The Shepherd Boy

Solomon Rhodes

“A tale that I have heard throughout the ages is one of liars and the price they pay for their transgressions.”

The voice of Solomon Rhodes greets us. Yet all that we can see is a placid lake of crimson, the bloody remains of the Holy War. 

“There was once a poor shepherd boy, who tended to the dumb creature known as a sheep. These sheep only seemed to be able to bleat the same call over and over again. Yet this boy continuously called out to the local villager’s time and time again. He spoke of an evil wolf coming to take his sheep. And each time he cried out ‘wolf,’ these people came running. Yet he laughed at them, and told them that all he had spoken of should never be taken seriously.”

The blood flows in a stream, every once in a while surfacing a weapon or piece of armor.

“That is, until one day the wolf actually did come. Terror gripping his false mask of bravado, the shepherd called out in an agony of terror to the village. He begged them to help him save himself and his sheep. But no one paid heed to these cries. No one cared. The wolf, having no cause of fear, lacerated and destroyed the whole flock. Because at the end of the day, the liar is untrustworthy, even when it is only truth that comes from his mouth. Thanks to his lying tongue, the shepherd lost his flock to this wolf.”

We follow this stream down a small drain to the side of the war zone. 

“Marvolo is a shepherd. How many tales has he weaved of his valor? How many times has the masked man tried to boast of unseen feats and power? Yet the only one who ever listened to these tales is the sheep, dressed in red and bleating her single call. The village has long given up on believing anything that this fool calls out into the open. Whether truth or lie, the court of public opinion has already ruled that Marvolo is bereft of honor.”

The crimson flow is even more eerie in the darkness, but it doesn’t seem to stop.

“Yet just as the shepherd boy, the wolf has come for Marvolo. With his sigil looming over his doomed throne, King Royal has rushed in and ended the shepherd’s dream. Yet as Marvolo screams wildly into the air for vengeance against his nemesis, none are willing to turn their eyes to the lost. Because Marvolo never realized that a repeated call only forms a callous on the ear of those who could hear it. As the wolf devours all that Marvolo has ever claimed to care about, the truth is revealed that the shepherd is nothing without his flock. He has become a sheep.”

The darkness seems to open to a single ray of light, one that shines down from above.

“But there is another shepherd that hears his bleating. This one cares not for the transgressions of the past. All this shepherd hears is the pathetic calls of one who has been proven weak. Unable to fight for himself or the ones he has been charged with defending, this new sheep looks up to the skies for someone to save him. But he will not be saved. No, for the new shepherd that comes is fire made flesh, he is the Dragon, and he does not tolerate such weakness. The single sheep cannot endure the predator, and as the Dragon opens a gaping maw, the sheep will find that his death comes for him in two forms.”

Voices seem to reach out to the edge of our soundscape, a unknown person speaking in a faraway place.

“Fire and Blood.”

Then nothing.