Monsters Are Real — A Legions and Legends Tale

Chapter 1

Azra Games
6 min readMay 16, 2023

On a small farm, near a village, the night sky was dark and filled with stars, illuminated by the dual moons. Bebe and her mother Johana were hiding in the old barn. Hiding from certain death.

Johana quietly pries two slats apart, looking for a way to escape, but what she sees is horrifying. Between their hiding spot in the barn and the safety of the forest across the way, is a field filled with death and pain — warriors, family, and livestock lay dead or writhing on the ground.

Johana pulled her daughter in close. “Bebe,” she whispered, “you see the forest across the way?”

“Yes, Mama.”

She continued, “Look above. You see the bright blue star, Erebos?”

“Yes,” said Bebe, “from the story. The Legend Erebos killed the monster Nalgrim. That star is the tip of his sword.”

Johana nodded solemnly. “When we run, keep Erebos in front of you always. It will guide us straight and true. Follow it to the river. Don’t look back.”

Drawing deep breaths, they crept low along the wall to the barn door. Seeing that the monstrosity was turned away, Johana took Bebe’s hand and they ran.

A frightening roar filled the air. The terrible monstrosity had seen them. Turning to locate the monster, Johana caught her foot in a rabbit snare and fell hard to the ground.

“Bebe! Run!” Johana shouted. Bebe looked back at her mother and froze in place. “Run for the river,” she screamed. “Erebos will guide you!”

Chapter 2

The feasting had been loud and excessive all week. People, from miles around, had come to the village to celebrate another successful harvest. It was dusk on the final night and, in the darkening sky, the entire constellation of Erebos boldly revealed itself.

Around the roaring community fire, many sat enthralled as the Eldest Greybeard was concluding a story he’d told many, many times before, “The Legend Erebos and the Monster Nalgrim.”

“Erebos lay on the ground wounded. For any normal warrior, this would be the end. But the Legend Erebos was cunning. He lay quiet, summoning the last breaths of magic still within him. The arrogant monstrosity Nalgrim walked slowly toward him to deal the final blow… Erebos rose, erupting with such force that it blew the monster back.” He paused…

“Then he thrust his sword up through Nalgrim’s skull, killing the monster and saving the city.”

The crowd applauded and cheered. The Greybeard quieted them and smiled solemnly. He turned to the sky behind him and pointed to the star Erebos. “Look to Erebos,” he said. “Erebos will always light your way.”

Chapter 3

Bebe stood frozen. On the ground in front of her, her mother lay trapped and helpless — and on the other side of the field, loomed the most hideous monster she had ever seen.

The creature towered over the barn where they’d just been hiding, momentarily distracted as it devoured the terrified and screaming animals inside.

“Bebe,” her mother yelled again, “Look to Erebos! I promise; I’ll be right behind you!”

Suddenly a strong arm, injured and burnt, grabbed Bebe by the waist. She looked up into the face of their farmhand Quarl.

Quarl then rushed over to Johana and quickly cut her loose from the snare.

“Thank god, Quarl,” she cried.

“I’ve got you, ma’am,” he said, grabbing her hand, “Let’s go!” Together, the three broke into a run headed for the safety of the forest and the river beyond.

Just then the monster, blood, and gore dripping from its jaws, spots the trio and takes off after them, closing ground quickly with its massive size.

Quarl stopped mid-flight yanking them back.

He smiled, a thin encouraging smile, at Bebe and handed Johana his knife.

“Go,” he nodded.

Quickly scanning the battlefield, Quarl picked up a weapon from a dead warrior nearby.

He turned to face the monster.

Chapter 4

The communal fire was fading now. In the distance, someone was playing their fiddle, determined that the fun would continue. This year’s celebration had been so perfect that no one wanted to be the first to leave, the first to say it was over.

As the crowd around the fire dispersed, a woman placed a shawl around the Greybeard’s frail shoulders. Just then, a small hand tugged at his robe. He looked down to see Johana looking up at him earnestly.

“Is it true?” she asked, “The story of Erebos and Nalgrim?”

The Greybeard furrowed his brow. “Is it true?”

“Did it happen? Just like you said?”

An older boy standing nearby scoffed. “Stories from the stars? They’re just that, stories, to entertain kids like you.”

Johana snapped back at the boy. “What about the ruins? The artifacts we find?”

“Ancient civilizations? Of course, they’re real,” he sneered, “monsters and legends are not.”

The Greybeard’s eyes narrowed, as he watched the boy leave. He knelt down and met Johana’s hopeful eyes.

“Stories don’t need to be true or not true, Johana. I believe in Erebos. He was a Legend. We all need Legends to believe in from time to time.”

Chapter 5

Johana and Bebe emerged from the forest and plunged into the river, half running and half swimming.

Only once they were safely on the other side did they pause to catch their breath. They looked back at where they’d been. The sky above their home was illuminated by fire and carnage.

They took shelter, tucked together under the roots of a fallen tree.

Johana looked down at Quarl’s knife, still in her hand. Bebe buried her head in her mother’s shoulder. Death wasn’t new to them, but his sacrifice brought an added weight of sorrow.

Despite the catastrophe, the night sky remained clear and the bright star Erebos still shone, almost cheerfully, in front of them.

“Is it true, Mama?” Bebe asked, “The story of Erebos and Nalgrim?” Bebe traced her finger along the faint outline of the constellation.

“I don’t know, Bebe,” she whispered thoughtfully. “I used to believe in the Legends with all my heart but now, I think… I think they’re probably just old stories.

Johana pulled her daughter in close and, feeling finally safe, she breathed deeply and shut her eyes. Yet Bebe’s eyes stayed wide open, as she pondered.

“But Mama…the monsters are real. We know now that the monsters are real,” she said. “If monsters like Nalgrim are real, then why not the Legend Erebos?”

Johana sat up, a smile of painful longing on her face. “Wouldn’t that be fantastic?” She gazed at Bebe fondly; after everything, her daughter still had hope.

“Shall we say a prayer then, Bebe? Let’s pray for the Legends to return.” Johana said.

“Yes,” said Bebe.

“We can see Legend Erebos and his sword so clearly tonight, maybe he’ll hear our plea.”

Authored by Cathleen Rootsaert — Narrative Director | Illustrated by Mel Rubi & Eric Ngyuen | Colors by Michael Garcia



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