By Kala Séraphin
The boy tumbled down the grassy hill, following a butterfly. Without missing a beat, he picked himself up and continued the chase, jumping over logs, carelessly walking through shallow streams and finding himself deep in the forest that bordered the mansion he lived in. He wasn’t afraid of being so far from his home. When he realized just how far he’d gotten, the little boy shrugged and kept going, looking for the butterfly he was chasing.
He brushed his long brown hair out of his eyes. At six years old, he was still careless about his appearances. His caretaker, Gemma, always forced him to bathe and keep his tunics clean. He, on the other hand, preferred to let nature affect him the way it wanted to. Most of the time, that meant mud stains all over the house, black nails and strange bugs in the folds of his clothes. Gemma and all of the household staff abhorred the sight of this wild child. It didn’t bother him. He loved being close to nature. He didn’t understand why, but it made him feel more complete and connected to a force bigger than his known world.
“Noahn…” It was a soft whisper, barely audible. Someone, a woman, was calling his name. He looked around, seeing trees, flowers, bushes, dirt, grass but nobody who could speak. He continued skipping around, smiling to himself for no particular reason. The sun filtered through the trees, playing light games with little Noahn. Then he heard the voice again, a little louder. Someone knew his name and was trying to get his attention. It couldn’t be anyone from his home because they were all morally opposed to getting dirty and so remained at a safe distance from the forest.
Noahn walked around, searching, curious. The voice called him out, guiding him deeper in the forest. He came to a clearing and found a strange looking tree. It stood tall with delicate long branches reaching for the ground. The bark wrapped the tree in white with gold veins running through. The leaves, red as blood, swayed left and right though there wasn’t a breeze to be felt.
The little boy felt life radiating from this tree. It was different from the other trees that surrounded him. It pulled energy from the forest to it as opposed to giving off energy. Noahn followed the pull. He placed a chubby little hand on the tree and felt a subtle vibration. He knew this tree to be different though he didn’t understand why or how. Instead of trying to find answers, he simply sat down, leaning on the tree. The quiet of his surrounding combined with the warmth of the sun lulled him to sleep.
Dreams of his mother took over his mind. He couldn’t picture her face since he had never met her. Every time her presence came to his dreams, it was through a song. The soft melody filled his head and never ceased to have a calming effect. It was a lullaby Noahn had never heard while awake and could never recall when he roused from his slumber. He had strong feelings that this was what his mother would sing to him if she were still alive. She had died soon after his birth. Gemma said it was a disease of the blood. Noahn once overheard the cook whisper tales that his mother was murdered. Though he couldn’t understand tales of grown up gossip, Noahn felt that the truth was much bigger than what his household knew.
The song from the past quietly faded and arms wrapping around his small body woke Noahn from his sleep. He felt safe and loved in this strange embrace. Opening his eyes, he saw a beautiful lady with long, blood red hair and eyes of liquid gold. She smiled down at the little boy and caressed his hair.
“You have her eyes.” She said. It was the same voice that had called him to the tree.
Looking around, Noahn realized that the strange tree was no longer there.
“Who are you? Whose eyes do I have? Where is the magic tree?” He let the questions flow as he disentangled himself from the embrace.
The woman was not alarmed by the inquisition. She continued to smile as she sat where the tree was a moment ago.
“I’m aware of your people’s custom of giving names. You can call me Arbora. You have your mother’s eyes. The tree that you saw is right where you last saw it,” she answered in an amused tone. She had a strange accent he was unaccustomed to.
The mention of his mother caught Noahn’s attention. He focused on the woman in front of him, sensing the same energy that the tree emanated.
“You knew my mother? Can you tell me about her then?” He asked.
Arbora took his hand and sat him on her knees. She smelled of the forest after a rainy day.
“She was a great woman who loved to dance. Her love of life brought her close to the world beyond what you see. She could sense energy and could heal people. She held conversations with me and other life forms. For that, some called her mad while others worshipped her.” She explained, cuddling the little boy.
“Why did they kill her?” Noahn asked.
“One moment, I looked like a tree. The next, my form is similar to a human. It doesn’t matter because I am energy, just vibrating differently. Everything around you is just energy, vibrating at different frequencies. Your mother understood this. She died because sometimes, the easiest, simplest truth can be the scariest,” said Arbora.
It made sense to Noahn. He thought of the people living in the city and their worship of science and tangible truths. He once heard a man giving a lecture that declared, “If it cannot be seen, then it has no place in the science of life.” When Noahn innocently asked about love, he was laughed at. When he then asked about air, he was boxed on the ear.
“Noahn, your mother would want you to know this; don’t buy their stories as your truth. No matter how hard they try to convince you otherwise. Explore the truth for yourself,” continued the woman, looking the little boy straight in the eye.
He listened attentively, captivated by her golden eyes. There was something about them that put him in a trance. It wasn’t only the unnatural colour but their lack of expression. Not that Arbora’s eyes looked dead but the energy was unlike anything Noahn had seen before. Any word he could think about just wasn’t quite right.
“So, what should I do?” He asked.
“Be yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Go ask questions. Don’t stop asking, even if it angers people. Be in their world, but not of their world.” She replied.
Noahn nodded his head, taking in what she was saying.
The tree-lady then threw leaves at him and playing around. They skipped around, catching each other, looking for bugs and throwing more leaves. When the sun started to go down, Noahn stopped suddenly.
“I have to go home now. Can we play again tomorrow?”
Arbora smiled and kissed his cheek.
“You can come anytime, I’ll be here.”
He walked away, feeling light and happy, wondering if she felt the same. He looked back to wave but all he saw was the tree, standing strong in the fading sun. Noahn waved anyways and ran back to his caretakers.
Gemma was in the yard; drawing water from the well. She knew little Noahn would be covered in dirt from playing and so had thought it best to prepare a bath. As she noticed him walking out of the forest, she sighed.
“That boy is not going to like the news.” She mumbled, pulling out the bucket of water.
Misty, the servant, was coming out to shake out dust from the carpets. She looked at Noahn slowly approaching.
“What news would that be?” She asked.
“Word came today from the Council. They want him to start his education. They’re afraid that if he’s left to himself too long, he’ll find the Faith and start following it.” Gemma explained, planting her hands on her hips.
“How does that work?” Misty asked.
“I don’t know! Those men, rolling around deciding what’s right and wrong, are too afraid of the Faith to make sense half the time.” The old caretaker grumbled.
As Noahn approached, she proceeded to shower him with complaints about the state of his tunic, the dirt under his nails and other minor details. She rushed him to the baths to get ready for the evening meal.
Misty smiled, watching Noahn as he followed, mindlessly smiling and humming a tune while Gemma scolded him. She knew he would be alright. He was surrounded by the right people.
“Thank the Oracle.” She whispered, making sure no one heard her. She then went back to beating the carpets.
To find out about Naohn’s mother and read her story, click here
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Enjoy the adventure~