Fiction: Thorns

The palace gardener walked down the central path of the west garden. He was alone among the plants, which was no longer unusual. Visitors to the west garden had become rarer in the past months then any time the gardener could remember of his forty-three years of tending these grounds.

In the old days there would always be a few of the palace's residents walking through the garden, examining the plants. The gardener chuckled to remember the groups of young girls who would wander the garden making up stories to tell each other about the plants and where they came from, and the groups of older women who where beyond such childishness, and would instead whisper the stories to each other.

Every plant was as unique as the story behind it. Some where beautiful, some ugly; some where not much short of trees, some little more than seedlings; some where covered in a carpet of flowers, others where simple and plain, though every plant had at least some thorns.

There was more plants than ever before and they where starting to push out into the paths but still the danger of brushing against a thorn had never driven visitors away before.

The gardener noticed a figure ahead as he approached the centre of the garden. So perhaps the thorns hadn't scared away everyone just yet.

The figure was a young man, barely more than a boy, and was examining the largest plant in the garden, nearly as tall as the young man, despite being one of the newest.

As the gardener approached he recognised him as the son of one of the King's cousins, though he couldn't remember which.

The young man crouched down in front of the plant, and suddenly grasped the base of the plant, and ripped it out of the ground.

"Don't!" yelled the older man even though the damage had already been done, as he rushed the last few yards towards the youth.

The young noble was shaking and blood was dripping from his hand that was still clenched around the trunk of the plant, a particularly thorny one even by the standards of the west garden. But nevertheless he gave an apologetic smile to the gardener as he approached.

"Do you know ...?" asked the gardener.

"No, but it needed to be done," The young man released the trunk, but the thorns jabbed into his skin kept it from dropping, so he had to shake it lose, tearing his skin even more.

"I guess a few scratches don't matter any more do they?" The noble almost looked hopeful as he glanced up from his hand, but when the gardener shook his head he simply shrugged and wrapped his hand in his shirt before walked shakily over to a nearby seat.

The gardener watched the plant start to wilt and brown far faster than any natural plant would. That was the only way to kill a plant in the west garden, you could cut it back, burn it, salt the earth even, but unless you pulled it out by hand it would grow back in a few days, often thornier than before.

"I'm sure even you have noticed the problems." The young noble seemed to want to explain himself to someone, and the gardener was the only person there, "The kingdom is inches from a imploding, and no one trusts anyone else in the palace. Something needed to change."

The gardener kept his peace, it wasn't his place to correct nobles, and maybe it really was for the best.

There where a few flickers of something vaguely like a memory as the plant finished dying, but whatever secret had created it obviously didn't concern him.

That was the magic of the west garden; it was almost impossible to reveal a confidence told to you in the palace, but a plant grew along with the secret, and if it died the secret was revealed.

Though the plants of the west garden rarely died alone.

The gardener sat down beside the young noble who had now stopped shaking and watched the, apparently still peaceful, palace, as he waited to see what would happen.

Categories: Writing
Date: 2015-10-23 07:49:20, 8 years and 267 days ago

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