Lake Tritonis

Finalist of the “One Thousand Nights and Awakening” literary contest


Gilisia is a magical land that is said to have been forged by the wind from Eden that Eve stole when she was banished together with our father Adam to God’s backyard. Afterward, it was inherited by the descendants of her pious children.

The story goes that this idyllic spot was controlled by a ferocious dragon with insatiable bloodlust. Everyone shuddered with horror; fear stroke into people’s hearts and spread throughout the realm like cancer. The harsh punishments meted out to the nation made people lose their strength and lashed them into serfdom. They endured the humiliation in deathly silence and competed against one another to cater to the dragon’s demand for the most precious goods such fertile land had to offer. They delivered until the sources had been drained almost to the last drop. They roamed through green and yellow fields up to the point where their legs would hold their weights no longer. They had no wealth left and fell sick from pure exhaustion. Their silence shattered their dreams and those who had been hoping to throw the dragon off a cliff to crush the injustice and reveal the truth before the flames it shot out of its mouth burned everything to the ground had their patience torn asunder by their fear.

The moment arrived when the misery simply became unbearable and someone decided to show some courage by rising up and challenging his grim fate. However, it didn’t just stop there, because his intrepid actions had kindled a revolution, which was now racing through the veins of the oppressed. They gathered and built up alliances until they formed one single body ready to take down any opposition they might encounter. Thereupon, the dragon surrendered and deemed it wise to retreat to a mountain lying in a far-off corner of the world. Every single soul rejoiced at the pleasant-tasting victory and the regained freedom. Surges of elation overflowed across the realm once again.

However, it was not long before they were ablaze with fury. They assembled, discussed, argued, and finally agreed on the importance of appointing another tyrant willing to make them savor their fears and proclivity for feeling degraded. That’s how the time-worn ghoul was elected to sit on the throne of the dingy kingdom.

Over the course of the elections, everyone swore to refrain from revealing the truth and to silently pray to God for him to prolong the abomination’s life.

Sitting by the shore of Lake Tritonis was Sathania, the beauty of the realm, surrounded by her maids. Butterflies fluttered around the palms of her hands and flowers bent over to listen to the sad tune of her ballads while tears glistening with the sheen of pearls rolled down her marmoreal cheeks.

As soon as the mischievous trout Shansouma realized how much pain her friend was in, she didn’t hesitate to ask her for the reason behind all her suffering. Sathania sighed and poured out her heart to her.

“Haven’t you heard about the outrageous tragedy that has befallen the country now that the ghoul has drifted into a deep sleep?”

The trout sighed before answering with a quavering voice, “The birds from Gilisia told us about the atrocities the ravens have perpetrated, which have set the whole country on fire.”

Silence reigned. Subsequently, the old turtle raised her voice and said, “Legend has it that this earth is doomed to die the moment blood is spilled on the ground.”

Fear stepped up Sathania’s heartbeat, causing her to shiver. She allowed her imagination to show her the savagery that had just swept the country and could not help but burst into tears again. Her sob of despair split their hearts.

All of a sudden, a violent riot erupted in the lake. Raven troops approached, dragging the bodies of humans that had fallen prey to them up the shore, where they thereupon killed them all.

Immediately afterward, a strong wind picked up. It made the trees quiver and the birds fall from the sky as if they were junk.

The blood shed generated loud red waves, which slowly flooded the grassland and dyed the crystal-clear waters of the lake. The gale-force wind howled and made every being shake with fear. It buffeted the small kingdom, drying up rivers and lakes and searing conscience. All signs of life ceased and the lake was replaced with a salty soil that drowned anyone who, unaware of the secret it kept, dared to step over it. At its edge now stretch vast tracts of barren desert land only inhabited by the fata morgana of a beauty bathing in the lake.

Written by Amina Zaoui.

Choose your own adventure

Our language drives us to pursue the fata morgana of a beauty bathing in a lake

a) but also keeps us from finding our way around the reality before us.

b) in the desert.