The tree spirit was slightly concerned that having seen the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Kemet that through them the water spirit would have confirmed their presence on Vaalbara, so after urging them to finish their conversation they continued through the oasis right through to the other side and out back into the desert. Amongst the excitement, Jumo did remember to top up the bottles with spring water. He also wanted to see if the solar barque had actually disappeared. He looked out over the spring hard and long before returning to the group.
The afternoon was still young, but the sun was intensifying. Luckily their special garments went a long way to regulating their body temperatures, but could not however prevent fatigue. Jumo and Bradley formed as a pair, Kurumi with Aruna, and Ash walked ahead. London as usual was afforded the freedom of running around aided by the tree spirit, which by now drifted through the desert in a ghostly white shade. Ash and Kurumi simply smiled at each other from time to time and laughed when London did something silly. Jumo and Bradley occasionally let out clouds of laughter followed by self-erratic applause.
‘Go on, ask him now,’ said Jumo. At this point, Bradley strolled up to the tree spirit in a very boyish manner.
‘Hey Leafy,’ said Bradley. ‘Do you like food?’ Jumo and Bradley could not contain their laughter.
‘Me, food, hmmm,’ said the tree spirit in a slow professor-like voice. ‘The smell of food is at times pleasant, but some other smells I dare say are not so. Being the tree spirit, you could say I have seen it all, heard it all, and smelt it all.’
‘That’s pretty deep,’ said Bradley.
‘Do trees feel?’ asked Jumo.
‘Yes, but of course we do,’ said the tree spirit. ‘But we do not hate or pass judgement. We simply just exist. We give love and life to those who want it.’
‘You don’t hate?’ questioned Bradley.
‘No, trees do not hate. That emotion is of the human realm,’ said the tree spirit.
‘What does our enemy feel?’
‘One imagines that our enemy and our friend feels confused. For we spirits have given life to earth, but it has been abused in more ways than is imaginable for any single person to grasp within their minds. However, the cure does not simply rest in taking away a person’s ability to choose and live freely,’ said the tree spirit. Aruna had stepped in towards the end of the tree spirit talking.
‘So, earthquakes and tornados, or any other acts of nature are caused by spirits?’ asked Aruna.
‘Well, yes and no. If you can understand that spirits reside within all that is living, then yes. If you can also understand nature has to balance itself out, then no,’ said the tree spirit.
‘But then, what about the poor sods that get killed by earthquakes and things like that?’ asked Bradley.
‘Imagine a swing swaying. Nature as you should know has a cause and effect relationship. Back and forth, push and pull. The rapid and uncontrollable development of life on earth provides that extra push. I believe there is enough space, resources and technology to ensure the safety of all living creatures,’ said the tree spirit.
‘But-‘ said Bradley before the tree spirit continued.
‘Choice would have it that some build houses in forests that catch fire by nature and on paths where tornados occur regularly, and on shorelines where big waves and other things roll in. Furthermore, we find that despite your advancement in technology across the globe buildings are still built in fragile areas with weak foundations and the poor continue to be poor.’
‘That’s true at least,’ said Aruna.
‘You must become closer to nature by observing the shifts of weather, but also use the advancing tools of science to preserve life,’ concluded the tree spirit.
‘Hey Leafy, it’s impossible to get closer to nature,’ said Bradley.
‘Really, what do dogs do when they sense danger? Or a flock of birds that become disturbed by the change of weather? Or bats who use echolocation to travel?’ asked the tree spirit.
A hush fell over the three of them. A slight wind was picking up, but not from any one particular direction. The whistling of a child’s voice levitated quietly in the air. The group of friends pressed forward. A strong gust of wind sent a wall of sand across their path and then disappeared.
‘Hello,’ said London. She laughed. A tornado of sand was whipped up around her feet and moved up along her body. Bradley being the closest to London moved forward to hold her hand.
‘Do not be hasty dear Bradley. Do not always fear the unknown,’ said the tree spirit. Bradley took a step back. Ash looked at London who smiled.
‘It’s okay Bradley,’ said Ash. The sand began to pick up speed, but not ferocity. It moved around London delicately. Eventually, the sand pulled away and formed the shape of a butterfly with six wings.
‘That my dear young ones is the spirit of the desert. Say hello,’ said the tree spirit.
‘Hello,’ everybody said hesitantly. The desert spirit fluttered around in the air and rested in front of Ash. It changed its shape into a park with sand children running around a tree.
‘It forms the shape of an image that resides deep within your heart, that which comforts you most. It moved away from Ash and stopped in front of all of them one by one. Bradley was inside a football stadium, centre of the pitch and seated on a sofa with his family. Aruna’s was of her father’s face. He had strong features with a gentle smile. It pulled away to reveal a man and young girl jogging. Jumo’s sand image was of him on a train traveling through a mountain beside a lake. A pen was writing on a notebook. Kurumi’s was of a large gymnasium; girls and boys were practicing Kendo, a Japanese art of swordsmanship. Finally, the desert spirit flew back to London. A sand picture of Ash, London and their mother formed. Then through the framed portrait a turtle was swimming in water.
‘That’s our family turtle, Flippo,’ said Ash. The desert spirit climbed in the air and dissolved into a puff of sand. The sand fell slowly to the ground and vanished.
Having seen another spirit the group enquired further about Vaalbara and its existence, as well as why the desert spirit would not join them in their quest to save earth. The tree spirit spoke in length, but with concealed detail about the spirits that reside throughout Vaalbara acting as protectors over a given domain, such as a lake, woodland, desert and so forth. The spirits they were told could not venture away from their domain, as a spirit is the life force of that particular area. The tree spirit continued to talk about the sages of Sopdet, the elements on earth, as well as the different dimensions of space, time, matter, energy and gravity. The tree spirit even let slip indirectly the confirmation of life on other planets and the existence of the multiverse, stating that every choice made by yourself and by others upon you creates ripples and possibilities throughout the cosmos.
During conversation the group failed to notice London’s feet sinking into the sand. When Bradley realised he dashed forward towards London. The closer he got towards her the quicker she disappeared into the sand. Aruna grabbed onto Bradley, but his weight was too heavy for her slender arms and they both slipped into the sand. The tree spirit whizzed into the small dark whole, but before it disappeared it glowed pink The sand stopped sinking and Ash, Jumo and Kurumi were left looking down at the solid sandy surface. Ash punched the ground in frustration.
‘London!’ Ash screamed.
‘Don’t worry, Ash,’ said Kurumi.
‘How can I not worry,’ he shouted at Kurumi.
‘The tree spirit was pink,’ said Kurumi.
‘Pink?’ asked Ash in confusion.
‘Yes, they will all be fine,’ said Kurumi. Jumo helped Ash to his feet and smiled.
‘Do not worry Ash, we can follow them with this,’ said Jumo. He pulled out his compass.
‘What, how?’ asked Ash.
‘I have tampered with my compass seeing that it is of no use here. London has a magnet in her footwear, and this compass points to that magnet,’ said Jumo.
‘What, when, how?’ said Ash.
‘The night we rested after the tsingy affair. I could not sleep. London is the most vulnerable and I wanted to be sure of her safety,’ said Jumo.
‘A scientist and an inventor,’ said Kurumi.
‘Why didn’t you tell me earlier?’ asked Ash.
‘I had good intentions to, but what with the armadillo lizard, ouroboros, oasis and Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, it kind of slipped my mind,’ said Jumo. Kurumi broke into a pure and sweet laugh that warmed their hearts and melted any doubt of London’s safety.
‘This way then,’ said Jumo. He showed Ash and Kurumi the compass, its head was pointing in the same direction they were headed in initially. They moved forward walking slightly faster than before.
B. L. Crisp | Copyrighted to © Barry Crisp