The council was formed in the early hours of the morning while the sun was still low in the sky. Fourteen crabs were in attendance. Word had obviously gotten around. Claws were snipping and snapping incessantly as the crabs debated the motion that had been put forward by Crablord.
There had been an uneasy truce between the iguanas of the Rock Lands and the crabs of the Beach for some time. Neither liked to disturb the other. Some of the crabs brave enough to venture into the rocks had found themselves attacked by some of the birds who lived there — allies of the iguanas no doubt — who picked them up, dropped them from a great height, and then ate their insides after the shell had smashed.
Attacking the rocks would be dangerous, and they knew it. Many a crab would lose their life.
But things were different this time, for they now had Crablord. No bird could pick up Crablord and drop him from a great height. Further, Crablord seemed to have a way with the aerial species. His chief adviser was a parrot. Though the crabs were somewhat suspicious of those with wings, they trusted their leader to select his advisers judiciously. Jasper, judiciously selected, was perched on a branch a little way back from the beach, watching the action, and Crablord turned to look at him. Jasper nodded, and Crablord nodded back. He surveyed the crabs, snipping and snapping before him, and raised his hands for silence. The crabs duly turned and looked at him.
“My friends,” he began, “it has come to my attention that the iguanas are under threat in the Rock Lands. They have long been disturbed by the seals. They are desperate, but proud — pride is to be respected, for sure, but our fear of offending them should not put us off going to their aid. They are in desperate need of proper rule, and the security that comes with it. Look at what we have achieved here on the beaches.”
Crablord spread his arms wide, and the crabs responded with a clickity-clack of claws.
“We have peace, prosperity, and order. This has been my gift to you. But why should we be selfish? Are the iguanas undeserving? No. We should not allow them to punish themselves with their pride. We should bring them our civilisation, so that they might live like we.” A single crab snapped angrily, and Crablord turned to look at him. “What is in it for you, you say? Of course, I cannot ask you to help the iguanas and bring peace to the Rock Lands at complete cost to yourselves. No, your reward will be access to the natural resources that the rocks have to offer. Now, what say you? Shall we bring peace to the Rock Lands?”
There was a final wave of snipping and snapping, clicking and clacking, before Crablord put the motion forward.
“All in favour?”
Nothing. Crablord looked at the solitary crab.
One sole click.
The crabs hugged one another. Mothers bid farewell to sons, fathers standing resolute and unmoved, holding in their emotions.
Crablord watched on, holding back a tear, allowing himself to appreciate the sacrifices that these crabs were willing to make for the greater good of the island.
He stood, rising from his knees and leaving an imprint in the sand. He brushed sand from his legs and his torn, ragged shorts.
“Let us have it, then,” he said. Crablord turned, leading the vanguard of scuttling crabs behind him. He walked across the beach, his bare feet sinking softly into the sand with each stride. He held his head high, his mottled and shabby hair and beard blowing gently in the breeze. The wind, coming from the sea, cooled the red skin of his exposed torso.
The general and his troops marched onwards, leaving the sandy beach, curving around the island onto the pebbles. The pebbles transitioned into rocks, and soon they knew that they had entered enemy territory. This was the first official act of war. A surprise attack, though the iguanas, who would have picked up the chatter from the birds, must have expected it.
Crablord lead the way, climbing from rock to rock, moving high and low over the treacherous terrain. He was careful to avoid the slippery surfaces, covered as they were by seaweed, electing to tread on the rocks that had been baked in the sun, or which remained untouched by the tide. The crabs duly followed, slower, of course, but persistent. Crablord admired not just their bravery, but their tenacity, their willingness to follow their leader into battle.
Soon they reached the resting place of the iguanas. The iguanas, however, were not lounging in the sun as they so often did. No, they were dotted around, looking cautiously over their shoulders, and scuttling around nervously. What a pitiful lot they were, unable to rest and relax in their own homeland. Crablord looked intently at the reason for their disturbance. Several seals were sat on the rocks closest to the water. These were the smoother rocks that offered passage into the sea, and from which the iguanas liked to scuttled and dive into the cool, crystal waters. The seals barked and wharfed at the intruders. They did not like the look of Crablord and the crab army that was emerging behind him. Their posture turned aggressive, their grey bodies rising and falling as they turned to face this threat.
Crablord stared down at his enemy. Here he was, the great liberator, come to rescue the iguanas from this threat. Their debt to him would be paid in their servitude. They would be his new subjects. Crablord, Lord of the Rock Lands, Protector of the Iguanas. He took a breath, inhaling the sea air and centring himself. It would take all he had to bring freedom to these proud and destitute people.
Crablord began his attack, the crabs snipping and snapping their war cry behind him.
“Shoo!” He yelled, waving his arms at the seals. “Shoo! Shoo!”
The seals, startled, barked in bewilderment. The birds — gulls and finches who had been hopping around the rocks between the seals — shot up into the air, their wings flapping powerfully and noisily, adding to the din.
“Shoo!” Crablord kept yelling as he ran forwards, arms still high and flailing.
The seals, unable to withstand this onslaught, turned and fled. They waddled, flopped, slipped, and slid back into sea from whence they had came. Crablord stopped. The rocks were now clear. He had been victorious. For how long, only time would tell, for the seals were sure to return. But for now, he could present himself as saviour of the iguanas. He turned to face his new subjects, who had begun, in celebration, to return to the rocks. The crabs had already started playing in the rock pools.
“Friends, countrymen!” Crablord called. “We are now one island, one people, bound together by one law. I have brought you peace, democracy, and freedoms! Freedom of association, freedom of trade! You can now be the creatures you were born to be, free from threat. Iguanas and crabs, the Beach and the Rock Lands, together as one under my rule. My first order as ruler of this island will be to create a composite council, with representatives from the Rock Lands and the Beach. We can meet in neutral territory, in the Grass Lands at our island’s centre where I have my residence. Rejoice, friends, for you are now free, and the island now has peace!”
This last sentence was met with a cheer. The crabs splashed and snapped in the rock pools, the iguanas purred, rasped, and coughed, and the bird squawked as they returned to the rocks. Jasper flew across, sitting delicately on Crablord’s shoulder. He smiled at his adviser. Today had been a good day.
To support this blog, please consider making your next book purchase through IndieBound.org or Abebooks.com. Clicking on the banners and links below will take you through to their websites, where you can buy books and support independent book stores and online sellers. These are affiliate links, and clicking on them will connect your visit to their site with this blog. If you buy a book, I get a small commission, an independent book store gets a sale — and you get a new book!
Like this post? Enter your email address and hit subscribe for new reviews posted straight to your inbox!