Acceptable Fruit Anthology of Fun Fantasy Stories
Although I am an ordained minister I love writing fun fantasy stories. I am aware there are those who do not believe being a Christian and writing or reading fantasy are compatible. I feel sorry for them. They are missing out on a rich source of encouragement and challenge.
True, not all fantasy is worth the paper on which it is printed—some worth even less than the paper on which it is printed! But there are fun fantasy stories well worth reading. For my part, I have been writing fantasy for years, and each story has a worthwhile takeaway.
My Acceptable Fruit anthology is a good example of meritorious fun fantasy fiction. Each story of the anthology illustrates an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, etc. The shortest of the stories is “Peace.” It is what is called a short short. I have included it below for your enjoyment. There is some overlap of the various aspects of the fruit within each story, but then, there is overlap—at least I trust so—in our lives.
Enjoy the story, and give me your feedback.
Story Three from Acceptable Fruit
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called. Colossians 3:15
Rain falling in torrents tormented the Wearisome Wallow, a vast swamp that stretched east from Blackwater Bay to the Wing of the Dragon and south from the Iron Snarl to the Dragon Head Mountains. Lightning, thunder and mid-day darkness gave Willowen the shivers.
“We should not have come out into the swamp with a storm brewing.”
“You were born and raised by the Wearisome Wallow.” Willowen’s friend, Brackert, shook his head in dismay of her words. “You should be used to storms.”
“It’s not the storm.” Willowen gazed out from the hollow of the medelorn tree. “We are out in the swamp instead of in our village at the edge, and my grandmother told me that storms disturb the sleep of the marshmorges.”
“Are you kidding me, Willowen? In all my wanderings of this swamp I have never seen any such thing as a marshmorge. Stories are just stories.”
“My grandmother says marshmorges are real.”
“Oh, so she has actually seen one?”
Willowen grimaced. “They’re spirits, Brackert. You can’t see spirits, at least not most of the time. But you can feel them when they are near. My grandmother has felt the presence of marshmorges.”
“Why do you let such stories plague you?” Brackert peered out into the sheeting rain. “Besides, why would a ghost come out in this kind of weather?”
“Lightning and thunder and rain make them mad. And when they are mad…”
“Willowen,” Brackert broke in, “that is ridiculous. I’ve seen more storms than I can count, and I have never been bothered by marshmorges or any other spirits.”
“That doesn’t mean a thing!” She set her hands to her hips. “We have never been caught in a storm this far out in the swamp. And what if marshmorges do exist? What if they do bother us?”
Brackert sighed. “So what do you suggest we do?”
“I don’t have any idea what to do!” Willowen sat down and leaned back against the inside of the tree. They had finished their picnic lunch and needed to be heading back to the village, but for the storm. “That is part of the problem, Brackert. If we knew what to do we wouldn’t have to worry about the marshmorges.”
“Well, I can tell you what I am not going to do,” said Brackert. “I am not going to fret about life’s what ifs.”
They passed the time in silence, until Brackert reached a hand toward Willowen. “Come on, I’ll help you up. The storm is passing and we have to get back home, or our folks will be worried.”
Willowen’s face went white. “Go out there now that the marshmorges have been stirred?” She pointed out toward the swamp. “Look, a mist is rising over the marsh. They would be able to sneak up on us without our knowing it, until it was too late.”
Brackert tilted his head toward the opening. “We need to leave before the mist becomes too thick for us to find our way. We’ll just have to trust Elone.”
“Easy for you to say!” Willowen gibed, as Brackert pulled her to her feet.
The rain stopped. Mist tendrils rose like so many swamp sprites, which did little to calm Willowen’s fears. Hand in hand, Brackert and Willowen wormed their way through the rising specters toward home. But the farther they went, the more the specters seemed to join hands and close in around them. Soon they found themselves pushing through a thick fog.
“Are you sure we are going the right way?” Willowen squeezed Brackert’s hand and peered into the haze.
Brackert pointed. “I think we crossed that log on our way in.”
Out in the fog they heard a slap and splash. Willowen squeezed Brackert’s hand even harder. He winced but said nothing. They balanced their way across the log and then skirted a tangle of swamp willow roots. Off to their right they heard something moving through the brush.
“What is it?” Panic stricken, Willowen pulled at Brackert’s hand and began to run.
“Whatever it is, it is on the other side of the slough.” Brackert loped alongside Willowen as best he could over the soggy ground. “Willowen, it’s probably only a deer or bog boar.”
“More likely it’s a marshmorge!” Willowen pressed closer to Brackert as she ran.
Swamp grass, cattails, brush, deadfalls, and root tangles slowed their progress, and whatever was out there seemed to be following them. Brackert scratched his head. Willowen swatted at a swarm of pesky marsh midges. She stopped and looked over at Brackert. “We’re lost aren’t we?”
A pad and splash sent a shiver up Willowen’s spine and she began to cry. “I’m scared, Brackert. There is a marshmorge after us! I know it’s a marshmorge!”
“Elone knows where we are, so stay calm” There was confidence in Brackert’s voice. “He’s in control so there is no need to be uptight. He will protect us, Willowen.”
“What if he doesn’t choose to protect us?”
“Well, what will happen will happen. No sense tormenting ourselves with fear. We just have to trust him.”
The sky above the fog had once again grown dark and foreboding, and they could hear a distant rumble of thunder. “Just our luck!” Willowen wiped at her tears. “Another storm is coming. We should have stayed in the hollow of that tree. Now we are going to die out here in this stupid swamp!”
They were in the midst of a stand of rampikes, rampikes that they had not seen when they entered the swamp. The wind picked up, and the mist tendrils swirled about them like angry ghosts. CRACK! BOOM! The lightning struck one of the rampikes. It creaked and cracked and came crashing down through the mist. The dead tree missed Willowen, but struck Brackert’s head and shoulder, sending him sprawling in the swamp grass. Willowen screamed and dropped down on her knees at his side. Brackert did not move. Willowen rolled him to his back. His eyes were closed, and he did not respond to her pleading. His head was bleeding. Trembling violently, she wrapped her arms around his neck and sobbed.
The “Splash! Pad!” drew near, and then fell silent.
“Is he hurt badly?” asked a squawky voice.
“Don’t kill us! Please don’t kill us!” cried Willowen. “We didn’t mean any harm by coming into the swamp!”
“I’ve been trying to catch up with you for more than an hour,” said the voice. “I don’t intend to harm you, but you are certainly headed toward harm. The path you are taking will lead you to quicksand and swamp vipers.”
“He’s alive!” exclaimed Willowen. She ran her hand across his rain soaked forehead. He stirred and opened his eyes. Willowen forced a wet smile.
“Well, well, I guess he will be all right,” squawked the voice.
Still shaking, Willowen looked up at their visitant. Brackert also turned his gaze toward the voice. Willowen cocked an eyebrow. “Are you a marshmorge?” she questioned.
The fellow that stood before them lolled his head back and laughed. “Yep!” Then he shook his head side to side and laughed again. “I’m Fenwert, a true to life marshmorge… so to speak. I’m actually a bogfifle, but the marshmorge thing protects us bogfifles from the intrusion of outsiders.”
Willowen ceased trembling. The marshmorge was not what she had thought. Fenwert stood nearly six feet tall. He was all arms and legs, and as skinny as a twig from a swamp willow. His hair was green and hung about his reptilian looking face like moss on a tree. His eyes were yellow with black pupils, but no whites, and they sparkled with life, as did his broad, lipless smile. Willowen looked down at his feet. They were wide and webbed. “Pad, splash!” she sniggered.
The storm died out and tendrils of fog once again took up their swamp dance. Brackert had a goose egg lump on the side of his head, but the bleeding stopped. The cut was shallow. He rubbed the lump and winced. He shifted his gaze back to Fenwert again. “We’re lost,” he said.
Fenwert smiled and nodded. “And headed toward the worst part of the swamp.” He offered Brackert a slightly webbed hand. “Good thing Elone stopped you, and that I came along when I did.” He offered Willowen his other hand.
“Guess I should be more trusting,” she said as she accepted the marshmorge’s help.
He pulled them to their feet. “I’ll show you the way out of this bog.” Fenwert let go of their hands and lifted a slimy looking finger. “However, in turn, I would ask that you not dispel the myth of the marshmorges. It serves its purpose, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh, I know exactly what you mean!” Willowen laughed and took Brackert’s hand. She looked into his eyes. “You know, Brackert, you were right, trusting Elone is far better than a churning belly and head full of fear.”
Brackert gave her a wink and clasped her hand a bit tighter, as they followed Fenwert the Marshmorge through the ghostly mist with smiles on their faces and peace in their hearts.
The Acceptable Fruit anthology is available in paperback or as an e-book at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Purchase and enjoy all of the fun fantasy stories. And it makes a great gift too…for young and old fantasy lovers alike.
Again, I would appreciate your feedback.