I had dreamt long enough that I had forgotten about the world. At first I was indignant at its intrusion. My dreams were peaceful and without conflict, I awoke from them unpracticed in dealing with reality. Her voice called the wrong name but she spoke the Words and so I must answer.
“Whats that mean Mica?” A froggy little voice from a squat little boy. Golden hair and brilliant colored clothing. How long had I been asleep? How much the Stewards had changed since I was last awake.
“Mommy said it’s a… umm… a thank you to mother earth.” shrill and warbling like a baby bird. Now here was a Steward. Dark hair and wrapped in colors of the forest. It was she who had conjured the Words.
“That’s dumb!” the boy croaked. With sudden force he attacked the girl, pushing her to the ground. Not a frog then but a toad. The girl shrieked as she fell. Fury! Oh how could I have forgotten anger. It raged and flashed like fire, but with its was a heaviness. Weight dragged at me with an inevitable push to act.
Too long. It had been too long. No one had spoken the Words or offered the Gift in many years. My limbs were cold and heavy. Earth. That is what I felt. Deep below beyond the sun, cold and wet. I strained at the cloying muck with all the burning strength I could muster. Which was little more than an ember on the wind. Yet it was enough.
I pulled my hand free and in doing so sent the muck and dirt that had entombed it soaring through the air. It landed with a satisfying soggy smack. The toad let out a throaty croak. The precursor to wailing sobs. Gone were his brilliant colors replaced instead with earth. As he turned and wobbled away his piercing cry summoned an elder who set about cleaning him.
The little bird sang. Not the lilting melody of the song bird, but a cackling of the black bird. Her laughter was rather endearing.
She turned and looked at me with a toothy smile. It soon scrunched into a look of consternation as she began rummaging her pockets. The girl presented a small sweet. A little disk of black and white and black.
“Umm, I’m supossa give a gift yeah?” She gave the sweet a last longing look before running off.
Oh joyous light! The Gift was a wellspring of energy. Though the offering was small it had been all of her worldly possessions. And what strength is there in one with much who gives little when compared with one who has little giving much. With my one free hand I gently accepted her Gift. With its strength I pulled my remaining limbs free.
Surveying my domain I found things had changed considerably. The lush grove had dwindled to a smattering of trees and was no encircled by poison and stone paths. At the edge of my trees there now stood a mighty lodge made of red stones and crystal. A shrill and warbling whistle came. I watched from the dappled shadows as many of the young Stewards gathered together and followed their caretaker inside.
Riding on the wind I swept through the grass to press myself along this mighty lodge. Peering through the crystals I saw into many strange rooms. In several an elder stood before the young and spoke. I had seen this before, the passing of stories from one generation to the next. It took many tries before I found the girl. I watched for a time as she and the others scattered about the room doing many things. My mind grew hot once more as the boy approached her. I readied myself to dive through the crystal and assail him once more, though I did not know if I had the strength. But my passion soothed as the two smiled and set about their task together.
I watched for a time before growing weary and let the gentle breeze waft me back to my den. I rested for a time but it was not the sleep of dreams. After a time I heard the sounds of children though none approached my domain. Night came and went and still I rested. I did not rise again until furtive footsteps approached. It was the bird and the toad but two more approached with them as well. They spoke of my pitiful attack yesterday but in a reverent tone as though it was the mightiest feat they had ever seen.
The other three had many questions and the little bird sang of times gone by. She spoke of many things with great confidence though she was only ever half right. I did not have the heart, nor indeed the strength, to correct her. It was decided then, she would be my Voice. I would have preferred an elder. One more knowledgeable in the Words and the Gifts. But she had awakened me and if for no other reason that made her deserving.
In the days that came she would come with many of the young stewards. She taught them the Words and they would leave Gifts. Sometimes food, and other times goods made by their own hands. I did not understand what this ‘Macaroni Art’ was but it seemed to be a combination of the two. My strength returned as my caretaker and her people visited me regularly. I would watch them more and more and learn their ways. Within my grove they were safe, the weather was kind and the creatures within left them be. They were safe even from the Elders when they wanted to hide.
As my strength grew so did my reach. I tried to watch the little bird when she went home but she travelled to far for me to see, but the wind still carried her voice to me and so I was content to listen. I could hear her Elders with her. I desperately wished to meet the one who had taught her the Words. Perhaps someday.
After a time my stewards become quite enthusiastic. They were preparing for a great journey to Zoo where they would see many beasts. I swelled with pride at the young stewards, no fear among them for this great journey only excitement. When the day inevitably came they all walked into one of the great yellow lodges that rumbled across the stones. Normally my stewards would get on many different ones with other young ones. But today they all got on one together. I watched for as long as I could but inevitably they left my sight and so I listened. They nattered on like chattering squirrels but they were happy.
Pain. A clash like thunder and screams of peril. My spirit ran icy cold. I could not see but something was terribly wrong. Swirling about my domain I tried to find a path past the stones that bound me.
Her tiny voice send me into a frenzy. I could hear the water around her and the fear in her voice.
I knew she was not asking for me on purpose but the call dug hooks into me all the same. My search became more frantic. There! A tube of stone below the paths with a trickle of water. The stone pushed and shoved trying to keep me at bay but if it could not contain the water it could not contain me!
I swam, as hard and fast as I had ever before. Ever closer to her voice. Ever closer to my stewards. My trickling water flowed into a stream which met with a mighty river. Suddenly I was there. The yellow lodge was sinking beneath the river. They had driven off a stone path arching above the water. Why had they taken such a dangerous route on their journey?
Water was seeping into the lodge. The children screamed. Air was running out. Time was running out. I did not have my strength of old but it did not matter. I shattered the crystals and let my arms grow long, reaching far into the lodge. It was made of something that burned me but it did not matter. One by one I gathered them close to me, all of the young and their elders. I pulled them free from the sinking and swam to shore. I was slow now. It was too much for me. My grasp weakened. I began to sink. I could only hope it had been enough.
The dreams came for me then as I settled in the muck and stones below. I fought them and stayed awake but I do not know how much time passed. I had not the strength to move. I heard her voice many times. It gave me strength. Inch by inch I began to claw my way out. Time passed and I crawled.
She spoke the Words. She gave thanks. I could feel the gifts left by her and the others. They had survived then. I heard her less and less as the days passed. But she was never gone long. Eventually I found the stream and then the trickle back to my domain. Even there it took so long to reach my den. Once there I found dozens and dozens of Gifts, but their strength had waned. No Gifts had come in a long time.
She came to me then. She had grown so much. Nearly an Elder herself. I soared with song and joy to see her once more. She sat with me for a long time and spoke of many things. She would be leaving soon and would not return for a long time. She would travel far to learn more of the old ways. She would learn about the Words and Gifts so that she could teach others. I was very proud of her.
When she was finished she spoke the Words and my Name. The true Name! She had already begun to learn then. From her clothes she produced another Disk. She placed the black and white and black at my feet once more.
As she left I let the dreams take me, content knowing that I would wake when she called again.
This work was based upon a writing prompt from Reddit which can be found here: