Ambition and Desert
Picture skin, brittle and translucent, stretched too tight over old bones. Below are dried up chunks of meat that once were muscles and thick purplish lines that once were veins. This is what happens to a body in the wall desert.
The trouble had started when the merchant arrived the week before. Must have lost his way and, by sheer luck, found the oasis. Can't blame him really, a similar fate had led me here. Only, I'd arrived crawling, half-dead, where he came with those smelly mules, laden with supplies.
He made a fuss about trade. Wanted one of Gard's sculptures, but Gard just gave it to him. He showed us his goods, but we don't need anything. The goddess provides. Tara and Heck grow plants from seeds blown in from the desert. Ysanne spends her days by the pond and sometimes catches fish. Niara composes poems. Geoff and Darlun talk all day and have, I think, made quite some progress in Mathematics.
Young Baran in our hunter. When something breaks, Gard replaces it. He is a master craftsman of the greatest skill. We have all we need. The goddess provides.
The goddess, Morgana, also came to meet the merchant. She is one of us, really. She has no temple and does not demand prayer or sacrifice; she is not like that. But, her will becomes reality. She guides Gard's hammer and Geoff's thoughts, and makes the plants grow.
I am the guardian. And, I knew trouble was brewing when the merchant refused to eat our food on the second day and drank only the water he had brought. I had to ask him to go, and when he did, I accompanied him for a bit.
It took two hours until he confronted me, almost as far as I can go. "I know why you can't trade," he said. "It's all fake isn't it. The goddess, all her works are illusion."
"Isn't that how all the gods work?" but he wouldn't have it.
"Look at yourself," he insisted.
It was then that I looked at my body and saw what was left of it, what it had become. This far from the oasis it was obvious. It is what happens to a body in the wall desert. It is what happens if the food that you eat and the water that you drink aren't real.
I broke the merchant's neck right there; no point to delay it, really. His revelation, of course, was nothing new. I know — we all know, except Morgana.
We protect her, don't allow her to doubt herself. She is our goddess, beautiful and benevolent. She caters to everybody's wishes, gives a home to the hunted, kindness to the outcast, mercy to the lost.
Only rarely comes one whose ambition we cannot accommodate.
I did not dare use them in tabletop (for fear they would wipe out the heroes), but a longer story may be forthcoming. Also: hippies, good point ... the grateful dead?
Nice twist. And it's impressive to be able to describe so many characters and give them diverse motivations in so few words.
Actually, thinking about this ... why don't you write one? I mean using this type of creature. I love your other storygames.
Thanks you all for the encouragement. I really really appreciate it very much. I hope to put up another short story and a short edutainment piece very soon, and hopefully a proper storygame in a month or two.