Before mankind made their mark upon the world, there were others. Others greater than ourselves. Creatures of indescribable beauty thriving among horrors our mortal minds are incapable of comprehending. And at the heart of this world, a world we might never know, there were the Giants of Old. Noble beings that acted as judge, jury and executioner for the one true God of Earth, a God known as the Creator.
But that world was lost so many millennia ago… wasn’t it?
Sigmund Vull, a sheep herder who preferred the quiet of a farm to the noise of the city, had received a letter. An invitation. Only to what he was being invited he hadn’t a clue.
He sat upon a stool, one leg too short and so it wobbled, with the crisp white paper sat before him in his lap. But he wasn’t looking at the paper, he was looking through the kitchen window, gazing out to the gardens now dressed in autumnal shades of light crimson, pale yellow and blazoned orange.
The sun was setting somewhere behind the vast fields of wheat beyond the garden, a soft light raining down over Niko. She was sat with her back against the stone walled well, reading a book about three little bears. Mud covered her face and the front of her knees, her denim shorts stained by blackened waters.
She’s been playing by the brook again. Sigmund couldn’t help but smile. She cares a damn sight more than I do.
The Onsguard Corporation had built a factory, not exactly on their doorstep, but close enough. Sewage pipes had been fed through the ground to help filter out the crap that factory produced; a by product of ill looking bile trickling beneath the fresh earth.
There had been a spillage, or a burst pipe, Sigmind couldn’t quite recall. Regardless the cause of it the filth from the factory had made its way into the brook. Not a serious problem, not a problem at all unless you were one of those unfortunate creatures that lived in the now inhospitable waters.
All it took was one fish, a trout if memory serves, and Niko had resolved herself to cleaning the brook, to building a damn to stem the filth, and to carving a new path around it. Sigmund had told her it was dangerous, even though the work in itself wasn’t. In truth, he was more afraid of what might come from over the hill, from the suits that watched over the Onsgaurd’s factory, filth and all.
Then out of the blue, this letter, this invitation.
I can’t leave Niko. That much had been decided. With Niko’s mother gone Sigmund was all she had. There wasn’t a chance in hell that he’d abandon his twelve year old daughter, no matter the riches on offer.
But three and a half million… Sigmund’s head was spinning. We’ll find a way, we’ll go together.
Sigmund stood from his stool, knocking the tattered old thing right over, then threw open the window to yell, “Niko, dinner time. And I’ve got some news.”
Niko’s finger traced the page of her book to the bottom, then she raised her head, bright blue eyes shinning. Her face asked what news? Her nose crinkled in confusion.
“Don’t worry.” Sigmund called, “It’s good news, it is.”
“That’s terrible news!” Niko scowled, “You want us to leave, for how long?”
“Terrible? Niko, please. This is three and a half million dollars we’re being offered here.”
“I don’t care about the money,” Niko folded her arms across her chest, lips curled and sulking, “and neither should you. We have everything we need. Right here. What about the sheep? What about Cherry? What about the brook?”
“The farm will be taken care of, someone will be sent to look after the lands whilst we’re gone.” Sigmund took his daughter’s hand, “Besides, Cherry can come with us.” he smiled, “This place will manage without us, Niko.” he looked into her bright eyes, his own far older, tinted grey, “If we do this, even if we don’t find whatever it is this man is looking for, we’ll be able to pick the farm up and move it any damn place we like. We can move on, move away. Norway maybe, I hear it’s nice.”
“But this is our home. Here.” Niko argued, tears filling her eyes, lips trembling, “I don’t want to leave, dad. The farm, the brook… any of it…”
Sigmund swept his little girl into his arms, letting the tears flow freely, “I know, sweetie. But sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to.”
“Why?” Niko asked as she sank into he father’s bosom.
To keep the people we care about safe.
It wasn’t about the money, it was about the freedom the money would offer Sigmund and his daughter. A life truly secluded, far far away from the American money machine, no more looking over their shoulders.
Norway. He’d met Niko’s mother in Norway, not that Niko knew he’d ever been.
To Niko this farm was their home, the only home she’d ever known.
Dear Mr Vull,
I write with a proposition.
I am, as it where, searching for something. Something that was allegedly lost in the lower peaks of a mountain range not far north of your farm.
I wish for you to look for it.
I ask not only because you are close, and you are very close at that, but also because I have been informed that you used to tend cattle and the like in mountains not dissimilar to these. You have the skills I require, and a knowledge of these lands that no other man may posses.
And you are desperate.
This is what I offer you, in return for your services.
You must simply search the peaks, and provide some evidence of your doing so. Photographs will suffice. If it is not there, that which I seek, then I will have crossed another destination off a list far too long.
However, I have no hesitation in tripling the sum offered if you do find what I seek.
I cannot provide some description of it, this lost artifact, for there isn’t one. There is only this that I might say; you will know when you see it, or so I’m told.
You might think me mad, but all you need to know is that I have the money by which to fund such a lifestyle as mad as I choose.
Should you accept my terms please make contact with Siena, she will see to the care of your farm in your absence. Her details are enclosed.
Tarquinius J. Kaufmann
Copyright © K R Perry 2019