Thursday, September 23, 2021

Microstory 1719: The Centaurs

My people have been cursed to wander the continent forever. We may stop to rest for the night, and gather resources, but then we must continue. Legend says that anyone who spends too long in one place will be turned to stone. This is not entirely true, but it is not completely false either. A body cannot transform into stone, but it can become stone-like. Their skin will harden, and their feet will root into the ground. The enemy who cursed us decided that we would have a choice, and treated this choice as a great gift. We can either keep moving, or we can never move again. Of course, that is no choice at all. Some say the stonemen are kept alive where they are forever, but there is no way for us to know that. If we ever see someone become stonelike, the only course of action is to get moving again, and we are always long gone before the stonemen can die... or not, if that is the case. No one here was alive when the curse fell upon us. We were all born into this way of living, and most of us accept that there is nothing we can do about it. I am not so sure. I know that there is a way out of this, and it’s all because of something I once saw when I separated myself from the group for a brief period of time. Going off is a fine thing to do. In fact, our tribe has been split a few times over the decades. Some groups would prefer to go another direction, while a few individuals have determined that they would survive better on their own. Many of us just like to walk alone for a while, but then we rejoin later. One day, when alone, I encountered something I had never seen before. We have come across many other tribes, but we try to steer clear, worried that the curse will befall them as well if they spend too much time with us. We would wish this on no one. The few individuals I saw that day were different. They were sitting upon great beasts, which evidently walked for them. They called these creatures horses, and referred to themselves as The Centaurs. I was in awe, and hopeful that there was some way for my tribe to rest and walk at the same time.

I begged these Centaurs to follow me, so I could show my people what they have discovered, but they were worried. To begin, they did not want to incur the wrath of the demons who cursed us in the first place. I have never seen one of these demons myself, but I have seen stonemen, so I know that someone must have done this to us, and that it is not some kind of elaborate lie to control us. Still, the demons could be watching us in secret, and if so, would be capable of punishing us further for attempting to find a way out of our predicament. The Centaurs were also worried that we would steal their horses for ourselves. We are noble and just, and would never do such a thing, but I understand the concern. All I want to know is where they found their animals, and whether we could find more for ourselves. In the end, they did not agree, and I was forced to return to the group with only my word. Many believed what I told them of the Centaurs, but not everyone, and of those who did, some did not believe it would be a good option. As far as I knew, only eleven horses existed in the entire world. That would not be enough to sustain our entire population. I urged them to reconsider, assuming there to be greater number of the animals somewhere, but also pointed out that eleven would be enough for us to take turns. It did not matter, they believed. We didn’t know where any of these horses were, and there was every chance we would happen upon them as we continued to wander. Looking for them on purpose would not increase the odds. It would, I explained, if we spread out more, but still, they refused to hear me. Frustrated with their skepticism, I have now separated myself once more, and I am not sure if I will ever rejoin. I keep walking in a lateral direction, always hoping to randomly come across more Centaurs, or better yet, unused horses. Instead, I have found something else. It is a massive object that I can barely describe. It’s yellow, but covered in black rectangles. There are four black circles on the bottom near each corner, which rest upon the ground. I step inside to find dozens of seats that would make quite comfortable beds, but one looks special. It’s in the front, and there are tons of objects along with it, like little dots, and another black circle. I see something shiny underneath it, and feel a compulsion not to take it out, but to turn it. The yellow object roars and shakes, and for a moment, I’m worried that it’s going to eat me. I cannot let it, so I sit down in the seat, and start tinkering with everything I find that moves. A couple of things are at my feet. When I step on one, the entire thing lurches just a little bit. I keep moving things around, trying to figure out how this thing works, and eventually realize that the entire yellow object is some kind of motion machine. After some trial and error, I manage to make it go for an extended period of time, all the way back to the group. I am the Centaur now.

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