Luteous ran as fast as he could across the warmly lit courtyard separating the sporeling’s growing dorms and the auditorium. His small, brown feet slapped against the hard packed earth as he struggled to get the timing and balance of this new mode of travel.
Although he had been pulled from his germination bed more than a week ago, he still struggled balancing the large, pale brown cap that was characteristic of all the Ostreatus Mushroom clan when he tried to run. Luteous was an Oyster Mushroom… and a very young and excited one at that.
The sporeling’s head began to list to the left as he pressed on, the weight and air resistance of his cap pulling him off balance as he gained speed. He could see the others from his germination bed watching from the steps of the hall, nearly a well thrown rock’s distance away, and felt a moment of panic.
“No… nonononono!” he cried as the weight imbalance finally overtook him. With a breathless thud, he found himself skidding to a halt in the dirt, his cap folding underneath his left shoulder and causing him to roll.
“Haha! Lutie can’t ruuuun! Lutie can’t ruuuun!” his dorm mates howled with laughter, some doubling over and holding their small midrifts under their blue academy tunics.
“That’s enough!” Luteous heard the familiar voice of Eldar Sporule snap. “Everyone inside, Now!”
Luteous pushed himself up to his knees, cursing under his breath at the stupidity of his oversized head. The rest of the sporelings in his dorm were Amanitas, more compact and aerodynamic than the massive tan windsail that made up his top. They were running and sprinting around mere days after being pulled from the germination mycelium, their feet already fully formed.
But as an Ostreatus, Luteous had to take ginger steps. His feet still bore the sensitive pads where the mycelium was connected during his germination. If he stood still on a patch of Sclerotia long enough, the hard packed and nutrient rich ground that made up the entire sporeling’s housing complex, he could still feel it calling to him through those spots.
“Fruity Bodies!” he swore under his breath at his dorm mates as they filed into the hall, their red and white caps all neatly uniform above the ankle length tunics they wore. Getting to his feet, he sensed someone standing behind him.
“How many times have I told you that this kind of language is NOT becoming of a young Ostreatus, Luteous.” the deep voice of Eldar Populi rumbled from his massive chest.
The grizzled old fungi towered over the young sporeling, his face buried deep in the shadows cast by the expansive cap that had numerous missing chunks. Eldar Populi was also an Ostreatus, but had an unfathomable age and wisdom spanning so many sun cycles, that his mere presence was intimidating.
“I - I’m sorry, Eldar Populi. I was just excited beca-” Luteous began.
“..because today is your Capping Day, yes. I know. Is your intent to greet The Librarian with that kind of language?” Populi’s eyes narrowed under his cap. They burned with an inner light of faint gold, making his countenance both mystifying, and intimidating.
“N… no sir.” Luteous squeaked in response.
“Go on then.” The eldar mushroom waved Luteous off.
Quick to be away from the specter of the old scholar, Luteous quickly moved towards the massive wooden double doors that lead into the giant auditorium. This was only the second time he had been here, the first was when he was carried by his germination nurse during orientation last week. Currently, the auditorium resembled nothing that he remembered from that visit.
Under steeply vaulted ceilings made of packed Sclerotia stretching almost out of sight in the warm glow of golden light cast by the mold that was arranged in ornate patterns along the walls, stepped rows of wooden seats marched down at a gentle angle until they reached a small stage. Made of living wood and greenery, the stage and audience space co-existed in a natural surrounding that breathed with life.
The vibrant sounds of all the academy’s sporelings gathered in one place washed over Luteous. He had never been around this many others before, and he could feel their presence. The floor practically gripped at his still raw patches on his feet and whispered knowledge to him that he didn’t quite understand yet.
Not wanting to be noticed, he quickly picked a seat on the right side near the back and awaited what was to come next. He swung his stubby legs nervously as they still didn’t quite reach the floor. Standing at only 3 feet tall, Luteous was barely half grown.
The Capping ceremony is when sporelings are taught the origin of their nature and given the history of their species. It’s a Coming-Of-Age for every sporeling on Myca, the world they called home.
Nothing had been told to him about what happens during the capping ceremony other than The Librarian will come. To Luteous, The Librarian sounded like some great, wizened and wise fungus who brought you treats and read you stories like the germination nurses did, only more so.
Filled with excitement about adventures ahead, Luteous practically vibrated in his chair. The other sporelings chatted eagerly around him and he quickly forgot about his earlier embarrassment. He just knew The Librarian was going to be nice to him and maybe even give his cap a gentle rub out of affection!
Without warning, the glowing mold on the walls began to dim, and the bright, white footlight mold on the stage brightened. A hushed anticipation leapt like electricity through the dozens of excited sporelings.
It was time. The Librarian was about to arrive.