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Tree of Stars

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12872 AH


Just thoughts swimming around. Like in a pool of stars, and I better take them out and hang them to dry before they get too weird.


I took the long road to Kaptar today. People don't use that, normally… it's not hard to imagine why. Seed-swaps being quicker and less hard on the knees than a stroll down a cave in a tree, for one. And we're all taking good care of our trees, and it would be weird to see an alien pop out of ours. I wouldn't call it sacred, per se… but it is ours. I would extend the same courtesy to the other bubbles. Anyway, I wasn't planning on going all the way out to Kaptar's surface, so I figured the Arai wouldn't mind.

The other big reason is that the place is, well, spooky. CW and I give each other the worst headaches already when we try to wrap our heads around the four bubbles and the four planets outside. I don't think anyone here wants to be reminded that there is a sea of stars under our feet! It laps at our solid Hunrath soil. As I said. Spooky.

And yet… I went looking for that reminder.


The star field beneath the Fissure is not as it seems; it is a gentle space, as hospitable to life as a flowing river, the stories say… but they haven't been told on Hunrath for many years. Their electronic book lay broken and forgotten since long before my arrival. Would’ve stayed that way, too, if CW hadn't run out of passion projects. We don't know who brought it here. Only that it must have been very dear to them, to be carrying it around when the seed came. And now it's mine and dear to me. In the evenings, I touch its screen and explore its worlds, pretending to be a stranger carried away by fate… so much for role-play, I know!

So I wander, try to observe, try to understand. At the core of it all, there is a tree. Underneath, a sea of stars. One which brought help when help was needed, beyond anything Catherine could have planned or even hoped for, and which brought the stranger home. But then, that stranger had a home. Mine is right there by the tracks. I don't remember Earth.


I thought of trees and stars. Other arrivers found those same symbols elsewhere in the stories they carried with them. Trees that embrace all worlds. A starry void beneath the cracks. I let their tales wash over me, sitting on the narrow pathway to Kaptar's roots. Its roots must hold the sky… Does a widespread tale reveal some truth?


I did not last ten minutes. The galaxies swirling all over my head and under my feet made my brain swirl in turn and I scuttled back home before I fell down into the abyss like a potato sack, even less graceful than Atrus in his time.

But I will write down this: for a moment, through that starry expanse, I felt a glimpse of purpose.


I have tried to speculate to which extent it might all be self suggestion, but such conjecture is futile. As they say, I know that my apprehensions may never be allayed, and so I close...