Photo taken by Zahra.
Later, while writing the first draft, dozens of other songs by soundcloud artists, and others like the Amazon Ensemble's "Jo Parana" (which is also included in the audio recording) brought the scenes I was writing to life. Someday I hope that I can reach out these excellent composers (when there is a movie in the works ;)
This audiobook recording is way of sharing a piece of the imaginative world I've been living in.
Hit the PLAY button on the soundcloud link and, if you want, you can read along below with the text to Chapter One: Sea Willow Aisle.
the Oaql Seed
-Book 1 of the Treeboat Series-
-Like the fruit that tastes exquisite in a mouth long unfed, the heart upon tasting Presence yearns to be fed again-
Arrival and Takeoff at Sea Willow Aisle
“Just there- you see them?” Arionella called out excitedly.
“What, the golden specks over the water?” Lemay questioned with difficulty, out of breath trying to keep up. “But those are just insects!”
“That’s how you see it, for me they’re a sign.” Arionella ran at top speed towards the Aisle, a tributary of water lined by bushy Sea Willows, that branched off from a network of waterways which connected to Miner’s Bay, and to the ocean beyond. The water in these parts was always a translucent algae-green, probably because of the weedy beds that grew in their depths. The locals came to believe that the green tint was a promise of abundance for their little bayside township Lindum, that stood in the shadows of the great Lindarious Mountains, best known for their pink-salt mines.
Lemay arrived at the Aisle a good minute or so after Arionella, who had longer legs than he did- something that often bothered him because it was that much harder to keep her out of trouble. Arionella waved him over silently and with her other hand she pressed her finger to her lips firmly. There were only plushy beds of moss underfoot but Lemay tiptoed in his sandals anyway.
“Is it here yet?” Lemay whispered when he got close enough to the decaying log Arionella was crouching behind.
“Shh. No not yet.”
It was nearly dawn. The few glowing bands of sunlight accented the ripples of the green water with orange highlights, while dragonflies zipped over its surface. A cool breeze came from the north, making the Sea Willows rustle and dance. Their long thin branches floated far onto the surface of the water. The long shady avenue of trees was now a show of motion and pretty lights.
The ceaseless, erratic flight of the dragonflies, came to a sudden halt. They hovered in the breeze, riding its currents like sea birds floating on choppy waters. Whether by the light of the sun, or their own inner fluorescence, the dragonflies began to twinkle: their varying neon blues, golds, reds, and yellows flashed in little, colorful instants.
Arionella tensed and craned her neck, looking for any sign of movement down the glimmering path of water.
“Shouldn’t be long now,” she whispered.
“Ari, I’m nervous. What’s going to happen?” Lemay asked as he sank lower behind their precarious rampart.
“I told you not to come!” Arionella hissed. “I told you that you’d be scared.”
“I’m not scared!” Lemay didn’t sound too convincing, but his brow was furrowed and his fists were clenched. “I just think that, you don’t know what you’re doing.” Arionella didn’t reply this time. A figure, at the far end of the winding tributary, loomed forward. The great silhouette looked as if a tree had broken off the shore, and still upright, began floating on the water. Lemay shut his eyes tight and crouched behind the log, while Arionella looked like she was waiting for the opportune moment to pounce out from behind it.
As the floating mass easily followed a bend in the tributary, a square glow appeared. The dim light revealed the outline of a wooden boat gliding along the water.
“Look!” said Arionella, “It’s a tree. A tree in the middle of a boat!” Lemay poked his head out from behind the log.
“That’s strange, I don’t see anyone on the boat.” Lemay was all caution.
“There’s a cabin onboard, I think someone’s inside!”
“What?” Lemay craned his head out further. The tree and the boat- or rather, the Treeboat -was close now. As it pulled up to the shore, the water made thudding sounds on its hull, and the sound of a tinny recording of music crackled through the atmosphere.
“Do you hear that?” Lemay asked. “There’s music playing.”
“I hear it too. Didn’t I tell you something was going to happen?”
“How did you know?”
“I already told you, I had a dream.”
“I thought you were making something up to ‘go on an adventure’ as usual.”
“Well, now you know I wasn’t...look someone’s come out of the cabin!”
A lady in a white button-down shirt, and light-blue linen pants rolled up just above her ankles, was twirling around the boat. Arionella and Lemay watched as she figuratively danced along with the dramatic music. Right on cue with a crescendo, she tossed a rope to the shore, and with a flick of her head, whipped her long black hair over her shoulder. Lemay and Arionella found themselves moved to giggles at her antics. Then, the lady on the boat sprang lightly into the water, pulled the boat by it’s long brown rope and tied it to a thin tree on the shore. Her feet were bare and her figure was draped by clothes a few sizes too large for her, and yet she moved as Arionella imagined a princesses would.
The lady climbed back aboard, disappearing behind the door of the cabin for a minute. She re-emerged with boots on and a satchel across her chest. She hopped off the boat again, looked to her right and left- straight past her audience of two -then she lightly walked off into the darkness of the majestic curtains of the bushy Sea Willows.
“Looks like she’s gone,” Arionella said.
“What if there is someone else on the boat?”
They both looked at the Treeboat as it bobbed gently on the water. The tree definitely wasn’t one of the Sea Willows along the shore. Though it did have many dangling vines attached to its crown, its leaves and branches arranged themselves more like a plump broccoli.
“You keep watch, I’m going to check it out.” Arionella said as she stood up.
“No don’t!” Lemay grasped Arionella’s arm.
“Let go you scaredy cat.”
“You saw her, she seemed nice. I saw you laughing when she danced.”
“So? That doesn’t mean anything! What if she’s an enchantress looking for kids like us to steal away?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. My grandmother’s practically a hexy, and she’s the nicest, most special person you could ever meet.”
“Doesn’t mean they're all that way, silly.”
Arionella wasn’t listening, but Lemay shook her arm.
“The music is still playing.” He said impatiently, trying to make his companion see reason.
“That means she’ll be right back!”
“Just a quick look then.”
With that, Arionella twisted her arm out of Lemay’s grasp and jumped over the log. She ran ahead for the first few steps, but slowed herself down to a crawl as she approached the water. The music from the boat had now turned into a mysterious arrangement, as if providing a soundtrack to the suspense and excitement Arionella was feeling in her gut- as well as to the touch of terror that Lemay felt in his gut. With a nervous swallow, he watched her bunch up her dress and step into the water. She placed her hands on the edge of the boat which stood a full arm’s length above her head. Just before she pulled herself aboard she looked towards Lemay, but couldn’t make out the log or his little reprimanding head shaking vigorously at her.
As the boat bobbed slightly in the opposite direction she jumped, using its momentum to pull herself aboard.
The moment she landed on the boat, a shudder trailed from the base of her feet, up her shoulders, and lingered for a moment like static in her hair. Shaking it off, Arionella rebalanced herself and tried to breathe her adrenaline down. The interior of the wooden boat was white like the exterior: a creamy shade that was natural to the timber. There was nothing onboard except for a few more coils of the brown, manila rope the dancing lady had used to tie the boat to shore.
Arionella moved towards the tree at the center, shuddering with excitement as the baseboards groaned beneath her feet. She looked down and saw that through the cracks and corners of the timber, little flowers, grasses, and roots of the tree itself grew embedded in the frame of the boat. Further ahead, around the base of the tree, large roots rose up in lumps, as well as a circular carpet of moss and plants growing all around it. The warm light of the cabin behind the tree spilled through its leaves, vines, and branches making it glow eerily.
She walked around the tree towards the cabin made of the same white wood as the rest of the boat. The window nearest to her was situated above her head. Standing on the tips of her toes, her eyes just barely made it over the frame. Inside was an elaborate display of golden instruments, figurines, and all sorts of paints, brushes, pencils, and aged stacks of paper.
She went up to the door, turned the ovular doorknob, and went inside.
Back on shore Lemay rubbed his eyes and blinked a few times. He was standing now and leaning forward over the log. With a cool breeze came the sound of the music from the boat, it was now a distant, joyful waltz. More wind swept in from all directions. The thin branches of the Sea Willows whipped around, the surface of the water bristled and spat, the Treeboat lurched, and Lemay’s curly brown hair was tossed about. With a final ram of a gust of wind against his face, and a loud cracking sound, Lemay’s eyes seemed to clear of some subtle veil.
“Ari!!” Lemay let out a shout with wide-eyed terror.
He leapt over the rotten trunk and ran into the water. To his horror, the Treeboat was farther from the shore than he’d thought- and it was picking up speed.
“Ari! The boat is undone! Arionella!” Lemay’s voice was lost in the sweeping winds. He plunged himself further into the churning waters of the tributary, and though he never was adept off dry land, he swam towards the large silhouette of the Treeboat floating steadily away. The water was freezing cold. Lemay’s arms and legs progressively stiffened. Soon he was under the surface of the salty water more than he was above it.
The yellow light of the Treeboat faded as it turned around a bend. Lemay cried out, struggling as his legs cramped. Then, a small yet ferocious wave plunged him underwater. Though he clawed skyward with all his strength, he sank farther and farther into the deep. In a brief stretch of several agonizing moments, Lemay’s mind and body were lit in the fires of suffocation and despair. Suddenly, just as he was about to lose his breath, his feet met something hard that he was able to push off of, and as his head breached the water’s surface, the tide receded briefly.
Lemay swam and then crawled desperately towards the shore, sputtering and coughing all the way. When he was safely away from the reach of the waves, he collapsed on the ground- puking up water and losing consciousness in brief spells. Finally, it was when Lemay thought of Arionella that he regained a firm hold of his awareness. He willed himself to stand, then with heavy steps, he rushed towards home knowing that with every passing minute, Arionella drifted further and further away.
Some twenty minutes later, the dancing lady of the Treeboat returned. At first she thought she had gotten lost because there was no sign of the vessel she had arrived on. She stood and blinked for a few moments, then walked away, before returning and stepping a few feet into the water. She hurried over to where she remembered tying the boat, but to her dismay, she found that the tree she had tied it to along the shore, had snapped.
“Argh, termites! I shouldn’t have let that damn boat out of my sight!”
She plodded back to dry land and began pacing back and forth with her hands on her hips. “Think Taola, think!” She was thinking aloud in frustration. “At least I’ve collected some salt, and had a few licks, I can think a little clearer now- otherwise I would’ve never have tied it down to such a precarious hold.
Damn that Oaql tree, always has plans of its own. I mean, how long has it been...thirty minutes maybe? Even if I chartered a boat from the town to find it, that would mean exposing it. Argh!”
She then paused and looked out over the tributary, tapping her finger on a large oval locket hung around her neck by a silver chain, she said to herself thoughtfully, “Without a captain it’s surely going to make its way to the nearest Haelin Island. So maybe it’s time I activate this seed after all. First I’ll need a proper boat, a boat that I can truly be captain of in the long run.”
With that, the dancing lady of the Treeboat hastened to find the township called Lindum, that initially she’d seen on her map, and had avoided on purpose.
Arionella At Sea.
I. “I’m on an adventure.”
Inside the cabin on the Treeboat, Arionella was fiddling with a carved figurine of a horse. Earlier, peeking through the window of the cabin hadn’t revealed the corridor, and a small staircase that led up to a loft. Also there were levels of shelves built into the walls containing books, instruments, tinctures, and a milieu of artifacts.
“This is great!” Arionella said aloud, her voice blended with the waltz music playing from a shiny piece of technology: the likes of which she had never seen before. Outside, the music had sounded distant and tinny, but inside it was rich and heavy. Mobiles hung all around, some were of little wooden carvings of Treeboats hung on stick and string, revolving around elaborate carvings of little islands. Arionella looked through a brass telescope, wound a music box, and sniffed at different jars of perfume. “No one will believe me.” Arionella stood gazing around for a few moments and then gasped: “Lemay has to see this!”
Arionella burst through the door, the warm September wind rushed through her red hair. She ran to the edge of the boat. As her green eyes adjusted to the light, she was appalled to find that she was out at sea, already far from land. A sense of desperation came just after a sinking feeling in her chest, that made her skip a breath. There was only silence for a time. The music from inside the cabin had stopped and even the ocean lay still.
“Oh gawd!” Arionella cried. “This is worse than when I melted Mrs. Botson’s clay sink! Even worse than when I left Mr. Pierson’s goat pen open!” Arionella was pacing relentlessly. Thoughts ran through her mind: Uncle Navis will be mad, but I know how to deal with him. Lemay is the one who will never let up...I’ll be an old lady someday and he won’t let me forget it. And what about the woman whose boat this is? What if she really is an enchantress like Lemay thought, and not a nice one? Arionella looked around nervously from one end of the boat to the other. On each side there was an oar, giant in size relative to Arionella- surely she could not row the whole boat, which was more like a small ship to her. She thought there must at least be a steering wheel inside the cabin.
Back inside was the workstation by the window to the left of the entrance, to the right a dimly lit corridor led to a kitchen, and another door leading to a bathroom tiled with aqua-green stone.
Arionella nipped at her fingernails, bewildered that there was no control room. And yet, as she stood gazing up at the carvings and mobiles hanging from the ceiling, bathed in the warm light of the room, her heart fluttered with something beyond fear.
I’m on an adventure, the words soundlessly formed on her lips, and then her hand fell away from her mouth and she repeated aloud with delight, “I’m on an adventure!”