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The Hero of Larapinta

by Tanya Shliahov  
3/15/2020 / Short Stories

That night, a rowdy rebel had yelled with his clenched fist raised high before ducking under an overturned apple cart and darting down a side alley. An elderly woman had lain in the cobbled street weeping, blood running down her weathered cheek, a pink, squalling baby beside her, tossed aside during the clamour. It had been the eve of the annual Imperial Selection Day, a day when the egalitarian King of the usually peaceful country of Larapinta elected ten royal counsellors to advise him on the wants and needs of his people and regrettably, increasingly, to keep him informed of the many plots and schemes of his growing number of enemies.

Many of Larapinta’s enemies had come from abroad, envious of its amicable society and material abundance but it had become increasingly clear that a burgeoning threat had been growing from within it too, infecting the usually composed minds of the people of Larapinta with malicious half-truths and inane hype. Dieter Uys, a stable hand, had been out walking that night and had also been knocked to the ground by a masked assailant. Rising again, he had steadied himself before turning to survey the wreckage. Could this really be happening in his cherished native land he had thought. His mind had wandered to happier times when he was much younger. A time when acts of violence and felony had been rare, when the most grievous infringements had been the mildly aggravating antics of the drunk and disorderly and an overly zealous fascination with carnal acts of the night.

He had wondered where this new aggressive mentality had arisen. Had it always been there skulking in the background as the years passed tranquilly by or had an evil entity recently snuck in unawares, flooding Larapinta with complacency and discontent? Whatever the cause, it had been clear that something had to be done. The hostility could not have been allowed to fester forever and so he had formed the Luttig Assembly, an association bent on restoring law and order in the land and soothing the contentious spirit which had begun to permeate the sovereign state.

It had not taken long for the Luttig Assembly to determine that it was the Alpita Union that was at the core of the uproar in the once stable nation. So savage had the pernicious Alpita Union been that Dieter Uys and fellow members of the Luttig Assembly had been forced to meet secretly in order to strategise how best to subdue it. This had been a jarring experience for Dieter and his fellow conspirators as Larapinta had long been renowned for its freedom of opinion and association. The foreboding threat of violence should they be discovered had been intensified by reminders of the sacrifice Dieter’s father had made to enable him to live in such a society, having himself fled a domain that had suffered under the hands of far more fearsome subversives. If his father had still been alive, what would he have thought of the harrowing change of mood of the Larapinta people Dieter had mused.

Now, months later, Dieter Uys stood at a lavish banquet that had been prepared to congratulate him for orchestrating the plan that had successfully quashed the devilish Alpita Union. He had become famous throughout the land as the king had indeed taken the advice of the Luttig Assembly and then, God had very kindly used their holy living and godly wisdom to appeal to the populace of Larapinta to return to the God that had, since its origin, always guided and protected them. Now, Dieter could hardly walk down the street due to the number of admirers who longed to shake his hand and give him their well wishes.

At first it had been flattering, Dieter had enjoyed the love and attention but now he felt that this affection had become misplaced. It seemed to him that the citizens of Larapinta were committing an act of idolatry, praising him rather than thanking God. He graciously had to remind the people of Larapinta that if you show favouritism, you are committing sin and becoming a transgressor of God’s law. He reminded them that there were others who had behaved just as gallantly who were going unnoticed and other people, of fewer talents, who very likely would never achieve anything great or astounding in their lives who were unintentionally being ignored. Lastly, he reminded them that God was the one they should really be thanking.

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