Stories from the Mountain
Wesley Forte / Woodford County
We don’t own the stories we tell. Thousands of years ago, we stole our stories from an Old Storyteller. This Storyteller was as old as humanity, and was the source of every story. He lived on top of a mountain. People from all over the world would make pilgrimages to the Old Storyteller’s cabin on the peak of the mountain and would listen to him spin wonderful tales.
Most of the Storyteller’s visitors came from a town at the base of the mountain, and it was those visitors that he most enjoyed seeing. Whenever someone from the town would visit him, he would tell them a brand new, entirely unique story just for them. The townspeople would go back to their homes and share their stories with each other.
There was a man who lived in the town who would watch the pilgrims and townspeople climb the mountain, slowly disappearing into the clouds as they approached the peak. He heard the townspeople tell the stories that they heard from the Storyteller and he heard them talk about how gentle and kind the Storyteller was. The Man grew very jealous of the Old Storyteller. The Man wanted to be as popular as the Storyteller, so he would tell anyone who would listen his own original stories, but the stories he told weren’t any good. The townspeople would ridicule him for trying to be as good as the Old Storyteller. The Man decided that if he wanted to be as popular as the Old Storyteller, he would have to climb the mountain and learn from him what makes his stories so good.
The Man climbed the mountain. The climb was long and difficult, and it made the Man wonder why so many people would climb the mountain just to hear a story. When he got to the peak, he saw the Old Storyteller’s cabin. On the front door of the cabin was a sign that said “Visitors Welcome. Come on in.” The Man opened the door to see the Storyteller sitting by a fire in the chimney and drinking coffee. It was as if he had been waiting for the Man to arrive.
The Man sat down across from the Old Storyteller. Before he could say a word, the Old Storyteller started telling a story. The Man was astonished. The story he was hearing was the greatest story he had ever heard. The Man realized that his stories would never be like the Old Storyteller’s. He had a magical quality to his storytelling.
When the Old Storyteller was finished, the Man asked him what made his stories so good. The Storyteller told him that he had the world’s supply of stories locked in a chest by his bed. The Man decided that he would try to steal the stories from the Old Storyteller that night. He thanked the Storyteller and told him that he was leaving, but he was actually going to hide behind a bush near the cabin.
Later that night, when he saw the light in the cabin go out, the Man came out from behind the bush, grabbed a big rock and snuck into the cabin. He found the chest of stories the Old Storyteller had told him about and broke the lock with the rock. The sound of the rock hitting the lock woke the Storyteller up. When he woke up, the Man panicked and attacked the Storyteller, killing him with the rock. The Man felt bad about killing such a nice old man, but he knew that with him dead, there would be no one to accuse him of stealing the stories.
The Man took the stories from the chest and returned to the town. He told the townspeople that the Old Storyteller had died, but that he had entrusted his stories with the Man so the townspeople could still enjoy them. The Man started telling the stolen stories to everybody, but he told them different from the Storyteller. The Man was still an awful storyteller, and would often forget details or change the stories endings. It didn’t take long for the Man to ruin every story that was in the chest. Eventually, the pilgrims stopped coming to the mountain because they had already heard every ruined story. The townspeople would try to retell the stories like they did with the Old Storyteller’s, but the stories had already been twisted, and the townspeople only made them worse.
All of the stories ever told in the world came from the Old Storyteller. They are only shadows of the stories that he told, twisted and warped into sad reminders of the past stories that he told. They have changed as people retell them. They have lost what made them so special, the Storyteller.