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"Head for the buzz reeds if you're ever alone, unarmed, and need a safe place to hide," Hapian said as he led the way into the swamp. "When you reach 'em, remember to slow down so you can avoid the early shoots. Those are sharp. A vanda won't follow you once you're among 'em. They might be strong and fast, but they're afraid of buzz reeds."
Cesia knew they were in the swamp to harvest buzz reeds to trade for other goods they could use. The mature reeds grew to twice an adult's height in clumps that often rubbed against each other when shook. Even a slight wind could easily set a clump to buzzing. As well, she knew about vandas. White as the frost that sometimes settled in the swamp, fast as lightning, and deadly, vandas hunted alone.
Hapian patted his daughter's soft blue hair for a moment. He couldn't help but notice that her hair was as blue as her mother's once was. Certainly, Cesia hadn't inherited her soft, wavy hair from him. His remained straight and coarse in texture with a greenness capable of blending in with the predominant swamp colors. "All right now, it's time to pull up your shathe."
Cesia reached down to the long skirt-like garment she wore. Grabbing the two free ends, she twisted those around her waist, behind her, and back to the front where she tied the two ends together. Though she carried a dagger, she drew her hammer for the work at hand.
Similarly armed, Hapian also carried a spear made from two buzz reeds. The metallic shaft came from a mature reed while the point consisted of a fresh shoot lashed into place. Should a vanda happen by, it would take notice of the weapon. Having done so, most vandas would avoidtangling with anyone carrying such a weapon. Some folks said that the scent alone from buzz reeds would scare off any vandas.
"Slowly now. We don't want to step on any new shoots," Hapian said.
Cesia stepped slowly into the murky water so that her bare feet and legs gradually disappeared from sight. Her father walked slowly beside her. She glanced up to see that he was scanning all about. "Are we safe?"
"We should be. Can't you hear 'em now?"
"Yes. They're like camp music."
"Once you can hear them, you're usually safe. A vanda would have to be deaf or concentrating solely on the chase to not hear those."
"Why are vandas afraid of buzz reeds?"
"I'm not sure. It could be that vandas fear 'em because buzz reeds never run away."
"I didn't know buzz reeds could walk."
"They can't," he said.
Cesia glanced at Hapian in confusion.
"It's just a saying. You might want to watch carefully for any beebuls. They're due to climb up this year," Hapian said.
"Beebuls? What are those?"
"You've seen a limid. These are very much like those, except these can fly because they have wings."
"Are they dangerous?"
"Not really. Besides, they rarely grow larger than your hand. Anyway, they're quite good to eat, if you can catch one."
"I can see the buzz reeds!" Cesia exclaimed.
Copyright © 2005 David L. Kuzminski