Bell Digest vol09p05.txt

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	Clay Luther	Mannimark and the Kingdom of Lead, Pt. 1

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From: (Clay Luther)
Subject: Mannimark and the Kingdom of Lead, Pt. 1
Message-ID: <>
Date: 16 Sep 93 10:24:53 GMT

Mannimark and the Kingdom of Lead, Part 1
Copyright (c) 1993 by Clay Luther

He coughed once, thick, wet, and gravelly, then smiled a bit.  When he spoke,
his voice was low and hoarse, its ancientness pouring out over me like warm
milk. "When Mannimark escaped from the house of the rock giant, Caellae, he
fled down the slopes of the mountains.  Those mountains", pointing out my
small window, "there, on the other side.  Still very, very far away from
here.  He fled down the slopes of the mountains in the darkness, still naked
and half-tied as Caellae had left him before going out.  'How lucky am I!' he
thought to himself, Had I not hid Pun (you remember his mouse, don't you?)
with such care, the giant would have certainly eaten me by morning.  As it
stands my good and tiny friend has gnawed my ropes and set me free.'

"Mannimark ran, falling and scraping down the rocky, icy slopes of the
mountains. It was cold, as cold as he had ever felt it before, and he thought
to himself 'Subere has surely conspired with toothy Winter to make my way as
difficult as possible tonight.'  He was wrong, of course.  Subere felt great
affection for Mannimark and never worked against him.  You recall I told you
once how she helped him steal the golden needles from the Onwinsi, the Marsh
Witch.  He was wrong, but it was a very dark night, and very cold, and
Mannimark, without light or clothes, having barely escaped from the giant's
pot, now ran for his life.

"He had no way of knowing which way he was going, except down the mountain,
or where he wanted to go.  The stars and moon, obscured by clouds, provided
him no guides.  He continued down down down, until the land levelled
somewhat.  As morning came, he found himself finally off the mountains, but
in a very dreary place indeed. 'My!' he thought looking around in the dim
light, 'Would I have thought a place less beautiful than a giant's house
before coming here today?  I think not!'  You see, the land about him was as
grey and rocky and dim as any land he had ever seen, more so I say, a dirty,
dusty, rocky land without tree or bush or grass.  What grew, between the
rocks and stones and hard, frozen mud were weeds, brown weeds, as tall as you
are, some of them with wicked, purple, spiky tops. 'What a dreary place I
have found myself' he thought, 'but still, I must find some shelter for I
don't like the look of those clouds.  It will snow for sure, I think.'  So,
Mannimark searched all that cold morning long for someplace to lie down and
rest, safe from the cold and snow to come.  Luckily he found a small rock
house with a thatched roof.  He called out, but nobody answered him.  Finding
the shack without owner, he gathered some weeds and whatever wood he could
find.  Inside he built a bed of weeds.  He then asked Mahome for a tiny spark
and made a fire to warm himself.  Then he fell fast asleep.

"Had Mannimark bothered to look at Grovril's maps before taking that foolish
bet which landed him in the giant's pot, he might have known he had stumbled
into no fouler and forgotten place than the Kingdom of Lead.  Yes, that's
what I said, I saw you shiver beneath the covers.  The Kingdom of Lead,
rotten king Pallomark's land, as tainted and as evil a land as I know.  Oh
yes, my child, I have been there, more than once I shudder to say.  No one
goes to the Kingdom of Lead without good cause, though there is one cause
good enough for some.  Lead, you see, even the smallest amount and when
properly enchanted, protects against all kinds of witchery.  Rotten king
Pallomark loved lead.  He wore a lead crown and a lead coat. His people knew
how to make lead into things no one else could.  Not any old lead, but their
special enchanted lead, enchanted by the rotten king himself, enchanted so to
protect the wearer from all forms of sorcery, as I said.  Only Pallomark knew
how to do this and he made his people dig day and night in the great lead
mines beneath his great lead city at the center of the his great lead
kingdom.  He built humongous furnaces where he would melt down the leadstones
to purify them, all day long, all year long.  These furnaces belched unending
black clouds into the air and the soot settled over his land and choked every
living thing.  To fuel his furnaces, he sent his people to chop down all the
forests in the kingdom.  When all the trees were gone, he tore down his
peoples' houses, and burned them.  And when all the houses were gone, he
dried the bones of the dead before the furnaces, then threw them in like
kindling.  Eventually, you would think, the rotten king would run out of
things to burn.  He burned every calf, lamb, puppy, and kitten he could find,
every bird and spider.  But Pallomark was crafty and he knew the secret to
enchant lead.  So he traded.  He traded his enchanted lead which protected
against all forms of sorcery for the things he needed for his people and his
furnaces.  He traded for food, wood, whale oil, and coal.

"Now, the kings of other lands greatly valued Pallomark's lead and were very
eager to trade with him.  But they feared the Kingdom of Lead.  It was a
poisonous land, twisted and filthy.  The people of the kingdom had grown
accustomed to to the filth, though they are ugly now for it.  Without
exception, the people of the Kingdom of Lead are stooped parodies of real
men, with fat, greasy, grey skin and coal black eyes.  They grow no hair, and
you cannot tell the men from the women. Both sexes bulge and roll unseemly. 
They have massive foreheads which jut forward and shadow their tiny eyes and
their noses are mashed flat against their faces.  Their nostrils open only
slightly when they breath, producing a fuzzy hissing noise.  They never
breath through their mouths and it is said if one of them catches cold he
will die of suffocation before doing so.  They all wear soot black robes of
woven lead.  And they are very strong, stronger than our strongest men, but
typically slower and certainly more stupid than our warriors.  Those not born
to the Kingdom, but later move there, will certainly die.  I only briefly
stayed in the Kingdom of Lead, and each time was followed by long periods of
painful sickness when I returned home.

"So you see, my child, Mannimark had leapt out of the giant's pot into a land
of death, though he did not know it yet.  He still slept soundly, thinking
himself lucky and safe, in the tiny rock house at the foot of the mountains. 
It so happened, though, that Pallomark had sent a sentry of men that morning
to hunt for any deer or rabbit that might have stumbled down out of the
mountains during the night. The sentries knew of the tiny rock house and
thought to stop there to rest and eat their lunches of leadbread, cold
porridge, and grey water.  There were three of them, all fat and
black-skinned, with jerkins of leadleather and stone handled maces with lead
balls.  Their names were Ogul, Harat, and Mool, they were the sons of
Pallomark's brother, and Pallomark trusted them more than any of his other
knights.  Ogul carried with him a net made of the webs of spiders fed only a
mixture of blood and lead.  Harat had a sling of leadthread and ten lead
bullets the size of apples.  And Mool brought with him a long spear, made of
stone and tipped with a lead point as sharp and hard as the finest iron.  The
rotten king had given his favorite knights these weapons to honor them and
everyone in the kingdom knew Ogul, Harat, and Mool by sight because of their

"It had already begun to snow, just as Mannimark predicted, by the time Ogul,
Harat, and Mool arrived at the rock house.  Mool saw the thin smoke rising
from the house's chimney and stopped his brothers. 'Look!  Someone is inside.
 Be quiet so that we can perhaps sneak in and catch them unawares.'  Then,
more silently than three fat men wearing lead should be, they crept up to the
house and inside. Silently, they surrounded Mannimark.  Mool smiled to his
brothers, then poked Mannimark with his spear.  'Hey you!  Wake up!' he
hissed through flapping lips. Mannimark came awake rather quickly, jumping
back from Mool and groping for his weapons.  He had none.  'Look what I have
found, brothers!' laughed Mool, 'Sleeping here in our house a man with no
clothes in the dead of winter.  What are you doing, Naked Man, in our house?'
 Mannimark replied, pulling up the bed of weeds to cover himself, 'I
apologize.  I was cold, having just come down out of the mountain, naked as
you see, and I needed shelter, for I see it snows outside now as I thought it
would.  The house was empty, and I thought to use it since it was free.'
Ogul, who had an awful temper, knocked Mannimark down with his mace and stood
over him, yelling 'You expect us to swallow that story?  How can a naked man
cross the mountains?'  Mannimark wiped blood from his mouth and replied, 'I
did not start my crossing without clothes or weapons, but lost them along the
way to a giant who lives up there.  Surely, though, if I had them my clothes
and weapons now I would repay you the favor for this bruise you have given
me.'  Ogul lifted his mace again to strike Mannimark, but Harat, the slyest
of the three, pulled his brothers aside and said 'At first I thought perhaps
he was a madman, but he appears healthy and strong.  Fine hair grows on his
head, chest and under his arms, so we know he is not from our land.  Treat
him well, angry Ogul, and we will take him to our uncle.  If he bodes ill for
us, our uncle will know, and we will surely sup on his lily flesh.'  Ogul and
Mool nodded in agreement and turned back to Mannimark, who had gotten up on
his knees.  Mool stepped forward and said, 'I apologize for my brother who
struck you before asking your name.  I am Mool, this is my brother Harak, and
you have met ill-mannered brother Ogul already.  We are hunting for our
uncle, the king of this land, and IJthink he would gladly receive a brave and
tender young man like yourself.  You may wear my jerkin and walk between my
brothers and me to keep warm while we return home.'  Mannimark, greatful for
the hospitality, accepted MoolUs jerkin and walked between the three ugly
brothers back to Pallomark's castle.

Clay Luther                    
Software Engineer                        Kodak Health Imaging Systems
Yelo's gift was a necklace of clam shells from the Ouel Stream strung on gut
string with a delicate knot of reeds which performed the role of pendant.