Tera has many interests. She likes to read, and then to talk about all sorts of esoteric—and otherwise—subjects. She enjoys spending time with others, learning about them, their worlds, and more. There are also the more … passionate … pursuits; of course there are. But there is one particular pursuit that she has tended to and held in her thoughts for longer than any can really understand.
When Tera became the Queen of the Realm, there was much pomp and ceremony, most of which she put up with for the sake of tradition. But there came a time during all of the ritual pleasure, excitement, and passions when she was able to take some time to gather her thoughts, and she began to think about something that someone had asked her: what was her legacy going to be?
This actually brought her up short, though on the outside none would have been able to see it—save for her Eternal, of course, who knew that particular twitch of her tail (but that’s another story). To some, the question of legacy is a troubling one … What will you be remembered for? … What will be the point of your life, your existence, the meaning of who you are? At this point in Tera’s life, it wasn’t something she had really thought about. On the one hand, there were too many other things in her world that were more important, and, on the other, Tera found the idea of a legacy left in her name to be somewhat … gouache.
It was in the middle of all of these thoughts that she came upon a wide field of fertile earth near the palace. The soil was a deep, rich black that almost looked raven in colour. She stood there on the edge of the field and looked across it in thought. It seemed to be untouched—she would never understand exactly why, but she remained there a time considering and mulling thoughts over in her mind. She slipped off her heels and, moments later, the well-over-the-top dress that she had been wearing most of the day. Standing there, quite nude to the world, her tail moving slowly, she gently placed one toe and then her foot upon the land and waited a moment, as if wishing permission to enter, feeling as if there was something special about this place and not wanting to offend whatever spirits were there.
There was an odd feeling of acceptance that came to her and she started to walk slowly across the land, leaving her footprints in the soil behind her. A light mist started to roll across the soil, shrouding the edges of the land, making everything murky and indistinct. She continued to walk for a time until she stopped.
She wasn’t sure exactly where she was: the mists had clouded her vision and left her not knowing exactly what direction she was facing or how far she had come. But that didn’t seem all that important. She was, as far as her feelings were concerned, in the right place at the right time. Settling onto the soil, she began to cup and shift some of it in her hand. She looked at its richness, the scent of it, the life that it held, and found that she wanted to place a seed there, something to start the miracle of life in this place that was ready for it to begin but had not seen it as yet.
She heard then the call of her Eternal and she called out back to him. She felt him coming closer, until the mists parted and he arrived at her side. She smiled to see him as bare as she was, his feet showing that he had walked barefoot through the soil as well. He watched her roll some of the earth between her fingers and then settled in beside her. His fingers entwined with hers, the soil pressed between, and passed the wish they had, the hopes, into that small piece of soil. He made a small spot in the soil, she placed the soil they had touched in that spot.
They were not seen back in the pomp and ceremony of the day for many hours. When they finally arrived, the scent of rich earth around them left many wondering where they had been and what had happened.
Tera returned to that spot every day from that point onwards. She would tend to the land as best she could. Each day she would look for a sign of something growing there. Anything at all would have been wonderful and would have filled her with joy. But, for the longest time, nothing grew in that spot where she had started. She spent years, decades, centuries on that spot. She consulted with many, learned everything she could to try and make something happen there. But nothing did. Her entire focus was on that spot, the rest of the land around it a blur when she arrived and left, for in her mind, that one spot was where she wanted … needed … to have a sign of life. She would tell her Eternal every day that nothing had changed, and he would just smile and reply: “It’s fine. It’s better than fine.”
Of course she didn’t understand what he meant: the land was bare, there was nothing to show for all of her efforts. But she didn’t give up. Tera wasn’t the kind to do so. She put her soul into that piece of land now more than ever before; it wasn’t just that small spot of land that mattered, it was all of the land around it. She put the same effort, love, and will into that space as well.
While all of this went on, she found others around her, and began to care for them, putting herself second to their needs. She drew them into her arms, her love, and her family, not considering for a moment any other way to be, for that, again, was who Tera was.
One morning she returned to the bare soil and noticed something. Around the spot where they had begun were the first shoots of some sort of flower starting to poke themselves out of the soil. These flowers marked out exactly where she had begun. She looked at them and wondered why it was that they grew around the spot and not from it. But that wasn’t important. There was life starting, and that gave her renewed purpose. She continued to tend the land and, over time, she brought those that touched her life, her soul, to visit the place as well. She offered them a place to plant their own seeds, and, over more time, the bare soil … wasn’t so bare anymore.
The lands turned lush and green, the life there strong with the joys of those who had planted their seeds of love and life. This plot was a carpet of flowers, trees, bushes, and so much more. There was life everywhere around to be seen.
Except one place.
In that place where Tera and Keith had begun, there was still nothing but bare soil. Nothing grew there, though there should have been. It remained unchanged, still, frozen in time and space. It was the one thing that Tera couldn’t quite get over, and she put more and more of herself into that garden, into the lives of those around her.
It was when she was speaking to her heart one day that she realized why it was that one spot was bare and yet there was so much life around it. It was, she now understood, a metaphor for something more important. Understanding that, finally seeing that truth, changed something for the better within her.
The need within her to make that little space of soil grow something was not important. The need to love, to care, to do what she felt was needed for others was. In that need, in what she had done and always would do, came how the garden she had been tending grew. There would always be that one bare spot on the land, for that bareness would be with her always as well. She could never change that, much as she wished and tried. But she could take that love, that hope, that will within her and use it to make the lives and love of those around her better. Doing so, being so, that made the lands blossom vibrantly.
She found that thought comforting, and it gave her purpose again.
Her heart could see that gleam in her eye, and he was sad. “You may not want to hear this, but this is not a good thing. Oh, it may be fine for the Queen of the Succubi and her Realm, for a while, but, right now, I don’t care about that. It isn’t good for my Dear One, or for her Eternal. You need to care for yourself every bit as much as you care for all those others. You cannot leave yourself bare. You need to give time for yourself. You need to let all the rest of us come second, just from time to time, if only to renew yourself, to better care for all of us.”
She nodded, and her heart smiled.
Sometimes a visitor to the Realm will go in search of Tera and find her there in that garden, sitting on a chair and looking at a single bare, fertile patch of soil. It seems that her entire focus is on that spot, as if willing something to sprout from it. A flower? Tree? Whatever it might be, it seems as if she believes that she has the power within her to will it to be. But the patch of ground remains, so sadly, it seems, bare and forlorn. Yet, all around it, in every direction, there is life uncountable in bloom. They attract Tera’s attention and ask, every time: “Why is there nothing there?”
She smiles and replies: “It’s a metaphor.” And before there can be a question to ask further, she focusses herself upon them, and the thought about the strange spot there is forgotten. But it remains in Tera’s thoughts. In truth, the lives she touches, the family that she holds so dearly, are far more than that. But those are words that need never be spoken aloud.
And, when the visitors are nowhere to be seen, she lets herself sit in that soil, just as she did long ago, just as naked as she was then, and the mists surround her, and, sometimes, her Eternal is with her. And then Tera is renewed, allowed to be fully herself … and the garden grows more.
The garden of life around that little bare patch of ground spoke volumes for those that listened. And, when one did, somewhere else in that garden, a small sapling, shoot, bud or other joy of life appeared and began to grow.
For nothing, especially love, is ever lost.