This story is a part of a series. See Amanath and Hodor for another story in the series.
There was once a man of incredible wealth and power. His name was Amanath. He was known throughout the village near which he lived. He could often be heard telling people about faraway lands where he was also known, and where the people also feared his power. No one in the village had ever seen these faraway lands, but they knew the powerful man mentioned them often and felt that they could not challenge him.
Amanath was highly fertile and had many children who were also fertile. His power meant that his progeny was protected and lived much longer than others in the village. That was the how the locals explained Amanath’s family’s longevity to themselves, but it was whispered behind closed doors that he was immortal and perhaps so were his children. There was no doubt they were stronger, taller, and objectively more attractive.
In the same village was a man named Ofadrin. Ofadrin could sometimes be found talking to himself. Others in the village often gave him sideways glances. Despite this, Amanath was known to protect Ofadrin and considered him a good friend.
The village was in the middle of a desert. Down the road there was a large salt flat that hosted no life and in the other direction there was a lake that was fished by some locals. After he retired, Ofadrin showed an unusual interest in the fishing boats and set to building a large boat on the edge of the salt flat.
As the boat started to take shape the sideways glances that the villagers gave him became less subtle. Most people would now cross the street rather than walk right past him. Ofadrin found that he could only count on his three sons for company. His three daughters-in-law and his wife were often around, but he spoke to them only to request assistance with tasks, or to ask after their likelihood of giving him grandsons.
As the boat was nearing what appeared to be completion, his neighbours were concerned to see that Ofadrin was bringing animals into his back garden. He built two pens, one for two caracals and one for a pair of sand cats – both wild cats. He put five pieces of glass together into an open-topped box and kept a pair of painted frogs in it.
The next day he had caught a pair of water voles and put them in a cage. The day after that he caught seven oryx and tied them to a pole.
Weeks and weeks passed as more animals were gathered in Ofadrin’s back garden. Some of those caught earliest had died and been replaced by newer pairs.
During all this activity, some of the villagers gathered to discuss what to do about the noise and smells coming from Ofadrin’s back garden. Amanath was in attendance and he and his children threatened anyone who spoke in support of a proposal to force Ofadrin to stop. After that meeting a few villagers organized to leave the village, fearing they weren’t safe from Amanath’s progeny, who had made it quite clear Ofadrin was doing what he was doing with Amanath’s blessing.
After seven black swans were seen landing in the nearby lake – a colour of swan they had never seen before – people in the village grew increasingly concerned that they were witnessing something supernatural. When kangaroos bounded across the desert from the east, the next morning, more of the villagers packed up their things and moved out.
As the animals gathered and as Ofadrin and his sons, daughters-in-law, and wife learned to care for the animals, their number grew and grew. Using Amanath’s money, Ofadrin bought his now-vacated neighbour’s houses, knocked them down, and used the land to store and care for his growing menagerie.
Ofadrin’s estate soon took over large parts of the village with termite mounds, huge cages for birds, pits for grizzly, black, and polar bears, specially grown trees to home sloths, squirrels, flying squirrels, and pandas. Most of the animals that had appeared in the first few weeks had been local – around 380 species of bird and 116 species of mammal. But as time had gone on, the animals became more exotic and were now from parts of the world unvisited by anyone in human history.
Gorillas, orangutans, and sasquatches – until then only animals of legend – gathered and appeared to be in conversation.
One infamous day, shortly after the emperor penguins had walked from the salt flat, the animals started to walk voluntarily onto the boat that had finished up around 150 metres long and 25 metres wide.
When it started to rain, Ofadrin felt corroborated in his efforts to protect the world’s animals. It stopped raining the next day, however, and Ofadrin’s neighbours – those not too scared of Amanath and his family – laughed at the old man.
When the salt flat started to fill with water, their smugness grew more uncertain, but when the flooding stopped at the edges of the salt flat and when the rain did not get worse than any other year, Ofadrin became less and less comfortable in public.
To try to make the villagers less judgemental, Ofadrin’s wife and daughters-in-law hosted a barbeque using the meat of some of the animals that had been gathered. Amanath ate much of the food, but the villagers were not impressed.
Overnight, Amanath and his sons walked through the village and murdered all the witnesses. Then they wrote a history of the events and added information that didn’t make Ofadrin look crazy, or Amanath impotent. You may have read that version of events.
Notes from the author:
Amanath is a rough transliteration of Anglo-Saxon “ámanian” – to demand exact require. – Weak definition. From http://www.oldenglishtranslator.co.uk
Ofadrin is a modified version of the Anglo-Saxon word “oferdrincere” – a drunk or alcoholic. From http://www.oldenglishtranslator.co.uk
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