Acephali -- An Ancient Foe

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13 of The Bestiary A tale told to young pups before bedtime.

The Bestiary

Acephali -- An Ancient Foe By: Tyvara

Grandfather Wolf relaxed by the fireplace in his favorite armchair. The green kind with big arms and a round back. He stretched out, scratching his stomach full of the delicious dinner his daughter had just made.

"Grampa, Grampa!" A grey wolf pup tugged at his sleeve. The whelp looked so much like Grandfather Wolf at that age. "Tell us a story, please."

His two brothers ended their games to gather by the fire.

Grandfather Wolf looked at his triplet grandsons: white, grey and black, each with hopeful eyes as large as dinner plates. He chuckled. "Certainly, Nathan, my boy. What would you young'uns like to hear?"

"I wanna battle story with swords!" The black wolf pup danced around the livingroom with his imaginary sword hacking at invisible foes. He looked just like his mother.

"You picked last time, Jeremy." Nathan watched his brother's act with an annoyed glare. "Tell a story about monsters, Grampa." He bounced, while holding Grandfather Wolf's paw.

"No way!" Jeremy's game ended with a grimace at Nathan, his black ears laid back. "You picked before me."

The aged wolf chuckled again, facing the young white pup, the mirror of his father. "So I suppose it's your turn, Ryan." He lifted the whelp onto his lap. "What story would you like to hear?"

He thought for a moment, chewing on a fuzzy finger. "How about one with a battle and monsters?"

"Excellent choice, m'boy." Grandfather Wolf cleared his throat while Nathan and Jeremy arranged themselves at his feet.

"Nothing too scary, Dad." Mother Wolf called from the kitchen, a wet plate in one black paw, a dish rag in the other.

Grandfather turned his head toward the kitchen. "And that's why I'm glad you were mindful enough to have boys, daughter'o'mine. They don't scare as easily as you did."

Her repressed laughter filtered in from the kitchen, but she continued washing dishes without a word. She kept one black ear angled toward the livingroom while she worked.

"Now let's see." Grandpa scratched his silver chin. "Have I ever told you about the Achephali?"

All three pups shook their head. Their eyes wide, with ears turned forward in interest.

"Well, the Achephali were giant men. All skin and no fur, just some bristle hairs like a hog. They were large with huge muscles on their arms and legs, but where their head would be, was completely flat."

"Where'd they keep their head, Grampa?" Ryan asked.

"Achephali had their face on their chest, over their big pec muscles. They weren't the brightest of creatures, but they were great warriors, because they were hard to kill."

"How come?" Nathan lay on his stomach, head propped up on his paws.

"They wore big iron vests over their chests, but in order to see they had a grate over the face."

Jeremy perked up with a knowing grin. "Like a knight's helmet?"

"Just like it, but over their chests."

"But," Ryan tugged at, Grampa's, shirt sleeve, "If they were so great, how come they're not around any more?"

Mother Wolf intruded, sitting on the couch, a cup of tea in her black paws. "All right you little chatter boxes. Pipe down and let, Grampa, tell his story."

Grampa smiled and continued. "Well, the Achephali used to get hired for all sorts of things, but they were best at war. On the battlefield no one could touch them, they'd just smash their way through armies like they were squashable bugs. Most of the time you only faced one or two, but once a whole army showed up to do battle with the fearsome lupine army of yore.

The lupines protected their families for generations, learning from their feral days of great strength in numbers, and built a grand cities to keep the wolves safe. Life prospered and citizens were happy.

But the jealous King Squirrel despised the wolves' unity, for constant bickering plagued the squirrel's kingdom. Wanting to cause problems for the lupines, he spent his entire treasury to hire an army of Achephali to invade the lupine cities. The Achephali were easily bought and soon marched toward lupine land.

If it wasn't for the sentries, Gods only know what may have happened. The first few wolves who spotted the Achephali -- armed to the shoulders, wearing their impenetrable metal vests -- sent warning to the cities that an attacking force moved toward them.

Sending out their lupine troops to meet with the Achephali, the two lines of foes faced each other across a green field, miles from the wolves' city.

With a great war cry, the Achephali advanced on the wolves, swinging their weapons like wild animals.

Refusing to fall without a fight, the wolves sent volleys of arrows at the Achephali. Their missiles sliced through the air and right through the slits of the Achephali's armor. Some were blinded and in their panic, smashed their weapons into the other warriors. They'd start fighting with each other and be too distracted to attack the wolves. Some would simply fall down, dead. But the rest had been paid to fight, and they continued to advance on the wolves.

The Achephali's numbers were so low that when the two armies collided, the wolves had the advantage. Thanks to the skill of the archers, within days the entire Achephali army had been destroyed, and the wolves rejoiced in their victory. Once again the lupine races were safe.

When King Squirrel's kingdom learned what he had done, they banished him and elected a new ruler. The jealous king wandered the countryside and was never heard from again."

The front door creaked open and Father Wolf came into the livingroom, a smile on his foggy-white face. He kissed his wife then smiled at Grampa. "Seems like I missed story time." He eyed the triplets: Jeremy and Nathan curled up and asleep on the floor, Ryan nestled in Grampa's lap, a thumb in his muzzle.

"Yet you've just made it for bedtime," Mother said squeezing her husbands paw before getting off the couch to lift Nathan into her arms.

Father gathered up Jeremy, and Grampa carried Ryan. The three wolves took the pups upstairs and tucked them in bed.

The End


Author's Notes:

I wasn't a fan of this creature, so I gave it to a family of wolves for a round of story time. In the book an Acephali is a creature without a head, with its features situated in its chest. According to Herodotus and Josephus (I have no idea who these people are or were, the book wasn't specific) the Acephali lived in Libya.

Thanks for reading.