For millennia it has been customary for men and women going to war to taunt their enemies before battle, and their enemies would taunt them in reply. Sadly, this rich tradition has faded in the modern era. Now, a small but growing cadre of fly anglers are bringing back this proud custom. These are their stories.
Alex, House Cerveniak
In time, Alex, of the House of Cerveniak, did sally forth in the spring of the year that he might seek the bluegill. And he approached a body of water that he might cast his fly, the work of his own hands. Then the bluegills came forth that they might see what his business was there, for every bluegill is constable and councilman wherever he resides. When Alex approached the waters they arrayed themselves against him and spoke “Who are you, and why are you here?”
And Alex replied to them “I am Alex, of the house of Cerveniak. It is the season of Aster. Communion sacrifices to Astarte are incumbent upon me, and so I have come to seek you, the bluegill, that I may offer you up to Astarte that she may grant my garden to grow, and that I may feed my young children.”
But the bluegills replied “What have we to do with you, and who is your goddess Astarte that we must offer ourselves up that your young children may take their sup?” And they did not consent to take his flies.
But Alex was a great magician, and he cast spells upon his flies that he might confuse the bluegills so that they must fall to him, and many began to take his flies. With that they began to cry out to their king, Macrochirus, that he might deliver them from the hand of Alex of Cerveniak.
Macrochirus now heard their outcries, and he left his mat of weeds and swam out to meet Alex. And approaching him he lifted up his voice. “O Alex, of the house of Cerveniak, why have you come here, and why do you trouble my people that they cry out to me?”
With that Alex replied, “It is not to these little ones that I have come, but it is to you, O Macrochirus, that I have come, that I may offer sacrifices to my goddess Astarte, that my garden may grow and I might feed my young children.”
And Macrochirus answered him “The servants of Ishtar have become many these days, and many are the men wishing to offer the flesh of my children to Ish-shah. So why should I come out to you? The bass and the pike seek me out—and yet I am not afraid. If you were to pick me up, I would pierce your palm with my fin. So why should I fear you? Are there no perch left in the lakes that you must disturb my people? Have you eaten all the smelts that now you must come to my people for them to be consumed? Your young ones have gone astray; and due to your idleness your garden lies untilled, and must my people fill your empty table also?”
Now Alex was greatly displeased with the words of Machrochirus, and he cast even greater spells upon his flies, and he worked great magic in that day so that even Macrochirus was fooled by his flies. And Macrochirus turned sideways that he might turn away from the fly, but he was hooked, and presently Alex brought him to hand.
But seeing Macrochirus, Alex was moved with pity, and he did lift up his proverbial utterance. “This day I have seen you Macrochirus, and this day I have touched your scales. For you are the most pleasant of fishes, and your scales are the most iridescent of those who swim with fins.” With that he let Macrochirus go, and taking the fishes he had, he went to his home and took communion with Astarte. And his garden did grow luxuriantly, and his young children were fed.