Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay 

About 1,800 years ago, thirteen voyagers crashed on the rugged coastline of an unknown land amidst the Pacific Ocean. The tumultuous waves and spiky coastal rocks had ripped their ships' sails and masts to pieces. With no alternative, the humans ventured into the island, scavenging for survival at any cost.


When it is summer in Mythos, the yimzin trees sing songs about their pretty amaranth leaves and the glorious gods they see roaming in the skies. Their mellifluous voice enchants every living being on the island. So, on the advent and denouement of summer, we gather near the red dragon's mountain and dance for the soul of the land to cherish such bounties till eternity.

However, this time the trees did not sing. The red dragon did not come out of his cave to twirl in the air, showering us with his golden hair. A sickening silence had spread throughout Mythos.

"Koji," said a silvery voice behind me, "you should not be here."

I turned to look at Kitara and held my breath as I always did when meeting her gaze. She was the head of the four-eyed wolves pack. Even though her fur was gleaming, she looked exhausted and thin and very concerned.

"I know," I faltered. "I was just going back."

"Let me come with you then." She was already ahead of me, prancing over giant mushrooms.

"NO," I yelled. My next reflex should have been punching myself in the face, but instead, I covered my mouth. Kitara halted.

"I see." She slowly turned right and then vanished into the forest. I did not know what she saw, honestly. You can never be sure with four-eyed wolves. I was, although perfectly aware of why she was so concerned for me. Still, it wasn't right for me to make her a bodyguard. She herself had lost a lot in the past few months.

I picked up one last honey-coated leaf and rushed home.

"You're late," huffed my little sister, standing at the doorstep of our house. The humble space was built with wood and creepers, held together by the grace of my father and sister, who are both impeccable witches.

"Sorry, Selkie," I said. "But see, I brought what you needed."

What she needed: purple teeth of a lion (only canine one counts), the red dragon's golden hair (exactly three inches long), honey-coated leaves (exactly thirteen), pink dung of the three-legged monkey (witches are weird).

"I told you I could have collected them myself," she said and kissed me on the cheek, for which I had to crouch down on both knees.

I stepped across the doorstep and took three minutes to process the chaos which was once our home. The wicker baskets containing herbs and nuts, wooden staffs and almost every other item in the room was shifted to a corner. In the middle stood a white square wooden board (probably from the yimzin tree bark), held by the interlocking branches of two plants at the bottom. Multicoloured puddles of liquid on the floor surrounded it. My sister dropped her new bizarre collection, except the dragon hair, and as they touched the ground, they formed three more puddles. Selkie took a deep breath. She dipped her hands in two puddles and brutally attacked the canvas with her abysmal art aptitude. She took some more colours and again got to work. It was a miracle that the canvas didn't break under a nine-year-old witch's ferocious hands.

"I understand these are tough times, but before choosing a coping activity—" "This is an offering to Zimimi," she said.

"No, not Zimimi…" I said. Who is Zimimi? I thought. She gave me a frustrated look. "Zimimi was the priest who lived on the rocks near the sea, the one who could see the future..."

I remembered now. The old man was a laughing stock of the island many years ago. His prediction was true once six years ago, and after that, he just blabbered on about absolutely implausible occurrences. When he could not take it anymore, he went into isolation near the jagged shores.

Selkie stepped back from the canvas. It was only a mayhem of colours. She tied back her curly hair (the same colour as my skin: emerald green) and covered her masterpiece in a black cloth.

"Let's go," she exclaimed.

"To that fraud?" I said. You might laugh at me, but let me tell you, my sister is scary. If someone told me she had become the leader of the two-faced pegasus overnight, I would believe them. "He is not a fraud!" She banged the door close behind her. "You know who else thought so, Koji? Mom. Now quit being a prat and follow me!"

I didn't argue further. Our mom was a troll, just like me. Although we have large green bodies, razor-sharp teeth and a peculiar diet, we like to live in harmony. From the witches to the wolves, all creatures accepted the fact with time. But the prejudice took a different face when the new animals stepped on Mythos. Who are they? From where did they come? Why are they so dumb? No one knows.

They had started with burning down the forests near the coast. Many creatures died in the wildfires that continued for days. The wails of the trees shook the mountains and stopped waterfalls. The witches sent the trolls to their aid since we were immune to fire. That's when we encountered the devil in its most inconceivable disguise.

"Ko... Koji" faltered Selkie. We were almost near the cliff facing the sea. The fires hadn't reached the peak of the mountain, so we were still covered with wilderness. My gaze followed the direction of my sister's trembling finger.

At the base of the mountain, to our left, the devil's parade was moving on barren land southwest — to the red dragon's mountain. Some carried a long stick with a stone on top, while others held a long blade with a deadly edge. The weapons were the same as that nefarious day, but the creatures appeared different. Over their fragile bodies, they wore gleaming armour of varying shades of green.

"No way." Words somehow stumbled out of my mouth. "Nobody can be that vile. Those can't be..." I pointed an index finger at myself. I turned to seek assurance from Selkie. Tears were streaming down her freckled cheeks. The grass, flowers and even the tree in her immediate vicinity started decaying. She raised her hand towards the devils. That was my cue to compose myself and stop anything worse from happening. I grabbed her extended arm and pulled her away from the excruciating scene.

"We first have to find Zimimi, right?" I said, locking eyes with her.


"Selkie, they still don't know about witches, and we tend to keep it that way. After seeing what they did with... with trolls, we don't know what they are capable of. Dad promised he would drive them away, remember?"

She was pensive for a while and then nodded. This would be her first time completely accepting our mother's fate.

On the day of the rescue mission, the trolls carried almost 150 creatures to safety. When we went deeper into the fire, closer to the shores, we met the new animals. They were not strong like us or exhibited an aura like the witches. They were absolutely terrified when they encountered us, so they could not have been Gods. Later, I understood that they weren't scared of the fire. Our huge, different bodies instilled in them a need for dominance. They started throwing the menacing weapons with astonishing dexterity. Before we could know what was happening, half of my brethren laid immobile on the ground. My mother, the general of the trolls, had to take ten seconds to fathom the reality. She raised her wooden club and beat the ground three times, sending a signal.

We were taken aback and so started retreating. The devils must be drunk with victory, for then they stepped into the ablaze forest. They easily hewed the heads of some mighty trolls who were mourning the deaths of their fallen comrades. One of them came from my left and swung his blade. My mother threw me out of the way. It took four swings to kill her off. The devil

locked his vain eyes with me, and my feet went numb. A silver mist threw him to the side before the blade could meet my neck. Standing between the murderer and me was Kitara. Her nails slashed him across the chest until he was nothing but a pool of blood. Seeing the sudden emergence of the wolf, the rest of the men ran for their lives. Kitara took me to the edge of the burning forest, and we stayed there for some minutes or hours; we couldn't tell.

"Selkie, Koji?" said Zimimi, sitting inside his cave in the mountain. The priest looked as withered as the mountain. He must have had more wrinkles on his face than the three-legged monkey had hair on its body. His black cloth hung loosely over his scrawny figure.

"I have brought you the vestiges of Mythos' soul," said Selkie. She bent down on one knee and showed him the artwork. Gingerly, she put the dragon hair on top of it. "Please tell me its future."

"Very well," said Zimimi with an approving smile. As he took the board in his hand, his obsidian eyes turned white, with tints of purple and indigo. Slowly, his eyes went back to normal, and he looked at me.

"What did you see?" I couldn't help asking. The scene had been too mesmerizing.

He turned the wooden board so that I could see it clearly. The mockery and gossips were false. The priest had proved his power. The colours had rearranged to form an actual image on the board, depicting a scene that made my jaw drop.


The sacred grove of the yimzin trees at the red dragon's mountain base was ablaze before we reached it. Zimimi had convinced a two-faced pegasus to give us a ride to the mountain top. From above, we could see all the creatures of the island gathered around the grove. The birds were weeping with the trees. Young witches were trying to change the route of the neighbouring streams and rivers to put out the fire, but their powers were not enough to outdo the disaster. When we landed near the cave, we could see the experienced witches and the pack of wolves standing near the opening.

"We can neither find the devils nor wake up the dragon," said an exhausted voice from my right. It was Dad.

His purple hair and robes were drenched with sweat. He had a far-fetched look on his face as if, like Zimimi, he could see what the future held. My eyes drifted towards the others, and everyone had the same expression. The realization hit me like lightning striking the air. The witches were connected to the nature of Mythos, primarily the yimzin grove. If the grove is destroyed, what would happen to the witches?

"They are attacking from above," yelled a witch. In front of her, a wolf laid on the ground, a wooden arrow sticking out from his body.

"Get into the cave!" yelled Dad to the wolves and Selkie and me. Some wolves obeyed the order, while some climbed up the mountain to look for the clandestine murderers. Selkie didn't run. With the rest of the witches, she bent down and touched the soil. Branches and creepers twisted around and captured the devil who had shot the arrow. Two wolves had caught a shooter each while their three comrades were slain.

"Come on," I said, taking her hand.

"No," she said defiantly and pointed towards the cave. "You go do your job!" I knew I had to do that, but I couldn't leave her out there. I unlatched my club from my belt and stood there. In that moment of doubt, a lot of things happened at once. A volley of arrows came

hurling from all directions. Before three could impale me, Kitara jumped and intercepted all of them. She looked at me one last time, smiled and then went still—my godmother, mentor and friend—gone, in front of my eyes.

It was pure rage that raised the club in my hand. It was pure grief that formed all those thoughts. The red dragon, the guardian of Mythos, I called to him. I am the last of the trolls. I saw our people die, and I remember that you did nothing. I saw our valley burn, and I know the ashes called your name when they crumbled. Aid us, or the yimzin will never sing. Come out now, or shall there be no summer for you to come out again. I bound you to our joy. I bound you to our doom.

I imitated my mother, the way she banged the ground three times the day she died. At the last hit, fissures appeared in the soil, originating from the point of impact and moving to the cave. The mountain rumbled. The shooters fell from the trees, the witches stood up and parted away from the opening as the majestic red and golden creature flew in the sky. It circled over the sacred grove, shedding its golden hair. The fire ceased almost immediately. It returned to the peak, carried the last remaining five devils in its mouth, and vanished in the sky.

"They will return," said Dad. "If not the five, then the likes of them."

Just then, the entire island trembled. The legends of Mythos will tell posterity that the red dragon moved it in the air on its back, saving the island from encountering the unfamiliar creatures in the future. Sometimes, we can trust legends.

After the sacred grove incident, Zimimi's cave would never be isolated. Creatures formed long queues to know their future. Although the accuracy was never hundred percent, no one dared to mock him now. Selkie's reformed painting, or should I say the island's prediction, still resides in his cave after years. It showed the day my mother beat her club in the burning forest, but it was me in her place. If one looks closely, one could see the golden thread forming a second image over the painting — the world on the dragon's back.

.    .    .