The Tallest Shroom Beetle
A shroom beetle, lamenting its small stature, crawled to the top of a great mushroom. It gazed out over the Ashlands and cried, "Ha! There is no shroom beetle taller than I! There is nothing I cannot see!"
Just then, a cliff racer swooped down and plucked the beetle from its perch. The beast grinned a wide toothy grin and said, "Had you stayed on the ground, I never would have seen you. Is it not better to be short than dead?"
Alas, the beetle learned too late that forsaking one's nature brings nothing but ruin.
* * *
The Tale of Two Herders
Two guar herders met in the market square, preparing to sell their stock. The shorter of the two laughed at the other and jeered, "You bring only one guar to market? Look upon my herd! I have brought ten and twenty and stand to make a fortune!"
The tall herder merely shook his head. "You may have ten and twenty guars, but they are scrawny and frail. Better to have one steady beast than a hundred sickly ones."
The short herder released an oafish chuckle and prepared to usher his beasts into the pens. Just then, a great ash storm arrived and pummeled the market with howling winds and choking fumes.
Eventually, the storm relented. The tall herder and his great, strong guar were unharmed, but the short herder's guars were thrown this way and that, and not one of them had survived.
"Do you see now, my friend?" the tall herdsman said. "Numbers are no substitute for quality."
* * *
The Friendly Alit
A jovial alit pranced across the Ashlands, ever watchful for a beast it could call "friend." Presently it came upon a nix-hound who was preening itself in an ashpit. The alit smiled a great smile and cried out, "Greetings, friend!" The nix-hound, seeing the alit's huge teeth, panicked and dashed under a rock. The alit sighed and pranced on.
In due course it came upon a vvardvark rooting through a beetle-nest. "Hello!" the alit shouted, smiling widely and revealing its huge, sharp teeth. The vvardvark squealed in terror and scampered off into the bushes. The alit released another mournful sigh, and trundled on toward the shore.
Finally, it spotted an ash-hopper rolling in the sand. The alit summoned up its widest, most cheerful smile and said, "Hail, ash-hopper!" The ash-hopper leapt back in horror and sprung away as fast as it could.
The alit was heartbroken. "I will never have a friend as long as I have these terrible teeth!" it hissed. The beast resolved to be done with them altogether. It took a huge rock in its mouth and bit down hard—knocking out all its teeth like a box of loose nails. "Finally," it sighed "other beasts will no longer be afraid!"
Just then a great Kagouti arrived, stomping its feet and preparing to pounce. The alit growled and opened its wide jaws to frighten the predator away, but the kagouti just laughed. "You fool! You've no teeth left in your head!" The alit realized its folly too late. The kagouti lunged and swallowed the cheerful beast in one huge gulp.
So you see, child—that which we hate in ourselves is often our greatest gift.
* * *
Vivec and the Cripple
Lord Vivec, while walking down a road, came upon a cripple with a gnarled and withered hand. "Young bravo!" the cripple cried, "Will you not help an oathman in need?"
Vivec stood before the cripple and furrowed his brow. "What is wrong with you, old mer?" he queried.
The cripple lifted his hand and replied, "Do you not see my withered hand? It is twisted as old roots and pains me greatly when the storms roll in. Women shun me because of its ugliness, and children run at the sight of it. Please, have pity!"
Vivec stood quiet for a moment, then drew his bright sword and severed the mer's hand in one clean stroke. The cripple howled in pain as the warrior-poet dressed the wound.
"Do not bawl so, old mer," said Vivec. "Do you not see that I have done you the greatest kindness? Better to be done with an evil than to carry it on for pity's sake."
|Blessed Almalexia's Fables|
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