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The Golden Stars and the Gray Spots
Deep in the forest, under the hills, there lived a town, flooding with magic. In the town everyone wore long black cloaks decorated with gold stars and gray spots. Whenever a person achieved a tremendous accomplishment another town person would place a gold star on the achiever’s robe. But anytime a person made a blunder another person would give the blunderer a gray spot. So all of the town’s people would go around with their infinite supply of gold stars and gray spots, giving them to friends and foes alike.
In the town there lived a little boy called Fin. Now this boy didn’t seem to possess any special magical abilities and whenever he attempted magic not much would happen besides a shower of red or gold sparks. The boy would receive spot after spot on his black cloak and as he walked through the town with no stars and all spots people would point and laugh at the boy. Sadly the boy would walk on and on.
Some folks would take pity on Fin and try to teach him their tricks. When Fin would have trouble learning the spells some of those participating in the didactics would get frustrated and give him more gray spots. No matter how hard anyone rubbed no matter how hard a person would scrub the dots would never fall from the cloaks.
Day after day, people would see Fin walk through the town with the marks he bore, like scars. Thinking he was worthless easy prey they would beat him all day. But the days which he was beaten were the lucky days. People enjoyed practicing their magic on him. They would blast him off his feet, or make his body ridged as stone, or stun him, or skin with blood. And sometimes they would perform magic that caused him such great pain that it would cause his very bones to rattle. And alas, when they finished their torture they would give him more gray spots, as they walked away laughing at the pain they were so proud to have caused the helpless boy. There was nothing he could do about it.
Fin was a very sad boy and did not know what to do. There was a girl in the town named Ka, and Ka had no stars or spots on her black cloak. People thought she had no magic abilities and for this they would try to stick gray spots on her cloak, but all of the spots would fall off. Other people would watch the spots fall off and think that she was performing great feats of magic. They would try to reward her with gold stars, but those too would fall.
Fin didn’t know any other way to alleviate his sadness, so one day he went off to Ka’s home to ask her of her secret. One day Fin knocked on her door, and she invited him in for some tea and tasty cakes. Fin sat in a big armchair by the fire and when all the goodies were gone he got up his courage and asked, “Ka, how come you don’t have any stars or spots?”
“Well,” Ka giggled, “I just don’t really want any, for you see, gray and gold simply don’t match my eyes.” And she batted her lashes over her sparkly green eyes.
“But I don’t understand,” Said Fin with a moan. “When people give you the stickers why don’t they stick on you?”
“Just like I said, I don’t want them to.”
“But they have to stick on you, other people put them on your cloaks and they can’t scrub off, if someone wants you to have one on you, you just don’t have a choice,” Fin whined.
“But the thing is; you do have a choice. I don’t want any of the stickers to stick on me because I don’t care what people think,” Ka explained.
“You mean you don’t care if people hate you or love you?” Fin demanded.
“I don’t care if people hate me because I know people love me,” Ka said. “And because of that love the stickers don’t stick.”
“But how do you know if people love you?” Fin asked. His simpering eyes looked up into Ka’s soft eyes. She extended a hand and placed it on Fin’s shoulder.
“Well,” She said, “When you love someone they’ll love you back, and I love you.” And she scooped Fin up into a warm embrace. Fin wanted to believe her but he wasn’t so sure. After all, she hardly knew him, they would often see each other in the community, but they never really interacted with eachother. But as Fin felt her embrace a spot peeled and fell from his robes.
Ka took Fin out to her backyard, where she had large tree branches leaned against her wall. Ka took a tree branch from the wall and hopped on. She kicked her feet from the ground and flew up high, and all around. She extended a hand and swooped down, grabbing onto Fin’s wrist, pulling him off the ground. They played and chased each other around and flew through the whole town.
Silently by a river, a bitter old man watched the duo fly all around. He sat in his house all alone, with no spots or starts to be seen on his cloak, for he had lived his life in seclusion, on the outskirts of town. He hated to watch through his window, the terrible practices in which his community partook, making some feel arrogant as toads, and others feel insignificant as flies. But the man had a plan.
He sat watching the ebb flow of the river, waiting, waiting for his moment to strike. For the man had great powers he didn’t not wish to boast to others, because he understood the despicability of his town’s practice to mark people as scum.
The man planned to use his magic to swell up the river and send crashing waves, cascading down over the entire town in a great flood. Wave after wave would hit the town and the torrent would wash away every last mark on the people of the town, it would cleanse them.
So the man packed his things to make his escape. He wrapped his cloak tightly around his face and for the first time in his long life, he set foot outside of his house. He traveled down to the river. Taking one last look into the sky at the boy and the girl soaring through the sky, he set to work.
After several hours airborne, Fin and Ka were quite hungry. They went into the house and Ka made them bacon sandwiches and a cold drink that tasted like sweet pumpkins. For dessert Fin made a delectable shortbread pastry smothered in gold syrup. When their bellies were round and packed the children lounged together on the armchair.
“Well, I’m going to head off to bed,” Ka stated, “but come back again tomorrow!”
“Wait,” said Fin. “I, I don’t want to go home alone, I’m still scared.”
“Scared of what?” Ka asked. Fin looked down at his robe, which was still quite heavily dotted with gray spots. Ka bit her lip. Then her face lit up.
“I have something that will help you.” She climbed down from the couch and went digging through a coat closet.
“Here!” she exclaimed. She pulled a large wooden box free from the closet and showed it Fin, beckoning him to open it. Fin lifted the lid slightly and peered into the box. Inside it was a pair of creamy brown leather boots and gloves and a grand gold bladed, silver-handled sword with a fruit sized sapphire bulging from its pommel. Ka giggled at the look of awe on Fin’s face.
“You don’t even know how they work yet!” And she began excitedly, “these gloves give your arms amazing physical strength so you can pulverize boulders and tear wood like its paper! And these boots allow you to travel tremendous leagues of distance, as steep as walls in the time it takes for lightening to flash across the sky! And this sword, the stormy sword can create a hurricane of wind with one swing!”
Fin stared at Ka, mouth agape. Ka nudged the box into Fin’s arms.
“How did you get these?” The rude question spluttered from his mouth.
“My father used magic to create these items for me, made the flying branches too. He knew I had trouble with magic so he made these for me to use outside, so people would think I could use magic well. But he also taught me about love, and because I understood I never needed to use the items. I want you to have them,” She added with another nudge of the box.
“I, c-can’t accept such a-amazing gifts,” Fin stammered. “You deserve them.”
“But I don’t need them. I want to share them with people I love, just like my dad shared them with me. Take them.” Fin simply stared at Ka, unable to express his gratitude in speech.
However he said, “Alright, we can share them then,” he picked up the gloves and boots from the box and pulled them on. He also picked up the sword, but he placed the sword in Ka’s belt. Ka opened her mouth to protest but Fin simply stated, “We can share them.”
The children decided to go out for one last flight before going to bed. They looked around at the vast mountain tops that surrounded their heads. Then they soared high above the town looking down at the all of the roofs of the houses, pointing them out the familiar ones as homes of neighbors. Ka pointed out to the river where the entire town’s people collected water. Its great waves crashed hard against the surrounding land. The river almost looked as if it was growing, water being belched out from every side. Fin realized that it was growing.
The children descended down to the river and landed. They watched the river expand, each wave crashing to the surrounding land, harder than the last. A man with long silver hair and a long silver beard stood at the base of the river, wildly waving his arms around and murmuring strange words to the waters in front of him.
“What’s happening to the river?” Ka screamed to the man over the crashing torrent.