Flynn couldn’t wait to begin his day and hear all the news from Mom. So he dashed out the doorway and down the long, gravelled path. The small stones crunched rhythmically underneath his boots as he picked up his pace.
On most mornings, he would take the long route to Mom’s Garden before starting his daily chores. Usually in no rush to start working, he would wander down the statue-lined laneway which led to the ornate Fountain Square. Slowly he would make his way past the Broken Tower then climb through the Boulder Patch which led to the Glasshouse. But today he was eager to get there as soon as possible. Today he decided to take a shortcut to Mom’s Garden.
He sprinted past the statue-lined laneway and continued towards the majestic Moonfalls. Approaching the pond at the base of the falls, he hitched up the bottom of his cloak. Without slowing down, he nimbly skipped across the stepping stones that acted as a bridge across the calm waters. After crossing the Moonfalls he rushed to the Hedge Maze where he took a sharp left and cut through the Sunken Oasis.
From here, he could see the large, curling stalks of bonegrass that surrounded the Glasshouse in the distance. Bonegrass was one of the only plants that was hearty enough to withstand ivy’s strangling grip. So Dawnella had planted a wall of the milky-white stalks around the Glasshouse to keep the ivy out.
The bonegrass did it’s job very well, but even it needed to be kept in check. Bonegrass was known to take over entire fields itself, so Dawnella used it sparingly and spent plenty of time taming this inner wall.
Racing up the far end of the Sunken Oasis, Flynn continued down the path and through the wall of bonegrass when a creepy memory resurfaced in his mind. The bony stalks of bonegrass reminded him of the Spider Queen’s skeleton he had seen on the alter. Remembering the Power within the bones calling to him – begging him to touch them. He shook this thought from his head as he approached the wrought-iron doors at the entrance of the Glasshouse which held Mom’s Garden.
There were a number of gardens within IvyHold, but anytime Dawnella said ‘My Garden’ she meant her space within this massive, glass-walled botanical house. This is where she spent all of her time growing precious plants and bottling ointments.
The towering, multi-coloured glass walls of the Glasshouse rose up nearly as high as the walls of IvyHold itself. The panes of glass shimmered a vivid range of colours. Brilliant violets, yellows and scarlets sparkled in the sunshine casting a rainbow of reflections over the exotic plant-life that bloomed within the expansive Glasshouse.
Walking through the bright botanical house always reminded Flynn of taking a stroll on a summer afternoon. Even in the dead of winter when frost was forming outside and icicles clung to the glass walls, the air in here was rich, heavy and most importantly, warm.
Lush plantlife filled the massive interior with bright colours and fragrant aromas. Every few steps, a different scent drifted Flynn’s way. The sweetness of butterrose blossoms turned into relaxing lavender petals, which then gave way to the invigorating scent of rocky pine. Flynn had no idea how his Mom maintained this all by herself, but if anybody could, it was Dawnella. She just had a way with plants and the thriving Glasshouse was proof of her skills.
Flynn walked through the heavily scented air approaching the rear section where he was certain to find his Mom. Tucked away in a far corner of the massive Glasshouse was a smaller enclosure that Dawnella used for her personal Garden. Any of her current projects took place here, behind a curtain of patchwork quilts she put up to maintain a bit of privacy.
Passing through a series of massive domed conservatories brought Flynn closer to Dawnella’s personal Garden. Glass cabinets now lined the walkways instead of exotic plant-life. The cabinets were crowded with all sorts of faded bottles and strangely shaped jars. Flynn had stopped wondering what was in these containers long ago. They were either gardening potions or medicinal remedies anyways – nothing very interesting in his opinion.
Flynn reached the end of the cabinet-lined corridor and came to the patchwork quilt that covered the entrance to Mom’s Garden. He swept the quilted curtain aside to see Dawnella standing over one of her countertops in deep concentration.
Dawnella didn’t raise her head at the sound of his entry, she was too intent on a large lump of clay she held in her hands. Moulding the clay with extreme care, she paused to lift a thin vial from the countertop. With the vial at eye level, she stared into the cloudy mixture. Noticing Flynn through the distortion of the vial, she lowered it with smiling eyes.
“Good morning Love!” Dawnella chimed. Her flowery cloak swished behind her as she walked around the countertop towards her son.
“Morning Mom.” Flynn replied, rubbing his sore head, not realising when the aching began again.
“Still sore honey?” She swirled the cloudy vial before putting it down on the counter.
“No.” Flynn lied, then stopped rubbing his head.
“You took quite the wallop out there.” She slapped the lump of clay in her hands with a wet thwack.
“I’m fine Mom. I swear.” Flynn actually thought that she was the one that looked tired.
“Well, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do after your little adventure the other day.” She picked up the vial again and continued to swirl the cloudy mixture. Hypnotised, Flynn stared into the vial while Dawnella continued, “I let you rest the past few days because of that bump you took to your head.”
“Few days?” Flynn came out of his daze, having no idea it had been that long.
Dawnella placed the lump of clay on a countertop behind her and tucked the cloudy vial into a pocket within her sleeve.
“You needed the rest,” she soothed. Reaching out, she hugged him tight and rubbed his head lovingly, “It’s not everyday that you get gobbled up by a Webling.”
Flynn squirmed out of her embrace, “Dad told you?!?”
“Of course your father told me.” Dawnella laughed, “He tells me everything. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal to be swallowed up by a beast and then fight your way out of it’s belly. To be honest, I’m super impressed.”
“So I’m not forbidden to go Outside again?”
“Forbidden? Of course not!” Dawnella beamed, “If anything, you’ve proven yourself very capable. Your father was extremely impressed with the way you carried yourself as well.”
A big smile flickered across his face, but the mention of his father made Flynn wonder aloud, “Is he around?”
“No,” Dawnella replied, “he went back Outside to sort things out. Things have gotten a bit… messy since your adventures.” Flynn noticed her pause and wondered what could be so ‘messy’ now. His mother continued, “So your father’s just Outside trying to smooth everything over.”
Flynn wasn’t sure what she meant by ‘messy’ or ‘smooth everything over’, but he was certain his father could handle whatever it was. Especially since they now had a brand new charged Relic. The Queen’s Web was bound to possess spectacular Powers which Dad could use.
Remembering this set Flynn off on a chain of questions, “What about the net? Has Dad used it yet? What does it do? What’s it’s Power?”
Dawnella laughed at her son’s outburst of questions. Then she responded simply, “We don’t know. We haven’t used the Queen’s Web yet.”
“But it could help Dad ‘smooth everything over’.”
“You know we can’t go unleashing unknown Powers without first understanding them.” she said with patience.
“They will reveal themselves in time sweetheart,” she cut him off with less patience in her voice, “Until then, your father will just have to rely on his wits and sharp blades. They’ve never failed him so far.”
Flynn knew when there was no point in pushing a subject anymore and Mom’s tone of voice meant this was one of those times. He walked over to the countertop where he peered into a large basket full of assorted bottles and jars. Picking up a heavy jar full of thick goo, he held it up to the light to look at the sludgy contents within.
“Careful with that, unless you want to be covered head to toe in bog-root.” Dawnella warned.
“Bog-root? The mossy-mushroomy stuff?” Flynn was grossed out, “Why would you want to grow that?”
“That ‘mossy-mushroomy stuff’ is used for a lot more than you know. Why do you think your mattress is so soft.”
“There’s bog-root in my bed?” Flynn asked, disgusted, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You never asked.” Dawnella answered logically, “And if you are so grossed out about the bog-root, you REALLY don’t want to know why your pillow is so fluffy.”
Flynn shuddered, “Ughh! Why are you telling me this Mom?”
“I didn’t tell you anything.” Dawnella giggled, “I only said you don’t want to know.”
Flynn decided to change the direction of the conversation, “This isn’t bog-root though – it’s sludge.”
“It’s bog-root paste.” she clarified, “It sprouts bog-root on any surface it’s spread upon. Very handy to control, but very tough to get rid of once it’s applied. So you need to handle it with care.”
Flynn still didn’t understand the need for that, but he kept it to himself. Instead he lifted a spray bottle next to the murky sludge in the basket. There was a golden coloured mist inside, “What’s this for?”
“That’s Bee Bringer. It’s a high concentration of…” losing interest, Flynn zoned out while his Mom continued to talk about pollen content and other scientific mumbo-jumbo. He scanned the other vials inside the basket until his attention was brought back my Mom’s warning, “Unless you want an entire swarm buzzing around inside your cloak.” This didn’t sound very comfortable, so Flynn put the spray bottle back in the basket carefully.
Noticing Flynn’s lack of interest in the bog-root paste and Bee Bringer, Dawnella called him closer, “Come here, you’ll like this one.” She pulled the cloudy vial out from her sleeve once again.
“What is that?” Flynn eyed the hypnotic swirls.
“Cloud Clay.” she said matter-of-fact. She walked over to the counter to lift the lump of clay in her other hand.
Flynn had no idea what she was talking about. He knew both words: ‘cloud’ and ‘clay’, but together they made absolutely no sense. Then again, most of Mom’s potions made no sense to Flynn. Dawnella saw her sons confusion and motioned him closer.
She swirled the vial and watched the cloudy mixture roll about. Uncorking the vial, she dripped two misty drops onto the lump of clay.
“What’s Cloud Clay do Mom?”
Just as he asked the question, Dawnella tossed the clay ball up into the air and – POOF!!! Instantly, it puffed up into a dense, fluffy cloud floating at eye level.
“Wow!” Flynn marvelled.
“It’s for the Floating Garden that I’ve been planning.” Dawnella said proudly as she leaned against the sturdy floating cloud.
Flynn was well impressed that the fluffy clay cloud was able to support her entire weight as she leaned against it. The Floating Garden would certainly be an interesting addition to IvyHold.
They already had the Water Garden, the Sunken Oasis, the Boulder Patch, and the crawling Wall Garden on the Eastern wall. Flynn supposed that the next logical step was to go airborne.
Reaching up to grab the floating clay, he began to hang from it, “Could I make another one?”
“Of course. But first we need to get started with the morning’s work.” Dawnella put the swirling vial of Cloud Clay into her satchel.
“What’s the job today?”
“First we will spread the bog-root paste on the Boulder Patch by the Eastern Gate.” She picked up the heavy jar of bog-root paste and placed it in her satchel, “Then we can spray the patch of mantis lilies by the Moonfalls with the Bee Bringer.”
Lifting the spray bottle of Bee Bringer, she placed it carefully into her satchel on top of the Cloud Clay and bog-root paste, “Then we can start the Floating Garden.”
Pulling a darker vial from her sleeve, she dripped two drops from it onto the floating ball of clay that Flynn was still hanging on. Immediately, the sturdy cloud vanished in a puff of smoke, causing Flynn to drop heavily to the ground.
Turning towards the door, Dawnella motioned Flynn to come along, “Come along, we have a lot to do today.”
With the chime of bottles clinking in her satchel, Dawnella swept out of the room. Her flowery cloak gave a breezy swish on her way to start the day’s work.