The young girl merely smiled shyly with a nervous expression on her face. She had never seen so many Anikas gathered in one place. It was very intimidating.
The Anikas on the other hand were very excited at her arrival. Immediately after her introduction, they sat her down on the sofa, and began gathering around her, asking question after question, not giving her ample time to answer before another was thrown at her. The questions ranged from how old she was, to when she first got her lucid dream of her Ramita, and plenty more…
“Since we’ve got a new Anika, should we do this? It’s been so long!”
One Anika had suddenly left, before she returned briefly into the room, carrying with her a small basket. Immediately, a strange expression washed over everyone’s faces.
Inside the basket were a handful of candies wrapped in thin papers and twisted off at the ends before tied closed with strings. All of the Anikas from the group that had been sitting around the sofa took one piece of the basket filled with candy. Not understanding what was happening, Margaret followed suit, and took a piece of candy.
“Who should we start with?”
“I’ll start, then we can go around to my left.” The woman who said this was also located on Margaret’s left, which meant that Margaret would be the last one to take her turn.
Not soon after that was decided, the first Anika unwrapped her candy. The candy inside was translucent and had an elongated shape like a kidney bean. She then placed the candy atop her two outstretched hands, before folding her fingers over them and closed her eyes.
After a moment, she opened her hands and the candy was glowing with a faint light. Then the candy split in half and two green leaves rose out of the crevice, sprouting from its center.
From there, the plant grew and grew upwards and stopped when it was about the height equivalent to that of a palm’s width. The lush leaves then withered, and with that the plant crumbled into dust and disappeared. Soon, there was nothing left in her hands.
Margaret was in awe at what happened, before she eagerly watched what would happen with the next Anika.
The next Anika also opened her candy. The plant that sprouted from her piece of candy grew to a bit less than a palm’s width. Some of the older Anikas that had been conversing amongst themselves on the other side of the room chuckled to themselves. Margaret couldn’t help but overhear them…
“They’re young, too young.”
“It’s their childish desire to prove themselves.”
The Sang-je had one thing he did not want the Anikas to do, and that was to compare themselves to the others based on their own Ramitas. But Anikas, despite their special ability, were still human. And the human heart had always possessed an innate desire to prove themselves superior over the rest of their companions.
No one knew where the candies were from, nor how they were created, but someone before had found a way to measure one’s Ramita. The candies were made using a seed that had been soaked in oil, and made to appear translucent within.
The thing was, they weren’t technically disobeying the Sang-je’s command for them. They weren’t revealing any of their dreams to anyone, even. All they were doing was channeling their ramitas into the seeds.
Margaret continued to watch and listen to the older Anikas. Some Anikas, especially the older ones, remembered their own performances back when they were still younger. Now that they were older, they’d realize that there really was no point in doing these things. All the ranking and comparing their Ramitas based on a seed.
But the young ones were much too complacent, and strong-willed. They wouldn’t listen to the wisdom of their elders, not until they realize these themselves too.
And so they kept going, one Anika to the next. Each seed had grown and withered, though there was some slight difference, there really wasn’t much to take note of. Each grew between one, to three palm’s length in size…
When came Flora’s turn, the other Anikas began to protest, stopping her.
“Anika Flora, you should go last!”
“Right. Anika Flora’s turn should be the beautiful conclusion.”
Flora smiled as she listened to their praise, and put her seed down. Her turn was skipped, and the next person went instead. Soon, it was Margaret’s turn. Everyone, especially the middle-aged Anikas had stepped a little closer to watch how she would perform. This made the ten year old more nervous than before.
All of these Anikas’ eyes upon her. Just as she had seen everyone else do, she unwrapped the candy and held it in her hand. She didn’t understand what was the point of this whole ritual. She didn’t even know that she had the choice to even refuse to participate when she didn’t want to.
One day in the future she would probably look back on this day and realize that they had taken advantage of her. It was unfair of them to knowingly pressure such a young and naive Anika and trick her into revealing the level of her Ramita. And later, when another younger Anika would arrive, she would join them the next time they’d do another one of these demonstrations and do the exact same thing they’d done to her.
After closing her eyes and focusing on the seed, Margaret finally opened up her palms to reveal the seed. The plant that had risen from the seed was about one and a half palm widths tall.
The Anikas that had been watching thought to themselves.
Is it a pond, then?
It’s a pond.
Probably about thigh-deep, then.
Each of them assessed her by their own knowledge, as Margaret squirmed under their scrutiny. She watched as her own plant and withered, and silence soon befell around her.
“I guess it’s my turn next.” Flora piped up.
It was time for the grand finale.
Flora stepped forward slightly, and gripped the translucent seed in her two hands. The eldest Anikas, who hardly showed any interest until now, even moved forward to watch.
It wasn’t because they were curious about Flora’s Ramita levels. No…
But because they knew what Flora was capable of, and indeed would be quite a sight to behold. Not one that they would see everyday.
And then, Flora opened her hands.
In a flash, the plant that rose up from her outstretched palms. It grew and it grew, rapidly overtaking the average record of the other Anika’s ramita. Margaret’s eyes remained stunned by the growth of the seed Flora had in her hands…
It continued to grow, surpassing even that of a normal human’s height. And when it nearly touched the ceiling, the plant stopped growing.