Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Guardian Tree

Here is an excerpt from my story for the Unicorn Bell blogfest, "A Picture is Worth 1000 Words"

The Guardian Tree

Our tree has a secret.

Three years ago I was a simple farming elf. Every day after working in the fields I would pat our sturdy jale tree’s trunk on my way in to dinner with my wife and two children. Simple.

The purple storm was the forecast of change. A thick wind blew in from the Northern shores of Kanch and bellows of thunder called for our attention. The lavender blasts of electric strikes and the deep violet clouds tumbling in our direction mesmerized us in the fields.

I ran home and had my family huddle under the eating table, prepared for the worst. But when the storm arrived, it had weakened to a spring lilac drizzle. Outside, the sun had a plum hue and to this day, the grass retains burgundy tips.

The elders met and pronounced it a natural phenomenon. Unsatisfied with that explanation, rumors spread of the Dark Sorcerer’s return.

That night, I pat my tree as usual and paused. The tree had given me a shock.

“Hey, old friend tree. Did that storm bother you, too?”

The tree rustled in the breeze, as if answering. I laughed at my foolishness. Talking to a tree.

As I tucked my children into bed, I saw the restraint in their eyes, holding back a thousand questions. I sighed.

“What do you want to know?”

They exploded. Prattering and chattering, louder and louder to be heard over each other. I raised my hands.

“Bless my ears! Hold! That’s better. Chinney, you first.”

“Thank you, Father. Who is the Dark Sorcerer? And is it coming to get us?”

“Hey! That’s two questions! No fair!” Bana said.

“Sorry, Bana. You may also have two. The Dark Sorcerer Indigo is a legend of 1000 years ago. He was evil, using his powers to warp and twist innocent creatures into hideous beasts to serve him. His goal…”

“To rule Chromatia?” Chinney asked.

“Yes. Luckily, his twin sister, Sage was good and just as powerful. They had a great battle. Sage finally tricked Indigo and locked him in a prison.”

“In the caves of Kanch? With the trolls?” Bana asked.

“Quite right,” I said and tapped her nose.

“So is Indigo trying to escape?”

“I doubt it. It’s just a legend. One last question.”

“What do we do if it is Indigo?”

“Your mother and I will protect you. Now go to sleep.”

“But, do you have magic?”

“No more questions. Time to dream of happy things. Good night, children.”

I shut their door, but wondered what we would do if the legend was true. I shook my head and went to bed.

I woke with a start, in a cold sweat. I had dreamt that ugly little creatures were attacking our house. The window let in the lavender glow of a full moon. The wind whispered outside and my tree waved at me through the window. Feeling strangely assured by the tree, I almost fell back to sleep until I heard the crunching of grass.

I leapt to the window. The creepy critters from my dream were real! Half beetle and half possum, with an armored back, six furry legs, sharp claws, and long snouts. Small and harmless if only a few, but there were hundreds! They lurked in every yard, scratching to get into the houses, waking everyone. The odd thing was the little vermin weren’t harming anyone. They just sniffed the residents and moved on. I stepped out to help and several sniffed me. That sent them into a frenzy. They spun around, making clicking and clacking noises that reverberated through the lot of them, then they all ran away to the North.

We looked at each other, scratching our heads, with puzzled expressions. I shrugged and went back to bed.

“What was it dear?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s gone now.”

When the sun glared into the window the next morning, I felt a steady rocking motion.

“Dad! Dad!”

My children burst into my room.

“Go back to sleep, children. It is resting day.”

“But Dad! We’re moving!”

“No we aren’t.”

“Dear. I think we are.” My wife tapped my shoulder and pointed out the window. There was my familiar tree, but through the branches, clouds flew by.

I hopped out of bed and lost my balance, grabbing the window ledge to steady myself. Our tree had picked us up and was transporting us! Impossible!

“Where are we going, Father?” Bana asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Why don’t you ask the tree?” Chinney suggested.

I scrunched my brow at him. Logic of a child. I wonder.

“Tree? Could you be so kind as to tell us where we are going?” I smiled at the children, feeling silly for talking to a tree. But it was walking, so why not.

To Sage. It spoke in my head! I looked at my family. They would think I was crazy!

Who are you? I asked back, hoping it heard me.

I am your bondmate, it answered.

The full story is 2600 words, so I don't qualify to win. I don't usually get so carried away, but this was very fun! If you'd like to read the rest of the story I have it on a page...here


Alicia Willette-Cook said...

Who cares if you don't qualify! This was great! :) And keep it going! Good beginning for an epic Fantasy! Lots of quests, and battles, and Coming of Ages I foresee! Loved it! (In case you can't tell by my excessive use of exclamation points..)

Kyra Lennon said...

Beautifully written, well done!

mshatch said...

yes, yes! I concur! Post the rest and to hell with the word count! Loved the purple :)

Charity Bradford said...

Wonderful story Tara! Even long, I felt like you could have easily made it longer. Loved all the colors in Chromatia. :)

Angela Cothran said...

I totally want to live in that picture :) Great job!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great story!!! It sounds like the beginning of an awesome novel!

Morgan said...

Oh, I loved this! So magical! :D

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great fairy tale flavor. And one smart tree.

Christine Rains said...

I love this story! What an unusual image you painted of the little critters and the tree moving. Well done.

Huntress said...

Excellent dialogue. Your story absolutely swallowed me.

Very cool.

*going to your link now*

Unknown said...

I read the entire story and loved it. So very imaginative and perfect dialogues.

Misty Waters said...

This was great. I loved that you used the purple detail of the picture, which I hadn't noticed until you said something:) This absolutely could be the start to a great epic.

Aldrea Alien said...

Love the description of the little creatures. And I’m a sucker for bondmates, especially a tree that can move.

1000th.monkey said...

It definitely feels like this is too big for a short story.

I think I'm most curious about why there critters only freaked out when they sniffed the main character

Krista McLaughlin said...

That was great! I really liked it. :)

dolorah said...

Oh yes, I'll be continuing on.

May I suggest you submit the full story to the e-zine Bewildering Stories www.bewilderingstories.com.

This well polished and such an excellent story. The progression and voice is captivating. Each revelation deepens the intrigue.

Now, I have to go read more . .


Mark Koopmans said...

Hey Tara,

This isn't what I would normally read, but this was BRILL :)

LOVE the character names (Chimney!) and you definitely have a great foundation there :)

Tara Tyler said...

thank you so much for reading!
your praise melts my heart!

and i thoroughly enjoyed your stories too! (and posts, for those not in the fest!)

and Donna, I will definitely check out that site! Thanks for the recommendation!

Tracy Jo said...

Awesome story and love the names! So good!

Julie Flanders said...

Wow, what a great story!! I loved the atmosphere and the names are fantastic. Great work, I definitely want to read more. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This story is awesome! (I would definitely buy the book, if I read this excerpt.)The best part is the "purple storm" and every detail it brought with it. Brilliant! I can see this as a trilogy, fleshing out each Bonded pairs training etc. Love Love Love it!
I want more!

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