The Red Roads

Written by Hendrik van Beek, 2018


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Let me tell you the story about the village and the beast.

There once was a small village on the edge of a forest. In that forest lived a great beast. The villagers wanted to cut lumber and hunt game, but they wouldn't dare to venture far. At the same time the beast feared the villagers too and never left the forest. After fear grew among the villagers they decided the beast should be gone. They attracted the brave and stupid to hunt the beast, but the scared beast always answered mercilessly.

One day a mysterious woman came to the village. She went to the edge of the forest and made a fire. There, she prepared some meat and presented it on a stone slab. Deep in the forest the beast smelled the delicious meat and followed its nose. As he reached the edge of the forest he saw the meat, but also the woman, so he went back. The following days the woman came and prepared the meat again and again until the beast came out of the forest. It took the woman weeks to get near the beast and months to get to touch him. But after a full year they greeted each other like old friends.

One day she made the beast a sash with wonderful fabric and beautiful embroidered details. The beast wore it with pride. She then led him to the village. At first the beast hesitated, but then he followed. In the village the people carefully approached the beast. They greeted him and the beast greeted back. More and more people flooded the streets. They were relieved and started cheering. The arrival of the beast initiated a week of celebration. After that the beast stayed with the villagers living in harmony.

Normally everyone would live happily ever after and the fairytale would end. Let me tell you the rest of the story:

The beast and the villagers lived side by side. The beast hunted with them and guarded the village. Although the woman, which the beast held very dear, left in search of another adventure, the beast enjoyed his safe, luxurious life.

With access to the forest the village grew into a sprawling town in just a few years. As the village grew some people left and other people came. It was a strange sight seeing a beast in the middle of the town. These new people never gave the beast much attention and even tried to keep their distance. The beast slowly lost his connection with the town and the townsfolk with the beast, if they ever had one to begin with. The beast was starting to feel, unwelcome, again and with not much of the forest left the beast spent most of his time lazing in the town's garden.

At some point the townspeople started to blame the beast for misfortune and disease. It wouldn't take long before the new inhabitants took on the sentiments of the old ones and wanted the beast gone. They dispatched a force of armed men to deal with this, threat. The armed men, ignorant of the meek creature in their garden, approached, and the beast became scared. As the fear returned to the beast, old habits bloomed. When the men attacked the beast acted as a scared animal does, violently. The men threw themselves at the beast, as meat to a grinder. The beast cut a bloody swath out the town, staining the roads red.

In the end the town was shaken and the beast would run back into the wilds. Both their stories are far from at an end, but they would never intertwine again.