The Weald Teller
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Author Topic: The Weald Teller  (Read 159 times)


The Weald Teller
« on: July 24, 2021, 11:21:03 AM »

“There’s so much that you do not yet know, my little ones. I have many lessons to teach you but, for today, let us learn not to be impetuous.”

Once upon a time, in the middle of the swamp was a great tree. At first glance, it looked like many other flowering trees that grew throughout the land. Whether the world was lit with sun or moon, it shimmered and shone brilliantly like a beacon. It was covered in rough scaly bark of deep bronze and its branches were laden with flowers, glistening rose gold, and pears, silver with gold leaves. The fruit grew bountiful and large within the great tree. It had been named many eons ago, The Offering Weald.

It was eternally flowering and bearing fruit to provide food for any creature in need. With any gift, however, there always came a warning. And The Offering Weald had a warning, too. One that many had to experience before they realized what it meant and how terribly it could hurt. For whispered to each kin who took a fruit was the same turn of phrase.

Do not share this gift with another soul.

It was a simple statement, but it was the tasks which should have been easy that always posed a much harder challenge. And there was no reason why, none that was given, and even less that was explained if one were to ask. Only the deep trauma left behind in eyes afflicted by a terrible fate they could not speak of, would never be able to voice at all lingered and warned to take the edict seriously.

And with that known, we begin our story.

Heedless, a kiokote doe, was young and had long disregarded the advice and instruction of others. It was often the way of youth, to think that the elders had long forgotten how to live life to the fullest. They were stodgy and cautious and no longer knew what fun even was. (The elders, of course, thought similarly of the young, for they had no sense and rushed headlong into everything without a thought in their heads.) And this child was no different than most.

The youngest of nine, Heedless was often protected from consequences and harsher realities. It was a mistake that the others had made in the thought that their youngest sibling and daughter would grow out of her impetuous nature. Instead, it seemed to stick even more than the sap of a maple tree.

Listens Long had had three previous clutches before Heedless and her siblings came along. Her first five children and now Heedless's three clutch-mates had all been far more passive and easy going than the youngest of her children. And she felt herself at a loss for what to do, other than continue to mother her, in a less forgiving manner.

It was another child of hers that had heard of the Offering Weald, Victory. He had been a hard child to raise, too, for he wanted to experience everything himself before he made decisions. As he had grown, it had changed to adventures that he could undertake and then use to teach others. And he had trekked to the grand tree and heard the warning and turned away without taking a pear for himself for there were none there who had heeded the warning. Only those who had not.

He was not foolish enough to take something which he did not understand and he had thought, perhaps foolishly, that his sister might heed such a warning if the haunted looks were turned on her. Listens Long was not so sure but she was also out of ideas. If a journey to this great tree could inform her daughter of sense and reason, it seemed that there was nothing to lose in such an endeavor. Years later, she would wonder if that was the worst mistake she ever could have made.

With Victory's recollection their guide, Listens Long and Heedless had set off for the Offering Weald. And it was only days in that they realized it would be a lot harder than either could have imagined but neither of them wanted to turn back. The mother was afraid this would be her only hope to tame her daughter's wild ways; the daughter was too delighted to rush into a new world. Perhaps if Victory had joined them... Perhaps...

The dried meat they had taken to satiate their hunger disappeared first. Heedless was not used to needing to reserve food and had eaten far more than her share would allow but Listens Long had not the heart to feel as though she was damaging her daughter. She ate less than she needed but when the dried meat ran out, it was only a repetition with the fruit. And it continued on with every source of food that the duo procured for Heedless, not knowing her mother's sacrifice had no reason to change her ways. She continued to eat her fill and it was only water that she had any sort of rationing to consider and that was only because she received so much moisture from the fresh fruit that she had so little thirst to complain of; it might have been the only benefit besides company that Listens Long received.

It was more than a week before they came upon the great tree. Listens Long was hungry, so much hungrier than Heedless could dream of. And by now, the daughter had come to realize that her mother was not in good health. The elder doe was weak and her body seemed to droop in exhaustion. It was Heedless, and Heedless alone, that approached the tree. She heard the warning but she had no intention of sharing the fruit. For the first pear, she gave her mother alone.

The pear was the most delicious thing Listens Long had ever tasted and in her hunger, she looked up at her daughter with longing, "Please, another."

Heedless had no reason to turn her down and retrieved another pear, the warning ringing out once more. The elder doe heard nothing for she, herself, had taken no pear from the tree. And so after half the pear had touched her tongue, she did what all mothers might do.

"You must eat, too, my dear," Listens Long insisted. And Heedless saw no reason to decline.

The kiokote took the sweet pear into her mouth and as the fruit slid down her throat, mother and daughter felt the warning take hold. For in sharing the fruit, the souls could no longer be near one another. It was a deep seated need to get away and the two leapt to their feet and apart. Unfortunately, there was no such thing as a distance far enough and the pain in standing even a kin-length apart was unbearable.

Heedless began to cry and Listens Long wailed, but there was no reprieve. The warning had been given. And Heedless had not listened.

There was no sense in blame now, for both were terribly stricken with undeniable hurt. And the conversation was silent as to what to do, but Heedless knew she could not keep her mother from her siblings. And Listens Long could not stay with the tree that robbed her of her youngest child. They stared at one another as long as they could stand before stepping backward once, another shared look, a step back, and repeat until they could no longer see each other. The pain ebbed away, the longing thundered full force. And Heedless, well, she refused to let another fall to this.

And so Heedless never did see her mother again. As all who came before her, she was afflicted with torment. Unlike those before her, she explained the tragedy to all who came to the tree. Heedless became the teller; she told all who came of the warning and the result of not listening to it as she had. She told them of her siblings and of her mother. She told them of the pain and the longing. She told them of the misery and of the gift they had of being together with those they loved. For it mattered now who the pear was shared with. It forced your greatest love from your side forever. She was patient, now, and kind, and determined that no other should befall the curse that the fruit held within its flesh. She didn't always succeed but she tried whenever another approached to take a pear. For no one should go hungry and no one should lose someone they loved.

“The time has come, my children. It is time to meet your grandfather, Heritage. It’s time to go home.”