Lost Stories of The Spiral: Pip’s Tale

The Lost Story of The Manders: Pip’s Tale

Written by Mander Lover

Lost Stories of the Spiral 3rd Place Winner!

Desert Villa

Harsh and desolate, Krokotopia was a land locked in time. The hot sun would pierce the morning sky, burning away the purple light of dawn to give way to cloudless blue skies. Timidly, the cold comfort of night quickly slithered back into the shadows of overarching rocks. The sun was brutal; any moisture caught in the open was immediately vaporized into thin air. Only the winds dared to move, mercilessly sweeping over sand dunes into sprays of sand and rocks. A new day began and another ended, but nothing changed. The desert ruled eternal.

storm salamanderHigh up above, sheltered from buffeting sandstorms, a civilization of manders thrived above the desert floor on floating islands. Centered around a vast oasis, a city bustled with life as manders of all walks wandered to and fro skittling over hot sand. Where the scorching sand would scald the skin beneath hurried feet, the oasis provided sanctuary for thirsty mouths and hot bodies. The oasis was a marvel in itself: years of collection and percolation of scarce groundwater, sprouting triumphantly at the center in voluptuous feats. Luscious vegetation sprinkled with colorful berries and ripe fruits surrounded its perimeter, a barrier protecting the heart of the dessert. This ring of life provided no shortage of food for the manders – breakfast, lunch, and dinner, families would huddle around patted-down leaves extravagantly plucking off fruits from overhanging tendrils. In the height of noon, when the extreme heat seemed to melt meat off bone, scores of manders would dive into the water splashing and laughing. Only at night, when the waters of the oasis neared freezing, would the manders retreat back into the warm comfort of their stone homes; the commotion that overflowed the city replaced by the sound snores of sleeping manders. Back then, the land wasn’t yet known as Krokotopia. It was simply known as Manzil – “home” in the language of the manders. The history of Manzil is unclear, but it is said that the manders were not the first settlers there.


Living near the edge of the oasis, Pip was a young mander who dreamed of being a daring explorer. He was ambitious, but his figurefire salamander was short and skinny, unheard of for his kind. Despite his size, he was forthcoming in his actions and adamant in his beliefs. He found life in the oasis to be very peaceful, but he wanted to live for more. He wanted to do something no one else has ever done before.

When he was a little nymph, his great-grandfather, one of the Forefathers known as the Al’Ajdad, told Pip the story of the manders: according to the Al’Ajdad, the first manders emerged out of the waters of the oasis to walk on land. When they surfaced the boundless fruits and trees that bordered the oasis gave them the strength to build homes and support the communities, until eventually, an entire civilization prevailed. The oasis symbolized purity and charity – 2 fundamental characteristics that are at the core of every manders’ way of life. The story had always inspired Pip. This is perhaps why all the manders he knew regarded giving as the best gift anyone can receive. But what struck Pip the most was the apparent age of the of the trees. If the trees had already been there since the beginning, then who planted them? He tried asking his grandfather but was always on the receiving end of a shrug. And if Pip tried to ask any more questions, his grandfather would already be drifting into sleep.

Pip contemplated the story of the manders once more. He sat still on his bed with outstretched hands and counted the number of dust-speckled rays passing between his thin fingers. Six altogether. Where the rays would land, the dust in the air appeared to dance. He loved the fact that even in stillness, nothing stopped moving. His pale-blue skin glistened under the soft sunlight and in that fleeting moment of aloofness, a sudden thought had struck him: if someone had planted the trees, then there must still be a body, a sign, or something left behind in Manzil! In the 13 years he has lived, never had he ever felt so brilliant.

Ice-SalamanderPip quickly darted out of his room and started for the oasis. As he ran, clouds of dust trailed behind him in billowing succession. The hot sand singed his feet, but he didn’t mind. He was on the tip of discovering something bigger than himself. Bigger than any mander alive. In various locations near the oasis, Pip began frantically digging up sand with his bare hands. Worried eyes darted back and forth but Pip was determined in his discovery. Nothing could stop him. After what was his fourth or fifth hole, alas Pip’s fingers grasped something cold and smooth to the touch. With the raw feeling of rough sand under his fingernails, Pip pulled out of the ground a shiny, black stone the size of his palm. He pocketed the neat rock, but an ordinary rock was not what he was looking for. He willed himself to keep digging elsewhere but found nothing worth noting. Perhaps he was thinking too small. What if the Seed of Life were amongst one of the plant seeds in the oasis? Pip was riled up again. He looked through shrubs and beneath large palm trees, under rocks and between roots. There were too many seeds to choose from – anyone of them could’ve been the Seed of Life. But Pip was an efficient mander. Instead of fussing, he grabbed a handful of seeds and dropped them into a small pouch he brought from home. Upon closer inspection, what he discovered when he came home did not impress him at all. All of the seeds he picked up were ordinary seeds. None of them looked special or any more magical than the last. He looked at his blistered fingers and cursed for having such a stubborn curiosity.

Years later, Pip took an interest in reading history books and archaeological journals. The manders didn’t possess sophisticated digging tools, but they always seemed to know where to dig. Pip learned that in recent years an ancient tablet was found in the center of the oasis, deep below the silty surface of the bottom. A number of educated linguists have tried to decipher its inscriptions and have roughly extracted that it was a mantra of sorts. Pip was fascinated. This was the first real credible proof that there was more to the origin of the oasis.Amulet

When Pip turned 18, his mother passed away. Her body was cremated and the ashes placed in a potted urn. Pip kept some in a small
vial, which he hung around his neck endearingly. He wasn’t sad; like all manders, he understood that death was not the end of life. It was only the transition from one form of life to another. Like the dust particles that danced in his room, he always imagined life to be something similar – they disappeared come the night, but only temporarily, because when the sun returned in the morning, they wildly frolicked again. As if the light never went out of them.

This time, Pip was determined. In the dead of night, when all curious eyes were tightly shut behind heavy eyelids, Pip dragged the longest and sturdiest rope he could find to the edge of the floating island. The boundary of the island was girded with a thick rope fence, but Pip didn’t care. He secured one end of the rope to a sturdy post and threw the other over the edge. He tied his satchel around his torso, carefully making sure it wouldn’t get in the way of his arms. No mander has ever dared travel beyond Manzil. To traverse the desert below was regarded as instant death. The manders called it La Rujue – the place of “no return”. Slowly, Pip began his long descent to the bottom.

It had taken Pip all of the strength in his fingers to rappel down safely. By the time he reached the bottom, his sore hands trembled with exhaustion. He knew the desert climate was harsh, but when he reached the bottom he was not prepared to be blinded by sand and bruised by hurling rocks. The wind was not like anything he had ever felt before. Whistling and howling, it felt like the whole world was a vacuum. He stumbled to pull out his goggles and struggled to wrap himself in protective drabs of cloth. As best he could, he clutched his satchel around his chest for safety and braved the storm. Sitting, waiting. He felt like the dessert was going to pick him up and swallow him.

deathstalker-scorpionWhen morning came, it was hot. Hot as Heck Hounds. But the winds have died down so it was time to move. He saluted the floating islands a final goodbye and marched on. As far as the eyes could see, sand dunes stretched snake-like into the horizon.

After what seemed like days of traveling without stop and without shelter, Pip stumbled over an ominous lump in the dessert. It had the same golden-brown tint of the dessert, but also the shiny and smooth exterior of an eggshell. Strangely, the lump glinted in the light as Pip walked closer and closer. As Pip leaned in for the touch, four eyes, as black as coal and as big as his face protruded from the sand shortly behind the lump. The sand rumbled beneath his feet as a humongous scorpion erupted from its sandy slumber. What Pip was about to touch was one of its building-sized claws! Evading under and jumping over the scorpion’s snapping claws, Pip was glad for his short stature – he only barely evaded it’s vicious attacks. Pip’s curiosity had a funny way of working. While popping in and out between the scorpion’s towering legs, he wondered if he could ride on the scorpion’s hide for the remainder of his journey.

Pip considered the act of giving to be most virtuous, so he was thankful for the scorpion’s transportation services – even if it wasn’t given to him willingly. He didn’t exactly ask for permission either. If memory served him right and the stories he read were true, then together they were headed towards a cave lying beyond the horizon. Pip clutched on to the pendant of his mother tightly. He wished for hope and he wished for strength. But most of all, he desperately wished for it to be true.

It is said that Pip lost his way in the desert. That is what pessimists would like to believe, so to discourage fellow manders from perishing. Meanwhile, optimists know that Pip found the Cave of Dreams. He found the Seed of Life and has never returned, vowed for life to protect the long lost secrets of the Desert.

Did you enjoy Pip’s Tale? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Yoan Dimov says:

    Interesting, the only problem is that the story’s events are slowly developed. Also I feel as there is too much details that might make the reader bored by the time the character reaches the new development. In my opinion, overall it was good and entertaining. I rate 8/10

  2. Mora Misthead says:

    I loved reading this 🙂 Very nice story!

  3. Very well written story, better than anything I could have done 😂. Can’t wait to see the others.

  4. Merciless Jean Percy says:

    I loved this in terms of the language used, not the biggest fan of the storyline but the descriptions were in depth and great.

  5. Fantastic introduction! I can feel the strain of the deadline in the ending, and I do wish the character was a little more developed. Still, it was an enjoyable read, especially the setting descriptions.

  6. you made some mistakes (for example it shouldve been great grandmander, not great grandfather) but otherwise great story

  7. Igor Efimov says:

    I would love to hear about Pip’s adventures on the Big Flats far below the oasis. Perhaps another contest is in order?

  8. This story should have been in top 2. Bad luck to you mate but good writing 🙂

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