Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Seventeen: Naimian (Continued)
Previously: After being kidnapped from the inn at Kellansend, Zack woke up in a wagon full of naims (gnomes). Where were they taking him? And why?
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The wagon was being driven by Noddie, Sniggle’s wife. As his head cleared, Zack began to take in his moving surroundings. His mouth fell open. The Light Forest might be the most beautiful, he thought, but the Rainbowwood Forest is the most awesome! He and his family had been to New York City three years ago. This is what it would look like if it was made out of trees!
All around, rainbowwoods towered six hundred feet and more. The forest was so dense that at first he thought it was still night, but when he looked straight up he saw a strip of bright sky. Below were rings of saplings around massive parent trees, accompanied by lush ferns with tiny quince colored blossoms and thickets of shimmering angel’s hair, bluebells, and torch ginger. This is where Zachary Zinn would live! Zack thought, dwelling inside a tree, with a basement beneath the roots and an attic in the boughs! As soon as his head had fully cleared, though, he asked,
“Are you guys kidnapping me?”
“Nay goats asleep here,” said Sniggle.
There was that problem with transliteration again.
“Uh…I mean, are you stealing me?”
“Nay, Master Zaggyzim. Yer were much agreed last night when we asked if yer’d like ter be our new Storysmith.”
“Hmmm. Were my eyes open?”
Zack tried to continue the dialogue, but his newfound friends or captors or whatever they were, were simply too tired to carry on a coherent conversation. The lead deer glanced back and, Zack could have sworn, smiled.
They reached the naim city an hour later. There were minimal signs of civilization: a crude cart leaning against a tree, a bark-lined trough filled with rainwater; Zack wasn’t sure what naim houses should look like, but there didn’t seem to be any type of dwellings here. Yet Sniggle, rubbing sleep from his eyes, proudly averred, “Naimian is the greaty-est city in all Sur Kellan!”
Zack didn’t know what to say first, “What city?” “Where’s my sister?” or “Take me back to Kellansend!”
Sniggle lifted little Bud off Zack’s lap.
“Wan’ stay with Uncle Zaggyzim!”
“Nay, lee rabbit, Uncle Zaggyzim has much work ter do.”
Within seconds, other naims began emerging. Where are they coming from? There was much head butting and, among the females, fluffing of hair. Zack began to hear “storysmith!” and “Zaggyzim!” jumping from naim to naim like an electrical current. He was soon surrounded by dozens of two foot high personages.
“Here, Master Zaggyzim, what’s the story in this’n?” a husky male cried, shoving a large, rough-hewn plank into Zack’s knees.
“An’ this’n?” another fellow asked, dropping a thick sheet of unfinished wood onto Zack’s toes.
“Master Zaggyzim will tell all the stories hidden in the wood soon enough,” said Bulgy, “but first he wants me ter show him his new home!”
“He has hygerpow!” Sniggle announced.
“But he calls it ‘starhar,’” Noddie added.
“Oooooooo!” a gaggle of young females responded, “Zaggyzim the giant has starhar!” Zack couldn’t help but notice the superlative “giant,” a word usually missing from people’s descriptions of him.
Bulgy led him ceremoniously toward the largest tree, followed closely by Tuber, Sniggle, Noddie, and the rest.
“Are we gonna climb it?” Zack asked.
The crowd exploded with laughter, then dissolved into appreciative foot stomping, the naimish equivalent of applause. “Uncle Zaggyzim is funny!” Bud adjudged, honoring Zack for his cleverness while at the same time informing everyone that Uncle Zaggyzim was his personal friend and possibly blood relative.
Tuber leaned forward and blew into a knothole. A groaning came from within, like the sound a tree makes when it moves in the wind. And from the place where the roots divided…
…the tree began to open.
Thoughts: How would you respond if you discovered all the things you’d dreamed about were true?
To read The Wishing Map 76, click here!