Il-roo has one hundred hands and fifty heads. His teeth are as sharp as razors. He lives in a magic cave in the Valley of Desolation. He has many adventures.
Today’s adventure begins when the sun shines through the cave maw. Il-roo’s ancient slumber fades and he sits up.
“Good morning!” says Il-roo. He wriggles out of bed. He puts on his armor. It is black and spiky. “I should have my breakfast now.”
Il-roo looks in his cupboard.
The things in the cupboard writhe.
Il-roo’s stomach rumbles.
“Oh dear,” Il-roo says. “You’re not ready to eat!”
Il-roo’s clock chimes. There is an echo in the world. The crystal spires howl.
“That’s right!” realizes Il-roo. “I’m not having breakfast here today. I’m having tea with Obegai!”
Il-roo stalks to Obegai’s home. On the path a giant serpent rises. It is made of lava and ancient technology.
“Hello serpent!” says Il-roo.
The serpent hisses. Il-roo draws his sword. The serpent lunges. It knocks Il-roo’s sword from his hand. The sword skitters off into the bracken of forgotten souls.
“Oh no!” says Il-roo.
The serpent bites Il-roo’s arm. Its fangs sink deep. Its coils wind around Il-roo.
“I’d better use the magic of the ancients,” declares Il-roo. He chants a terrible chaunt. The serpent weakens.
Il-roo becomes dizzy.
Il-roo becomes dizzier.
“The poison’s in my brain,” realizes Il-roo. His world is spinning. His brain is dizzy and hot. Then the head with the poisoned brain falls off. Il-roo only has forty-nine left! Now the poison is seeping towards Il-roo’s heart.
“No!” cries Il-roo, stopping his chant. “I will not die today.”
Il-roo heaves the serpent off of him. One flailing length of its body falls into the bracken of forgotten souls. There is moaning. Hands rise eagerly from the bracken and grasp the snake. The snake looks worried. The hands begin to pull the serpent deeper in. Il-roo grasps a crystal tree. The snake struggles. Finally the serpent must release the grasp of its terrible fangs.
“Help me,” says the snake.
“I cannot,” mourns Il-roo.
“You have a sword,” says the snake, “that could cut the sun, the moon, and the sky. You are Il-roo! Surely you can cut me free.”
The snake is pulled deeper in. Only its head is still outside the bracken.
“I lost my sword,” says Il-roo. “You knocked it from my hand.”
“Oh yeah,” says the snake. It remembers the incident now. “That was my bad.”
Then the snake is gone.
Il-roo goes to Obegai’s house. A eunuch servant ushers him in and seats him at Obegai’s table.
“You have forty-nine heads today,” says Obegai.
“I got in a fight,” says Il-roo.
“It’s better to share with your enemies,” says Obegai, “than to fight them.”
“I know,” says Il-roo. “But I think this enemy wanted to eat me. That’s crossing my personal boundaries, so I didn’t have to share.”
“Point,” mulls Obegai. He pours the tea. “Point.”
Obegai has many feathers around an indeterminate shape and his eyes burn red.
“I lost my sword,” says Il-roo. “Can you make me a new one that can cut the sun, the moon, and the sky?”
“Anything for Il-roo,” says Obegai. He stands up. He goes to his forge. He presses the button for SWORD.
“Thank you!” says Il-roo. “You’re great!”
“You must wait twenty minutes,” cautions Obegai. “Or it won’t be sharp enough.”
They drink tea. Then Obegai goes to his seraglio. If he does not visit his seraglio every fifteen minutes then somebody dies, and Obegai has grown tired of death.
“Hm,” says Il-roo, while Obegai is away. “I bet my sword is ready.”
Il-roo looks around shiftily. Then he goes and grabs the sword.
“Look!” Il-roo cries. “I’m a terrible many-headed monster!”
He swings the sword at the teapot. The sword breaks.
Obegai comes back.
“Huh,” says Obegai. “I thought you lost your sword?”
Il-roo remembers that honesty is best. “I took the sword from your forge while you were in the seraglio,” he says. “I thought it was ready.”
“It was only forged for eight minutes,” chides Obegai. “You’re so impatient!”
Then Obegai starts the forging of another sword. He loves Il-roo too much to be angry with him.
While the sword forges Obegai has more tea with Il-roo.
“I’m sorry,” Il-roo says. “I just thought—”
“If you don’t give things enough time,” Obegai says, “They’ll never work out!”
“You’re mean,” Il-roo sulks.
“I’m just old and wise,” says Obegai. Then he runs off to the seraglio before it’s too late.
“He’s just stalling me,” says Il-roo. “I bet this time the sword’s already ready.”
Il-roo takes out the sword. He swings it at the teapot. The teapot is sliced clean through, and the cut is so clean that the tea does not spill.
“Yay!” says Il-roo. He goes outside. He tries to cut the sun. The sun does not cut. Instead the sword melts.
“Oops,” says Il-roo. He takes the sword back inside. He puts it in the forge. He whistles innocently.
“Il-roo,” sighs Obegai.
“A long time ago I was impatient like you. I thought that it would be faster to kill my enemies before I actually made them.”
“Huh!” says Il-roo. “That does sound efficient.”
“Since I couldn’t tell who my enemies would be,” says Obegai, “I killed everybody.”
“That makes sense,” says Il-roo. “That’s probably why the world’s so empty and horrible today.”
“Yes,” agrees Obegai.
“But your enemies were all dead!” says Il-roo. “So it worked!”
“Yes,” says Obegai. “They were. Except that it turned out my greatest enemy hadn’t been born yet!”
“Oh no,” says Il-roo. His eyes are very wide.
“When he was born,” says Obegai, “I wasn’t expecting it. First, his parents were already dead. Only an ancient curse let his mother give birth anyway. And second, I thought I’d killed all my enemies, so my guard was down.”
“What happened?” Il-roo asks, breathlessly.
“Il-roo,” sighs Obegai.
“Oh,” giggles Il-roo. “You mean me!”
Il-roo beams at Obegai. Obegai smiles at Il-roo.
“In the end,” says Obegai. “We became the best of friends and I raised you like my own child. But you did almost kill me first with a scythe made of your mother’s bones.”
“That’s true,” says Il-roo. “I guess killing everyone in advance was a mistake. And that’s why I never knew my parents!”
“Do you understand now?” says Obegai.
“I do,” says Il-roo.
They wait twenty minutes. Obegai goes to the seraglio and returns. The forge dings. Il-roo’s sword is ready.
“I’ll go cut the sun, the moon, and the sky!” Il-roo says.
He rushes out. He cuts the sun. He cuts the moon. He cuts the sky. It’s the best sword ever!