the Amazon & The Tar Golem
a bedtime story

Shampoo stretched out and regarded the child blinking up at her with blue eyes.

"Story time?" The toddler asked in a clear voice, not demanding, merely asking.

"Yes, Shampoo think so. Which one, which one. Shampoo know many many stories from growing up. Mother was healer in village, know many many tales and stories she tell to Shampoo." Shampoo pondered for a moment.

"Ah, Shampoo know. Once, one thousand nine hundred year ago, was only one Amazon village. Were many monsters and bandits in area, provide much good training for Amazon warriors.

"Also was one place, known as Lonely Tower. There live very powerful wizard."

Shanma blinked up at his mother. "Was he evil wizard?"

Shampoo shook her head. "No. Not *evil* wizard. Very powerful but little bit crazy from being lonely all time. No have anyone talk to, no have anyone trust. He jilted by many many women where he come from, so he not trust women especially. One great Elder approach Tower one day to sell vegetables and find out what powerful wizard do there."

"And they fought?"

"No, they no fight. Least not way you mean. Elder figure out what going on, and make deal with wizard. Each year, wizard get soldier or summon champion. Each year, one Amazon fight champion. If wizard win, then Amazon work for wizard for next year. Wizard can trust Amazon for that year, get someone to talk to, not be as crazy. This way Amazon village also get some protection from wizard, as he want to keep warriors coming. If wizard lose, then he have to make magic treasure for Amazon village.

"This where Nanban Mirror and many Amazon treasure come from. Amazon womens have much pride, they no lose easy even when wizard summon up many powerful opponent. So sometime wizard win, sometime Amazon win. It all depend on many things.

"Sometime Amazon get treasure even when lose. Wizard funny like that. Depends on what happen during year of service. Was good arrangement, maybe.

"Then come time when wizard fall in love. Was terrible thing to happen, because Amazon he fall in love with no love him back. She very proud, very fierce, very strong warrior name of Ti Li.

"Wizard want challenge her, but can only do once per year. Was agreement, and all in village know. All in village also know wizard really love Ti. Ti no care, because Ti no like weak men. She proper Amazon that way. First year, wizard summon powerful minotaur. Was man three times size of Amazon, with head of bull, fists like hooves, very strong. Ti beat minotaur. Second year, wizard summon powerful dragon. Was very fierce fight, but Ti win. Third year, wizard cast spell and make duplicate of Ti. Even more long and fierce battle, but Ti win anyway.

"Ti getting plenty mad at this point. She win even against strong opponent because wizard not fighting all out. Each thing try to capture or restrain Ti, not fight with all strength. Ti no like."

"Wizard not want to hurt her," Shanma said, blinking.

"Yes. But Ti feel he not take her seriously. So Wizard stuck, how to do? Finally he come up with plan. He take tar from tar pits, sculpt a statue, enchant it. Wizard call this a Tar Golem. Ti see this thing and get even more angry. It look ridiculous, move slowly. How dare Wizard insult womans of Amazon village by using such silly champion to fight her?

"Scheduled fight come, and Ti attack with broadsword. Cleave deep into Tar Golem but sword stuck. Golem still moving. Ti back off but still no concerned. She wait, then use bo stick. Golem move now, and grabs Ti. Ti tries to break free by using foot to press against body, but Golem very sticky and begin flowing over her. Ti foot stuck in Golem chest and hand stuck in Golem arm. Ti realize now what Wizard do. More you attack, more problems you has. She could have avoided Golem and waited it out.

"Ti screaming many many words is not OK for young one to hear. She not happy camper. She try pull leg out, arm go in further, she try pull arm out, leg go in further. She stop struggling but not give up fight. She call out to Azure, her Second in fight for new weapon -fire.

"Everyone plenty unhappy at this, but Azure bring torch. If Ti use, then she defeat Golem but Ti likely die as she stuck in tar. She ready go out fighting, cursing Wizard with last breath. Wizard see this and he call off fight. He ready pack and leave. No fight Ti, no fight Amazon no more.

"Ti get much grief from many Amazons. Wizard not bad fellow, just get hung up on wrong girl. Ti go to tower, this time she challenge him. No wizard. Ti really upset now. Confess to Elders she not really dislike Wizard, just not want fights to end. Ti enjoy fights. Ti enjoy fights too much."

"So what happen to Ti? What happen to Wizard?"

"Wizard gone. Never seen, never heard from again. Ti live in village, become Champion. Get older but no wiser. Live many many years, spend all time alone, get old and still alone. First she too good for males to beat, then no males challenge, she live long time and fight many battles but die cold and alone and nobody love her at end. So you know what Ti story supposed to tell us?"

The child screwed his face up. "That sometime you can win, but still lose?"

Shampoo nodded. "Is so. Is good to win fight, but have to know when time to lose."


gregg sharp