Direct Accounts from the War of the Garden

Chapter 1

Alstromeria- You can't Unring That Dinnerbell

by: Darsha
"What do you think?" I ask the classroom full of students. I have to remember that as a teacher, I can't let my political or ethical views show in the lesson. Even if this school is mostly full of children from Habite Dans Le Jardin, like me. If we were a free people, I would be able to advocate for us in my classroom without fear of persecution.

"I think the Marxles Empire shouldn't bully other groups into doing what they want," says a boys about twelve years old, names Forlo.

"But if Marxles didn't keep everyone in line, It'd be chaos," says another boy, "And then the Naavin would take over."

"My daddy says that the Naavin are an evil people!" says a shallow girl with blonde pigtails.

"How would you know!" says another boy, "You've never been to Naavin!"

"But we don't have to worry about the Naavin right now! Not with the plague in their land!" states the wily little girl in the front row of my classroom. I should stop this before it gets heated.

"Settle down class, " I say tapping my ruler on my dark wooded desk, "So you see, things get messy when it comes to politics. The Habite Dans Le Jardin are a minority people, not strong enough to overcome the Marxles Empire. We must all be careful. Most of you are from that people, like me. Don't ever forget your heritage children. But your safety comes first. Enough with history. You may go outside for a break. Feel free to play in the meadow or on the equipment. Do not go past the fence. Class dismissed."

The class rushes outside the door of my tiny white school house. Some of the children are near my age. I am eighteen years old teaching grades, primary to seniority. I sit down in my desk, smoothing out my green tunic, fiddling with it's pink hemming work. I fear for the children sometimes, what with things heating up between the all conquering Marxles Empire, and the small minority group, Habite Dans Le Jardin.

Who am I then? To think I can make a difference in this war? I'm just a young school teacher. Full blooded Habite Dans Le Jardin, which is rare in itself. The classroom has it's secrets though. Even the children bring bits and pieces of information to me without realizing it. I just feed it to the underground network of Jardin spies.

The copper necklace is cool against my bare chest. I keep it's flowery pattern hidden beneath my green shawl, with the pink hemming work. Given to me by my grandmother, it glows whenever the imps, the dangerous beings who keep all of Marxles within their iron grip, are near. I wonder if it has any other magical properties.

As one of the few pure Habite Dans Le Jardin remaining, I too possess the magical qualities of my ancestors. My connection to the floral world is stronger than most.

A knock on the door of the school house pulls me out of deep thought.

"Come in." I say tiredly. A young man with the beginnings of a beard opens the door, and strolls past the rows of desks. I see the flower mark on his satchel, and I know who he's working for. The pink flowers woven in my hair mark my identity. Another symbol of our people that must be kept hidden from the orc armies that never cease to extinguish us.

"Mail delivery," says the man, reaching into his satchel and bringing out a worn letter. Carefully, I take the letter from him.

"Thank-you," I say curtly, flipping my dark brown shoulder length hair over my back. I don't make eye contact with him. Better for me not to know him. He leaves right away. I quickly move about my schoolhouse, closing all the shutters, and locking the doors. My sturdy brown boots make scuffling noises, which I'm sure are not mine and cause me to jump, and glance over my shoulder.

Carefully opening the letter, I sit down in my teacher's chair. Before me lies what would look to be an arithmetic assignment. Only I know that the numbers on the page mean something. If anyone finds this letter, they'll only think of it as homework, and not an incriminating piece of evidence. I decode it partially in my mind, then fold it neatly and tuck it in the hidden pocket of my forest green shawl. If what this letter says is true, things are going to heat up. Soon.

I glance over at my world map on the empire, staring at the large expanse of land that belongs to the Marxles.The Marxles Empire was formed several hundred years ago by a Military group of imps. Rapidly, with their evil orc army, they began to swallow up the nearby lands. They imposed strict rules and regulations on their captured peoples, as well as heavy taxes. My grandmother remembers when the Marxles were more lenient to the many cultural groups within its borders.

Not anymore. When Emperor Hical, the Darkest imp of them all, came to power, things got much worse. Many people had to swear off their culture, in way of the Marxles ideals. The idea that the imps were your protectors, your masters, and almost your gods. That everything you owned belonged to them; your crops, your industry, your children. That was when minority groups, such as the Gallen, the Reachers, and the Springs were persecuted, killed, and battered, until some had disappeared entirely. Not my people though. Not the Habite Dans Le Jardin. We did not give up our heritage in favor of the Marxles iron grip. Instead we grew stronger in the shadows, waiting patiently for our moment to come.

I wish I could tell the children this. But I must run my schoolhouse according to Marxles guidelines. Some of their parents have close ties to Naavin (The Marxles's only rival in this world) the Marxles army, or the underground railroad of the Habite Dans Le Jardin. The Garden Dwellers. I dare not disrupt the fragile peace we have in the school, or the learning of the children.

It is nearly noon-high, so I unlock the doors, and throw open the windows, ringing the dinner-bell to call my group of students inside. They rush to the door in a breathless, giggling mass. I wish I could send them out to play a little longer. I need time to process what is going to happen to Naavin, and the Habite Dans Le Jardin. Soon things, if I pay my part, will spiral out to the far reaches of Middle Earth.

But I can't unring that dinnerbell.

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