Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Eighteen: Spiffwits and Storysmiths (Continued)
Previously: Zack slept on a shelf inside a tree, halfway between Crown Naimian (in the boughs) and Root Naimian (beneath the earth), in order to avoid favoring one naim (gnome) faction over the other.
⇔ ⇔ ⇔
Zack spent the night in a dreamy haze. At first he’d clung to the edge of a cloud, with only Liulah’s kiss to keep him from falling, then he’d dreamed of the Dark Tinkurs. The ashen-faced man from the previous nightmare was gone, consumed. A new man in an insectoid amber-eyed mask finally succeeded in pressing the burning object into Zack’s forehead. Instantly Zack became one with the object, and then he knew: the Dark Tinkurs had this same burning within them. They wanted everything—everything. There was a hole in them that nothing could fill, and yet they wanted more. Zack-as-beast wanted more too. He lurched forward, trying to rip the man apart, to consume him, but his leg was caught…
His eyes snapped open. He wasn’t on a stone platform or a cloud, he was hanging over the edge of a carpenter’s shelf thirty stories above the ground, and the only reason he hadn’t plunged into the depths was that his right foot was lodged in a knothole! He slowly, carefully pulled himself back onto the ledge…and then skittered as far away from it as he could, spluttering, “Uol’s beak! Sorry, Lord.” Well, there’s a story to tell, How I Almost Fell from the— Tuber’s words suddenly flashed across his mind: “Everything begins with Story.” “That’s it!” he shouted so loudly that the sap-lamps flickered a hundred feet above and below him. The naims need someone to show them how to see the stories in the rainbowwood! And then I’ll be free to go!
The Naim Games were slated for that afternoon. Once they got going, Zack had been told, no one ever wanted to stop. So Zack had to perfect his plan before they began.
The heartwood lift arrived with a delegation led by Lyffwin and Bulgy. It’s just like Mid-Mid (Middleton Middle School), Zack thought, bullies like Fierce Fischer take over unless someone stops ‘em. Every world has its Fierce Fischers.
Bulgy and Lyffwin (who, despite her lyrical name, was every bit as bumptious as Bulgy) were still arguing about who was in charge, when Zack insisted on being taken to Root Naimian. Immediately. They stopped arguing and glared.
“OK. Whatever.” Zack turned and barked, “Surwood!” The lift began moving downward. Lyffwin’s and Bulgy’s eyes grew as big as shooter marbles.
When they reached Root Naimian, Bulgy stepped forward and said, “I, as natural chief a’ the Root Naims, do hereby—”
“Take me to your best pretenders!” Zack commanded.
Bulgy and Lyffwyn were left muttering to themselves as Zack and a dozen other naims marched away.
Zack insisted, like the prince with the glass slipper, on being taken to every humble abode. He was led on hands and knees through unlined dirt tunnels, and rudely probed by wandering roots. “Send your best pretenders to the Great Chamber!” he shouted. Cool, he thought…
Now even loser naims will have a chance!
Thoughts: Have you ever found yourself the reluctant mediator between two factions?
To read The Wishing Map 83, click here!