[WWC] [WaR] One Gift
#1
WaR Prompt:  Juvenile Fantasy, Steampunk/Victorian, Pokemon Main
Characters:  11,937
Target:  Cash

Author's Note:  It was a challenge figuring out how to tackle the roll.  The story encompasses a wide time frame, but I tried to find a theme that mainly occurred around the industrial revolution.  Writing it for children was even harder.  Somehow though, I think this works.  Hopefully.


One Gift

In ancient times, the three Grand Eagle Spirits fought amongst themselves, disturbing the harmony of the world.  Before the Great Guardian could rise to quell the turmoil, the sisters struck down their brother with fire and with ice.  He fell to the frozen lands below, defeated and broken.

The great spirit, who we now call Zapdos, knew that he had been bested by his brethren and began to measure his remaining time in breaths.

But a Young Child found the spirit and she felt great sorrow for him for his once great majesty had been laid low.  She could see his painful shudders.  She could smell the burns upon his form.  She could hear the groans of agony.

The Young Child knew boundless compassion and she brought the spirit into her home.  She tended his wounds and provided him nourishment.  She protected him from the elements.  She watched him day and night.  It took many cycles for the great spirit to heal and when he recovered, the Young Child had already come of age.  Yet no matter the cost, she attended the spirit until his wounds were no more and he could take flight once again.

But leaving was difficult as Zapdos had been forever changed.  He now knew of love.  He realized that our people cared about the land and animals who lived there, that we cared for each other, and that we cared about him.

“Hear me people of the tribes,” Zapdos said, “You have saved me when I had fallen and taught me much about this world.  You have embraced me as an honored brother.  You have adopted me into your family.  Know this: forever more, I will watch over you and assist you in your times of need.  To find me, seek me out in my home on the highest mountain on the longest mountain range.”

Then the great spirit departed and it would be many years until we would see him again.

Our earliest songs tell of how the tribes once hunted giant beasts for food.  These beasts travelled in herds and the herds would slowly wander across the frozen lands.  But slowly their numbers began to dwindle and our people grew worried that we would starve.

But one man, a Great Shaman, was a descendent of the Young Child. He remembered Zapdos’s promise.  The people were in need.

So the Great Shaman climbed the highest mountain on the longest mountain range.  He was young and easily able to chart the path, the stone could not hold him back.  Upon the top, he proclaimed, “Oh great and mystical spirit, whose wings light the sky, who watches over all the people.  Grant the tribes the opportunity to find food in these lands.”

Zapdos considered the Great Shaman’s words.  He knew the people were suffering.  The ancient herds of beasts had thinned and we were hungry.

So Zapdos granted him the Gift of Earth, a knowledge of lush new lands beyond the icy north.  That the tribes would know how to tend the fields for sustenance, how to forage the plentiful trees and bushes, and how to hunt the wild Bouffalant.

The Great Shaman thanked the spirit, and returned to us.  We would venture forward to share in the bounty of this new land and live in harmony with it.  And for many, many years we did.

But such a peace cannot last.  A world away, men learned to cross the great seas and harness fire.  They had forgotten how to live in harmony with the land.  And when their homes could not sustain them anymore, they left and came here.

These were the newcomers.  At first they were few and harmless.  Explorers who wrote on treeskin and traded us tools for our trinkets.  Then they came with fire and curses.  They stormed our lands with sticks that shot embers, slaying entire tribes of people.  They took whatever they desired.

But as much as the fire burned us, the curses were worse.  It ate at us, like a sickness that would not pass.  The curses marked us with spots, weakened our spirit, and slay many, many people.  It struck men, women, and children.  Few were spared.

We were dying.

And so the chiefs gathered.  They knew that something must be done. They selected among themselves one of the strongest among them, a courageous warrior.  They named him Chief of Chiefs.  They decided to go to war.

But the Chief of Chiefs knew the people were not ready for war.  The tribes did not have the sticks that shot fire.  Disease had ravaged our numbers; we were but few.  If we fought, our strong would perish.  The people were in need.

So the Chief of Chiefs climbed the highest mountain on the longest mountain range.  The high peaks and steep cliffs posed no challenge for the veteran warrior.  Upon the top, he called out, “Oh great and powerful spirit, whose thunder shakes the world, who watches over all the people.  Grant the tribes the ferocity to drive away these newcomers.”

Zapdos considered the Chief of Chiefs’ words.  He knew the people were suffering.  The newcomers pushed us out of the lands we once roamed

So Zapdos granted him the Gift of Fire, a burning inner strength.  The warriors would gain great courage and cunning.  They would know how to fight from the trees and stand up against great adversity.

The Chief of Chiefs thanked the spirit, and returned to us.  He gathered many warriors of many tribes and taught them the gift.  Together we fought, united as never before.

But even the Gift of Fire was not enough to defeat the newcomers.  Their warriors wielded weapons of unimaginable power.  Our warriors died.  The Chief of Chiefs was slain.

With no one to oppose them, the newcomers took our homes.  They pushed us off our lands.  Upon those grounds they built mouths of iron that belched smoke and wielded flame.  They laid roads of wood and iron for their metal horses.  They transformed forests and farms into ash-covered huts amid ash-covered cities.

And as their greed grew, we were forced further and further away.  But even then, it was not far enough for the newcomers.  They commanded that we must completely abandon even the outskirts of our homes and travel hundreds of forests towards the setting sun.  That we must live in lands we do not know.

With our warriors dead and our people weakened by the curses, we knew we would all perish.

The newcomers had slain many of our chiefs.  But one woman stood out among the rest.  This Tired Mother, concerned for her children and the children of all the tribes, remembered Zapdos’s promise.  She would lead when others could not.  She would seek the great spirit’s help.  The people were in need.

So the Tired Mother climbed the highest mountain on the longest mountain range.  She was young, but weary… oh so weary.  She took her time scaling the stones.  Upon the top, she cried, “Oh great and swift spirit, whose breath sweep over the lands, who watches over all the people.  Grant the tribes guidance as we embark on this terrible journey.”

Zapdos considered the Tired Mother’s words.  He knew the people were suffering.  We could not easily move across so great a distance.

So Zapdos granted her the Gift of Wind, a breeze that might lighten our spirits.  That the tribes would find agility in the journey despite the many hardships.

The Tired Mother thanked the spirit, and returned to us.  Worn from the climb and descent, she would be among the many who perished as the people left their homes.

Like the Gift of Fire, the Gift of Wind could not save the tribes.  Wind can flow, but it cannot feed.  Wind can whisper, but it cannot heal.  Wind can cool, but it cannot grant warmth.  It could not wipe away the bitter tears of a defeated people.  Many died from the elements, from the curses, and from hunger.

And our new homes were nothing like the ones we left behind.  In some cases, the land was fertile and able to grow the crops we needed.  But in others, the land was parched and dry.  We would die of thirst under a baking sun.

An Ancient Elder, one of the few of the older generation that survived the journey, saw only death in our people’s future.  Should nothing change, we would not last more than a cycle.  Many were weakened from the exile, including her, but she knew in her heart what she must do.  The people were in need.

So the Ancient Elder climbed the highest mountain on the longest mountain range.  Her frail bones and worn muscles cried out upon each step.  Many times she slipped and many times she stumbled.  But the tribes depended on her and that gave her perseverance.  Upon the top, she whispered, “Oh great and caring spirit, whose storms brings us life, who watches over all the people.  Grant the tribes the waters so that we may not die.”

Zapdos considered the Ancient Elder’s words.  He knew the people were suffering.  We could not survive as we were.

So Zapdos granted her the Gift of Rain.  He cried out to the sky and it replied with a rolling thunder that spread out across the deserts.

The Ancient Elder thanked the spirit, then she lay down upon the snow, for she knew she would not be able to climb down and return to us.  And she passed.

Great torrents fell upon the arid land and Zapdos’s Gift of Rain created new streams, rivers, and lakes.  Our people, though still forced to live in places that were not home, would live.

But was this life?  Though we could eat thanks to the Gift of the Earth and drink thanks to the Gift of Rain, we could only settle in places determined by the newcomers.  Though the Gift of Wind guided our steps and the Gift of Fire burned in our hearts, we could not fight the power of steel and black smoke.  So many of us had died and so much of us was lost.  We wept over all that we had suffered.

Finally, a Young Child, who long heard our tales on the knees of our people, decided to seek the great spirit.  This was not the same Young Child as the one who nursed Zapdos back to health as she had long since passed.  Yet one was descended from the other and the two shared a great love for the world and those within it.

Not all supported his quest.  Some of our people had forgotten the stories of our ancestors and said that such a journey was foolhardy.  Those that remembered knew that the Gifts did not always bring salvation and said that such a journey was pointless.

But the Young Child knew only hope.  He would not give up his journey.  The people were in need.

So the Young Child climbed the highest mountain on the longest mountain range.  He had yet to grow the strength that came with age and had to rest many times as he ascended.  But he had a fire deep within and it urged him forward.  Upon the top, upon seeing the great spirit, he said, “Wow.”

Zapdos considered the Young Child’s word.  It was a little lacking in detail.

“Child,” Zapdos rumbled, “I know why you come.  I watch over all the people and the people are suffering.  They have been killed and cursed.  They have been driven from their homes.  They live in unfamiliar lands.  They have forgotten who they are.  They have lost much to the newcomers.”

The child remained silent.

“I have given you the Gift of Earth,” the spirit continued, “so that you may grow food to feed yourselves.  I have given you the Gift of Fire, so that you may engulf your enemies.  I have given you the Gift of Wind, so that you may travel swiftly.  I have given you the Gift of Rain, so that you may not die in the deserts.  I have given you all of my gifts, but they could not help the tribes.  There are no gifts left.  There is nothing more I can do.”

The Young Child pondered this.  “No spirit, you are wrong.  You have one last gift to give.  I ask for the gift of your Voice.”

Zapdos looked upon the boy in surprise.  “My Voice?” he said. “How will my Voice help the people?”

“We have tried to fight the newcomers and failed,” the Young Child replied. “We have tried to obey the newcomers and have suffered.  So now we must try to live with the newcomers.”

“You cannot possibly live with the newcomers, for they are not people.”

“They are not people because they do not understand our ways.  They fight us because they do not see us as brothers.  They expel us because they do not see us as sisters.  They ignore us because they also do not see us as people.”

“But perhaps,” the Young Child continued, “we can change that.  With your Voice, we can share with them our tales, our stories.  We can help them learn who the tribes are and what this land means to us.  We can tell of our pain and sadness.  And in so doing, they will come to understand us.”

Zapdos considered.  He knew the people were suffering.  He would give all and more for them.

So Zapdos granted the Young Child the Gift of Voice.  That whenever he would speak, others would listen, not just with their ears, but also with their hearts.

The Young Child thanked the spirit and returned to us.  He carried the spirit’s Voice and with it he traveled across the lands, sharing tales of the tribes with all who would listen.

And the newcomers did listen and they finally understood the tears of our people.  And in that understanding, true healing began.

But this last gift was not meant for the child alone.  For in each telling of a story, the gift was shared with all who heard.  And as they too went out and shared their stories, the gift was spread even further, until the Voice lived in all peoples and all tribes.

And in so doing, tribes began to hear tribes and people began to hear people.  That we realized that perhaps we were not so different from each other.  And that there was much that we shared.

For Love cannot come about through the fires of rage or the cold of isolation.  It can only come from the heart.  And when two people truly understand the heart of the other…

They become One.
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#2
The good:
A beautiful take on a morality tale, with a clear message that isn’t overbearing or preachy. It elevates creative solutions, companionship, and mutual understanding as good. The framing device of the storyteller, though mostly absent from the story, is unique in a good way.
Very interesting approach where the character is the whole unnamed tribe; we see it struggle, and suffer, and eventually prevail. The arc feels natural, though it could benefit from having earlier glimpses of the eventual wisdom the last child shows.

Room for improvement:
There’s a few points where your narrative/viewpoint don’t quite jive. Mostly the places where you use ‘we’ – the rest of the story is tied up in an external narrator (perhaps a shaman of the tribe, it’s not specified) but saying ‘we’ unites the teller and the reader. Without a storyteller persona there’s nobody to really unite with, so either giving it a more explicit narrator or reworking those mentions could address it.
The outsiders aren’t well defined – they are described only as an invading force with overwhelming power, seizing the lands and killing/ driving off the inhabitants. Especially since your ending wraps into mutual understanding, some hints earlier on that they aren’t wholly evil, or that some speak out against their ways (perhaps it is a few voices that urge for a peace, and the juggernaut relents long enough for the tribe’s remnants to escape).

Verdict:
Staff, head grader, chief judge, ranger. My stats (always a work in progress!)
Park: Evan Morphic: Aaren Cassandra
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