Menagerie Finding El Dorado
Menagerie Finding El Dorado
Finding El Dorado
April 28, 2014
April 28, 2014

Tereynz Mendoza

The lust for gold is immortal.


They speak of a kingdom akin to El Dorado.


As the sun melts and casts shadows upon the stony path, wisps of bittersweet nicotine float between the gnarled branches of old – beckoning and luring in the most innocent and naïve of travellers into the shadows, until they are heard of no more. Tendrils of darkness have been known to claw and scratch at the lone traveller. The road coils and twists towards the horizon without any promise of an end.


Out of the kingdom’s depths come forth legends and folklores that tarry men from entering it. Tales of far and yonder have poured forth from lips drenched in the sweet honey of the rarest vintage, and wizened hags recount the enchantments that lay within its depths. Truly, no one has heard speak of horrors more terrifying; more so of the delicacies it offers that tease the mind with the promise of exquisite flavours. It is going to be a treacherous journey, but the lure of riches is far more seductive than anything prudence has to offer.


Sadly, the realization that patience is as much a weapon in this journey as a gleaming sword comes too late.


Danger confronts thee


The path is bone-dry – footfalls echo behind and stir up dust. Nomads stumbling past remain ignored. The road cracks and bends at the merest drop of rain; before long, one’s socks are soaked to the soles. Once in a while, wagons and carriages are seen trundling down the path – and one has to jump to the wayside to avoid getting splashed by muddy water.


Those carriages are nasty, roaring things that suddenly pop out of nowhere. The royals within infuriate with their deafening shrieks and their cruel jibes. Even the train from afar grates on the nerves – a huge, mechanical thing that whirs and clicks and stains the pure air with inky smoke.


In the cool of the night, they become visible – hulking masses with long overcoats and pipes dangling from their lips. They never lose their pipes – the bitter scent of smoke overwhelms to the brink of intoxication. They are feared to be cutthroats whose domain lie within the shadows, but mercifully, they leave the traveller alone – hinting at nothing but gleaming eyes and a sneer whenever one stares for a second too long at their nicotine patches.


The blood thrills at danger, and strangely enough, the traveller likes it — relishes it even.


The kingdom?


All that glitters is not gold, writes Shakespeare, his words reverberating throughout generations, a gentle vanguard from the material pleasures of the world. The words are grasped by the traveller in the manner with which a drowning man clutches at the air. Exhausted and irritable, he stumbles along the whispered realm only to be faced with utter disappointment — no gold. Instead, he is greeted with an array of pubs.


“Pubs?” the bitter wanderer shrieks. “I am not Irish; why would I want a pub?”  He rants: “I have performed aerobic feats that would have put Robin Hood to shame, endured more than a boyfriend forced to watch The Notebook to please his girlfriend has, and all I get is an array of crummy pubs!”


“Anoanggustomongkainin?” a voice calls out.


“Excuse me?” The traveller is alarmed and whips around, his sword raised.


“I said, what will you eat, or are you just going to stand there like a stoned dragon blocking my customers?”


The pub keeper eyes the wanderer from head to toe, judging him from his torn and ragged attire.


“Er, I…um, what? Is this El Dorado?”


“El Dorado? That kingdom came out in the early 2000’s, constructed by Lord DreamWorks. It was a major flop though, all because of Lord Disney. Him and his cheap entertainment aimed at younglings who choose not to grow up – bah!” spits the pub keeper.


“So… the gold?” the wanderer’s heart begins to flutter with hope.


“Gold?” the pub keeper’s eyes glisten suspiciously. “Before we get to that, why don’t you…refresh yourself?”


Ushering his confused guest in, the pub keeper lays before him a buffet of roasted duck, baskets of the finest berries, nectar to rival those of the gods, and wine that would make Dionysus green with envy. The traveller’s tongue wags, and he devours all that is set before him.


“My, this is delicious!” he exclaims, taking no heed of proper eating habits.


“You would need to pay though,” the pub keeper says innocently, to whom the traveller tosses a few gold coins.


“Well, I’d best be off,” he heartily says. “What is the name of this Kingdom, so that I may recommend it to my fellow villagers?”


“The Kingdom of Agno.”


“Ah, indeed. Agno — the kingdom to rival the treasures of Diagon Alley and the splendour of Mount Olympus! Truly, beyond the danger lies the dream,” the wanderer wistfully smiles. As he marches on to defeat the dragon named Accounting, he stops. “What was it,” he muses, “that I was looking for when I first went to El Dorado?”


He shrugs, going on his way, as the last rays of the setting sun glimmer in the gold upon the pub keeper’s hands.