Don’t miss Part 11 that I did yesterday evening. Speaking of which, this is Part 12! Only one more part to go! (Can you believe that???) Stay tuned for the happy ending! And I’m planning on doing the “Behind the Scenes” post the following Thursday. In the meantime, this is the one scientific part:
Feed the whole colony? Amelia flew slowly back towards her house with Jerry tucked under her arm; above the path from the tree-stump castle, over the Bluestone, down the little path she herself had made. Her mind was whirling. She hoped she could keep her composure before the King and Queen through this puzzled delirium.
The sunlight that shone in her eyes flickered green. She glanced up at Ryan, who was flying above her. He smiled. She darted off to the side, away from him. His talk about kissing had made her apprehensive—and just a little spiteful. Since she had first gone to live alone in the little mud-brick house he’d been zipping over on his emerald-colored wings, but things seemed different now somehow. Was it. . .
Amelia’s thoughts were interrupted as she crashed into a tall fern frond. Had to make a fool of myself somehow! she thought, picking herself up off the damp ground. The other three landed behind her, Queen Elva getting a bit tangled up in her long skirt as she landed. “Are you alright, Miss Amelia?” she asked, folding her clear wings as she gracefully untangled herself.
“Yeah, I’m alright. I just. . . I’m alright. A fairy’s gotta’ learn how to fall out of the air without hurting anything anyway.” Amelia wasn’t sure she’d really meant to say that. Ryan opened his mouth to say something, but she added hurriedly, “The mushroom was just right back here; I’ll show you.”
They proceeded on foot. Amelia led them to the clearing where the toadstool had stood. A tiny bit of the stalk was left in the ground. “Right here.”
King Titus walked around the clearing, until he found a small twig. He carried it back to the place where Amelia’s mushroom had grown. “Come here, Miss, I want to show you something.” Amelia came to his side; and he drove the stick into the ground and then forced it upwards, turning over a spoonful of earth. The dirt was laced with tiny, white, root-like tubes.
Amelia looked down at the intricate twists that had been turned up and then at the King, who was down on one knee in the mud. “These are mycelium,” Titus explained, breaking one off and handing it to her. “Just one, like that, is called a hypha. They are like the mushroom’s roots. But there are many more mycelium than mushrooms. The mycelium are more like a plant, and the mushroom is like a flower.” He got up, walked over to the edge of the clearing, and turned up more dirt with the stick. “See? There are more over here. And there will be more outside the clearing. If we dig them all up, they’ll feed the whole colony.”
“I never knew,” Amelia murmured, trying to take it all in.
“Ryan! Gather the colony!” the King said. “Men should bring shovels, and women should bring tubs of water to wash them in.”
Ryan darted off into the sky, pushing straight up through the fern fronds. “Show off!” Amelia muttered.