“I dreamed of the golden tree again last night,” the girl says as she gathers firewood with Saba. Dawn’s delicate dew still clings to everything from the intricate spider-webs to the large, flat leaves that spill out from bushels of long stems, but the air is warm, and a gentle breeze flutters the ends of her cloak. 


“It was on fire this time.”

“Was it.”

The girl is confused, frowning slightly until comprehension softens her face. “Oh, you already knew.”

Saba chuckles softly. “Train your mind to stop looking at everything as knowing or not knowing. Events are constantly in flux. The most important thing to remember about being a Seer is that the future always has a chance to change the past. Keep in mind, Taima is all things at once; it is past, present, and future. The most successful Seers are the ones who remain aware of the uselessness of knowing.”  

“I want to know my name,” she says and hopes for a reaction.

Saba continues to inspect the wood he comes across, picking up the older, drier pieces and leaving the green wood behind. 

The girl sighs loudly, but doesn’t ask again. After a few minutes of silence, she hums softly, losing herself in made-up melodies until they gather as many branches as they can carry, and once they’re back at the cabin, they stack them in piles before adding the last of the cured wood to the smoldering fire for boiling milk and water. 

“I’ve never seen a golden tree before. Do they exist?”

Saba smiles as he sprinkles a few pieces of frankincense and myrrh resin at the fire’s edge, and she places a pan over the fire, filling it with a handful of pale beans.

 “Not that I’ve seen," he says, "but I can’t prove to you they don’t. Why is that?”

She concentrates as she roasts the beans to a full brown, the oils just beginning to shine before she takes the pan off the fire and spreads the roasted beans out to cool on a woven mat. He leans over and wafts the aromatic smoke towards himself, inhaling deeply before returning to the chunks of tarrow-stalk he started soaking in the cold pot of spiced milk. She doesn’t mind the unique scent and happily sits in the middle of the dissipating cloud, eager to grind the cooling beans.

Growing everywhere because of the rich volcanic soil surrounding their camp, the cherries nearly always find space left for them during Saba’s constant foraging, and she had begged to be taught how to make the drink after seeing him squeeze the slimy seeds out of the tiny red fruit they lived in.

She used to scoop the beans into her hands with impatience, burning her palms before she could dump them into the mortar, but she now has the self-control to wait until they're cool to the touch and transfers them without scalding her calloused skin. 

The tip of her tongue pokes through her pursed lips as she leans rhythmically into the small pile of beans, the deep crunch as they splinter under the pestle sends pleasant vibrations through her fingers. While enjoying the comforting smoke continues to be part of this mutually established morning ritual, she has no interest in drinking the complex yet bitter liquid.

“You can’t prove a negative,” she finally says once she has the beans ground fine enough to add to a narrow clay pot with two spouts.

“Good,” he says. “Don’t trust anything to represent what it means here in our material world. Things can appear altered in the Seer’s plane, and dreams contain meaning you must interpret, at times down to the tiniest detail. Look for the patterns.”

“How will I know I’ve found the pattern?”

“No one dies. Well, unless they were supposed to, of course.”

She giggles. Though she is never sure if he means to be funny on purpose, his answers often make her laugh. She watches him add a pinch of cinnamon and a large scoop of white powder to the pot that is about to be placed over the fire. His careful stirring is soundless against the backdrop of birdsong and insect chatter that springs from every source of green surrounding them, and she revels in the peace of the morning’s post-sunrise aura as several ticks of unnoticed time pass by. 

She pours boiling water over the fresh grinds at the bottom of the small jebena pot to begin their transformation, and within a few minutes, Saba is sipping a cup of the rich, black brew, his tongue dancing with notes of blueberry, chocolate, and spice. 

"Does every coffee cherry have two seeds?" she asks.

"Have you ever seen one that didn't?"

"I've never thought to look."

"Well, be sure to tell me when you do."

“Are you a Seer, Saba?” she asks again, even though she knows his answer will be the same as it always is.

“What do you think?”

“I think our breakfast is ready,” she says, pointing to the rigorously bubbling porridge over the fire.

Nodding, he removes the pot from the flames and pours its contents into a pair of hand-carved bowls, handing her the smaller portion. "Eat quickly. Having a full belly will make it easier to wake your bonded Támaru."


Support "Valdarus Burning: Rise of Spirits"

About the author
Log in to comment
Log In

No one has commented yet. Be the first!