5: Cleaning House
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When they got home, Luca found he’d have to challenge those leaf stairs if he wanted to see their lotus-port. He crept up the stairs with his back pressed against the wall.

Why is there no handrail Luca wailed internally 

Galen’s lips twitched upwards as he slowly followed his overly cautious baby up the stairs.

The room upstairs was about the same size as the main living room. There were a few odds and ends in the room. A cupboard with various tools and jars, some large trunks and a table with what looked like discarded animal skins piled on top.

The lotus-port was directly opposite the stairs tucked against the wall. Three different bulbous sacks were resting on the floor next to the plant, growing from vines attached to the centre of the lotus-port. As he got closer Luca realised the sacks were slightly transparent and he could just barely figure out what was in each one.

“Want to open them?” Galen smiled down at Luca.

Luca nodded enthusiastically but then paused when he realised the bulb like bags didn’t have any openings. He looked to his dad for help.

“Just use your claws sweetie,” Galen however took a knife from the tool cupboard and proceeded to open the bag with the stuff from the witch’s shop.

Luca’s mouth twitched and his tailed swayed with irritation. He looked at his clawless hands but as he started to think of claws, he could almost feel them. Concentrating on that feeling an odd, burning mix of aggression and readiness swelled up and erupted towards his fingertips. Luca’s nails suddenly became sharp and pointed. That molten bubble of emotion urged Luca to act. Breathing deeply Luca looked between his clawed hand and the strange lotus-port. I can’t tell if this world his high or low tech. Steadying himself with the thought Luca used his low-tech claws to easily tear the through the membrane of one of the sacks. The visceral feeling of his claws tearing into something was so thrilling that he ripped into the last remaining whole sack.

Luca pushed down the raw emotions and his claws returned to normal. After taking out his new clothes, the sack and its vine quickly shrivelled into nothing and disappeared in the centre of the lotus flower, he also retrieved his bags of meat from the second sack. Looking round, his dad was putting the last of those suspicious potion bottles into the cupboard.

Galen turned to see Luca staring at him clutching his bags of meat. The new clothes were left sitting on the ground. Trying not to laugh, he ruffled Luca’s hair, “Well done, you figured that out quickly,” Galen grabbed the clothes and headed back downstairs. Galen’s relaxed attitude threw Luca off balance, biting his lip this time he didn’t exercise his age given rights and swallowed his questions.

Galen led Luca to the kitchen and showed him which alcove to store the meat in. Then he left to put the clothes away in the bedroom.  Luca stared at the strange petals covering the hole.  I don't see a lever or button.  Does it maybe react to movement.  Surely he wouldn't have left me here to figure it out on my own if it was hard.  Not wanting to appear silly, completely unaware that he already had just moments ago, Luca stretched his hand towards the flower covered alcove his dad had pointed to.  While at the same time leaning the rest of his body as far away as possible.  The petals opened up like some strange mouth and swallowed the jerky as soon as Luca snatched his hand back.  His shoulders relaxed and his ears and tail perked up with pride, having figured out this new gadget.

After making a salad with nuts for his dinner, Galen let Luca choose which jerky he wanted and gave him some nuts and just a few greens to round out the meal. Galen hoped Donovan had a successful hunt or they’d need to buy enough meat to last two carnivores through winter.

After tossing out the plate-leaves to fertilise the garden, they both washed up and went to bed. Luca curled into a contented ball, surrounded by the scent of a loving parent.

. . . . .

The next morning after breakfast, Luca found his dad had brought down some of the witches brew he’d previously bought.

“What are those for,” asked Luca eyeing the bottles mistrustfully.

“We need to clean up, the place is starting to look a bit shabby,” Galen critically eyed the walls.

Luca confused, looked at the dust free wall, there was even a tender branch sprouting from the wall. Luca trembled as that lively baby sprout was ruthlessly snipped off by Galen. He was then handed Luca a pair of secateurs and a jar of yellow-green goo.

Luca looked at his dad uncertainly. Galen used his finger to scoop up a bit of the goo and smeared it on wall where the sprout had been.

“Go around the floor and cut off any sprout’s you find as close to the base as you can. Then apply the paste, it’ll stop any new sprouts and seal up the cut to prevent disease. My sweetie’s so smart I know you’ll manage, no problem.” Galen did his customary pat of Lucas fluffy head.

Don’t think I didn’t notice that last part was manipulative but, Luca flashed a sunshine smile “No problem, sounds fun,”

I already decided to live this life to its fullest and that means I’ll do my best at everything. Maybe others would be bothered having to do household chores. But Luca was so delighted by his new healthy body, he was a practical wellspring of curiosity and positive energy.

Luca skipped off to start pruning the floors. Galen was a little amused by Luca’s enthusiasm, he let go off his pre-prepared arguments with relief. After all the house really did need tidying.

Luca very seriously decided to start in the bedroom. Okay so there were these little bubbles of happiness and excitement that kept floating up but Luca was determined to do his chores properly. No one had ever been so excited about house chores.

Luca carefully went over every inch of the floor making sure not to miss a single shoot. He felt a little bad cutting those first few tender shoots. However, after mentally apologising to the house made him feel a little silly, he just got on with it.

All the shoots were piled up in the small plot of land at the back of the house. Luca was staring down at his pile with intense satisfaction that even the slight ache in his back couldn’t extinguish.

Galen came out and saw his little baby posing with his hands on his hips staring down at his little pile of plant cuttings, and had to turn away. He put a hand over his mouth and quivered with repressed laughter, a little moisture forming at the corner of his eyes as he struggled to hold it in. “Dad!” his little ray of sunshine ran towards him with sparkling eyes fortunately Galen used award winning acting skills to put on a straight face and Luca noticed nothing.

“Look what I found, it was growing out of the floor. Can we eat it?” Luca proudly held up a small asymmetrical, dark purple, fruit that looked like a stylised heart with a pointy tumour growing from the top.

“Eh, an abode-fruit!” The surprise Luca brought finally helped Galen get his laughter under complete control.

“Abode-fruit?” Luca tilted his head to the side in query, ears all attention on his dad.

“Yes, a druid can use them to grow a new house,”

Luca eye brightened “is it valuable,”

“It depends on the quality but even a low level one will sell.” Galen squatted down to peer into Lucas eyes, “So I guess you’ll get a reward for finding it, what do you want,”

Luca hesitated for a moment, there really was something he wanted but he wasn’t sure how much it would cost. And there was no guarantee this abode-fruit was worth much. Luca bit his lip in hesitation his pointed teeth accidentally drawing a little blood.

Giving Luca a reassuring pat Galen smiled softly “Don’t bite your lip, just tell me what you want. It won’t be a problem,” Galen felt at ease making this promise, after all how could such a new hatchling who knew so little of the world ask for something difficult.

Luca blurted out his answer before he lost his nerve “I want to learn to read,” desire for knowledge and fear of rejection raged against each other.

“That’s what you want?” flummoxed by such an unexpected answer Galen just stared at his cute little bean unsure how to respond, It isn’t food, or more clothes, or even toys?

Taking his dad’s lack of response as a negative answer Luca wilted. So it’s impossible after all. Luca wasn’t an idiot, considering their sparsely decorated four room house they clearly weren’t wealthy. I’m not sure how this society works, maybe only a privileged few can learn to read. I haven’t seen any books around here, the more Luca thought the lower his tail dropped until it had none of its usual energy and lay still on the ground.

Galen’s fit of giggles snapped him out of his dejection though, and his tail swayed slightly with renewed hope at his dads next words. “That’s fine I can teach you how to read,” Wiping tears of mirth from his eyes Galen looked at his suddenly more energetic son. “But it isn’t going to cost money sweetie. You don’t want something else?”

The response was instant “A book! I want to learn more about thi… the world,” The dotting Galen missed Luca’s slip of the tongue and started petting the soft, silk strands on his sons head again. “Sure, baby but that’ll wait till you can read. Then I’ll take you somewhere you’ll love,” Galen left Luca to ponder over this mystery.

Grabbing a small animal skin and black stick from the attic room. Galen sat down at the table with Luca. He neatly wrote down a set of forty-two runic symbols and then gave the piece to Luca to study. “These are all the letters in the alphabet,” Galen then did something that made Luca’s eyes pop. Using a few of these symbols Galen wrote a word on the table. “This is how you spell table,”

Galen then went around the whole house with his little chick in tow and wrote words for all the furniture and appliances around the house. Looking down to see Lucas tail curling in delight Galen smiling, handing over the crayon like black stick. “This should be enough to keep you going for now, just copy them till you have them memorised. You can write on the walls, it’ll come off eventually.” 

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