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THE REVISED EDITION — PART 1 — DESERT

The Green Man of Destiny: 1 — Home

Visions — A Journey Begins…

Photo by Peter Hammer on Unsplash

The plaintive moan of the rising wind against the house startled Gren. He turned, squinting. Swathed in layers of garment, his face buried at the center of the tattered cloth, scant protection. As he faced the dry wind in the waning light, his hazel eyes glazed over. He glimpsed his father struggling to mend the gap in the sand fence. The fine dry sand pelted Gren’s outer garments as he turned back toward the house and his task. The storm was close. For as long as he could remember, he had been afraid of the storms. A backdraft of gritty wind ground against the house whirled up through his underclothes at his waist and took his Spirit. The wind moaned again. He reached up with his will and tried to tether his Spirit, but it was now blown away by the oncoming maelstrom.

His Spirit had gone to the night. The Storm. The moan of the wind had become a howl. Garments flapped all around. Drops of rain on his cheek, a salty, stinging rain. A lonely cry welled up from the boy, that wound around the wind in terror’s claws and was drowned out by the howl of the storm.

His Spirit returned, whipped by the wind and given back as if by a blessing. He needed his Spirit, as the wind tore a shutter from his absent grasp and smashed it against the house. He fumbled for it, fighting frantically with all his strength, and tied it down.

The growing dust cloud behind Wry, Gren’s father, had buried the setting sun and was eating the desert in its path. The tall, wiry man, wrapped in layers of protective clothing, battled against the winds. He bent the wire behind an etched fence pole and mended the gap. The fence sighed heavily from the weight of the existing sand and the new sand flowing in. The grizzled man strode through the short palms to the house. Gren continued to struggle with the shutters. Wry helped the boy finish his work.

Together, without speaking, they entered the double-door foyer into the dark interior of the house. It was a murky darkness and faintly smoky.

The glowing stove shed the only light in the large stone chamber. A cauldron of stew simmered over the coals. Gren removed his outer shell, spilling sand into the foyer. He hurried to light the oil lamps.It was his father expectation. Wry arrived at the table the room under a dim yellow light. Gren ladled stew into two bowls, fetched the two wooden spoons, and joined the patriarch at the table.

Together, as dictated by traditions barely remembered, they bowed their heads. The full brunt of the storm closed around them in a fist of howling winds and crackling sands. Wry muttered the words of the Prayer of Thanks and shouted out the Promise.

“We have made Thanks in hope that Green Man will restore the forest as it once was and will always be. Amen.”

Gren knew the words well. He could not hear the Promise over the din of the storm.

“Amen,” Gren shouted in response.

They ate the stew slowly, as was the custom. The raging storm loosed its wrath all around the house. The idea behind this way of eating was to think of the power of the storm. It could swallow you and eat you alive in an instant — to face your fear of it and yet taste your food with calm awareness. Gren knew the tradition well. To eat eagerly from hunger, as he wanted to do, would result in a beating from his father. As a very young child, even before First Passage, Gren had learned this lesson only after several beatings. It was only later he understood that eating from hunger was a sign of gluttony and waste.

As they finished eating, the storm abated.

“Father?”

The man glanced at the boy and nodded.

“Will I see Mother during my Second Passage?”

His father shook his head. “Your mother died in a storm like this one.” He paused. “But now is the time to put these childish memories to rest in the past. In less than three days your Second Passage will begin and you will be a man.”

“But I want to know what happened to my mother.”

Wry stood up, the bench clattering to the floor. The dead quiet of the storm’s eye was passing overhead. His fists clenched and his face reddened as he spat out the words:

“I told you — she died in a storm trying to steal you from this house. The sand ate her. I could not save her, but I saved you.”

Gren had pulled back. He knew what he had said was dangerous. He couldn’t help himself. He wanted to know what he couldn’t remember. The man sucked in a breath and let his fists become hands again.

He righted the bench and sat down. “We could have a little more stew while the storm is still quiet,” said the kind father within, and Gren brightened. “But first we must speak of tradition. Your mother has been dead for eleven years now.

You must let her go if you are to fulfill the Tradition of the Eight and achieve your Destiny.”

“Yes,” Gren gulped, a tremor in his young body. “And what else?” The stern father had returned. “I will complete Second Passage by order of the Tradition of the Eight. I will find the Green Man. I will bring him back here. He will restore the ancient trees.”

“Very good. Now a wee bit of stew before the storm comes back full.” Wry flashed a small smile. Gren was so happy that his father had smiled that he nearly stumbled over his own feet on the way to the cauldron.

They ate the little bit of stew with great gusto. It was one of his father’s many contradictory cheats.

“Sleep tonight for the last time in your child’s bed,” said Wry.

“Two days from now we will arrive at the Sacred Mound. And then you will become a man.”

Out of a matted darkness, a thick lush forest appeared in the closed eyes of sleep. A darkness sprinkled with emerald phosphorescence and caressed by moonlight — an old man appeared. He emerged from the tangled growth and entered a small clearing. Clothed in moss, leaves, and vines they covered his green skin. He touched the plants on either side as he walked. When his fingers alighted on these plants they glowed with a pulsing green light.

The Green Man stopped at the fern where Gren had hidden himself. The old man’s eyes twinkled as he stooped down lower. His long, gaunt arm glided through the fronds. With a bony green finger extended he touched the center of Gren’s forehead.

Gren awoke in the darkness of his sleeping alcove. The storm was fading — a distant memory. His father’s steps approached, the swinging lantern casting puddles of dim light. The man reached up to hang the lantern.

“I’m already awake, Father,” Gren said as he sat up in bed. His father brought the lantern down again and stopped short. He moved the light toward Gren’s face to examine the center of his forehead, which still glowed in a soft green light. There was the touch of green on the boy’s forehead.

©2019 F. K. Ontario

The Next Chapter:

Thank you for joining me in the hero’s adventures across a dying planet ready for resurrection through the ways of alchemical magic in search of the Being to restore the world to greenery once again.

Blessings, Passion, and Grace on your journey. May whatever or whomever your looking for — find you.

(If you do NOT wish to be tagged, let me know, and I’ll tag you not):

Barbara Murray | K. Pearson Bradley | Rebecca Romanelli | Joseph Lieungh | Dr. Preeti Singh | Pene Hodge | Dr Mehmet Yildiz | Kris Bedenian | Alberto García 🚀🚀🚀 | Blaine Coleman | Lee David Tyrrell | DL Nemeril | David Price | Rip Parker | Annelise Lords | Libby Shively McAvoy | Alison Hollingsead

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