The Heroes of Ganchimi is a story that began as a joint effort with my son, Joshua, when he was five years old. I was commuting to the Seminary at the time, which meant I was away from home from Sunday night until Friday night every week for almost three years. Before beginning this arduous task, the idea was to help get him through the first year by doing something together that would progress each week until the end of the term. Because he loves to read, the idea arose to write a story. We talked about a general idea for the story, and then that first week away, I wrote the first chapter. I came home, read it to him, and then we talked about what would happen next. With that, you can see, although the writing was my job, the ideas were shared. And so it went for a very long time.
Not too far into the project, it actually got to the point to where he was asking me to leave so that a new chapter would be produced.
The story is pretty far along, though still vastly incomplete. I intend to finish it as held to the demands of the readers of this blog as well as my son, who is now twelve, and is still wondering how the story will end. I guess I am, too.
Chapter one is below. I hope you enjoy it. There will be more to come.
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THE HEROES OF GANCHIMI
The Vasior Tree
When I was a lad, I always suspected that there was the chance that something extraordinary would happen to me, whether I knew of its details or not. It is certain that there are times in one’s life when you really do expect the unexpected, thereby making it a grand surprise beyond compare. And so it was for me many years ago.
My name is Joshua, and as a young boy of almost thirteen years, I lived with my family in the Nefton Woods in the Land of Ganchimi. It was a beautiful place, and remains so to this day; alluring waterfalls and bits of meadow that cascade upon one another as you view them from the sky. For so it is true that you are able to do such a thing when you have climbed a Vasior tree; sturdy and tall, reaching quite up into the air; high above all the other trees by no less than two score. I did such climbing when I was a boy (but not much anymore), always scuttling to the top of the tree to witness the rich splendor of the countryside. Once at the top, my eyes would gaze out upon the vast oceans of grain and grass, flowers and trees. Swaying in the cool breezes of the autumn, I would contemplate the rippling motions of the world below. I was safe in my tree. I knew my place within its branches and it was always good to be there.
My tree had tender bark that covered massive branches. Each primary branch extended out into full ranks of smaller branches covered in rich, thick leaves. To see the tree from the ground was to visit an enormous work of creation exploding into the sky and billowing out with almost cumulus design. To rest in its soft branches was to fall comfortably into the dreamscape of the clouds themselves.
There is one Vasior tree in every region of Ganchimi, each one planted by a single seed which was cast by a single Sower many years ago. Some say that all of these trees have common roots, each one connected to the next, stretching out hundreds of miles across the landscapes. I would not have believed it at first word unless I had tracked the roots between several of the trees for myself. I have done so, and that is part of my story, but I’ll speak of that later.
My tree wasn’t far from my home. It was just down the trail from my front door and could easily be seen through our window panes. Stepping off of my porch it was merely a dash of ten seconds at top speed, which is often how I ran to the tree. Once there, I would kick off my shoes (which I barely needed anyway since it was so close, except that the path was rocky) and I would climb the lower branches that gradually wrapped upward around the back of the tree until I was able to slide down a main trunk onto a set of branches that led straight to the top as if they were purposely designed to give access to the feet of children. I would only have to dodge a branch here and there before I was at the top. And there I would sit in a crook of several branches that had grown together to form a cradle. Resting quietly, it took Mother’s call for a midday meal to rouse any interest in returning to the world below. In fact, it is possible that I would have gone hungry had she not beckoned my return.
From atop such a tree as a Vasior, a person can see the world in its proper form. It is true as I have also seen that some of the Vasior trees throughout the land have died. They remain brawny and tall, but hollow and dark with fragile branches and no fruit. For one reason or another, the soil was corrupted by the Caretakers. It is said that these Caretakers desired for their tree to grow taller than the others, disregarding the nature of its growth and supplementing the trees roots with special concoctions of their own design. And with all such meddling, the tree died. What is truly peculiar above all is that the Caretakers never realized the tree was dead. Only those that had living trees among them could tell that these people had killed their tree. And even more peculiar, those that cared for a dead tree would see a living one and think that it needed their help to become as superior as their dead tree; humorous and yet so very sad. My father would often receive visits from such people. Although he was willing to listen to their words, he would chuckle a bit at their derangement, not in cruelty, but because of their blind intensity toward their mistake.
My father, Christof, was a man who earned his living by offering care to those that immediately tended to the Vasior trees that lived not only within the Nefton Woods, but in the surrounding boroughs of Rathland, Ghihland, Rodmilf and the likes. My mother, Genevieve, worked among the children, caring for them and offering her wits to their parents. I’ll mention briefly my sister, Madeline, for you will become relatively familiar with her as we progress. It is important to know that she was very young at the time, nearly eight years old. And so it is at this time and place that our story may begin.
Late one evening in the midst of an unusually cool summer, just after Mother had extinguished the last candle within the iron wreath, there was a knocking at our door. Not a knocking as if made by a hand, but rather a thumping as if it were made by something much larger. Startled by the sound, my sister ran to Father. Curious and a bit angered at the hour, Father placed Madeline in her bed and went to the door. I was already huddled with Mother near the foot of the steps which lead down to the root cellar. I was helping her to gather vegetables for the following day’s stew. Mother put her arms around me. I peeked up and around to see the cause of the late night commotion.
“Pray tell, who’s at my door at this hour?” Father called out. There was no answer, only the rustling of paper and another few thumps on the door.
“I say, give name to yourself so that I may greet you in peace,” Father called out again. There was no response. I could see through the window a strange shadow being cast upon the porch posts, not meeting with the ground. Mother hadn’t yet turned out the lantern outside near the door. The sound of rustling paper was heard again as Father reached for the door. Lifting the wooden lock-latch, he turned the knob and opened it.