This is Chapter 4 of The Seed Episodical. Click here to go back to the Table of Contents.
“Follow me,” said Lyric, as she journeyed ahead of them across a small creek. Her vine clothing wound around her whole body, like a leafy dress. Three long vines trailed after her, like a wedding veil, connecting her to the earth which seemed to be moving along with her. She was able to walk, but bound to the vine. She hummed as she moved.
“Why do you hum like that?” asked William.
“Shhh,” said Lyric softly, and she put her fingers to her lips. “I hum because … song is part of our way. And, because it keeps Kakaya asleep.”
“Kakaya?” asked Hudson, now trying to keep up.
“The Vine,” whispered Lyric. “The Kakaya Vine came to us many years ago. An explorer brought its seed to add more beauty to our land.”
“It is pretty and silvery,” said William, “and it makes me feel…curious. But, your humming helps it… sleep?”asked William.
“Yes,” said Lyric. “Kakaya sleeps during the day, and awakens at night to eat and grow. It is nocturnal, and loves to be awake in the darkness. During the day, my humming keeps it from being disturbed, so we can meet with our family undetected.”
“And the Avilodia are your family?” asked Hudson.
“Yes,” said Lyric. “My people were tree dwellers, with homes in these very trees. But once the Kakaya seed was introduced, the vine grew into our homes overnight. It strangled our tree friends, the Florawood.” She pointed to the dead, charred bark of a massive tree as they passed by. “Kakaya destroyed our homes, taking many prisoners, like me.”
“Why can’t you just untangle yourself and run away?” asked William.
Lyric smiled a disappointed smile. “We’ve tried. Many times. But once Kakaya has its grip, its leaves become pressed into the body, becoming part of the flesh. The Vine is in me, so to speak.” She walked on with as much grace as a ballerina, her veil of leaves trailing after her. “Every night, I’m required to bring Kakaya its water from the creeks or wells. The leaves that are pressed into me feed off of the salt in my body. What I give Kakaya helps it grow, yet if I refuse to help, it will strangle me and find another prisoner to feed it. I’ve seen that terrible tragedy happen to many of my people.”
Hudson felt anguish for Lyric. He thought she was the most tender creature he’d ever seen. It was hard to believe those beautiful leaves could cause her such pain and bondage.
Just then, Hudson heard a snapping voice behind him. “I thought I told you to go home!”
It was Diapazon, walking fast to catch up with them. Lilikin trotted behind, doing his best to keep up, given his shorter legs.
“It’s okay, Brother,” said Lyric. “I’m taking them to meet the Avilodia.”
“What? Why?” demanded Diapazon. “You think they can help us? Look at them. They’re small and weak.”
“Hey!” said William. He pulled up his arm and flexed his feeble muscles. “I resent that!”
Diapazon gave a look of disgust. “No one’s been able to help us, Lyric, not even the strongest of humans. It’s time you faced your fate.”
Lyric looked defiantly into her brother’s eyes. “I’ll never give up,” she whispered. “And I’ll fight for my freedom until my last breath!”
Diapazon shook his head, and the two continued walking and humming.
Hudson paused to wait for Lilikin, who was gasping for air as he scurried behind them.
“Lilikin, how come you don’t hum?” Hudson asked.
“Oh, ah, me?” he said in between breaths, patting down a crown of ruffled leaves. “Wella, I’m a Pyxmy. Ya see, Pyxmies don’t hum. We’re of the Elf-Dwarf ancestry, and we don’t sing in public.”
William held on to his hat and ran back to Lilikin. “Did you say that you’re from Elves and Dwarfs?”
“Ahh, yes, me’lad. The Pyxmy people are right proud of our Elf-Dwarf origin. And we were a merry group, until Kakaya’s roots destroyed our earthen homes.” Lilikin smoothed his beard as he walked. “Most of me’family escaped. There’s only three of us left here in these woods. The rest of the Pyxmies fled o’er the mountains,” he pointed behind him. “The Avilodia have said that me’family resettled in caves near the Lake o’Green Waters.”
After about an hour of walking, the forest thinned and became sparse. Hudson noticed that the tendrils that sprawled over the ground had become thinner. The light in front of them got brighter. Then with one last step, they walked out of the forest and onto a sunny, open meadow. Hudson looked behind him. A line of trees and vines marked the end of the forest and the beginning of the vast meadow space. Lyric, Diapazon, and Lilikin walked five steps and stopped, their vine ropes trailing taut behind them. Wildflowers and grasses spanned a half-mile before them, over the entire meadow, ending in a cliff-like edge with a crashing ocean below.
“This is as far as we go. We will wait here for my people,” said Diapazon.
“Where are we?” asked Hudson.
“Welcome to Moonbeam Meadow,” said Diapazon, “the only place where Kakaya hasn’t reached. But it’s only a matter of time. Do you see the ocean way out there, beyond the fields?”
The boys nodded silently.
“Kakaya needs salt and water in order to live. It uses us for those purposes, and grows each night during our labor. But once Kakaya finally reaches the ocean, it will have all it needs to live and thrive, and our lives here won’t be needed anymore.”
“You mean—“ gulped William.
“Yes. Our time on Kelos is quickly coming to an end,” said Diapazon.