Enkidu the Fire Beetle - Steem Monsters Card Story Contest Entry for Week 1

in fiction •  last year  (edited)

I owe a debt of gratitude to @rakkasan84 for inspiring me to enter this contest. His entry can be found here.

Another shout out is in order for @derangedvisions for gifting me a booster pack of Steem Monsters cards. Without that gift, I likely would not have taken the slightest bit of interest in Steem Monsters.

It's not that I have no interest in games, even fantasy collectible card games. I am a long-time fan of Magic The Gathering, so that doesn't bother me. It's just that I am not necessarily one to jump on a bandwagon no matter how hot and popular it is without first weighing whether or not I have the time to invest in the pursuit. In this case, I just lucked into getting involved, and I'm glad I did. I like how the Steem Monsters crew is promoting this game.

So the task is, per the contest, to write a backstory for one of the monsters. In this case, the monster is the Fire Beetle, a common under the fire element. You can see the contest rules here. My entry is a late-comer, but it's not a too-late-comer as the contest ends Saturday (today) and the winners announced tomorrow. So this is my best shot.

Image from original content announcement.

Below the divider lines is my story. Let me know you like it by upvoting, replying, and/or resteeming it. Thanks!

Enkidu mozied along a tree branch of his home tree in the upper reaches of Faerie Forest. It was no special day other than the soft rain that started it. He much preferred the cool rain over the sunshine, not that he had a choice in the matter for the gods themselves determined the weather.

He busied himself with his usual routine. First, munching a few leaves from the tree followed by a trek down the tree's trunk to the ground to meet his one true friend, Leotid, who lived in the next tree over. He was hoping someday to make baby beetles with her, but for now he was simply content to share a few moments each day in her company. Afterwards, he'd go back to munching until munching made him thirsty and he'd go in search of a water source. Since it was raining, he could suck the water from the leaves as he munched.

Life was rather dull for a tree beetle. But one day, dull would turn into adventure, and tree beetles didn't much care for adventure.

The Summoner of the forest, Lyanna Natura, called for Enkidu to visit her in her home--the largest tree of the forest. Of course, he arrived at the appointed time and was escorted to the Summoner by one of her beetle minions. Enkidu didn't bother with the name of the minion for such things are not the domain of ordinary tree beetles. Rather, upon entering the cavity in which Lyanna Natura the Summoner lived in her tree, Enkidu executed the proper bow as a sign of his lowly status and in honor the Summoner's special one.

She was no ruler. Beetles have no need for rulers. But, there was only one Summoner of the Forest, and that Summoner was Lyanna Natura, a sweet little pixie, as far as pixies go.

"You called for me?" Enkidu humbly asked.

"Indeed," Lyanna Natura replied. "I have a task for you."

Enkidu was certainly honored to be considered for any task the Summoner may suit him for, but he was quite a bit surprised that she had summoned him. For what special abilities did he have for a task that the Summoner may summon him for? He waited to hear what task it was the Summoner had called him for.

"My sister, Leonni, has been kidnapped by the Fire Demon of Gehenna Cave in the Mountains of Sadness. I need you to rescue her."

Enkidu could not refuse the Summoner's request, though he questioned her wisdom in choosing him, for he had never left the forest before, and had barely traveled a few feet from his tree during his short life. But if the Summoner needed his skills, his humble abilities, his life, then she shall have it.

Enkidu left for his journey the next day. He didn't know how long it took him to travel the hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles through the forest to the mountains. He tried to count the different terrain types on his way, but lost track after five. The forest was cool and grew wetter the deeper into it he traveled. The desert was dry and hot. The fjord, of course, was deep and scary. The ice hills were high, steep, and scratchy, capped with snow and ice, and cold all the way through. The steppe was flat and dangerous with its wild animals and cruel twists of weather. Finally, eventually, he came to the Mountains of Sadness and made his way through its lanes, trails, caves, and tricky life-threatening ups and downs.

He could not believe he made this journey and stayed alive. There were many dangers along the way, creatures that could eat him, and tried. Weather that nearly destroyed him. Once, he even fell into the fjord, and he thought he surely would drown.

Ah, but after many days, weeks, months, he arrived at his destination. Within the walls of the mountains he could hear the soft wails of Leonni and her constant cries for help. He followed the voice to where it led him, into the deep caverns of the mountain where surely Enkidu thought he would meet his final day of doom.

He managed to navigate his way through armies of serpentine soldiers and collectives of pit ogres. His small stature gave him an advantage over their brute strength and massive weapons advantage. Finally, he arrived at the cave where Leonni was held captive.

"Where is your jailer?" Enkidu asked.

"He has gone hunting," Leonni replied.

"Then I will get you out of here before he returns," Enkidu said, and immediately began to eat into the ropes that held Leonni the pixie bound.

Just as he set the captive free, he heard a growl roaring through the cave of the Mountains of Sadness. "That's him!" Leonni cried.

"Don't fear," Enkidu heard himself say. Odd he should say it knowing he himself was full of fear. "I will get you out of here, and alive."

When the Fire Demon arrived and saw that his captive was gone, he flew into a rage. He stormed the cave, he roared, he growled, he threw fists of fire. He shook the mountain. Enkidu ran, followed by Leonni, and in certain places she outran him. As they exited the cave, Enkidu could sense real danger, a danger more dangerous than anything he'd ever experienced. He heard a rumble louder and more frightening than the Fire Demon's roar. Before he knew what hit him, an avalanche of rock rolled down the side of the mountain and crushed him.

Enkidu did not know how long he lay buried under the rock, but he felt a blaze of fire heat the stone, and under the weight of it all he could feel himself grow from the tiny size of his tree beetle shell into something much larger. Ten times, twenty times, thirty times larger. His mandibles thickened. His exoskeleton grew hotter, wider, stronger. His whole body stretched, and the rock that had pinned him to the mountain suddenly shifted and fell, then rolled down the mountain below, bouncing off crevices and crags, lifting Enkidu from his entrapment.

A look of horror on Leonni's face told Enkidu that he was no longer the attractive and humble tree beetle he had been born as. In the sky, he caught a glimpse of the Elemental Phoenix fly away with its proud and fiery wings slapping at the air high above.

Enkidu spit. Out of his mouth flew a stream of flame six feet long, two feet wide, and, lapping at the air like a giant tongue, it swept Leonni into a blaze and pulled her toward him so that Enkidu could sink his mandibles into her flesh and have her for dinner. He never went back to the forest. The Mountains of Sadness his new home, he lives only to serve the whime of the Elemental Phoenix, which includes protecting the tiny corner of the mountain to which he has been assigned and frequently mating with the other beetles to produce the fodder for the mountain king's war with the other elements.

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