Legends of Love and Luck – Chapter Four

Xiu Wen walked through the forest in search of a certain herb that would grant her husband Hurly-Burly the speed necessary to reach the Red Capital in a certain amount of time. Suddenly, she was caught in a spider web.

Legends of Love and Luck is a collaborative epic novel composed by Balckwell and Hoober, for publication on the Soup Web Zone. It is inspired by Classical Chinese Novels such as Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Bandits of the Water-Margin. Odd-numbered chapters will be composed by Balckwell, and even-numbered chapters by Hoober. We hope you enjoy the result.

Chapter Four

Xiu Wen and Distant Octopus Converge Inside the Green Onion Forest /

Infidel Carbonate and Burly-Hurly Converge Outside the GreyTown Garbage Heap

Xiu Wen walked through the forest in search of a certain herb that would grant her husband Hurly-Burly the speed necessary to reach the Red Capital in a certain amount of time. Suddenly, she was caught in a spider web. In the resulting confusion, she felt a hand reach out to grab her, and heard someone say the name “Distant Octopus.” With her renowned wits and quick mind, Xiu Wen easily deduced that the speaker was none other than her old friend, Distant Octopus.

Distant Octopus was the wife of Burly-Hurly, and although their husbands had had a years-long feud that caused them to build a fence between their once-united homes, the two women had maintained their friendship. In fact, the friends barely viewed their husbands’ deep-seeded hatred as nothing more than a mere sibling rivalry. Xiu Wen would often cross through the gate she had built in the fence between their homes in order to visit Distant Octopus, and Distant Octopus would do the same.

“Xiu Wen, what are you doing caught in that web? And why are you here in the Green Onion Forest?”

“Would I be if I could help it, Distant Octopus? Help me out of this web, for it has covered my eyes shut, and I am blinded by it. I have entered the forest to find the weed ieiunium viriditas in order to grant my husband incredible speed. I’d like to ask why you are here as well.”

“Actually, I came for the same purpose. You know how Burly-Hurly watches from his periscope. He saw Hurly-Burly rush out of the house after speaking with the Chief Yeoman. I thought it strange that your husband would leave with such haste, since my husband is more known for it. I figured he might need the weed ieiunium viriditas to help him along.”

“I am grateful that my dear friend Distant Octopus cares so dearly for my husband as she does her own, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am still trapped in this spider web. Could you not extend that same kindness and help release me?”

Just then, a withered, hollow voice crawled through the trees. “She is unable to release you, as she too is trapped in one of my webs. Now, I should like to ask you: Why have you come to take my crop, the weed ieiunium viriditas?”

Whispering through lips pulled taught over her shaking teeth, Xiu Wen answered the question. “My lady spider, Garimbo of the Green Onion Forest, I meant you no insult in coming here. I knew the risks of my search, but I knew they must be taken. I need the weed ieiunium viriditas to aid my husband, who hurries towards the Red Capital. He must deliver a package there by sundown tomorrow. I fear he is a rather slow rider, and will not make it.”

Garimbo considered this for a moment, glancing between the two ensnared women. “Do you know how the weed ieiunium viriditas came to be? Long ago, when the Big Road was first paved, the Great Pupil Pickled Onion planted these tall green onion stalks, for which he was granted three wishes. After he finished planting the last of the stalks, he glanced at the sky, and seeing that it had become covered in dark clouds, suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to bring in his laundry. He needed to get home as quickly as possible, so he used his first wish to gain enough speed to race the rain clouds home.

His wish was granted in the form of the weed ieiunium viriditas, which sprang up from the ground in front of him. He ate a sprig, stinging from its sharp thorns, and felt the toxins permeate his muscles. Before he left, however, he leaned over to a nearby green onion stalk, and released a massive stream of piss, which he had not had the chance to do since he started building.

As soon as he sped off home, the toxic piss absorbed into the green onion stalks, which began to replicate and grow with great speed. After a mere week or two, the entire Green Onion Forest had been born. Just as well, there happened to be a small spider taking a rest on that first stalk. Showered in the Pupil’s piss, she soon grew to a massive size, blessed with longevity.”

Garimbo smiled as she reminisced on her teenaged years and on the long life since that incident. Xiu Wen and Distant Octopus too were impressed, happy to have met such an interesting figure.

Distant Octopus spoke then. “My lady Garimbo, such is the history of the great Green Onion Forest, but what of the Red Onion Forest to the south of the Big Road?”

“Oh, that is also of Pickled Onion’s doing. He stopped along the Big Road halfway through his journey home and defecated next to the onion stalks there. The result was the Red Onion Forest. My relatives there are larger, but not as long-lived as I. Then again, my long life is primarily thanks to the weed ieiunium viriditas. If I let you take it, I’m afraid I may soon run out.”

“But can’t you just grow more?” Xiu Wen asked.

“I would that I could. But surely you have noticed the changes in the sky. The moon turning green like that. It’s a terrible omen. And to make matters worse, this forest has been rotting. Can you not smell it? The onions have never made my eyes water, but now I sometimes am blind for it.”

Xiu Wen considered the situation. “My lady Garimbo. I have a great deal of respect for you and your home. But I also need the weed ieiunium viriditas for my husband. I know a famed herbalist, Guff Dumdum, who lives in the Green Capital. He has studied the weed ieiunium viriditas for years. In fact, I first learned of it while studying under him. If you let us go with what I have already gathered, I will bring him here. He can surely help you cultivate the plant and repel the rotting of the forest.”

“I could not let you do this. Without the weed ieiunium viriditas I am nothing but a mere barn spider. I have lived in this forest for so long. How could I abandon it to the realm of death and decay? How could I trust that you would return? How could I even trust that this Guff Dumdum could save me?”

Distant Octopus replied. “You may not trust in Guff Dumdum, but you have assurance that Xiu Wen will return. I will remain here, trapped in your web, and you will let her go. This is the bargain we shall make.”

Garimbo clacked her mandibles in steady deliberation. “I have made my decision. Distant Octopus, you will stay with me. Xiu Wen, take the weed ieiunium viriditas which you have in your hands and leave here. I await your return.”

***

“The Twice-Forked Dream of Existence is a simple truth,” started Infidel Carbonate, preaching for the first time in ages in the GreyTown town square. “The White Needle would keep it from you, confuse you with lists of gods of this or that, of laws and decrees. But the truth of reality is easy to grasp.”

The Chief Yeoman, hateful of all treachery and heathenism, swung his head around so hard that his signature conical hat fell off. He re-situated it as he charged towards Infidel.

“What is this? The truth of the world is obvious! The metrics of the planet are plain to see! As the histories go, the old gods built the Eurasian Steppe as a great table fitted with wheels. Sip Soupy, the One-Eyed Craftsman, measured one leg falsely, and the Steppe was unbalanced, rocking to and fro violently. Nothing could last on it!

When the gods found Sip’s mistake, they installed the majestic White Needle in the center to restore balance. The White Needle stabilizes the world! We are but its weights, carefully managed to maintain proper equilibrium so that the Steppe may remain fruitful and abundant.”

Infidel Carbonate laughed. “In my solitude I sought the truth, and the truth I have found. The Eurasian Steppe is not a table upon unbalanced wheels. The Steppe is but one fork in the Twice-Forked Dream of Existence.

The other fork is the moon, always watching us from the heavens, day and night. It is a reflection of us. You see, the truth of reality is that it is a dream. Just a dream! The moon is our reflection, our true image: a barren, dust-covered wasteland. Our bounty is a lie, our pitiful comfort from the White Needle.”

“You fool! You stupid wobbly fool!” The Chief Yeoman pushed Infidel Carbonate down. He stood up, and the Yeoman pushed him down again. The Yeoman pushed him all the way out of the town squar, to the GreyTown garbage heap, where the residents dumped all manner of revulsion. He pushed Infidel into a pile of old vegetable cuttings. Rage in his eyes, he stomped away, hoping to finish up his business and return to the Green Capital.

Burly-Hurly, who had been throwing out trash, helped Infidel Carbonate up from the garbage heap. “Good man, did I hear you correctly earlier? Did you say you think the moon is a true reflection of the Steppe?”

“It is! I saw the truth clearly when I was trapped deep under the seas.”

“Well, have you seen the moon recently? If it’s a reflection, why has it changed color?”

Infidel Carbonate realized he hadn’t actually looked at the sky much since resurfacing a few days ago. He had been paying all his attention to his feet so that he wouldn’t fall, and to his new philosophy so that he wouldn’t forget. He now looked up at the moon for the first time in twenty years. It was true: the moon was splashed with a deep green.

What was Infidel Carbonate’s reaction? Well guess what, you’ll just have to wait for Chapter 5 by Balckwell to find out.

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