Chapter 49 – Sweet and Sour
Warmaker and his party spent the night in the forest before returning to their colony. They never did encounter that great snake, much to everyone’s relief. I awaited on pins and needles for night to come and sleep to take him so that I might impart upon him the knowledge I needed him to know.
Unfortunately, the party lost the game they were hunting, but they did not return empty handed. Instead, they found a patch of small fruit-bearing dwarf trees, something their prey consumed not long before they arrived at that spot. It hung like a blue bell from the branches, exposed after soft, leaf-like shells unfurled when they ripened. The hunters had been surprised by their sweetness, especially considering how sour similar-looking fruit tasted. Although they didn’t come back with many samples from the small bunch, those lizards that did manage to get a taste swore they’d never tasted anything so sweet in their lives.
By nightfall, most of the colony got wind of the Blue Sweetfruit, and both curiosity and desire demanded more. Hunting parties the next day would be on the lookout for the precious sweet delicacy. But not Warmaker’s group, not after the visions I would show him tonight. He would have greater things to prepare for.
He finally retired to his home for the night, joining his two female partners and their two current young children. His family unit did not produce many offspring, each female only bearing a single egg at a time, but it just meant what children were born into the family were loved and appreciated all the more. His family had been out and about when he returned back to the colony earlier, and did not return until too late to sample his party’s find. Disappointment colored their scales, especially the children, but that did not stop them from asking Warmaker a myriad of questions about his hunt and the strange Blue Sweetfruit. They only knew of the Green and Yellow Sourfruits common to the region, so just how blue was the Blue Sweetfruit? As blue as the sky or more the color of the family heart? Did it taste like a sweet sunset while sitting in the tree canopy as another had described it? They begged to know more.
Of course, as his stories tended to, he started at the beginning from when his team added the Young Apprentice to their ranks, touched upon the danger of the Great Snake which caused his young children to gasp, tracking the game in an ultimately futile attempt through the tree paths, before finally happening upon one of their food sources. When they entered the copse, they could hardly believe their eyes at the rich and vivid blue of the fruit. When inspected further, they saw the ground littered with mostly eaten cores amongst the old tracks from when their prey stopped briefly for a small respite. ‘So blue, you could almost taste it just by looking at it’ he described as he came upon the blue orbs dangling on branches. Of course the party instantly recognized the similarity to the Green and Yellow Sourfruits, but that still did not still their curiosity for what this new and beautiful discovery might taste like.
And for their insatiable thirst for the new and exciting, they were rewarded with a rich and full-bodied flavor the likes of which were difficult to even describe. The skin had a pleasant snap to it when bit into, which then released the juices barely contained inside the taut casing. And despite the fruit looking blue, inside it was nearly white with a pink tint to it, and a large pit that one of the lizards found the hard way when he bit too deeply into the fruit at once. Warmaker’s scales then whirled in colors, lamenting the fact that his family had not been there to experience it for themselves. If only there was some way for them to share in his experience. His mates were about to beat him silly for suddenly rubbing it in their faces, but they noticed he seemed to be egging them on a little too much. While the children flailed around in agony about the unfairness of the world, the ladies had curious yellow sparkles around their eyebrows.
But oh, what was this? His travel bag seemed heavier than he remembered. He carried on with his overly dramatic acting of what could possibly be weighing him down so, while the children immediately snapped back to attention, hoping, wishing, praying that he just might have…! Out of his bag he drew a cloth covered bundle, and ceremoniously unwrapped it as his family watched with rapt anticipation. It was as if the sun was illuminating the morning trees as their vision was suddenly filled with the bluest blue they’d ever seen. It was small enough to fit in a hand, and it may as well have had a spotlight on it for the way it drew everyone’s eyes to it. He handed it to his partners first, and they took it gingerly, treating it like the most fragile thing in the world. They brought it down to the childrens’ eye level, and eventually let them hold it as well. They were all in awe.
The group looked back to Warmaker, wondering what they should do with it. A giggle alighted his scales. Eat it, of course! He trilled with his enthusiastic command, and it took no time at all for each family member to quickly take a bite of the strange and wondrous blue fruit. Their scales went crazy with colors, the flavor enhanced by Warmaker’s earlier account of his adventures and his torturous teasing. It was the best thing they’d ever eaten, and their scales shone with wonder and appreciation. The children vowed to tell all their neighbors about it as they continued consuming the delectable delight, their spirits only slightly hampered when their mothers reminded them they’d have to do so tomorrow as it was too late this evening.
After they finished consuming the Blue Sweetfruit, they spent the rest of their night talking about it before finally deciding it had been dark long enough, and they must finally rest. The adults laid down on their cushy nesting pile with the children squishing themselves in between. The childrens’ tails continued to flick excitedly until sleep finally took them. Warmaker himself now allowed exhaustion to overtake him. He was convinced he would enjoy his sleep tonight.
But, if I had my way this night, his dreams were sure to be less than pleasant. I hated to tear him away from his restful sleep, but I had no time to waste, and he needed to earn the name I’d given him. Once his breathing slowed and his mind stilled, I carefully laid myself inside him, wrapping myself around his unconscious mind, seeping through the pores of his self to the other side. I invaded not as a stranger, but as a messenger. I summoned his unwakeful mind to this place. I then looked inside myself to the memories I once held at bay, and brought them forth into this unreality. Images of human silhouettes battling against one another, each fighting for what they thought was right. The great armies of man flowed onto the stage, but as they passed from my mind to his, they became armies of lizards, battalions of weapon bearing warriors, fighting for their right to survive. And their enemy, the silhouettes of the near-humans I’d briefly seen.
The vision played out as the two armies clashed. Weapons pierced the hearts of enemies and friends, the ground soon became littered with bodies. The oppressive force of the near-humans was overwhelming, but if the lizards did not hold their ground, they would perish. The dream played out for some time as Warmaker found himself in the middle of the massive battlefield, the fight for survival. As the night wore on and the sun slowly began to creep upon the horizon, his sense of self became more aware, and eventually the bloody field faded away and gave way to morning light.
His scales were panicked and his eyes darted around, first confirming reality, and then making sure his family were all still with him. He gave them all a squeeze which slowly roused them into wakefulness. His scales were a mess of colors at the terrifying experience he’d just witnessed on the edge of consciousness. Never before had he seen such a thing, and he could not even describe it to his mates when they asked what was wrong.
There was some guilt in me for putting him through that. The purpose was not to terrify him, but it was an unavoidable side effect. Still, it was all for the greater good, I contented myself with that thought. I saw him contemplate the dream, trying to find at least some words to put to it. The more I saw his mind attempting to wrap itself around the vision, the more anxious I became. As it slowly began to dawn on him, so it did for me as well. My essence roiled underneath my disbelief as he explained to his partners the only thing he understood, that he didn’t understand it at all.