To Lia,

Let us Dig downwards.

For the Roots grow. Grasping. Looking.

Claiming that what we must now fight to reclaim.


The Root in The Skull

Written by Calum Traveler.



The dirt crumbled away beneath the pressure and blade of the shovel- stopping as a wooden sound cried out in protest.

“Man, I hate sewer duty,” the dragon-born boy, simply named Kua Traen, let loose a sigh as he leaned against his shovel, currently stuck deep inside a tree root.

His older, questionably wiser companion, Albert Gillipup, laughed- his gnomic voice echoing loudly through the trench-filed ground and between the leaves of the tree branches above them. “Kid, you simply need to get your head out of the clouds if you thought this was going to be glamorous. I’d suggest daydreaming, but I suspect you’re already ignoring the smell a little with that as it is.”

“I’m not daydreaming though,” Kua shook his head. “I’m just speaking very plainly. I hate sewer duty.”

“Then why did you volunteer?” Albert asked of the boy, smiling in that way that the older man commonly did among those he trained for the job.

“…Well,” Kua looked up at the branches of the decades old tree. “Lately I’ve been having dreams about this tree.”

“Dreams?” Albert asked, sounding intrigued.

“Un,” the dragon boy nodded, and then began wedging the shovel out of the root. “Lately, they’ve been getting more intense. I’m seeing the tree from below, someone standing above me, and I’ve seen a shovel in it sometimes too. I think I’m holding it, but sometimes the other person has it.”

“Sounds like a past life memory,” The Gnome mused. “How old ‘re you again?”

“Thirteen this year, sir,” Kua answered, frowning. “What, are you suggesting that I died under this tree or something?”

“Hmm… well, the last time the town had someone dig up this stretch of pipe was when the roots strangled it about fifty years back,” Albert frowned in return. “Could be yours from years gone by… But I’d’ve thought you’d reincarnated again before now if you’re remembering something from then.” And then he cracked an amused grin at the boy, “Say, you didn’t happen to soul bond yourself to the tree, did you?”

“Screw you, Al!” Kua’s response was to wrench the shovel out of the tree root- spraying a shower of dirt into the Gnomic Man’s face.

“PFFFTH! HAHAH!” Albert laughed. “Okay Okay! I deserved that one!”

“Y’huh,” Kua then hefted his shovel upwards, and then slammed it down towards the exposed tree root once more.

He missed and the shovel slipped fluidly into the dirt just to the side, when it suddenly stopped with a CrCK!

The sound that reverberated out from the shovel’s impact was most certainly not a tree root being chopped.

Dragon and Gnome both paled at the sound, and then turned to look at each other in horror.

“Nuh uh!” Kua shook his head- “You’re the one that implied I might have died here!”

“You’re the one that hit… whatever it was!” Albert countered.

For a few tense moments, they stood there, and then the boy relented, pulling his shovel out and laying it to the side. “Fine,” He said with a slight growl as he knelt down to dig with his hands into the dirt, “but if this is an actual body, you’re the one that’s going to make the call!”

“That’s fine by me,” Albert conceded even as his eyes stared down at the globs of mud and clay being brushed away from… “But you’re the one whose gotta explain how he chopped a body up with a shovel!”

And then the boy pulled out what was very definitely a dirt caked skull. A skull that had worms and other nasty bugs crawling out of its empty eye sockets.

“AAAAHH!!” And then Kua threw the skull back into the dirt as he and Albert turned tail and ran back to town- To Tategami Wyoh, capital of Gobnic, a country on the continent of Rakutor.


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