“Just who are you?”
I am… a Flower.
Flowers aren’t like you. Flowers can’t move, can’t talk. You…
I can move. I have walked past countless moons.
I can see. I have seen vast fields and oceans.
I can talk. I speak of love, hate, and vengeance.
But, I am still a Flower.
The Leaf Tribe was leaving the mainland.
They were this continent’s last branch of Leaves. Concealed in the high mountain’s forests, they were carefree and happy. Now, they had to travel across a different ocean and head towards a different land. This was because the Spirit Tree they had always relied on had grown too old, too old… It was dying.
With no choice, they had to escape to another continent. There, other branches of Leaves were willing to welcome their kindred. They had a Spirit Tree that was strong enough to support this branch of refugee Leaves.
The Leaves began to prepare for their journey. Some started to make boats in the forests near the shore. Some started learning the techniques to navigate across the oceans. Some started gathering food and drinks.
In order to travel and land safely on the new continent, everyone was working hard to gain knowledge as much as they could. They knew their Tree was about to die. To survive, they had to learn everything as quickly as possible. Although, “quickly” referred to time as long as a human’s whole lifespan.
The Tree had about a hundred years before its death, so it allowed enough time for the Leaves to leave their home village.
A hundred years might feel long, but for the migration of an entire species, to the ten thousands of Leaves who would soon cross unknown oceans, a hundred years didn’t seem enough. Leaves had a life expectancy of nearly a thousand years. Their pace of living had always been unhurried.
In this busy time period, the fading Tree blossomed, probably for the last time. It bore only a single, black flower.
The Leaves didn’t like the Flower.
As a vibrant and colorful race, the Leaves had refined and exquisite appearances. Their eyes and hairs ranged in beautiful hues of lime, azure, silvery-purple, luminous gold, orange, and many others. No matter the color, their hair was full of luster and vibrancy.
On the other hand, the Flower possessed pure black hair and dim red eyes. Both colors were bleak and dreary, as though they were reminders of the Tree’s imminent end. That was why the Leaves disliked the black Flower. They refused to accept their Tree’s approaching death.
Aside from its colors, the Flower’s growth was also abnormal. Usually, Flowers could speak after ten years, could run wild after twenty, and after thirty years, Flowers could fully utilize their given powers.
Flowers were the children of Trees, the Leaf Tribe’s guardian. They could control any plant to protect the Leaves.
But that Flower couldn’t do anything; he couldn’t even walk. He had taken steps before, but after that, he could always be found curled up under the Tree, shrouding his face with that long, messy, black hair. The Flower didn’t watch, listen, or do anything… he didn’t even speak.
Although the Leaves didn’t like the Flower, they did not bully him. The kindhearted species wouldn’t do something so cruel. They only continued to gather knowledge of the seas, biding their time until the moment to leave. They neglected the Flower.
Attached to their homeland, the Leaves waited and waited, until the evergreen Tree suddenly began to turn red and yellow. The changes dismayed them, but they finally understood that it was time to go.
Their Tree was on the verge of death.
This time, reality sunk into every Leaf’s heart.
The lord of the Leaf Tribe sternly announced that all Leaves must vacate the area. By the year’s end, the last ship would leave the shores, and any Leaf not on board would be left behind.
After his announcement, the Leaves finally started transitioning, slowly yet certainly.
Around this time, the Flower finally stood. He left the shades of the Spirit Tree to follow the Leaves, waddling unsteadily with each step. He was unaccustomed to walking, so he walked very slowly. He gradually drifted from the head of the crowd to its middle, and then lagged to its end.
Eventually, he had to walk behind the last Leaf in line. The Leaf had silvery-purple hair, which made him easy to recognize in the forest. The Flower looked at his hair and followed him. Even if that Leaf left the others, the Flower would most likely follow.
The Leaf with silvery-purple hair occasionally looked back at the Flower. Although he didn’t like the Flower either, he couldn’t bear it.
He was still their Flower.
This Flower was supposed to be their pride, their treasure, and their most powerful guardian.
But the Tree was dying, and they had to leave.
They could not take the Flower with them. That was why, since the Flower’s birth, no one had dared to look at him… He was a Flower destined to be abandoned by them, so how could they?
Countless large ships sat afloat on the clear ocean surface. All these white and gray ships were handmade by the Leaf Tribe. The ones coated in vivid colors were sent from the other continent to welcome them.
The silvery-purple haired Leaf stopped in his steps and lifted his head to look at the waters. The ocean was covered with ships. All the Leaves on board were looking at him… as well at the Flower following him.
The silvery-purple haired Leaf hesitated for a moment, but still turned around to face the Flower. That was the first time he looked so carefully at the Flower. Although the Flower’s hair was black, he had a body of fair white skin. Paired together, the colors were not as dreary as he had imagined. The contrast was rather eye-catching.
The Flower might possess astonishing power… but the Leaf couldn’t think this way, nor could he take a liking to the Flower. Because they were about to abandon him.
The Leaf tried his best to suppress his expressions and only apologized, “I’m sorry, so sorry, but you cannot follow us onto the ship.”
The Flower only looked at him with a pair of dim red eyes.
The Leaf avoided the Flower’s gaze and said with his head hanging slightly, “My name is Yin Qie Zi. If you, if you are safe and well in the future… please come to the Continent of Jun De and find us.”
The Flower continued to look at him. The Leaf didn’t know whether the Flower understood him or not.
“Lord, are you boarding now?”
Yin Qie Zi turned around and saw two Leaves walking down from the ships. He nodded his head and asked, “Is everything ready?”
“Yes, we can depart now.”
“Then let us go.”
After he finished speaking, Yin Qie Zi wanted to turn around and look at the Flower. However, he stiffened and ultimately did not turn back. He only continued to walk ahead with the other two Leaves.
The Flower also walked a few steps. Yin Qie Zi and the other two Leaves stopped and wrinkled their brows at him, yet none of them wanted to tell the Flower to stop. They walked towards the ship once more, and the Flower followed once again. The Leaves stopped in their footsteps…
After this motion repeated itself for a few times, it appeared the Flower finally understood. He watched Yin Qie Zi and the other two get on the ship, but did not follow anymore. He only stood at the ocean coast, his eyes following Yin Qie Zi.
When the Flower finally stopped, all the Leaves gave a sigh of relief. If the Flower followed them onto the ship, they wouldn’t know what to do.
Should they beat or yell at him? Force him to leave?
But it was the Flower’s job to always be near the Leaves. How could they penalize him for doing what he was supposed to do?
The Flower stood at the ocean coast, and widened his eyes to look at the Leaves on board the ships. He spoke.
“Why do you hate me?”
Almost all the Leaves on the decks were looking at the Flower. Yin Qie Zi felt especially horrible, because the Flower wasn’t looking at anyone else, but rather, directly at him.
They were all curiously surprised to see the Flower opening his lips. However, they were too far away and couldn’t tell whether words were coming out of the Flower’s mouth.
But that was no longer important, because their Tree was dying.
If the Tree that had given birth to a Flower died, then the Flower would follow suit and become insane.
A Flower gone berserk was extremely dangerous.
The Flower stood there in a daze for a long, long time. Now, not a single ship was left on the water’s surface.
The Flower’s job was to stay by the Leaves’ side and protect them, but there weren’t a single Leaf left, so he didn’t know what he was supposed to do anymore. Thus, he only stood by the coast, vacantly watching the ships float farther and farther away.
In the end, children longed for their home, and so the Flower began to miss the Tree. He began to walk towards his home, to where the Tree was.
Although now, there weren’t any Leaves left to escort him on his trip home.
The Flower never had any contact with the world outside the Leaf Tribe. He didn’t know that the Leaves were a powerful existence when in a group, and that was why no one dared to harm a crowd of Leaves. However, the road was much more dangerous than imagined when he was alone.
Poisonous plants weren’t considered dangerous to Flowers, and no plants would harm Flowers. At the same time, Flowers didn’t eat plants either.
Many wild beasts had targeted the Flower before, but they could detect that he wasn’t an ordinary prey. After approaching a certain distance, they would naturally leave.
Thus, to the Flowers, the most dangerous things in the whole forest were humans.
Humans fancied the Leaves’ beautiful appearance and would often capture them as home decorations and toys.
After walking for only a few days, the Flower encountered a group of adventurers. Everyone in it was human. The adventurers heard that the Leaves were migrating away, and wanted to try their luck at any Leaf that had been left behind. If they could catch even one Leaf, it meant a large sum of money would have already landed in their pocket.
They didn’t happen upon any Leaf, but rather found a Flower.
They rejoiced, thinking they had found a Leaf, and captured him. Soon afterwards though, they dubiously looked at the creature and wondered… just what was it?
The Leaves looked slightly different from humans, but there were still similarities. At least, the general outer appearance was the same. The Leaves’ hair and eye colors were just more vibrant, their bodies more slender, and their faces more alluring.
The Flower was different. He was naked, yet features that discriminated his sex couldn’t be found. His appearance was that of a fifteen year old girl or an even younger boy. He didn’t even have nipples, something both males and females should have. There weren’t any sex organs below either, and not a strand of hair could be found on his body. All he had was a luscious black mass of hair on top of his head.
At first glance, the Flower’s black hair didn’t appear to be anything special. Yet on closer inspection, the hair strands’ movement looked odd. As there weren’t any wind, his hair looked like it was floating naturally on its own.
The adventurers were a bit startled and astounded, but since the Flower looked harmless, their panic quickly disappeared. Thus, they captured the Flower, pretending his hair’s movements never existed.
The Flower’s appearance wasn’t exceptional and could only be called delicate at best. Plus he didn’t have any sexual features, which gave humans nothing to play and toy around with.
Eventually, the Leaf Tribe’s treasure—the Flower, tumbled into a circus troupe. He was locked in a cage while crowds after crowds of humans jeered and laughed at this sexless freak.
In reality, the Flower didn’t mind it much.
He didn’t understand the human language. He missed his home a little and wanted to return to the big shade under the Tree… But he remembered that there weren’t any Leaves left around now, and thus, was not in a hurry to go back.
At least by staying here, there were still some humans around. Although the environment made his mood a bit grim. Only when the troupe was moving to another location could he see a ray of sunlight. The horrid environment made him feel a bit cold, a bit tired, a bit hungry… but all of this was still a within a tolerable extent.
The circus people brought various foods for the Flower and saw that it touched nothing but water. As the Flower didn’t die of hunger, the circus men were elated to know that they could save on food costs. From then on, they didn’t try to bring any other food and left only a bucket of water inside the cage. They would refill it only after a long time.
The days passed one by one, but the Flower didn’t have a sense of time. He only sat inside the cage, thinking about the Tree, about sunlight, about clean water, about the departing Leaves, about the Leaf with silvery-purple hair…
Until one day, a strange feeling suddenly wafted through the Flower’s whole body.
Amid the immense pain, he suddenly understood. His home had died… the Tree had died.
The Tree was far away, but the Flower couldn’t withstand the immeasurable pain. It drove him mad. His head of black hair writhed wildly like snakes… He lifted his head and screamed towards the sky.
Masses of wood skewered the surface, piercing through the metal cage, through the circus’ tent, through all the horrified crying humans.
Thick vines squirmed across the ground and destroyed all obstacles blocking their way. The vines crushed carriages, the city, everything…
When the Flower was conscious again, the area had become a decimated wasteland. With blackish-red liquid dried on his pale body, the Flower appeared eerily shocking. His hair no longer waved from the clotted blood… He was so full.
So full that he wanted to throw up.
So full, yet so empty. There weren’t any living creatures to be found. The Flower was alone yet again.