The Monster of Laàs


Long long ago, long before the world was measured by interludes of night and day, the people had everything they needed to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, things had not gone as planned. The powers of the West and of the East were once again threatening to go to war, despots in the South and populists in the North had succeeded in leading their people astray. Telling the truth was no longer the order of the day, and finding meaning in life proved very difficult indeed. The creator of this story was quite unhappy with this turn of events, so unhappy that he blanketed his world in a cover of darkness so opaque that no one could find their way. The people at first didn’t seem to remark the obscurity, caught up in a virtual world of promises that no one would ever keep.

One small animal however did seem to notice the tenebrosity from his home in the shadows of the castle of the tiny principality nestled in plains of Navarre. [1] Although no one had actually reached out to talk to the little critter, the few that seen him referred to him as the monster of Laàs, for no other reason that his cone shaped head, his mismatched eyes, his sinewy legs, and his star-shaped hands.  He had lived his whole life in the shadows of the castle, the beauty of the gardens, and the calm of the Gave river that wove its way past this 12th century abode. The riches and the folklore stories of barons, of princes, and rock stars largely sufficed to fill up his days and his needs.[2]

The pitch black blanket rendered the little monster’s playground too dangerous even for one accustomed to playing in the dusk. The little monster couldn’t find his around, the hypocrisy and cynicism that had infiltrated his world had become too heavy a burden to carry. He decided that he must walk out of the anonymity and plead his case to the creator of this story. Nourished by his belief in the Fors du Born[3] (it was too dark to find anything to eat), he climbed cautiously up to top of the castle. Perched upon the castle tower, he jumped up to the cover of darkness and with his open star-shaped hand punched a small hole in the darkness before falling back down to Earth. Faced with such failure you and I might have given up and gone home, but in such obscurity the little Monster couldn’t see anything other than that one small hole of light.

He once again climbed the castle walls up to the tower and threw himself against the cover of darkness punching a second hole before plummeting back down to the Earth. This clearly was no ordinary little monster, he pulled himself together and repeated his gestures, punching holes in the sky, and falling to back earth as many times as we have fingers on our hands toes on our feet. Again, and again he tried and each time he fell more and more exhausted into the shadows of despair. Finally, fed by his hope for a better world, he climbed up one jumped last time to the cover of darkness and carved out a hole large enough to pull himself through, before falling dead next on the antique theater’s stage by the Gave river.[4]

The creator of this story wasn’t blind to the little Monster’s plight. Upon seeing his daring and his determination, he breathed life back into the inanimate creature. “Little Monster, in recognition of your courage and wisdom, I promise to restore the light in the world which from this day forward will be called “Day”. Each night, I will leave the thirty-five small holes you punched in the cover of darkness that we will christened the “Stars of Laàs” in memory of your efforts[4]. The one large hole, will be called the moon as inspiration to the citizens of the principality to follow in your path. Go little monster past the castle walls into the furthest counties of this world so that all may see an example of what our future can hold.

Lee SCHLENKER - April 15, 2017

©2017 La Principauté de Laàs

[1] The barony of Laàs, covering 645 hectares near the border between France and Spain, dates back to the 12th century. The principality was founded in 2015.  See

[2] The Laàs Transhumance Festival, held each summer, has drawn international groups and tens of thousands of visitors to the castle grounds.

[3] A belief that open discussion, debate and citizen initiatives should guide political action put in practice locally in the 11th century.

[4] An antique theater, next to numerous ruins, lines the Bamboo forest along the river walk below the castle.

[5] Thirty five stars now illuminate « Laàs Vegas Boulevard » - a cultural walk through the principality