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The Gardens of Euran: Chapter 1 (a novella)

Jennifer loves writing short stories and hopes to beat Ray Bradbury's count. She's only got 580 left to go.

The Gardens of Euran: Chapter 1

The Gardens of Euran: Chapter 1

Through the Gardens of Euran

Yomata felt the cool afternoon breeze grace his cheeks. As he put one foot in front of the other, the ground felt soft and damp. The light was waning, causing shadows in the trees. He heard a sound, like a hiss, or maybe the wind.

Hiss. There is was again.

Yomata kept his eyes straight ahead.

"Howsssss the garden today." Yomata heard from behind him.

"My roses went into full bloom." Yomata said, his eyes fixed ahead on a mountaintop peaking through the trees.

"How marvelousssssss. Isn't it such a shame that they will wilt in a few weeksssss."

Yomata didn't answer. He knew the rhythms of nature, but he still couldn't shake enjoying the beauty they held for a moment.

Yomata stopped. Something caught his eye, and he left the path. Parting the thick groundcover, he revealed a glowing indigo flower. He busted out laughing.

"What'ssssssssss so funny?" Densreale asked.

Yomata felt Densreale's breath on his neck.

"I remember when this garden was covered in these allareina flowers. In the early morning, the garden would glow as the petals warmed up in the dim light." Yomata looked up for a second and envisioned what the garden used to look like. He leaned in and smelled the flower. It was sweet like a honeysuckle and calming like oil from a northern spruce.

Yomata spread the ground cover back over the flower and walked away. "You shall not touch it," he shouted back at Densreale as he rejoined the path.

Densreale shrank back from the flower.


To the Waterfall

Yomata felt a presence behind him, again. "Don't you have something better to do?" he asked.

"Thissssss garden is mine. I can go wherever I want now."

Yomata, again, kept quiet. The sound of a waterfall in the distance was like a rapturous music to his ears. He heard melodies, harmonies, and fully symphonies playing. Such perfection! Such eloquence! He was moved by the emotions welling up inside of him. "Don't you hear that?"

Densreale stopped to listen. "No. What shall I be lisssstening for?"

Yomata smiled for he knew it was music only he could hear. It was on a different frequency than Densreale's ears could pick up. The sound circled around him and took life as if invisible to the mind's eye.

"Densreale. I thought you'd left."

Yomata looked up towards the sky. It was the purest blue with not even a wisp of cloud.

"It will rain soon," Densreale said, his voice lower than usual.

"Not yet." Yomata bounded onto a rock overlooking the pool below the waterfall. He could see fifty feet down to the bottom. He lay on the warm rock on his stomach and stared at his reflection in the still water. Densreale was standing over him.

Yomata reached down into the water, cupping some of it into his hands. He raised them to his lips and drank. He swished the water around in his mouth like wine, tasting every note of surreal clarity. "Have a drink?" he said to the shadow behind him.

"I'm not thirsty."

Yomata splashed Densreale with the water, giving out a playful laugh.

Densreale shrieked and swiftly hid behind a rock.

The waterfall in Euran

The waterfall in Euran

Up the Mountain

Yomata sofly hummed to himself as he began the walk up the mountain. Every stone beneath his feet was smooth, each one with a unique feel as if they eminated different levels of energy into his soles. It tingled slightly, yet pleasantly. A commotion arose behind him.

"Ouch." Densreale hopped on one foot and looked down at his injured one. A spot of blood lay on one of the rocks. "Curse you!" he said and the rock turned to ash before his eyes. He continued to hobble up the mountain.

Yomata kept a strong gait, determined to reach the summit before sunset. Behind him several paces he heard grumbling.

"Blast. This sun is blazing hot. What an ugly mountain. Such useless hard work"

Yomata heard heavy breathing as Densreale struggled forward. "You don't like the sun?" he raised his voice so that it would carry behind him.

Sweat dripped into Densreale's eyes. "Not when it's frying me alive."

Although the mountain was completely rocky, one tree had large leaves that created a cabana under them just large enough for one person.

Densreale caught up to Yomata reclining in the shade. As he stood panting, Yomata calmy got up and began walking up the trail. As Densreale moved towards the shade, the shadows shifted, leaving him standing under the tree, yet feeling no coolness or shadow on his face. "Useless!" he said, pointing his finger at the tree's trunk. It withered and fell into a heap of dried leaves and rotten wood.

Yomata's eyes stay fixed on the step in front of him. Every single one was a delight. The summit would be a delight, but so was each step.

"This is awful. Evil, really. Who makes such an uninhabitable place? I can't even breathe up here. It's too high." Densreale grumbled for more than a mile.

Yomata began to sing, and his voice overtook the sound below.

"How can he sing while walking through such a disssspicable place. Curse the day I was born." Densreale leaned against a rock, unable to catch his breath. "Sweet Smyrnah," he cursed as his hand burned on the rock.

The rocky mountains separating the cities from the garden.

The rocky mountains separating the cities from the garden.

On the Summit

Yomata knelt down on the summit. In one direction lay the garden, and in another, several cities spanning out into the desert. He looked with joy upon the garden, but as his eyes panned towards the cities, he wept.

Densreale clawed his way up the final push.

Yomata's eyes stayed fixed on the city, but he could feel Densreale's presence.

After several minutes of heavy breathing, Densreale stood next to Yomata, puffed out his chest and said, "Would you like them?" He waved his hand at the cities below.

Yomata knelt silently. Densreale stepped in front of him, put his hands together, and then stretched them out, forming a see-through screen in front of Yomata's eyes. A man slaps a woman's face and leaves her crying on a heap on the ground, a young boy grabs jewels and blots out the door of a house, a line of men are beheaded.

"No!" Yomata screams, a pained grimace crossed his face.

Then in the vision, waves of people fall to the ground dead, heaps of bodies are thrown into a blazing fire, a room of downcast women hide in a corner as a man with a sword approaches, a dinner party drinks the wine and falls to the ground dead, and newborn babies are sacrificed on an altar.

Yomata fell to the ground, his arms stretched out, weeping loudly, his face planted into the earth.

Densreale closes the vision. "You can stop it. Let me dessssstroy them now before these things come to pass."

"No!" Yomata said, his voice roaring like that of a lion. Like lightning, he was on his feet.

"You can't sssssssssave them all." Densreales eyes, dark and hollow met the blazing eyes of Yomata. "They are all evil. Not one is good," he said.

Yomata let out an audible breath and a dark shroud covered most of the land. Several small beams of light ascended towards the heavens from individual houses.

Densreale lit a match on the bottom of his sandal and held it up towards the first city, one with only one beam of light. "That city is mine," he said, raising his hand towards it, readying himself to fling fire upon it.

Yomata blew the match out from ten feet away, blowing a spark onto Densreale's black cloak. His sleave caught fire and Densreale flung it onto the ground and stomped it out with his sandal.

Satisfied, Yomata turned and began the descent down the mountain, all the while admiring the way the sunset hit the rocks and made them sing with color.

© 2018 Jennifer Arnett

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