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 First Story
(Containing the exciting adventures of two reputable knowledge-seekers.)
This is the story of the Original Monster, as told by Otto the Outstanding, who heard it from the Original Monster.
Otto the Outstanding continued to tell his tale: When I heard the Original Monster’s tale about who I truly am and who my creator is, my knees became weak and my heart grew soft. I knew he did not trick me, and every fiber in my being desired to let him go. Since I am an honorable – though sometimes tricky – hero, I knew right there and then that no matter what happened, I would release him.
But I wanted to know more, and so I decided to trick him. Even though my heart had grown soft for the Original Monster, I tried to sound scary and authoritative, as I knew I could. “That was a great story, monster,” I told him. “But it is not enough for me to let you go.”
“That is truly sad,” said the Original Monster. And still there was no fear in his voice. “How can I convince you to let me go, for I can think of nothing else but what I have done.”
“Tell me who you are,” I said, still being tricky and deceptive. “Tell me what you have discovered about yourself during your travels.”
“That is my story, not yours,” said the monster. “What I have discovered is personal. Please let me go now.”
“I am a discoverer as well as an adventurer. This is knowledge I must gain. Tell me what you have discovered, and I will let you go. You have the word of a hero.”
The Original Monster thought about my offer long and hard. Then he said, “I have never told anyone what I have discovered. Perhaps it will be helpful for me to finally tell someone I consider a friend. You must give me your word as a hero that you will never tell what you are about to hear. It will be our secret, the secret of friends.”
“I vow the vow of a hero,” I said, “that I will keep this secret and tell it to no one, unless the telling of it would save the world.”
The Original Monster thought about this, then said, “That is fair. Please let me go, and I will tell you my story.”
I considered whether he was trying to trick me. “Please,” he said. “We are friends now.”
My heart had grown too soft, and I believed he was being honest. I let him go.
Then we sat together and ate dinner around the campfire. Over dinner, he told me his tale.
“My new life purpose,” began the Original Monster, “once I discovered the paths to this other world and that world’s connection to us, was to discover the connections between those who write the stories and the stories themselves. And yet, in the back of my mind, there was always the question: What is my story? Who are my creators? Who am I? What am I supposed to represent?
“I am so old, that those who told my tale have been dead, not for decades, not for centuries, not for thousands of years, not for tens of thousands of years, but for hundreds of thousands of years. My story has stopped being told hundreds of thousands of years ago. And yet always there are new stories and adventures for me. Always my name changes, always my personality changes a bit, but my essence remains the same, and my life remains untouched by Death.
“I do not know the entire story yet, but I have learned quite a lot. This is the story of how I learned most of it.
“In this other land of no magic, in this land in which children’s imagination creates life in this world, there is such a thing as academia. Smart men and women study different things, then they put it in words and store it in vast and deep chambers called ‘libraries’. There is one such person in academia, called Doctor Dave Daniels. Doctor Dave Daniels is a young discoverer of ancient stories, and he is still alive today,” said the Original Monster. “He researches the roots of all stories. And so, one day, I attempted to approach him in his office in his place of academia.
“ ‘Good evening, Doctor Dave Daniels’, I introduced myself. ‘My name is Orry Monsty’, for that is what I call myself in that other world. ‘And I have an offer to you. I would like to hear everything you have discovered about the earliest story that ever existed. In return, I will tell you something about that story that you do not now know.
“ ‘The earliest story?’ the doctor said.
“ ‘Yes. The earliest story that ever existed. The first story that ever was told by many. The first legend. The first fairy tale. I wish to know all that you know about the hero of that story,’ for that, Otto the Outstanding, was me, of course. I continued, ‘I wish to know what you know about those who invented that story. Please tell me all you know.’
“ ‘Listen, Mr. Monsty,’ he said. ‘Very little is known about the first legend that ever was told. It was told in ancient times and it was done at a time when men and women did not know how to read and write, and so the story cannot be found in writing. Nor was it written in history books.’
“ ‘Surely you have clues. I know you have researched this subject for many years.’
“ ‘Yes, yes, I do and I have,’ nodded Doctor Dave Daniels. ‘And I will gladly show you what I have discovered. I was making sure you were not just a kid off the street. And your offer intrigues me. How can I know that you know something I do not?’
“ ‘I will tell you the name of the hero of the first fairy tale,’ I said. ‘If you have no written record then you cannot know this. The name of the hero of the first fairy tale was Ookoo-Ah.’
“Doctor Dave Daniel’s jaw dropped in amazement. ‘I do not know how you know this,’ he said. ‘And I do not know it to be true, but it is probably true. There is a science in academia, a science of language, a science of all languages. And discoverers in that field have learned that no matter the language and no matter the time, names of heroes in legends have sounds in them that sound heroic to all men in all languages, and names of mythical villains in legends have sounds in them that sound evil to all men in all languages. The name Ookoo-Ah, though unknown to me, sounds ancient and heroic. Tell me, Mister Monsty, if I show you everything I know, will you tell me more?’
“ ‘I will,’ I promised.
“And then he showed me all that he knew.
“He took me down to the library. Once in the library, he took me to the stairs. And down we went to a deeper part of the library. Then we moved on to a deeper and darker part of the library. We went down seven floors. And each floor was darker than the last. Each floor was mustier than the last. Each floor had less people in it, poring over ancient texts. On the seventh floor down, there was almost no light. The manuscripts were yellow with age, and the mustiness reminded me of dark tunnels in the Land of All Legends. There was no one there to look over texts. No one was there to study the truly old texts.
“ ‘Come with me,’ said Doctor Dave Daniels.
“As we walked, he began to tell me the story of his discoveries. ‘There are rules to legends and fairy tales,’ he told me. ‘The characters must fall under a few categories: the adventurer, the explorer, the meek, the silly, the beautiful, and so on. No matter who writes the story, if the story survives enough to be told enough times to become a fairy tale, then the story’s heroes and villains fall into a few basic categories.’
“ ‘Are you telling me that Ookoo-Ah was a hero, an adventurer?’ I asked him.
“ ‘That is what almost everyone in my field believes. But not me. I think there are stories even earlier and more ancient than stories of adventurers. Follow me this way,’ he turned around a corner of shelves and continued to lead me through the maze of scripts. ‘You see, Mr. Monsty, learning about ancient stories is hard. Stories have existed for tens of thousands of years, as long as mankind has existed, from the moment our brain was developed enough to create language and to begin to understand the universe, back in the time mankind lived in caves.
“ ‘But the question in my field is, how can we tell? How can we know what stories the ancient humans told? And there, you see, is where my latest discovery comes in. Through here.’
“He led me to a locked door. He produced a key from his pocket, put it in the lock, and opened the door. The door opened to a tiny room that had more scattered paper in it than air to breathe. ‘This is my room,’ he said. ‘And only I have the key. Now look at this.’
“He rummaged through piles of papers, until he took out a photograph – they have the wondrous technology, Otto the Outstanding, to take any image they see and put it on a piece of paper; it is called a photograph – he took out a photograph. ‘Look at this, Mr. Monsty. This photograph was taken in a cave in the continent of Africa. It is the earliest cave of modern man that has ever been discovered, dating back two hundred and fifty thousand years. This is when language was at its most basic and writing did not exist. But, you see, this photograph was taken recently by us, depicting the wall of the cave.’
“He showed me the photograph, and this time my own jaw dropped. The photograph showed crude drawings on the cave wall, and one of these drawings was clearly a drawing of me, as I had been when the land was born and when I was young.
“ ‘Ancient man, prehistoric man, did not know how to write, Mr. Monsty. But even back then, when they were so young, they knew how to draw. And what they did was, they drew their stories so they could show their children and their tribes what happened in the stories.’
“ ‘That is amazing, Doctor Dave Daniels,’ I said, hardly able to breathe. ‘Tell me more.’
“ ‘Look at the story as told by the pictures,’ he said. ‘This hero, which looks like a hairy monster, or even an ape, sees a lion attack his family. This hero – I guess I should start to call him Ookoo-Ah – so Ookoo-Ah takes a big stick from a tree and fights the lion until the lion runs away. Then his family, see this picture?, his family celebrates and they are safe.’
“ ‘I looked at the pictures and saw the truth in Doctor Dave Daniels’ words. And as I saw them, I remembered such incidents. I had fought back killer lions and killer bears, I have fought back killer elephants and even killer rhinos. These were my earliest adventures. I protected everyone I knew back then.
“ ‘Then what you are saying, Doctor, is that the story of Ookoo-Ah is the story of a hero?’
“ ‘No, no, it is not. That is my point. There is something before hero. You see, Mr. Monsty, before the stories of heroes were the stories of men who were half animals. This is a story of ancient man, a story in which ancient man calls upon the beast within him in order to protect his family and survive. The stories of Ookoo-Ah are the stories of man’s beastliness, and what happens when it is released. The stories of heroes came afterwards. And heroes were less beastly.
“ ‘Over hundreds of thousands of years since, Mr. Monsty, there have always been tales of man’s beastly nature coming out. Sure, the hero no longer fought lions, but he protected his women, and fought back various monsters. Lately, the beast within is portrayed as a more intelligent person, who still possesses the rage of an animal and the instincts to protect and survive. These aspects of him come out when he or his loved ones or even his land and home are in danger. Stories of Ookoo-Ah have changed over thousands of years, but always the beast remains.’
“This is what Doctor Dave Daniels has revealed to me of myself and those who created me, Otto the Outstanding,” said the Original Monster. “And when he was done, I promised him that I would tell him all that I know about the first story that ever was. We set up a meeting. Before the meeting, I returned to the land to bring evidence of this land’s existence. And now I am headed to that meeting and I do not want to be late, for I promised him I would show him the secrets he has sought all his life. And that is my story, Otto the Outstanding. Now, with your permission, I will leave you and attend my meeting.”
“ ‘It has been a great honor meeting you and speaking to you, Ookoo-Ah,’ I said. ‘Go in peace.’ ”
That was six hundred years ago, King John the Cute. That other world is a world without magic, spells, or potions. Surely Doctor Dave Daniels is long dead. And surely the Original Monster has discovered quite a bit more since then about his own roots. Perhaps he has discovered everything and moved on to a new quest and a new discovery. Perhaps he is in the Land of All Legends now, perhaps he is in the other world. I do not know.
That is my story, and that is all I know, King John the Cute.
King John the Cute came to his feet after listening to the hero’s story. “Otto the Outstanding, that was a fascinating tale. You have done a great service for your land, and you did not break your promise, for the sake of the world is truly at peril and you may have helped us save it by telling this personal tale. Now we will leave you and continue on our quest to save the Land of All Legends.”
And so, King John the Cute, Benjamin Miller, Minister Vazir, Minister Azriel Jones, and Colonel Stone headed out to meet with Chariot, so that Chariot could carry them home and away from the River Red Continent. King John the Cute thought about the stories he had learned and about the secrets of this world as well as the world with no magic. He had much to digest and he knew that he would have to find the path to this other world without the Original Monster, who only a few years ago had said he would return in fifty years.
King John the Cute and his party came to the location where they had last seen Chariot and looked around. Chariot was gone.
King John the Cute raised his voice and called across the entire continent. “Chariot! Come! I need you!”
His voice echoed across the River Red Continent. And yet Chariot did not appear.
King John the Cute and his party looked at each other. “Something bad has happened to my friend Chariot,” the king said. “And we are stranded on the River Red Continent.”
This has been the true story of the first story that ever existed.
Now read on, to learn if the Land of All Legends will survive.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)
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