BY: BRENT AYSCOUGH
A plant exists that could change mankind’s evolution, and the key to it resides with an exotic woman in Laos…
When Spencer and Candice Harrington, two research doctors, travel to Laos on a sabbatical, they meet a beautiful and exotic young woman, whom they nickname Faint Chance. They hire her to be their guide while in Laos and offer to sponsor her to come to America. Touched by their kindness and generosity, Faint Chance shares with them a secret—she has the leaves of a special flower that grows only on a cliff near her village in the northern mountains. She tells Spencer and Candice that, if they eat some of this plant before sex, they will create a very special baby. They take her pronouncement with a grain of salt, but they also take the plant and eat it, not wanting to hurt her feelings. Back home in America, Candice gives birth to Devan, who is born with extraordinary gifts. Now firm believers, Spencer and Candice send Spencer’s brother, Cameron, to Laos to meet up with Faint Chance and get more of the plant so they research its properties and reproduce it in the lab.
Cameron, a confirmed bachelor, is soon traipsing through the mountain jungles of Laos with the beautiful Faint Chance, thinking his main concern will be not to fall head over heels in love with her while he’s there. Little does he know that word of his mission has reached the powerful Japanese Mafia, who see the plant as a way to become immensely wealthy. After all, who wouldn’t pay a fortune to guarantee having a gifted child? Soon, Cameron and Faint Chance find themselves embroiled in a life-and-death struggle that will take all of their wit and cunning—and maybe even a little help from the spirits—if they are to have any chance of surviving.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Mystical Laotian Flower by Brent Ayscough, Faint Chance is a beautiful Laotian woman, who was orphaned as a child in the jungles of Laos and adopted by the chief of a remote village. Being of mixed blood, half-German and half-Laotian, she is sent away by the chief with some missionaries who come to the village when she is seven. The chief feels that, because she is mixed blood, she needs to learn of her German father’s culture and religion. She is taken by the missionaries to the capital city, where she is adopted by another family. But before the child leaves with the missionaries, the chief gives her a special gift. A sacred plant that, if taken under the right conditions, will give her and her future husband a special child, one with unique abilities. Faint Chance grows up in the city and there she works in her adopted father’s jewelry store, where she meets two research doctors, Spencer and Candice Harrington. They become very fond of her, and when they offer to sponsor her for immigration to the US, she is touched by their kindness. She gives them some of her special plant, and later in the US, Candice gives birth to a special child, who is very advanced. Being a research doctor, Candice wants to research the plant and make it available to everyone. So she sends her brother-in-law, Cameron, to Laos to retrieve some of the plant. Cameron, an architect and confirmed bachelor, whose only danger in life has been the possibility of getting writer’s cramp, soon discovers he is in over his head, both in escaping thugs, who are also after the plant, and falling for Faint Chance. His chances of getting home with his heart—not to mention his life? Faint.
Ayscough’s character development is excellent, and his scene descriptions vivid. The story is quite fast paced with plenty of action, romance, and suspense. Very well done.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Mystical Laotian Flower by Brent Ayscough is the story of a sacred plant that grows high in the northern mountains of Lao. This plant, if taken just prior to the conception of a child, with certain prayers, and with a black mushroom that only grows in northern Lao, will give the couple a child with special abilities, including long life and high intelligence, along with superior coordination and muscular development. Sangmouane Sayasithsena is orphaned at the age of four when her German father and Laotian mother are killed in a car accident near a remote village in northern Lao. She is rescued from the accident scene and adopted by the village chief, a great shaman. But when she is seven, a missionary couple come to the village. The chief forbids the missionaries from preaching their religion in the village, but he does allow them to take the young girl with them to the capital city of Lao, because he believes that she does not really belong in the village. Before leaving, she receives a special gift from the chief, the leave of the sacred plant, and he tells her how to make the magic work. She grows up in the city with another adoptive family, and when grown, goes to work in her father’s store, where she meets research doctors on sabbatical, Spencer and Candice Harrington. They develop a strong friendship, and she gives them the plant from the chief so they can make a special baby. When the baby arrives, he is indeed special, and his parents now want to research the plant. If they could reproduce it in pill form, they could patent it and make a fortune. So they send Spencer’s brother, Cameron, and their Laotian friend, whom they have nickname Faint Chance since her real name is so hard to pronounce, on a mission to northern Lao to retrieve more of the plant for research. But unbeknownst to them, the Japanese Mafia has also learned of the plant and its special properties and have sent two thugs to northern Lao to intercept them. It will take all of their cunning and luck if Cameron and Faint Chance are going to even survive their adventure, let alone get back to the US with the plant.
I have always enjoyed Ayscough’s work, and this book does not disappoint. His characters are both endearing and realistic, his scene descriptions vivid and detailed, and his plots plausible, as well as fascinating. If you are looking for an adventure, you can’t go wrong with Mystical Laotian Flower.
The beige Land Rover bounced up and down and from side to side on the narrow, Laotian mountain path. The riders were jostled about as it bounced over the bumps and holes in the desolate road, the condition of which was so poor that their speed had to be often slowed to no more than that of a brisk walk. Huge, tropical green foliage smacked the sides of the vehicle, as nothing wider then an occasional elephant traveled through the vegetation. Occasionally, the vegetation smacked the passengers in the vehicle, bending around the windscreen posts.
A square-faced, healthy-looking German of thirty-five maneuvered the vehicle over the challenging path. In the back was equipment used to prospect for gemstones. Although tied down, the equipment still bounced about, much to the concern of the driver, who was in Laos working for a German company trying to find and develop new areas to mine for native gemstones in the northern mountains where few from the West had been. The area was only recently opened by the government, as it had never been entirely cleared from unexploded bombs that America rained by the thousands during the war and especially on the Ho Chi Min trail. There were still reports of people being blown to bits from inadvertently stumbling onto an unexploded bomb.
Sitting beside Falk was his Laotian wife, a striking young woman of twenty-four with coal-black hair. On her lap was their daughter, Sangmouane, named after her, a stunning girl of four. Apart from the coal-black hair of her mother, the young girl did not resemble either of her parents with her mixed blood, especially with her striking, emerald green eyes.
Appearing in front of them was a working elephant traveling the same direction with a young Laotian man sitting atop his neck, guiding him with the assistance of a stick. There was no way to go around the elephant, as the foliage was much too dense for the elephant to move enough to one side to allow the Land Rover to pass. Although the Land Rover was moving slowly, the elephant was still slower, and Falk let it be known that he wanted to pass by driving up close to the elephant.
Beep-beep! The German tooted his horn. The young man looked around slowly at the Land Rover and then just turned his head back toward his direction of travel, as there was nothing he could do to allow the vehicle to pass.
The monsoon winds quickly rolled in dark, heavy clouds and, with them, a deluge of rain. The couple did not mind the cooling effect, and they did not stop to erect the canvas top. Their soaked clothes provided refreshing relief from the steamy day.
Finally, the path widened such that Falk could pass. Falk hit the horn again, and the young man steered his elephant to one side of the path without slowing his pace.
Falk seized the opportunity, gunned his motor, and zipped around the big creature, brushing its tail as he did, rubbing the foliage hard on one side. Restrained and frustrated by the slow pace of the elephant, he sped up, faster than he should, given the fact that he was completely unfamiliar with the area.
The rain made the sandy path slicker than it was, and the front wheels of the Land Rover slid around the tight curves as Falk maneuvered.
He was not sure exactly where he was, and only had an idea of where he was going from an earlier look at a map.
The direction ahead obscured by green foliage, Falk realized he had made a mistake when he came upon a tight turn to the left. He was going too fast. He hit the brakes and turned the wheel smartly to the left.
The Land Rover’s front wheels locked in the left turning position, and even though he was going slow, his speed was still too much. The front tires and front end slid over the sharp cliff straight ahead that went down a gorge eight hundred feet to a river below. The rear end of the vehicle went over the cliff in a somersault motion. The Land Rover began its long fall to the bottom of the gorge, the adult passengers helplessly en route to their demise.
But the force of the Land Rover somersaulting over the cliff threw young Sangmouane out of the arms of her mother in the passenger seat, and she landed miraculously in some brush that grew out of the side of the cliff, down from its crest some twenty-five feet from the top. The brush contained unusual purple flowers with bright orange centers.
The brush caught the clothes of the light Sangmouane, stopping her fall. She could go nowhere, helplessly lying there, as her parents continued their fall. The last sound she would hear of her parents was the noise of the Land Rover hitting the bottom of the gorge, crushing itself and everything, and everyone, in it.
Two days later, a native tribal man, dressed in his traditional village outfit, out on a hunt from his village with his teenage son, came to the same cliff and stopped to look down at the frightening sight of the gorge below. The son resembled his father closely. Unlike the locals, they were fair complected with light hair.
Standing at the edge of the eight-hundred-foot gorge, he instructed his son, “This is where the very special plant grows, the ton mai piiset.” He pointed down to a colorful plant twenty-five feet below the crest growing out of the vertical side of the cliff.
As they looked on, a huge black bird with red tips on its wings flew menacingly out in front of them a hundred yards away in the middle of the gorge, watching the two. The bird’s nest was apparently not far off and, and, although threatened by the humans’ presence, it showed no fear.
“I see it, Father!” the young man nearly shouted, pointing toward the brush that also contained the bright purple and orange plant they were looking at growing out of the side of the cliff twenty-five feet below.
“This is the only place left where it grows, in the soils from ages past,” the man said to his son. “You must come here to get the ton mai piiset for your wedding.”
“What’s that in the brush?” the son asked, pointing to the cluster of colorful plants where they were looking. Something in light-colored fabric was caught up in the bushes. “It moves!” the young man said excitedly.
“I think it’s a child!” the father said. “I’ll go down the path to see.”
The father went to one side some distance away, where a very narrow, perilous, pathway came up to the cliff’s edge. From there it was possible to sidestep down to the area where there was a young child stuck in the brush. All the while the huge bird circled around over the gorge, looking on the child in the brush as a source of food—and possibly the adults as well.
Three years later, a commotion was heard at the outskirts of the remote, highland village where the chief and his son were from. A white couple in their late fifties had found the village and were walking into it by the pathway through the dense jungle. They had on the European backpacks with aluminum frames, filled with camping equipment and provisions. And Bibles.
A village woman carrying freshly picked vegetables in a hand-woven basket saw them coming and hurried on ahead into the village center to alert the chief. As the couple approached, children playing ran to hide.
The couple could then see the village with its wooden houses and thatched roofs situated on small, rolling hills, elevated several feet on stilts of teak wood.
The white man said to his wife, in Dutch, “Dear, I think we have found a village not on our map.”
She looked around with fear. “Do you think they’ll harm us?”
“Our fate is in the hands of the Lord,” he answered.
Two village hunters formed ahead, and it was clear to the couple that they were reaching a sort of check point. One had a bow and a quiver of arrows, the other a hand crafted machete, and they looked very capable.
The white man smiled and spoke in Laotian. “We’re missionaries and would like to meet with your chief.”
There was no response, and the white woman said, “Dear, I don’t think they speak Laotian, or perhaps very little of it. No doubt there is some very local dialect. They probably don’t understand the term missionaries.”
The white man smiled. “We’re friends.”
There was no response. Then one of them motioned for the couple to follow and went ahead. The other, the one with the machete, fell in behind, keeping a constant vigil.
The couple was led to the house of the chief. Like all the houses, it was raised up on teak stilts about three feet off the irregular ground. The hunter with the bow and arrows went inside to announce the arrival. He came back out and motioned them inside. The two hunters escorted the couple inside and stood behind them as guards to protect their chief. Inside was the chief, sitting on a section of the floor against one side elevated about a foot and a half. He looked quite different from the villagers. He was tall, fair-skinned, with blond hair turning to gray, and blue eyes. He motioned them to sit on a hand-woven mat in front of him on the lower part of the floor. This put him in a position of authority.
Light came through the doorway, two small windows, from small cracks in between the horizontal boards of the walls, and from a few knotholes. There was no glass to be found.
Hoping to communicate, the white man said in Laotian, “Do you speak Laotian?”
The chief said, “Yes.”
“Oh, wonderful!” The white man exhaled in relief, turned to his wife, and smiled that he would be able to communicate.
“We are Mr. and Mrs. Oosterlink. We’re missionaries from Holland, but we have been living at a Christian mission in Vientiane. We’ve been backpacking for four days since the last village. We are very pleased to meet you, and may God bless you.”
“You have come a long way,” the chief told them. “Why have you come? Did you know of my tribe?”
“No, not specifically,” Mr. Oosterlink answered. “Your tribe does not appear on our map. We knew only that there were a number of remote tribes in these northern Laotian mountains. Yours is the sort of tribe that we came to encounter that has not had the blessing of coming into contact with the holy scriptures. We have had a very hard journey through these mountains, but it is worth it to bring the word of God as His missionaries to whoever we can find that has not yet been enlightened. We hope you will receive us.”
The chief made his decision without hesitation. “I’ll not have you spreading your religion or any religion here. There were other missionaries here before, years ago, also from Europe. My tribe will do quite well as is, without importing the miseries and wars of the rest of the world.”
“Please allow us to bring His words to those who wish to hear,” Mrs. Oosterlink pleaded.
“No, you may not. You must leave. My tribe is quite happy without the religions of other places. We have a simple life here, without the evils of your world. You must leave without attempting to spread your religion. I’ll provide you with food and water for your journey out. You may rest, and then you will leave the day after tomorrow.”
The missionaries’ attention turned to a girl of seven years of age as she wandered into the chief’s house. She was so beautiful and graceful that the missionaries could not take their eyes off of her as she approached the chief. She gave a big smile and came next to him, her emerald-green eyes very distinctive.
“Who is this charming girl with such beautiful green eyes?” Mrs. Oosterlink asked the chief. “She does not look like the other children.”
“This is my adopted daughter. She was left orphaned when I found her. I was on a hunt with my son some distance from here. I believe she was in a vehicle with her parents that went over the largest cliff in the area and killed them. She was caught in brush growing on the side of the cliff, which kept her from falling to her death. She was near death when I found her and brought her here to the village. That was three years ago.”
“What’s her name?” Mrs. Oosterlink asked the Chief.
“What a beautiful child!” Mrs. Oosterlink exclaimed. “Were her parents foreign?”
“The father was a white man, her mother Laotian. Sangmouane remembers that her parents looked for precious stones. She speaks Laotian, our village language, and also some European words. I have given her mother’s first and last names rather than her father’s so that she would have a Laotian name and not seem strange to the other children. She has learned the village dialect quite well.”
“Do you plan to keep her here in the village?” Mrs. Oosterlink asked.
Summarily prohibiting religion was easy for the wise chief, but the future of the young girl was another matter, and his expression changed to one of concern. “I have thought about this often as I have watched her grow. She had western ways in her by the time she came here. I think she hungers for a western education and the things that you have in the cities where she came from. I think it would be better for her to go to the city and get a city education.”
“Do you plan to take her to a place where she can get such an education?” Mr. Oosterlink asked then, looking at the beautiful young Sangmouane.
“There is nowhere to take her nearby. There may be some place in the capital city of Vientiane, but I have not been there myself. It would be a long journey. I have no way to take her there, and no one there to take her to.”
An idea raced through Mrs. Oosterlink’s head, and she laid the groundwork. “We come from a Christian mission in Vientiane. There we learned Laotian. My husband and I decided that to do His work, we needed to go out and reach the needy. We’ll go back to the mission when we do our best to bring Christianity to those who have not been touched by His miracles on our journey outside Vientiane.” She closed her eyes with a soft “Amen,” and her husband echoed it.
She continued. “We can hire transportation after we get to the next village about four days hiking from here. We would be pleased to take this young child to the mission when we leave if you will allow it. The mission sometimes takes in orphans and finds homes for them, and they will do it for us. Would you let us take her there? I can assure you that she will be cared for, and we can do our best to find her a nice home in the city with a good family.”
Mrs. Oosterlink turned to her husband and said in Dutch, “Oh, dear, do you think that God led us here to find this young lost soul?”
“It may very well be His will,” Mr. Oosterlink said. “It could be that God sent us here for just this purpose, to save this young soul. Even if we save one soul, our work will be worth all effort.”
Mrs. Oosterlink raised her hands in prayer and closed her eyes. Mr. Oosterlink joined. “Amen” ended the prayer.
“We will do this, as we believe that we have been instructed to do this as His will.” Mr. Oosterlink then worried that he must reveal his intentions in order to be honest before God. “But we would be obliged to attempt to teach her of God and His miracles, as it is our mission in life to do so. May we do that?”
“She has some knowledge of your Christian religion from her European father,” the chief said, “so it will not be new to her. I suppose she could do worse, as she has visions of things of her past that give her ideas that she belongs in the city and not here. I will speak with her.”
He thought for a while and then decided. “You may take her with you to Vientiane to the mission. But I must first spend time with her. You may go with her the day after tomorrow when you leave. There are some things that she and I must say to each other before she goes. I’ve loved her as though she was my own.”
“Of course,” Mrs. Oosterlink said. “She’s such a lovely child, and so in need of His words. I know now why God led us to this village. It was to save the soul of this poor child who lost her parents and to return her to Christianity. Praise the Lord.”
In the late afternoon, atop a hillside overlooking a field of village crops below, the chief and Sangmouane sat alone. He said, “I believe it best for you to return to the outside, and so you will leave with the missionaries tomorrow. They’ll take you back to your own people. You will go to school and learn all about the Western people like your natural father. You will learn of their sciences and developments that we do not have here.”
Sangmouane had suspected something was wrong when her father brought her there with the strangers still in the village. She burst into tears from her emerald-green eyes.
“It’s best. You can return one day when you are older. You’ll go to city schools and learn so much.”
With her little arms, she reached out to hold on desperately to her father, as the tears flowed from her cheeks. She clung to him as he sat her on his lap.
“Now stop crying, and let me give you something very, very special.”
The chief took out a small bag from his satchel. Out came crushed purple and orange colored leaves as he poured the contents onto a piece of cloth.
“This is called ton mai piiset.”
Sangmouane tried her best to listen past the overbearing sadness of the moment.
“Unlike many people in the place that you will be going, we believe that spirits live in plants and certain things. Ton mai piiset has very special spirits that live in it or that are contacted by it which have great powers. When taken at the wedding time with the proper prayers, the spirits can be asked to give your child special abilities that one day will allow him to lead others. It’s a very rare plant, and only grows in a very special place in soils of ancient times. It does not grow in new soils. The soils above where it is found have many years of other soils on top, as it is found on a cliffside. It only grows where I found you, and I believe that your karma is tied to it, although I’m not exactly sure how or why. My parents took the plant when they married, and that is why I was able to be the one who speaks to the spirits, as Great Maw Pii. I took it with my wife when we were married, and our son was born with those special abilities that will make him a powerful chief one day. Now you can be the next one to have a child with special abilities.
“I love you as my own daughter. I do not want to let you go, but I believe it to be best for you. You are not well suited for the simple life here in the village. In the city, you will get a formal education and also get things that I do not have to give to you. So, it’s best.”
Tears streamed down Sangmouane’s cheeks. “No! I don’t want to go!” She clung on to him as though it would keep her there.
“My darling Sangmouane, you can stay here and have little. Or, if you go, you will learn about the world and find an educated husband. I want to keep you, but you are not best suited to be a village girl. And, you can come back one day to visit when you have grown.”
Losing Sangmouane brought tears to his own eyes. “Now that you are leaving, I’ll not be able to teach you further.”
He held her for a time and then said, “This ton mai piiset is something I can give you that you cannot get elsewhere, and I want you to have it as my special present. This is the most valuable thing that I have to give.” He then put the strangely colored leaves back into the bag and gave it to her.
“Now you must listen carefully and remember what I’m going to teach you. You will marry. Beginning on your wedding night, you and your husband are to take some of these leaves that night. On that night, you must also take some of the black mushroom growing only in the north of Lao. The mushroom will not last like the leaves, and so you must obtain one for the ceremony. If you cannot get one of the black mushrooms when you marry, then take with it northern Lao-Lao, as the black mushroom is used in the making of Lao-Lao here in the north of Lao. It must be Lao-Lao from the north, not from the south.
You must also learn two special prayers that I’m now going to teach you. One summons the spirits, and the other asks for the powers to be given your child. When you do this, the spirits that live in the ton mai piiset will be summoned and give your child the special powers. Do you understand?”
“Now I’ll teach you the prayers.” He took out some white strings spun by hand from his satchel. “First put baci strings on your wrists and on your husband.” He tied one to each wrist. “You must pray these prayers.” He held his hands together in a prayer position and then chanted the first prayer for her.
“That is the prayer to summon the spirits,” he told her. “Now, you.”
She performed the prayer as he taught her.
“That’s correct. You must repeat it for both you and your husband a number of times. Then you must pray this next prayer.” He chanted a different prayer for her. “Now, you do it.”
Sangmouane chanted the second prayer.
“That’s right. You must also repeat this prayer in the ceremony a number of times. Now do both,” he told her.
Sangmouane performed them again, chanting the prayers as he taught her.
She performed them correctly again, and he smiled in satisfaction. She looked at him through her tear-soaked eyes, knowing that she had done it well and that the occasion was a parting event between them.
He interrupted her thoughts. “You may only take the baci strings off three days after the wedding, or longer, and then you must not cut them—you must only untie them.”
“I love you, Father.”
“I shall always remember my daughter Sangmouane.”
As the sun set over the field of crops, the two embraced the moment and each other.
© 2018 by Brent Ayscough