When I was around 7 years old, I remember vividly when I was sitting on our strangely shaped sofa, minding my own business until my older sister, 16, passed by me. She was carrying her bag with her left hand and a tiny cage with the other. What piqued my interest was the tiny frog inside that cage. I later understood that it was for her science class. “Why on Earth do you have that thing, Raven?” I exclaimed. In pit-a-pat, she approached me very slowly. She widened her eyes while staring at me “My, dear brother George, that frog,” she pointed to her slightly opened red bag. “Mr. Frog, was once one of the very few righteous protectors of the water kingdom. His size did not show his courage. He was noble-minded and he was proud,” The way she talked about the fro- Mr. Frog, was like the ones Mom used to read for my bedtime stories. My sister had a lot of tall tales to make fun of me, but this one, I believed, was the best. “One stormy night,” Raven continued. “He did a very, very, bad thing! An unspeakable sin!” Before she could even say it, I interrupted with a loud gasp. That’s when she knew she had to make up a big lie about this frog she brought home to dissect for an experiment at school. Seeing me intrigued with her little stories gives her some satisfaction, I guess. “Thus,” she continued with widened eyes again. This time, her voice sounds of horror. “He is yet to be punished! And my job is to inflict that lingering pain that he caused to others in the land and water kingdoms!”
She usually tells me about rainbows-and-butterflies, but this one was about the grave suffering of an animal in her hands. If my sister were a word, she would be the synonym of eccentric. “But why would he be punished? What did he do?” I asked in fascination. I admit I used to be easily entertained. One time, I cried so much when my dad forgot to bring me to the newly opened theme park in our old neighborhood. I hated that place, nothing was ever going on in that gloomy, boring, neighborhood. My sister, as usual, used that opportunity to trick me into believing her fairy-tales. “George, do you believe in fauns?” She suddenly asked. I’ve read about those before. Maybe from English class. I wasn’t entirely sure about the term, but the first thing that came to my mind was that theme park ride that looks like it came straight from a music box. Now that I’ve grown, what I was outlining in my head was a carousel. Even now, though, I still haven’t gotten the chance to have a ride. I thought fauns were the seats that circle around until the song stops. “No, I don’t know much about them.” I sniffed while wiping a tear off my cheeks. “Oh, my dear brother. Surely you know Santa Claus?” “Duh! He gave me 2 toy trucks last Christmas!” I bragged. “Well, lucky you! But fauns, they are a little like your goody-two-shoes Santa Claus, but way more wicked!” I was just listening. I completely lost focus on why I was crying in the first place. Then she added, “Fauns have the torso of a man, but have the body and legs of a goat! In the past, men worshiped goats, but there was a rebellion among those who could not stand eating more plants and herbs caused by the scarcity of meat in their area. Those rebels viciously killed and ate the goats that guarded their chapels. The villagers say the gods who handle mankind turned half of their bodies into goats as punishment, so they will think twice before eating themselves. In addition to that, they had to serve an important role: To rummage the neighborhoods in the city and take away disobedient children, bring them home to the village, and feast on their meat.”
“You don’t want to be one of the unlucky ones, do you now, George?”
“‘Course not!” I stuttered.
It was just cliffhanger at that point. She just left me to my wild, young imagination. My mind was completely taken away from thinking about the theme park, though. One thing I knew for sure, was that she loved telling stories, and she told the best ones.
Back in our dimly lit living room, Raven shifted beside me, patted the cushion of the sofa before sitting. I thought to myself, there it is, her story-telling position.
A long, long time ago, in a very small planet, only the smallest animals to insects lived there. One for each specie. It was separated by 3 divisions. Land, water, and air. The land and the water kingdoms were neighbors. They have always lived by one another, traded and shared resources. And like us here on Earth, they each had their purpose and way of living.
Being a predator is forbidden. The arachnids took care of the bad guys. They caught and trapped the ones who did not follow their laws. For example, it was strictly illegal to eat animal meat. They were all herbivores. The planet was just really small and they could not afford eating themselves. Basically, the arachnids were the peacemakers.
“Ah! Like policemen!”
“But, what are arachnits?”
“Like spiders and scorpions. Kind’a like bugs, but without antennas. Get it now?”
“Their system, however, is only for those in land and seas. The air kingdom was not part of that. They had a separate life of their own. Like a federal state. Learned it in Politics.”
“Hmm… When they are in the same group, but have different rules, maybe. You’ll learn it when you grow up, ”
“I don’t think I can handle that,”
“Citizens of the air kingdom, the birds and others who were able to fly, soared high up in the sky and only lived in the highest trees. They did not need rules. They were peaceful and they were free.”
“So they didn’t want to join the other kingdoms? How cruel,”
“They just didn’t want to join the drama, I guess.”
“Hang on, I’m getting there.”
“So the two kingdoms did not live harmoniously. The fishes and the mammals had always collided ideas. Mr. Eel and Mr. Hedgehog fought regularly. The rabbit and the turtle would kill each other for shade on sunny days.”
“The only one in that planet with the knowledge of both kingdoms is the frog. He could dive underwater, and wander on the grounds. Everyone was friends with him. When the planet was in chaos, and food was being deprived from one another, they knew they needed to unite the quarreling kingdoms. Eventually, they voted for Mr. Frog as their one true ruler, the highest of them all.”
“So they all lived happily ever after?”
“Not even close. What do you think will I punish the frog for, then?”
“Since the Frog became the great ruler, it became quieter. Mr. Spider and his assistant, Ms. Crab, received lesser reports of plant thieves. For every problem, the Frog had a clever solution. First, he gathered everyone and keenly chose the most faithful guards. He did not need the strong ones, he said. ‘What’s the point of strength if they will not stand against their benefit?’ That was his reason for it. Then, he appointed leaders for every kingdom, the ones who will give him status of each livelihood. He demanded meetings once in awhile, and that included the leaders of the air kingdom.”
“One of them was Ms. Owl, a previous messenger. She used to deliver goods that the air kingdom traded to the land and water animals. When she was called as one of the leaders, she kept her job as a messenger, but strictly about delivering important messages to and from the ruler only. She was utmost trusted by the one true ruler. He personally chose her because as I said, the Frog has always fancied loyalty. He knew how much she loved her job. It is true, she enjoyed being helpful to the citizens of their planet.
Years have passed, the friendship between the frog and the owl have grown stronger. They became the best of friends, and relied on no other than each other.
The day that summer ended, started rain. From drizzle to a downpour, it did not stop for days. This caused the kingdom’s famine. A lot of animals could not work on rainy days, so they hibernated. They’ve slept for many days that their supply of food had been less and less. Eventually, more citizens stopped working, they became weak. Once again, they were in a crisis. It was a big problem for the ruler. He could not stand seeing everyone suffering. He had many sleepless nights thinking about a solution. He then ordered Ms. Owl to send a message to the neighboring planet.
“I need you to run to other animals we could ask help from,” said the frog under his breath, almost frail from lack of sleep.
“We have not set foot on their land nor held a conversation with animals that were not part of us, but right now is the time to reach out.”
“Request for excess crops or fruits if they have any, and we will figure out a form of payment later on.”
“Got it,” the owl hurriedly turned away and flew through the castle’s window. She alighted to the nearest planet she saw, a planet slightly bigger than theirs.
To be continued…