A man stood in the center of a greenhouse, his eyes sweeping over the plant life thriving within. Thousands of flowers dazzled in the cascading sunlight. Their colors and smells mingled together, creating a sensory experience no one in all the Realms had ever encountered.
It was a paradise, one that had been nurtured into existence over the span of the man’s lifetime. It was one of his most prized possessions and no one but him could have ever created something so breathtaking. What he was seeing should have brought him great joy, but it did not.
He was not happy at all.
Something was wrong. He could tell by the way the flowers stood, their leaves curling inwards, like a small child seeking comfort from a frightening world.
These were his children and something was wrong.
“Don’t be sad,” he spoke, his deep, rich voice echoing around the sun-filled chamber. “I’m here.” He walked up
and down the rows, touching the plants as he went, yet his reassurance did no good.
The plant life was sulking and it hurt his heart to see it.
“Please cheer up,” he said, trying once again to raise their spirits. “I’ll bring you a treat after supper. That should please you.”
But it did not, and this confused the man.
Before he could speak any more encouragements, the doors opened, and a boy stepped in. He made his way into the greenhouse and took a knee at the edge of the man’s feathered cloak.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Your Majesty, but we have secured Data Town and all its labs,” the boy spoke quickly.
“We only found a few members of the Undergrowth hiding among them. They were taken into custody and have just arrived. Would you like to speak to them?”
“No, no,” the man said, gesturing for the boy to rise. “That won’t be necessary. A few weeds among the harvest is to be expected.” He clapped a reassuring hand against the boy’s back. “I’m sure they won’t be any trouble. Have the Gardeners tend to them as normal.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty,” the boy said with a nod, turning for the door.
“Ash,” the man spoke his retainer’s name, stopping him in his tracks.
“Yes, your Majesty?”
“Is there anything odd going on in the Sorrows today? Anything I should be aware of?”
The boy looked thoughtful for a moment and then shook his head. “No, Your Majesty. Everything is as usual. Is there a reason you ask? Is something bothering you?”
“Not so much me, Ash. It’s my plants. Something has them worried. Are you positive nothing is cultivating out there?”
“No, Your Majesty. No one has picked up any word of an uprising. Ever since Percival disappeared, the Undergrowth has been nothing more than children playing at war.”
The man laughed, deep and rich. “Good. Let’s keep it that way. Now, if only my plants were in a better mood.”
The boy looked around, taking in all the colors before him. “Have you promised them a treat?”
The man nodded.”Yes, of course. Have the Gardeners send over a prisoner after dinner. The plants do love their dessert.”
The boy nodded again. “As you wish,” he spoke, once again heading for the doors.
“Oh, and Ash?” the Thorn King called before the boy could slip away. “Make sure it isn’t an Empty. I do love it when they scream.”
© 2015 Melissa L. Webb