Blue heavenly skies above with straw and stone structures below. The Ritzic family stood at the edge of their small village, dressed in their bearskins and leather straps, speaking with their neighbor. The Bachelor Wyatt had noticed they were also out for an afternoon stroll through the dirt and decided to say hello. The conversation was always pleasant with the Ritzic family.
“Such a beautiful day, isn’t it?” Wyatt exclaimed.
“It really is!” Leslie said, her eyes glancing at Wyatt’s hips.
Wyatt felt the tug of his pet, a fluffy grey raccoon, scurrying away from the conversation. “Can you believe today is the day?”
“I know It’s all going to be fine,” Leslie said in her usual cheerful tone.
Wyatt nodded his head, “the envoy comes back every year, and they leave every year. I’m sure we’ll be able to explain the situation to them.”
Leslie shrugged, “it’s not our fault that plague took out half our crops.”
“Sure,” Wyatt said, “all the previous king’s envoys have been very understanding. So, are you guys down for brunch?”
Mr. Ritzic answered, “we’re good; we were just on our way with little Cindy here up the mountain to look around for the ancient monk.”
Wyatt looked down at Cindy, dressed in her red-stained leather, smiling and nodding her head vigorously, “The Sage Monk of the Mountain.” She explained.
“We just told her the story for the first time last night,” Leslie explained.
Wyatt asked, “the story about the Ancient Sage Monk of the Mountain?”
Leslie nodded her head.
“Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of it.” Mr. Ritzic patted his back. “It’s a great story.”
“I think I remember hearing the story when I was a kid, but I forget.”
“I’m always happy to educate a young squirt like yâ€””
“Let me tell it Daddy!” Cindy burst out.
Mr. Ritzic giggled and rubbed the top of Cindy’s head, “you tell it then.”
Cindy stood on her toes as she started, “a long time ago, there was a bunch of bad stuff happening. No one was happy, not even the Mommies!” She stopped to take a breath, “and one cool guy wanted to help, so bad. He wanted to help make everyone happy, so he went to the mountain to learn how to help people.”
“That’s great,” Leslie’s smile was so warm, “and so legend has it he is still up there, getting ready to come down one day to help us all.”
“When he does, he’ll probably have some incredible wisdom for us,” Mr. Ritzic remarked.
Just then, they heard a rustle come from the bushes as a dirty and almost naked older man appeared from nowhere. It wasn’t anyone they recognized from the village, and his body looked like it had disappeared to bone and uneven, wrinkled skin.
“The Bushes Make Excellent Dump Zones!” The man explained excitedly.
All four of their faces except Cindy turned to pure disgust.
“Does anyone know where I can find something to eat?”
“You can find something to eat down there.” Mr. Ritzic pointed towards the village center.
“I have finally solved for the meaning of success. I mean have you guys ever tried a delicious squirrel burger. I remember those so fondly. I wonder what it’s like to become a fish, actually I felt like fish for few years. Do you guys happen to remember an ancient stone player named Dynamite Dave?”
Their faces reflected terror and confusion as the monk continued talking. After his long tirade had ended, he looked at them and scurried across the dirt road.
They started backing away. “I’m not sure I completely understand what you are talking about.”
“You need the wisdom of the ancients!” He exclaimed, prostrating himself in front of Leslie.
“Dude, you’re just some homeless guy,” Wyatt said as he turned away and walked his dog in the other direction.
The man fell to his knees, sobbing, “I’m the man destined to save this village.”
“Okay,” Mr. Ritzic said, “let’s go on our hike now, girls.” The family stepped around the man. Being dragged by her father, Cindy looked behind her and watched the Ancient Monk watching her until she was out of sight.
The man’s grin returned as he had just remembered a happy thought that made everything better.
That’s when the horn announcing the envoy’s arrival blew, and the Ancient Monk walked with the rest of the villagers towards the center of town.
The village was relatively small; the only face the Ancient Monk recognized in the crowd was Wyatt. The envoy had arrived on horses covered in hard leather horse-mail. The leader was clear, standing out because of his intricately designed vest.
“What exactly is happening here, my little peons!” the man had a shrill voice, “the king demands his ransom *cough* I mean taxes.”
The village leader was the first to approach the envoy, “of course, Sir. We already have everything prepared for you.” A group of peons rolled out five barrels of grain and five barrels of spirits.
“Hm,” the envoy leader looked over the goods, “where are the Brussel sprouts?”
“Our harvest was bad because of an infection. We had no way of knowing.” the village leader explained.
“We sent you a psychic to predict this problem.” The envoy leader’s shrill voice started to shrillify further. “The King requires Brussel sprouts for EVERY SINGLE Meal. It is the delight of his majesty. Are you telling me you have no sprouts?”
“The psychic ran off after the crops died, and she did not warn us.” The village elder explained.
The envoy leader walked towards his horse, contemplating until he turned towards the villagers and said, “I will recommend that this village be exterminated and replaced with peons from the South..the job market down there is hot.”
The villagers were clamoring, “unless you can give me a good reason to save you,” he said.
Each of the villagers took their turn.
“If you kill us, you’ll never know how we made the Brussel sprouts so delicious.”
“We can make up for it with twice as many sprouts next season.”
“What if we provided you with some of our women as compensation for your generosity.”
“STOP,” the Man from the Mountain approached the envoy. Wyatt rolled his eyes in the background but could not turn away from the impending disaster. The Ancient Monk walked right up to the leader’s feet and bowed before him. “Kill me If these words don’t make sense.” The Monk pleaded.
The leader nodding his head, pulled the club from his side with a flourish.
“You need Brussel sprouts! Our majesty deserves the savory taste of this leafy pleasure for every meal. Can you imagine if he had that without the weird texture? Brussel sprouts are delicious, and the king is hungry. I’m sure you’ve found creative solutions in the past, like when you helped the king conquer the South. We’ll bring your Brussel sprouts, but they won’t be sprouts; they’ll be soup.”
The envoy’s leader, thinking for a moment, put his club away. “Great, I will put you in charge of the project. Have the soup to me by tomorrow. Otherwise, I will be coming back with an army.”
“Of course,” the old man stood up, “I will make it so..”
“Thank you, peon, or you may be more than just a peon.”
When the Ancient Monk turned towards the village after the envoy had left, they were all flabbergasted. “How will we make Brussel sprout soup without any Brussel sprouts?”
The older man answered in the most dignified way possible. “Does anyone know a great Dump Bush around here?”