The Tale Of The Noise

There was once a high powered banker who became disillusioned with the cash-hungry, soul-sapping world he was living in. He decided he wanted to get away from it all and return to his real passion: Art.

So, one day he quit his job, pulled his dusty painting paraphernalia out of the attic and set out to find something beautiful.

He travelled for many days and many nights, he knew not where. Along the way he sold his big, fancy car and bought a dirty, old Landrover and all the supplies he would need for his quest of self discovery.

After weeks of travelling, he crested a rise in the landscape and ahead of him he saw exactly what he had been looking for. High up, clinging to the side of a mountain, was a Monastery. At the foot of the mountain was a wide lake of the most beautiful ultramarine. Starting at the edge of the lake and climbing up the mountain side was a deep, dark forest.

He made his way to the flat, soft grass a little way from the lake and set up his camp.
By the time he had set everything up and eaten it was too dark to start painting so he settled into his little tent, weary from so many weeks travelling, and fell straight to sleep.

He woke with a start. All around was darkness. He strained his ears to try and hear what had awoken him. He waited in the dark, hardly daring to breath. Then he heard it. A loud, piercing noise unlike anything he had heard before. He knew not what it was but was certain it was not of this world.

The Noise continued on into the night and, although he managed to relax a little when no danger made itself apparent, he could not sleep.

As the first rays of the sun climbed over the horizon, The Noise finally stopped. The former banker turned artist finally managed to get a couple of hours of much needed rest before he was to start his work.

After a meager few hours sleep he emerged from his tent and looked upon the day. It was beautiful beyond his wildest dreams. Looking upon the sunlight glinting off the water and the mists climbing over the forest, up to the Monastery, he almost forgot his harrowing night.

He quickly set about readying himself for a day of painting, setting up his easel and spreading all his pencils, paints and brushes across a sheet by his stool. The hours quickly passed him by and it was soon evening. Once again, exhausted, he cooked a small meal and retired to his tiny tent.

A little earlier than the night before, the sound started again. He bolted upright in his tent but it seemed to be no closer or further then the previous night. He tried to sleep, covering his head with his pillow, but it was to no avail. No matter what he did, he could not escape that sound.

Once again it stopped suddenly as dawn broke, he got a few hours sleep and then got back to working on his masterpiece.

The next night the same thing happened and the night after that, until, the following night, he just couldn’t take it anymore. He ran out of his tent and spun in circles, trying to pin-point where the sound was coming from. Although it was reflected from the mountain side and the lake, he was fairly sure it was coming from the Monastery. He resolved that, first thing tomorrow, he was going to find out what the hell it was once and for all.

As the sun rose and the sound abated, he pulled his weary, sleep deprived body from his tent and set off towards the Monastery. At the base of the mountain he came to a gate. It was large in stature and made of thick, age-hardened wood. Upon it was set a huge knocker, in the shape of a head, but to what manner of beast the head belonged he could not say.

He lifted the huge ring, needing both hands, and let it fall against the metal plate with an almighty bang.

After a few moments a small opening appeared and a pair of eyes appraised him.
“Yes?” asked the eyes.
“Erm.. Hello. I’ve been camping down by the lake and every night I hear this terrible noise. It seems to be coming from the Monastery and I have barely had a wink of sleep in days. What is it? I have to know!”
“Oh, I see. Are you a Monk?”
“No… Why do you ask?”
“Well, if you aren’t a Monk, I can’t tell you.”
And with that the opening snapped shut.

Rather annoyed, he turned away from the door and headed back to his tent to continue his masterpiece but try as he might, he could not paint. His mind was too distracted.

He retired early, figuring he could get some sleep before The Noise started, but he had slept barely an hour when The Noise once again reached him on the night air. Unable to control himself any longer he flew from his tent and up to the gate. He swung the huge knocker and waited.

The slit opened and the eyes appeared once more.
“Yes?” asked the eyes.
“Look I can’t take this anymore! I must know what that damn noise is! Please tell me.”
“Are you a Monk?”
“NO! I’m not a Monk! I told you that earlier.”
“Oh I can’t tell you then.”
The opening snapped shut but he would not be turned away again.
He hammered on the great door with his fists until the eyes reappeared.
“Yes?” asked the eyes.
“How do I become a Monk, then?”
“To become a Monk in our order you must complete two gruelling tasks, designed to show you are worthy.”
“Well, what are they then?”
“For the first task you must venture into the forest and seek a Giant Boar. Fierce and wild he is, with tusks three meters long and a voracious appetite for human flesh. You must find and kill the boar and, from it’s hide, fashion the robes you will wear for the rest of your days. Go now and do not return until this task is completed.”
With these words the opening closed and the eyes disappeared.

He made his way back to his tent and spent the rest of the night contemplating his task whilst The Noise continued, unabated.

When dawn eventually arrived, bringing an end to The Noise for another night, he allowed himself a few hours of sleep and then set off into the forest, armed with the only thing he had: A Swiss Army Knife.

He crept through the wood for hours uncountable; day and night was irrelevant under the thick canopy. Sometimes he saw signs that a creature of giant stature had passed by and these he followed until he came to a clearing.
On the opposite edge loomed a creature unlike anything he had seen before. It was easily as tall as two men, it’s huge tusks catching the light as it rooted in the foliage.

As if sensing his presence it turned and fixed him with a black, beady eye.
Snorting and stamping it let out a huge bellow and charged across the clearing, straight for him. He just managed to dodge behind a huge, twisted tree as the Beast slammed into the other side. The impact shook the tree and he took the opportunity to run, whilst the Beast was stunned.

He had run only a short distance, skirting the clearing in the deep undergrowth, when he became aware the creature hadn’t moved again. He edged back towards it and saw that both it’s enormous tusks had penetrated the tree and it could not loose itself; could barely move at all, in fact.

He carefully worked his way back to it’s massive flank, avoiding it’s mighty hooves, which it was kicking out at him with great force. He could see the rage in it’s eyes as he slipped the Pen Knife from his pocket. The Beast’s jugular was clearly visible from exertion and he dove forward and plunged the knife into it, to the hilt, needing all his strength to pierce the thick hide.
The Beast loosed an almighty bellow and thrashed around, but to no avail, and it was soon motionless and still in a crimson pool.

He then set about the arduous of skinning the great creature, using only the tools on the Swiss Army Knife. Once he had removed it he cleaned it as best he could and, using a piece of tusk broken off in the struggle, secured it about him.

That done, he set off back to the Monastery on the Mountain by the Lake.

Once again he raised the great knocker and let it fall and once again the eyes appeared.
“Yes?” asked the eyes.
“I have done as you ask. I stand before you in a robe made from the hide of the mighty Boar. What is the next task?”
“You have slayed the bore? Not many get that far. For your next task, look yonder.”
He pointed to the centre of the lake where a small island could just be seen above the glimmer from the water.
“You must swim to that island and there you will find a grave. You must dig until you find a Key. Then you must bring it back here.”
With these words the hatch closed, the eyes disappeared and away he went.

As he approached the lake he could only just see the tiny island but he knew he had no choice but to complete the task. He waded into the water until the the floor fell away under his feet and then set off swimming.
It seemed to take hours to swim the distance to the island and, just as his strength was failing, he felt the lake bed under his feet once again.
Exhausted and bedraggled, he hauled himself onto the island, which was no more than 30 feet across. In the centre was a grave with a large stone at it’s head, inscribed with runic figures he did not understand.

Determined to finish his task he set to work, using his hands to dig into the soft earth. The hole started filling with water after only a few feet but he carried on until he eventually felt unyielding metal beneath his fingers. He pulled and tugged and with one last, great effort pulled free an enormous key.

Securing it inside his Boar-skin robe he once again waded out into the lake and began the long swim back to shore. Straight away the key started feeling heavier and heavier and it continually dragged him under the water but he fought valiantly on until, at last, he reached the shore and collapsed onto his back, gasping for air.

Once he had recovered somewhat he slowly made his way back to the gate. He had no strength left to lift the gargantuan knocker so he just fell against the gate with his shoulder until the hatch opened and the eyes once again appraised him.
“Yes?” asked the eyes.
“I have the key. Now can I see what makes that noise?”
“You have the key, you say? Well, in that case, come on in!”
The eyes disappeared and the gate creaked open to reveal a very hairy man in his own Boar Skin robes.
“This way.” He beckoned our weary ex-banker on and set off down a passage behind the gate.
Almost immediately the thin passage became a steep stairwell and he soon started to lag behind the hairy Monk. Exhausted and weary he slogged on and on up the seemingly never ending stairs until eventually he came out onto a wide landing with the Monastery ahead of him. It seemed to give him renewed energy and he rushed to the door, where the hairy Monk awaited him.
The Monk turned to him and pointed towards the door of the monastery.
“Through that door is a passage way that runs into the mountain. This corridor has many doors and you will be tempted to enter them but you must continue to the last door. Do not deviate for if you open any other door you will never find what you seek. Upon reaching the last door, you may use your key and find what you seek.”

The Monastery door was heavy but he opened it eventually and beheld the Corridor Of Many Doors. He could not see the end of it, though it was well lit with torches. Being so close to his goal lifted his spirits and he set off at a good pace.
As the Monk had said, there were many doors on each side of the corridor and emanating from them he heard many things. Voices called to him, promising untold riches and wanton hedonism but he ignored their siren song and kept on walking, though he was sorely tempted. He tried to keep his goal in mind and kept walking.
After what seemed like miles he finally saw the great door at the end of the corridor and, brandishing his mighty key, hastened towards it.
The key slipped into equally mighty lock and turned with ease and with a puff of warm air and barely a sound the door swung inwards.

There, in the room, before his very eyes was the thing he sought and do you know what it was?

I can’t tell you. You’re not a Monk.

Author’s Note: If you have read this far, congratulations and I am so, so sorry.
This was a Shaggy Dog Story, comprising over 2,300 words but I hope you enjoyed it.
I may start doing these occasionally, so be prepared. 

Wait… Where are you going? Please come back. I’M SORRY!!
I may start doing these occasionally, so be prepared.

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