Chapter 4 - Exiled

The expectant hush quieted to a shocked silence. This was the first time anyone had been exiled from the village.

Even Chief Fable felt that Womble had pronounced too harsh a sentence. “Council member Womble, do we really need to exile Xyzab? We can teach him responsibility some other way. He can work at the community center or help out in the shops and fields.”

Womble said, “Nooh. The punishment has been pronounced. There’s nothing more to be said.”

Gorble and the other council members tried to convince Womble. He refused to change his decision. Plumble and some of the ubbles in the crowd came up to the Council platform and joined in the arguments. The meeting degenerated into a commotion of squabbling voices.

Xyzab stared at his granduncle with disbelieving eyes, holding back tears of hurt. His favorite granduncle had exiled him. Seria put her hand on his shoulder, but Xyzab shrugged it away.

“What will we do now, Xy?” Seria asked.

“I’ll leave this stupid village,” he replied. “I’ll go out and see the whole world.”

Xyzab turned around and ran. Seria followed him. By the time he reached the ChockLemon Lake, Xyzab had left Seria far behind.

ChockLemon Lake was a circular lake at the east end of Scrabble village created by the mixing of two rivers, Chock River and Lemon River. These two rivers started their journey from deep in the Golf Hills, came around Tee Hill and Scrabble Village from the north and south before creating the most delicious mix of chocolate and lemonade at the ChockLemon Lake.

At the edge of the lake, Xyzab stopped and caught his breath. He was exhausted and thirsty. He dropped to his knees and drank directly from the lake. The ChockLemonade was refreshing.

Xyzab stepped back, looking out. A slow wind was sweeping over the lake, creating small square ripples that spread into each other, making weird polygonal shapes. In the middle of the lake, a few clappers were playing with a ball that some ubblet had lost in the river. High in the clear orange skies, carbenter birds glided past in large formations of tables and chairs. On the ground, rabbins were busy making holes for the soft beds of the Dafoodle flowers. Venturing into the world outside the village didn't seem so attractive now.

Seria came running up and stopped behind him. Xyzab didn't turn around. Seria took out her water bottle, filled it up with ChockLemonade, and drained it down in big gulps. Turning to Xyzab, she said, “Xy, do you really have to leave the village?”

“I’m leaving,” Xy said, “whether they want me to go or not. I’m going to meet new people and see different lands.” But his uncertain voice gave away his mixed feelings.

“Are you sure? You’ve never set foot outside the village before. There’re lots of scary things out there. Oogoos, Scornakes and Horrids. And the monsters, the wizards, and the witches in the Darkside,” said Seria.

“Those are only stories. Anyway, I’m not afraid of anything,” said Xyzab. “Anyone who meddles with me better beware.”

“Yesh. They had better!” came a voice from behind them. Xyzab and Seria turned around to see his father, Bumble, standing there with a faint smile on his face.

Xyzab went up to him and hugged him. “Do I really have to leave, Father?”

Xyzab's father looked into his eyes. “Xy, the time will soon come for you to leave your childhood behind. You have to learn to take life seriously and realize that everything has consequences. You have to take responsibility for your actions.”

“But, Father, it was an accident! I didn't mean to destroy Chief Fable's study!”

“Xy, you aren’t getting punished for just this incident. You’ve been collecting negative points with every prank that you played.”

“But… But… what will I do? Where will I go?”

Bumble put his hands on Xyzab's shoulders. “That’s your decision. You need to chart your own course.”

Xyzab realized that he did have to leave the village, whether he wanted to go or not. Once that certainty was acknowledged, he let go of the faint hope that his granduncle would change his decision. Another part of his mind began thrilling to the new possibilities. He could go anywhere; do anything. He was finally going to have an adventure. He didn't know where it would take him and what dangers lay out there, but he knew that this was his chance to find out what lay beyond. He jumped with excitement. “Ria, I’m going to go places!”

“The world is full of lands to explore and people to meet. Go and make new friends,” said Bumble. “You will find that this punishment is a blessing in disguise. It gives you an opportunity that you might not have had, staying in the village like everyone else.”

 “You might even meet my grandmother on her travels,” Seria exclaimed. Seria's grandmother came visiting once or twice a year, whenever her group of Nobbles journeyed close to Scrabble village. The days that followed would be filled with stories and songs. Seria learned all the songs she knew sitting in her grandmother's lap. Her grandmother never stayed more than a few days, a week at the most. She said that she didn't like settling down at any place - that it was the nature of Nobbles to be always on the move.

“Now come, Xy. Let's go home. Your mother is waiting for you,” said Bumble, holding out his hand.

“Yesh, father,” Xyzab said as he slid his hand into his father's firm grasp.

Seria said, “I feel a song coming.”

She grabbed his other hand and started singing as they went back home.

 

Xyzab scampered up Tee Hill,

With some empty time to fill.

The sun was raining in the sky,

A twinkle fluttered in his eye.

 

A stone, a vector and a stick,

Made for a really awesome trick.

Xyzab could, should, and would try,

How to make the golfball fly!

 

A book and cheese had dunked him deep,

The Chief at noon was fast asleep.

Boom, crack, split, splat, and a crash,

His favorite room was now just trash!

 

The angry council sought his head,

Xyzab waited deep in dread.

The time for mercy now was past,

His doom at hand was coming fast.

 

Casting down with heavy heart,

Uncle Womble said his part.

Xyzab was to go away,

Leaving at the break of day.

 

Starting a journey now unknown,

Free to wander all alone.

Walking on the outward mile,

Living each day in grim exile.


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