The house Galen brought Luca too was a cosy little house at the edge of town.
There were only three rooms downstairs, a storage area above and a small fenced garden plot. However, the most interesting thing to Luca was how the whole structure appeared to be some kind of tree. Or perhaps several trees somehow merged together?
The walls and floor were made from the trunks and roots, and yet the roots on the floor were so tightly merged that it was almost flat. The stairs appeared to be some sort of large fossilised leaves; they wound round the wall from the floor in the back-right corner and ended above Lucas head. Luca wasn’t sure they looked stable. The doors were also fossil leaves but on a larger scale and rather than working from hinges on the side it swung sideways into a gap in the wall from a hinge at the top. They sort of reminded Luca of a bead curtain except with only one large leaf for covering the oval shaped door hole.
The roof was a mixture of entwined branches and leaves. What made it all the more amazing is that like the fountain this building seemed to still be alive! There was the occasional fresh branch popping out of the walls. The whole house gave of a decidedly elvish vibe.
Are all the buildings here alive? wondered Luca.
Lucas eyes greedily devoured everything. I really am in a completely different world. Excitement bubbled up inside him as he thought about the whole new life ahead of him.
There was a slight dip at the entrance of the house where his dad made him take of his shoes. Besides this little half circle area, you immediately entered the main room as soon as you open the front door. In the left back corner, there was a little setup that, considering the smell coming from the little alcoves covered by strange closed flowers, should be the kitchen. In the centre of the room there was a low table and some snug looking furniture that resembled chairs. There were also a few animal skin rugs scattered on the floor. As Luca inspected the warm house, he noticed something missing. Curious he turned to his dad “Where’s my, um, other dad?”
“Donovan’s out with the hunting party, he won’t be back for a few days.” Galen sat down in something that looked like the love child of a chair and a bean bag. Luca flopped onto the only other seat. He was a little worn out even though they probably hadn’t walked for more than an hour.
“Why wasn’t he here for my…hatching?”
Hesitation flashed across Galen’s face quickly followed by resolve. “Well, we didn’t actually know you were going to hatch.”
“Why?” there was intense curiosity in Lucas voice.
Galen frowned at the floor as he gathered his thoughts, “There are a lot of factors that make it difficult for a couple to have children. During the egg stage the longer the child is in the egg the less likely it is to hatch. If an egg remains unhatched for ten years it’s considered dea…empty and is returned to Methorma.” Galen raised his eyes a tinge of fear was hidden behind an overwhelming love, “You were only a few months shy of ten years when you hatched today.”
So I was nearly still born? thought Luca calmly.
“If I was in there so long does that mean I’m defective?” Luca shivered; the smell of astringent cleaning chemicals creeped from his memory. Days, months, and finally years at a time lying in hospital, steeped in fear and the certainty of death. Phantom flashes of pain followed the memory and fear chocked him. Suddenly he was swept into a warm embrace, that same comforting scent surrounding him. A gentle hand wiped the tears he hadn’t noticed falling.
Galen hugged his trembling son “Luca what’s wrong? Don’t worry daddies here,” Galen stroked Luca’s back as he soothed him.
“I don…don’t want to b…be sick,” Luca sobbed.
“You’re not sick the priest said you were completely healthy remember?” Luca struggled to drag his emotions under control as his dad comforted him. After stuffing down his terror it was replaced with shame. Did I actually just cry like a little kid?! Luca continued to bury his face in his dad’s chest to hide his embarrassment, and to breathe in that scent that smelt like home.
“Are you worried about being in the egg so long?” Galen felt a small movement as Luca timidly nodded his head. “You don’t have to worry, spending a long time in the egg just means the spirits love you and taught you more, after all your so articulate, it’s very rare for a newly hatched child to speak so well.”
Luca stiffened, did I give myself away? Galen just assumed he was still frightened about hatching late, “I’m sure they taught you many other things too. Spending longer in the egg is a good thing.” Luca relaxed. Seems I’m in the clear for now.
At Galen’s mention of spirits Luca recalled the dream like state in the egg and the oceans of information that was whispered to him. For a second, it almost seemed as though he could still hear them, but then the moment passed.
Luca stopped hiding in his dad’s arms and tilted his head to see his eyes. Deciding to use question privilege his apparent age gave him to sate his curiosity about something his dad had mentioned, “What are spirits?”
Galen gave Luca a complicated look “Well that’s a difficult question, and a lot of people have different opinions about that. Some say they’re just like air or water, not actually alive but something we need to live. The Artisans believe that spirits are a tool to be used. The priests say that the spirits are nature’s guardians and servants of the gods. Others think that the gods are in fact just very powerful spirits that gained awareness. But no matter what they all agree that the spirits are an integral part of our lives.”
Luca’s ears perked with interest, “What do you believe dad?” Galen raised his eyebrows as his lips curled upwards. “I believe…that it’s time for bed,”
“Huh?” Luca quickly glanced out the window only to realise that it was actually dark outside. Wondering why he hadn’t noticed sooner he quickly spotted the softly glowing moss that clung to the ceiling.
Due to Galen’s firm no nonsense attitude Luca could only helplessly shelve his curiosity. Galen hustled Luca into the smaller room on the right, where there were some more bizarre plants in the place of plumbing. After explaining the various items to Luca, Galen stripped them both and helped Luca wash with soapy water and a cloth. It might have bothered Luca more if he wasn’t used to having nurses bath him.
“Good, you learn fast, think you can do it yourself next time?” Luca dressed in one of his dad’s shirts that went down to his knees with hands hidden somewhere in the sleeves, nodded seriously to Galen’s question “No problem,” Galen struggled not to squeeze the life from his adorable son and instead settled for ruffling Luca’s freshly dried hair with a smile “Good,”
Once in the bedroom a certain problem finally occurred to Luca “Where’s my bed?” Galen who was pulling back the covers gave Luca a startled look, “You’ll be sleeping with daddy obviously, you don’t want to?”
As reluctant as he was, Luca just couldn’t say no to those dejected feathers. Whatever, it can’t be that bad. Luca abashedly lay down next to his dad who promptly enveloped him in his arms.
“Lights out,” the moss lights dimmed to a bare twinkle. Hold on, the moss is voice activated! Lucas shocked cry didn’t leave his heart. Despite the numerous thoughts still bouncing round Luca’s head, the comforting scent of his parent calmed Luca’s anima and he quickly drifted off to sleep.
Luca blearily opened his eyes to an unfamiliar mossy ceiling. After staring at the organic room for a moment longer Luca’s brain kicked into gear. Still dressed in that oversized shirt Luca padded out into the combined kitchen and living room, to find Galen preparing breakfast.
Putting a platter of fruit, seeds and nuts on the table, Galen smiled at his bleary-eyed son “after breakfast we’ll go out and buy you some clothes and other necessities.”
Glancing at his own ridiculous appearance Luca couldn’t agree more. Happily sitting at the table, he curiously observed the platter only to realise nothing looked familiar. Deciding to be bold Luca grabbed a slice of violet fruit and heroically ate it, only to scrunch his face at the overly sour flavour. Galen’s sigh distracted him “Don’t worry tomorrow there will be meat too,”
A little confused by the comment Luca shrugged his shoulders “its fine the flavour just surprised me,” After a couple of hits and misses Luca picked his favourites and munched away.
Galen used rope and twine to roughly fix some clothes for Luca. With the adjustments he looked slightly less like a child who’d raided his parents’ wardrobe.
Well at least he won’t trip now. Satisfied with his handy work Galen brought Luca out for his first shopping trip.
Luca was almost skipping with excitement. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d just gone out shopping. Alright it was clothes shopping, and technically he was just going to tag along as his dad did the shopping, but so what! He was walking on his own and there wasn’t even a hint of pain! This simple feat filled Luca with so much joy he really did start skipping.