The Shadow of a Lion

Francisco Santillán

Many of us know what happened when feudalism appeared in Europe- huge castles, many people with not enough money and just few people with too much money. During this era, chemistry began as alchemy. Alchemy actually stopped the progress that chemistry could have made during that time. The search for lab-gold was the ambition of civilizations as well as the search for shiny, yellow metal.

The philosopher’s stone was part of the search for this metal; alchemists during this time searched for it. The quest for it seemed to be an indispensable need. Humanity searched for this stone in order to make gold out of other metals. At present, we can say that this was an interesting and kind of funny piece of history. Also during this age, religion dominated society. The idea of a stone that could bring one eternal youth alarmed some priests and closed their minds like a dark, humid and secure cell.  Even though religion was an impediment, it also helped to play a role in the quest as many alchemists or priests searched for this stone with exorcisms or magic.

Religion was so powerful at that time that it was prohibited to enter some forests because of evil spirits or devils that were supposed to have lived in them. In one of these forests is where our story begins . It begins in a forest that in the winter was white as milk, full of snow, and with the especial odor of pines, wildness and savagery that forests normally sweat.

A priest named Pedro López de Novales prohibited entrance into this forest because of the amount of people who had disappeared.  Also, he knew that many of these people went into the forest searching for the philosopher´s stone following the theory that it could be found in nature. Many of the people said that the reason why the forest seemed so dark and occult-like with its trees of poisonous spines, that according to them could walk or punch people in their stomach, was because the forest was protecting the stone with all of its  weapons of nature. Many people had entered only to never return, and the few who could make it out of the forest talked about black demons that moved really fast, like shadows- shadows that hunted for souls in groups; demons that that they never stopped moving . They said that you couldn´t see their eyes but you knew that they were watching you, ready to attack.

Pedro sanctified and exorcised the forest many times, but the demons kept attacking and their surviving preys each time were less. They closed off the forest with a fence, and hoped that the people would be afraid enough to keep out. Some legends inside of the community said that only the bravest knight could take the philosopher’s stone out of the forest. This legend spread throughout all of Europe, bringing a lot of knights, princes and even kings to try to get into the forest. After many deaths and bloody, painful amputations, the demons had a huge collection of knight and royal blood.

One night, the entire town heard the fence splitting. The next morning, some people talked about seeing shadows like the ones described by the survivors, shadows of about three meters long that ran extremely fast and on four legs.

Their fears were confirmed-saw the fence had been totally destroyed; it had turned into little sticks and spikes of no more than ten centimeters long.  Besides this, they saw bricks and remnants and debris of the town´s prison strewn about.  When they arrived at the prison, they saw a wall of the prison had been demolished and crushed the body of a skinny Caucasian man and a weak guard.  The other guards were either petrified  or faint on the floor.

When the prison was finally reconstructed, the only prisoner who was missing was a gorgeous lady whose eyes were each a different color; one of her eyes was light blue, the other eye was a silver color. She had light brown hair and a mysterious smile that make everyone doubt her and her intentions. She had been imprisoned because she was considered crazy for strange talk about  demons and how she would protect them.

After this event, their intruders returned several times searching and leaving small clues like their claw prints on the ground. When a nobleman named Mahou heard the story, he decided to enter the forest with a small army of twenty-five men. This was the first time that more than four people entered together into the forest. After three hours of knights screaming like five year old girls and people being entertained by these screams; Mahou escaped from the forest declaring that no one could ever survive in there against beasts that were immune to their strategies and that moved slowly and quietly around them in the forest and in the trees without seeing more than shadows that could smell their fear.

Mahou returned to his castle decorated with the skin and heads of animals, or as he called them, “practice beasts”. He thought a lot about the beasts that attacked him and his army in the forest. He also thought about the inhumane  strategy of the shadows that consisted in separate the group through fear. They divided his army with an infinite hunger for souls and bloody meat. He was scared because of this experience but I was hard for him to accept his fear until his nightmares terrified him all night long for several nights. One night, he began to try to remember what happened in the forest without sces, he was blocked by fear. In his dreams, he saw his men entering the forest and noticed how the number of men began to decrease and the screams increase.  Deeper in the forest, he saw the silhouette of a lady with a long coat and a hoodie over her head. She was watching the massacre. Finally, he remembered seeing  yellow and bloody giant teeth with huge fangs like knives eating one of his men.

After many nightmares like this, he decided to organize a new, larger army, with his best men in the front. After months of training, Mahou entered the forest all alone at night. He entered without the feeling of being watched; he finally noticed a giant shadow, a shadow of a lion, the shadow of a lion sleeping, a huge lion sleeping. As soon as he saw it, he felt fear creep along the back of his neck and he began to cry. At that moment, he decided to take out his sword and kill the lion-like beast in honor of all of his men. When he raised his sword over his head, he heard a whisper in his ear saying, “You will regret if you do it. This forest is full of those ´demons´”. Then he felt a cold and soft as silk hand grabbing his hand and pulling him. They reached a clear part of the forest. Then he saw a lady with each eye a different color; she was the lady who had appeared in his dreams in front of him. He trembled, “You… are… re… re… real… You watched how my army was destroyed by those horrible beasts! Wait! Why they don´t attack you?”

¨They know I´m not a threat to them. I wanted to protect them, and humans imprisoned me. Then they liberated me and now they protect me. They are like my peasants and warriors and I can walk freely in the forest because they recognize my odor. They just didn’t attack you because I knew you were coming. I saw your intentions in the crystal ball.¨

Mahou, confused, tried to run away, but at that moment, two of these black beasts with red eyes and with fur as thick as tire rubber, appeared blocking his way out. He screamed and another of them appeared behind her, but the beast that appeared behind him was bigger and stronger than the others and his eyes were blue. This beast could talk and he proposed something to him: “You wanted war, so then you will have war, but is not fair to attack in the middle of the night without us knowing. We will fight. This Saturday at midnight, the moon will be closer to the Earth. It will be brighter and that night is also a full moon, so we will have light. I want to see you and your men this Saturday at midnight in the plain outside the kingdom. If we win, then you and your men will be in charge of preventing other human beings from entering this forest, and if you win, you will be allowed to reach the center of the forest that all you humans pursue so passionately. Now I want you to get over one of the lions that he will return you to your castle.”

Mahou got over one of these beasts and grabbed that thick rubber-like fur and saw how big the claws and teeth of that creature were.   Mahou then reached his castle in the lion´s back that took him to his bed and Mahou slept for more than three days. When he finally woke up, he prepared his troops and went into the battle field so they could get there the following night. After two days of walking in a cold climate that was introducing the winter, they finally saw the green and calm plain that was desert and cold. You could feel the tension in the air. They heard a “RAAWR” and millions of black, giant, cruel-like lions with matte black armors appeared and the clouds dispersed letting the moonlight illuminate the battlefield with a clear and ghost-like light. In the center of the lion troops, there was the lion that proposed the war with the lady on his back and she was carrying a black and red flag with a lion sewed with silver thread. The leaders approached  the center to salute each other and declare war on each other. Mahou was with his armor and shield with the Christian cross painted on it.

–          “You as the demons, we know you will fall down under our swords and faith.” Mahou said.

–          “You don´t know what we are;, we are here to protect the sacred black forest, we are not demons! The lion exclaimed.

–          “Yes, you are demons.” Mahou replied

–          “No, we are not,” The lion angrily said with a rough voice.

The discussion about if they are demons or not continued until one of them noticed that an hour has passed since they had been discussing this.

Mahou`s army was a Christian army that began to pray and declared the black lions as demons.  All of them got ready and the first and final battle began with screams from both sides and hearts beating so hard that the whole world heard them. The two armies were running at each other. The black lions jumped and as if the time stopped for a while, the girl was in the middle of them dancing, and as she danced the moon danced with the clouds as they were a prince and a princess in love. While they fought, she danced; she danced on and on the lions protected her and they were killing every single man that got close to her.

The lions decided not to kill Mahou, but to kidnap him; when only three men were left, Mahou and two other soldiers. The two soldiers ran away and Mahou was standing there in the middle of a field with a ghost-like field, with ghosts that were floating around him. In that moment he saw how humans wanted a single resource that was meaningless, a resource that disappeared during the battle, a resource that was burned as the lions forest was burned during the battle by other Mahou´s army. When he let himself fall to the floor, it started to snow and the lions fell to the floor, fell and when the sun rose they were not longer black they were white as snow, they returned to their forest, now a forest of ashes, a forest that was no longer white and   magic during winter and dark and magic during the rest of the year. These lions ran to hide in the mountains, ran from humanity and expected to be invisible. During winter they hid in snow with a white fur and during the rest of the year they hid in the shadows with a black fur. They didn’t exist for humans.

These lions don´t exist for humans, because these lions became shadows.

 

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