The Land of Literal
J’a’ill was about to chew on a freshly picked sprig of thyme. You see, she was in a hurry. She needed to get to her village before dark. She had been trotting along a familiar path when she almost tripped over the creature lying under a weeping willow tree.
She pondered a moment and used her tail to lightly brush the head of the creature, just to see if it was alive. The creature moved. It rolled over and rested its head on a bed of purple pillow flowers. Then it opened its beautiful sky-blue eyes. She had never seen sky-blue eyes, she then noticed; the creature didn’t have a tail.
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Elizabeth wasn’t feeling well; she thought she must have eaten something bad, so she went to bed early. Sleep found her quickly. It was a very deep sleep with dreams or nightmares she would never remember.
She woke but kept her eyes closed. It was not very normal for her to do that, but she just had a warm and cozy feeling. She could hear some song birds singing an almost familiar song. A cool, clean-smelling breeze wafted over her, and Elizabeth rolled over onto her back. She was resting on some very soft fragrant pillows. She smiled inside and took in a couple of deep wonderful breaths.
Opening her eyes, she gasped. There, just before her at the base of a tree, stood a small deer. The deer was standing on its back legs, and had a very human face, that of a young girl.
Hesitantly, Elizabeth grabbed a nearby stick, stood up and with shaking arms, pointed it at the deer. “Who . . . who are you?” She demanded. The deer tilted its head from side to side and didn’t reply. Elizabeth repeated excitedly, "I'll give you one more chance, who are you?” Still the same quizzical look from the young human-girl deer.
Elizabeth slowly became aware of her surroundings. It certainly was not her bedroom. The sight took her breath away. Looking around with wide eyes she saw a beautiful and very alive forest. The trees, the forest floor, all of the undergrowth, everything seemed to be moving and making noise. With a light plop, a single drop of water fell on her hand causing her to look at the stick. She blinked, it wasn’t really a stick. And looking at it, she realized it was a very long loaf of hard bread. Another drop hit her hand and she looked up at the overhead tree, which appeared to be crying, with tears falling on and about her.
A weeping willow?
Her knees started to buckle and she fell back, softly landing on the pillow flowers. The flower petals formed square pillows each embroidered with light yellow delicate scripts. She then looked at the deer, the tree and promptly fainted.
J’a’ill watched this sequence with a bemused look on her face; this creature spoke and offered her some breadfruit, which it carelessly dropped. J’a’ill jumped aside as she watched a host of scavenger beetles swarm over the bread. She knew it would soon be devoured. J’a’ill continued to quietly watch the creature. It looked confused, or troubled, it was hard to tell which. The creature looked at J’a’ill, then up at the tree and collapsed on the ground fast asleep. It was such a curious soul.
J’a’ill let loose a high shrill whistle toward a patch of angel-wing begonias. At first, the dark green leaves moved slowly. But with another call from J’a’ill they responded and flew over to her and lighted on her back. When angel-wings begonias flew, they would uproot themselves and take flight. Their wings were very delicate and J’a’ill was always amazed these plants could carry some much weight.
When J’a’ill reached her fiftieth season, she was chosen to be a vertipath. This was unusual even for her tribe. Not because her tribe didn’t have many vertipaths but because she was chosen at such a young age. Most vertipaths were in their one hundredth season before being selected. She was chosen by her mentor, K’f’nar. K’f’nar was from a remote village in the northeast, just north of Black Sea. He wasn’t known by many, in fact what was spoken about him, and only in whispers, was that he couldn’t control even a snow flea.
J’a’ill proved to be adept at tonal control of most plants. Vertipaths were essential to a thriving village. They could provide food, protection, manual labor, and medicine through the use of the three wisdoms. Vertipaths focused tonal control on plants to get the plants to do their bidding.
Using this control J’a’ill persuaded the angel-wing begonias to help carry the creature back to her village. She first carefully fed each begonia and then herself with some thyme and water. She smiled at herself as she remembered K’f’nar words, “Always the plants first”
This would be a fast trip to her village. She could feel the familiar surge that thyme syrup provided. Soon J’a’ill, the angel-wing begonias and the creature were gliding swiftly along the worn path to her village. Her rear hooves almost didn’t touch the ground as she ran. Very soon they reached the village well before the sun would set.
The village rested on a small hill that overlooked the valley. It consisted of a few dozen small wood-slatted buildings called garat. Following tradition, village leaders built the garats in a semicircle. The opening of the semicircle faced east. Each garat doorway also faced east.
With another shrill whistle the angel-wings were released. She held some vergant out in her upturned palm which the thirsty plants slurped up noisily. All vertipaths would carry the vitamin filled juice.
Always the plants first.
Once the flowers thirst was sated, they all glided for several yards, over to a large turkey oak tree. When they landed they formed a small flower bed. Their roots dug deeply in the nutrient rich soil.
Her arrival did cause a stir throughout the village. Soon her whole tribe stood around her and the sleeping creature. K’h’ill, the village leader, instructed two aruncs to carry the small creature into his garat. The village leader had the only garat in the village with an extra room that could accommodate the sleeping guest.
K’h’ill asked, “J’a’ill, what was that?”
J’a’ill responded, “Did you see it? It had no tail. I don’t know what it is.”
“I hope you haven’t brought evil upon us”
“There was no sense of danger K’h’ill, it will be safe.” J’a’ill said firmly and slowly.
K’h’ill looked deeply into J’a’ill eyes and knew she was right.
“The sun is about to set, we can hold council when it rises again.” He said loudly. It was loud enough the whole tribe could hear. They all quietly dispersed, each to their own garat, each to their own family.