When is a rose not a rose?

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Photo by Andrea Pol on Unsplash

Here’s another excerpt from the diaries of Grad Bernart. It’s a little frustrating, how much he leaves unsaid at the end, but I promise to update you as soon as I find anything relating to the mysterious message. Here goes:

It started with the curious package I received today. It consisted of a flower and a crumpled up piece of paper with a short note scrawled on it. “A message for you. Grad Liora.” That was all it said.

I was of half a mind to throw it in the trash but Grad Liora’s name rang a bell. I vaguely recalled reading one of her books—The Green Guilds. It was all about stratified organization in plant communities, I think, but I don’t remember much about it, so I couldn’t have been impressed.

Still, it was enough for me to take a closer look at the flower. It was a cultivated rose—double-headed with profuse, close-packed petals—but the colour was unlike any I’d ever seen before. It was such a deep shade of red that it appeared brown in all but direct sunlight. There was a strange shimmer to it, as well, with slivery strands that almost danced across the petals.

Like moonlight on mud.

I can’t say for certain why I crushed the flower but I like to think I was inspired by the crumpled nature of Liora’s note. Whatever the reason, I squeezed the rose in one hand, threw it in the air and watched in abject wonder as silvered letters appeared amongst the falling petals.

I admit, I was so astonished, overjoyed and overwhelmed at the grad’s achievement that I almost neglected to read her message. And part of me wishes I had. For, hidden within that fantastically mad construct of colour and light, were hideously mundane words that cancelled out my joy and delight.

Politics. It was all politics. And not your average, every-day-ugly politics. No, this was about secret societies, assassinations and civil unrest.

Why me? I know I’m the world’s leading expert on plant language and behaviour and, I suppose, I should expect this kind of thing. But still, what have I done to offend the gods? Why can’t I simply revel in this discovery and spend my days applying it to my research? Why do I now have to figure out who amongst the palace officials I can talk to without getting my head cut off?

I swear, it’s enough to make a man give up academia and turn to a life of peasantry.

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