The Poogue Tale

By Poogue Master



- “Stop that!” thought Azim infuriatingly.
- Clank.
- Clank.
- “That noise is so annoying!” Grunting, he rose up, slightly crackling a pile of pine bristles, and stealthily crept along the dew-covered grass towards the repetitive sounds. In his hands he cautiously carried a couple solid pebbles behind him, ready to strike.
- Clank.
- Clank.
- The day was quiet, and the air was still. Pine trees towered over him, packed together, like inside the cafeteria on Free Buffet Night. Ferns, shrubs, and large bushes grew cozily next to these trees, as if they were regarding the pines as parents. While most bunched up under the large tree trunks, some underplants were haphazardly plopped in seclusion, lonely on the region’s grassy ground.
- One little berry bush was one of the aforementioned loners; although his berries were beautifully ripe, the bush was left staring at the two colossal and majestic pine trees on opposite sides of him. Out of the plethoras of pine trees in the region, those two seemed the tallest and most welcoming. Home and protector to many birds’ nests and underplants, they truly were a paragon of excellence.
- Eyeing the two model pines, the little berry bush jealously wished it could be safe underneath those pines’ wide arms. Indeed, out in the open, the poor shrub was easy pickings for all the forest animals.
- Suddenly, out of nowhere, a mother sparrow swooped down to the little berry bush, attempting to snag some juicy berries for her children. But the bush, angry at himself for his unfortunate placement in life, would not let a mere bird take his hard-earned berries. As the sparrow tried to pluck a berry, the little bush furiously resisted. The sparrow soon gave up in despair, and flew elsewhere to find food.
- The little berry bush was pleased at its unknown strength, but it still envied the other bushes resting under the region’s majestic pine trees.
- Only one sound could be heard.
- Clank.
- Clank.

- As the sharp tone grew louder with each step, Azim remained cognizant of his surroundings. Then, in the corner of his eye, he saw a tiny flicker just over a tall bush. Immediately ducking down, the boy slowly crawled towards the bush.
- Peeking through the many leaves and vines, he was surprised to see two men sitting on tree stumps, holding hammers. On the ground were heavy-looking metal outfits, as well as sharpened iron sticks and some lightweight knapsacks.
- One of the men, a skinny fellow with incredibly long legs and arms, spoke. “Hey, Troy, I reckon it’s been an hour already. Ain’t you done fixing your armor yet? All you got was some tiny scratches; the darn wolf ate all of my stuff! ”
- “Almost, cousin, just wait a few minutes. And how’d you get done so fast, anyways?” This man was moderately pudgy, and he had a wide face that made it look like his cheeks were stuffed with food.
- “The wolf didn’t hurt me much, only ripped apart my bag! That stupid creature can go straight to the Abyss, worthless thing taking my stuff,” the man ranted. His eyes narrowed down upon a ring on Troy’s finger. “Hey, whatcha got there flashing on your pinky finger?”
- “Oh, this?” replied Troy, looking down at his ring. “Heh…glad you noticed! I got from Redd, a merchant from Wolf Creek. Have you heard of him?”
- “No. But tell me more,” the man suggested, obviously interested.
- Chuckling, Troy explained, “Well, his wares are the most expensive around. This ring that I bought here is made of diamond imported from Gopledenish, with a gold trim from the legendary Golden Ducgraion Egg. And the gem on top is real Poogite, the rarest mineral in the world. An absolute beaut, don’tcha think?”
- “Yyyeeah,” drawled the cousin. Then, he muttered under his breath, “Must be worth a lot.”

- The two cousins sat along a wide, macadam roadway that cut through the forest, a path Azim had visited numerous times. Just last year he had seen Wolf Creek’s lumberjacks clear a road in the middle of the forest. The trail stretched north to south; heading north would lead one to the village.
- Wolf Creek was a small, peaceful, community residing on the base of a steep mountain range that stretched horizontally to unknown regions. The mountain blockaded invaders to the north; not that it was be necessary, for no person had ever crossed it alive. Generations of storytellers had told of vicious creatures lurking in the mountains and creeping out of their caves to attack daring adventurers. Still, those creatures have never been spotted in Wolf Creek.
- Encompassing the village was a vast, dense, forest that too seemingly expanded forever. A slow-moving river flowed from a far-away mountain, jovially streaming through the forest and cutting Wolf Creek into two parts before collecting into a large lake about twenty miles southwest of the village.
- While there were other rivers in the forest, those “belonged” to the goblin tribes. For the most part, the humans and the goblins lived peacefully. Years ago a bilateral agreement was signed, stating no hostility would occur between the two races. The goblins have kept to that promise ever since, allowing the villagers to cut down trees and grow large farms in the forest.
- On the other side of the forest was an endless desert, brewing sandstorms that even the villagers could occasionally hear. Past the desert, however, remained an enigma to the citizens of Wolf Creek. Those who left to explore never came back.
- Every couple of months merchants traveled up and down the roadway looking for a profit. But stories and myths about the other side of the desert traveled along with the merchants, although they were not to be fully trusted. Jenin, the town mayor, urged the village to be skeptical after he once purchased a spear that instantly snapped in half with a single throw.

- “Are you ready!”
- The voice shocked Azim, who had been deep in thought. Pulled away from his thinking, he turned back to the two men, but now they were standing face-to-face, wearing those weird metal outfits and holding the sharpened sticks in their hands.
- “Cousin, why are we sparring? Hasn’t today be tiring enough?” pleaded Troy.
- The man smoothly answered, “It’s only for your own good. You don’t want to be attacked by wolves again, don’tcha?”
- “Fine,” Troy sighed. “Be careful, though, my armor is a bit loose at the waist still.” And then the two men began to strike each other.
- In the bush, Azim was utterly confused. “Just what are they doing?” Although he commonly saw human hunters killing animals for food and sport, he had never seen men attacking each other! Azim rolled his eyes. “What idiots!” Still, he continued intently watching the match.

To Be Continued…