He died from the stab of a sword, Knox. I’ve told you that many times. However, I think it's time that you know the whole story.
Your father was the son of a great king who ruled the Kingdom of Chimor. The reason why no one really came to conquer it is because Chimor is small and is in the middle of nowhere. I mean, yes, we’re in the middle of Europe, but no one has ever thought of conquering the vast, thick forests surrounding Chimor.
When your grandfather died, your father became the official ruler of Chimor. He called himself Sporkacus. Your father was about twenty years of age when he became the leader of Chimor. He didn’t know much about ruling, though, so he just let his mom, Elaine, do most of the official stuff. After all, she was still the queen until she died.
In order to become the best ruler that he could be, Sporkacus decided to act like the commoners in the kingdom. In the wee hours of the morning, right before the sun rose from the East, your father ditched his royal sleepwear and put on some tattered pants and a old button-up shirt that belonged to his dad. He then fled castle with nothing but a near-empty sack of money.
Sporkacus would walk past my house everyday, Knox. I didn’t know where he went, but there he would go, his eyes fluttering in the distance, his step too good to be one of a commoner. I thought that he was the son of an aristocrat who lost most of his inheritance. I couldn’t help but feel bad for him.
After two full moons passed, I decided to take some interest into your father. I didn’t know that he was Sporkacus, the ruler of the kingdom. He was an interesting little man, though, always walking with a sack of money in the morning and coming back with what seemed like food rations at noon. I decided to follow him one day just to see what he was doing.
So, as soon as Sporkacus passed my house on that day I met him, I dashed out the door and quickly hid behind a crowd of women. I suppose that I blended in with them, but then they went inside a tavern. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sporkacus walking farther and farther away for me, so I quickly shuffled my way in his direction, occasionally stopping to look at the street vendors’ goods to fit in with the crowd.
Finally, Sporkacus turned left and went inside a building. I had not been to that building in a while, but I knew exactly what it was: the local bookstore.
I was immediately crushed. The owner of the bookstore hated my guts and banned me from buying a book there ever again because he thought that I stole a book. By the way, Knox, don’t steal. I only stole the book because I wanted to impress the most handsome guy in the academy: Oliver Trundle. Oliver was the head of the bandits in the town. They were nice people, though, since they took everything they stole and gave it to the poorest peasants free of charge. In order to impress him, I knew that I had to steal something. I chose to take a book from the bookstore because I though the owner would never accuse a girl of stealing. Apparently, I was wrong. Anyway, I gave the book to Oliver, and a few months later he was sent to a trial and ultimately beheaded for stealing goods. Sorry, I’m going on a tangent.
The owner of the bookstore hated me, and he banned me from buying a book. However, I wanted to see what Sporkacus was up to. I thought about it for a second, and I realized that I was only banned from buying a book. The owner never said anything about just hanging in the bookstore. I swiftly pushed the door and standing right in front of me was none other than Sporkacus. He was flipping through a leather-bound book.
When the door closed with a thud, he looked up at me. I panicked. The boy that I had been tracking was looking right at me, and I didn’t know what to say.
“Hel... hel... hello,” I managed to get out.
“You’re beautiful,” Sporkacus said.
I blushed and I was doing little cartwheels inside my head. Sporkacus had just called me beautiful! Knox, that’s every girl’s dream: to be called beautiful. Make sure you tell every girl that, whether she’s actually beautiful or not.
“What... what are you looking at?” I stuttered.
“Oh, this? It’s nothing,” he replied. He then smiled, “It’s only a book about the history of Chimor.”
“Wow!” I quickly spit out. “Oh, sorry. That’s fascinating. Why are you reading it?”
“I just pulled it off the shelf. Seriously, it’s nothing.” Sporkacus turned to look at me. “You’re more beautiful now that I’ve gotten a better look at you. Would you like to go to the tavern with me?”
I was completely surprised by his request. I thought that he had only brought enough money for his food rations. No, he wanted to take me to a tavern, where everything was overpriced.
“Yes!” I said. “I’m Terigan, by the way.”
“Plancus,” he quickly said.
Now, Knox, if you haven’t figured it out, your father went by Plancus when we met because he didn’t want to reveal his true identity. He was worried that if he told me his real name, I would just like him for his wealth and power instead of his true personality.
Sporkacus put the book back on the shelf and got up. He held his hand out and I lightly put mine on top of his. He then led me out the door and we traveled a few buildings down to the tavern.
The tavern was filled with lots of enjoyment. Your father and I danced to the live music, talked, and we even had a few ciders. Of course, as noon approached, your father had to leave.
“I have to go, Terigan,” he said, holding my hands.
“I understand,” I whispered. I loved the delicate touch of his hands holding mine.
“What’s that? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over this mob of people and the wonderful sounds playing.”
“It’s okay, you can leave,” I replied a bit louder.
“Good bye, my sweet diamond in the rough. I will love you forever and always, Let’s meet again tomorrow, right outside your house this time.”
“How do you know where I live?”
“Do you not think that I see you peeping out the window, looking at me? I’ve been wanted to talk to you for moons, but I’m always too scared. What if you’re not the girl of my dreams? What if you already have someone to love? I’m so glad that you found me today, Terigan.”
Sporkacus then kissed my hands. I blushed. Butterflies started churning in my stomach. It was then that I realized I was in true love with Plancus.
“Farewell, beautiful,” he said as he fluttered out the door of the tavern, his sack of coins still jingling in his hands.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Plancus. I’ll be waiting.”
Your father fulfilled his promise, showing up at my house the next day. He also did this for the next two moons. Each day, he would show up with a different gift for me: flowers, an acorn, a piece of fruit, basically any common object that he could find. I never realized that he was the true ruler of the kingdom. He finally spilled the secret to me one day in the corner of the bookstore.
“Hey, Terigan,” he said, sitting next to me on the floor. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Worry immediately flooded my heart.
“Is everything alright?” I was nearly panicking.
“Yes, sweetie, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“We’re been hanging out with each other for about two moons. You like me, I like you...”
“No, I love you, Plancus. I can’t imagine my life with you.”
“I... I love you too, Terigan. But you need to know something.” His tone got quiet. “Over the past few moons, I’ve noticed a few things about you.”
“Oh dear, is this about my gap tooth? Is it bad? I’m sorry!”
“Terigan, you’re perfect. You’re everything I need. You love me for who I am. You could care less about my horrific name! You don’t care about my background, or how poor I am, or anything! You only care about me as a person: my personality, my behavior, my feelings. You love me for who I am, and you never judge me.”
“What are you trying to say, Plancus?”
“Terigan, hold my hands.”
I placed my hands on top of his and gripped them. He continued his speech.
“Ever since we’ve known each other, I knew that you were the right princess for me. But, there’s a secret that I’ve keeping from you.”
I didn’t know what to say, but I was a little saddened.
“Don’t call me Plancus anymore. My name isn’t really Plancus.” He sighed and then turned to me and shined his bright blue eyes into mine. “My name is Sporkacus. I’m the future king of this here kingdom. Right now I’m the prince. I want you to be my future princess.”
He left my mouth wide open. I didn’t care that he was the prince. I knew that your father wasn’t lying, and that he had a hard time telling me the truth. It took a lot of guts for his to admit his biggest secret.
“Thank you, Sporkacus,” I whispered. I then threw my arms around him and we both fell to the ground. When then kissed on that floor, right then and there, in the corner of the bookstore. I didn’t care if anyone was looking. I loved your father, Knox, and I was ready to start a new life with him.
The proposal took place four moons after his confession. He had asked me in the same corner of the bookshop with a wooden ring that he had made himself. He took so much pride into the ring, and I believe that the ring is the best present he’s ever given to me. I didn’t care that it was made out of wood. The fact is that he placed his heart and soul into the ring, and that replaces any jewel anyday. When you find a wife, Knox, make sure to impress her with what you have to offer. It’s the thought that counts.
One year later, we were married in a simple wedding in the castle garden. Sporkacus and I wanted to keep the wedding low profile, so we didn’t promote the wedding. In fact, only immediate family members were invited to attend.
Anyway, Knox, Queen Elaine wanted us to live in the castle with her because she was lonely. However, Sporkacus insisted that we lived the peasant life in order to be “one with the people of Chimor.” I didn’t want to live in the main part of the kingdom, though, so we fled to a hill overlooking the kingdom. Technically we were not inside the kingdom borders, but we still considered ourselves citizens of Chimor. Anyway, your father enlisted the help of his best friend, Lucario, to help him build a nice cozy cabin for him and me on the hill. Knox, that cabin is our home now. Can you believe it?
Years passed, and soon Queen Elaine passed in her sweet slumber. Sporkacus and I soon became the leaders of the Kingdom of Chimor. We ditched the cabin on the hill and moved into the castle. Little did we know that the castle was full of invaders.
Yes, Knox, invaders were in the castle! One day, while we were sleeping, one of the invaders crept into our bedroom, took his sword, and nearly chopped off the foot of your father. Of course, it was so dark that the invader couldn’t really see anything. Your father and I woke up to the thunk of the sword hitting against the bed, and your father punched the invader in the nose, leaving him to suffer in the bedroom. Oh, I was so proud of your father that day.
Sporkacus and I then ran out the bedroom door and entered the castle garden. The garden was one of the fastest ways to escape the castle, but before we could safely get out of the castle, the invaders started to surround us one by one. It was terrible! Each one was cloaked in dark clothing and we couldn’t see their faces, even though the moon was full. They were all also holding razor sharp swords. There was no escape, Knox. Sporkacus and I were trapped.
One of the bigger invaders stepped forward, sword pointing right at your father’s neck. He walked up to your father and held the sword against his neck.
“You will surrender the Kingdom of Chimor to us or you and your wife will die,” he said. “Decide now.”
Sporkacus was choking back tears.
“Who are you?” my husband asked.
“That is for another time,” said the invader. “Make your decision.” He pressed the sword a little into your father’s neck.
“I... I... okay!” Sporkacus whelped. “Just don’t hurt Terigan!”
“Oh, I don’t plan on hurting your wife. But, you and your wife are officially exiled from the Kingdom of Chimor. This isn’t your kingdom anymore. This kingdom is ours! Now go! You have until dawn to be out of here. Get your things, and move out. If either one of your two are here by the first ray of sunlight, both of you will get your heads personally chopped by me! Understood?”
“Yes!” Sporkacus pleaded.
The invader pulled the sword again and turned to the rest of the invaders.
“Victory is ours!” he cried. “For now, I, Hamlet the First will be the ruler of Chimor! Sycamore, I want you to organize a parade in my honor. This is to be held first thing tomorrow morning, so hurry up with it! No time to waste. Dismissed.”
The invaders filed out of the garden. Hamlet followed them.
Sporkacus and I looked at each other.
“I’m sorry,” he said to me.
“It’s fine,” I replied. “At least we still have each other. And this castle is ours until dawn.”
Sporkacus held me and we started kissing for what seemed like ages.
“I never stopped loving you,” he said.
“Where do we go?” I asked Sporkacus.
“You, darling, must go to that cabin on the hill overlooking the kingdom. As for me, well, I must create an army to destroy Hamlet. I will get Chimor back for us, Terigan. I promise.”
“No, come back with me,” I pleaded. I couldn’t bear to loose Sporkacus after all we’ve been through.
“Terigan, please just let me go. This is for all the citizens of Chimor. We need to get the kingdom back.”
“I won’t let you do this.”
“I love you, sweetie.” He kissed me again. “I’ll return. Don’t worry about me. I’ll just be acting as an ordinary peasant. I’ll be Plancus. Now go, Terigan. Go get your belongings and flee to the cabin.”
“Give me one last night with you, Sporkacus. Please. One more night together, just you and me in that cabin. One night.”
Sporkacus sighed. He contemplated the answer for what seemed like ages, and then he looked at me.
We embraced, and we quickly gathered up our belonging and ran to the cabin right before dawn struck.
That one day we had together in the cabin was one of the best nights of my life. We snuggled with each other until high noon, then we went berry picking in the forest and I even found a rabbit. I didn’t have anything to kill it with, though, but Sporkacus strangled it for me. We ate the rabbit and berries for supper that night. Oh, the rabbit was so tender and the berries were so juicy. I still remember the taste of it to this day.
That night, Sporkacus and I did something. Knox, you’re too young to know what it is, but it felt so good.
Anyway, the next morning, your father packed a sack with a change of clothes and some drinking water and he headed off into the forest to look for help. He told me that he was going to look for an army to help him take back the Kingdom of Chimor. I do not know where he went or how he did it, but he found an army.
“Loners, rogues, forest people,” he told me when he returned nine moons later. I had been nine moons pregnant by the time he came back to the cabin. We snuggled for a bit and I told him how I had survived: I found a stream in the forest not far from the cabin and I lived on berries the whole time he was gone. I set up a trap to catch some rabbit, and to my surprise it actually worked. Who know that twigs and leaves could make such good traps? Anyway, my diet was rabbit and berries.
As we were cuddling each other on our bed, I started feeling pain.
“Sporkacus,” I whispered. “Something’s not right.”
“Are you hurt?” he quickly asked. “Sweetie, what are we going to do? We can’t go into the kingdom to get a doctor!”
“The baby...” I managed to get out. I was out of breath, and I found it harder and harder to breathe. “The baby’s coming.”
“Terigan, hang on! Just push, push the baby out. You can do it.”
He squeezed my hand as tight as he could to relieve my pain. Meanwhile, I was pushing as hard as I could. My body kept contracting and it wanted to give up but I worked through it. Eventually, I couldn’t push anymore. Your father saw the baby’s head poking out and he pulled the rest of the baby right out. He tore off the umbilical cord and buried it outside, a symbol that the baby should prosper with the land and the land should take care of the baby.
After close examination, your father determined that the baby was a boy.
“Oh, my brave little warrior!” I cried. I held onto the baby and rocked him. “What should we name him?”
“Plancus?” your father joked.
“Seriously? Think of something that’s the name of a warrior, that’s as strong as the wind, that’s ready to fight to get back the Kingdom the Chimor.”
“That’s a Greek God.”
“Alright, honey, now you’re just naming gods. Think hard, and think proud. If you had only one son, what name would you give him in order to live out your legacy and start his own?”
Your father thought for a good minute. He then lit up and smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen. It was brighter than the sun, wider than the universe, and happier than ten million of the best days ever.
“Knox,” he said. “He’s a Knox. The warrior of our family. He’s the one who will fight and rule. His name shall live on forever as the heir and future King of Chimor.”
“I love it,” I said back to Sporkacus.
And that, Knox, was how you were born. However, I need to get back to the part about your father.
So, after a moon had passed, your father decided that it was time to get back the Kingdom of Chimor once and for all. He and the others that he gathered, who had been camping outside the border near the cabin, gathered up as many weapons as they could. Some of them had sticks, others had rocks, and some even had actual knives. They all had big scraps of tree bark to use as shields. Your father told me that during the nine moons that he was gone, he had gathered up his army and trained everyone to the fullest extent. He believed that everyone was ready to fight for what was right. He knew that if the army failed, he would be the one to emerge victorious, because he had one secret weapon: a sword made of iron and a helmet and a shield made of bronze. He told me that he took it from the castle before we were exiled. I believe that that was a very smart choice.
On the day of the battle, your father said goodbye to you and me one last time. He held you for hours, making sure that you knew who he was and to assure you that you would be in good hands if he died. When the time came, he put on his helmet, kissed both of us, and then you and I watched him and his army march towards the castle. It was a sight to behold, Knox: a hundred men, all a motley bunch, just marching in unity for what was right. It was beautiful. I knew that Sporkacus would be victorious.
You know what happens next, Knox: I was wrong.
Sporkacus and his army made it to the castle. The army battled the guards, and Sporkacus headed straight for the big man himself: King Hamlet the First. He brought along one of his best soldiers, Percy, and together they defeated Hamlet. Apparently, Sporkacus founded Hamlet in the garden looking at the roses. He tapped Hamlet on the shoulder. Hamlet turned around, and before he could do anything, Sporkacus drew his sword and decapitated Hamlet. That’s right, Knox: your father chopped off the head of Hamlet.
Your father was then going for Hamlet’s son, Hamlet the Second, but before he could proceed any further, one of the guards caught up to him and stabbed him right in the back with a sword. There was nothing your father could do, Knox. The bleeding was too intense to heal, the wound was too big. Your father died a slow and painful death in the castle’s atrium. His body was then buried in the castle cemetery, right next to his mother, because even though he was an enemy to Hamlet the Second, Hamlet realized that he was a part of the history of Chimor and that the people would rise against him if Sporkacus wasn’t buried properly.
Anyway, Percy ran away in horror and ran straight to the cabin to deliver the news. I was heartbroken. Knox, I spent three moons sobbing my eyes and heart out because my one true love, my Sporkacus, fought bravely and ended in failure. He wanted for us to have a better life, Knox. He was willing to sacrifice his life to make you and me happy. I still cry everyday, Knox. The pain is too unbearable to ever leave.
I’m telling you this story now because you are old enough to control your future now. Knox, the world is awaiting your arrival. You father wanted you to become a great warrior. Now that he is slain, it is up to you to fulfill that promise and do what he wanted to do from the beginning. Get the Kingdom of Chimor back, Knox. Defeat Hamlet the Second. Find a wife that you will love and love her forever. Don’t let anyone get in the way of you and your wife’s happiness. Because Knox, that is what your father wanted to do for me. Now, I want you to fulfill his plan and make sure that your father lives on.
Your father will never be forgotten, Knox. It’s up to you to make sure that no one ever forgets him. You are now the true ruler of Chimor. It’s time for you to end our exile.
My mother told me this story when I was nine.
As I grew older, I started to learn more and more about my father and his legacy. I knew that I had to make it my life mission to make sure that my family gets the throne back from Hamlet the Second.
However, every hero needs to start from humble beginnings.
Growing up, my mother and I lived in the cabin. Since we were exiled from the Kingdom of Chimor, there was really nowhere to go except for the forest. We lived by stalking up on berries from the forest. We also caught rabbit by using the twig traps my mother invented. Our water source was that lake down by the forest, also we usually drank our water there using fresh leaves. Sometimes, my mom would find twigs in the forest and make baskets out of them. This was really helpful in collecting water and the berries from the forest. I mean, she was so persistent in her weaving. She never let a single hole be in the basket. Ever. When we carried water back from the forest, not a single drop fell out. It was amazing.
Time and time again, Percy would come visit us and give us food. Some of the foods he got from the village, others by trading, and still others by traveling to far distant lands. I remember that he once brought back acorns from the forest. He told me that the squirrels ate all of them up, but if we were fast enough, we would climb up into a tree and snatch the acorn. As an added bonus, if a squirrel came close enough to an acorn, Percy could strangle it and bring it back for us to eat. Squirrel tastes weird, though, so I try to avoid it at all costs. However, the skin of the squirrel can be sewn together with other skins of the squirrel with blades of grass to make warm clothing and blankets. This also works with rabbit pelts. Since we’re not really near any resources, it’s kind of hard to make materials and find them.
One day, when I was ten, Percy came with carrots. The carrots are tiny orange things. My mother let my try the carrots in two different ways: boiled and fresh. I first ate the fresh carrots. Basically, my mother washed them with water and then she told me to bite it. Nothing else. At first I was a little reluctant, since we usually cook out food, but I took a bite out of it. Instantly my mouth started watering. I had never tasted anything like it before. The sensation in my mouth was so great, I couldn’t help but gobble the rest of it up. I was even going to eat the green part but my mother stopped me before I could eat it.
“That’s not part of the carrot,” she said. “Don’t eat it. That’s the stem. Its only purpose is to tell you that it is ready to be picked and eaten.”
I didn’t really understand what she meant by “picked,” but I pretended to understand her anyway.
“All right, mom. I guess that I should throw out this green leafy part of the carrot then.”
I was about to toss the green part into the grass when my mother stopped me.
“Knox, don’t do that. Save it so we can lure more rabbits.”
“Oh. Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks mom!”
“I’ll hang onto that for you. Don’t worry, you can set it in the forest tomorrow.”
I gave the green leafy stem of the carrot to my mom, and she put it in one of her baskets. Next we ate the boiled carrots. In order for us to boil them, Percy brought us a pot. I’m not sure what the pot was made of, but it looked like some type of metal. Perhaps it’s just made of a cheap metal, but it could also be made of bronze. How cool is that: a bronze pot being used by a casual, low-living family? The best part was that Percy let us keep the pot so we could enjoy more carrots in the years to come.
Percy explained that the first step to boiling anything was to fill the pot with water. I offered to get some water from the lake. I took my mother’s basket and started skipping towards the forest, but then Percy stopped me.
“Hey man, why don’t you just carry the pot and fill it with water. It’s kind of heavy, but you’ll need the strength if you want to become a warrior.”
“Just like my father,” I said to Percy.
“Yes, just like your father.”
I quickly snatched the pot from Percy and rushed to the lake in the forest. I weaved through twigs and branches and trees, running as if a bear or one of the invaders from my mother’s story was chasing me. I didn’t look back, and I just kept my head up and kept moving forward.
When I finally reached the lake, I took a leaf from a nearby tree and drank some fresh water. I then discarded the leaf by floating it into the lake. My mom told me that if I floated the leaf into the lake, there was a chance that it would float and get pushed by the small waves of the lake into somewhere distant. The lake was connected to a long, winding river. This river was connected to the Mediterranean Sea, a big sea somewhat far from the Kingdom of Chimor. Knowing this made me want to explore the vast world, and not stay cuddled up in a small cabin for my whole life. Yet, I loved living with my mom and Percy’s visits. Percy was almost like an uncle to me. I also loved the security of the cabin and the freedom of the woods. So what if I couldn’t visit the Kingdom of Chimor? Honestly, I was free to visit any other part of the world.
Living in the cabin also made me realize something: I was living to bring revenge back from my fallen father. It was my job to get the Kingdom of Chimor back from Hamlet the Second, and if I didn’t live in the cabin, then I wouldn’t get to see the giant castle everyday and remember my motive for living. Sometimes, just living in the cabin is a nice refresher of how nice life can be with only the simplest of things.
I took a long time scooping up the water into the pot. First, I took another leaf and I would fill it with water. Then I would pour the water into the pot and repeat this situation. It was hard to do this because it took a long time, so after about ten scoops, I discarded the leaf into the lake and tried thinking of something else.
My head must have not been working at that time because the next thing I did was use my hands to scoop the water up. Yes, it was a little more effective than the leaf. However, I can’t seem to make my fingers close tight enough to not let any water out. Also, it seems as if I cannot make a good scooper out of my two hands. I gave up about dumping five handfuls of water into the pot. It was hard work, and none of my methods were working.
I sat next to the lake, contemplating about what to do. I looked around at the nature around me to try and find something to use. There was a tree next to me, with twigs and branches and leaves all around it. I knew that I could make a basket out of the twigs, but then I realized that it would take too long. The leaves were inefficient since I already used them, and the branches were useless to me.
Suddenly, as I was staring at the leaves, I remembered something Percy told me.
“Carry the pot and fill it with water,” his words echoed in my mind. “Carry the pot. Fill it with water.”
Everything then clicked. As I was carrying the pot, I had to fill it with water! I quickly grabbed the two handles of the pot and scooped water into it by using the pot itself. I was so proud of myself for figuring it out that I also did a little jiggle. Then I realized that it was stupid of me not to use the pot itself to get the water in the first place.
I used all of my strength to pick up the pot of water and bring it back to the cabin. Step by step, I carefully trekked through the forest. I tried to be careful not to trip and fall and spill all the water, especially near the end of my journey. I also didn’t want to loose a single drop of water from the container, because as my mother told me during one of her stories, “Every little thing counts.”
As I came into the sight of the cabin, Percy ran over to me and took the pot away from me. A weight had been magically lifted off of my hands, and for once I was not about to collapse.
“Where have you been?” Percy asked as he got the pot from me. “I’d been worried. I thought you spilled the water and had to go back and get another pot or something.”
“Well,” I started, “Complications arose. I’m fine, though. Seriously, I’m fine. You know, now I can see why the pot is shaped like it is.”
“You scooped up the water with a leaf, didn’t you?” he asked as he smirked.
I put on a guilty look on my face.
“You know, Percy, I only used the leaf five times.”
“Right. Keep going.”
“And then I started to use my hands five more times,” I added with a little blush.
“And then you failed. Don’t worry, Knox. I’ve been there and done that, too.”
“So after that I remembered what you said and then I used the pot to scoop the water up. I wish that I had done this earlier. It would have saved a lot of time.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it. There’s still daylight in the sky. After we cook the carrots, we can enjoy some supper.”
“Are we only eating carrots for supper?”
“Well, the might be little surprise in there.”
Percy and I walked to the fire, which my mom had set up. The flames were blazing hot, ready to cook the carrots on. The fire pit was so perfectly organized, with twigs creating a little tabletop to hold the pot on top of the fire. Percy put the pot on top of the fire and the water started to form little bubbles.
“See the bubbles, Knox?” asked Percy. “That means that the water is heating up. When there are big bubbles, it means that the water is hot and ready to be used.”
“How big are the big bubbles?” I was very curious as a young child.
“That’s a great question, Knox. Let me think about that for a second.”
“One second,” I counted out loud. “Alright, Percy, spill the secret.”
“I’m not done thinking yet! That was a hyperbole that I said! I need more than a second to think about an explanation.”
“All right, fine. I got it. The bubbles are big enough when they can’t get any bigger. You’ll know when the water is ready to be used because the bubbles won’t stop bubbling and popping.” He smiled a tainted smile. “Look, Knox, I’m not good at explaining these types of things. You know when it’s ready when you know it. You’ll see what I mean once you see the big bubbles.”
Percy and I waited for a while. Finally, I glanced over at the bubbling water.
“Is it done yet?” I asked Percy.
Percy came over to the pot and looked at the water. He tilted his head.
“It’s best to wait just a tad longer, Knox. It’s almost done,” he said.
The waiting game continued. My eyes never left the popping bubbles dancing on top of the pot. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer.
“It’s done, right? Please tell me that it’s done! I want to start cooking the carrots!”
The bubbles were bigger than ever. They were forming and popping at such a high speed. Percy walked over and jumped back in surprise, his eyes wide open.
“Wow, I think we might have waited a little too long to let the water boil. Well, now you know how big the bubbles are when the water is ready to be used. Call your mother and tell her to come outside, Knox. She has the carrots. I think she’s inside the cabin.”
I marched inside the cabin to see my mom slicing some carrots on the one lone wooden table in our home. She was finishing chopping up the last few pieces when I told her to go outside.
“The water is ready to be used, Mom!” I announced.
She quickly put the last pieces of the carrot into the basket she was using. This basket had slices of carrots scattered in it. She picked up the basket.
“Lead the way, Knox,” she told me.
I showed her the way to the fire, even though she knew where it was. I then showcased the bubbling water in the pot and I told her the story of how I fetched the water.
“Wow, that’s amazing!” she replied to me after I got to the part about using the pot to scoop up the water. “We better get these carrots cooking, though. If you liked the carrots raw, wait until you eat them boiled and cooked!”
My mom poured the carrots into the pot. One by one, they sank to the bottom of the pan and then the water stopped bubbling a lot. I was confused by this, so I decided to ask more questions to Percy.
“Percy, where are the bubbles? They disappeared when Mom put the carrots in!”
“Oh, don’t worry about that.” He was carefully monitoring the fire, making sure that it didn’t spread and burn our cabin down. “The water will have plenty of rapid bubbles when the carrots are ready to be eaten. Just think of the water as an indicator.”
“When the water bubbles, then the food or water is ready to be used,” my mom added. “No bubbles, and you gotta wait.”
I nodded my head in understanding. I tilted my head towards the pot and saw bubbles bursting from the water.
“The water is bubbling a lot! The carrots must be done!” I exclaimed.
Percy smiled in agreement.
“Okay, Knox, now watch what I do,” he said. “First you must take the pot carefully out of the fire. This is very important, Knox. You must do this carefully! If you don’t, you could burn yourself! And out here, there aren’t very many remedies that you or your mother can use to get rid of your burn. So be careful. Now, watch what I do.”
Percy took a stick from the ground and held it into the tip of the fire. The stick caught on fire a little bit, but Percy blew out the fire and left a small trail of smoke with no problem.
“You need to burn the end of the stick so all the germs are taken away. This stick was on the floor, so it’s very dirty. You could wash it with water, but since there isn’t much water I can use right now, you burn in. Make sure you blow out the fire completely!”
Percy then took another stick and did the exact same thing with this stick. He now had two burnt sticks.
“Now watch. This part is interesting. Could I have a basket, Terigan?”
My mother rushed inside the cabin and got one of her baskets. She then gave it to Percy. Percy then held both of the sticks in one of his hands and had the basket in the other. He then stuck the sticks into the pot while still holding onto them. After a few seconds, Percy moved his hand up and the sticks emerged with a carrot slice between the two sticks. He put the carrot slice into the basket and repeated the process a few more times.
“Do you see what I’m doing?” he asked me.
“Yes, I actually do!” I smiled. “You’re using the sticks to pick up the carrots from the pot.”
“That’s correct. But you know, it’s kind of hard to do this, so there’s another way that I want to teach you.”
“Does it involve the sticks?”
“Unfortunately, no. However, you are always welcome to use the sticks method. I just find this a little bit easier.”
Percy stopped using the sticks. He put them in the basket.
“This part is the trickiest,” Percy said. “If you don’t do it correctly, you could be burned.”
“What does that mean?” I asked. Getting a burn didn’t seem like a good thing.
“Well, Knox, a burn is something you get when you touch something hot. Your skin hurts really badly and sometimes it turns black. Some people die if they have really bad burns. Other people just have really dark skin for the rest of their lives because the doctors don’t have the technology to heal it yet. Oh, what will the future be like when burns can actually be cured? I wonder. Knox, do you know what kind of things can cause you to get a burn?”
“Fire!” I immediately shouted out. “Mom said that you can’t touch the fire because you could get burned. She said to be very careful while cooking because the sparks of the fire could jump and burn your skin!”
“You sure do know a lot, little Knox. You are absolutely correct. Now, another thing that can burn you is hot metal. You know, bronze, steel, pots, pans, et cetera.”
“So the pot can burn you?”
“This pot can because it’s in the fire. However, after a metal gets hot, you need to let it cool down a little. Now, we can cool down the pot in two ways: we can get rid of the fire and the warmth that it will provide us for the rest of the nice, or we can take the hot pot down from on top of the fire, set it on the ground, and wait for it to cool down a little before we eat the carrots inside of it. What do you this I’m going to do, Knox?”
“It’s going to be the first one. That one is the safest. If you didn’t tell me about being able to burn myself with the pot, I would have chosen the second one, but you changed my mind. I can’t get burned.”
“Actually, Knox, we’re going to take the pot down.”
“And get burned?”
“Okay, there’s a little something I forgot to add on. If you take the pot down really quickly, the heat won’t transfer from the metal to your skin as much. Therefore, you will only get a slight burn.”
“But how long does it take to carry the pot from the top of the fire to the ground?”
“It honestly depends on how fast you can do it. Knox, I would like you to help me take the pot down.”
“No, I refuse. I can’t burn myself.”
“Knox, you just carry one side and I’ll carry the other.”
“I don’t want to burn myself. There’s nothing here to save me if I get burned.”
“There’s some ointment in my sack that can be used to treat burns. I got it from the best doctor in the Kingdom of Chimor. If you get a serious burn, I’ll get it for you and put it on your skin to make you feel better.”
“Percy, okay. But I know it’s going to hurt. I’m going to be seriously burned, and then my skin will be all dark and icky and it’ll hurt for a real long time.”
“The more times you carry something burned, the less it will hurt. You’ll only have to deal with the pain for a very small amount of time. By the next sunrise, it’ll be gone! Trust me, Knox. The first time I picked up a very hot pot, I felt like my fingers were on fire. My fingers were in great pain, and it seemed like it wouldn’t stop. I quickly ran to a bucket of water my mom had filled just incase of the burn and I dipped my fingers in them. The pain was reduced a little. Then my mom rubbed ointment on my fingers and it was all better by the next day. My skin wasn’t dark and it didn’t really hurt. I knew at that time that I could then bear the pain of the burn. It was a little scary carrying the pot the second time, but it was easier and it didn’t hurt as much as the former time. Basically, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Also, your fingers will get used to it and the skin on your fingers will grow stronger in order to handle the burn.”
“I’m not so sure about this right not, Percy.”
“Nonsense! You’ll be time, Knox. If it’s any help, I’ll tell your mom to get a piece of cloth. You can use the cloth to help you pick up the one handle of the pot. You know, just wrap the cloth on the handle of the pot and then hold the handle. The heat won’t be at hot with the cloth on it, and the chance of getting a burn will be significantly reduced to a minimum.”
“Well when you put it that way... all right, Percy. Let’s do this.” I called out to my mother, “Mom! Can you get me a piece of cloth so I can handle the pot? Thanks!”
My mother went into the cabin and quickly came right back out with a square of cloth. I wrapped it around one of the handles of the fire, but not before a spark of ash caught up to my skin.
“Ouch!” I screamed. “It hurts! It hurts!”
Percy tried to help me calm down.”
“Knox, it’s not that painful. It’s going to be all right. Think of your father and all the training he went through to get his kingdom back. He was burned many times, but he lived through it. He trekked through the forest for many days, scared and along, but he lived through it. He fought against Hamlet the First bravely and made it through a lot of guards. He lived through that experience too. He was even cut and almost decapitated multiple times, Knox! It was finally ended when Hamlet the Second stabbed it. He had been through a lot of pain to make his family happy. He wanted to make you happy. Just do this for him, Knox. Please. If you want to get revenge for his death, you need to train to become a warrior. This is one of the first steps to take: facing your fears. Don’t let the fear of getting burned distract you from the end goal of enjoying the carrots. Listen to me, Knox. Just do it.”
I felt a feeling in my gut. It was a combination of sickness and disgust, but there was also a feeling of hope. My father’s spirits were in me. I could feel them. I could feel his presence build within me.
“I can do this,” I said. Then a little louder: “I can do this. I am Knox! I will succeed!”
“That’s my friend’s boy. Now, on three, we grab, we lift, and then we set the pot down onto the ground right next to the fire. Try not to spill the water, since that’s going to be hot. Are you ready? One... two... three!”
Percy and I grabbed our sides of the pot and lifted it above the fire. We shifted away from the fire a few steps and then slowly brought the pot down to the ground. The smoke was still rising from the pot and so were some bubbles, but already the contents of the pot seemed to simmer down.
I didn’t notice that my hands were burning up until I let go. I guess that I was really focused on the task. My fingers started heating and soon the pain became unbearable. I didn’t care if Percy was looking: I sucked on each of my fingers since I knew my saliva was cool enough to help me cool down my fingers. The skin on my fingers then started to swell. It was terrible, and I was about to scream like I girl when I realized that I needed to suck it up and go through the pain.
I took my fingers out of my mouth, one by one, just like a newborn baby boy. I wiped the saliva off my fingers by wiping them on my pants and then I turned and looked at Percy.
“Now what?” I asked.
“Your mother’s bringing out a special basket with holes in it. We’re going to drain the water out of the pot and the carrots are going to fall into the basket. You don’t have to worry about getting burned this time, since the pot has been cooling down even since we took it out of the fire. Congrats on surviving, by the way. That took a lot of guts. You know, not a lot of kids are ready to try moving hot objects on their first try, and only a small percent of these kids actually succeed. You’re doing better than so many other people, Knox. I know that you’re on your way to becoming a great warrior just like your father.”
My mother burst through the cabin door holding a basket that I had never seen before.
“Here’s the draining basket!” she exclaimed as she was walking towards us. “We better hurry because the carrots are getting cold!”
She tossed me the basket and I set it right next to the ground next to the hot pot. Percy offered to help me dump the contents of the pot into the basket, and I happily accepted his help. This time, I did the honors.