The Ice and The Jackal

Kerchaka gripped his son firmly around the ankle, letting the shaven haired lad dizzy himself slightly trying to lock his gaze onto the ground below. This was the way of their people; the Namlo Tribe were known for their effectiveness. Their cunning in eliciting results.

Not their patience.
Or compassion.
Kerchaka growled slightly.

“Monchaka, you are too reckless. Your mother is displeased. I am disappointed. Chief Hoontisa desires that you become fruit harvester of the Deep Forests. For you to learn discipline. For you to find the way.”

Monchaka said nothing, merely stared at him gloomily with his cross eyed, inverted gaze. Kerchaka sighed heavily and dropped the boy on his head, before squatting gingerly and resting his hindquarters on the nearby log. The child rolled gingerly to his feet; he had not made a sound when he impacted and for that, at least, Kerchaka was proud. It was the way of their people. Monchaka may growing more bullheaded, but- like the bull- he was not growing weak because of it. Kerchaka beckoned.

“Come here son. Let me tell you the story of the Ice and the Jackal.”
“Ugh. Again father?”
“Yes. Until you have learned it. It is one of the oldest stories from our people.”
“It is also short and boring.”
“Then heeding its simple lessons should be no challenge to you.”

Monchaka sighed in defeat and settled down next to his father. Kerchaka took a deep breath, the way GrandSeeress the Elder Mother had taught him many moons ago, visualizing the atmosphere of this rich tale and solemnly began.

“The coldest ice is always crouching atop the highest mountain. Fear… Hate… Greed… they cannot survive in lower atmospheres. There are too many other options. No, the Ice demands that it alone be king.”

Monchaka plopped his chin in his hands with a sigh, mentally saying every word in perfect cadence.

“The Jackal knew this. But you see, the Jackal had his own problem. The Fire. He wanted to prove that nothing could conquer him, but the Fire nipped at him constantly, threatening to burn him alive. Until one day the Jackal decided to solve his problem and ascend to the top of the mountain. To master the Ice’s crown and quench the unyielding heat.

Day after day he traveled, his strong muscles carrying him up the mountain’s surface with the swiftness of a stampeding wildebeest. On and on he pushed, the Fire always rekindling itself on his tail, his back, his throat. Finally, the Jackal crested the mountain’s peak. Ice was waiting for him.”

Monchaka stirred. He was beginning to be interested in this part again, despite himself. Kerchaka smiled inwardly and pretended not to notice, deepening his voice instead and continuing on.

“Ice struck at the Jackal, but the Fire made him nimble. Agile. Over and over he dodged the frosty strikes. Strain was beginning to overtake Ice and he stumbled; in that instant, the Jackal took a fiery leap through the air. There was a sound like breaking glass and when the Jackal landed, the crown was on his head and Ice was nowhere to be seen. Neither was Fire. There was only a warm feeling tingling in the pit of his belly.

The Jackal had achieved his goal. With the power of Fire, he had won Ice’s crown. He now ruled Fear, Hate, and Greed. So I ask you- who is Fire?”

Monchaka stood regally and stared his father in the face, tiny lungs breathing evenly in the firelit night. His voice strong and clear.

“Fire is Pride, father.”
Kerchaka nodded.

“Correct. And when Pride crowns us, what is the only domain under our dominion?”

Monchaka sighed.
“Downfall.”

Kerchaka nodded, rising to his feet.
“Quench your fire in the valley my son.”

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