This is Chapter 8 of The Seed Episodical. Click here to go back to the Table of Contents.
Hudson’s eyes bulged at the giant figure before him. The creature was as large as an elephant, but as tall as a giraffe. His head and body were wrapped in vines with trails of tendrils, cascading like a waterfall from his arms and legs. With a swoop of both hands, he snatched the boys off the ground with their legs still waggling in the air. He put them in the crooks of his leafy elbows and continued walking. This giant of a man swayed as he traveled, and rumbled a low thunderous rumble from deep inside his chest.
The man of epic proportions spoke in a whispered baritone voice: “I thought I a’heerd someone a’runnin! Now, who might you be?”
Feeling like he was on a carnival ride, Hudson clung to the giant’s elbow and spoke up. “We’re Hudson and William, Sir.”
“And why do ya’come by a’smashin’ into me’legs like that, hmmm?” boomed the giant.
“Well, uh, Sir,” said Hudson, “We were trying to find Lyric, and her brother Diapazon, and their friend Lilikin when we came across a poor deer, dead in the vines, and well, it frightened us and made us run right into you. We’re awfully sorry.” Visions of fairy tales ran through his head. He frowned, wondering if the giant was hungry.
The giant sighed. “Never you mind about the deer. I was… too late to save him, I was. I thought I could keep me’little friend safe….but there ain’t a’no safety from Kakaya.”
The boys looked back at the lifeless animal wrapped in leaves.
“Don’t you be lookin’,” said the giant. “The Vine will have its food and discard the bones into the well.”
The giant became mute, but kept walking.
“I’m sorry about your friend, Sir,” said William, who patted his arm, all wrapped in leaves.
The giant grunted. “You can call me Goliphant. I’m the only one of my people here in these woods, and friends are hard to come by.”
Hudson cleared his throat and tried to steady himself. “Uhm, Sir, I mean Goliphant, when we last left, Lyric was a prisoner in the treetops. Do you know if she was able to get free?”
Goliphant looked severely at Hudson. “Lyric?” he boomed. “What do you know about Lyric?” he asked.
William spoke up. “Well, we know she’s part of these bird people, but got captured by that horrible vine. And we know she asked us to search for the cure, but when we were running to get back to the magical shack, that horrible vine grabbed us and almost ate us! But Lyric saved us and risked her own life so we could be free, and then it caught her and whisked her up into the trees, and she cried out for us to go find the cure, and so that’s what we did!” William took a breath.
The giant looked severely at the boys in his arms. “Ah-hah, so are you the humans that are goin’ to set us free?” asked the giant. He furrowed his brow with a look of dissatisfaction.
“Uhm, well, we hope so, Sir,” said Hudson, trying to look straight ahead to prevent motion sickness.
“Wella, I suppose I’m pleased to meet ya’. We’ve been a’waitin’ for ya.”
“How long?” asked William, trying to sit up in his elbow chair.
“How long we been waitin’ for ya?” asked Goliphant. “Goin’ on three weeks.”
“Three weeks?” shrieked William. “Is Lyric…” William gulped. “Is she…dead?”
“No, me’little explorers, she’s not dead. But close to it,” Goliphant rumbled. “I’ll take ya to see her now.”
The giant turned towards the right and made his way deeper into the forest. As he walked, the boys tried to figure out what had happened.
“What happened to Lyric while we’re away?” asked Hudson.
“Kakaya…” whispered Goliphant. “..has slowly been a-drainin’ the life out of her. Each day, she loses a little bit more of herself.”
“Oh no,” whispered William. “Can we talk to her? Maybe we can help her sing a song and she can hum her way out, the way she helped us.”
Goliphant shook his head. “She tried. But the Vine is a-punishin’ her for what she did for ye. She’s been unable to open her eyes for the last two days now, or so I’ve heard.”
The boys grew quiet. Hudson was searching his mind for anything he could do to help his friend. He felt the seed envelope in his pocket and almost laughed. What was a tiny seed going to do now? How would a seed fight the mighty Kakaya that covered the entire forest and beyond?
They traveled in silence. Goliphant stomped up and down small hills, across a small creek, and and over a small area of moss-covered stones. Finally Goliphant stopped and looked up. The boys looked up, too. High above them hung a vine-like hammock, swinging in the hot breeze. A lump of a body lay still inside.
Hudson gulped. “Can we see her?”
Goliphant pointed to the tree trunk. “Diapoazon built a series of vine swings that you can use to climb up the trunk over there. You can go visit her, but be quiet. We don’t want to awaken Kakaya.”
Goliphant carried the boys to the massive tree from which Lyric rested and gingerly placed them on the first vine swing. “You can take hold of the vine, and swing it up to the next, and then up to the next, and so on, until you get to the top,” he said.
Hudson looked at the series of vine swings. They reminded him of the monkey bars on the school playground. He hoisted himself to the first vine-swing and heaved himself back and forth, gaining the momentum he needed to reach the next highest vine. After he got himself started, he called to William. “Come on, Will. I know you can do the monkey bars at school, so you can do this.”
The boys awkwardly swung themselves through the treetops like jungle gibbons, making their way up and up to Lyric’s vine hammock. Once they finally reached her resting place in the treetops, the boys parked themselves in the tree branches and peeked in.
“Lyric,” whispered Hudson. “We came to rescue you. We found a special seed. But we don’t know what to do with it.”
Lyric’s eyes were closed and she didn’t answer.
“Lyr-ic,” sang William. “Please wake u—up.”
Her eyes remained closed.
Hudson steadied himself with one hand and reached into the hammock with the other. He placed his hand upon her tiny hand and patted her. “Lyric, we need you to wake up. We don’t know what to do to help you.”
With the touch of his hand, Lyric’s eye’s fluttered. “Hudson? William?” she asked in a raspy voice.
“Lyric!” whispered Hudson. “How can we get you out of here?”
Lyric tried to speak but squeaked instead. She took a deep breath and raised herself to her elbows. “Did you…find the cure?” she asked.
“Yes, or at least we think we did. It’s a seed, Lyric. But we don’t know what to do with it. How can we get you out of here?”
Lyric swallowed hard. “Go and find…” she coughed and doubled over in her pain. “Go find…Antiphon. He will know what to do.” She fell backwards and coughed again.
“Right,” said Hudson. “Antiphon.” He looked at William with a scowl. “Let’s try and swing down. Maybe Goliphant can take us to Antiphon.”
Hudson watched William frown as his eyes focused on the forest floor.
“I don’t think I can do that,” William croaked.
“What do you mean?” hissed Hudson. “You climbed up here with the vines, now climb down.”
“That’s way easier said than done,” William snapped back.
Hudson took the lead. “Just follow me, okay? We can’t stop now.”
Hudson took the vine and held onto it tightly with his arms and legs. “See?” said Hudson. “It’s just like the ropes in gym class.”
William let out a groan.
Hudson began his descent as he slid carefully downwards. Then he reached over and grabbed the next lower vine. He carefully slid down and down, going slowly.
Goliphant was waiting at the bottom of the forest floor, humming to himself, or to the Kakaya, Hudson didn’t know which.
In the middle of his descent, Hudson heard a whimpering sound behind him. He turned around to see William clinging to a short vine, swinging in mid air.
“I can’t do it, Hud!” he hissed. “I can’t slide down!”
Hudson closed his eyes and thought for a moment. “Will, it’s easy. Just let your grip loosen a bit and slide slowly. You can control the speed with your feet. Use your feet like brakes.”
“I’m telling you Hud, I can’t!” said William.
Hudson could see his brother wouldn’t budge. And he was slipping.
“Will, reach out and grab the next vine!” said Hudson. “Your rope of leaves is running out!”
With a whine and a whimper, William reached out his hand to grab a long neighboring vine that could help him progress downwards to the ground.
But when William reached, he missed.
Before Hudson could even react, he watched his brother falling from the top of the forest canopy.
“Goliphant! Help!” yelled Hudson.
In a split second, Goliphant opened his bounteous arms and caught William, rolling him into his big, leafy chest.
Hudson hung on his vine, panting, trying to release his anxiety. His brother was okay.
When Hudson reached Goliphant’s feet, the giant reached down and scooped him into the crook of his leafy elbow once more.
“Thank you Goliphant, for saving William,” said Hudson.
Goliphant nodded his head. “Any friend of Lyric’s is a friend o’ mine.”
“We need to get to Antiphon,” said Hudson. “Can you take us to see him?”
Goliphant turned to the right and began a quick pace. “Oh, me’boys, I’m not so sure Antiphon is still around.”
“What do you mean?” asked William. “Can’t we just call one of those council thingys?”
“Maybe,” said the giant. “But a council call only works if the Avilodia are still around. And word has it, they’re already on the move.”