An Unconventional Tale
By Srishti Bhagat
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At the edge of an expanse of low hills, but one league away from the Gynoth swamplands, lay the little village Kor. Long aeons ago, minor skirmishes with other tribes occupied the interests and lives of its people, and thus, the Xitans, the warriors of the culture, rose to great prominence. The people of Kor were in desperate straits; their warriors were doing poorly, and if they could not rally, they would be pushed into the swamplands of Gynoth. That horrid name was spoken among them only in the barest of whispers. Gynoth was a feared place, rumored to be home to monsters, giant insects, vicious plants, and hungry land that swallowed people whole. The cornered Xitans of Kor fought all the more fiercely because of their fears.
Kor, at that time, was home to an outwardly quiet, beautiful lady, by the name of Rialla. Her husband, Tarek, was one of the greatest Xitans. The sweet lady's fondest dream was to have a daughter, just like her, to raise. But for the longest time, the couple remained childless. At long last, Rialla became pregnant, and began dreaming about her soon-to-come child. Long before she gave birth, she decided upon the name: Venus. And though the labor was hard, a truly beautiful babe was born to Rialla and Tarek.
Now, though Rialla was gorgeous and kind, she wasn't the type that one could call "mentally stable." Because of the peculiar workings of her mind, the only adjective suitable to use for her feelings when she realized that Venus was a boy is miffed. And Tarek, though he was a wonderful warrior, was quite obsessed with Rialla, to a pretty disgustingly unhealthy level. Venus was not a girl, and the baby required a lot of attention from Rialla; Tarek did not like the boy. Rialla, however, put aside her disappointment, and lavished love on her "dear child" Venus the only untoward thing was that she never, in fact, acknowledged his masculinity
Venus hated his father. The child, subjected to harsh, rigorous Xitan training by Tarek, grew strong, but, being a child, he could not fend off the severe beatings Tarek also gave him. Even if he had been able to, had he dared to strike his father, who ranked so high among the Xitans the consequences would have been unimaginable. However, because he could avoid his father by spending hours studying herbal lore and other non-combat skills, he became one of the smarter Korains. Yet, he was expected to become a warrior, and he could not lightly abandon this duty, so he was still obliged to spend countless hours with the cruel, impatient Tarek, seething with rage.
For eight years the boy suffered on. Then, there came the spiderVenus had awoken feeling very odd that morning, and when he had finally resolved to open his eyes, he had realized why: for the first since before he could remember, the sun had arisen before him. Venus knew not what had happened. Silently, limbs trembling with fear, wonder, and strange excitement, he had quietly, oh so quietly crept into Tarek's private room. His father was yet asleep!
Tarek lay, stretched on his bedding, eerily still and quiet. Not one snore issued from his mouth. Venus stood a while, cogitating upon the strange turn of events, and finally, grasping his resolve two-handedly, he crept right up to Tarek's inert form. Still, his father did not stir. As Venus stood, gaping, he marked that there was a peculiar purplish-red bump on Tarek's neck. Suddenly Venus jumped. Something light and hairy had tickled his foot, and it lay, momentarily stunned, on the floor, where it fallen. Then, before he could get over his shock and inspect it, the bug skittered out of sight.
Tarek was dead. Venus was free. Rialla lost even more of her little sanity.
Venus grew stronger and smarter and became more respected among his peers. His mother transferred all her love to him, and he, too, came to love her even more dearly. But the initiated Xitans did not look so kindly upon the lad. There were several reasons that they had: Firstly, Venus had an unearthly fascination with bugs, the uglier and deadlier, the better; then, his father had never spoken proudly of him, and lastly, the name given to him by his mother They did not know what to make of the family, and so, they pointedly avoided poor Venus.
Venus, when he was soon to be of age, took stock of his life. He had many friends and companions among the others who trained with him, but the silent rebuffs of the Xitans had not gone unnoticed by him. He wanted their respect, and he wanted to save his village and be a "hero." He sat long and pondered upon his dilemmas.
A scant month before his Xitan initiation, he disappeared. Only a short, vague, note, addressed to Rialla, hinted at his whereabouts.
Venus had gone to Gynoth. He felt sure certain beyond a doubt that he could find a way to use the swamp as cover for an attack on the rival tribes. But, he knew he would have to explore and come back alive before anyone would follow him. He thought that wandering there, he would have the time to come up with a truly awing plan.
The tales of the insects there also enticed him.
Gynoth was amazing. Venus climbed through the creaking trees to avoid the treacherous ground. In places, it almost seemed to bubble in eagerness for killing the careless. Staggeringly large mosses covered the tree branches, staining his clothes as he brushed by. His mind raced with possibilities for ambush and sneak attacks launched from the swamps.
As he was scanning one area for suitable places for archers, a buzzing caught his ear. Forgetting all about Xitans and wars and tribes, he whirled and saw a fly, almost glowing with iridescence, as large as his hands. He gaped in wonder. The creature flew closer, and he felt the wind from the beat of its wings play with his hair. Beguiled, he slowly reached out his hand. The bug moved just out of reach. Venus stood on tiptoe and took a slow step towards it.
A squishy thud. Venus had forgotten he was in a tree and had stepped off his precarious perch, right into a boggy crater.
As the boy tried to struggle out, he sank deeper. Slimy stringy tendrils seemed to wrap around his ankles, anchoring him firmly. Nearly choking on screams, Venus racked his brain for ways to escape. Yet it was all he could do to stifle his urges to thrash wildly. As he stood tensely and futilely, his muscles stiffened. The cold, murky water, slimy mud, and thick vegetation denied egress.
Venus's discomfort and weariness grew. Again, he attempted to raise his feet, in vain. He did not know what to do. Time passed, and a languor fell upon him. He had had a long, long day, and the swamp noises seemed to become lullabies, soothing him, urging him to rest. Through a half-dream haze, he caught the faintest breath of a song.
It stilled his last resistance, clamed him, lulled him. Venus closed his eyes and let the swamp absorb the aches of his tired limbs. The song strengthened, growing louder. Venus smiled; he heard his mother singing, singing so beautifully to him. The melody coursed through him, pervading all his senses. Among the nonsense sounds, the last remnants of his consciousness caught the Rialla crooning, "Venus, dear child"
A faint breeze stirred Venus's leaves. Their lobes opened, exhibiting sweet nectars. The fly, the elusive iridescent winged one, sensed the new potential food. Briefly, it hovered over Venus's outermost leaf, and then landed. As it crawled towards the sweet fluids, it brushed a few tiny hairs. The leaf lobes snapped together, trapping the unfortunate bug. The bristles at the edges seemed to smile.
Though Rialla seemed undisturbed over Venus's welfare, his friends were not so complacent. Three days had passed before a few of them managed to gather enough courage to seek the young warrior-to-be out. Cursing the muck, the bugs, and the plants of Gynoth, they laboriously found Venus's tracks. Yet those tracks ended abruptly on one tall tree. The youngest of the party looked down. He gasped and pointed. Venus's sword lay below them, half-embedded in the sludge. They stared down in astonishment for a long time.
Their dark reverie was broken by a sudden movement; an odd plant had snapped it's leaf shut on an insect. It was the strangest thing they'd ever encountered. It looked hardy and tough, and they'd seen it move, as no plants ought.
The three surmised that their comrade had fallen to the evil of Gynoth. They reluctantly hastened away, and named their botanical discovery in Venus's honor. Henceforth, the insect-trapping plant was known as the Venus flytrap. The pitiful Korains never knew just how right they were
And you're not quite sure exactly what happened either, now are you?
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