Bartholomew and Kvasir's Gardens

Bartholomew reveled in the smell and sight of the great Kvasir's gardens. Everything had been cross-bred to be massive. Well, at least to most of furmanity it was massive. At present he strolled through the lilac fields. Though these lilacs towered above him three stories tall. Bright pink, purple, and blue petals created a canopy, giving the light that made it through turn similar shades. It was as if his own eyes had taken to a specific color pallet that washed over a sea of brown and green.

Birds flew between the massive leafs and petals. Schools of small song birds played in the colorful light. They dove and dipped, riding the wind as deftly as any dolphin would ride the current. Smaller weeds and grass grew under paw. Various tubers and bulbs littered the ground. He had been told stories about these gardens.

Kvasir was a bee that lived a life of solitude, ever tending to his massive gardens. Bartholomew pondered the meaning of the strange giant's name. Tales of his wit and expansive knowledge had reached the ears of just about every developed society. It is said that the honey created by the great caretaker of this garden could give the consumer great intellect. Some say that is how Raven society had come to be. Bartholomew didn't know what to believe, so he sought answers for himself.

His old friend Ricky had told him of the garden's beauty many times. Being one of the few to experience it is truly a privilege. The smell of lilac filled his nostrils as he took a deep breath to take it all in.

Lo and behold, a cat so bold as to tread on my lands. Do you seek with your eyes or your hands? Treasures here you will indeed find, but they shine only for the mind. Tread carefully young feline, for all will be clear in due time.”

A voice quieter than a whisper yet perfectly clear tickled his ears. Poetics were never Bartholomew's strong suit. All he could do was survey his surroundings. There was nothing out of place besides himself, as far as he knew at least. Should he respond to this mysterious voice?

“I see. Is it possible it's unclear because of your cryptic poetics?”

Bartholomew couldn't help himself. He had a flare for drama himself, sure. There is however a point where it becomes... unnecessary.

Well, I mean if you're gonna be that way about it. Way to be a buzz kill man.”

This time the voice was loud and smoky. A buzzing came from above him and a bee the size of Bartholomew himself came floating down daintily. Pockets lined his safari jacket, accented by his straw sun hat and side bag. This bee was clearly out and about all day.

Bartholomew realized the pun placed slyly in his response. At least he can appreciate that level of wordplay.

“Terribly sorry good sir, but there's no time for kit-ten around!”

Kvasir coughed and waited a moment before responding with a sigh and a palm in his face.

“Oh great. Another pun master. You know you practically give furmanity it's ability to speak and all you get is puns. Kinda makes you wonder if it was all worth it, you know?”

Bartholomew was taken back a moment. There was so much said and yet with such a sarcastic tone. It seems Bartholomew may find his answers after all. Even if he'd rather not find them all. Kvasir looked up at a lilac and waved goodbye. Slowly he ascended in an attempt to leave Bartholomew behind entirely.

“Ah, pray forgive me kind sir. I was unaware of your distaste for puns. If it is your wish I will no longer use them.”

The bee perked up and looked back down at Bartholomew. Floating back down quickly he extended a hand to a very confused cat.

“I very much wish this yes! No offense, but it seems that's all I ever hear. Oh! Can we do the ominous poetry speak? Yet still there may be, a way for you to question me!

Bartholomew cocked an eyebrow and straightened his hat a moment. Placing his hand on the hilt of his sword, he pursed his lips in thought.

“Um. No. I'm not very good at poetry.”

The bee looked disappointed, but not overly so. With a half-smile he retorted with more poetics.

An effort you need not make, if these words are mine to take. Ahem, I mean do you mind if I do the ominous poetry speak?

Bartholomew thought a moment. He wanted to allow the bee to do something that clearly pleased him, but Bartholomew was not good at translating these things. Perhaps it was best to keep it to plain terms.

“It is not that I don't want you to have fun, good sir. It is simply that I have a hard time translating your words to true meaning when poetics are involved. Would you mind refraining?”

Now the bee looked disappointed. But not angry. Giving an audible sigh and a stagger, he pulled out a small jar from one of his jacket pockets. It's contents were clearly some kind of dark brown honey. Popping it open and taking a swig, he cringed, shivered, and sighed in relief.

“Oh fine. Have it your way. Come then.”

Beckoning for Bartholomew to follow, the bee floated above the ground carefully towards the edge of the lilac forest. Various stalks were lined up one after another to create a tree line with light shining through. The hues of purple and blue made it difficult to tell what was on the other side. As they crept closer Kvasir started to float upwards through a hole in the canopy.

“I'll meet you on the other side. Do watch your step as you exit the forest, there's a bit of a drop.”

Bartholomew nodded and held on to his hat as he stepped past two massive lilac stalks. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust, but he could see directly below him. A couple steps out and he found a cliff side that appeared to go down at least five hundred feet. Rocks skipped and fell across the surface with little sound as the wind whipped past him and ruffled his fur.

As soon as his eyes adjusted Bartholomew couldn't believe his eyes. A vast basin lay below with trees and massive flowers scattered alike. To the north a bed of six gigantic white tulips towered over a canopy of oak and birch. To the south a lake bigger than a small town was lined with snap dragons along the shore, and a water lily the size of a house sat on top of a pad that appeared to have something scurrying around on it.

“Welcome to Kvasir's Gardens. Were you referred or are you one of the unlucky few that just stumbles upon this magnificent place?”

Kvasir had flown up behind Bartholomew during his moment of awe, and nearly scared him off the side of the cliff. As for the question, Bartholomew had to think about it a moment. Ricky had told him tales of it's beauty. Bartholomew decided to investigate for himself.

“I suppose I'm here of my own accord... What do you mean unlucky few?”

Kvasir shrugged and scratched under his arm.

“Well most people who just stumble are pretty poor, and not that we look down on that but... They get sucked in with the giant flowers and then they see the attractions and try the food. Then they tell you 'We will take care of all your problems with unlimited access to the park, and all you've gotta do is work thirty hours a week!' Pshah! What a load of crap. At first it's thirty hours, then it's forty, then it's sixty because people don't just stumble in here on accident! Jeez you'd think they'd hire outside or something but noooo! They wanna keep it their exclusive club! Sure I get paid well but I don't ever have the-”

Bartholomew watched as the bee ranted about his working conditions. Taking another good look around, he saw a brochure stuck in the rock not two steps away. Picking it up, he read the front.

Kvasir's Gardens, Inspired Entertainment for Furmanity's Elite

Apparently Kvasir's Gardens was actually a hidden high society retreat.