Tales of Arkesia: Tortoyk

11 October 2021

“Look at what I found!” Arthur’s voice proclaimed as he strode proudly through the front door of his family’s home, a strange seed cupped in his tiny hands. The last rays of daylight shone into the cottage through the open door, illuminating the modest home and furnishings befitting his family’s simple life in the Luterran countryside.

Arthur glanced around the room, looking for acknowledgement from his parents. His parents had finally let him start venturing off their farm in East Luterra, and he was proud of the findings on one of his first adventures.

“What is it Arthur? A seed?” His father inquired.

“Yeah, but it smells good!” Arthur exuberantly exclaimed. His father looked puzzled at Arthur’s response, offering no further questions, appearing uninterested in something as mundane as a seed. A moment of silence settled across the cottage before another voice piped up from the far side of the room.

“May I?” Arthur turned to see his grandmother near the fireplace on the far wall, and trotted over to her immediately, his father’s apathy failing to curb his youthful excitement.

Arthur dropped the seed into her outstretched palm. She squinted, staring intently at it, then flipped it over and flipped it back. She breathed in, inhaling the sweet and strangely pleasant aroma emanating from the seed. “If this is what I think it is, guessing by the smell, I reckon you’ve found a Mokoko seed. Very rare and special indeed.”

“A Mokoko seed?” Arthur said, confused but curious.

“Now mind you, I’ve never seen one before. But I’ve heard tell of the legends. Sit down here...” she continued, patting the chair next to her “...and I’ll tell you what I’ve heard about them.”

“Long ago, there was an ancient war with the giants, and their home sank to the bottom of the sea. Not many giants survived, and the few that did went into a long, deep sleep throughout the oceans of Arkesia to preserve their diminishing power. I’ve heard that one of the Giants was named Tortoyk— and he was special, even among giants. He inherited the power to create living beings, and started to produce new creatures. Eventually, as Tortoyk stood still in the ocean, it’s very own body became the home of its creatures, an idyllic island in the sea.”

Arthur looked incredulously at his grandma. War and death were not foreign concepts in Luterra, even for a child, but tales of giants large enough to become islands— much less ones that could create life— certainly were.

“The power of Tortoyk is what created the Mokoko people— the seed you have now. I’ve never met one, but have heard tell that they’re a small, friendly, people who love nature and live on the island to this day. You see, the only place they can be born from these seeds is on the island. Who knows how long the seed has been sitting in the forest, unable to sprout in Luterra.”

“I’ve heard the Mokoko village is a beautiful place, hidden away without much conflict— and the Mokoko people live there without concern. But one day, that all changed. Before the giant Tortoyk was deep in his slumber...” Grandma trailed off, leaning closer to the fire. Flames danced in her eyes. Arthur’s eyes in turn, were filled with wonder, and locked to his grandmother’s as he was drawn in, curious and captivated by the tale.

“ACHOO” Grandma shouted. Arthur lurched back, surprised, nearly falling off his chair. Wrinkled skin creased at the corner of Grandma’s mouth as a hint of a smile fluttered across her face.

“Tortoyk sneezed with only the power a giant can muster. The seeds of the Mokoko people were blown high into the air, and scattered across the world by the wind. They fell across all of Arkesia, and need to be brought back to Tortoyk to become the Mokoko people they were meant to be.”

“Don’t fill his head with that nonsense,” Arthur’s father barked from across the room, ale sloshing from his tankard as he gestured and shook his head. Grandma glared at him, turned back to Arthur, and continued on.

“Aye, it could all be just a tall tale,” Grandma said. “But one day, just maybe, you’ll venture across the sea and find out for yourself,” she said, smiling once again. She handed the seed back to Arthur, his young eyes brimming with hope. He picked it up from her hand, a newfound reverence imbued in his light grasp.