Knight of ZantarniZantarni NPC
Sun May 06, 2012 7:26 am
Chapter 23, Charlie CherryBlossom
Meldrick was resting with his back against the big elm tree in the park. Loriel was playing in the leaves of the tree when a few children approached.
"Meldrick, Meldrick, we heard Lord Scarz talking about Charlie CherryBlossom. . .is he a real person? Did you ever meet him?" the children waited patiently as Meldrick sat up and scratched his head.
Smiling as he felt Loriel join them, "I assure you, Charlie CherryBlossom is real and I did meet him many years ago."
He scratched his beard, "It was several years before I met Johnny Darkstar and our caravan stopped off in Taagian to collect royal jelly as well as other items of trade. . . ."
Meldrick had roamed about in town for awhile, something he didn't do often. As he did he ran into a little shoppe selling jams and preserves. He looked over the jars and found something he had never tried before. . .Cherry Preserves. Smiling as he purchased a small jar and a baguette, then walked over to a small park across from the shoppe.
He was surprised at the sweet tartness of the preserves on the fresh bread. As he was eating it, he watched a funny looking old man who was wearing a colander on his head and was carrying a large satchel over his shoulder. The man had long white hair and a long white beard and there was a twinkle in his eye as he talked with the shoppe keeper.
It was apparent that they were talking about the "Cherry Preserves" as he was removing a few more jars of it from his satchel and setting them on the counter. The shoppe keeper offered the old man some money, but he shook his head and then shook the shoppe keeper's hand.
Meldrick was still smiling as the old man walked out of the shoppe and to Meldrick's surprise the old man was coming straight towards him.
"Excuse me, Laddy, but the shoppe keeper told me that you had bought a small jar of my cherry preserves, I just want to know what you think of it?"
Meldrick motioned to the old man to sit, "I must tell you, I have never had cherry preserves before, so this is a real treat, it's sweet and tart at the same time and it really goes well with fresh bread." The old man chuckled.
"You should try them in a pie, " the old man's eyes twinkled, "Forgive me, I haven't introduced myself, I am Charles Tracker, though some call me 'Charlie CherryBlossom'."
"I have heard of you, or should I say I have heard of 'Charlie CherryBlossom', though I thought you to be a myth, " Meldrick chuckled, "It is nice to meet you, Charlie, I am Meldrick of the Gypsy Elves."
Charlie smiled, "I hope your people will try my cherries. If they like them, they could be helpful in spreading the word and spreading the seeds where I haven't been able to go yet."
Meldrick smiled, "I am sure they will love it as much as I do, though I will have to talk to our Elder about spreading the seeds."
Charlie nodded, "I understand, perhaps I will talk with him before your people leave."
The old man got up to leave. Meldrick stood up, "If you wouldn't mind the company, may I join you? I would love to ask you some questions and to hear of your tales."
Charlie smiled, "I would love the company. I am headed off towards the Fflordth Forest. Will you need to let someone know where you will be?"
Meldrick closed the jar and re-wrapped his bread and placed it in his backpack, "I have everything I need here and Mother Marla knows that I will be back before we break camp. . ." he chuckled a little, "It is my habit to explore whenever I get a chance."
The old man chuckled, "Something tells me you have a few tales to tell yourself."
As they walked the trails that led to the Fflordth Forest, Meldrick asked "Have you really traveled all the known lands of Zantarni, planting cherry trees?"
"Young Meldrick, I have traveled the width and breadth of the known lands, as well as venturing into the Wild Lands, the Zander Free State and the Tli Zoutlirm Kemgjon (the Southern Kingdom of the Orcs). . .I have been doing this a very long time."
As they continued to walk, he talked about growing up as an outsider in Ne Phar and finding himself working in one of their Cherry Orchards. It was there that he fell in love with everything about the cherry. . .the fruit and the blooms and it was there that people started calling him 'Charlie CherryBlossom'.
When he discovered that Cherries could only be found in Ne Phar, he decided then and there that spreading the Cherry across the land would be his lifetime ambition.
He studied how to grow the trees, how to ensure the quality of the cherries, how to process them, from offering not only the fruit, but ways that it could be used, such as pies, tarts, jams and preserves.
When he was around Meldrick's age, he had purchased a hand cart, several bushels of cherries and other supplies that he would need to process the cherries, and with the approval of the Ne Phar Council he was on his way to start spreading the cherries throughout the land.
His first stop was East Port where, after allowing a farmer to sample the cherries, he convinced him to allow him to plant trees in a little used tract of the farmer's lands. Charlie had been shown by the Ne Phar grower, that cherry trees could be grown on land that might otherwise not be worth planting on, so his strategy was to trade, beg or borrow whatever land he could find and initially plant 50 trees.
This would allow an ample initial supply of the wonderful fruit. He would explain to the farmer that it would take 3 - 5 years for the fruit trees to mature and during that time Charlie would rotate between the areas that he planted, rather than just letting nature take its course.
He had worked his way in an ever expanding circle, spreading out from East Port and heading west. Charlie even planted seeds at rest stops he found along the way. It was an ever growing circle and Charlie was happy with the results he found.
The Cherries he had planted in East Port had a sweeter taste than the cherries he planted at Stone Bridge; and the cherries he had planted in the Zander Free State were yellow instead of red. Seems the soil where the seeds were planted affected the taste and color and texture of the fruit which added to each the variety.
Not surprisingly, he had found that the Orcs preferred their cherries on the tart side and luckily, the soil of their lands proved to be perfectly suited for their tastes.
As he returned to each planting, he was able to recruit help, either through the farmers or through the bread shoppes (as they were always looking for things that could provide more profit). He showed them how to make the preserves, the tarts and pies. Charlie never charged anyone for the fruits of his labor.
As the orchards grew, Charlie offered cuttings to any and all who wanted them. . .and so many wanted them, it is said that every home in East Port has one of Charlie's trees growing in their yards.
Meldrick listened as Charlie spoke. It wasn't bragging as he spoke, but more like the words of a proud father talking about his children. Charlie's eyes lit up and there was a glow about him as he told his tale and before you knew it they had arrived at the Fflordth Forest.
Meldrick softly whistled as there before him, as far as the eye could see was row after row of cherry trees.
Charlie chuckled, "If you are impressed now, you should come back in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom."
"The trees are beautiful and I look forward to seeing them one of these Springs. . .I have seen the cherry trees in bloom along the river at An Lorna. . .they are truly a magnificent sight to see."
Looking about, Meldrick noticed that there were several people picking cherries and taking them to a small building. "Charlie, what's going on over there?"
Charlie smiled, "They are harvesting the cherries and then taking them to the building to clean and process them. They will take the fresh fruit to market and they process some to make jams and preserves."
He smiled more and pointed to rows of bee hives, "The people who process royal jelly and honey for sale are also here. That is why their products are so distinctive and so sought after."
Meldrick smiled, "I know Mother Marla swears by the Royal Jelly, that is why we come to Taagian at least once a year." Looking to where Charlie was standing, Meldrick chuckled.
"I am sorry Charlie, I have to ask. Why do you wear the colander on your head?"
Charlie chuckled, "I actually acquired it in East Port. I had gone into a shoppe looking for a few things I would need to clean and process the first batch of cherries. I had picked up everything I needed and loaded them on my cart, when I realized that I had forgotten the colander I would use to clean and separate the cherries in. The Shoppe-keeper came out of his store and seeing that the cart was full and that my hands were also full, so he placed it on my head. It seemed a natural fit and I have been wearing it ever since."
"I had spent the next couple of days with Charlie, helping to pick and process the cherries and learning all I could about them. When we left Taagian, Charlie had made a deal with our Elder for us to check in with the cherry growers throughout the land and to help to spread the fruits of his labor." Meldrick smiled as he leaned back against the elm tree, "Our paths crossed many times since then and each time it made me glad to know that there are people like him, people who really believe in what they are doing and are not afraid to dream big."
"Thank you Meldrick, it is good to know where the cherries came from and that there are those who love cherries almost as much as Charlie CherryBlossom."
The that the children ran off singing,
"Spring is here and the cherry blossoms are in bloom
Which means that sweet cherries will be here soon
Cherries for pies and cherries for tarts
In faraway Ne Phar was where it all starts.
Charlie CherryBlossom loved his cherries and decided to share
He spread them across the lands of Zantarni, here and there
Making sure that everyone would get a chance to taste
His jams and preserves letting nothing go to waste.
Charlie CherryBlossom, Charlie CherryBlossom we sing his praises
For the beautiful cherry trees that he plants and the fruit it raises."
Sit back and I'll tell you tales of Faeries and dragons.