Jão The Fox & The Mountain King


Jão The Fox & The Mountain King

“I’ve never seen a wild dog like you.. Or are you some kind of cat?”

“Kaa..?” squawked a little Starling perched upon a piercing rock face overlooking the dark pools of the dam at foot of the tall and proud Mount Macassar. It was close to dawn and the orange sun in the East had just began to threaten it’s ascension into the sky. A heavy mist hugged the dam below like the lightest of blankets.

The Starling moved further down the rock face. Her black shiny feathers were pristine, clean and flawlessly tipped with flames and the verve of her delicate wings.

Her head rapidly flicked from side to side as she honed her vision on the strange and lonely animal seated below.

“Alright, alright”

“My name is Jão” he growled.

“And if you must know, I’m a fox” he continued, distractedly licking his left paw while biting into his dull white socks.

“I’m here to see the Mountain King, I have many questions and I am in urgent need of guidance” said Jão now getting up with his short whiskered snout pointed firmly at the ground.

“I have seen many a map of this land yet I am always lost”
“I am surrounded by company yet I am forever alone”
“I eat many times a day yet I am still always hungry”

Jão stopped suddenly looking up at the little black bird. His eyes were a shade of brown not dissimilar from the red clay on the ground. His mouth slowly broke out into a cunning sort of grin.

“Enough chatter little Starling. I have little time to waste. Might you know where I can find the Mountain King?”

Silence fell between the two. A cold air swept across the dam sweeping sheets of mist off the surface of the glistening water.

The Starling leapt off the face of the rocks that carried her slight weight and she glided swiftly over the dam. So close – a feathers breath away from the surface. Her reflection followed her along her path until she had arrived at the banks of the dam, just at the feet of growling Jão.

“I’ve never met the Mountain King. No. I can’t say I have”

“But I know that at the summit, you will find him. Yes, I can say that” chirped the Starling excitedly looking up at the Fox.

Jão pondered the words of the little black bird and his tail, long and bushy irritably flicked around from side to side as he sat still.

“Hmph” he said finally turning away from the Starling walking towards Mount Macassar in a slow determined march, his tail still twitching. After time the little bird simply watched old Jão depart, she couldn’t help but wonder what the strange “cat-dog” was thinking.

Jão marching along began to ascend Mount Macassar. He hopped over fallen trees and slid over slippery rocks while wading through the long yellow grass of the Savannah.
It was starting to get warmer as the Sun began to rise in the sky, it wasn’t long before Jão began to get tired and his mouth started to dry.

After searching and searching for what had almost been too long, Jão heard the running of water nearby, and began to gather his energy to bolt in pursuit.

“Hey!”

*Crunch*

Jão ran into what looked like a round moving rock, the fall left him reeling and tumbling into fallen branches in amongst the grass. After lying down in shock Jão opened his eyes. His body now faced the blue, blue sky and his tired paws – all four – were raised in the air curling in prayer.

“I told you…” slowly moaned a voice from nearby.

Jão moved his head from side to side trying to find the source of the looming voice until suddenly –
A scaly bald head peeked over Jão’s head and said

“Hello.. I tried to tell you..”

Jão jumped to his feet, panicking at the sight of this strange beast. In a heartbeat he found his paws on the floor and began to growl..

“You there.. what do you want now?”

He looked over at the scaly headed animal and he saw to his embarrassment that it was only a tortoise.

“Calm down, calm down”

“My name is Saeed, I’ll get out of your way just next time. Look before you leap!”

Jão looked at Saeed and bit his tongue for a moment, his shell was large and magnificent it was hard to fully “see” in one glance. The painted shapes and patterns across his dome were truly a joy to behold.

Jão hurting, tired and dry began to apologise.

Before long Jão had stumbled over into the stream to wet his whiskers, Saeed slowly walked near the river end watching the sun beams bounce of the rushing water with his beady black eyes.

“What brings you here, my hasty new friend?” shouted Saeed downstream.
“I came to question the Mountain King, have you seen him?” begged Jão hiding his earlier embarrassment.

“No, not with my own eyes – yet I know him” replied Saeed with his thin mouth curling into a smile.

Jão pondered Saeed’s riddling response and wondered if the old tortoise had spent too much time in his shell until finally, albeit tiredly, he continued..

“Perhaps wise Saeed, you can help me”

“I have seen many a map of this land yet I am always lost”
“I am surrounded by company yet I am forever alone”
“I eat many times a day yet I am still always hungry”

After Jão had finished speaking, Saeed slowly continued to creep upstream walking up to and past the curious Fox.
“Are you going to ignore me then?”

“I said I was sorry” shouted Jão to the rear of Saeed’s magnificent shell.
Saeed continued on resolutely.
Jão now feeling rather anxious, twitching his nose and swishing his tail was at a loss with what to do.

Finally as Jão had given up on waiting for a response he got to his feet and began to walk up towards the summit.
Passing Saeed he said not a word and walked ahead fast enough to move past him and yet slow enough to remain in sight.

“My friend, you are always in a hurry”

“Even to catch the running of water in a stream”

Listening intently Jão began to slow down and walk just ahead of ol’ Saeed. He waited and waited and as the sun began to move through the sky and pass overhead. He grew impatient and without warning bolted into the long yellow grass once again, scaling the mountain in search of its King.

Running to catch the water flowing through the stream.
Luckily for Jão, Mount Macassar was not so tall. At his pace, he knew, he could conquer it by nightfall.

As the day began to dull and the darkness crept through the slopes of the mountain, long shadows cast Jão’s path in a cold chill that would only grow and grow as the light began to go.

Near the summit the path grew steadily more rocky and within not much more than a few steps the long yellow grass was replaced by cold grey rock faces interrupted with deep dark green bushes and scurrying mice.

Jão had arrived.
The summit.

Here at the full height of Mount Macassar Jão marveled at the flat expanse in front of him. Over the ledge he saw as far as the looming darkness would allow.

Turning away from the Savannah Jão refocused his attention at the summit, where was the King?

With his remaining energy he ran and ran.
From end to end.
Poking his head through each crevice, crack and corner.
Finally he resigned to lying next to a pool of water that had collected near the center of the summit.
Collapsing onto the ground nearby he rested on all fours, extending his front legs towards the edge of the water, dipping his hot paws and claws into the water and drifted off to sleep.

“Kaa…”
“Kaa..?”
Jão opened his eyes and felt the weight of something small but prickly upon his head. Shaking his body from his nose through to his tail he threw off the little bird that perched on his crown.
“Ah it’s you, Starling” grinned the tired Jão.

“Where is the Mountain King?”

“I need to know.. now” he begged sounding ever weaker.

“Kaa..”

“My friend, in front of you the water have you seen it?”

“He is there, in that puddle”
“The Mountain King is there!” chirped the Starling sounding proud of his discovery.

“Where, where I see only my reflection?” shouted Jão, now on his feet peering into the dark pool, lit by the cool light of the glowing Moon.

“That’s him, that’s you and myself”

“The Mountain Kings that’s us” chirped the Starling
“Ha!” laughed Jão with no more energy within him left to growl.

Starring into the pool he asked while forcing his eyes to remain open

“I have seen many a map of this land yet I am always lost”
“I am surrounded by company yet I am forever alone”
“I eat many times a day yet I am still always hungry”

And he collapsed  into the water.
This time permanently to the floor.
Searching far and wide for something that he always had in his possession.
Forever Alone as he was unable to see past himself.
Hungry forever, for he never stopped to eat.

Jão died the Mountain King.
Finally having caught the running water flowing through the stream.

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