Original Monster himself.
This has been the beginning, middle, and ending of the first story (out of two) told by Otto the Outstanding to King John the Cute and his party.
This has also been the second story (out of four) about twins in this book of legends.
Next follows the second story told by Otto the Outstanding to the king.
(To be continued on Sunday…) Win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!