“No Longer Defined”
By Morgan Givens
Speakers on the left: Their voice is heard more in the left ear.
Speakers on the right: Their voice is heard more in the right ear.
Speakers that are centered: Are heard equally in both ears.
[Brackets holding bold and underlined words are sounds effects. EX: Clanging of pots. City Traffic. Students Talking]
Speakers: With italicized words are signing
Host’s Intro: Welcome back Flyest Fables. I’m Morgan Givens, and I’m the creator of what you’re about to listen to...Flyest Fables brings you new fables for the 21st century, all told in an immersive, creative and fun way. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to follow the show wherever you get your podcasts. Rate and leave a review -- I promise you that I do read them. I’m super excited about this episode. So excited, that we’re just gonna dive right in. Today’s story is called, “No Longer Defined.”
[Fade in sound of ticking school clock. Empty classroom. Antoine walking towards his desk.]
Antoine’s Narrator: Antoine entered the class room, and waved to his teacher, “Hey Ms. Spirits.” He was early, but for him that was often the best move. The boys that tormented him so often showed up to school late, if they showed up at all. He’d been lucky, and he hadn’t seen them since the day before, when they’d shoved him to the earth, knocking his precious book into the mud. He had the book now, safe and secure in in backpack.
Ms. Spirits:“Hey Antoine.”
A’s Narrator: She waved back at him, and watched as he made his way down the aisle, towards the back of the classroom. Her brow furrowed with concern,
[Sound of heels on linoleum. Grows louder as she gets closer to Antoine’s desk.]
A’s Narrator: and she walked up to his desk.
Ms. Spirits: “you okay? You’ve seemed a little quiet lately. And you’ve been skipping out of class early. Anything you wanna talk about?”
Antoine: “No, I’m okay…” It was a lie, and they both knew it.
Ms. Spirits: “Are you sure?”
A’s Narrator:He opened his mouth to respond,
Antoine:“Actually, I don’t know if I --”
[Warning School bell rings]
A’s Narrator: And before another word could fall from his mouth, the warning bell for the start of class rang, the other students began filing in, and he retreated into himself.
[Sound of students filing in. Shuffling of desks and backpacks. Talking.']
Antoine: “It’s okay. Thanks for asking, though.”
Antoine’s N: Antoine made his way down the aisle of the classroom, and deposited himself into a desk at the back. He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head and slid down into the chair, staring at his hands.
Ms. Spirits: “Everyone, please pass your homework to the front of the room.”
Student 1: “What homework?”
Student 2: “You said it was do tomorrow why are we turning it in now?”
Student 3: “Aye, Ms. Spirits, what if I gave it to you next week?”
Ms. Spirits:“Nope, nuh-uh,”
A’s Narrator: Ms. Spirits said in response, her eyes narrowing as she scanned the protesting students.
Ms. Spirits: “Y’all have a syllabus, and you know I write it on the board every. Day.”
A’s Narrator: She pointed back behind her at the white board, the black marker standing in sharp relief on its surface.
Homework Assignment: One paragraph review of the first chapter of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.
Ms. Spirits: “Pass them up.”
A’s Narrator: Antoine reached into his backpack, and pulled out his homework.
A’s Narrator: He was one of only a handful of the kids who’d done it. Not that’d he’d been particularly happy about it, but it lessened the lectures he got from his mom, and sometimes, just sometimes, when he did really well, he kinda liked seeing that ‘A+’ in the deep bold strokes of Ms. Spirit’s pen, and her random notes like,
Ms. Spirits:“keep it up! Your grades keep improving!”
A’s Narrator: And this one
Ms. Spirits: “Very nice work, Antoine! I can tell you’re working very hard.”
A’s Narrator: Ms. Spirits began passing out copies of the books. Depositing one on each student’s desk. Antoine waited until she’d left one on his, as well,
[Backpack unzips. The sound of book pages being flipped through]
A’s Narrator: before pulling out his book, and flipping open the pages. She probably wouldn’t notice anyway. And if she did, at least he was reading. He flipped open the pages, desperate to lose himself in a world other than his own…
[Wind chimes. Classroom sound fades away. Sound of windswept icy and snow covered mountain peak fades up]
Dragon: “Why would I ever, give you anything when you have always destroyed everything you touch?”
Princess Keisha’s Narrator:The dragon’s eyes narrowed as it stared at her, and she could see the steam curl up from its flaring nostrils, as it waited for her response. Pawing at the earth with a giant talon, the power within its body barely contained.
Princess Keisha: “You’ve never met me, and I have destroyed nothing. But if you don’t help me, then you will have helped to destroy everything I hold dear. I can’t allow that. My mother, the Queen of Orleans will die, and Orleans will fall. Help me, please?”
Dragon: “Help? You ask for help, yet you come hear armed? What kind of help is truly offered for free at the pointed end of a blade?”
PK’s Narrator: she began, as the Dragon grew tense, the scales on its body growing a dark red. Keisha knew she should be afraid, but all she could think of were the deep red roses that lined the gardens of Orleans. She could nearly smell them, could feel the warm pressure of her mother’s hand against her back,
The Queen: “they smell so lovely, don’t they?”
PK’s Narrator: She’d whispered with a smile as she’d looked at her daughter. Keisha should be afraid...instead, she grew bold.
Princess Keisha: “You don’t understand. This is just for protection. I would never ever use it to -- woah! Wait!”
[The dragon roars. Walks closer. Its footfalls causing the earth to shake. Keisha dives. The sound of her hitting the earth is heard. And the fire coming from the dragon. It continues to roar and spit fire.]
PK’s Narrator: The dragon was unhearing, and reared back, flames licking the edges of its mouth, and it opened it wide. Keisha dove, rolling behind the protection of a giant, slate grey boulder, just as the dragon opened its mouth and released a stream of crackling fire. She could feel the air around her heat, could hear the sizzle of the ends of her hair...it was now, or never. It would be decided here. Her entire journey. The fate of her people...of her mother...herself. She pulled her blade from its scabbard, ran her hands lovingly over it. Is this what she was meant to do? After everything she knew of her people? Was this the right choice? The air around her grew hotter, and sweat began to bead along her forehead, running down and stinging her eyes. Keisha drew a deep breath, and raised her eyes to the sky.
Princess Keisha: “I can do this, I know I can…”
PK’s Narrator: she threw the blade away, watched it float silently in the air, before landing in the snow a few feet away.
[The dragon’s roaring stops. The flames cease. There is only the sound of the wind and snow.]
PK’s Narrator: The dragon’s fire stopped, and she could hear it breathing.
Dragon: “Show yourself.”
Princess Keisha: “How do I know you won’t try to hurt me?”
Dragon: “I’m intrigued. Show yourself. I will not hurt you.”
PK’s Narrator: She stood, drew her shoulders back, and stepped from behind the boulder. She stared into the dragon’s eyes, controlling the fear that welled within her, thinking only of her family, of the Kingdom of Orleans. Thinking of how far she’d come, it would not end this way. She couldn’t let it.
[Footfalls in the snow as Keisha steps from around the boulder. Out into the open.]
Princess Keisha: “I hope you’re good on your word, Dragon.”
Dragon: “Better at it than you humans. Your word means nothing. You cast promises about like treats. You fight and hurt one another. You came here, I’m sure, to fight me. I will aid you in nothing, but if you leave now. Turn back the way you came. Exit this oasis and never return. I will not hurt you. Go.”
Princess Keisha: “Do not judge me by the actions of others. I did not come here to hurt you. I need your help. I need the evergreen flower that you guard. If you could just—”
Dragon: “The flower grows only once a millennia. You are five hundred years too late.”
Princess Keisha: “What?”
PK’s Narrator: Keisha’s heart seized in her chest.
Princess Keisha: “This can’t be…”
PK’s Narrator: Everything was for nothing. Her mother would die. Orleans would cease to exist.
Princess Keisha:“The seers would not have sent me here if not...you have to know some other way? Something that can heal as well as the flower. Does such a thing exist?”
Dragon: “Why do you carry a sword, if you will not harm another with it?”
PK’s Narrator: The dragon asked, ignoring her question. It walked towards her, stood so closely that she could have reached out to touch the shimmering scales of its coat.
Princess Keisha: “I am trained to fight in the Orleans army. If we’re ever attacked. It’s rare, but it does happen.”
Dragon: “Hmph, I thought as much.”
Princess Keisha: “And yet you know so little...we fight to maintain our borders only, we never press our advantage. We have no desire to, we wish to simply live in peace.”
Dragon: “What type of place is this Orleans? Who...is in charge?”
Princess Keisha: “No one.”
Dragon: “More lies. You have a Queen.”
Princess Keisha:“She is the Queen of Stories. My mother, is our Storykeeper. Everyone in Orleans is taught a story from birth. It is the story they learn, the one that becomes so much a part of them that they’d forget who they were without them. We are all given a story to hold onto, to pass on to others, but my mother...she knows them all. She is magic. Every story that has ever been known to any person in Orleans. Living and dead, she knows them all. And if she dies...if she dies before she has passed them on to me. Me, the next in line to be Queen of Stories and I can’t even save...we will lose everything if she dies. We will lose ourselves. Dragon...we will never recover.”
PK’s Narrator: Keisha wiped away the tears that fell hotly down her face, and felt as though her very soul might break in two. The Dragon’s eyes grew cloudy, and it stared out unseeing into the mist that surrounded the mountain. Its breathing slowed...and she waited. Unsure of what else she could do. When it’s eyes suddenly cleared, and fell upon Keisha, the fire in them had died down to softly burning embers.
Dragon: “The people are...happy. This Orleans is a good place?”
Princess Keisha: “Yes. It is the best place.”
Dragon: “I have seen. I believe you.”
PK’s Narrator: Dipping its head, the Dragon extended its neck.
Dragon: “I will help you save your mother. Come. We must go. I have seen all that has been, all that could be. But your time runs short if you wish to save her.”
Princess Keisha: “You’ll help me?”
Dragon: “Your heart is the purest I’ve ever seen. I will help you. Climb on.”
PK’s Narrator: It lowered itself further, but Keisha stood frozen, rooted in the snow, and she stared at the dragon. Disbelieving. Could it really be so simple?
Dragon: “Will you make me ask you twice, Princess Keisha of the Kingdom of Orleans?”
Princess Keisha: “Oh! No, no, you won’t have to ask me twice.”
PK’s Narrator: She hurriedly scrambled onto the back of the dragon.
[Rumble of dragon steps running]
as it lumbered towards the edge of the mountain, its wings opening, kicking up tufts of snow.
Princess Keisha: “What if I fall?”
Dragon: “No harm will come to you. That, I promise.”
[Rush of wind as the dragon leaps into the air. The flap of giant dragon wings. Air rushing past.]
PK’s Narrator: And the dragon took off. The ground dropping away from them both so quickly she might have imagined ever walking the earth. The wind rushed past her, the flap of the dragon’s wings gently rocking her as they flew steadily towards her home. She would save her mother.
Princess Keisha: Now I know where to go, from here. No longer defined by my pain or fears. The path before me is so clear. And I found my purpose here. The path before me is so clear. And I found my purpose here…
PK’s Narrator: They hovered above the Kingdom of Orleans. The Dragon flying so quickly that the desert was there, and then with a blink of her eye, was gone as it spiraled down towards the Earth.
[Loud crunch of Earth, rocks and dirt as the dragon lands]
PK’s Narrator: Landed in the courtyard of Orleans. She slid from the Dragon’s back.
Princess Keisha: “Thank you, but I still don’t--”
Dragon: “Open your water flask. Hold it up.”
PK’s Narrator: Puzzled, she did as she was ordered. And gasped as the dragon began to shimmer. It’s entire body covered in rainbows. It grew so bright Keisha nearly had to close her eyes. The Dragon turned its head, and a single, giant tear ran down its face and fell into her flask. It peered at her, sighing deeply.
Dragon: “I am the tender of the evergreen flower, but it was never about the flower Keisha. Only the love that waters its soil. Go.”
PK’s Narrator: It said to her, nudging her gently with its nose, and she wrapped her arms around its snout, and its face smelled of woodsmoke and cozy memories.
Princess Keisha: “Thank you.”
PK’s Narrator: Keisha raced down the pathway that led from the courtyard to her mother’s room. Dashing through the palace doors that opened before her.
Orleans Citizen 1: “The princess is back!”
Orleans Citizen 2: “The princess has returned!”
Orleans Citizen 3: “Keishaaaa!”
PK’s Narrator: She ignored their voices, focused only reaching her mother. She burst into the room, the Quartermaster knelt near her mother’s bed. The seers were gathered around, all with head’s bowed.
Princess Keisha: “Is she?”
PK’s Narrator: Keisha took a step forward.
PK’s Narrator: The quartermaster started.
QuarterMaster: “You’ve returned.”
Princess Keisha: “Is she alive?”
PK’s Narrator: She walked to the Queen’s side. Her mother’s breath was slow, ragged, irregular. Her hands shook as she lifted the flask to her mother’s lips, tilted it so the dragon’s tear flowed from it, dripped into her mouth. She poured until she’d emptied it all, made sure her mother had swallowed it all.
QuarterMaster: “This is what you traveled for? Water? We have plenty of that here…”
PK’s Narrator: The quartermaster’s voice trailed off.
PK’s Narrator: The Queen’s eyes opened, fell lovingly on her daughter’s face. Her deep brown eyes shone with all the future possibilities of her life.
The Queen: “I knew you could do it.”
Princess Keisha: “Mom!”
PK’s Narrator: She threw herself on the bed.
Princess Keisha: “You’re okay.”
The Queen: “You have saved us all, and I am so very proud of you.”
[Windchimes. Fade down Keisha’s world. Fade back up into the sound of the classroom.]
A’s Narrator: Antoine stared at the page, waiting for more words to appear. But they stopped. He shut and opened the book, but the last words stayed the same, “I am so very proud of you.”
Antoine: “Huh, maybe it’ll write more later.”
A’s Narrator: He shut the book once more, and gasped to himself as he read the cover:
The Queen: “Dearest Antoine,
This is your story, and it will always be yours. Hold it within you, and keep it safe. Share it with those who need it, and it will always, always be with you. This is your journey. Your story. No one can ever take it from you. Remember that. Always, remember that. You are a storykeeper.
The Queen of Stories and Princess Keisha”
A’s Narrator: The words sat there for a moment, in that gentle flowing silver script he’d become so used to, before they vanished. Antoine stood from his desk, even though it was the middle of class, grabbed his backpack and raced from the room.
[Footfalls on tile as he runs.]
Ms. Spirits: “Antoine. Antoine, again?! Class has not been dismissed!”
A’s Narrator: He ignored Ms. Spirits as he raced from the room. If he got detention, that’d be just fine. He had something very important to do. Antoine was nearly at the front door to the school, had nearly escaped...when one of the bullies stepped into his path.
[Shoes squeak on tile. He stops running.]
Bully 1: “Well look who it is.”
A’s Narrator: Antoine swallowed, looked quickly around for an exit. He could just run back to class. No way his teacher would let anything happen to him there.
Antoine: “Leave me, alone.”
Bully 1: “And where exactly, is the the fun in that?”
A’s Narrator: He took a step towards Antoine, cocked his head menacingly to the side. Antoine took a deep breath, and briefly closed his eyes.
Bully 1: “You praying or something?”
A’s Narrator: He opened his eyes.
Antoine: “It wasn’t me.”
Bully 1: “You are so weird. What are you talking about?”
Antoine: “That hurt you. Whoever hurt you so bad that you turn around and you hurt me...it’s not my fault. I didn’t do it. So...please stop treating me like I did.”
Bully 1: “Ain’t nobody hurt--”
A’s Narrator: He held the bully’s eyes for a moment, waited until his tormentor lowered his gaze and stared at the shiny linoleum that lined the school hallways.
Antoine: “I am sorry, though.”
A’s Narrator: Antoine began to move passed him.
Bully 1: “For what?”
Antoine: “That you hurt so bad.”
A’s Narrator: He turned away, exited through the front doors, and bounded down the steps racing towards his destination. Antoine felt lighter than he had in years. He didn’t know if the boy would actually leave him alone, or if he’d return to bullying him the very next day with his friends, but for a moment, it didn’t really matter. He threw his arms out to the sky:
[fade up sound of cityscape.]
Antoine: Now I know where to go, from here. I’m no longer bound, by my chains of fear. The path before me is so clear. And I know that I’m supposed to be here.
A’s Narrator: He skidded to a stop, he’d finally made it.
A’s Narrator: Marcus looked up, confused. He usually only saw his friend in the morning’s, and yet here he was in the middle of the day.
Marcus: “Everything okay?”
Antoine: “Everything is great.”
A’s Narrator: He pulled out The Book, thrust it into Marcus’ hands.
Antoine: “This...is for you.”
Marcus: “Now don’t go giving me no…what the?”
A’s Narrator: His eyes fell upon the book. Etched right there on the cover, for all the world to see, in gentle, flowing silver script, was the name: Marcus.
Antoine: The path before me is so clear.
Princess Keisha: You know who you are…
Antoine: And I know that I’m supposed to be here.
A’s Narrator: But Antoine had already skipped away. Waving, he disappeared into the crowd on the city’s streets.
Host’s Outro: This wraps up the latest episode of Flyest Fables. Make sure to follow the show on RadioPublic, Stitcher or where ever you get your podcasts -- And rate and leave a review! Could you do one more small favor? If you liked this episode, could you take just one second to send it to a friend? I’d so appreciate it if you would. You can use the hashtag StoryKeepers to find others who love Flyest Fables too, and to share your stories. I look forward to reading them.
Flyest Fables was created, written produced and narrated by me, Morgan Givens.
You can follow me on twitter @optimus_mo and @flyest fables. You can also learn more about me at morgan givens dot com.
Transcriptions for Flyest Fables are now live at morgan givens dot com. There’s a link on the homepage. Transcriptions were done by Susan and Courtney of One Odd Gamer Girl dot net. Visit their site! And, you can follow them on twitter @oneoddgamergirl and @cyclopediabrain. I’ll make sure it’s in the show notes.
Susan and Courtney, thank you both so much for your help.
The Flyest Fables cover art was created by Gracie Canaan.