The Royal Blue Bloom
Section I: Episode 42
June 30, 2015
The blasted lands under the Sheer bore no indigenous species, not so much as a single thistle or beetle. With no loose soil and virtually no rain, and frozen half the year long, the land itself denied every plant on Relance. And, without plants, there could be no animals either. But the Village of Sourros offered a tiny oasis, and over the ages a few hardy pioneers had eked out a home here.
Largest of the plants were the cannupi, so named for their golden color that blended in with the pastel reds and light browns of the exposed rock faces of the Landstorm. The best of them grew nearly as large as a viutari torso laid flat, and took decades to reach their full size. They were so inconspicuous that during the flowering season their explosively blue flowers often caught the unsuspecting eye by surprise. As succulents of the highest altitudes, each cannup could subsist on the minuscule rains and snows afforded it—nor did it have any alternative. Pilfering well water from the Ieikili would not have worked, for it came from Sourros and the Ieikili were exceedingly stingy with it.
Like virtually all of Ieik's flora and fauna, the cannupi originally came from the Howl Riada far to the west—where they still flourished. The Howl Riada was itself a desert, but livable. It rained there, nor did it get so cold on all but the highest mountains. Most of all, it was peaceful. The Sibils didn't blow in the Howl Riada. The Howl Riada had its winds, as mountains do, but ordinary winds…not the ancient and terrible Sibils that dominated the Sheer. Over an untold number of centuries, cannup seeds must have blown to the east, or been carried along on the clothes or in the freight of Kindred travelers. The Ieikili had certainly never planted them deliberately, having no wish to expose any wild species to the hardships of life beyond the edge of the world.
Some people, like Galavar, grew cannupi as ornamentals. They had Galavar's favor for their illustrious blue blooms, of course. Blue was his favorite color, and their blooms were the perfect shade of it. Their flowers didn't have much of a scent, but they were nevertheless pretty enough that he kept one in his dormitory.
It so happened that flowering season overlapped with his birthday, and on his birthday he would cut one of the blooms from his plant and wear it on a walking tour of the village. It was one of his many birthday traditions, and one to which he especially looked forward, as he had developed the custom of saving some of his favorite walkways and vistas for viewing just once a year—on this day.
This day, but not this year, for this year the referendum hearing were today, and Galavar planned not only to attend them in full, but to speak in defense of maintaining Jahvoy as the River of Ignorance. He had reserved a slot of time, and committed his speech to memory with much practice.
Between the public hearing in the afternoon, his private meal with friends at the Kettle Club in the morning, and his Galabear in the evening, there simply wasn't enough time for a full walking tour. But he had resolved to do two things:
For one, he would make time to visit his very favorite stop, the Escalade of Sentents, connecting Western Ieik, specifically the Hearth's Quarter, with the rest of the village. As the name implied, the Escalade of Sentents wasn't a particularly original pick for a favorite; the dramatic view had a way of inspiring many a thoughtful mate to a meaningful conclusion. But it was dear to Galavar all the same.
For another, his cannup succulent—named Royal—just so happened to have a single flower in full bloom today, and his intent was to cut it and wear it, both to the escalade and then to the public hearing.
After they had eaten like kings at the Kettle Club, Galavar invited Agram, Javelin, and Ornithate back up to his room for the flower cutting ceremony. Miatysacis joined him too, and even Boon. Six people was quite a pack for Galavar's tiny little room, but they managed.
He said, "Every year, these flowers bloom, hopeful and bold. They're pollinated on the wind, and have no way of knowing that this is the Tower of Dormitories—that their beautiful calls will go unanswered.
"Unanswered, but not unappreciated. Every year I cut a flower from Royal, and wear it with pride on my birthday, and tour it across the Village of Ieik. As shall I do today, more or less. Let us appreciate together beauty in itself."
With a tiny pair of shears, usually reserved for tweaking stray hairs and pilling out barbs or hangnails, he clipped the ripe bloom from Royal. He held it up for all of them to see, and said "Ten years, today."
He had changed into more formal clothes, shedding his new robe and other leisure attire in favor of his lectoring coat, to whose breast he tied the flower with a tiny strand of priceless tilsent—silk woven together with gold, forming a neat bow with loops that dangled beyond the flower.
"Boon, I know you wont be coming with us to the Escalade."
"Sorry," he said. "I'm still feeling bad."
"It's for the best," said Miatysacis.
"But I'll be at your Galabear tonight. Count on it. Better have a whole plate of sarrimps ready for me."
The old gleam lit up his eye.
Galavar nodded, and smiled.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!