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The Wishing Map
Chapter Eighteen: Spiffwits and Storysmiths (Continued)
Previously: Deciding the only way to escape from Naimian was to teach the naims how to be storysmiths, Zack invited their most talented “pretenders” to meet with him.
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He arrived at the Great Chamber to find two hundred of Root Naimian’s best pretenders already assembled. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing at an un-carved panel in the twelve foot high ceiling.
It was as if he’d asked, “What’s the square root of pigeon?” A naim youth two or three years older than Zack replied, “It’s nothing, Master Zaggyzim, because its story hasn’t been told yet.”
Zack sighed. He pointed at an aqua colored streak in the rainbowwood grain and asked, “Do you see the river?”
Tick, tick, tick, tick…ding!
“Oh, yes, Master Storysmith, plain as your toes, now that yer tell it!”
“I see it!”
“Aye, there it is!”
“Look at it rage! It’s almost over-flowing!”
Dozens of naims stepped back, trying to avoid the dangerous river banks.
“Ahhhh! I’d not want ter be there!”
They could see it all. More than see it, they were in the midst of it!
“The river’s full a’ dangerous rocks!”
“Oooooooooo!” someone squealed in the delicious way that pretending you’re in danger while knowing you’re safe makes you squeal.
“Look! There’s a boat adrift!” There was, in fact, a boat-shaped splotch of grayish-brown in the midst of the “river.”
“Aye, I see it!”
Some began to sway with the river’s current, holding onto one another, holding onto the sides of the boat. A few fell overboard and had to be rescued. Others grabbed imaginary oars and attempted to row ashore. One stood on the shoulders of two comrades and became a masthead; a moment later an imaginary sail was raised on his outstretched arms.
“Who said that?” shouted Zack.
The chamber froze.
“I mean, who said there was a boat?”
The naims turned toward him, shame-faced, their round ears drooping.
Zack felt like he’d yelled at a box of puppies. “No, no, it’s not a bad thing. It’s good. Really. So who said the part about the boat?”
A tiny female named Reetie was pushed into the center of the chamber. Her eyes closed, she reached out and patted Zack’s kneecaps, which were slightly higher than the top of her head, and said, “I did, Master Zaggy.”
“Hey-fah!” Zack cheered. “That was great!” He hoisted her up onto his shoulder where all could see.
“Hey-fah!” the naims rejoiced, though uncertain why.
“And who said the part about the rocks?”
An old fellow stepped into the middle of the room, his bald head splotched with liver spots. It was Tuber!
“How did you know they were there, Tuber?”
“Because yer showed them ter me, Master Zaggyzim. When yer speaks, I sees what I ne’er seen b’fore!”
“But I didn’t mention any rocks.”
“Well…yer showed me the river, and once I knowed that was there, I seen th’ other bits.”
Zack grinned. “Hey-fah for Tuber Root-Rigger the Storysmith!”
“I a storysmith?” the old naim said with a mixture of joy and terror.
Thoughts: Helping someone discover a gift they didn’t know they had is exhilarating. And terrifying. On the one hand, you’re changing their life forever. On the other hand, you’re, well, changing their life forever.
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