The Story of Perju
(or, how the Biscuit-Snatcher outwitted the Surface Dweller....)

From the Age of Rahdoy

 


    On another Age called Rahdoy--the land of the five spires--there lived a Tahrkoo named Perju. If you saw a Tahrkoo, you might mistake it for a small dragon with beautiful wings, but there is much more to these creatures than meets the eye!

    And Perju, especially, was an unusual Tahrkoo, indeed. He was dark green, immensely intelligent, though occasionally late to social functions. His large bluish-grey eyes were reflective and smooth--like a mirror--and he missed very little that went on about him. His speed of movement was only surpassed by his quickness of wit, and he had a fondness for biscuits and gooseberry jam. He was generally happy and always amiable, but all was not well in Rahdoy....

    Once, when Perju was fairly young, the villagers wanted very much to construct a large totem in the middle of the village. The village totem-maker (who was somewhat lazy and extremely greedy) told them that he must have twenty pearls and one diamond for the totem.

    "Twenty pearls!" one villager gasped.

    "One diamond?" another said.

    And the village totem-maker simply nodded his head.

    Well, you can imagine what happened! For five days and five nights, the village fisherman dove and dredged the ocean looking for twenty oysters with pearls. And, on the last minute of the fifth day, they found the twentieth pearl.

    But no one seemed to know what to do about the diamond, for diamonds could only be found in the Lavatic Spire, and going close to the Lavatic Spire was a dangerous venture, indeed.

    So, the village inquirer, (who wrote the village newsletter) went to the village blacksmith, (who was also a jeweler). The blacksmith said that he had seen no diamonds for quite some time, but if the villagers would bring him a Tahrkoo (which was very hard to catch) he might be able to get a diamond for them.

    And thus it happened that the village huntsman (who had time only to hunt) was sent to capture a Tahrkoo.

    Meanwhile, five days later, in a beautiful glade near the Waterfall Spire, young Perju was eating a biscuit he had snatched from the village breadmaker (who was never late for supper) and lamenting the fact he had no gooseberry jam, when suddenly he beheld an amazing sight! A cartful of biscuits on its way to the village market (which also served as a swap-meet on weekends).

    "Well, why have just one biscuit when I may have twenty-five," Perju thought, and straight-way flew towards the cart.

    What the young Tahrkoo didn't know was that the village breadmaker had talked to the village huntsman and set up a trap! For as soon as Perju approached the cart, the driver (who was also the huntsman) turned around and caught Perju with a net.

    Poor Perju! He had never considered he might be in danger, for he had snatched biscuits two-hundred and thirty-three times before (not 98!). And helpless he was as the net held him tight!

    Now, as you may or may not know, all Tahrkootee have the ability to speak through their thoughts. And of course Perju asked the Huntsman, "Why have you done this?"

    The Huntsman, not one for conversation, turned the wagon around and started back for the village. Again, Perju asked the Huntsman why he had been captured, to which the Huntsman merely grunted. Well, since the second response had been more than the first, Perju asked once more.

    "Diamond," said the Huntsman, which was remarkable, considering the Huntsman spoke no more than 98 words a year (not 233).

    "Diamonds!" Perju exclaimed, for he was an intelligent Tahrkoo after all and knew exactly what to do, "What do you need them for?"

    "Totem," said the Huntsman.

    Perju squinted a bit--as Tahrkootee are apt to do when they think--and remembered hearing something about a totem just the week before. "Hmmmm," he said, and blinked his eyes, glancing at the Huntsman. "I've seen dozens of diamonds! "

    The Huntsman stopped the wagon. "Where?" he asked.

    "Near the Volcanic Spire!" Perju said. "If you'd like, I can show you."

    And so Perju and the Huntsman started off for the Volcanic Spire, the wagon lumbering faster than it ever had before.

    When they reached the spire, the Huntsman looked over his shoulder and asked, "How do I get the diamonds?"

    "You?" Perju laughed. "Oh, you could never find them! Only I know where they are! And even if you knew where they were, you could not get to them."

    The Huntsman grunted, narrowing his gaze. "Do you see that spire?," Perju asked. He pointed to the tall spire of bubbling lava. "You have to enter from there. And, if you let me go, I will not only get a diamond for the totem, but two for you as well!"

    The Huntsman frowned. "You'll come back?"

    "Of course I will! " Perju said. "You have the word of a Tahrkoo, which is better than the word of a surface-dweller any day!"

    "Huh?" said the Huntsman, but already he was loosening the netting which held Perju captive. And since the Huntsman had gone far beyond his quota of words for the day, he said nothing more as the ropes fell away and Perju flew up into the sky toward the spire.

    Up he flew, darting swiftly towards the smoky plume that belched from the top of the Volcanic Spire. Reaching the pinnacle, Perju stretched his wings out to slow his flight, then dipped down sharp and straight towards the glowing-hot abyss. Squinting his eyes, he folded his wings and gritted his teeth, counting one, two.... The ropes about them dropped away with the searing heat as Perju veered sharply to enter a side tunnel that led away from the main glow of lava. Opening his eyes wide, he laughed and gave a "Whoop!" as he splashed into a rainbow pool, his scales sizzling as he swam to the surface.

    Three weeks later, in the center of the village square, stood a large totem that looked suspiciously like a Tahrkoo, and even more like Perju! For, you see, the village totem-maker (who was somewhat lazy and extremely greedy) was willing to carve almost anything when a small but clever Tahrkoo had presented him with three diamonds.

    The villagers were happy, the totem-maker was happy, and Perju was happiest of all, for while he had given the totem-maker three diamonds, he had kept several more for himself, thus ending his perilous days of snatching and assuring himself an unlimited supply of biscuits and gooseberry jam.
 

THE END