Short Note: Hi I’m Arvind, writing this fantasy novel “The Upside Down Peach Garden” which will soon be a complete book with illustrations by the end of this year.
Dedicated to Isabel Vaz first, I would like to now share it with curious, avid readers – folks like you who might be looking forward to something new from the fantasy realm.
Season of the Fire-Elk
A Blue wolf howled at what was a half-moon, whose silver light trickled through the canopy from beneath where children sat face down gazing at the stars that looked like looted treasure sparkling magnificently. The emerald leaves danced to the melody of a gentle breeze who tickled their senses as he blew past merrily, whistling a forgotten tune that sang of the ancient Garden. From the ceiling of soil, fireflies seemed to shower like gold, ready to descend to the canopy to entertain the curiosity of young children. Nocturnal animals ran overheard bound on their never-ending journey to the Paper mountains where food and water are abundant, yet sacred.
Houses, hung from above, cemented to the soil – reinforced by an opening at the bottom of the tree trunks, and gave off an air of celebration as mothers and grandmothers stirred rich spices in gigantic pots whose aroma wafted in the atmosphere below, causing a few clouds to swell up with water.
Quickly, yet skilfully burly men scurried down rope ladders from windows that served as doors draped in silk robes and armed with long bows and pikes as their Sugar horses below chewed lazily on the Leaves of Youth – as was called the canopy’s Peach leaves, expecting to be mounted anytime for the hunt. Jumping out they each fell a little only to be turned around immediately by the soil’s magnetic force, and then off they ran quietly through the tall grass and disappeared in the distance.
Beyond the moon’s reach there lay a certain darkness – untouched by light of any sort. Amongst that calm sea of darkness, there flashed for the first time the flaming fires of a Fire-Elk!
He had of course wandered into unknown lands as his eyes scorched with a greater fire – fear. Men enclosed upon him in a circle, hollering, hooting and chanting an ancient spell to nullify the Elk’s magic. From below, more men stood chanting and arching their bows as the arrows collected a blinding light called the ‘forest spirit’ as their horse seemed to cry “fire!”
Watching the Elk with sharp eyes, they did not however, anticipate the creature’s next move. It was a series of bounces to the left and then to the right carried out elegantly like a dancer at a holy ritual – as he prepared to meet his fate.
Setting himself ablaze he made towards his captors with maximum vigour as he tossed about his head with his flaming horns flinging horse, man and all. Now he sparked with courage and valour, the land beneath his hooves radiated immense heat that it made its way under the feet of the men – who ran back deserting the purpose of this event. Their horses knew all along that they had no chance against this furious foe as the wise creatures ran ahead of their masters.
The Fire-Elk was a noble beast but he was already nearing his time and hence running aimlessly like a speeding candle in the dark, he fell down burning a part of the upside down canopy only to become a constellation in the night sky. He left behind vast, burnt lands and a few burnt soles that went back home for remedy – what he did not sacrifice was his red fleece that nature forbade men to possess….
The night gained its tranquillity again as men returned empty handed to their wives and children. So what if they could not capture an Elk? Their families received them with hugs which beat shame and defeat, and bred joy again.
The fireflies still lit the darkness, the stars still shimmered, and the moon smiled on at all of the above.