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Roses of May
Deep in a land filled with changing plains, lays a small village, a humble village that is filled with people all bustling with the daily activities. And on the outskirts of this village is a garden, a beautiful place alive with different flowers, the most prominent being the red rose. The roses are a bright red, a red only they can achieve. But these wonderful roses only grow in May. They are the Roses of May, and every May they are pruned and pampered by the village. And every May they are threatened by thieves of the night, and by fires of the nomads. But none can harm the roses, except their keeper.
Emerald, a beautiful young girl watches these roses. Day in and day out she sits among the roses protecting them from the fires and thieves. Day in and day out she listens to a secret melody of the roses that only she can hear. And so the village smiles at the pure girl, thinking she will be with the roses forever, under the blue sky of May.
As Emerald grew older, the village grew more quiet. Her guardians and teachers leaving as they found it necessary. She was an adult now, they weren’t needed anymore. And as the village grew empty, the attacks on the roses became more frequent. Though the fights were more tough, Emerald still succeeded. The roses were safe. But not all attacks are so open, as we all know. Some attacks are more subtle than a thief, and much more deadly. And poor Emerald never suspected a thing.
One day, when the only resident of the village was our young Emerald, a man came to the village. He was dressed in a large robe of royal purple, his black hair snuggled closely to his dark skin and a thin gold crown sat upon his head. The sky dimmed as he came closer, and the grass seemed to wilt under his feet. And in his wake he left a long dark shadow, a scar across the earth. Emerald stood amazed at the presence of this mighty king. And then he spoke, “Dear Emerald, your garden is the most radiant in all the kingdom. I wish to employ you for a special job.” The king smiled and his shadow seemed to wrap around the gardens border.
“Of course your majesty, what do you wish me to do?”
“Please come with me child, you have much to learn.” The king outstretched his hand and lifted Emerald to her feet. She followed the royalty away from her roses. The kings shadow engulfed her garden casting it into a red tinted darkness, and her precious roses began to wilt.
Emerald stood among a group of gardeners from across the kingdom. The king sat high on his gray horse and looked out beyond his kingdoms border. A strange desert lied beyond, and patches of flowers with roses at their center grew scattered near square buildings. The king nodded his head and turned to his troops.
“The day has come, dear gardeners, for you to use the skills you were selected for!” Emerald looked around confused and a little scared. Some of the gardeners did exactly as she did, others had blank rock hard faces like they were preparing for war. “I wish to expand my kingdom!” The king continued, “But, the people here will not submit or are afraid to join me. They are afraid for their flowers, afraid we will trample them. More importantly their roses, their roses have bloomed and they wish to protect them. So I vowed to help them by sending you. With your help, their roses will bloom brighter and fuller than ever! Now go!” The king pointed forward and the gardeners surged out into the neighbor kingdom. In the windows of the square houses, heads peeked out to watch the spectacle. Some watched with worry and horror, others turned their heads in sorrow. Emerald smiled as she reached her first garden. The flowers were dim but still beautiful, she did not know what she could do to make them brighter. She spotted the roses in the center and carefully tip toed towards them, not realising that she herself had a shadow like the king’s and whatever it touched dimmed and wilted. The roses were dim but healthy when Emerald reached them. She smiled and examined them from all angles. She reached out her hand and touched the petals, and the roses died. She yelped with alarm and ran out of the garden, and watched as it was engulfed by a red tinted shadow, which she didn’t know was her own. The king then approached his face straight and without emotion.
“I’m so sorry my lord, I don’t know what happened... I killed them, I’m not worthy of helping you expand the kingdom.”
“It’s quite alright child,” the king said laying a hand on her red head, “I know you are a gardener of the highest caliber, this garden just wasn’t worthy is all. Move on to the next.” The king rode off as Emerald dried her forest eyes. She took a deep breath and walked off to her next garden, her shadow began to lengthen as she walked deeper into the desert kingdom.
Rose after rose Emerald touched, each one wilting and pricking her fingers. No one would bandage her hands as she went on to another garden. Her shadow now had a mind of it’s own, twisting back to old gardens and ripping the dead flowers to bits, it was all still oblivious to Emerald. She only knew what her hands did. They had become stained with her blood and her eyes stung from her sweat. Then she saw them, shadows, shadows everywhere long and flowing like rivers behind the other gardeners. Tentatively she looked back and found her own flowing back and forth like a red-black snake. Emerald took a deep breath and went on to another garden, she had grown tired and did not want to deal with this monster. ‘Just let it do what it wants,’ she thought. She winced as she pricked herself on another dying rose and left the dead garden.
“Emerald my child!” Emerald stopped and looked around. The king rode forward, his robe was black today and looked quite strange against the blood red sky; Emerald hadn’t noticed how alien the sky had become.
“Your majesty,” Emerald bowed, “What can I do for you?” The king placed his hand on her sore shoulder.
“Your work here is done Emerald.”
“But your majesty, not one garden has survived. How will your kingdom expand?”
“These people have lied and deceived me. They never wanted to join my kingdom and continued their blasphemous government. This is punishment.”
“That is not--”
“It is no concern of yours anymore,” the kings voice grew cold as he stared down at the soil and blood stained girl, “Now off with you, back to your old village. You are no longer needed.” The king rode off to check on other gardeners progress as Emerald stood in the dark sand alone and abandoned.
The sky never turned blue, it was stained forever just like Emeralds hands. The shadow she dragged behind her cut into the earth leaving the grass behind them brown. Emerald finally reached her old home and collapsed to the ground horrified. There lay her roses, dead. Emerald wanted to cry, but found that her eyes were eternally dry. Slowly she stood and stumbled to her roses remains. She lifted them up in her red hands, the roses thorns stabbing her skin. She turned to her shadow which had grown still and spoke to it, her voice cracking, “Dig a hole shadow, I know you can.” The shadow obeyed and quickly dug a small hole. Emerald stumbled over to it and knelled before it. She gently placed the roses at the bottom and nodded to her shadow. It began to cover them up as Emerald’s eyes grew cold and hard just like the kings. In a small voice only her shadow could hear she whispered, “Here now I lay, my Roses of May.”