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The God Gig

2006-07-09 00:40

  During the reign of King Hung there lived a woman who had never married. When the sun rose one morning she went to her small garden, and to her surprise found an enormous footprint. In the middle of it was a single tomato seed.

  “Oh, how big it is,” she cried in wonderment. “Surely such a mark could only have been left by a giant.”

  Eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and hesitantly she placed her own tiny foot in the huge imprint to compare the sizes. Her whole body quivered as she felt a strange sensation surge through it, and in the passage of time she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy whom she named Gig.

  She loved him dearly and cared for him well, but when he was three years old he could not speak, sit up or even roll onto his side.

  It was at that time that the armies of invaded the realm of King Hung. The vicious interlopers razed villages, slaughtered the people and ravaged the countryside. In vain did the brave warriors of the nation sacrifice themselves to protect their beloved country, and the barbaric hordes spread further and further across the kingdom.

  The king sent messengers throughout the land seeking one who could save the people in their time of peril. In due course one of them arrived at the village of Gig and his mother.

  When the aged woman learned of the purpose of the visit of the king's courier she joked with her child. “Oh my love,” she whispered, “perhaps you, who are so slow to learn to speak and to walk, will one day be strong enough to save us from the armies of .”

  To her astonishment the child sat up and spoke for the first time. “Mother, please invite the messenger into our home.” Then he fell silent again.

  The woman was both confused and happy, and she rushed to her neighbors to tell them of the miraculous happening. “What should I do? What should I do?” she asked nervously.

  Everyone considered the event most remarkable, and after much discussion one old villager advised, “Invite the messenger into your home. Then we will know what the child wants.”

  When the messenger entered the house he was shocked and angry. “What foolishness is this?” he demanded. “This is only a child. How dare you waste the time of the king's messenger with such stupidity. I will ……”

  “Silence!” Gig spoke again in a stern and commanding voice. “Tell the king to have made a suit of iron armor and an iron helmet fit for a warrior ten truong tall. Say to him also that he must have crafted an iron sword that many soldiers cannot lift, and, to bear this burden, a giant horse of iron.”

  Such was the authority in the child's voice, and such was the aura that surrounded him, that the messenger knew this was no mortal. He sped to the king to tell him of the divine instruction.

  The king ordered that all of the iron in the citadel be collected and that mighty forges be built. Long did the smiths and the armorers labor, using all their strength and cunning to create as never before. The night skies were made bright by the sparks from their anvils, and the air was filled with the ringing of their great hammers on the true metal. When they were finished, twelve strong men could not lift the sword, and many were needed to carry all the armaments to the child Gig.

  When she heard of the approach of the jubilant host the mother was distraught. “The task of saving this country is not a joke,” she rebuked her son. “The multitude bearing that which you requested draws ever nearer, but you are still a child who cannot walk.”

  Gig rose to his feet and spoke. “Do not distress yourself beloved mother. All you have to do is bring as much food as I can eat. Then you will see a change.”

  His mother prepared a large jar of rice which he ate in the blink of an eye. Then another, and another, until the house was barren of food. As he ate he grew, and as he grew the neighbors brought jar after jar of rice and much fruit, meat, and vegetables to help him grow even more.

  Gig spoke again. “My mother, I must have some clothing.”

  The villagers brought woven cloth and fashioned garments, but so quickly did he grow that they had to enlarge them again and again.

  When the soldiers and servant of the king arrived bearing their precious load Gig stepped from his mother's house and spread his shoulders. Before them stood a giant ten truong tall.

  “I am the Son of Heaven,” he cried in a thunderous voice.

  Donning the cunningly wrought armor and the massive helm he grasped the mighty sword and sprang onto the great horse. Instantly it was filled with life and the ground trembled at its snorting. As Gig lightly touched his heels to its flanks the steed reared and breathed forth flames and smoke. With a great bound they soared over the villages and fields towards the armies of .

  In brief moments they were among the enemy in their camp in the forest. Mighty were the blows of the blade of Gig as it flashed with lightning strokes, slaying the foe in droves. He struck time and time again and his terrible horse breathed fire onto the tents and huts of the , turning them into bright, glowing pyres. A great fear was in the hearts of the barbarians.

  The general urged more and more of his men into the fight, but with each approaching wave Gig became stronger.

  So often and so powerful were his blows that even a blade forged by the greatest craftsmen in the land could not endure. The glorious iron snapped at the hilt. Without pause Gig tore a massive bamboo from the earth and belabored his foes with even more deadly strokes.

  Their spirits broke and they fled. The vengeful Gig pursued them until he had slain their general, and the remaining few had humbled themselves before him. In half of one day Gig had conquered the invaders.

  His task finished, the god guided his horse to the Soc Mountains. There he put aside the armor of iron and the great war helm, and softly touching his heels to the flanks of the fiery steed flew towards the heavens.

  Today, traces of the marks of the hooves of the wondrous beast remain as ponds in the villages of Kim Ang and 坏 Ph秈, which nestle in the Soc Mountains. There is also a village called L C(Burnt Village) which, people say, is near where Gig and his fiery steed wreaked vengeance on those who disturbed the peace of the homeland.

  A Legend from Vietnam

  retold by Vo Van Thang and Jim Lawson and edited by D. L. Ashliman

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