• Maelstrom Magazine

The Loss of a Flower - Gavin Dominique

If you listen close, you can still hear the cries of the poor wood nymphs...

There once was an island, an island called Ilara. This island was home to a village of Wood Nymphs. They were secluded from the rest of the world and because of this the island thrived and was overflowing with the power of nature itself and the frail beauty of the flowers and trees. The island was alive and well until the incident.

It was about five thousand years ago; when the sun was still praised as god and the moon still worshiped in fear. The barbarian tribe of Skolgimm had chosen to venture out in search of the mystical island. They had believed that the Wood Nymph queen, Nikaia, was hoarding an enchanted flower made of pure gold. They hoped to take the flower and sacrifice it to their god of the feast, Vilnir, because for the past eight moons their people had been starving, having raped the land of its resources.

They began their journey on the dawn of the ninth moon. They brought every able-bodied soldier they could, packed as many resources as they could spare, and brought every ax, torch, and sword they could hold to make sure they would get this flower. They traveled for days before they found the island of Ilara, nearly out of food they decided to set up camp on the beach before exploring the island. Having run out of their own supplies they chopped down trees for fire and killed the nearby animals for food that night. In the morning, they set off for the center of the island, where they believed the queen was located.

The island wasn’t very big, but it was filled with every recourse one could ever need. Enormous and sturdy trees, long and thick vines hanging in batches of about ten or more from from every branch of the giant trees, clean, fresh water resting peacefully in the still ponds throughout the island, and a multitude of food sources to enjoy; from fish from the ponds and the sea, beautiful berries and fruit growing in bushes and from the vines, to the gorgeous grazing dear and fluffy white rabbits. The barbarians only saw these things to be used, and as they travelled the island cut down trees, tore down vines, dirtied the ponds, and slaughtered the herds of grazing deer.

After a few hours journey they made it to the center of the island and were greeted by the beautiful village of the Wood Nymphs. They lived in small houses that seemed to be the trunks of giant oak trees, in the center of the village stood an enormous oak tree. The queen's place. It was a beautiful oak tree standing so high it touched the clouds and was covered in thick foliage and beautiful and vibrant colored flowers. As the barbarians walked through the village they were greeted with smiles and laughter, while they responded with growls and threats.

When they arrived at the entrance to the giant tree they were greeted by guards who asked them why they were there, they responded saying they had come to speak to the queen. The Wood Nymphs, ignorant to the barbarians' true intentions, let them in. They barged in and yelled, “Queen! Where is the golden flower of Ilara!” The queen, as beautiful as a blooming lily, chuckled to herself and responded, “Golden flower? Whatever do you speak of?” Outraged the barbarians began to destroy the place, one grabbed Queen Nakaia by the throat and yelled,” You dare lie! Show us the flower!” Trying to catch her breath she said, “I told you, there is no flower…”

The barbarians began destroying the beautiful island. Trees were chopped down and left to rot. Vines were pulled down and used as whips to hit the poor wood nymphs and the scared creatures of the island. Flowers and bushes were either rooted, stomped, or beaten by the barbarians swords. Animals were slaughtered and thrown into the still ponds making them churn with dark red swirls. And the poor Wood Nymphs homes were set ablaze by the barbarians torches. The beautiful island was destroyed.

After the vile attack, the barbarians gathered their supplies and departed from the island. Unknown to the ravenous eye of the tribe, the nature around them was dying, for the Wood Nymphs of Ilara island were what kept the surrounding lands so beautiful. So slowly, the trees starting rotting and shedding their leaves, flowers starting wilting and turning various shades of gray, berry bushes and fruit vines started falling apart and their fruit turned rotten, all the fish in the sea perished and turned the water to poison, the land became unfertile, and all animals either perished or evacuated the area in search of clean water.

The barbarians returned home to find their people perished, their broken houses different shades of dark brown and green, their land the pale color of death, and their cattles rotting bodies falling apart. They had destroyed their own tribe. They tried to grow plants but the seeds seemed to turn to dust, they tried hunting but all the animals had gone away, and they had tried fishing, but the water had turned acid like. Their only hope was to leave and find a new land, but they knew it was too late. The tribesmen who had gone on the voyage had been starving for weeks now, they knew that there was no hope. They found what wives and children they had and laid with them in their final moments before perishing.

One barbarian, who had only a wife and daughter, found his family in the ruins of his home. He lay a hand on his daughter's check and say, “I’m sorry, my flower.”

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