Killing the Last Hero: A Prologue by Francesca Quarto

Published on by Francesca Quarto

How I came to be the unofficial biographer for the life and times of Patrice Amundi is for another story entirely.  For now, I am simply concerned with telling you about the last hero of our hard won Revolution.  Though our country is barely a speck on your maps, and even less in your memory, it is a place of great beauty and magic to us Farlanders.  It would be best if I use this Prologue to share a very brief history of our island.

It was named Farland by the rather unimaginative man who discovered our Paradise, sweltering under the sun and fanned by cool ocean breezes.  His name was also Patrice Amundi, but he was the first of that name. He was from a very distant time and place, and after his arrival here, he planted a flag of his own design, along with seed of his own loins.  One, in the rich black earth; the other, in the barmaid, Matilda, who fled with him from an unknown scrub-town along the Ivory Coast after an altercation involving coin and carnal acts   Folklore tells of Matilda giving Patrice five sons and six daughters, before dying of sheer exhaustion from the demands made on her body.  It seems Patrice was determined to populate his island with as many offspring as possible.  Fortunately, none of the siblings found any among their numbers attractive enough to couple with, so no morons were produced, though his two youngest sons were questionable.

After Matilda was set adrift on the outgoing tide, a clean way of disposing of mates still today, Patrice set sale for other islands they had roughly noted on their first voyage.  He then proceeded to lure or kidnap many young men and girls off these outliers and bring them back with the help of those five strapping sons and two rather plump daughters.  The sons provided needed muscle if  the girls charms failed to convince resisters.

Once home on Farland (again, a truly bland name for our fair isle) Amundi set himself the task of matching mates with the new arrivals, relying, it is said, on no more than who got caught first by an excited mate-to-be.  There are stories of recalcitrant participants among the non-Amundi group, but never mind that. I'm not writing this to stir your prurient interests.  In the end, all were matched, wedded and so on and so forth!  Babies began popping up all over Farland, strapped to the backs of all five wives and the six Amundi daughters.  In due course as these things go, these children grew and found suitable mates and the cycle continued until the island of Farland was bursting at the seams with progeny!

Over the following generations there was always a Patrice Amundi to be found. And like their name-sake, they all carried the spirit of adventure, or as some might say, they were scoundrels.  It is the last of these Patrice Amundi that I serve as Recording Historian of his life.  My work is stuffed like a Cornish hen on Farland Patriots Day, with tasty morsels and tidbits of astonishing avarice, immorality, rampant egoism, and a dash of mysterious deaths or exiles of any perceived enemies.  Meticulous investigating on my part turned over several mossy rocks, revealing wormy schemes for expunging rivals.  Stephen Agape was one such rival and I shall start and finish this Prologue with him.

Just as his family name implies, Stephen was filled with love for his kinfolk, his role of Healer and for Farland, the home his ancestors helped to carve-out from the wild jungle island.  Though never elevated to the status of high command, every Agape clan Elder was like an appointed guardian of the people during every generation of Amundi leadership.  The Amundi dynasty never went unchallenged, or totally unchecked as long as there was a living Agape Elder to speak for the people. This vigorous defense of the voiceless among the populace, was met with arrogant disregard from the first Patrice Amundi,to this current one, when Stephen Agape's voice of dissent had the ring of iron behind it.

Men and women armed themselves with every kind of conceivable weapon and at the word of Stephen Agape, stormed the mud-daubed walls of the Amundi Compound.  The bodies of Amundi's elite Homeland Guard, were strewn like wheat chaff across the ground.  The whole of the Amundi clan was snuffed out until only Patrice was left.  Battered and stripped naked, he was taken prisoner for public execution.

Now, dear reader, you may assume Patrice met a gruesome demise at the end of a pitchfork, or several,  but alas, that was not to be.  He was placed in the village square on a pile of faggots and cow dung.  The leader of this coupe, Stephen Agape, addressed the crowd with stirring words of forgiveness and the solemnity of life.  He told them enough blood had been shed and freedom from tyranny was planted in the hearts of all now and forever.  His words brought tears to the eyes of some among the blood-spattered mob.  Stephen placed his arm in a forgiving gesture around Patrice Amundi's hunched shoulders.  He hugged the sobbing despot to his chest, smiling up to the heavens.  That's when the excited Village Simpleton broke from the ranks of armed folk.  He ran forward, laughing heartily as he jammed a  burning brand over and over among the branches and dung.  The pile quickly burst into a conflagration before Stephen Agape could react. The crowd stared silently, watching the confused look of betrayal melt from Stephen's face into the orange flames.

So ended the life of the powerful Patrice Amundi, on a pile of cow turds and sticks.  Of course, it also ended the life of the Healer, Stephen Agape, at the hands of the Simpleton.  Thus l conclude this Prologue.  To this chronicler's eyes, this proves yet again, some idiot can always undo the careful judgement of the wise among us. 

Bernardo, Farland Keeper of Memories




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