From a place far away, in a time before now, there was a tiny town. They called this town Green Hamlet. Shall I take you around? Beyond the castle gates, where the nomadic tribes lived, a luscious and fertile land sustained. The town of Green Hamlet, for that, was its name, would put many a Kingdom to shame. If you lived in those walls, you would gain fame. Where the cows grazed under azure skies, on emerald grass that tasted divine, and the wheat was literal gold. In this town, there lived Zip, the daughter of the Blacksmith. And by the stream, she played many a tune:
‘Come forth to me, heroes,
Knights of olden tales,
Bring me some adventure,
So I may live to tell the tale’
Zip played on her lute, but she heard a cannon shoot, so she rushed to the Blacksmith, her father. Her father was startled, for he had only heard it once, when he was young, like Zip was, he knew that trouble was afoot.
‘Come with me, daughter’ he said with great haste
‘The cannon has fired to east’
‘So, here come the beasts’.
With fear in her eyes, and excitement in Zip’s heart. They went to the castle, and they travelled by foot. All the townspeople, the children and wives, knew trouble was due, from the cannon surmised. And henceforth the king, a short bulbous man, came to the people with a scroll in his hand. With eyes clear blue, though with a dash of bloodshot red, the scroll he unravelled, and boastfully read:
To the Kingdom of Green Hamlet, I must give you all some news of gloom.
We have a treasure in bloom. We must give it, or we meet our doom.
For a century, and a day, Green Hamlet must pay a demon who lives in a room.
If it is not fed, then Green Hamlet is dead, and we may meet our doom.
I need a brave soul, a child fair and true, to act as a placating perfume.
They may be eaten, possessed, or depressed, so that we may not meet our doom.
The townspeople bemoaned such a bizarre and ominous request. Some wept, some collapsed, and other did lambast:
‘My sister was taken one night, in the dark. How do you allow such evil?’ one barked.
‘Well Green Hamlet has stayed as safe as it is, what harm could be done by gifting one child for us all to live?’ said a duke, so rude and selfish.
‘I recall the day when this began’
An elderly lady said, Zip’s Gran.
‘Green Hamlet is a town built on the foot of the devil, we have besmirched him, so that is why we have a curse…’.
Hamlet Green was silenced by the sudden beat of a drum, it banged, and it banged, until a hooded creature appeared, looking gaunt and glum. ‘I am of the shadowed realm’ it boomed.
‘You are to kneel, or you are to keel if you choose not to accept my fair deal’. ‘For a decade of peace, ten years of survival, you must give a child, for my own purpose unrivalled’.
Green Hamlet was a cold place now, with the sun obscured by the storm and the clouds. I dread to think of the fear that was felt, but the demon hath spoken, from the bowels of hell.
The Demon’s hand pointed at all of the young. As he reached for one, it was Zip who stood up. ‘Hooray for young Zip’ the young chorus cried, for defiance was her name, and she has chosen solely to play the demon’s game.
‘You are Zip, my young child’ The Demon grinned.
‘You now will become an unchild, a creature so wild, you will serve Hade’s well for Green Hamlet’
‘I am, I am, now hear’ Zip replied.
‘You will not take another, write it down’ Zip said to the Seer. ‘I am not a puppet property, nor a commodity for sale. For years, Green Hamlet suffered, now it is for you to fail’. In shock and in awe, and with a hint of bemusement, the town people watched as the demon made a calculated movement.
‘So, young Zip. You wish to earn your pips. Do tell me what there is to earn? Perhaps if I take your father from you, then maybe a lesson you’ll learn’. And, in a flash of red, the demon sped away from the town with Zip’s dad. The townspeople cried, they cheered ‘we survived’ and the King shook the hand of young Zip:
‘Oh, Zip, Oh, Zip. You saved us from the demon’s tomb’
‘Be not fume, in the knowledge your father must meet our doom’
‘I gift you such gifts, a crown made of fine silks and plume’
‘You wear it well, as Green Hamlet sighs relief from the threat of our doom’
Zip cried a river, that made even heartless men shiver, for her father was taken by demons. But in determination, without much perspiration, she knew what had to be done. ‘Great king, take your crown, take your platitudes too. I must rescue my father from Demons. As the knights of old did with the dragons they’ve slain, my father’s life is not a pittance to pay. He is no princess, with pretty hair or fine dresses, he is my father, my hero, the blacksmith’.
Young Zip grabbed some armour, a sword she did wield. She then took a horse and used wood as a shield. From the safety of Green Hamlet, she has seen all her life, to the shadow realm where the demons whelm the damned and the wicked. The Horse stormed through the forests, with expedient haste, not a minute or second had gone to waste. Zip was determined, the hero she was, but she met her first obstacle, a Fairy, an acolyte of mischief:
‘And here is the child called Zip,
Who’s clothing is tatty, with a rip,
What quest is she on?
It may last an eon,
If this woman does not take a sip…’
Mischievous and cunning, this fairy did seem, had offered sweet Zip a large challis. The liquid lit a radiant pink, and it smelled of sweet Randerberry drops. But Zip, though still 10, was smart and unimpressed, she handed the fairy her challis:
‘Sweet, little fairy,
Who seems kind and sweet,
Randerberry drops will drive you to sleep,
And such a large challis would not be a treat,
For it would put me in a coma so deep’
But this fairy was no fairy at all. Instead, this thing changed to a grotesque beast, who wanted to feast on young Zip. Green Hamlet was a haven for non-magic kind, safe from the ogres, the changelings, things that would damage your mind. Zip’s sword in her hand, she slashed, and she stabbed, and the creature turned into old sand. Zip had heard tales of the creatures out there, who would murder each other to eat you, I swear. So, Zip carried on through the bushes and shrubs, to find her Father, the Blacksmith, in the Demon’s abode. She continued to ride, until she grew tired, and she tied up her horse, and made a fort in the wild. As the stars lit the sky, and the sun was depleted, Zip took out her lute, and she sang to the night:
‘Please guide me, oh father,
Take me to you,
Help me save you from demons,
The creatures that loom’
As Zip strummed, and tuned her musical tool, a snake from the bushes came, he called Zip a fool:
‘You foolish girl
Who’s travelled this way
To the shadow realm,
To demons you’ll pay
A price that is quite unfair’
Zip took umbrage to that. Well, wouldn’t you? And she hit this smart snake with her lute. ‘Ow!’ Snake did say, but this snake refused to go on his way. Instead, he took pity on Zip and her steed, and offered to aid them and find this dark place:
‘So you seek the shadows
Where the demons reside
Then I will be your fair guide.
You must realise, a snake of this size,
Could not talk if he wasn’t besmirched’.
So Zip, and the snake, who she had named Chase, slept under cover night. When the sun did shine bright, the couple did ride to the realm of the shadow beast’s lair. It was not easy, the cave was dank and sleazy, as it was covered with drawings obscene. A deep, groaning voice stated perverse rejoice in satanic rituals and movements. Zip saw her father, tied up in distress, as the shadow realm demons tried to possess:
‘My sweet daughter, Zip’ the Blacksmith pleaded
‘Do not worry for my soul’
We will soon be whole’
In a sudden attack from the hidden rocks, here is our Zip, and the snake she named Chase, and the Steed that rode them to this place. The Shadow demon lunged for them, made gestures of threat, until the snake slid into his robes:
‘Enough of this nonsense, you cursed little things, I will take you to Dante’s inferno’ it screeched. Zip pointed her sword to the creature’s face ‘Do not turn from me and this disgrace’ she did state ‘I shall end your dark wishes, you will slumber with fishes, and your remains will be left in the ditches’. The two of them squared up, not one of them dared move, until Zip carried the Shadow Demon’s doom. It was a wood cross, that made it stumble across, to the pits of the first it did make. Out of the smoke, a spirit arose, freed from the confines of demons. It lit up the cave, in a magical way, and the form that it took was pure beauty.
‘Hello, Zip’ This spirit spoke ‘I am the voice of the earth’‘You have ended the curse of Green Hamlet, and for that you’re a hero, so bold. In return for your kindness, I free your father, and Chase, and the dozens of souls demons took’. The voice of the Earth did just that, and pretty soon, drums could be heard across the land, as mothers, and fathers, and children returned to this safe place, a land called Green Hamlet.