All the men from the Xinkarrpour tribe were out in search of food one day.
These tribesmen were an intriguing breed of people. Though they were rather diminutive and lean, they possessed incredible pace and strength. The secret to their power was found in their unique diet – they only ate durians, a large green fruit with a shell of thorns that protects the golden nuggets of flesh hidden beneath.
Legend has it that the Xinkarrpour tribe were on the brink of extinction many years ago after their lands were struck by famine. It was only when a titan by the name of Murlaiyen descended upon Earth were they saved. Murlaiyen was said to have conjured up a vast field of durians blessed with supernatural qualities.
It has already been 500 years since that fateful day, and the durian field is no longer as fertile as it once was. Yields have been dropping through the years and the hunters knew that this current harvest would not be enough to feed everyone back at the village.
Upon reaching the field, one man by the name of Lemmeeatwatiwant spotted a cherry bush and excitedly made his way toward it. He carefully plucked a cherry from the bush and inspected the tiny red fruit, rotating it in every possible direction, before popping it into his mouth.
Some members of the tribe gasped in horror.
“What in Murlaiyen’s name are you doing???” they yelled in unison.
“Erm, I’m eating a cherry,” replied Lemmeeatwatiwan.
“I’m just a little tired of eating durians all the time. I realised that after I started eating cherries, I stopped getting nose bleeds and my complexion has improved.”
“I’m trying to find a mate. You know, get laid? Pimples scare the women away.”
A bunch of tribesmen huddled and whispered frantically to one another. One of them by the name of Mywayorthehiway, the strongest hunter in the Xinkarrpour who was well-known for his ability to scare even the wildest of beasts with his thundering voice, walked up to Lemmeeatwatiwan and stared the latter down.
“You fool! Cherries will kill you! Do you not know that they could be poisonous?”
Nonchalantly, Lemmeeatwatiwan plucked more cherries from the bush and ate them. He loved how the juice squirted in every direction within his mouth as he clenched his teeth. The blend of sweet and sour, coupled with a slightly acidic sensation, thoroughly invigorated him. He had not had anything like it because he had only eaten durians his entire life.
Another tribesman named Yaimsibeikaypo soon tried to dissuade Lemmeeatwatiwan from his cherry-popping ways.
“My dear Lemmeeatwatiwan, durians have been our sustenance for many years now. Why have you turned from it?” he said.
“It is too rich for me. The texture is uninteresting and recently the smell of its flesh has started to make me sick. You don’t get all that with a cherry,” replied Lemmeeatwatiwan.
“But the durian is the King of Fruits! It is a phenomenal source of vitamins, potassium and dietary fiber! This is the best food for us! Also, we need to eat it because it gives us strength. And with strength we will be able to defend our lands and make our women happy. Besides, your criticism about its taste, texture and smell is unjustified because I think the durian is absolutely delicious!” said Yaimsibeikaypo.
A whole bunch of tribesmen soon joined in.
“Are you sure cherries are as good as you think they are?”
“It is possible to prove that durians are smelly, but you’re going to need to be more competent in demonstrating it.”
“You obviously are too weak to eat the durian.”
“You are a fool. It’s not the durian’s fault for being smelly and rich in taste. All fruits will eventually be like that.”
Dazed by the cacophony of jarring voices, Lemmeeatwatiwan took a deep breath and replied: “Well, have any of you eaten a cherry before?”
There was a collective gasp. The men shook their heads and covered their ears in horror.
“We have! And we agree with Lemmeeatwatiwan. It’s safe and it’s delicious. Actually, to be honest, not all of us like durians,” said another group within the tribesmen.
“Insolence! You impure outcasts will be punished by the wrath of Murlaiyen!” roared Mywayorthehiway. His outburst promptly fell all those standing before him.
“You are all whiners! If it’s so damn smelly just pinch your nose and swallow it. If you hate the texture, just swallow it too. Whatever it is, just swallow the damn thing!”
Lemmeeatwatiwan squinted his eyes as he tried to make sense of what was being said. He was surprised at how Mywayorthehiway and some of his tribesmen had taken so unkindly so his personal views about a fruit.
“Well, don’t you dare come running back to the durian when your cherries are not in season!” retorted Yaimsibeikaypo, as he edged closer toward Mywayorthehiway.
“Actually, if there aren’t any more cherries left to eat, I’ll just eat the apples, or maybe the oranges. Look, I don’t hate the durian, but I’d prefer a change in taste for now,” said Lemmeeatwatiwan.
There was another collective gasp.
“You…you…you’ve eaten apples and oranges before?? Impossible! We are supposed to be allergic to these foreign fruits!”” said Yaimsibeikaypo, who was overwhelmed with part disbelief and part admiration.
“I hope you choke on those damn cherries and apples and oranges then! You are who you are today because of the durian. You do not insult what has been bestowed to us!” bellowed Mywayorthehiway.
A rock then flew out of nowhere and hit Mywayorthehiway on his forehead.
“We’re sick and tired of you and your fellow durian eaters! Get out of that well that you’re stuck in!” said Lemmeeatwatiwan’s supporters.
Stunned by the sudden outburst, Mywayorthehiway hissed at his detractors before looking around to see if he was indeed standing in a well. He then drew his spear and adopted an aggressive stance, as if ready to strike down his peers.
Standing some distance from the ongoing argument was a third group of men, all of whom were unimpressed with whatever was happening. They were the tribe’s shapeshifters, descendants of the handful of Xinkarrpour people who mated with the invading druids many centuries ago. Though they were immune to the powers of the durian, these druids were nonetheless powerful individuals who could morph into vicious beasts.
“There they go. Fighting over nothing again. I wonder what our druid forefathers saw in these simple tribesmen,” said the pack leader, Idonfarkincare.
“Erm. Our forefathers were probably just horny, you know?” replied another druid.
“This harvest is taking too long. I need to be home before the sun sets,” said Idonfarkincare.
He approached the two groups of tribesmen and transformed into a giant eagle, swooping over Mywayorthehiway and disarming him.
“Mywayorthehiway. You would strike down your own people simply because they do not agree with you? Preposterous! You are a worthless being!”
“And you, Lemmeeatwatiwan. You complain too much. There is no such thing as the perfect fruit. Actually, it’s not even about the fruit. It’s about YOU. Be one with nature. Be at peace with yourself and your surroundings. And anything will taste good.”
A silence fell upon the group as everyone started to ponder on the words of the druid. There was a soft growl and a patch of darkness flashed past the feet of the tribesmen. It was Mywayorthehiway, who had dispossessed another hunter of his spear and was now charging toward Idonfarkincare in a cloud of dust.
“How dare you side with the cherry popper, you half breed!” yelled Mywayorthehiway as he hurled the spear at the druid, who managed to evade the projectile in the nick of time.
A bloody brawl broke out with Lemmeeatwatiwan in the midst of it all. He fell to the ground and curled himself up, wishing to take no part in the violence. Blood was shed, heads were severed and innards were spilled.
After what seemed like an eternity of fighting, Lemmeeatwatiwan picked himself up and discovered that he was the sole survivor. He looked down at the cherry still in his palm. Covered in dirt and slightly squashed, it resembled what was now left of Mywayorthehiway’s head.
“Oh my god. Did I kill all the men in the tribe??” said Lemmeeatwatiwan, who was visibly shaken by the turn of events.
But a wave of excitement suddenly surged through him. With a shrug of the shoulders and a snort of bemusement, he threw the cherry away and ran toward the durian forest, harvesting as many of the thorny fruits as he could.
“Woohoo!” exclaimed Lemmeeatwatiwan.
“I’m definitely gonna be popping some cherries tonight!”