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Tropical Leaves

The Toadstool Oligarchs and the Sapphire Fulcrum

I make my way daintily up the toadstool causeway.

The fungi encompass a wide range of colors; from pink, violet, and magenta, to cyan, turquoise, and green.

The immense cavern I find myself in is sparsely lit; most of the illumination near ground level comes from phosphorescent plants, although higher up near the ceiling and bobbing throughout the airspace are orange and golden lanterns, who duel with one another for aerial supremacy in extreme slow-motion.

The causeway I cross slants up towards the center of the great cavern, and appears to require no support at all. It is covered in magnificent mushrooms and grasses, most of which tower above my head. A narrow path wends its way carelessly through all these flora. I see that the causeway leads up to the floating pagoda which I have known to be my destination ever since I arrived to the subterranean valley. Inside is the council of amphibians, consisting mainly of toads and frogs, who are forever squabbling over various facets of valley governance.

I have been sent here on special business, and upon entering the council chamber I make my way directly to its center. All bickering peters out, and there is silence as the amphibians stare at me uncertainly. One thing that must be noted is that toads and frogs alike have a great respect for gumption, moxie, chutzpah, and related qualities. This is perhaps one of the few points upon which the two races find common ground, and every last councilor looked to me with awe, verging on reverence.

Just who was this unannounced outsider who had the brazen audacity to interrupt them thusly? And at so important a moment, what's more, for each and every councilman had been in the midst of filibustering every other councilman, and this cacophony had actually been audible from the valley far below.

Seeing that I had their undivided attention, I knew it was time to deliver my message. Reaching into my pouch, I removed the sapphire fulcrum and held it aloft for all to see. The walls of the pagoda were dappled with brilliant light of all colors, as though all of us were contained within a kaleidoscopic prism. Every amphibian's jaw hit the floor, but I was pleased to see that not a one of them averted his gaze. I tucked the fulcrum back into my pouch and bowed.

Almost at once, the frogs and toads began shaking hands with one another, beaming, tears streaming down their faces. Such was their eagerness to shake hands with one another that within a very short space of time I believe the number of handshakes per second in the pagoda approached infinity, and the heat generated by all this activity can really only be compared to a supernova.

I quickly vacated the pagoda, stepping outside onto the mushroom balcony. There were fissures in the cavern ceiling, and radiant sunlight streamed through, illuminating the dank valley below. Somehow I had not noticed this during my ascent.

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