An Ant Tale A children’s tale from the iksar.
A young iksar name Cyrl had a plan. There was an ant hill not far from his home, and he spent many afternoons watching the busy ants carry food stuffs back to their hill in orderly, perfect lines. Cryl was amazed by the way the ants were able to adapt to any situation. If a stick fell in their path, all the ants would immediately march around it, maintaining their perfect line. Cry dropped many sticks, leaves, and rocks in their path to watch this happen again and again. The ants never failed to adjust.
Cryl thought long and long about the ants. He thought about them as he was devouring a haunch of deer and helping his parents sharpen their weapons for an up and coming fray with the nasty sarnak. He thought for so long about the ants that he accidentally cut himself on one of the swords. His parents snapped at him and told him to pay better attention to what he was doing, but he just couldn’t stop thinking about those ants.
Cryl thought the ants should be doing their work for him. After all, all creatures are lesser than the iksar, so it was only right they do his bidding. Cryl set out early the next morning to tell the ants that he was their new master, and that if they disobeyed him, he would destroy their hill. The closer he got, the more he liked the idea of just stomping down on the hill and kicking it away. He almost hoped they refused. But in the end he decided he would rather have them as his servants.
Cryl stood before the ant hill and called out, “Ants! I’m your king now! You’ll do as I say!” He stared at them fiercely, but the ants didn’t even acknowledge that he’d said anything. They simply kept marching in their neat rows carrying food in and out. Cryl was furious, and he lifted his foot back to kick their hill down when he realized that the ants were simply continuingdoing their work. He had liked them for being such dedicated workers, and that’s what they were doing. It didn’t mean they had defied him. Cryl smiled and looked at his new slaves.
Cryl gave many orders to the ants over the following days. The first thing he thought should be done was to bolster his force before he made them do anything more extreme. After all, a lord was only as good as how many people he commanded. So, he demanded that they work harder, and it seemed that they did; it was hard to tell with the constant stream of ants, but he thought he saw more food entering every moment. He then demanded that they produce more eggs, and after a few days, he was certain that he noticed more little ants coming out. Finally, he told them to expand the ant hill, and sure enough, the next day it looked like it had grown inches in height!
Cryl was happy with his ants. They were following his orders very well and becoming a more formidable force. He thought he should give them some small reward for their work. A lord, after all, has to periodically give his subjects some kind of reward for good behavior in order to motivate them to continue working just as hard. and if they didn’t, then he had twice the reason to punish them later for their ingratitude. The ants spemt all their time collecting food, so he thought that some new food stuff would be a good reward.
Cryl searched high and low for appropriate food. The ants seemed content with leaves and grains, but he wanted to give them something different. He remembered once seeing a swarm of ants on the face of a dead bear that was covered in honey. Honey! He could easily wrest some honey from a hive. His father had taught him a trick to distract the bees: throw an animal at the hive first and that will distract the furious guards. He captured a badger and hurled it at a nearby hive. While the soldier bees swarmed the animal, he dipped into the hive with a stick.
Back at the hill, he placed the stick on the ground and waited eagerly. One ant eventually strayed to where the honey was, and then suddenly they were all covering the stick, carrying away honey in their usual neat rows. Cryl was delighted that his gift would help his forces grow strong. Suddenly though, he noticed that an ant had climbed up to his hands where he had dipped them in the honey. He frowned and flicked it away but before he could blink, there were more, and more, and more. Soon his hands were covered in wriggling little ants. Cryl was disgusted and a little bit afraid.
He made quickly for home, where his mother dipped his hands in hot water that killed all the ants. Cryl told her the whole story: how he had made the colony his and how they had followed his orders. Finally, he told her his idea for a reward, and his mother shook her head in disappointment. “You must never be generous to those you rule. They will sense your weakness and use it to defeat you. Rewards don’t make your subjects work harder. Punishments do.”
Cryl considered his mother’s words. The next day, he returned to the hill, and in a fury, destroyed it. He kicked and stomped until there was nothing left, and then he dug up the ground to see that nothing below survived either. The ground was littered with broken little ants when he was through, and he felt satisfied. Later, he told his mother what he had done, but found that she was still not happy with him. “Now you have no servants, and a lord without servants is even weaker than one whose servants take advantage of him.”
Cryl was confused. He didn’t know how he would ever make his mother proud. The ants were all dead, their hill destroyed. What was he to do? Then he remembered the bee hive. The bees may not have been quite as well organized as the ants, but they seemed to be doing well. Yes, the bees would be good subjects as well! He set off for the bee hive, determined to make them his new subjects.
When it was time to return home in the evening, Cryl was no more a lord of the bees than he had been that morning, and what was more, the soft parts between his scales were full of stings. He wanted to give up, but he couldn’t face his mother’s disappointment. He tried to think of what she would say. What to do against a populace that will refuse to go down without fighting? Give them a good reason not to fight. Cryl smiled. Cryl had an idea.
That night, he returned home triumphant. His mother spied the expression on his face and asked what he was so pleased about. He showed her a small collection of white eggs he had in his possession. “They may be ready to fight me and die themselves,” he said, “but not if I have their eggs!” Cryl’s mother finally beamed with pride. “You have done well, son. You must know what matters most to your enemy, and use that against him.” Cryl just nodded. He knew what to do. He was the lord of the bee hive now, and soon
others would fear his name.