Clark Gillian

The Enchanted Deer and the Dreams of the Fool


Chapter 1.
In the land of old wives.

Once upon a time, in a land so flat it mocked the sky, even the highest vantage point revealed no mountains, canyons, or lakes. This Land of Old Wives, as flat as a dropped pancake, offered its people only one constant horizon: each other.

Why "Old Wives," you ask? The answer lays in a shadow of their past. The Great Evil Emperor, infamous for his insatiable greed, arrived one day with his hellhounds in tow. The Land of Old Wives wore their stories on their faces. Smiles crinkled like the eyes of mischievous rivers,while frowns were the shadows cast by passing clouds. In a land where the horizon never changed,their faces became living landscapes,each line a memory whispering its tale. In those faces, they saw their most precious possession: beauty.

Knowing the Emperor's hunger for beauty, they desperately sought to hide it. Alas, true beauty cannot be concealed. Panic spread like wildfire through the night as the Emperor's imminent arrival loomed. Young women were hastily hidden in cellars, barns, and attics.

When the Emperor finally set foot on their flatlands, no enchanting beauty met his eyes. From his gleaming golden chariot, he gazed upon the silent villagers, seeing only... old wives. Deprived of his expected prize, he declared, "Let this land henceforth be known as the Land of Old Wives!"

The Emperor never returned, leaving the villagers believing they had outsmarted him. But their victory held a bitter truth. In declaring their land "Old Wives," the Emperor had inadvertently branded beauty itself as dangerous, something to be hidden.

The people, living up to their imposed name, slowly began to believe it too.