The two days without their grandchildren moved painfully slow for the old man and his wife. The house felt empty and dull but was soon filled with the hustle and bustle of a young family again. The children, like always, tore through the house. Hugs, kisses and even some homemade Veteran’s Day cards were showered lovingly on their grandfather. With the help of their mother, a special lunch and an array of desserts were spread out for a quiet celebration of thanks. Like a plague of locusts, the children devoured every scrap of food. Only then were they ready to gobble up their grandfather’s story with the same zeal as their lunch.
“Okay, we left off with the traitor rethinking his affiliation and considering a return to the four captains.” He started.
“But the warlords were already planning to chop out his heart and create a demon,” Zack interjected. “Don’t forget about that!”
“Would I do that to you? No way!” Grandpa chuckled. “The traitor stood from his seat and announced that he’d shared everything he could remember. He turned and headed for the door when the warlords rose. Their leader, and by far the strongest in the dark arts, stretched out his long, boney hand.” To embellish the story, the old man stretched out his hand, took a deep breath, making his eyelids flitter before continuing.
“In a deep, raspy voice, he called out a spell. Instantly, black snake-like cords shot out from his fingertips and constricted around the traitor. As they enveloped their prey, they became more and more reptilian. Bound tighter by the serpent strands than any ropes could manage, the prisoner realized that his life was forfeit. The warlords would never allow him to leave the village, at least not alive. He was secured to a wooden post in the center of the village after the sun went down. Torches burned against the darkness, wisps of smoke twirled into shapes reminiscent of eerily shaped eyes, portholes from the pits of Hell to watch the proceedings. The villagers hid in their homes, none brave enough to witness the birth of a demon.”
Grandpa sipped his coffee and took another bite of his cake, wondering if perhaps he had made the story too frightening. The children were flushed with excitement but did not appear too fearful. Even his wife and daughter had edged in, listening with intense fascination. With a wary, raised, eyebrow the old man’s expression asked the question he dare not say aloud. Had he gone too far? Erica, his daughter smiled, realizing he concerns.
“I’ll bet you never knew your grandfather was such an accomplished storyteller,” Erica laughed.
Tousling her boys’ hair and planting a loving kiss on Madeline’s head, she casually interceded for a brief reprieve.
“How about if we let Grandpa finish his cake and give his throat a little rest before he continues?” She suggested. “If he loses his voice, we’ll never find out what happens!”
Any resistance she might have heard from her children was instantly squelched at the mere mention of their master storyteller losing his voice. To give the old man a much needed break, the kids set off outside to burn up some energy.
“You know, Dad,” Erica whispered when the kids had gone. “They talked about this story all weekend long. They love it and they couldn’t wait to get back to hear more but if you get worn out, tell them you need a break! And don’t worry, you’re not scaring them. You’re scaring the crap out of Mom... but the kids are just fine!”