“In the first Earth there was a time when plants, animals, and men were in harmony. The plants grew the way they were told. The animals played their role as they should. However, the men became bent to the point of breaking. They rebelled against the King’s natural order, and became deaf and dumb.”
The boys seemed uneasy at the story. It was the first they had heard of the former Earth, and they were not used to stories with such elements. Oscar could see their discomfort.
“A great many things became twisted. The first but not the greatest loss was the natural order. People could no longer communicate with the plants or beasts. We lost our ability to cultivate harmoniously. We were left with only brute force to use on the plants and animals to get them to do what we wanted and needed. We broke our world with our rebellion. If it were not for the King, we would have destroyed it.”
The boys gasped. They could not imagine such a place. Oscar knelt down and spoke more gently to them. He drove the story home with a gestured depiction.
“We would rip plants from the ground and place them in new settings. Many plants died at our hand.” The boys recoiled. The look of disbelief washed over them all. Oscar was afraid he might leave them with emotional scars so he relented. “And these actions were the least bent of my world’s. The greater of my world’s wrongs are not to be named here, for they may very well turn your hearts to stone.”
Some of the students clutched at their chests as if they would protect their hearts. Oscar softened at their innocence. He was sad that even the knowledge of such things should be in these twelve children.
“However, the old things have passed away, and the new has come. When the first Earth was nearly destroyed the King came to set the natural order right again. He came to show the world how to repair what we had broken.”
Oscar stood from his squatting position and gestured for the boys to follow. They all stood and surrounded Oscar as he walked toward the edge of the garden. The boys were bouncing with anticipation. Oscar stopped near the hedge that marked the end of the garden and pointed out beyond.
“Out there are the wilds.” He turned and pointed inward toward the garden. It was a stark contrast. “In here is the garden.” The boy’s eyes flitted from one to the other. Oscar could tell their imaginations were running wild.
“Why is it different out there?” Abriel asked. Oscar was glad to see him engaged. He turned toward the boy to answer his question.
“It is like that out there because the wilds have no teacher. Not yet, that is.”
The boys thought about this in silence as they stared out on the twisted patches of vines and branches. Oscar wondered what they were thinking. The forest that stretched beyond the edge of the haven they were in was dark and brooding.
Oscar could sense their wonder as twelve sets of eyes looked out beyond the edge of their known world. He imagined what these boys, these men-to-be would someday do with this green, overgrown world.
“What are you, Abriel?” Oscar asked. The question obviously took him by surprise. He allowed the student a minute to consider.
“Yes, but what else?”
“A student,” he said. This time it sounded more like a question. Oscar reached out for his shoulder and gave him a pat.
“That’s right, but from now on you will be both a student and a teacher. All of you will. Ahh, there is another paradox for you.” The boys did not giggle this time. It felt much more serious than it had before.
“How can we be both students and teachers?” Shameless asked. Oscar turned and began to walk back toward the center of the garden. He spoke to them as they followed along.
“Just as you need a teacher, so do the plants. In time even the beasts will be your students. You have their language in you, but it is a language you have not yet used. You must work at it. Someday, you will even tame the wilds.”
Oscar glanced around as they walked back to the place of learning. He could see that they were all contemplating the things he had said.
“So why does the garden look the way it does?” Oseas asked.
“Because the plants in the garden had a teacher,” Oscar said as he knelt down and reached out for the patch of vines that Eduk had named. He touched them near the root and spoke softly. “Oasten Fringe, from now on you are to grow fruit that is good for eating.”
They watched with wide eyed wonder as Oscar stood. They waited as if it were going to happen before their eyes. Oscar watched them for a moment before he let out a hearty laugh. His laugh confused the boys. Their attention shifted to him.
“You have to be patient with plants, they move much slower than you do. Instructions may take days, or even weeks to fulfill. In time you will learn to work with all kinds of plants.”
“Can I try?” one of the boys asked.
“That is your assignment. From now until I return, you are to try what I have shown you. It will take patience and persistence. Don’t expect results right away. It is not with words that the plants change but with the deeper intention that the words represent. The biggest plants will move the slowest so extra patience will be required with them.”
“Too bad you chose the Unnamed Tree, Abriel. It’s huge,” one of the boys said. Abriel didn’t respond.
That’s all of the free preview.