Edited by: Staple
Bud never knew his mother or father. A foster mother tried, poorly, to raise him before he ran away at seven years of age. After his escape, he camped in the mountains with the trees, streams, and animals for company. He grew up teaching himself how to tell an edible plant from a poisonous one and how to survive in the wild. Occasionally, he read a book or wrote in a tattered journal. Bud learned how to tell time on a sundial, and by age 8 he became muscular from his time spent tromping through the mountains. He could also catch a deer using a heavy bow.
Bud had a way with plants. All he had to do was touch the seeds and they would produce roots and begin to grow. He could practically watch them grow in his hand.
When Bud turned twenty-eight, he married a young woman named Emma. A few years later they had a little girl called Rosemary. All three of them lived in the mountains where Bud had grown up. Bud had built a small stone hut on the side of a stream. It had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a couch next to a stone fireplace.
When Rosemary turned six, Bud started to take her out fishing and hunting. Sometimes Emma would come with them to collect berries and herbs for dinner. It seemed as though Rosemary had inherited her father’s gift of having a green thumb. Almost everything she touched seemed to grow better, and look greener and stronger. When they went into town, Rosemary could hear the people whisper that they were strange folk, and people in the shops would avoid them. Sometimes, shopkeepers would even refuse to trade with them. They whispered about the folk in the Abalone mountains and said that they were strange, no doubt about it.
By the time Rosemary turned nine, her dad agreed that she could go out hunting by herself and when Emma protested, her dad said she had to learn how to fend for herself to which her mother had no objection. The years passed, and slowly Rosemary grew up. Now that she was 13, she went hunting almost every day and always brought kill home. Now that it was July, and the days were longer, Rosemary stayed out hunting longer. When she came back to the house one night with some fat rabbits on her back, she found the house quiet. Rosemary carefully set the rabbits on the table not wanting to bruise her kill and walked back outside. She stood there for a moment, eyes closed, on the threshold of the door, breathing in the warm sent of the pine forest which always helped refresh her after a hard day of hunting. She opened her eyes and walked down to the river, her hair flashing different shades of brown in the late afternoon sun. She took her shoes off at the bank of the river and splashed around for a bit, trying to catch minnows. After a while the sun went down and the water got cold so she got out and put her shoes back on.
When Rosemary reached her home, she looked around the clearing that it had been built in. No sign of Bud or Emma. “Hmmm,” she wondered. They were usually always back by dark. She walked into the house and started a fire like her parents always did and skinned the rabbits then put them in a pot over the fire. Then she went into her room and sat down on her bed. After a moment she walked over to her bookshelf and ran her fingers over the book spines. She took a slim hardback volume off the shelf and let it fall open in her hands. She turned the yellowed pages and revisited the story of her ancestors and their powers. She stopped a moment to re-look at the story of when the spirits were founded. It was one of her favorite bedtime stories when she was little. Rosemary sat down on her bed and was about to start reading when she heard what sounded like a fight from the direction of the clearing. Rosemary closed the book and left it on her bed as she ran out the door.
The sun had set and the moon had risen during the time that she had been inside. The river looked like molten silver and the sky was clear. It would have been a perfect night for stargazing except for the fact that the silence was punctured with the sound of battle cries. Rosemary ran toward the fight on bare feet. Somewhere deep inside of her she knew she had to stay hidden, so she climbed up the back-side of a cliff, and looked down upon the scene below her in horror.