By Derek V. Trout
“Do you really think this’ll work?” Makoto asked, his voice so deep it clapped like thunder.
“I hope so,” Vidar replied, wiping the sweat from his oversized nose.
“What good would this do anyways?” Ilario asked, her eyes narrowing. “We’re just putting rocks on top of each other. How could this possibly end the war with the Qadez?”
“Just trust me,” Vidar replied. “If we can arrange these stones in the right order in a perfect circle I think it may work.”
“But why?” Ilario asked rubbing her large chin.
“I’ve seen this design carved into the walls of the ancient cities of the Qadez,” Vidar explained. “Perhaps if we can build it perfectly, it’ll be enough to make them recognize it, and hopefully they’ll know we want to communicate, not fight.”
“You’re a fool Vidar,” Ilario laughed. “The Qadez aren’t interested in peace. And if you’re dumb enough to stick out your hand for them to shake it, they’re going to break it off.”
“But we’ve been at war for thousands of years,” Vidar answered. “Many have been lost on both sides, and for no good reason. Shouldn’t we be able to come to an agreement that they stay in the sea and we’ll stay on land?”
“Ugh,” Makoto grunted. “There,” he said as he and Earland lifted the last rock into place. Their creation was truly impressive, a perfect circle with ten foot tall and three foot wide rocks standing straight up and other rocks, just as big, lying on top of them. Inside the circle there were a number of other rocks standing straight up, between twenty-five and fourteen feet tall, with other rocks lying on top of them. There were also some rocks that were wider at the base and funneled up towards the top within the circle. With the last rock slid into place the guardian’s project was complete.
“So what happens now?” Ilario asked. “This is so far from the sea, how are the Qadez even going to know it’s here?”
“Oh trust me,” Vidar smiled. “They’ll know.”
Makoto scratched his head, “how can you be so sure?”
“Well,” Vidar put his hand on one of the outer rocks of the circle. “We took some of these stones from the sea.”
Makoto’s eyes widened, “oh.”
“Are you sure that was wise?” Ilario asked, her breath increasing.
“I needed to get their attention somehow, didn’t I?”
“Well,” Ilario gulped, “I believe you’ve certainly done that. So what do we do now?”
“We wait,” Vidar replied, sitting down and leaning against the outer rock wall. “It won’t be long now before they come.”
One day passed, then two, but still there was no sign of the Qadez. However, on the third day, Vidar and the others were woken by the unmistakable, high pitched, echoing, loud, long, shriek of the Qadez.
“Well,” Makoto said through a yawn, “that took longer than I expected.”
“That’s only the scout,” Vidar’s face tightened, as he looked at the winged creature in the sky. “My guess is by this afternoon they’ll all be here. Alert the others and prepare for battle.”
“Battle?” Makoto was taken aback. “I thought this was supposed to be a sign of peace to the Qadez.”
“I hope it is,” said Vidar. “But I want to be prepared just in case I’m wrong. But trust me,” he looked his friend in the eyes. “I hope I’m not wrong.”
When the sun was at its highest point in the sky, Makoto, Vidar, Ilario and eleven hundred and twenty-four other guardians of the land stood around their stone tribute to the Qadez. All of them stared at the horizon.
“Do you really think they’ll come this far inland?” one of the guardians asked.
Vidar smiled, “they’ve come much further inland for much less.”
“Yes,” Makoto said, putting his hand over his eyes on his unusually small forehead, “but that was a long time ago. When there was much more of them, and many more of us.”
“I know,” Vidar dropped his eyes, looking at the ground. “That’s why I hope the Qadez recognize the signal. They’ll have a view from above, I don’t know how they could miss it.”
“I hope you’re right,’ Makoto sighed. “I hope you’re right.”
“Just have faith my brother,” Vidar padded him on the back. “Just have fai – ”
“Bizzzaaakalaaaa!” the screech of the Qadez filled the countryside.
The holler made nearly all of the guardians of the land quiver.
“That didn’t sound like a happy cry,” Ilario frowned.
“I know,” Vidar gulped. “I know. But just give it time they’re not close enough to see the stone configuration yet.”
As the Qadez approached, the guardians became more fidgety and some found it impossible to control shaking of their knees. The Qadez were large winged creatures with scales as tough as steel. They were nearly twenty feet long from head to tail and had large, piercing eyes.
And even though the Qadez lived under water in the seas they could also breathe air. The Qadez and the guardians of the land had been at war with each other as far back as any story ever told. No one knew why but the Qadez regularly attacked plants, animals, and people that lived on the land.
They were beasts driven on destroying the land. Without warning or reason they attacked villages, livestock, and burned bridges with their fire breathing capabilities.
The fighting had gone on long enough, too long, in fact, and Vidar, as the leader of the guardians of the land, hoped to put an end to it.
“Bizzzaaakalaaaa,” the sound of the Qadez echoed. One after another, after another let out their terrible shriek.
“Don’t make fists with your hands!” Vidar ordered. “We don’t want them to think that we’re going to be aggressive towards them in any way.”
“It’s hard not to make a fist when you hear that noise,” Ilario hissed.
“I know,” Vidar replied. “But trust me we have to let them know that we don’t want to figh – ”
One of the Qadez reached the stone structure the guardians had just built and crashed into it. Stones went tumbling, some were broken in half and others flew through the air. The beast stood up, shrieked at the guardians, picked up one of the stones that’d come from the sea, and flew away with it.
“Oh no,” Makoto looked at the ruined structure, his long jaw dropped.
“No!” Vidar shouted. “That wasn’t supposed to happen! No, no!”
Another Qadez flew over the gathered guardians and shot fire from its mouth. The field instantly lit ablaze, but the fire did little to the guardians who were made of stone.
Hundreds of Qadez glided towards the guardians. One of them swooped down and sunk its claws into a guardian. Even the stone bodies of the guardians weren’t enough to protect against the mighty talons of the Qadez. The beast flapped its wings as hard as it could, trying to pick up the guardian, but she was too heavy. Then, three other Qadez sunk their claws into her, and together the four were able to fly away.
“Can we make fists now?” Ilario glared at her leader. She turned and jumped into the air and punched one of the Qadez out of the sky.
“All I wanted was peace!” Vidar shouted as he ran across the field and jumped onto the back of a Qadez. Instantly, the beast let go of the guardian he had his claws in.
Not only were the Qadez attacking the guardians, but they were also tearing apart the structure the guardians had just made. They were taking all the rocks that’d been taken from the sea and returning them to where they’d come from.
Makoto was staring at two Qadez as they flapped their wings, managing to stay just at eye level with the guardian. Eye level for Makoto was just over twenty feet from the ground.
“Why do you do this when we want peace?” Makoto asked.
“Bizzzaaakalaaaa,” the Qadez on his right side replied.
“Is that all you know how to say?” Makoto frowned. “If it is, we’ll never end this war.”
“Who says we want it to end?” the other Qadez asked, in the language of the guardians, as she stuck out her talons and dove towards him.
He grabbed the Qadez by the leg before she could sink her talons into him. He twirled his arm in a circle, using the beast as a weapon. One swing upwards and the other Qadez that was standing in front of Makoto was sent twirling uncontrollably through the air.
Another swing, and other of the winged creatures was knock to the ground.
But it didn’t take long for the Qadez to notice what Makoto was doing with one of their kinsfolk.
“Miiinnnammaliikaa,” one of the Qadez yelled out and dove at Makoto. Her call caught the attention of five others, and they all joined her.
Makoto still had the Qadez by the leg when he noticed the group diving at him. He swung the beast, but missed, and was knocked to the ground by a Qadez hitting him in the chest with the force of her fall.
“Ugh,” Makoto groaned as he hit the ground, letting go of the beast he’d had by the leg.
Soon, all six of the group of Qadez were standing over Makoto. They sunk their three inch long teeth into the guardian, and shook their heads side to side, trying to break chunks of his body off. Others sank their talons into his arms and tried to rip them from his body.
Makoto tried to fight, but there was just too many of them. He tried to lift his arms but they were pinned to the ground, the same for his legs. He was sure he couldn’t take anymore when…
Bam! Vidar ran into one of Qadez, forcing him off of Makoto. He turned and punched another of the creatures, it fell to the ground unconscious.
Ilario, grabbed one by the tail, and pulled so hard she nearly ripped it off before the Qadez kicked free and flew off.
“Ssssiiijjaaqqquola,” one of the Qadez yelled, flapping his wings. He started to fly away, and the others followed. All of the Qadez who were able flew away towards the sea carrying all the rocks that’d been taken from the sea with them.
“I am so sorry,” Vidar said, giving a hand to Makoto and helping him to his feet.
“It’s okay,” the guardian smiled as he stood up. “I’d be dead if it wasn’t for you two. Thank you.”
“I wouldn’t thank him if I were you,” Ilario glared at Vidar.
Vidar lowered his head, “I didn’t want this to happen.”
“Well what did you expect?” Ilario asked. “You intentionally brought the Qadez to us. I don’t know why you’d think anything different would happen than what just did.”
“I’m sorry,” Vidar said, still looking at the ground.
“You should be more than sorry!” Ilario continued. “Those creatures are animals, feral beasts. They don’t understand reason or logic like you and I. They can’t even talk, if we’re trying to get them to talk to us it’s wasting our time and killing our people because they can’t even ta – ”
“One talked to me,” Makoto said.
Vidar looked up, “What?”
“The one I had by the leg,” Makoto pointed at her lifeless body. “She talked to me before she tried to sink her talons into me.”
“What’d she say?” Vidar asked.
“Well, they let out one of their screams,” Makoto explained. “I asked if that was all they knew how to say, because if it was, this war was never going to end. And she replied, ‘who says we want it to end.’”
“So they can talk,” Vidar whispered, looking up the Qadez disappear over the horizon. “They can talk.”
“So what does that mean?” Ilario asked.
“It means,” Vidar sighed. “We’ve got to do something that makes them want to talk to us instead of kill us.”
Boom, Boom, Boom. The ground shook with the footsteps of the marching guardians. It’d been two years since the fight with the Qadez over the stones taken from the sea. Since then, the guardians had heard of multiple Qadez attacks on people, villages, and farms, and even managed to encounter them on a few occasions. And during that time, more than one guardian off by themselves had been killed by the Qadez. No matter what, they seemed to always be one step, or more, behind the terrible winged creatures.
But, the guardians didn’t give up. They’d done other things to try to signal their peaceful intentions to the Qadez. They’d carved images into the ground that were hundreds of feet long with lines over three feet thick. The guardians were certain the Qadez would notice them from the sky. They sent one scout to check out the carvings, but after six months of waiting they decided the Qadez weren’t going to accept their peace offer, or they didn’t understand it, and they moved on.
And now, the guardians found themselves in whipping wind and freezing cold temperatures.
“Are you sure this will work?” Ilario asked.
“Yes,” Vidar replied, his hands shaking. “We know the Qadez are everywhere, no matter the temperature.”
“But why here?” Makoto asked. “Couldn’t we have found a warmer place to build these pyramids?”
“I’m sure we could’ve,” Vidar answered. “But where else on earth would three black pyramids stick out more than in the white of snow? And besides, the rocks under the sea here are perfect for building pyramids.”
“You took more rocks from the sea!” Ilario threw down the rock she was holding. “How could you? You know what happened last time you did that! Over a hundred guardians were killed.”
Vidar’s eyes narrowed, “you don’t have to remind me of such things, I think of them every day.”
“But apparently that’s not enough,” Ilario’s lips tightened. “How could you do this to us again?”
“I have to get their attention,” Vidar said. “I have to. And I know no better way than taking their rocks from the sea.”
“You’re a fool,” Ilario started to walk away, “and I’ll have no part of this.”
“Ilario wait,” Vidar said, but she kept walking, leaving deep oversized footprints in the snow. “Come ba – ”
Makoto put a hand on Vidar’s shoulder, “just let her go.”
“If we can’t stay united…” Vidar said, watching Ilario walk away.
“We’re sure to fail,” Makoto finished the sentence. “Yes I know.”
“Am I doing the right thing?”
“Do you believe you are?”
“I think so,” Vidar sighed. “But, I don’t know, I’m starting to doubt.”
“Doubt?” Makoto shook his head. “I don’t doubt you. During your time as leader we’ve successfully defended the land from the attackers from the sky, from the giant reptiles that walked on two legs, and from the giants of the east and the Amrimaspi of the north. The only foe we have left is the Qadez, and I’m willing to do whatever you think is necessary to achieve peace, or to eliminate them altogether.”
“Thank you old friend,” Vidar smiled. “I’m glad one of us doesn’t doubt me.”
“Don’t doubt yourself,” Makoto’s eyes grew. “As soon as you do, others will do the same.”
“Okay,” Vidar picked up a two ton boulder and set it on the base of the pyramid. “No more doubting.”
Nearly six months later the guardians of the land were done building their pyramids in the snow.
“It feels good to be finished,” Vidar smiled, looking at the three pyramids.
“It does,” Makoto nodded. “But don’t you find it strange that the Qadez haven’t even sent a scout down here the whole time we were building?”
“Hmph,” Vidar shrugged. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
One month passed and then two. The guardians lived in the pyramids they’d built, waiting to hear the cry of the Qadez. But soon six more months had passed and their shriek wasn’t heard. Also, Ilario hadn’t been seen since she walked away during the build.
Six months turned into a year, and one year into two, but still, no Qadez visited the pyramids built on the bottom of the world. Ilario was also still gone.
“I was wrong again,” Vidar said, looking at the sun reflect off of the snow-covered pyramids. “The Qadez aren’t going to come here for their rocks.”
“Why wouldn’t they?” Makoto asked.
“I don’t know,” Vidar shook his head. “I thought they’d still care about their rocks, even down here. Plus no humans live here so I thought it’d be a great place for a final battle with the Qadez if it came to that. But apparently, another one of my plans has failed.”
“So what do we do now?” Makoto asked.
Vidar started to walk, “we leave this place. And go back to the populated lands, hopefully the Qadez haven’t done too much damage while we were gone.”
Over two thousand miles away, on a small remote island in the South Pacific, Ilario walked through a forest.
“Those fools,” she mumbled to herself, “they’re probably still frozen to the core over two years later. I can’t believe they’d be so dumb to think that plan would actu – ”
She reached the end of the forest, but quickly stepped back in and crouched down. There were more than a dozen Qadez in the field ahead.
“How’d they find me?” Ilario asked herself.
But the Qadez didn’t look in her direction, they just continued to speak to themselves in their native tongue.
After several minutes one of them raised their hand and the others fell silent.
“I think I smell something,” the Qadez said, sticking his nose in the air.
“Oh my,” Ilario’s jaw dropped, “they can speak our language.”
The Qadez sniffed the air a few more times. “Never mind,” he said, “I don’t smell it anymore. Did any of you smell anything?”
In their native language the other Qadez replied that they hadn’t.
For the next hour Ilario watched her enemies. They continued to switch back between the language of the guardians and their own language, but they talked about nothing important.
“What are the Qadez doing here?” Ilario asked herself. “Why are you on this tiny speck of an Island?”
Eventually the Qadez started to walk away from the forest and over a hill. When they were out of sight Ilario slowly, and gently stepped into the field. As she approached the top of the hill she got down on her belly and crawled her way to the top. When she peaked over the hill, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
Eight months later, and four thousand miles away, Vidar, Makoto and the other guardians of the land inspected a bridge that’d been recently destroyed by the Qadez.
“How are we ever going to be able to stop them?” Makoto asked.
“I don’t know,” Vidar replied, moving a stone to the side.
“We’ve got to do something,” Makoto replied. “You’ve always got a plan, what’s your next one?”
Vidar lowered his head, “I don’t have a plan. And it’s probably best that I don’t. None of them have worked, and more and more guardians die as a result of my failures.”
“At least we’re trying,” Makoto replied. “Trying and failing is better than doing nothing at all. We can’t give up, we can’t.”
“I don’t know,” Vidar sighed, “I don’t know what else to d – ”
Boom! Boom! Boom! Suddenly, the ground began to rumble.
The guardians turned to see Ilario running out of a small group of trees.
“There you are!” she smiled. “You wouldn’t believe how hard you are to track down.”
“It’s good to see you again,” Makoto laughed and embraced his friend.
But Vidar’s eyes narrowed, “what do you want Ilario?”
“I know we didn’t end on the greatest of terms,” she replied, looking into Vidar’s eyes. “But I’ve found something, something very important.”
“I was walking across a small island thousands of miles away from here,” her smile grew. “When I stumbled upon the home of the Qadez.”
“What?” Vidar’s eyes opened as wide as they could.
“Yes,” Ilasrio continued, “they’d dug tunnels in the island, and were flying in and out of them. There were hundreds of holes and thousands of Qadez. I assume it was their home, I don’t know what else it could be. I didn’t stay long though, not with so many of them.”
“Do you remember where this island is?” Vidar asked.
“Can you take us there?”
“Thank you,” Vidar stuck out his hand, Ilario shook it. “Thank you.”
“So what’s the plan?” Makoto asked as he and the rest of the guardians stood in the only place on the island that didn’t have holes for the Qadez to fly in and out of, the forest.
“Well,” Vidar explained. “We know they can speak our language. If we all march over this hill and they see all twelve hundred plus of us, hopefully they’ll be willing to talk. Every guardian alive is gathered with us here today. I hope they’ll want to talk instead of fight.”
“And if they want to fight?” Ilario asked.
“Then I’m prepared,” Vidar’s face was emotionless. “And I know everyone else is too.”
Vidar took a step out of the forest and all the guardians followed.
When they reached the top of the hill it didn’t take the Qadez long to notice them. Immediately their familiar cry filled the air.
“Bizzzaaaka – !”
“Enough of that!” Vidar yelled, and the Qadez fell silent. “We know you can speak our language. We aren’t here to fight, we’re here to talk.”
The Qadez looked at each other, until finally one of the males stepped forward.
“What is it that you’d like to talk about guardian?”
“Well,” Vidar and the other guardians walked towards the valley. “First of all my name is Vidar, what is yours?”
“Garnthus,” the Qadez introduced himself.
“Are you the leader here?” Vidar asked.
“I am,” Garnthus shot smoke out of his nostrils. “And what are you doing here?”
“We want to talk,” Vidar put his hands in the air, “that is all.”
“Did you need to invade our home just to talk to us?” the Qadez crouched.
A smile crept across Vidar’s face, “it’s the only thing that’s worked so far.”
“Tell me quickly before I order an attack,” Garnthus glared. “What’re you here to talk about?”
“Peace,” Vidar replied. “I want us to live in peace.”
“Are you going to leave us alone?” the Qadez leader asked. “Are going to let us come and go on land as we please? Are you going to let us be free to roam your country sides and your mountains, valleys and forests?”
“Will you leave the humans, their buildings and bridges alone?”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Garnthus’ laugh was an eerie kind of laugh. “Why do you care so much about the pathetic humans?”
“They live on land,” Vidar explained. “We’re the guardians of the land, it’s our duty to protect all who live on it.”
“You’re pathetic!” Garnthus shouted. “All of you!”
Vidar’s eyes narrowed, “I do believe the same thing could be said about you.”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Garnthus laughed again. Slowly his laugh faded and turned into a glare as he yelled, “Bizzzaaakalaaaa!”
Instantly, the Qadez spread their wings and took to the air. Hundreds more came out of the holes in the ground, and soon the sky was nearly blacked out because of the winged beasts.
“I guess this is it huh?” Ilario asked.
“It sure is,” Vidar replied. “Today, one way or another, this all ends.”
The Qadez nosedived at the guardians. Ilario clenched her large hands, they were like oversized boulders attached to the ends of her arms. She swung quick and hard, but each swing was purposeful as one Qadez after another was punched out of the air in midflight.
But there were more Qadez than guardians. The winged beasts swooped down and sunk their claws into the rock guardians. More than one of them was being carried away by multiple Qadez.
Garnthus stared at the guardians, leaned forward and shot a mighty fountain of fire from his mouth. But it had no effect on them, they continued to fight as though nothing had happened.
However, more and more Qadez continued to come out of the holes in the ground.
Vidar leapt onto the back of one of the Qadez and tore the wings off of his back. The beast let out a great cry and fell to the ground. Vidar leapt off the Qadez and onto the back of another, again another Qadez had her wings removed. From one to another to another he leapt.
Makoto was surprisingly quick for a large rock being. He easily avoided the claws of the Qadez swooping at him from above, all while taking out one beast after another with not only his fists, but also his feet.
And even though the Qadez just kept coming the guardians held their own. When the claws of one of the Qadez sunk into a guardian there were two more guardians quickly by their side, doing their best to set them free.
Ilario ran as fast as she could and jumped into the air. With one swing after another after another, three Qadez fell from the sky before she landed.
The guardians of the land and the Qadez continued to fight into the night. The Qadez gained the upper hand because of their numbers and forced the guardians back up the hill. The guardians retreated into the forest, and mistakenly, the Qadez followed.
In the forest the Qadez lost their speed advantage and the close quarters fighting amongst the trees favored the guardians.
One of the Qadez leapt at Makoto. Instinctively, he pulled a tree from the ground, and like a baseball bat, swung it and sent the Qadez twirling through the air.
“Guardians!” Makoto yelled. “Use the trees,” he hit another Qadez from the air.
One guardian after another, after another, pulled a tree from the ground and used them to attack the Qadez. The battle had turned. As the sun came up, only eight hundred and eighty seven guardians were still alive, but less than five hundred Qadez had lived through the night.
Makoto ducked the grasp of a Qadez that tried to sink his claws into his face. He dropped his tree and grabbed the beast by the neck and squeezed as hard as he could, popping the Qadez’s head clean off.
Ilario’s fists were chipped and covered with the blood of the Qadez, yet she continued to swing them. All night, she was one of the few guardians who hadn’t torn a tree from the ground.
Vidar swung his tree, taking another winged beast from the sky. He jumped onto the back of a passing Qadez, and hit him in the head with the back of his tree, knocking out the beast. When Vidar jumped off of the Qadez he skidded across the ground. He got up and Garnthus was standing right in front of him.
Vidar raised his tree and just as he started to bring it down…
“Geeewwwiiillafffeee,” he yelled, and all the Qadez and guardians fell silent.
Vidar grabbed him by the throat, “what did you say?”
“I said,” Garnthus pulled Vidar’s hand away. “I said, to stop fighting. We’ve lost thousands, you’ve only lost hundreds. I won’t let all of my kinsfolk die today. This war is over, we surrender.”
Dropping their trees the guardians yelled and cheered. “Yeah! Woo hoo!” Hurrah!”
All the Qadez, even the ones flying in the skies landed and stood by their leader. They all bowed their heads.
“Why here?” Vidar asked. “What are you all doing on this miniscule island?”
“We found it to be the perfect home,” Garnthus explained. “There’s a large underground cave system here. The caves are both above and under the water, and plenty large enough for all of us to live in. Plus, this island is so small and in the middle of nowhere. We thought you’d never find it.”
“Well, if it wasn’t for one of the best guardians ever,” Vidar looked at Ilario. “We never would have.” A slight smile came across Ilario’s face.
“What are the conditions of our surrender?” Garnthus asked.
“First,” Vidar glared, “you starting digging graves, we have too many guardians to bury. Second, you take your own dead with you. Third, you and all the Qadez, forever stay in your tunnels under this island. I don’t ever want another living being on land to see your kind ever again. Because if they do we’ll hunt you all down and show no mercy like we have today.”
The Qadez marched into the field and began to dig graves for the guardians.
Several weeks later all the graves were dug and the guardians were laid to rest. The Qadez were forced back into their holes and the guardians filled them in.
“Do you really think they’ll keep their part of the bargain?” Ilario asked.
“For a little while they will,” Vidar nodded, “but forever? I doubt it.”
“So what are we going to do then?” Makoto asked.
“We’re going to stay right here on this island,” Vidar answered. “We’re going to watch over the home of the Qadez and make sure that they never again come to the surface. This is our new home.”
Vidar, Ilario, Makoto and the other guardians of the land found a place they were comfortable on the island, and looked out to sea, or over where the holes of the Qadez had been, or over the entries to the caves the Qadez were ordered to live in. The guardians had all the entrances to the home of the Qadez covered and to this day, the guardians are still there, standing, watching, waiting. They’re ready, at any moment to defend the land again from any creatures that pose a threat to her. Whatever, wherever, whenever it might be, if the land is threatened the guardians will be there. If need be, the statues are ready to defend again.
Easter Island – Present Day
“Wow!” a red flower shirted tourist said, reaching out to touch one of the statues.
“Please sir,” his guide held up a hand, the tourist stopped just a few inches away. “Don’t touch.”
“These things are incredible,” the tourist said, adjusting his sunglasses that were held up by his white, sun-screened nose. “How’d they get them here?”
“The answer to that is simple,” the native tour guide smiled. “The statues, they walked.”