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.”
Lucinda held her breath, as she raised the glass rod above the vial and tapped the rod to release the single drop of liquid that clung to its end.
The drop fell in the vial, joining the muddy liquid within. The liquid turned ruddy, then clear. And it stayed clear.
Lucinda dared to exhale just as the liquid began to swirl and turn ruddy, then muddy. She ducked under the table just before the vial shattered, spraying red flames and charred bits of glass in every direction.
She remembered darkness. And she remembered her name. That was all.
Spark zoomed into a heap of advancing clouds, grinning and gasping at the sensations of cold and wet, reaching out to touch what could not quite be grasped. She emerged on the other side, and spotted a colossal formation of rock and stone with three spires so high they topped the clouds. A mountain!