This is Chapter 10 of The Seed Episodical. Click here to go back to the Table of Contents.
Hudson stared at Moonbeam Meadow. The chasm that split the grassy area had widened. In one blink, a river burst forth from the depths of the deep chasm, first as a trickle, then growing into a gush of rapids. The river flowed right through the middle of Moonbeam Meadow.
Goliphant stopped to watch the water rush across the place where they had just held council.
On either side of the new river, Goliphant and the boys watched as two shoots came up from the ground, one on each side of the roaring river. Before their eyes, the shoots grew upwards at a rapid speed. The two shoots became two trees with branches of golden leaves that glittered in the sun.
“Goliphant! Look out!” Diapazon shouted from inside the forest, as he fought with the vines that continued to drag him in.
Goliphant looked down at his feet to see new Kakaya leaves wrapping themselves around his heels, winding up his ankles and legs. Unable to move farther, he bent down and placed the boys on the ground. “Run!” he told the boys. “While you are still free!”
The boys ran into the meadow to watch the formation of these two golden trees. The trunks on either side of the rushing river grew higher and higher, and then bending over the river, they joined together to make one giant trunk that curved and arched over the river, continuing to grow up into the sky. Sparkling golden branches flittered out of every angle and crevice, bursting forth with fruits of all shapes and colors.
The floating Avilodia began to sing, clearly in awe of the beauty unfolding before them.
The roots and the river now spread and flowed together across the meadow, rippling the earth around it.
Hudson decided to follow the traveling river and roots as they plowed into the forest, pushing into the darkness of the trees. He ran to keep up with the speed at which this river was traveling.
As the river reached the forest, something amazing began to happen. The vines suddenly lost their grip on Goliphant. Diapazon stopped tugging at the vines that held him fast. The leaves suddenly unwound and fell to the ground.
The river continued to break the ground, flowing in and around and all through the forest. Hudson and William watched in awe as Diapazon shed his vines, revealing beautifully colored wings. All around, the prisoners stood in shock, watching with amazement as the vines fell off of their bodies to reveal new clothes. Goliphant and Lilikin’s vines dropped to the ground, also revealing clothes that looked brand new, made of purple and white linens. As they examined their skin and clothing, their eyes brimmed with tears.
Looking back at the golden tree, Hudson noticed that its branches swayed back and forth, creating a gush of wind that gathered speed and velocity, breezing into the forest, rustling the enormous dead branches of the Florawood.
“Look! The Florawood!” cried William. He pointed to the blackened wood that was peeling away to reveal a healthy amber-colored bark underneath. The vines that had previously wrapped all the way up to the canopy suddenly loosened and dropped to the forest floor. New buds began to grow upon every outstretched limb of the trees, and the branches waved back and forth, as if they were clapping their hands.
Diapazon, with newly unfurled wings, helped gather bundles of dead Kakaya vines from the ground. Hudson watched as he and other Avilodia flew over the meadow and hurled them into the sea.
The Avilodia floated through the forest, gathering and throwing the dead vines away. The boys skipped around the Florawood, tugging at every vine and tendril from the ground and around the trees. Every leaf of Kakaya had withered and died. Every piece of the evil foliage was lifeless and dead. The Kakaya had been conquered.
“Lyric!” William yelled, from behind Hudson’s back.
In all the excitement, Hudson had forgotten his desperate friend. He must go to her at once. Did the seed reach her in time?
He turned around to run towards Lyric’s prison in the treetops and stopped suddenly.
Coming out of the forest was Lyric, dressed in a robe of white with wings arched behind her back and wings flowing out of her waist. Her head glowed with golden feather-like hair, and she sang as she walked, a most beautiful song of freedom.
After many hours of gathering and pitching dead vines, Antiphon found the boys standing on Moonbeam Meadow beside the golden tree. Its massive golden trunk looked like heavenly arms protecting the land as it arched up and over the river. Tiny golden leaves filled every branch and bough, fluttering in the ocean breeze, reflecting the rays of the sunshine like thousands of tiny mirrors. They stood silently watching the river roll into the ocean, with waves that crashed upon the rocky cliffs.
“You saved the land of Kelos,” he said to them. “We are forever in your debt.”
“Naw, it was the star-seed,” said William.
“And the explorer who found it in the first place,” said Hudson. “We found it in his shack, in the box that was shaped like a book. I just don’t know why he didn’t deliver it.”
“Nor do I,” said Antiphon. “But our hearts are grateful to you both, who did.”
Antiphon reached up to the tree and plucked a golden leaf. “Here,” he said, handing it to Hudson. “To remember us. Perhaps you may find the explorer one day and show him the beauty that came from his work. If you ever do…thank him…for us.”
Hudson took the leaf and placed it gingerly inside his pocket. “I’d be happy to, uhm, Sir,” feeling awkward about his trespassing inside that shack. What would he do if he met the explorer on his way back?
Just then, Goliphant trotted up with Lilikin sitting upon his shoulder. Diapazon, Selah, and Lyric floated nearby. They all stood and watched the waves together.
“Tonight, I will not fear the darkness,” whispered Lyric.
“That’s because the darkness has been defeated,” said Selah. “The golden tree will light our land forever.”
“What will you do now?” asked William.
“We’ll rebuild our homes in the Florawood. We’ll feast on the fruit of this tree. We will live in freedom!” said Diapazon.
“We will journey to find our families,” said Lilikin, “and convince them to come back to the beautiful land of Kelos.”
Goliphant nodded in agreement.
“Then it’s time for us to go back,” said Hudson. “I’m not sure if we’re in big trouble for being gone so long.”
After a round of hugs and handshakes, Hudson and William found themselves carried inside the wings of the Avilodia, floating them back towards their fantastic tree in the forest. The rest followed in procession behind them.
At the tree with the empty rectangular window, Antiphon, Diapazon, Selah, Lilikin, and Goliphant stood around the boys wishing them one last farewell. Lyric stepped forward and gave a silent kiss to the foreheads of each boy.
“Thank you for coming back,” she said. “Thank you for bringing us the Seed.”
She smiled at the boys. They smiled back, and turned towards the dark opening of the massive tree.
“I’ll go first, okay Hud?” said William.
“Not a chance,” said Hudson. “We go together, okay?” He took his brother’s hand. “On three….One….two….three!”
Jumping into the dark space didn’t seem easier this time, but at least they knew what to expect. Hudson could sense that they were back in the shack when they landed together with a thud on the hard wooden floor.
Hudson groaned, searching around the tiny room. His brother lay next to him, shivering again with cold. He hurried to his feet and grabbed the blue knitted sweater from the dusty cot.
“Here, Will, take this. It’ll help you get warm again,” said Hudson, helping his brother put it on, and gathering him up to a standing position.
“I don’t know why I get so cold when we jump through the tree, Hud, but it’s an awful shiver,” said William, hugging himself in the extra large garment. He reached over the cot and grabbed Poppy’s hat that had been waiting for him. He tugged it hard over his ears.
“I don’t know either,” said Hudson, “but once we get back to Poppy’s place, we can get you into bed.”
The boys opened the old wooden door of the shack. It creaked on its hinges, offended at its being used. Hudson looked up at the sky. The sun was just beginning to set, and the dusk had brought a vivid palette of pinks and oranges that painted the sky. “Let’s walk fast, Will. It’s gonna be dark soon.”
The two boys trotted through the viney space, weaving their way back towards the trail.
As they silently made their way out of the clearing, the boys heard a soft crackling sound. Alarmed at the noise, they stopped in their tracks and turned around.
Hudson stood at the edge of the clearing and stared with his mouth open wide.
Right before their eyes, the shack that had been shrouded in vines had disappeared. The vine-covered carpet that spread over the entire surface of the clearing was suddenly gone.
In its place was a miniature meadow of soft and fuzzy green grasses.
The boys looked at each other with wide eyes. William shook his head and looked again. Hudson frowned, trying to make sense of the magical disappearance that had just occurred.
“Come on, Will,” said Hudson. “I can’t explain what just happened, but I know we gotta get home.”
The boys walked in silence for a few moments, unable to put words to what they felt. After they passed the waterfall, William spoke up. “Do you think it was real, Hud?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” asked Hudson.
“I mean, could we be in a weird dream? Am I gonna wake up tomorrow and be in my bed at Poppy’s house and realize that all of this wasn’t real?”
“Real? Of course it’s real, Will!” shouted Hudson. “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
The boys raced towards Poppy’s, eager to share their adventures.
After a long hike in the woods, the boys finally meandered into Poppy’s back yard just as the first stars of the night twinkled their early evening light. They trudged into the living room with fearful anticipation.
As the slappy screen door announced their entry, Dad called from upstairs.
“There you are! Glad you’re back! We’re up here,” Dad said.
As the boys arrived upstairs, Hudson noticed that everyone had gathered around Poppy in his room. Dad sat in a corner with a book, and Great-Aunt Birdie bobbed in a rocking chair click-clacking her knitting needles. Mom sat next to Poppy on the bed, holding his hand and talking softly to him.
Poppy blinked his eyes and turned his head in the direction of the boys.
“My boys,” he rasped, and his cheeks lifted into a laborious smile. His face was pale, oddly corpse-like, with all the color of life absent from his expression.
Mom stood up to give room on the bed for the two brothers to sit next to Poppy.
“You found my sweater,” Poppy said, and winked at William.
William gasped. Hudson gasped. The boys’ eyes grew wide with recognition, and then they both started talking at once.
“Found the shack!”
“The mysterious poems!”
“Crawled right through the window!”
“The awful vine, and Lyric—”
“Found the tiny star-seed!”
“Ran right into Goliphant and—”
“Kakaya almost killed them!”
“Beautiful tree, Poppy!”
“With golden branches—”
“Water ran right through the forest—“
“Vines just dropped, and wings appeared!”
“Lyric, so beautiful with white wings, Poppy!”
“And they’re free, Poppy! They’re free!”
Poppy listened intently, his face nodding from boy to boy, keeping up with their story. When they finished the last of their tale, Poppy leaned his head back upon his pillows and sighed, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
Mom, Dad and Great-Aunt Birdie sat mute, with confused looks on their faces.
Poppy opened his eyes and looked at the boys. “The tree,” said Poppy. “It was just like I had hoped.”
He coughed and sputtered, struggling to breathe. His eyes looked up at the boys as he gasped for air.
“Poppy,” said Hudson, quickly putting things together in his head, “Did your sickness begin…when you jumped back into our world in that little shack window?”
Poppy closed his eyes and nodded. A scratchy wheeze escaped from his body. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He struggled to swallow, and then rasped, “It started with a coldness that rushed through my body, like being dipped in a frozen lake.”
“That’s how I felt, Poppy!” said William, all of a sudden realizing he was still wearing the blue sweater. He began to shed himself out of the woolen garment. “Here Poppy, you need this more than I do.” William lovingly placed the sweater over Poppy’s chest.
A barking cough seized Poppy and returned again and again, wearing out the already frail frame of the old man. As the cough finally released him, Poppy spoke again. “I thought the cold would end, but it got worse, and my heart….my heart…it began to give me trouble.”
Hudson realized the desperation of the situation. Poppy was dying, and it was all because he sacrificed himself to find that seed of freedom for the people of Kelos. His discovery broke the bonds of slavery for Lyric and all her fellow captives, but it shackled Poppy into a plunge towards death.
Something inside of Hudson’s mind flashed a memory, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out the golden leaf that Antiphon had given him. “Look, Poppy, this is from that tree! It healed the land of Kelos! Antiphon asked me thank you for your help.” Hudson placed the leaf inside of Puppy’s withered hand. His hand weakly held the golden leaf, cradled by skin that was papery thin.
Poppy cupped the leaf in his hand and placed his other palm over the top.
And then, something happened.
Out of the spaces between his fingers glowed a golden light, emanating heat and warmth that Hudson could actually feel.
“What on earth?” asked Great-Aunt Birdie, noticing the glow inside of Poppy’s hands.
The grownups stood up and gathered around the side of Poppy’s bed.
Poppy closed his eyes and lay his head back on his pillow, still holding the leaf in his cupped hands.
The warmth filled the room like the newborn rays of the spring sun. Hudson felt warm all over. He looked at Poppy. The color of his face began to change from pale and ashen to a ruddy complexion, rosy and strong. He took a deep breath through his nose and held it for a long moment. Suddenly, he was startled and opened his eyes. A breath slowly exhaled out of his body and he smiled.
He opened his palms to reveal an empty space. The leaf was gone.
William’s eyes bulged. “Did you pull a magic trick, Poppy? What’d you do with that leaf?” he asked. He picked up Poppy’s hands, trying to see if it slipped inside the sleeves of his robe.
Poppy began to laugh, first a fragile thin laugh, which then grew into a hearty rumble of a chuckle, bursting forth from his chest. He opened his palms to show his family. There, in the direct center of each palm, where the deep chasms of wrinkles met in the roadways of his hand, was an imprint of a small leaf. It was as if the leaf was part of the natural pattern of the folds in his skin.
Poppy giggled like William. “The leaf…” he said, and closed his eyes. “I think it has become part of me.” He laughed again. “And I feel…I feel…”
Mom’s eyes bulged, and Dad rushed to check the palms of Poppy’s hands.
“Well now, I ain’t never seen anythin’ like it, not in all my days,” said Great-Aunt Birdie.
“Of course!” Hudson exclaimed. “If the tree could heal the land of Kelos, it could certainly heal you, too, Poppy! Do you think…”
“Would SOMEONE tell me what is going on?” said Mom. “What just happened? Boys, what did you do in the forest? And what is Kelos? And where on earth did you find a leaf that looked like that?”
The boys looked at each other and smiled. “Well mom, I suppose it all started–”
“With Poppy’s hat!” yelled William. “And… and a walk in the woods, and–”
While the boys relayed their tale to their parents and Great Aunt Birdie, Hudson could sense that the grownups had their doubts. But as the story unfolded, Hudson could see that Poppy was going to be okay. His eyes gained back their sparkle. He sat up straighter. And he laughed heartily when he heard about Lilikin and Goliphant.
“Tonight, I won’t fear the darkness no more,” whispered Poppy into Hudson’s ear.
“That’s because the darkness has been conquered, Poppy,” said Husdon, “just like you knew it would!”