But first! It's my turn for the Saga...
Amarinda left us with a threat:
“We shrink Rafe to the size of a peanut unless Rinalda reveals the secret of the golden carrot.”
“Whoa! Do you think she will do it?” Sparky was in awe that Oz would demand something so audacious. The secret of the golden carrot was the stuff of legends.
“I guess that would depend on how much she likes peanuts.” Lawrence squawked in shock. “I said ‘peanuts’ Lawrence.”
And my solution?
The trio heard an ominous humming. “Oz, I know what you’re up to,” The Mary warned. “It won’t work.”
Oz peered at the casino security screen as Rinalda and Rafe were hustled into The Mary’s presence by security guards. “Well, Rinalda? What do you have to say for yourself?”
Rinalda waved a crumpled stained piece of paper in Mary’s face. “Did you see what they sent me? They’re threatening me! Me!” she declared in outrage.
The Mary snatched the paper from her hands and scanned it quickly. “To Rinalda: You will tell us the secret of the golden carrot. Else we will shrink Rafe to peanut size.
Oz, Sparky and Lawrence--The Triad”
Rafe frowned at the tiny woman in front of him. “What’s the big deal? As long as they have a peeler, they’re in business.”
Rinalda hissed as her quills stood erect. Slowly, Emmeline stood with her quills clacking like castanets. They closed in on Rafe with frightening menace on their faces.
“Stop!” A terrible roar blasted through the casino as The Mary bellowed. Silence fell on the great room. “Oz?” she called. “Did you hear that? Find that blasted peeler!”
“No worries, mate. I’m on the job! Come Sparky, we have work to do.”
“What about Lawrence?” Sparky asked in a small voice.
“Never fear, Grasshopper will be here shortly to take care of Lawrence!”
What will Kelly do on Monday? Stay tuned!
And now--Part Three of The Learning Tree
Seeking Wisdom tramped along the north road until he reached the last house. It was a tumbledown shack, set on a barren plot of land. This could not be the place! In his experience, village elders lived in the biggest houses in the village.
An old man came out of the hut and gestured for him to approach. "A monk! Come in, come in! Tell me the news from your travels."
Seeking Wisdom moved slowly. "I will gladly tell you my news, but first--can you tell me where I can find Jade Carver?"
Cocking his head to one side, the old man replied, "I am Jade Carver. How can I be of assistance to you?"
Cradling the scarlet silk bundle in his hands, Seeking Wisdom held it out so that Jade Carver could see it clearly. "I found this--and an old man's bones--in a hut at the other end of the village. This object is too precious to be left in the hut and the old man's remains should be laid to rest with more respect than that."
Jade Carver recoiled, horrified by the object Seeking Wisdom held; abruptly, he seemed to shrivel and grow smaller. "Come in, my son, and I will tell you about that terrible object you hold--and about the old man, Wise One. But whatever you do, do not unwrap the tree and do not touch it with your bare hands. That is a learning tree and it's cursed."
He led the way into his hut, and when they were seated, he told Seeking Wisdom the entire history of the learning tree. "After Wise One died, I sought out Exalted One, but he would tell me nothing, except that the tree shows the far future. It was terrible! I am glad that I am an old man and will never see it!" He paused to gather his thoughts. "Of course, that is not the curse; when you touch the tree, you can see the far future. Later, when you are feeling blessed because you were saved from the terror, nightmares destroy your sleep like gleeful demons. During the day, if you contemplate doing an evil deed, even a small one, you see the final consequences."
"Is that not a good thing?"
Jade Carver pointed a shaking finger at the young monk. "Imagine knowing the end result of every action you might take. Soon, it becomes impossible to do anything without fearing that you might bring harm on someone." He nodded slowly to himself. "My wife left me. My children laugh at me. I wait to die and know that it will be soon."
"Why not destroy the tree?" Seeking Wisdom asked sensibly.
"I begged for Exalted One to do so. He said that it had protections so that it cannot be destroyed. It must be hidden away to protect others." Jade Carver stared at his visitor thoughtfully. "Your monastery would be the best solution. Surely, there is someplace the tree would be safe."
Seeking Wisdom considered the consequences of taking responsibility for the statue, then said, "I will take it and hide it well. You must take care of Wise One's bones and show him the respect he deserves. And you must never tell anyone of the existence of the tree."
"No, never!" Jade Carver hastily agreed. "Never in my life!" The men parted amicably, each satisfied with the outcome of their visit.
For a very long time, the jade tree stayed safely hidden in the monastery. Seeking Wisdom moved up through the ranks until finally, he held the position of Master, earning great respect; other monks came to him for advice. When he knew his time to die was near, he passed the secret and history of the learning tree on to the next Master.
Several generations passed this way. Then a time of great unrest swept the country, with rumors of terrible bandit bands roving and robbing even the monasteries and the poor.
The Master remembered the statue and worried. If the monastery was pillaged, what might happen to it? He decided it would be safer in the underground vault. When he picked up the learning tree, the scarlet silk wrap slid from his grasp. For the first time in more than a thousand years, the learning tree was cradled in human hands.
Images of a foreign sea captain flashed across his mind. He saw the captain holding the carefully wrapped learning tree; the captain sailed his ship away; a small girl, a foreigner also, hid the tree in a little trunk. So he knew, at last. His country would no longer provide haven for the learning tree. Sighing, he found the scarlet silk and rewrapped the tree.
The next day he journeyed to the nearest seaport and searched out the captain he had seen in the images. At first, the captain was most reluctant to undertake responsibility for the learning tree, but the Master finally persuaded him. The captain sailed away to his home with the learning tree.
When he arrived there, he sold his ship, moved away from the sea, and married. Time moved by. When he was old and near his death, he passed on the legend and the learning tree to one of his sons, charging him with the responsibility of protecting it.
Well! Kelly has Dinosaurs and Dragons on her blog. Very interesting. I must go look up the references she brought up. Check it out at http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and then pop over to Amarinda's blog at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ for her weekly take on Saturday in OZ! Blessings on your day.