Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Battle of the Standing Stones

                Sir Rodney stood at the edge of the woods. He gazed into the clearing, his eyes taking in every detail of the low hill. The grass was knee high and very green. At the top of the hill, stones were arrayed in a circle around the peak. This circle of stones was a sacred place to Sir Rodney. It was where his mother and father had exchanged vows, and where his father’s funeral pyre had been built. And today, it was where he would finally bring honor back to his family’s name.
                On the far side of the hill, he knew another man waited on the edge of the woods. Sir Malcom, though he did not deserve the title. The scallywag had murdered his father and laid the blame at Sir Rodney’s feet. He had been tried as a kinslayer, and though he had not been found guilty, the shame had driven him from his home. Malcom then took his father’s land and his ancestral home. Today, Sir Rodney had returned to his home, to this sacred hill. Today he would finally see justice.
                Sir Rodney strode out into the sunlight. He drew his sword as he walked up the hill. The cool weight of the hilt felt good in his hands. As he reached the top, he saw a flutter of purple and knew that Sir Malcom was making his way out of the woods as well. The other knight already had his sword drawn. Sir Malcom approached without a word. When he reached the opposite edge of the stone circle, he paused, looking at Sir Rodney with eyes black with hate and disdain. Sir Rodney raised his blade to a defensive position, and began a slow advance towards his mortal enemy.
                The two circled each other for several moments. Then Sir Malcom brought his sword up above his head, and then down with a vicious slash aimed at Rodney’s left arm. Sir Rodney deflected the blow with the edge of his blade and countered with a quick slash at his foe’s shoulder. Malcom stepped to the side, and Sir Rodney’s blade met only air. Malcom’s next blow was aimed at Rodney’s legs. Always his weakest point, Sir Rodney jumped back and brought his sword down to protect his legs. This caused him to be slightly off balance, and though he did block the initial blow, Malcom had time to bring his sword around, and cut deeply into Rodney’s left arm.
                Rodney cried out as fire shot up his arm. He could no longer hold his sword with both hands, so he shifted his left foot behind him, and held his sword in front of him, now with only his right hand. The smirk on Sir Malcom’s face was premature, however, as Sir Rodney pushed off with his left foot, and delivered a fast and deep thrust to the smirking knight’s thigh. He fell to his knees and screamed his surprise and rage. Sir Rodney jumped back out of reach. The two glared at each other, catching their breath. After a moment, Sir Rodney took a deep breath, and his face hardened. The muscles in his legs knotted and propelled him in a mighty lunge at his enemy. Sir Malcom brought up his sword to deflect the thrust, but Sir Rodney was already pulling his sword up and over that of Sir Malcom. He danced to one side and past Sir Malcom, bringing his sword down behind him. His blade cut deeply into Sir Malcom’s back. His father’s killer gurgled, and fell slowly onto his face. Dead.


                John turned around and laughed. “Now that was a good round!”
                Steve rolled over, his “sword” lying on the ground next to him. It was a PVC pipe with foam glued to it forming a “blade” and tape wrapped around the base forming a “hilt.” “I thought I had you at the end there!”
                John held out his hand and helped Steve to his feet. The two walked to one edge of the stone circle, and sat down to rest.
After five minutes or so, John picked up his sword. “Shall we go again?”
“But of course, good sir!” Steve shouted in a bad imitation of a British accent.
Steve walked over to where he had left his sword on the ground, and the two walked back to opposite edges of the stone circle. They saluted each other with their blades of foam, and began to circle once more.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Archibald and the Great Chasm

Many years ago, in a land that has been almost forgotten, there lived a young man named Archibald. Archibald was a scholar and a member of the academy of scholars in his small village. On the day that our tale begins, Archibald was sitting in his office at the academy. It was a small room with stone walls. A rough wooden table was pushed against one wall, and the young man was hunched over some parchment, furiously writing. His fingers moved beads up and down in an abacus that he kept next to his parchment. He mumbled to himself, distraught over what the beads were telling him.
                “It must work! I know it must work!” Archibald cried. “The sparrow flies, leaves gently float to the ground… I must be missing something.” Archibald stood abruptly, both hands pressed firmly on the table. He turned and walks briskly out of the narrow doorway, mumbling about taking a walk.
                Archibald walked down a long hallway. There were wooden benches placed here and there – all unoccupied. There were several doors along this hallway, all look very much like the door to the room he had just left. Archibald reached the end of the hallway, and went through a set of large double doors. He blinked up at the sun high overhead, and began to walk down the dusty street.
                “Archibald! Have you decided to come up for fresh air?” The voice belonged to a jovial looking fellow, a head taller than Archibald, with a great red beard and a wild mane of hair.
                “Aye, Henry. I cannot seem to make any progress.”
                “Well, progress can wait. I was just about to sit down for lunch – how would you like to join me? Take your mind off the problems of the academy, and just enjoy a good meal.”
                “I appreciate the offer, but…”
                “Nonsense! Even scholars and scientists have to eat!” With that, Henry put his arm around Archibald’s shoulder, and guided him down a narrow lane to a small, humble house. The walls were rough-hewn stone, and the roof was covered in thatch. Henry sat Archibald down at the table that took up a large part of one side of the one-room home. He laid out a plate of bread and cheese, with butter, apples freshly picked from the grove nearby, and ale. Archibald smiled to himself, and relaxed. He ate with his friend, and when the meal was done, insisted that he must be getting back to his work. Reluctantly, Henry let him go.
                Archibald decided to take the long way back to the academy – taking the road that went near the militia barracks. Archibald enjoyed watching the militia men train and drill. He had wanted to be a soldier when he was a young lad, but he was far too short and not nearly strong enough. So, he devoted his life to science, and watched the men of the militia do what had once been his dream.
                When Archibald reached the barracks, he saw that many of the men were lined up in the parade grounds. Each man wore a tunic of deep blue, with the militia crest prominently displayed on front and back. The men held longbows, and each had three arrows in the ground before them. At the other end of the parade grounds, perhaps 70 or 80 yards away, the militia had set up several practice dummies. These dummies were little more than bales of hay, bound to resemble the shape of a man. As Archibald watched, the sergeant yelled “Loose!” He heard the sharp “Fwip” of the bowstrings, and 10 arrows raced across the sky. Each arrow found its mark in the body of a practice dummy. The sergeant continued to shout commands, and Archibald continued to watch for a few minutes. After the third volley, Archibald turned and continued on his way.
                Although it was beyond the confines of the village, Archibald decided to make a final stop before returning to the academy. The great chasm was a spectacular sight, even to someone who grew up next to it. So deep that you could not see the bottom at high noon on the clearest of days, the chasm walls were completely vertical, white stone cliffs. The far side could be seen in the distance on clear day like this one. The walls of the chasm on that side were also white cliffs, and seemed to be just as vertical as those on Archibald’s side. He, and many others, had studied the cliffs extensively. No matter how far up or down anyone had explored, no one had ever spotted the smallest of handholds. A few bold, or foolish, explorers had tried to lower themselves down with ropes into the chasm. Most had been raised back up when they ran out of rope. One or two stubbornly refused to come back up, insisting that more and more rope be lowered to them. Those poor souls had all met the same end – a knot gave way, or a rope snapped. No one had tried to cross the chasm or climb down the cliffs in almost a decade. Many said it could not be done. Archibald was determined to prove that it was possible.
                The idea had come to him while he rested beneath a tree on a beautiful fall day three years ago. He had just secured a position at the academy, and was looking for inspiration. Each member of the academy was required to contribute to the knowledge of the academy. Some studied history, others developed new ways to grow crops or build homes. Archibald was part of the school that built machines. As he sat under a tree that fine fall day, he contemplated what sort of machine he would build first. A single red leaf came loose from the branches above his head, and he watched it float lazily towards the ground. A sudden gust of wind took the leaf back up into the air, and drove it far away from the tree and Archibald. Archibald had jumped up, and raced back to the academy, sure that he knew a way to cross the great chasm. In the three years since that day, Archibald had done countless calculations, made many, many drawings and diagrams, and even built a few prototypes. Nothing had worked out the way he had thought it should. He had started out trying to emulate a bird to fly across the chasm. While this seemed sound, he could never find a way to build a craft light enough that he would be able to fly like a bird. He had recently returned to his original inspiration: the leaf. His design was almost complete, and he would begin construction of his first prototype of this new idea soon. He just needed to solve a few problems with the calculations…
                It was late when Archibald finally returned to the Academy. The sun streamed through his window and made a lovely orange silhouette high on the wall over his table. Archibald lit two of the candles that rested on the table, and sat down to continue his work.
                Some months passed. Archibald completed his calculations, and began to construct his first prototype. The design was unprecedented, to say the least. His idea was to use a large cloth, shaped like a large rectangle, and place string along what would be the top to make a sort of skeletal structure. His intention was that a man would leap from the cliffs, allow the air rushing past him to fill the cloth, and that the strings would form a rigid structure and make the cloth spread out above him as he fell. He would then use the winds in the chasm to propel him to the far side, or, at worst, he would land safely on the bottom, like a leaf floating to the ground.
                Archibald began to test his idea using a small prototype, and a large rock to take the part of the explorer. He would climb to the top of the tallest building in town – the watch tower on the western wall – and toss the rock out with his prototype. His first attempt did not go well. The cloth did not open up as he expected, and the rock plummeted to the earth like, well, a rock. Archibald tossed the rock several more times before returning to his study room for more calculations. He had nearly worn through the bars on his abacus, and would have to replace it soon. One of his friends was working on a new calculating device – one that was labeled with numbers, and did not rely on simply counting beads. Perhaps he would be able to get his hands on one of his friend’s prototypes when his old abacus did finally give out.
                After a few days of re-designing, Archibald was ready to test his device again. Once more, he climbed up to the top of the tower and tossed the device and rock out into the air. This time, he watched the cloth open, and rock… still plummeted to the earth, although perhaps a bit slower than normal. And so, once more, Archibald retrieved his prototype and his rock, and went back to figure out how he could make his idea work. This process of designing, testing, and re-designing continued until late into the autumn months.
Archibald would have forgotten about the harvest festival, if the sign on the front door of the academy hadn’t reminded him. It stated that the academy was closed that day, and pointed towards the market square. Archibald went dutifully to the square. He would not be able to get any work done today, in any case. The academy was locked up tight during the harvest festival, and only the members of the executive council held keys.
At the square, Archibald was given a single green glove and a circlet of leaves. Archibald absentmindedly put the glove and circlet on. This year he wore the glove on his right hand, symbolizing a productive year. Wearing the glove on one’s left hand would have symbolized a year of loss. It was rare to see a glove on anyone’s left hand. So, with his left hand bare, Archibald joined the crowd of people in the market square. He danced, laughed, and had a generally enjoyable time. He spent much of time with Henry, drinking Henry’s famous ale, and reminiscing about their boyhood. The festival continued late into the night, and the sun was just peeking over the horizon when the last of the villagers finally went home to his bed.
Archibald slept late the day after the festival, and awoke feeling groggy and disoriented. When he was awake enough to realize what day it was, he jumped out of bed and hurried to the Academy. The day before the festival, he had finally finished what he hoped would be his final prototype. It was full sized, and he had attached it to a statue that he had bought from one of the members of the school of art. The statute was a life size statue of a man, but the features on the face were ruined during a failed experiment. The artist had been happy to part ways with what he considered a failed experiment. Archibald was interested in it because it was only a little heavier than a man, and roughly the same shape and size.
Archibald attached his final prototype to the statue, and took it in a hand cart to the edge of town, and then to the chasm itself. He climbed to the top of the observation tower that had been built by one of the members of the academy in an attempt to see the far side of the chasm more clearly. There was a platform at the top that extended out a dozen or so feet over the edge of the chasm. This platform had been intended to allow members of the academy to look down into the chasm more easily. Archibald intended to use it to launch his final experiment.
Everything was ready. With a deep breath, Archibald pushed the statue off the platform, and watched it fall. To his pleasure, the cloth opened up, and the statue was lifted on the strong winds over the chasm. It began to float slowly downward, and was soon lost to his sight in the evening mist. Archibald shouted and clapped his hands. A huge grin was plastered on his face as he returned to town.
Henry stopped him in the street as we walked back to the academy. “Ho, there, Archibald, you look happier than a hog in a haystack!”
“It worked, Henry! I tested it out over the chasm today, and it worked!”
“Well, I’ll be! This calls for a celebration! I saved a little ale from the festival, how about we commemorate this fine day with a drink?”
“I would love to celebrate, my friend, but I have so much work to do. The next step is to make a machine that a man can use!”
“Come now, can that not wait until the morning?”
“Perhaps I will join you in an hour or two.”
“Suit yourself. I will get a proper celebration ready, and if you aren’t there in two hours, I shall come to that academy of yours and carry you out.”
Archibald laughed and shook his friend’s hand, slapping him on the back. “It’s a deal!”
Archibald made it to his celebration without being fetched that night – an unusual occurrence for him. He enjoyed the company of his friends, but did not stay late. He had too much on his mind.
The next two weeks were filled with small adjustments to his design, construction of the device, preparation for the first real test, and very little sleep. Finally, it was ready. Archibald completed his device, and informed the councilman in charge of machines that he believed it was ready.
“Well, done, my boy! It may seem like it has been a long road, but some of our best machines have taken many more years to even become prototypes. When will you hold the first test?”
“In a week’s time. I have prepared three devices, and found three volunteers eager to explore the chasm.”
“Well done, indeed! I look forward to attending!”
The day of the final test arrived, and Archibald carried his three precious devices with him to the observation tower. There he was met by three young militiamen: John McColling, Robert Shannonson, and Maxwell Oakson. Each had distinguished himself as brave and strong. More importantly to Archibald, each one had a passion for exploration. The morning of the test was clear and bright. A cool wind blew out over the chasm. It was perfect.
Archibald had instructed the three on how to use the devices, and they were ready. The militiamen wore their deep blue tunics, but also carried the sturdy cloths of a woodsman in their packs. Each man was also equipped with a dagger, food, water, and other supplies. Much of the town had come out to watch the test – it was, after all, the most unique attempt to cross the chasm that anyone could remember. Henry was there, as well as the entire executive council. Many of Archibald’s colleagues had also come to observe. It was a very large audience indeed.
Archibald made the traditional speech, giving his name and project number, and thanking the volunteers and the official observers from the academy. He then shook hands with the brave volunteers, and stepped back to observe.
The men jumped one at a time, each cloth opening up and catching the wind. As they drifted off toward the far side of the chasm, they drifted lower and lower. It seemed certain that they would be dashed against the cliffs on the far side. Then, to everyone’s amazement (except Archibald, for he had observed the cliffs many times), a sudden gust of wind on the far side of the chasm blew upwards, caught the men, and carried them up and up. The crowd gasped and shouted in unison as the men made it over the lip of the chasm on the far side. No one could see clearly, but it looked like all three cloths came to rest a few yards past the far edge of the chasm.
Archibald lifted his hand in a final farewell to those brave men. He hoped that, when the winds shifted in the spring, they would be able to use those same devices to return home. Only time would tell.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Fowlstien Letters - The Sack of Chickentopia

      This addition to the Fowlstien letters is inspired by a challenge given by a good friend of mine to his writer friend:

“Compose a short story based on the following items: an apple, theater happy and sad masks, a lightbulb, a book, an arrow, a key, a magnifying glass, a tree, and a lock. They can be used as actual items, or can be used as inspiration for an idea: example, a computer could make you think of cubicle workers.”
Each of those items either appears in the following story, or inspired part of it.

This is an excerpt from the Fowlstien letters. Dr. Fowlstien had sent his nephew, Garth, news of his discovery of Chickentopia, an ancient civilization of chickens. This is a part of their communications, and the stories that Dr. Fowlstien shared with his nephew.

To my Dearest Uncle, Theodore,

            It is grand to hear from you, Uncle. I always enjoy the tales you tell of you adventures and expeditions. It reminds me of when I was a child, when you sit me down and read to me out of that leather bound journal that you used to record your discoveries in. I would sit and snack on an apple or some other healthy snack (for, as you recall, my parents were ever health-conscious) as I listened. I am very excited to hear of your discovery. Who would have thought that Chickens were capable of building such a grand civilization! Your discovery could be the key to understanding how civilizations are formed, how they rise, and how they fall on a level that we have never before dreamed possible. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely yours,


My dear Garth,

            Thank you for your kind words. I too remember those visits with great fondness. It pleases me greatly that you enjoy my adventures, for I crave a boon from you. I have become ill of late, and sorely desire that my work be made known to the world. The board has abandoned me, so I turn to you, dear nephew. I have gone through my findings, and compiled the most fascinating, most astounding, and most enlightening discoveries into a single tome. This is my life’s work, as the saying goes. I have printed two copies of this record. I include one of those copies now. Please keep it safe. If I should breathe my last prior to publishing this record, I pray that you publish it in my stead.

My sincerest thanks,

Uncle Theodore

Dr. Fowlstien’s Tome, as he called it, contained many stories. One of the most compelling is that of Barmintos, the last scribe of Chickentopia. His is the story of the fall of the great civilization that Dr. Fowlstien discovered.

          It has been many seasons since my home fell. There are few of us left, and it has been far too long since anyone has spoken of our old home, and how it came to be that we now live as barbarians – scratching in the dirt and serving the giants. It astonishes me that even these brutes could stand to live under the iron fist of the giants. They feed us, but occasionally take one of the flock, and eat them. Worse still, they separate the roosters from the hens (as the barbarians seem to call their men and women), and so prevent children from being fertilized, and instead steal most of the children for whatever unholy rite is conducted in the great building they live in. I morn for the home I once had – free from the giants, before the walls fell and Wild Ones came. I pray that someone finds this history and will take heed, lest they too make the same mistakes that we did. This is the final chronicle of Chickentopia, written by one who lived through the fall of our great land. I am Bramintos, once a scholar, and now a prisoner.

            Bramintos begins his tale many years before he was born. He describes a strong people, with powerful armies that drove out what he called the barbarians, the Wile Ones, and the Hunters. The people grew prosperous, and no one wanted for anything. He describes the complex political system of his homeland, but the most interesting part of his story begins around the time that he was born. The king and his administrators, once known as paragons of justice, had begun to take bribes. At first it was subtle, with only a few administrators accepting bribes. However, the corruption spread until it became common knowledge that, with enough money, you could literally get away with murder. It was a murder that first showed Bramintos that his country was not as prosperous as it seemed.

The night that I got my first glimpse of what was to come has been burned into my memory forever. I was but a hatchling, still seeking shelter beneath my mother’s wings on dark nights. This night was especially dark. A thick layer of clouds obscured the stars and the moon, but no rain fell, and the wind did not stir. It was a still, quiet, heavy night. I was awakened from my slumber by my Mother suddenly pulling me and my sisters into the corner of the small room where we slept, hiding us completely beneath her wings and her body. I saw through her feathers that my father was up and heading towards the door. He was putting on the war-claw that had been given to him by his father; the same war-claw that had been used to defeat so man of the Hunters by my grandfather. Before my father could finish strapping on the claw, the still locked door to our home burst in, and a creature out of the worst nightmares of our people tore into our home. He ran on all fours, covered in fur that gleamed red like fire in the feeble light filtering in from the street. His eyes glowed fiercely, his teeth flashed like dozens of knives. My mother pushed me down further, and I lost sight of what happened next. I heard a crash and a scream, and then silence. After what seemed like a lifetime, my mother lifted her wings and I saw what I feared most – my father was dead. The door was splintered to pieces, and room was a wreck. This was the first time I would see a Hunter, but it would not be the last.

          My mother took us to her sister’s house that night, and left us there in the morning. At the time, I did not know where she went, but I later discovered what transpired. My mother went to the justice building, to inform the Protector of what had happened, and see to it that no one else fell under the gnashing teeth of a Hunter. Her attempts at seeing the Protector, or any of his staff were met with great resistance. This seemed strange to her, for my father had been one of their number – a staff member of the Protector. My mother was eventually sent away without any satisfactory answers. She went back the next day, and the next and the next, always being met with excuses and dismissed without ever seeing anyone. It was not until the fifth day that she was granted a meeting with a staff member of the Protector. The staff member was named Grinswald. He was one of the senior members, and had been my father’s friend. Grinswald told my mother that they were aware of what had happened, and to stop insisting on seeing the Protector – for no good could come of it. He did not allow her to plead her case, nor did he tell her anything else.

          It was many years later that I learned the truth of what was going on in the Protector’s office at that time. My father was not the only staff member murdered that night or in the following nights. Fully half of their number were slain by Hunters. The Protector himself was not attacked, but instead of mobilizing the Protectors or asking for help from the Guard, he decided to cover up the murders. Many rumors persist about his motivation. Some said that he feared losing his job, others that he was trying to avoid a panic by the populace, still others say that the Hunters or the Wild Ones had purchased his silence. It matters not what his motivation was, for he was recalled to the palace within a few weeks of the murders, and never heard from again.

          It was a strange time, with the office of the Protector gutted, our Protector recalled. There was no one left to defend us, but we did not fear overmuch, for there had been no attack on our land for over a generation. This complacency was our downfall. I did not know it at the time, but many more Protectors, officers, and Guards were murdered over the next year. Rarely would more than one or two be slain in a single district, and never more than a three or four in a month. The official report was always the same – burglars. But even those of us who had lived through it did not guess at the truth. The Hunters were returning.

          In my second year I began to study at the academy in the palace. I trained to be a scholar of history and science. I had just begun to learn of the hero Swooprren when the invasion began. The Wild Ones from the north were the first to invade our weakened land.  They were great roosters, with blood red combs and huge battle spurs on their feet. It was rumored that some could even fly like the eagles of the western canyons, though I never saw any concrete evidence of this. The guard was called up from the districts, and the Protectors were ordered to bring up the militia and call for volunteers. Many responded, and the ranks of our army swelled with new recruits. Still, no one saw the evil genius behind what was happening. Our army was large, our weapons sharp, and our armor gleamed bright in the sunlight. But there were few seasoned veterans, few who had patrolled the wastelands of the north to keep the Wild Ones at bay before the time of peace. There were very few who had been trained by those of the generation who had seen war. We did not realize it at the time, but every murder that had been perpetrated by a Hunter had been for a single purpose: to weaken our army and make us ripe for conquest. And ripe we were.

I did not serve as a foot soldier, but was assigned as a messenger, map maker, and records keeper. It was this assignment that saved my life. Our army went out to meet the Wild Ones on a bright spring day. I was with the commanders on top of a hill overlooking the battlefield. We stood beneath a great tree, observing what we thought would be a swift victory.

          As our army was still lining up on the edge of the field, a great war-cry rose from the other side. I looked up, and saw hundreds of Wild Ones flying across the field. They ran along the ground, screaming and flapping their wings. They wore no armor, and each wielded a battle spur twice the size of his head on each leg. Just before reaching our line, the Wild Ones leapt into the air, flapping their wings to get over the first line and land in the middle of our ranks. Our army was in a panic. Few of the recruits had ever seen a Wild One, and most had only had a few days or weeks of training. Our army began to run in all directions, but everywhere they turned, they were met by the bite of a battle-spur.

          Before the battle was over, I was sent with all speed to the palace to call for reinforcements. I did not see the end of the slaughter, but I know what happened. The Wild Ones killed all of our soldiers. They captured and executed our commanders. The Wild Ones allowed only a single warrior to go free. He ran back to the palace, covered in blood and sweat, bringing news of the slaughter.

I had arrived only a few hours before he did, and was trying to find reinforcements to go and help my comrades. The generals that were left would send no one. Instead they recalled all troops, guards, and Protectors to the palace and the surrounding city. Provisions were gathered in, and the walls were lined with warriors. It did not take long for the Wild Ones to arrive at the palace. Seeing an army waiting on the walls, the Wild Ones surrounded the city, and began the siege of Chickentopia.

The siege lasted for several months. In that time, a plan for the survival of our race was conceived. We would send out young males and females at night, hoping to sneak a few through the lines of the enemy. They would make their way to the coast, and find a way to flee this land. We had heard of a land where our kind lived in peace across the sea. The Wild Ones had no boats and feared the water, so it was thought that, if we could make it to the sea, and we were able to find a sea-worthy vessel still intact, then the Wild Ones could not pursue us.

I was chosen as one of the young males to attempt the escape. However, we were never able to try to sneak through the siege. The day before we had planned to make our escape attempt, the Wild Ones attacked; and not just Wild Ones, but Hunters as well. The Hunters attacked the walls with a fearless ferocity that is truly terrifying. Many were able to leap onto the walls and kill dozens of warriors before they were finally brought down. While the Hunters were attacking, the Wild Ones waited just outside of the range of our weapons. Once we seemed to be thoroughly engaged with the Hunters, the Wild Ones all quietly moved around to the other side of our walls, in the hope that we would move troops to the side where the Hunters were attacking. This tactic would have worked, but for a young officer named Henwry who noticed the quiet movement, and called his men to hide just inside the walls on the side where the Wild Ones would soon attack. When the battle with the Hunters was at its fiercest, the Wild Ones gave their war-cry and stormed the opposite side of the walls. Henwry was ready for them, and met them at the walls, pouring boiling oil and hurling stones at the Wild Ones assaulting the base of the walls. The Wild Ones were pushed back at first, but quickly re-grouped for a second assault. The second attack was more deliberate, and more successful. Rather than an all out charge on the walls, the Wild Ones brought up many platforms, rolled in on wheels. Henwry tried to repel these platforms with his oil and stones, but there were too many Wild Ones, and they kept coming no matter how many he slew. When the platforms reached the walls, the Wild Ones leapt on top the platforms, and from the platforms to the walls. It did not take long for Henwry’s unit to be overwhelmed, and for the Wild Ones to rush along the walls and into the city, killing all that they found. The Hunters broke through the lines on their side of the city soon after the Wild Ones reached the city itself.

The sack of Checkentopia was, I think, a quick process. Few were left in the city after the walls fell, and all who had the strength to fight were on the walls. I have heard of none who escaped after the Wild Ones broke through Henwry’s unit. However, Henwry gave our escape plan a chance of success.

When Henwry noticed the Wild Ones moving around to the other side, he sent a messenger to those of us who were chosen to escape. We quickly made our way to a small, little known gate. It was used to allow sewage to flow out of the city, and does not appear to open from the outside. However, there was a secret way to open it. We opened the gate, and made our way through the sewage canal to the outside. At that point, the Wild Ones were all attacking Henwry and did not notice us. We fled quickly and quietly to the coast, and were able to find a small fishing boat, abandoned by some poor soul as he fled to the doomed palace for protection. I do not know why this boat escaped destruction when so many others were burned, but we were thankful for it. We made our way west and north across the sea, hoping to find that fabled land of peace. Our boats were not made for sea voyages, and rarely went far from the coast. No one had tried to cross the sea for generations, and only legends remained from the last time it had been attempted.

We rowed and sailed as best we could, but a storm arose on the afternoon of the second day. Our little boat was thrown about, and I was sure that we would be dashed to pieces. We were soaked, and driven far from the course we had set for ourselves. When the storm subsided, our boat was still floating, and everyone was still in it. We continued to row west and north for the next three days. Finally, we saw what appeared to be land, and began to row towards it. Land it was, but not the land of legend. We dragged out boat ashore, and began to search for signs of civilization. We carefully searched the rivers and fields, and quickly found others who looked like us. But, they could not speak, or at least seemed to not understand what we said, nor could we understand any of the sounds that they made. They seemed to spend their days scratching in the dirt for bugs to eat. This seemed distasteful to us at first, but we grew hungry when our provisions ran out, and found ourselves doing the same thing.

We lived this way for several years, following the barbarians and watching them closely for tips on how to survive in this land. In our third year in this new land, we had our first glimpses of the giants. Huge creatures, as tall as six roosters, walking on two legs with thin wings that they used to grasp things. They saw us too, for they came and forced us into cages, and carried us to what must be some kind of farm. They put us in a large caged in area, and began to feed us. This seemed good at first – until they began to steal our unborn children. Then they took away some of our number, and we never saw them again. I can only assume that they eat the ones they take.

There are only a few of us left from the group that escaped. We hide from the giants, and have managed to avoid being taken. The giants sometimes allow the barbarians to have children, and we have managed to have a few children of our own. Our children are not like the barbarians, thank goodness, and we have taught them what we have learned of the barbarians, and of the giants.

I am old now. I do not know if I will die from age, or if the giants will finally catch me. Either way, I do not expect it to be long. I write this, the final record of my people, and leave it in the care of my children. I pray that they will preserve it – perhaps even escape from this place with it.

            This is the end of Barmintos’ record. Dr. Fowlstien does not know what happened to him, or to his children. He was not able to find any more written records of the chicken civilization.