She loved the man she married, but sometimes he was just a little clueless. But it wasn’t fair to complain. Dason was a good father and protector to the family. He was funny, kind, loyal, and sweet. For instance, he was putting on a very good show of pretending that he liked Tula’s soup... maybe a little too much.
Every bite he took was followed with a long string of moans and compliments like,
“You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Tula!"
Ok. She couldn’t have done THAT bad, she thought. She even threw in a new ingredient this time to give it some extra flavor! Although she wasn’t sure if ginger root and cilantro went together...
Sitting down to eat, Tula’s stomach rumbled. She hadn’t realized how hungry she was... how long had it been since she’d last had a full meal? She was always too busy to remember to eat, so she had never made it a priority.
Lifting a spoonful of the warm gumbo to her mouth, she paused, hearing an odd pattering sound coming from above them on the roof.
Daton and Arsha heard it too, and slowly placed their spoons on the table. “What is that sound? Rain?” Arsha wondered aloud. Tula looked at Daton, who was staring up at the ceiling.
“No it’s something heavier than rain... hail, maybe. But I doubt it, the clouds didn’t look like they were going to precipitate today.” He stood up, brushing off his pants. “You girls stay in here... Daddy will be back soon, Arsha. Just keep Mommy safe for me, ok?” He winked at Tula and rushed out the door, grabbing his coat on the way.
Stepping outside, Dason witnessed probably one of the weirdest things he had ever seen from his life. All around the valley, brown balls were falling from the sky. Thousands of them, hundreds of thousands, cascading down onto the fields, rivers, and... Dason.
He cried out, jumping at the sudden sharp pains dully pattering on his head. He stepped back under the wooden awning that covered the deck, and picked up one of the brown objects off the ground. Examining it, he realized it was an acorn.
“An acorn?” Very much more confused now, Dason muttered an enchantment, overlapping his palms over his head. This was a protective spell to shield himself from the unusual ‘acorn storm’ that seemed to be plaguing the valley. It hovered right above his head, causing the seeds to harmlessly bounce off the invisible barrier.
Even though he was now protected, it was hard to look up at the sky without wincing as the acorns came hurtling towards his face. He scanned the tops of the hills, trying to make out where they were coming from. Finally, he saw a steady stream of the brown nuts shooting into the air where they continued to fly to all parts of the valley, but he could not see the source from where he stood.
Trying not to stumble over the now increasing layer of acorns on the ground, Dason maneuvered himself over to a tall pile of boulders. He climbed up it and stared in the direction of the acorns' source.
His jaw dropped in horror. On the edge of the hill, he saw a small person dodging the whipping branches of a rapidly growing oak tree.
The Great Oak...
The growing spell. Oh no.
Kuruk what have you done?
"Kuruk!" Dason bellowed over the now thundering sound of acorns hitting the grass. "Run, Kuruk, RUN!" Kuruk turned towards the sound of the shout, and must've spotted his father because he started making his way down the hill, trying his best to avoid the acorns and branches pelting and swinging at him.
The oak had now grown to double the size of the barn house and showed no sign in ceasing its growth.
Kuruk was now at the base of the rock. "Father! Help me!"
Dason reached out to pull his son up the boulder and all at once, the noises stopped. A deafening silence filled the air as the last acorns fell to the grass and the branches of the oak stopped swinging. The only sound was the faint whisper of the wind rustling the leaves. It was almost... peaceful.
Kuruk breathed out a relieved sigh. "Wow." His eyes were wide. "That was a close-"
In the blink of an eye, thick, slithering tendrils erupted out of the hillside in front of the father and son, nearly startling them off of the rock. The tree roots made an ear splitting crackling sound as they grew and bent towards the slab.
Dason spotted a root curling around his son's ankle, "Kuruk move!" But the crunching of the roots was too great, and Kuruk was deaf to his father. As a final resort, Dason rushed forward and pushed Kuruk off the rock where he landed with a hard thump on a patch of dirt.
Simultaneously, as if waiting for the opportunity, four tentacles each seized one wrist or ankle as a larger tendril advanced on him. This was thicker than the rest and it wrapped around his waist, climbing up his body until he was completely consumed except for his head.
As the squeezing intensified, Dason knew he had little time until he could no longer talk. "Kuruk", he wheezed. "Kuruk, go home. Find your mother and sister. Protect them... go now!"
No response. He must've passed out when he hit the ground.
The noises and roots faded to a stop. Breathing was hard now, too hard. The noises dimmed. His eyesight went fuzzy... the world went black.