Archive for April, 2013

…continued from “A Friend in the Grass”

And talk, they did.  They spoke of the land, called Phóghrian which means “kissed by the sun.”  They talked of King Ghrian, a royal descendant of the very Creator and namesake of their world.  He was kind, just, and beloved by all his subjects whom he treated more as children and friends than subordinates.  It was a very old world, Alita said.  A world much older than that which Kathryn was from and one that would be there long after hers expired.  Kathryn was so happy to be wandering the enchanted land that she barely noticed the toll the walk was taking on her.  Perhaps there, even the ground was kind-hearted and soft as to provide gentle passage to all travelers.

When they reached the forest edge, Alita took in a deep breath conveying sheer glee to Kathryn.  Before she could ask, Alita turned to say, “this is one of my most favorite places in all of Phóghrian.  I’m so excited to share it with you!”  Kathryn smiled as her heart filled with warmth.  Something in Alita’s tone assured her that she was sincerely welcomed and enjoyed as a traveling companion.  It seemed so odd given that they’d known each other less than 24 hours, but she felt secure in this new friendship.  “I’m happy too,” she genuinely replied.

They were barely twenty yards into the wood when it became obvious why it was called the Forest of Lights.  The trees were tall, thick, and deeply green.  They created miles and miles of canopied paradise, offering shade to all the creatures within it.  Despite the thick covering, the emerald-colored leaves were positioned in such a way that millions of tiny sunrays streamed through to kiss the ground below.  In being so far above her, the forest ceiling mimicked the gleam of stars in the midnight sky though formed by sun and trees.  It was breathtaking.

As they traveled, Alita shared some of her story.  She’d come from a long line of warriors.  Her family lived on the other side of the large Kingdom, but she was called to serve in the King’s palace.  She missed her parents and siblings terribly, but reunited with them in the very meeting place where she’d met Kathryn.  She loved being near the King.  She praised his character and kindness with honest exuberance.  The closer she was to him, she explained, the more complete she felt.

“Alita,” Kathryn asked, “do you hear that?”  Kathryn hated to interrupt such lovely stories, but she couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer.  Ever since they’d entered the forest, she’d heard whisperings all around.  However, every time she looked, she saw no one.  At this point, she knew to expect mystery and magic, but she couldn’t stand not knowing what she was hearing.

“Oh! You hear the trees, don’t you? My goodness, I’d gotten so caught up—I do that a lot—that I completely forgot to tell you. The trees are alive as you and I, and they’re chattering is because of you.”
“They can tell I’m not from here, huh?”
“Well, yes, that’s true,” she replied with a chuckle, “but that’s not why they’re talking. They’re excited. They’ve been excited to meet you ever since they heard you’d arrived.”
“I don’t believe that.” She lost control of her cynicism for the moment.
“Believe it, my friend, because it’s true. Come, let’s ask them.”
“No, we don’t have to—” she protested, but it was too late. Alita was determinedly marching towards a particularly tall redwood-like tree near the rough path.
“Excuse me, could we ask you something please?” Alita shouted towards the top.
“Absolutely!” replied a kindly, masculine voice.

Within seconds, the base of the tree began to shift with a mighty cracking sound, not unlike that of lightning striking a branch overhead.  She stared with gaping eyes as the figure of a seven-foot man emerged from the trunk, leaving his cut-out shape behind as he adjusted his neck and arms before them.  His skin was warm brown and oddly soft-looking, despite being composed of aged bark.  His long sage-toned hair of moss joined his long beard, alluding to great wisdom.  Vines covered his body like a tunic with decorative leaves and coils scattered about.  Stiffened by the unbelievable sight and a good measure of fear, Kathryn stood as a statue as he opened his mouth (how peculiar that he had a mouth!) to address them.  “What can I help you with?” he asked.

“Well,” replied Alita with unshakeable confidence, “Kathryn was wondering what exactly you have been talking about.”
“Kathryn? That’s a nice name,” he acknowledged as he crouched to look the newcomer in the eye. “Well, Kathryn, we’re talking about you. We’d heard that the King was calling for someone from your world. Since then, we’ve been looking forward to seeing the one whom he would call so specifically. It’s quite an honor, you know.”
“I imagine,” she stammered respectfully, finally drumming up the courage to speak.
“We’re all so glad you’ve come. Clearly, the King has something very special in store for you. We can’t wait to find out what it is.”
“We were also saying how lovely you are,” chimed in a feminine voice nearby, as a tall lady with long hair in a mossy gown emerged.
“Oh, um, thank you?” Kathryn replied, full of disbelief.
“It’s true! You’re like a tiny, golden-haired flower,” she reassured with a sincere, beaming smile as the fellow near them nodded in agreement.
Kathryn blushed as she thanked them with more confidence.
“You see! I told you!” Alita proudly stated, “You’re a lot more special than you realize.”
Kathryn was about to reply with defensive sarcasm when Alita intercepted to say, “Well, we have to be going.  We’ve still got another three hours to go, at the least.”

The tree people wished them well as they pressed on through the forest, grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Kathryn’s journey to the King.  With each step onward, she grew quieter as she wondered what the King could possibly want from her.  A throbbing nervousness settled in her heart as a result.  Like an internal anvil, this feeling plummeted to her stomach as they reached the end of the great forest and they stopped to take in the view of the grand Golden Mountains, drenched in evening sunlight.

“In about an hour, you’re going to meet him,” spoke her wildcat companion with delight. “Are you ready?”
Kathryn heaved a weighty sigh and replied with extreme honesty, “not even a little.”
Alita heartily laughed at her friend’s response as they proceeded into the narrow valley before them.

to be continued…


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continued from The Flight of the Asteruffs

As she lay unconscious in the grass, she floated into a dreamland where she was soaring to the heavens alongside the Asteruffs.  It was blissful and free of worry as she flew further into the night with her fluffy friends who, one by one, were transforming into vibrant diamonds.  She was getting carried away by their song when suddenly, she snapped into complete consciousness and became fearful, remembering where she was and what sent her to sleep in the first place.

She shot up and looked around in a panic, wondering where the tigress was.  To her bewilderment, she found the beast sleeping right next to her own grassy imprint.  Her heart in her stomach, she decided to make a break for it.  Despite being a gym-class failure, she hoped that she could run fast enough, find the door, and leave the strange world with its lighted plants and talking predators.  She crept away, ready to bolt once she had a solid head start.  What was the right way to run away from a tiger anyway?

“You know, I could’ve easily killed you hours ago if that were my plan,” stated the tigress.
Kathryn stiffened in terror, then paused to acknowledge the truth in that statement.
“So, what is your plan then?” she asked curiously.
“That is a great question, which I promise to answer soon. However, it’s about three o’clock in the morning. Would it be at all possible for you to go back to sleep? We have a long walk ahead of us tomorrow and it would do us both good to be well-rested.”

Though her mind was wild with confusion, curiosity, and lingering fright, she had to admit her intense fatigue.  Quite frankly, she was always tired and felt like she hadn’t been well-rested in what seemed to be years.

“So, just to be clear, you’re not going to kill and eat me?” she asked with a nervous chuckle.
“Not unless you’re secretly a funny-looking, land-roaming fish. I’m a pescatarian. Now please, go back to sleep.”
Kathryn smiled at the tigress’ humor. For reasons she couldn’t list, she trusted her. She curled up next to the large cat, who now seemed to be just that, and felt herself euphorically fall into a deep, perfect sleep to the lullaby of her new friend’s powerful purring.

All too soon, she woke to the morning sun blazing brightly in the sky above.  She rose from the dew-covered meadow, breathing in the new day in the strange land.  Sensing the movement beside her, the tigress also woke and stretched just like a tabby on window sill to prepare for the day.

“Good morning, Kathryn,” smiled the tigress as she washed her face in housecat-like fashion.
“Morning, uh… what is your name?”
“Oh, how silly of me! My name is Alita. I’ll be your guide while you’re here.”
“Pleased to meet you, Alita. If you’re my guide, then that means we going somewhere?”
“Yes, of course. You can’t stay in this place the whole time.”
“Why not?” she asked sadly. “I feel like I could stay here for all eternity.”
“I know it’s beautiful here, but it’s only a meeting place. Besides, the King is expecting you.”
“There’s a King somewhere?” Maybe she really had fallen into one of her favorite novels.
“Indeed there is, and a wonderful one at that. His castle is nestled between the Golden Mountains to the east, just beyond the Forest of Lights. He’s the one that sent for you.”
“He sent for me? Why me?” she asked, acutely aware of her faults.
“I’ll let you ask him that. Now, let’s get moving. It’s about a five-hour walk and we can talk more on the way.”

To be continued…

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