“The Story of the Lost Mushroom, starts, as many do, in a large forest teeming with trees and grass and animals off in some distant world,” Luminosa began. Mikka, Lor, and Tor crowded around her close, all while sipping on their bowls of sauteed bacon soup. Mikka in particular watched intently as Luminosa brushed through her silvery hair and twirled a bit of it around her finger, as she always did at the beginning of her tales.
“In this forest, there was a lone mushroom, sitting peacefully at the base of a tall tree, resting among the fallen brown leaves. Not a human, not an animal would have ever noticed anything peculiar, anything disconcerting about this mushroom, all by itself in the forest, and to be fair, the mushroom was similarly unaware. However, it would be clear to anyone with a broad knowledge of the universe that this mushroom did not, in fact, belong.
“For it was the only mushroom living in this forest, so many miles away from any other mushroom that it was inconceivable that such a thing could happen. The thought of a mushroom spreading its spores through the wind, and such a spore being carried such a far distance away, drifting over seas and towns and mountains, through snow and sand seemed simply impossible.
“But it happened.
“This mushroom grew up, not knowing exactly what it was. There were no others of its kind around, and from what it could see and feel around it, nothing else looked even remotely similar. It knew how to survive, feeding off the ground, only from its basest instincts.
“And it thrived. Eventually, the tree under which it spawned grew old and died, and the mushroom began to feed off of it. It grew, and grew, until eventually it was as big as a small tree itself. Animals lived in and around it, and as those creatures brought back dead plants and animals, they helped the mushroom continue to feed. It felt important.
“But it still had no idea of its place, its purpose, anything, and there was no-one there to help it figure that out. All its existence, it felt an unease, like it simply did not belong, and that feeling persisted no matter how big it grew or how tall its cap reached into the sky.
“Some nights, it dreamed of a land full of other mushrooms like itself, thriving and decomposing materials across the forest. The animals ate at them, and the humans picked at them, but they were a family, and this mushroom felt happy. But aside from these occasional glimpses, it was never able to experience that.
“When it came time that most mushrooms would release their own spores, this mushroom simply did not know how. It, like all the life on the planet, eventually grew old, withered, and died, itself becoming fodder for whatever bacteria and plants would decompose it. But it was never able to feel satisfaction in life, and it died as lonely as it had ever been.
“And that’s the end.”
The three women listening to the story were silent for nearly a minute. Then Mikka jumped up from her seat and began clapping rapidly.
“Bravo!” she shouted.
Tor whispered something in Lor’s ear, and Lor said, “The meaning of the story… what exactly is it?”
Luminosa chuckled. “That’s for you to find out, Tor.” Tor blushed, as she always did when singled out in conversation.
“Maenad, how much time until arrival?” Mikka asked.
“It will be the fourteen minutes of it,” Maenad replied.
“Alright.” Mikka looked at Lor and Tor and smiled. “You two should probably suit up in case we have to make some sort of direct contact. And then get in gunner positions, pronto.”
“Yes sir,” they replied in unison.
“And I guess I’ll do the same. You never know.” Mikka hurried off back to her quarters to get ready for what was most likely going to be a fairly large battle.
Luminosa sat and continued to smirk faintly. She wondered if they were ever going to figure her out. But that day was not going to be today, she knew. Today was going to be much more important.