Stories abound. They are everywhere. Some stories are massive and glorious like a monument, a structure of marble and stained glass. Some are humble and simple like a puff of cloud or a puddle of water. And some stories–most perhaps–are somewhere in between, small, but complex, more than first meets the eye…like a feather.
Everyone has stories. Here, I will tell you some of mine.
There is a tall tower to the north. It is made of stone that looks a common gray from afar. But I have been close enough to see the stone shift hues, to glitter with the gilded veins of an otherworldly ore, to fade into a pale so utmost as to be nigh invisible.
A warlock once lived there, it is said. Now the tower is abandoned.
A gray shape darted past me to my right. I turned to the ragged bushes entangled with dried weeds. One of the stems shuddered and I heard a rustling. But the overgrowth was too thick for me to see what was moving around in there. Back home—my previous home—I would have guessed it was a lizard. But here, in my new home, it could have been a rabbit. A wild rabbit.
The royal physician, Galena by name, examined the festering bruise just below the king’s ribcage. The king lay in a sleeping stupor. A state he had been in for three days, and yet it was only now, and only by order of the queen that the royal physician was allowed to examine her king.
Galena peered down at the bruise, around the margins of which there appeared an oozing of bright purple fluid.
“I had thought him a fool, but a harmless one,” the queen said.
Galena did not look up as she answered. “Is there such a thing?”
I thought it was a reflection at first. Not the moon. Some streetlight or something, from outside, getting past my curtains. I was too lazy, too sleepy to get up and deal with it. But I do remember thinking it was strange.
Isn’t the light too bright to be a reflection? I thought, peeking up at the ceiling.
I do remember resisting the urge to rub my eyes. I wanted to take a closer look.
It was the turning into her fifth year, when Anushka would enter the next epoch of her childhood, the first learning years. Being a child whose family was of modest wealth, there were a few minor enchantments that were gifted to her. One was a book that could summon any one of a hundred different fairy tales within its pages with a simple chant. Another was a pair of boots that could lace themselves. And still another was a mysterious card placed within a vivid green envelope embossed with the golden letters of the giver’s initials.
As it so happened, the Houses of the Black Radish, the Purple Carrot, and the Green Garlic all found themselves traveling the rough road that led to the garden of perpetuation.
They traveled thus, the human envoys carrying vegetable plant seed on their persons and vegetable spirit within their persons. As the envoys conversed among themselves, so too did the spirits of the vegetables.
“Root and bulb are we,” said the Radish, with sharp attention. “No tubers do I see.”
“The tubers are well-loved,” the Carrot remarked sweetly. “They have no need of the great garden.”
“So are we well-loved,” said the Garlic with mild bitterness. “Or once were. And will be again, I would wager.”
“But by then it may be too late,” Carrot warned. “We would be gone.”