HERE COME THE MAVRYX
BY T.B. CHARLES
A Forest Gathering
In a faraway place, past the Oridobo River, and beyond the Mugby Mountains, stood the Mystical Forest where some strange creatures lived.
Now, this faraway place at the end of the world doesn't appear on any maps. In fact, no record of its existence is found anywhere. Even Erasmus Bailey, the ancient cartographer who mapped most of the Banshu Islands, did not draw it on his nautical chart.
This is a place lost in time.
But what isn't lost on some of the island’s inhabitants is a sense of not belonging to this faraway place. And now some of the island dwellers have grown restless. Some of them want to leave this faraway place known as Anaplantia.
Anaplantia is home to many different animals. In Anaplantia you may see elephants, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, and even ferocious tigers.
However, this forest is also the home of something you’ve probably never seen. You have to look very carefully because they’re hard to spot. They blend into their surroundings like nothing else in nature. It’s a camouflage that’s unique to them. These strange creatures are both plants and animals.
Yes, these creatures are half animal and half vegetable. These are the MAVRYX.
Now, the Mavryx didn’t appear by accident. No, this was planned. And the person who planned it shares Anaplantia with them. He brought them to Anaplantia a long time ago. He brought them here to show the world what he had accomplished, but his plan has taken an unforeseen turn.
See, the Mavryx had plans of their own.
Dr. Splicer and his daughter, Naomi, raised them, keeping them under lock and key. They were kept in a large warehouse under his watchful eyes, and those of Tyaffa and Bezzil as well.
He also fitted them with radio collars once they got a bit older, tracking them throughout Anaplantia. He had stamped each collar with an identification tag. He identified them as MAVRYX- 1, MAVRYX-2, all the way through MAVRYX-10.
He would monitor every movement they made. He could not risk losing them. No, the scientific establishment had to see his work…and recognize his genius.
However, he’s now concerned that some of these collars were damaged because he can’t locate all the Mavryx. Especially MAVRYX-1 who he suspects is their ringleader.
Every morning Dr. Splicer and Naomi patrolled Anaplantia with his two tigers, making sure that no Mavryx are trying to escape to the other side. That would mean they would be lost for good.
He was just heading through his gates when he picked up a radio signal. It was coming from the swamp. He quickly sent one of his new creations to check it out. Soon a loud whirring sound could be heard as Dr. Splicer checked the video feed. All systems were go.
He shielded his eyes from the sun as he watched it glide overhead. It was now heading toward the Mystical Forest on its way to the swamp.
The Mystical Forest comprises most of Anaplantia’s interior. It sweeps across the island like a giant green wave, extending more than 500 square miles. This is where the Mavryx forage for most of their food. Some come at night, others during the day, but they all must eat the vegetables that make up parts of their bodies. They eat other things as well, but they must have their particular vegetables to keep them alive.
It just so happens that today is a special day. Two of the Mavryx had just left the swamp and were deep in the Mystical Forest where they were busy drawing up their plans.
Broccolion had just dug up the map from its underground hiding place. He was showing his best friend, Picklepotamus, a route he believed would lead them out of Anaplantia.
“If we follow the Oridobo River, I believe that’s going to lead us to freedom,” said Broccolion.
They were looking for a way to get back to a place they once knew. The map was spread out on a large boulder they called Table Rock. It had become a meeting point.
Table Rock would be where they would hold the vote later that day. The Mavryx would gather at nightfall when the prying eyes could not spot them. Broccolion was going to lay out the plan at the meeting and the vote would follow.
Despite Picklepotamus’s assurance that the vote was a foregone conclusion, Broccolion wanted to make sure all the Mavryx knew what the risks were in leaving.
“Everyone knows that it could be dangerous,” said Picklepotamus. “But they have faith in you.”
Broccolion felt that responsibility. That’s why he wanted to discuss everything about the trip, both the good and the bad.
That meant going into some detail. They had to travel by river and he knew that would present some problems.
“We could build the raft once we get to the river,” said Picklepotamus as he munched on some peanuts. “I’ll be fine in the water, but I know Cowfalfa doesn’t like getting wet.”
Also, Broccolion had to admit that he didn’t know where the river would lead. However, if it got them free of Anaplantia and Dr. Splicer, he was willing to give it a try.
Ever since he could remember, something did not feel right about Anaplantia. What exactly that was, he didn't know. But something clicked inside him when he saw a fox and her three kits. They roamed the forest together as a family. He had no family. He was alone.
As they talked about their plans for escaping, Broccolion could hear that whirring sound. It meant that the strange bird was hovering somewhere overhead.
“However, we’ll also have to devise a strategy to avoid being detected,” he warned, looking toward the sky.
The heavy mist had just lifted, and they meant they could be easily detected. Although the forest canopy supplied some cover, that whirring bird had keen, penetrating eyes. He knew their detection would alert the rest of the Mals, as they were called by the Mavryx. That needed to be avoided. They couldn’t afford to battle the Mals without the rest of the Mavryx.
He wasn’t sure if the other Ryx were also in danger of being spotted, but he and Picklepotamus had to remain out of sight. Broccolion referred to the Mavryx as simply the Ryx. They were the remaining three letters once he forcibly removed his collar. He knew of at least four other species of Ryx, but he figured there were probably more. It was another mystery about this strange place.
As he grew older, Broccolion became more restless. He needed answers, and he didn’t know where to find them. He spent most of his time searching. He was constantly looking for a way to escape, while also avoiding the Mals and Dr. Splicer. Those trips throughout the Mystical Forest brought him in contact with lots of non-Ryxes. These non-Ryxes soon learned that Broccolion was a fierce adversary and stayed clear.
Every Mavryx had a unique personality, something they retained from their animal DNA. Dr. Spicer documented all these traits in his notebook, and made a profile of each Mavryx. He observed over time that Broccolion kept a considerable amount of his wild streak. It was more prominent than he had hoped. He had always been independent, even as a cub, and Dr. Splicer was now putting considerable effort into finding him. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy capturing his creation.
Broccolion disappeared about a year ago and that had Dr. Splicer extremely concerned. He wasn’t aware that Broccolion had removed his collar. Broccolion also helped Picklepotamus remove his collar. Dr. Splicer thought he caught a glimpse of him on video, but the images were poor. His whereabouts were of the highest priority, and Dr. Splicer was determined to find him and all the Mavryx. He wasn’t going to stop until he put them back under his control.
As they examined the map, the two friends also had to consider the wall as an alternative option. Most of the Mystical Forest was surrounded by a wall. Broccolion first saw it not long after his escape. It was a huge obstacle, but Broccolion knew they needed a backup plan in case the river route failed. That meant they also needed to find a way to either go under or over the wall if the river proved too dangerous.
“I’m sure we’re in for plenty of danger, no matter what,” added Picklepotamus as the whirring grew louder.
They quickly rolled up the map just in case the eyes could peer through the canopy.
“I’ll see you back at Table Rock tonight,” said Broccolion.
Picklepotamus nodded. “I’ll be here at sundown.”
In another corner of Anaplantia, a tiny pair of eyes were peering around a cornstalk. The eyes belonged to a Mavryx who was waiting for the right opportunity to steal a meal.
The rows of corn were just beyond a large, white stall with blue shutters and a thatched roof. It was the home of Cowfalfa who was tending to her garden. She carefully clipped some petunias that were starting to bloom.
“I will make a bouquet for Koalaflower,” said Cowfalfa as she gathered the flowers. “Perhaps Picklepotamus would like one, too.”
Ratish slowly crept into the garden. He began plucking the petals off the petunias while Cowfalfa wasn't looking.
“Mmmmm…so sweet and tasty,” said Ratish as he folded the petal in half like a sandwich.
He continued along the furrow where more flowers bloomed. “I wonder how those tulips taste?”
Cowfalfa liked to make treats for her fellow Mavryx. Today she was making banana bread. When it was time to start, she had fewer bananas than expected. “I know I had ten bananas. Now there are only six.”
That’s when she saw Ratish’s bright red tail.
“Ratish! Did you take my bananas?”
Ratish emerged from a row of daffodils. “Why would you ask me that?”
“Because I know you,” she said. “Now, if you want some banana bread, I would suggest you return them.”
Without saying a word, Ratish quickly leapt over the daffodils and started digging. He returned to where Cowfalfa was rolling out the flour. His arms were full of bananas. “Look what I found.”
“If you would like to make yourself useful, you can get me some sugar,” said Cowfalfa.
Ratish put his paw to his ear. “I think I hear Picklepotamus calling me. I’ll see you later.”
“Well, too bad. I was going to let you have the first taste.”
Ratish stopped in an instant. “You know, maybe that wasn’t him calling after all.”
Ratish wasn’t going to pass up that offer.
Ratish and Cowfalfa had become inseparable friends. Although Ratish would never admit to that. She relied on Ratish to alert her to approaching danger, while he depended on her for delicious meals. He would feast on the food in her garden, especially the radishes which she planted for him.
While Ratish pretended it was Picklepotamus calling him, he worried that the sound may be coming from the sky. And he knew that meant they had to get out of sight…and soon.
“We have to go, Navala,” said Ratish as he gestured toward the stall. "I'll get the vine so you can pull it over.”
Koalaflower had designed a big piece of interwoven ivy that Navala could drape over her stall. The camouflage looked like an ordinary thicket once it was pulled into place. All Cowfalfa had to do was pull the vine and presto, the stall disappeared.
Cowfalfa didn’t waste any time yanking the vine over the stall.
Still, he did hear something. It had a steady beat of three loud bangs, followed by a short break, then three more. The sound was coming from just over the ridge.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The hammer fell against the nail, driving it into the wood. Koalaflower was busy in her work room. It was inside the trunk of a Baobab Tree. She was surrounded by sleds, wagons, and baskets, just a few of the things she made for the other Mavryx.
She was pounding some nails into the wooden scooter she was building. The nails were courtesy of Dr. Splicer, but the crafting was from her own hands.
She hopped onto the scooter to make sure it was strong, testing its durability. When she climbed off, she grabbed some paint, another thing she discovered while at the Splicer’s estate.
She decided on blue.
“I wonder if I should add a yellow racing stripe,” said Koalaflower as she imagined going down Thunderslope with it.
She checked the wheels to make sure they spun freely once she finished painting. “I can’t wait to take it out and try it.”
Koalaflower loved to build things. It was something she enjoyed ever since she could remember. The first thing she made was a long hook so she could bend down branches to reach her favorite leaves.
She was also working on a bigger project. She was going to design the raft that would take them away from Anaplantia.
She knew she would need a lot of wood, and had begun gathering some fallen logs with the help of Asbearagus and Cowfalfa. She had hoped Beetver would also help since he had sharp teeth for cutting wood. However, he was reluctant to help. He had decided he was going to stay in Anaplantia.
Beetver was cautious by nature. Even though he missed home, too, he wasn’t sure that a long journey by raft would work.
“Better safe than sorry,” he would always say.
Broccolion tried to convince him to go with them during one of their meetings at Table Rock. Beetver would be able to see his family again.
“This forest is not safe, either,” said Broccolion. “I know you have seen those strange birds overhead like the rest of us.”
Broccolion also reminded him that Dr. Splicer was intent on never letting them go. He picked up one of their collars to prove his point.
“This isn’t what freedom looks like,” he told everyone at the meeting.
Still, Beetver believed he would be safe inside his lodge. “As much as I would like to go, I’m going to stay here.”
Even Asbearagus couldn’t convince him to leave Anaplantia. Asbearagus was very persuasive, and he wondered how to motivate his friend to go with them. He would be all alone if he stayed behind. Well, almost all alone. But even that wasn’t enough to change his mind.
“I’m not going on a journey that’s full of unknowns,” he said. “I know what
I have here.”
Unlike Beetver, Asbearagus was excited about the journey. As he foraged through the forest in search of wild asparagus, he climbed onto a tree stump. He was happily singing a song he just made up, adding a little dance to accompany the tune.
“Oh, it’s a beary, beary, delightful day.
The sun has chased all the clouds away.
All the birds are singing in the trees,
and the blossoming flowers are now welcoming bees.”
He rubbed his paws together. “And that means HON-EY!”
He did a back flip off the stump when the song was over, but slipped on a pile of wet leaves. He landed on top of a fallen log with some angry hornets inside.
He began swatting wildly. “Get away! Shoo!”
The hornets managed to get through his defenses and started stinging. “Now, you ought not to do that,” said Asbearagus, ducking and weaving. “That’s not neighborly.”
He tried to outrun them, but the swarm was too fast. When he came to the bank of the river, he knew there was only one solution. He jumped into the water, his huge splash nearly drenching the hornets, sending them back to the log.
He slowly lifted his head out of the water. He was surrounded by Water Lilies. The luminescent flowers ringed him, bobbing on the river’s surface as he kept a wary eye out for another attack. These are like the stars in the sky, he thought to himself. “And I’m the biggest star.” He took a bow.
“Oh, it’s a beary, beary, delightful day.
The sun has chased the clouds away.
Now it's time to romp and play.
And hope those bess just stay away.”
Gus ducked once he heard the ear-splitting sound. What was that? He slowly turned around as the slapping grew louder. He rose from the water to see Beetver’s tail busy at work.
“Oh, it’s you,” said Beetver with a sigh. “I should have known.”
“Just came down for a swim, ol’ pal,” said Asbearagus.
“A swim? Please don’t disturb any of my work.”
Asbearagus could see the rows of freshly cut logs bobbing along the bank. “You cut those for Koalaflower?”
“No, these are to make some repairs.”
“Those would make a great planks for our raft.”
“That raft will be lucky to float,” said Beetver. “With something that big you’re bound to have problems.”
“Not if you help us to build it,” answered Asbeargus who watched a fish jump out of the water next to him.
“I said I would give Koalflower a little help. And I do mean a little.”
Asbearagus gave him a pat on the back. “And what can I do to help you today? You need some help with that fixing up stuff?”
Beetver politely declined Asbearagus’s offer, remembering how he nearly ruined his lodge when he tried to squeeze through the opening.
“You sure you don’t need any help hauling logs, buddy?”
“I don’t mean to be rude, Gus, but I have so much to do and all this talking is just wasting time.”
Asbearagus pointed to two logs floating close to the bank. “Hey, watch this!”
He jumped onto the logs, balancing as best he could on the slippery wood. His front and hind legs worked in unison as he spun the logs while trying to stay afloat.
All that effort was churning the water, sending large ripples toward Beetver’s lodge.
“WOOOO-HOOOOO!” shouted Asbearagus as he picked up speed.
“Will you please stop that,” said Beetver as he bobbed up and down on the waves.
“You should try this, Beetie,” said Asbearagus. “It’s like you’re gliding on the water.”
Pretty soon all those ripples dislodged the rest of the logs that Beetver had positioned close to the bank. They began floating downstream, with two barely missing his lodge.
“Whoops,” said Asbearagus as a smaller one careened off the side. “But look at the bright side, now you don’t have to haul them as far.”
In the corner of the swamp, a large tail thrashed, sending large rivulets dancing above the surface. Alligourder was in hot pursuit of a large fish. The fish weaved between the numerous logs that were strewn across the muddy bottom. It was too big to seek cover among the logs, but its swift tail sent a cloud of silt in its wake, obscuring Alligourder’s vision.
Even with the poor visibility, Alligourder was gaining ground. He could sense the vibrations in the water getting stronger. He was almost upon the fish. He opened his mouth.
Just before his jaws clamped down, the fish jumped out of the water, narrowly escaping a certain death.
As soon as Alligourder’s head broke the surface, he saw a huge green creature smiling from ear-to-ear.
“Well, look what I got here,” said Asbearagus. “It’s must be my beary lucky day.”
“What are you doing in my swamp?” snapped Allligourder.
“I came down to see if you changed your mind.”
“No, I still want you and all the others to get lost!”
“I wanted to make sure you haven’t had a change of heart,” said Asbeargus as the fish wriggled free and quickly swam away.
“Now, see what you’ve done,” said Alligourder. “Just go away and leave me alone.”
“Just so you know that you’re welcome to come with us, Gordie.”
Alligourder climbed onto a nearby rock. “And have to spend time with all of you for who knows how long. Not in a million years.”
Well, the meeting is at Table Rock tomorrow at dusk.
Alligourder didn’t care about where he was from. Well, not really. He only cared about his next meal. Yet, he was also aware of Dr. Splicer and his desire to take him from the swamp. He watched him set traps from a distance, making note as to where each one was hidden.
Still, he had to admit that he wondered why all the fuss about leaving this place. Was he missing something? Why didn’t he feel the same?
“Table Rock tomorrow at dusk,” he muttered to himself.
As the Mavryx went about their activities, they all shared the same wish. Even Beetver quietly shared the same wish. Perhaps Alligourder would never admit it, but he too must have thought about home. They all knew that Anaplantia wasn’t their true home. And the Mavryx wanted to go home.
But home was far, far away. And no one really knew the way.
However, each one had made a decision. And the meeting was set where the Mavryx would meet to make it official. None of them knew what lied ahead, but they knew the answers weren’t in Anaplantia.