May 2022 entry for Fabulous Fantasy Contest
|Prompt: A Spring|
Word count: 2,694
A Move for Survival
Blade climbed the stone steps he’d carved into the bolder his hut sat on. Entering his grass-woven dwelling he looked around. Should he make one more trip to the middle of the pond? No. It was time to act. Calculations didn’t lie. There was only one solar year before the life of his people would change and bring disaster to their thousand-year-old home. There was no way they could ignore him anymore. He improved his grandsire's and his sire’s calculations. He collected his own samples of the plants and water. Every test imaginable was made on the specimens multiple times. The members of the council were going to have to listen to him and start the process to save his village, his family, and his friends.
Rolling the parchments, gathering the newest vials of water and grass, Blade headed to the main tower, carved in the hillside behind the village. He unfurled his wings and flapped and tested them a couple of times. Spending so much time floating on the water in his leaf skiff, made his shoulder muscles stiff. He picked up his satchel and huffed. His eyes went to the small wagon near the bottom of his steps. Shaking his head he decided to use it. He didn’t have warrior wings. They would not allow him to carry the extra weight of his equipment.
When he reached the bottom of Council Hill, he found a sign which announced, that all meetings of the governing board were being held in the Skytower, another name for a reed structure fashioned on the top of the hill. Great! He was going to have to pay a lifter service to get his wagon to the top.
An hour later he stood in the main lobby of the government chambers. The attendant came forward. “How may I help you Scientist Topper?”
“I need a bit of time to present some findings.”
“One moment please,” he said over his shoulder as he walked away.
A few moments later Councilman Tree came through the double wooden doors and stood before him. Blade bowed his head. Councilman Tree returned the head nod. “The attendant says you need to speak with me.”
“I was hoping to present my findings to the full council, Councilman Tree.” Tree was in charge of Science and Industry, but like many of the others in government never got involved with everyday work.
“I’m sorry that would be impossible. Too many other important things, as you know. Tell me your findings and I will present them in your name.”
Blade gave up. No one was really sure what the governing body did, but they were always in meetings. He laid some of the bottles and papers out on the nearby table. “As you know, my grandsire and sire have been studying the Life Spring for many years. I have finally been able to verify the mathematical formula and the evidence to prove their theory correct. The spring is dying. Over the last 40 sun cycles, it has shrunk 20%. The circling eddy around is wider than my Sire measured and has sped up to three times what it was ten sun cycles ago. Within the year, the spring will disappear and will start to pull the surrounding area, into the hole it is receding into. Our village and possibly this hill will disappear.”
Councilman Tree picked up some of the papers and quickly scanned them. “The Council has heard most of this before from your Sire. They had a committee look over all of the findings.”
“I know but I have the formula to prove my findings, and water samples to show the increased density of ground fibbers. I also have used the water wheel and documented proof the engineers needed to lower the main blades to collect more of the water power.”
“I will have all of your notes and samples taken to my lab and checked. Within the next complete moon cycle, I will have an answer for you.”
“But Councilman, we need to start preparing for this now. It will take many moon cycles to relocate the village.”
Councilman Tree motioned to an attendant who started to gather the items on the table. “One moon cycle is as fast as I can get the information straightened out. Now you may leave.”
Blade retained his bag as he made his way back home. At the bottom of his steps, Rayne and Cloud were waiting for him. Rayne ran to him. “Did they believe you? Should we start packing and spreading the word?”
“My sister thinks this can all take place immediately.” Cloud turned adoring eyes on his younger sibling.
“I gave the information to Councilman Tree. He said it will be one moon cycle before they can get back to me with any information.”
“But Blade,” Rayne said as she took his arm and pulled him down on the step, “you said, we don’t have any extra time.”
Blade patted her arm and glanced at Cloud who sat on the grass in front of them. “I gave them the information, but I think we will start planning. Cloud you need to double-check the area you found on your last flight camping trip. It would be a three-day walk for the strongest of the village. We will plan four to five days I think.
“We also need to start letting those who believe us now, start to prepare without causing over-concern. If the Council thinks we are inciting panic they will start passing laws to prevent us from preparing. Have everyone go through their things to see what they want to keep. For their first trips, anything which will fit in a two-wheel wagon will be allowed. If possible other things can be retried at a later date.”
“When you revisit the rock waterfall, pay attention to the vegetation. Many of the Old Ones will have survival skills for the new area and information you gather will be useful to them.”
“I’ll leave tomorrow. I know the rock facing of the waterfall is at least five large tree diameters wide. The cavern under the lip is deep enough and high enough to hold everyone. I saw fish going over the falls so we can catch them in nets. I will take a bag with me and bring pack samples of the foliage and give them to the healers. ”
One moon cycle later, Councilman Tree sat at his desk. Blade Topper was correct in his calculations, but even those showed they still had at least one sun cycle before they would have to move. That was plenty of time to set up how he could make everyone think it was his work that would save the village. He would send scouts upriver to look for a new spring or area to inhibit.
Sometime in the next six moon cycles, he would start the rumors. By that time he would have all of his life packed and moved to the new site. After all, he could always say his move was for scientific purposes. If he worked it right, he would be set up enough to be considered the head of the council or maybe even King. More than 100 sun cycles had passed since the group crowned a King. Tree sat back in his plush chair and sipped on the Necter in his shell cup. Yes, King. That had a nice ring to it!
In the last six moon cycles, Blade only received a couple of messages from Councilman Tree saying the matter he presented was still being examined. Others in their group said the matter never came before Council, as far as their contacts knew. Reports Councilman Tree was moving many of his things upriver were getting more plentiful.
About 40 members of the village were packed and some of the items they would need to survive were already at the new site. Several of the Old Ones, with their families and guardians, were there to set up what needed to be pre-established. A garden was producing some items and small huts were built behind the falls in the cavern. Nets were hung, and through trial and error, a catch system was established to retrieve fish as they fell over the lip of the rock.
“Blade. Blade where are you?” Cloud yelled from the forest floor.
“I’m here,” he said as he walked up the path from the water's edge.
“Councilman Tree has just announced in the main meeting, that he thinks there may be some problems with the Life Spring. He presented the ideas and findings as his own. He also stated there were at least two sun cycles before anyone needed to worry, and he presented ideas on how to solve the problem.”
Blade sat hard on the bottom step of his home. “In two sun cycles, none of this area will exist. Hasn’t anyone noticed how the Life Spring is only one quarter the height it was six moon cycles ago? The swirl around the spout is so bad even the engineers are worried about fixing the wheel. When the Life Spring stops the ground around the pool will be pulled into the ever-growing hole. Luckily for us, the existing rocks have already started to divert the main flow of the river around this area.”
“I know. Oh, and Star says there are rumors they may be arresting those who may be inciting panic. I have sent Rayne, Mother, Father, and the rest of the close family to the new site. Four other families are making the final move also. I have let it be known, that anyone who wishes to join us at any time may come. Until all this is gone, a group has agreed to make regular trips back here to lead anyone to the Waterfall. They will come in pairs in case someone decides to trick them. Once the new people are past the clover field, no one here can command them to do anything.”
Blade rubbed his face with his hands then squared his shoulders. “Alright, sounds good. I have sent my scientific gear. I only have my field kit here. You need to follow your family.”
“I’m not going to leave you here.”
“Yes, Cloud you are. We need someone who can take charge at the other end, someone who can set up the retrieval group. Put Storm in charge of the Retrievers. Have the Old Ones form a council of sorts, which I’m sure is unofficially already in progress. If I have to I will fly there and leave here with no notice. The substation at the fallen tree can be used as shelter if I need to hide.”
“No, go. Go now.”
Blade preferred not to give Cloud orders, but he needed those he cared about gone. He needed to be free to put his last-ditch effort into effect.
Blade looked around the main room of the home he built. It was empty and devoid of any comfort. After the stop, he needed to make, he wouldn’t be returning. Taking a deep breath he flew out the window and headed for the Council Chambers. Landing on the balcony outside the large vaulted ceiling room, he stood listening.
“I for one do not see why we need to believe commoners. Yes, the Life Spring is almost gone but the engineers have been able to use the swirl to make the Waterwheel work.”
“Councilman Skyfall, I am not asking you to believe commoners. I am asking you to believe the evidence I have presented to you over the last seven days.”
Blade glanced around the frame of the open door leading to the room. Councilman Tree was standing in the center of the room, in front of a table with all of the samples Blade and his Sire’s collected, spread out.
“I have studied the data exclusively over the last six moon cycles and have come to the conclusion we must leave this area. I have even talked with the Forest Fairy Clan upstream and they have agreed to help us with the move. They have promised to assist us with building homes and obtaining the supplies we need to flourish.” The other five council members talked among themselves. They were in agreement with Councilman Tree. It was time to add to their knowledge.
Blade stepped into the room, walked to where Councilman Tree stood, bowed deeply, and turned to the others adding another bow. He heard a rustling off to the side where security stood. Holding up his hands, palms out he said, “I have come to say goodbye to Councilman Tree and to all of you. I see the learned Councilman has informed you of my findings.”
“They are not your findings, Blade Topper,” Councilman Tree spouted as he puffed his chest out. “I will admit you gave me some starting information but I have expanded on the general small tidbits and have come up with a plan to save those left in our village who have not deserted us.”
“Really?” Blade asked. He walked a little closer to the table where the others were seated. “Has he told you he signed a binding Council agreement with the leader of the Forest Clan?”
“Yes, Blade Topper, he has told us this,” grumbled the Councilman at the far end of the table.
“Has he let you read the agreement?” Blade received shakes of their heads at the table. “I thought not. The Forest Clan depends on the Grand Beehive located at the top of their tree to survive. The agreement with the bee Queen consists of mainly one thing. The bees will leave the Forest Clan alone as long as they assist in pollinating and collecting the nectar of the flowers in the surrounding fields. There has even been a quota set. The quota will double as soon as you all arrive. Anyone not able to work is culled from the group.
“Most of the females of childbearing age are kept in a separate area, supposedly for their safety. They are allowed visitors only when a possible child will be conceived. They are watched. The females are sent back to the collection farms and the children are raised in a group area until they are able to help collect or bear a child.” Blade stopped talking letting the information about the breeding farms sink into these out-of-touch elders.
“This is not true,” Tree shouted. “I have promises of a wonderful life. I even have several homes already built in a safe walled-in area for our protection. A large building has been designed to hold food and other items we will need.”
The Council stared at Tree. They were catching on to what was happening. The prison was started. It was designed to look like a safe home but it would be a prison.
“I have come to offer assistance to any who wish to follow us downstream. Life will not be easy. Everyone,” Blade caught the eyes of each of the Councilmen, “will need to work hard, but we have found a good place to thrive and allow the village to prosper. I will return in seven days to help with any transport and answer any questions. If something drastic happens between now and then, take the firn enclosed trail downstream and one of us will find you.” Blade bowed deeply. “I will leave now.”
With those words, he turned and flew out the window. A loud chorus of voices could be heard behind him. He would spend some time, getting his own new home set up, and asking Rayne to be his forever partner. In seven days he would return to the village to see if anyone decided to follow him. He also planned on sending infiltrators to the Forest Clan and helping any of them who wished to follow, join their group. He wasn’t worried about the bees following because there was nothing for them at the Waterfall home.
Blade smiled as he flapped his wings harder, not willing to wait any longer than necessary to start his future.