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In the heart of a vast and mysterious forest lay a city like no other – Tragopolis. It was a fablesque city hidden from the prying eyes of the outside world. It was a place where secrets bloomed as bountifully as the surrounding flora. It was a city where children were not born from the union of two human beings, but instead harvested from the very plants that thrived within its borders. The children of Tragopolis were no ordinary children, even though they looked quite normal and perfect. The Greenies had started to grow into Brownies. And everyone knew it was that time of the year again. Or that it was almost that time. Time to take their babies home. Babies who were not born like other children are not from Tragopolis.

Under the guidance of the Helpers, the children would be carefully harvested. The process required a deep understanding of the plants, the timing of their growth cycles, and a profound respect for the balance between Tragopolis and the forest.

Once harvested, the children were brought to specialized nurseries within the city. Skilled caretakers, known as nurturers, would create a nurturing environment for the babies, providing them with the necessary conditions to thrive and develop. These dedicated individuals would monitor the growth of the children-to-be, ensuring their health and well-being.

As the children matured within the nursery, they would receive education and guidance from both the nurturers and the Helpers.


Due to the nature of the city, there were no herbivores at all nor caterpillars of all nor any fauna whose livelihood depended on leaves or organic matter. Also, there was nothing like the felling of trees nor the sawing of wood. Houses and furniture were made from certain forms of brick.

At the center of Tragopolis stood the imposing Life Tree, a colossal arboreal wonder that dominated the skyline. Its lush foliage and sprawling branches held the promise of new life, a secret known only to the select few who called the city home. Generations ago, an ancient pact had been forged between the city's founders and the mysterious beings that inhabited the forest, granting them the ability to cultivate children from the plants that grew within their domain.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, a young girl named Lila lived with her foster family. She had been harvested from a flowering vine that cascaded down the walls of the City Archive, one of the many buildings where the children were nurtured until they reached a certain age. Lila possessed an insatiable curiosity about the world beyond Tragopolis, a longing to uncover the truth behind their unusual existence.

As Lila grew older, her inquisitive nature led her to stumble upon a hidden library in the depths of the City Archive. Dusty tomes lined the shelves, their pages filled with tales and histories long forgotten. Among the books, Lila discovered a worn journal belonging to one of Tragopolis's founders. The journal hinted at a dark secret, a secret that had been safeguarded by the city's leaders for centuries.

Driven by her newfound knowledge, Lila embarked on a quest to unravel the enigma of Tragopolis. She sought out an eccentric sage named Arden, an ancient man rumored to possess knowledge of the forest's inhabitants and the origin of the harvesting ritual. Arden, drawn to Lila's insatiable hunger for truth, agreed to guide her through the depths of the forest in search of answers.

With Arden as her guide, Lila ventured beyond the city walls into the verdant expanse of the forest. As they journeyed deeper into the woods, Lila's senses came alive. She could feel the pulse of nature coursing through her veins, hear the whispers of the trees, and catch glimpses of ethereal creatures darting between the foliage.

In the heart of the forest, they stumbled upon an ancient grove, bathed in the soft glow of twilight. The air crackled with energy, and a chorus of haunting melodies emanated from the trees. It was here that Lila encountered the enigmatic beings known as the Gardeners, the true guardians of Tragopolis.

The Gardeners, ethereal beings with luminous skin and eyes that sparkled like emeralds, shared with Lila the forgotten history of their kind. Long ago, they had forged a pact with Tragopolis's founders to ensure the survival of their race. The children harvested from the plants were imbued with the essence of the Gardeners, a gift that allowed them to commune with nature and maintain the delicate balance between Tragopolis and the forest.

As Lila absorbed the revelations, a mix of awe and trepidation gripped her heart. The city that she had called home her entire life was intricately connected to a hidden world, one filled with magical beings and ancient bargains. The Gardeners, burdened with their eternal task of protecting Tragopolis and maintaining balance, told Lila all the truth she needed to hear.

Lila's mind whirled with the weight of the knowledge she had gained. The existence of Tragopolis was a delicate balance, built upon the mutual dependence of the city and the Gardeners. The children harvested from the plants served as conduits, channeling the life force of the forest into the heart of the city, ensuring its prosperity and protection.


Far north of Tragopolis lived a child named Ceevo. Unlike the other children, Ceevo possessed a unique ability—one that made her a living testament to the healing power of truth, and to the importance of honesty within the city's harmonious existence.

Whenever Ceevo told a lie, a remarkable transformation occurred. Her features would soften, and her skin would take on a pale green hue. And most notably, her hair would transform into a magnificent crown of black cabbage leaves. The phenomenon served as a reminder to all that truth and transparency were fundamental to maintaining the balance of Tragopolis.

Ceevo, with her gentle nature and compassionate heart, understood the weight of her unusual gift. She had embraced her role as an arbiter of truth and took it upon herself to promote honesty within the community.

One sunny day, as Ceevo strolled through the city's bustling streets, she noticed a group of children engaged in a heated argument near the central square. Curiosity piqued, she approached them, her cabbage crown glistening in the sunlight.

"What seems to be the matter?" Ceevo inquired, her voice filled with great warmth.

The children turned to her, their expressions a mix of frustration and defiance. One of them, a girl named Maya, spoke up. "We found a mysterious object in the forest, and we're arguing over who gets to keep it."

Ceevo's eyes sparkled with curiosity. "May I see this object?"

Reluctantly, Maya handed Ceevo a small, ornate box. Its intricate carvings and radiant gemstones hinted at its significance. As Ceevo held it in her hands, she felt a surge of energy—the undeniable presence of a secret.

With a calm smile, Ceevo turned to the children. "Let us gather in the Council Grove, where we can discuss this matter more openly."

The children, intrigued by Ceevo's suggestion, followed her lead. They settled under the ancient trees of the Council Grove, a sacred space where Tragopolis's elders held counsel.

Ceevo encouraged each child to share their perspective, emphasizing the importance of open communication and understanding. As the children revealed their desires and fears, their voices softened, and the tension in the air dissipated.

Ceevo, recognizing the significance of the object and the potential for discord, spoke her truth. "This box holds a powerful artifact—one that has the ability to influence the very fabric of our community. We must approach it with caution and respect."

As Ceevo finished her words, her hair shimmered, transforming into a vibrant, flourishing cabbage crown. The children gasped, their eyes widening in awe. They understood the significance of Ceevo's transformation—the reminder that honesty was the cornerstone of their existence.

Together, they made a solemn pact—to approach the discovery with integrity and unity. They agreed to present the artifact to the city's leaders, seeking their guidance in deciphering its purpose and potential impact.

With understanding and a shared commitment to truth, the children turned towards the heart of Tragopolis, their steps filled with purpose as Ceevo walked with them, her cabbage crown radiant under the sun. The artifact, entrusted to the city's elders, would be studied and discussed openly, allowing the wisdom of Tragopolis to guide its future.

Ceevo, her cabbage crown adorning her head, felt a sense of fulfillment. Through her honesty and the power of truth, she had brought the children together, reinforcing the values that sustained Tragopolis.

As the days passed, the children learned the importance of transparency and open dialogue. They grew to cherish the gift of Ceevo's unique ability, recognizing its role in fostering a community where truth held sway. But the next day, they found that Ceevo the Cabbage Child had disappeared with no trace.


However, as Lila delved deeper into the Gardeners' revelations, she discovered a darker truth. The energy harvested from the children came at a cost. Each harvest depleted the life force of the forest, slowly draining its vitality. The once-vibrant woods surrounding Tragopolis began to wither, their lushness giving way to desolation.

Lila couldn't bear the thought of her beloved forest dying. She was determined to find a way to break the cycle, to restore harmony between Tragopolis and the natural world. With the guidance of the Gardeners and Arden's wisdom, she delved into ancient texts, searching for a solution that would preserve both the city and the forest.

Their quest led them to the forgotten rituals of an ancient civilization that had thrived in the region long before Tragopolis's inception. Legends spoke of a powerful artifact, hidden deep within a sacred grove, capable of rejuvenating the life force of the forest. Lila, Arden, and the Gardeners embarked on a perilous journey to retrieve this relic and restore balance.

The journey was fraught with challenges as they ventured through treacherous terrains and encountered mystical creatures guarding the sacred grove. Along the way, Lila faced personal trials that tested her resolve and forced her to confront her own fears and doubts.

As they finally reached the sacred grove, the weight of their mission bore down upon them. Lila understood that to save both Tragopolis and the forest, sacrifices would need to be made. With bated breath, they performed the ancient rituals, invoking the powers of the artifact and offering their own life forces in exchange for the restoration of harmony.

In a surge of ethereal light, the sacred grove came alive, its magic rippling through the forest, revitalizing every blade of grass, every tree, and every living creature. Tragopolis, too, felt the rejuvenating touch of nature as the withered plants within the city burst forth with vibrant life once more.


Lila and her companions returned to Tragopolis. The city's leaders, touched by the sacrifices made to restore balance, embraced a new way of life. They pledged to honor the forest, vowing to protect its delicate ecosystems and find alternative methods to sustain the city without depleting its life force.

The children of Tragopolis, now aware of their unique origins, learned to harness their connection to nature. They studied the ancient wisdom passed down by the Gardeners and sought to cultivate a harmonious coexistence with the forest.

Tragopolis flourished like never before, its inhabitants living in symbiosis with the natural world. Lila, now a revered figure in the city, dedicated her life to preserving the delicate balance between Tragopolis and the forest. She became an advocate for sustainable practices, leading the way in finding innovative solutions that harmonized the needs of the city with the preservation of nature.


As years passed, Tragopolis thrived in its newfound harmony, but its secrets still remained hidden from the outside world. One fateful day, a young outsider named Oliver stumbled upon the city's concealed entrance while exploring the outskirts of the forest. Curiosity piqued, he ventured inside, unaware of the remarkable truths that awaited him.

Oliver, wide-eyed and amazed, marveled at the lush beauty of Tragopolis. The vibrant foliage and the laughter of children intrigued him, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something extraordinary lay beneath the surface. Determined to uncover the city's mysteries, he embarked on a journey of discovery that would forever change his life.

As Oliver delved deeper into Tragopolis, he caught a glimpse of Lila, now a wise guardian of the city's secrets. She sensed his genuine curiosity and recognized a kindred spirit in him. Lila decided to share the extraordinary truth of Tragopolis with Oliver, introducing him to the concept of children being harvested from plants.

Initially skeptical, Oliver listened with an open mind, gradually realizing the significance of the city's existence. Inspired by the harmony he witnessed, Oliver resolved to contribute to the delicate balance between Tragopolis and the forest.


Oliver immersed himself in the knowledge of Tragopolis, seeking to comprehend the intricate relationship between the city and the natural world. He studied alongside the children, learning from the Gardeners and the city's wise elders. Over time, he discovered a passion for botanical studies, realizing that the forest held endless secrets waiting to be unlocked.

Driven by his newfound purpose, Oliver embarked on a personal quest to uncover the ancient wisdom that governed Tragopolis. He explored the depths of the forest, searching for hidden groves, deciphering forgotten texts, and conversing with the mystical beings that inhabited the woodland.

Oliver's dedication bore fruit as he unraveled the intricate web of knowledge surrounding Tragopolis. He discovered an ancient prophecy that spoke of a convergence between the city and the outside world—a time when the two realms would align, and the secrets of Tragopolis would be revealed to humanity.

Word of Oliver's findings spread throughout the city, stirring a mix of hope and apprehension among the inhabitants. The city's leaders, guided by Lila's wisdom, decided to embrace the prophecy and prepare Tragopolis for its destined convergence.


As the appointed time drew near, the barriers concealing Tragopolis from the outside world began to dissolve. The forest extended its branches, revealing the city's entrance to curious outsiders who had felt an inexplicable pull toward the forest's heart.

Oliver stood at the forefront of the unfolding events, poised to bridge the gap between Tragopolis and the outside world. The citizens of Tragopolis, their hearts filled with trepidation and anticipation, welcomed the outsiders with open arms, ready to share the wisdom they had guarded for centuries.


The revelation of Tragopolis left the outsiders awestruck. They marveled at the city's harmonious coexistence with nature, and the miraculous way children were cultivated from plants. The outside world, burdened with its own struggles and challenges, saw in Tragopolis a beacon of hope—a model of balance and unity that they longed to emulate.

Tragopolis became a sanctuary for seekers of knowledge and harmony, a place where individuals from all walks of life converged to learn from the city's wisdom. The exchange of ideas and cultural exchange flourished, as Tragopolis embraced its role as a bridge between two worlds.

Oliver, now an ambassador of Tragopolis, traveled far and wide to share the city's story. He spoke at conferences and different gatherings, captivating audiences with tales of Tragopolis's unique existence and the lessons it held for humanity. The knowledge and practices of the city began to influence the outside world, inspiring a renewed reverence for nature and a deeper understanding of the interconnection between humans and their environment.

Back in Tragopolis, the influx of outsiders brought a fresh perspective and new ideas. Collaborations between the city's inhabitants and the visitors sparked innovation and progress. Together, they developed sustainable practices that could be implemented beyond Tragopolis, leading to advancements in agriculture, renewable energy, and ecological conservation.

As Tragopolis expanded its influence, it became a hub for research and exploration. Scholars, scientists, and artists flocked to the city, eager to study the intricate bond between humanity and nature. The library in the City Archive swelled with new volumes, chronicling the experiences and knowledge of both Tragopolis's inhabitants and the outsiders who had embraced its teachings.

With each passing year, Tragopolis grew stronger and even more resilient. The forest, once depleted by the city's practices, rejuvenated and thrived with the collaborative efforts of its inhabitants. Tragopolis's unique method of cultivating children from plants evolved, becoming more sustainable and respectful of the delicate balance between the city and its natural surroundings.

The children of Tragopolis, guided by the wisdom of their predecessors, embraced their roles as stewards of nature. They became ambassadors themselves, traveling beyond the city's borders to share their knowledge and experiences. Through their vast efforts, the connection between humanity and the environment deepened, and a global movement toward ecological consciousness took root.

As Tragopolis and the outside world continued to evolve together, the concept of unity and harmony spread far and wide. The ancient city became a symbol of hope, reminding people of the power of collective action and the transformative potential of embracing our connection to the natural world.

Children from Tragopolis, with their fragile "roots'' finally unbound, mingled with those from the outside world. They understood their own nature and accepted others not their kind. They shared stories, experiences, and dreams, bridging the divide that had kept them apart for far too long. Together, they forged a new path, built upon empathy, understanding, and the belief that every child deserves a chance to flourish.

"Hello, Ceevo. Glad I found you." a small voice said from entwined twigs.


Marvel Chukwudi Pephel studied at Nnamdi Azikiwe University where he wrote while studying for a in Applied Biochemistry. His poetry, literary and speculative fiction have received various recognitions. He is a fan of Helen Oyeyemi, Philip K. Dick, Frank G. Slaughter, Edgar Alan Poe, Irving Washington, Ray Bradbury and the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. He loves to play Table Tennis in his spare time, and has a record of unexpected comebacks in the game. He has a medical condition called Synaesthesia. 


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