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Aesop’s Forest

An old story retold in a modern dimension. Welcome to a 3-D world, where stop-motion animation, puppetry and video unite to tell the tale of a very scared little rabbit.

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Aesop’s Forest: The Hare Afraid of his Ears

 

The Tale

A great Lion once ruled a forest of brigand creatures. Quite a mix was never seen, until then or since. It’s not often a fox will cozy up to a llama, or a caiman trade snark with geese.

Lion was fair, instructing his huntresses to select only the weak or the elderly for his feasts. He understood the dear responsibility of his position, and only presumed to consume that which would keep his kin satisfied.

With some exceptions, of course.

One evening, Lion asked Lioness to bring him a fat goat, as his last meal had proven more decrepit in the shanks than he had liked. “Lioness, ensure that this beast is enough to satisfy me for this evening and for tomorrow. I must be strong to make the decisions vital for ensuring the protection of this forest.”

Lioness, knowing well that Lion ruled mainly through fear and intimidation, pulled her lips from the incisors that would bring dinner to heel. If Lioness could be said to smirk, her grimace meant mischief. “Yes, Lion, but the fatter they are, the longer they take to pass on… I can’t guarantee you will have an easy meal with such a beast.”

Lion had himself become fat, leading so sedentary a life. He hadn’t much to do as the only Lion, with his huntresses to kill for him and a forest of subservients.

“Nonsense,” he rumbled. “Let me rest and bring what I have requested.”

Lioness turned and dashed away. It took her little time to find her prey. The herd had settled in a clearing in the Western woods, grazing as goats do in the morning. None were so alert.

Lioness spotted a young buck, a likely yearling, and chose. He would suffice for his swinging gut and strong legs. She chose in mischief, too – such a meal might give old Lion the exercise he so dearly needed.

Lioness pounced from thicket’s edge. With deft paw, she bludgeoned her target behind his ridge of horns. The creature collapsed, and Lioness lifted him by neck’s nape as the rest of the herd fled through the bushes. He was more dense than she had imagined he would be. Perfect for Lion’s demand.

It took not long to return to Lion in his ruler’s glen. Lioness deposited the goat: “Lion, your meal. I’ve chosen as you have asked. And I have done better: this meat is still fresh. I only stunned him to bring him to you sooner. I would recommend swift death…”

“Thank you for the service, dear Lioness.”

She turned, and she left.

Lion had only woken, and langoured. He would deal with the goat, but first a stretch…

And his stretch disturbed the limp body of the goat, which was suddenly not so limp. The beast startled to life and, kicking back legs into the dirt, reared forward and lashed horns at the paws of the great feline. A chance jerk – Lion had one foreleg awry – and the billy’s left horn tore into Lion’s flesh.

Lion reared, roaring, and ripped the head from the goat.

Furious, the great beast howled a warning that echoed deep into the vast forest’s reaches:

“All animals here with horns, hear now, you flee this land tonight! Any such creatures left shall die!”

And upon Lion’s proclamation, all horned beasts fled. Buck urged Doe to join him. Horned Lizard reasoned none were too small to fear. And wise Horned Owl, well – his reputation was not just pomp.

“Brothers, I’ll be seeing you,” he addressed the larger animals on his flight from the forest. “Better alive now while the storm rages, rather than dead once the trouble has passed.”

The remaining animals of the forest came together to gossip over Lion’s threat. They were a rowdy crew, understandably so. What force could stir terror greater than Lion’s rage? The sparrows chattered in the wild azalea, a treble giving breath to the creatures’ fear. The geese, never loath to boost the avian mood, hummed dark predictions: Lion would turn on them all; he’d declare a ban on wings next!

Rabbit, overwhelmed in the excitement, piped up: “My friends, though this pronouncement may seem quite severe, it has its limitations. But as for me, I’m thinking – Lion will kill me for my pointed ears.”

Rabbit turned to his dear friend Lizard, who curled her tail round his back. They’d been together for many seasons.

Boar narrowed his eyes. “What reason, little one, have you to leave? Those flaps on your skull pose no threat to dear Lion. Do you see my tusks? Do you watch me speak? I carry a real hazard, but I have chosen to stay. He only said horns, after all.”

Rabbit shivered. The curled tail of his friend did nothing to calm his nerves. As he looked up to see his fellow beasts, the clouds broke behind him, and the sun cast his shadow before him. There, his ears – they were not ears. They were the terrible horns that would cost him his life.

Rabbit collected himself, then countered Boar: “But as our wise Owl said, better alive than dead.” And Rabbit turned to his friend Lizard who, with a look of deep loss, shook her head once. “I love you, dear Lizard, but I’ll give up my home to save my neck.”

And Rabbit fled.

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