Chapter One || Descendance

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The scent of lingering rain dissipated amid the mellow woodland air, sharp with the fresh, laden aroma of dewy grass. It was a little ticklish. She twitched her nose, unconsciously trying to locate the source of her minor discomfort. Languidly awakening, her hand scrunched the crisp blades as she propped up her body. Startled by the quickly drying, viscous juice that dribbled between her fingers, her swiftly awoken mind thought that it was strange. She had just been walking in a city and didn't recall any nearby grass.

Instinctively, her eyes flashed open due to the unfamiliarity of her surroundings, and her ears registered the warbles of something not quite like a bird. Warmth and light fluttered across her face as she shot up from her supine position, rendering her vision blind for a second as she peered up reflexively toward the light. Luxuriant branches sprawled the skies, tens of dozens of meters high.

As she traced the path of the branches to their origin, she suddenly froze at the sight behind her. She blinked blankly at a wall of wood which had been the trunk of a tree so enormous that it could have comfortably fit a suspension bridge inside. Although she did not know what the record for the widest tree in the world was, this tree before her surely shattered the record several times over. Upon that discernment, she was further shocked that a skyscraper by that same measure could fit underneath the canopy of this tree as well.

Quickly surveying the rest of her surroundings, she noted that she was inside an encirclement of grass as wide as the tree's outmost branches. Beyond this perimeter were verdant pillars of other formidably tall trees, but none of which were nearly as colossal as this ancient tree in the center.

As this strange forest landscape sunk in, her mind stilled in persistent befuddlement. The velvety grass quivered from indistinct billows, once again tickling her. But now, the tingling sensation that swept across her skin was due to the uneasiness of suddenly realizing that she had no idea where she was. This was not her hometown. She wasn't even certain if this was Earth. Surely, she couldn't have stumbled upon some unknown corner of the world and discovered the largest tree in existence. That was simply too random and astonishing. No, not even that—she started to doubt if she was even truly awake.

Feeling a little stupid, but hardly caring due to her unusual circumstances, she slapped herself in the face. The ensuing pain was slight. Frowning, she repeated the motion, putting twice as much force. But even then, the pain barely stung, making her think this must be a dream despite her distinctly palpable senses. Stubbornly, she continued to pinch, hit, kick, and strike her body in various ways to ascertain this assumption. While none of her actions caused her any significant pain, the physical feeling was still very vivid, making everything all the more confusing.

Peeved, she jumped up and glared all around her. The grass below reached up to her knees, and oddly, only the flattened area where she had laid was wet. Perturbed, she tilted her head to the side and furrowed her brows. This reminded her that she had just been walking to the train station from campus while it was raining. Surely, the rain couldn't have followed... She shook her head in earnest and refocused her thoughts.

Slowly, she walked forward toward the edge of the grass while speculating. Rain wasn't uncommon during this season, but it had otherwise been a day like any other. She went to school, traveled home, worked, played, ate, and slept. Everyday, rinse and repeat. The only irregularity that stood out was that she had taken the opposite side of the road to head toward the train station.

Usually, she walked on the side of the street closest to the university campus. But today, she had switched to the other side because construction had closed off a block on her typical path. When she was able to cross back over, she remembered jaywalking a little ahead of the upcoming crosswalk because there was no incoming cars. She had even made it a silly game to beat the pedestrian stoplight timer counting down for no one but her. Little actions like these which she inputted idly into her quotidian cycle made everything a bit more bearable.

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