Chapter 30: Into the Land of the Core People
Kitchet grabbed hold to one side of the hutch that lay against a back wall in the dining room. Swinging it towards him, he exposed a concealed door and pulled on a knotted rope that doubled for the door’s handle. “Mind your step,” he said, allowing Bess and Mayra to walk through first. Samantha would have never guessed this unassuming blue stained cupboard that held dishes from past generations would somehow lead them into the hidden world of the Core People.
“Oooh, so C.S. Lewis,” Sam remarked, as she walked through the door closely behind the two women.
Trailing behind his mom, Zen asked, “Who’s C.S. Lewis?”
“See, that’s why you need to visit a library, or at least a bookstore every once in a while,” an exasperated Samantha said. “C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe.” She stepped through the doorway, down two short steps, and into almost complete darkness. With only a little light filtering through from behind her, she could barely see Zen standing right in front of her, but she could certainly hear him.
“Why would I need to do that when I have you to tell me, or I can just look it up on the internet,” Zen snidely remarked.
Several feet in front of them, Mayra and Bess lit candles inside of glass lanterns mounted to the walls, filling the passageway with a soft yellow light. With the help of the light, Samantha could now see she stood in a bricked tunnel with a curved ceiling, which allowed for plenty of headroom. Behind her, she heard the sound of the hutch swinging back into place, as Kitchet shut the door after Craig who was the last to come through.
“I can’t believe we have a hidden passage in our house!” Craig said, sounding like a kid visiting his first candy shop. “I always wanted to find one of these when I was growing up.”
“Me too,” said Junzo. “Hey, Kitchet, how far does this thing go?”
“Not too far. At the end of this tunnel we’ll turn left through another door, and head downwards.”
The small group followed the swinging lights inside hand lanterns carried by Bess and Mayra along the not too narrow passageway, single file, quietly. In the quiet, Samantha’s mind ran rampant wondering who and what she would encounter in this new world.
They walked for less than half a mile, by Samantha’s estimation, when they reached the end of the tunnel. Turning left, as Kitchet said they would, into an alcove where he pushed open another door, and begun descending stone steps.
“Now, this reminds me,” Samantha said, “of one of my Nancy Drew books, The Hidden Staircase. In the book, Nancy finds—”
“All right, all right, we all know you can read,” Zen said. “Give your brain and our ears a rest from your literary knowledge.”
Ignoring her cousin’s rude remark, Samantha began to count each step where her foot, wearing high-top purple converse sneakers, landed. Around about the hundredth step the surroundings changed from the plain brickwork to that of an interior of moss, and vines growing along the walls. She felt a sense of peace as they moved downward, as though the earth were welcoming them. At the three hundredth and forty-second step they arrived at the bottom, and the ground gave way to dirt. A section of a massive tree took up most of the space with its large roots extending in all directions. It appeared Kitchet had led them to a dead-end. Then Samantha felt an instant connection to the tree when the same energy flowed into her feet as it did the first night in her bedroom. “This is Terrance.”
“Terrance?” Craig asked.
“The tree that stands next to Samantha’s bedroom window,” Anna answered.
“Its roots extend under the house?” asked Junzo in amazement.
“Yes, Terrance settled here to protect the entrance and those who live beyond the threshold,” said Kitchet. “Let’s go, we’re expected.”
“But the tree, how can we proceed?” Just as Craig expressed concern, two of Terrance’s roots slide apart, creating a way wide enough for them to pass through. On the other side, Bess and Mayra extinguished their lamps as a glimmering of natural light streamed in from a circular opening.
“Are we in an underground cave?” Zen asked, noticing the rock walls.
“This is the entranceway into the inner world,” Kitchet said, moving to the front of the group. Plump blue grapes hung down from a vine over the mouth of the entrance. Pulling back the vines, Kitchet let in a warm breeze, and in on that breeze floated the elusive large black butterfly with red spots. It flew directly up to Samantha and Zen, and introduced itself.
“Crimsoner Rowan,” the butterfly bowed from his red thorax. “Don’t refer to me as a ‘bug’, its Crimsoner or Rowan, just like that, get it? I am an Elder. I work with all types of small flying creatures as well as assist the Plant Elder.” He oddly hovered in front of them without flapping his wings. It was as if the air around him froze, keeping him suspended. “So, if I hear about anyone pulling the wings off any creature, they’ll have to answer to me!” Crimsoner’s large black eyes looked directly at Zen when he stated his last word.
“What are you looking at me for?” Zen asked, obviously shocked at the implication. “I’d never even think of pulling the wings off anybody.”
Nodding his head in satisfaction, the butterfly softened his tone a bit. “Good, then we’ll get along just fine. Everyone, follow me,” Crimsoner Rowan instructed, flitting off in front of them.
Craig stared off after the butterfly with a puzzled expression on his face, “Scientifically, I can’t even begin to explain what I just saw and heard.”
“Don’t worry about it buddy,” Junzo said, wrapping an arm around Craig’s shoulder. “I don’t think you’ll find words in the scientific vocabulary that would help explain it anyway. Just tell yourself anything you see and hear from this point on, you’ll file away under tales of the unexplained.”
“Rowan will lead you from here,” Bess said. “We’ll see you all back at the house.”
“Lead them? I cannot lead bodies that are not moving!” The butterfly said, flying back to the group.
“All right Rowan, lead on,” Mayra said.
Samantha found Crimsoner Rowan’s I don’t take no nonsense attitude humorous and surprising. “If I ever imaged a butterfly talking, I sure wouldn’t have expected one to sound so, I don’t know, gruff,” she whispered to those around her so the gliding butterfly in front of them wouldn’t hear her.
“Yeah,” Zen agreed, “Nothing delicate about that one.”
“Rowan can be a bit ill-tempered, but he’s very knowledgeable of all things concerning the nature community,” Mayra assured them, “And he keeps himself well informed of the changes happening in the human world as well.”
Vivid, was the word that popped into Samantha’s head of her first look at this new world. She imaged an artist soaking up concentrated paint from his palette, and without care, dripping it onto this scenery. A rainbow of wildflowers dotted fields upon fields of deep green grass. She passed honey blossom trees, inhaling their sweet smelling flowers of the most delicate of pinks, deepest of purples, crispiest of whites, and juiciest of orange hues. Under her feet, loose turquoise pebbles marked clear walking paths. The sky, a brilliant blue, and there was a sun! A sun hung high overhead warming the stone and timber homes that lay along the ridge of the landscape.
“Hello neighbors!” It was Sean and Rhona Cullen from Embers Diner. “I told you we lived close by,” Sean said.
Word must have gotten out that the newcomers from above had arrived, because people begin to cluster in small groups.
It’s just like Mom said. They’re just normal people down here, in all shades, shapes and sizes. Doing what most humans do, come out to have a stickybeak.
“What do you think of your new home now, Samantha?” Sean asked, giving her a gentle slap on the back with his large meaty hand. “Here, let me show you around—”
“Get lost Cullen,” Crimsoner said, flying down between them. “I’m leading this expedition.”
“Oh, I beg your pardon, Elder Rowan.” Sean chuckled. “I didn’t mean to butt in.”
Note to self: Never get on this butterfly’s bad side.
As they walked on, Samantha took note at how the Core People dressed in simple loose fitting cotton clothing of bright shades, just like their landscape. If anything, she felt her and Zen stuck out the most, wearing sneakers and jeans. Another real difference she found about this new world was there weren’t any shops of any kind. I’m not big on shopping anyway. If I had too, I could live very comfortably down here, just as long as I have my books. And since Mayra had told her they were visiting a library today, she knew there must be plenty of those down here.
Crimsoner Rowan flew over a stone bridge arched over a stream, leading them up to a door at least ten to fifteen feet high, built into the side of a grassy mountain. “This is where I leave you,” the butterfly said, in a tapered down tone than earlier. But, then in his normal gruff voice, he said to Samantha and Zen. “Hey, I’ll see you two again above ground when the flowers bloom. I have things I need to teach you.” He proceeded to fly away backwards, never taking his almost human like eyes off them.
“Oh…okay,” Samantha said.
“Don’t say okay!” Zen said, nudging her. “I’m not sure I want to learn what he’s offering to teach.
“I remember this place from the other night. This is the entrance to the library,” Anna said.
Inside the building, they walked on red clay floors that were inlaid with small pieces of purple stone deposits. But what fascinated Samantha were the walls, they were made of clear quartz crystals. Unlike the caves in Chihuahua, Mexico, where the large quartz jut at different angles, these crystals formed the walls and they emanated light. Then there was the music. The same rhythmic tones that had filled Samantha’s bedroom now filled these chambers. “Do you hear that?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Zen said. “It sounds like the music those guys make in your country, Uncle Craig, when they blow through those poles.”
“A Didgeridoo, yeah it does a bit. But I hear voices.”
“Throat singing, maybe?” said Junzo, “The type of singing the people of Mongolia do.”
“Throat singing, huh? I’ve never heard of it,” Samantha said.
“Actually, what you’re hearing is the Earth singing,” Mayra said. “Come along, the library is just this way.”
They passed several corridors before Mayra lead them into a room, about fifty feet from the entrance. “Here we are, this is the records library”
Samantha had never seen a library quite like this one. It seemed more suited for a business boardroom with its oblong table made of a thin reflective black surface, and twelve metal straight back chairs. Off to the left side of the entryway were a set of stairs leading to a loft decorated with cushioned wave shaped lounge chairs. Most unusual about the room, were the circular cubbyholes that ran from floor to ceiling perfectly carved into the crystalline walls. Each of the holes cradled an assortment of crystals, metals and other gems.
“They have rooms filled with pretty colored rocks,” Sam said, looking over at Anna. “Remember Mom told us that story about the Core People? And here we finally are.”
“Yeah, here we are,” Anna smiled.
“Wow, who are these chairs made for? Look how high up I’m sitting.”
Glancing over her shoulder, Samantha saw her dad sitting in one of the chairs at the oblong table. His feet dangled clear away from the ground.
“Man, Uncle Craig, you look like a baby sitting in a high chair,” Zen laughed.
“Listen,” Mayra whispered, “I meant to tell you—”
Mayra’s words became lost behind the collective gasp that rang out in the room when in walked the tallest woman, tallest person, Samantha had ever seen.
“Welcome to the Records Library,” said the ginormous woman. She stood next to the oblong table, with her hands holding onto the back of one of the metal chairs, obviously tailored for people of her size. Samantha guessed the woman to be at least ten feet tall, and quite light on her feet, because there had been no indication she was approaching before she entered the room. Her fair hair was pulled into a bun, and she wore a sari teal dress that matched her beautiful deep green oval shaped eyes. Her eyes reminded Samantha of the depictions of ancient Egyptians, whose eyes seemed to extend back to their ears. Despite the woman’s height, she appeared normal in appearance.
“Fawna,” Mayra spoke up when no one else did, “I’d like you to meet Anna and Sam, Ameara’s daughters, and their husbands, Junzo, and Craig. And these are their children, Samantha and Zen. Everyone, this is Fawna, caretaker of this library.”
“It is always wonderful to meet descendants of Muaura and Arborden,” Fawna said, as she rested her hand under her long chin, surveying her guest. “I gather from the expressions on your faces you assumed Addiwan to be quite tall. That is until you met me, of course.” Her statement of the obvious made everyone laugh, breaking the tension. “Knowledge of your heritage is clearly missing. I think some study of the records in this library will correct this deficiency.”
“How are we to study with no books?” Samantha pointed out, disappointed in finding her favorite pass time material was absent in what was supposed to be a library.
Gracefully, Fawna glided over to one of the cubbyholes and removed a crystal. “These are the books you will learn from,” she said, handing the crystal to Samantha.
The smoky quartz crystal had six flat surfaces at the tip, and a jagged base. Samantha remembered a shop she and her mom visited in Sedona, Arizona in the Tlaquepaque courtyard. She had picked up a crystal similar to the one she was holding. The shop’s owner had asked her if she felt a connection to the stone. She didn’t understand what the woman was talking about; she had simply picked up the crystal to examine the many shapes she saw inside of it.
“This crystal holds volumes of information,” Fawna said, crouching down in front of Samantha.
“Really?” Trying to figure out if what Fawna told her was even possible, Samantha took a closer look into the crystal. Though beautiful in appearance and containing what looked like trapped clouds inside the quartz, she saw nothing resembling a written language on the outside or inside of the crystal.
“No actual books? Sweeet!” Zen said, looking over Samantha’s shoulder at the crystal. “Uh, Mom, Dad, can I have all my school work put on a crystal?”
“Uh, no,” Sam answered.
“How would you insert and extract data from a free standing crystal?” Craig asked.
“Very simply. I will instruct you on the use of these record keepers on your next visit,” Fawna said, returning the crystal to its position. She motioned for them to follow her as she exited the library, leading them back to the entrance.
“Well, I’m very interested to learn, when can we come back?” Craig asked.
“Any time you like. The library is always open, even if I am not here. Just never remove the records.”
“Fawna, did we actually travel into the inner core of the Earth, or are we just several miles below the ground?” Sam asked, as they crossed over the stone bridge.
“You are within one of this planet’s inner core chambers.” They stopped at the opening to the passageway that would take them home, as Fawna explained further. “There are many doorways located around this planet that connect to worlds just like this one. Some are inhabited and others are abandoned.”
“Yes, my mother mapped out a number of these doorways in her travels,” Mayra said.
“More importantly, Nanna was trying to connect to others, such as your family, who are appointed to shield these worlds, and the wealth of knowledge stored within them.”