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Come hear me live!
This text is a part of a larger plot. So it is better to read first «The Kiss of the Worlds», in order not to spoil it.
By Yichard Muni, Elf bard
Milly Mountain is a group of three mountainous islands of the Dauriath, the world of the Elves. This name is a memory of a strange and moving event which took place here, in the very beginning of the Dauriath. This story is telling what happened here, which is still sung by many elven minstrels today.
The Dauriath, in the prime time, was a desert world, high in the sky, and nobody could imagine that people could go up there... although, as far as it could be remembered, the Dauriath had always appeared green: birds had long ago found the way, bringing with them many plants, seeds and insects. So it was a living world, covered with pristine forests, meadows, mountains and oceans.
The junction from the Nyidiath to the Dauriath was a very strange and scary place, where the ocean of the Nyidiath was pouring on the Dauriath. It appeared in the form of a kind of huge tornado, rotating slowly, but powerful enough to take a ship up in the air and throw it on the other world. Sailors knew this place for long, and they called it the Horiathon, this meaning the Dark Place: as the atmosphere is several hundred kilometres thick here, the sun is rarely seen, and the day is often as dark as under a heavy storm, or even pitch black. It already happened that ships were taken by accident, but never any new came back of them: probably they crashed when falling on the Dauriath. And of course the Horiathon was a one way trip, from the Nyidiath to the Dauriath only!
However in this time, the situation of the Elves in the Nyidiath was becoming more and more difficult. Until now, they had been successful at keeping human invaders out of their sacred lands and wonderful forests. However, several things were changing. First, as the the ocean was leaving the Nyidiath, its level was lowering. This resulted in a climate cooling, so that the elven mountains were becoming colder. This made them more difficult to cultivate and to live in. In the meanwhile, Humans had become much more numerous, and they had now organized armies with more powerful weapons. Until then, Elves had been able of keeping them at bay using magic. But precisely this magic was weakening! And even considered as a legend... And the Elves had to see, powerless, more and more poachers, loggers and miners entering their lands, only to leave behind them devastated forests and gaping holes in the sensually shaped hills.
This made that the dream of moving to the Dauriath was slowly becoming a real prospect. Anyway they were already rumours of deportation of the Elves to the Dauriath... They all feared that one day it would happen. Most were reluctant, but some were rather seeing here a huge opportunity to at least live in peace, and especially to live in their own ways, without having to hide their customs.
But as you know, the Elves love life... and they use to meditate into nature, what they call speaking to the plants, or what we call tree hugging. In doing so, they attach nice thoughts and beautiful hopes to places. So, all the places where Elves lived become nicer to dwell in: the nature is more pretty and more generous, while people feel happy and welcome. (This is not a fiction: we can do this for real, and many traditions do it, and modern people as well)
Of course the Elves were doing this in all their forests and lands, which were becoming beautiful wonderful places, where life was happy and easy. The Elves were also doing this for the Dauriath, as they knew that there were huge forests up there. But in these times going in the Dauriath for real was looking much too dangerous.
Elves were not doing this for their interest, but because they love every form of life. It must be understood that, in this world, Elves are not a separate race: they are humans who developed wisdom, kindness and love of nature. When they fulfil this requirement, the Elven gods Shelenaë and MakTar endow them with magical powers, to which they owe physical beauty and immortality. And, very naturally, they want to offer this gift to everybody, and to any form of life... including in the Dauriath!
But they were not only praying, they were also acting concretely. In order to make of the Dauriath a good place for life, they were sending animals up there, using rafts. But it was selected animals. First they sent no predators, because they wanted the Dauriath free of fear and flesh tearing. Second, they sent the kindest and smartest animals. And third they meditated and prayed a lot for them before sending them. Once this done, they put them into rafts, to be taken by the tornado to the Dauriath, in the dreadful obscure place called the Horiathon.
It was difficult, because the rafts had to protect the animals from the tornado and the fall on the other side. But also, they had to open after, so that the animals did not remained trapped inside... But they must not open too soon, as the animals would drown! With a Middle Age technology, they had to be very smart in design, for instance using materials which decay into water.
In the beginning many animals died, but the Elves felt that they had to do this despite these accidents. So, for the first tries, they sent insects, and after small animals, like squirrels. But they succeeded into sending ants, earthworms and other useful bugs. They had to send many rafts, as they had to reach all the islands of the Dauriath.
But, just a century before the exodus, the elven elders unexpectedly requested to send horses. The idea looked very strange, but the ancient wise Elves pushed it in emergency. And it showed a good precaution, as, some tens of years later, the Human kings negotiating the exodus with the Elders put forward a stipulation as what the Elves should not bring horses or other useful animals in the Dauriath. It was a terrible and humiliating requirement, as without horses the Elves would remain poor, slow, inefficient at work, and unable of any serious defence against a possible Human invasion of the Dauriath. Of course the elven negotiators protested, and requested a very high price in exchange. But they did this while knowing that they could give up on this point, as horses were already in the Dauriath! This is how the Elves negotiate with treacherous and lawless foes.
The only way to guide the horses safely on the other side was to send people with them. This was never attempted before... and nobody ever went back to tell if it was possible!
So it looked like a very daring plan! To be prepared in the utmost secrecy. Very few people were in the know, and they all had to depart with the horses, so that the secret could not be revealed, even under torture or treason. But, given the uncertainties, they did several teams, each trying its luck with different methods. They were ignoring of each other, in case one of them would be caught on the way to the Horiathon.
The whole affair was looking totally mad, but there were enough young bold Elves to take the challenge!
So they set up three expeditions to the Dauriath. Later, for the exodus, they would send sturdy ships, but this idea did not yet emerged. Anyway they had to find quick and stealth solutions. So, one of the three expeditions looked rather like eight wooden containers, each with a mast and a sail, fastened together in the semblance of a ship. These containers would certainly break apart when falling on the Dauriath, but at least each of them had its own chances.
The Horses were provided by a tribe of elven riders who much loved them. They were living on a long plateau covered with few trees but lush meadows. The horses bore the Elves, and the Elves protected them. This sweet communion was lasting since uncounted centuries, so that the horses literally became elven horses, very beautiful, kind, easy to ride, and smart. They even showed occasionally magical powers, like being here when we needed them, or bringing back lost people. Just like Humans or Elves, they were forming families, so that it was even not thought at separating them.
This expedition was set up with eight boxes, each containing a male horse and two or three females, more a celibate Elf taking care of them. They were also provided with a good stock of food, seeds, tools and water. Well, it really was a seed expedition...
So the frail assembly sailed up to the tornado...
For the first time, Elves were taken to the Dauriath!
The Horiathon is a terrible place, obscure, all in screaming wind, with 200 metres tall waves. They were sick with rotating for several hours. But the worse was the fall on the other side, from a height of 20kms! Happily, the gravitation is nearby null in this place, but still the arrival was rough, especially that they felt upside down. Happily everything was carefully fastened and the horses shackled, otherwise each box would be a mess. So each box resisted, but the assembly broke loose as expected.
This is how they were separated, pushed fast apart by the violent plume of foam around the Horiathon fall, on the ocean of the Dauriath.
When the weather calmed enough, Milly, one of the young celibate Elves, could look around her. She found that she was alone on the ocean, with her three horses. They had food for two weeks, and nobody else was visible around.
She was on the Dauriath!
She was free!
But she was alone!
Milly, a sixteen years old Elve, drifted for ten days on the Dauriath ocean, with three white horses, who did not much enjoyed the adventure either. Imagine remaining in a narrow pad for ten days, with a scarce food! At least Milly had more room to move...
At least, they realized that they were engaged in a large and long straight, between what looked like two mountains ranges. They ended touching the land... it was right time, as water leaks were becoming too large for manually evacuating them.
This is how Milly landed on one of the many large islands of the Dauriath...
But she was alone...
Especially, she had no idea of where her comrades were, probably they were pushed thousands kilometres away, if ever they were still alive. As of the two other expeditions, she even not suspected their existence... So she just had to manage for surviving where she was.
In more, the ocean level was raising in the Dauriath. This made that she had to move up, in the mountains. Fortunately she had tools, seeds and other things, and three horses to carry them. So they moved upward, until they reached a bumpy forested plateau, strewn with clearings and rocks. It looked high enough, at least for a century, and anyway there was no higher spots at close range.
The Dauriath landscape is of many rocks of all sizes, with some entirely of iron. Between is a soft regolith, which showed excellent for cultivation, once cleared of stones of all sizes. The general shapes are soft, but with many freshly hewn gullies. They made travel difficult, as their earthy cliffs were unstable and treacherous, needing huge detours to avoid them.
So Milly built a house. First it was a small log house covered with leaves, where she could at least be dry by rainy weather. Later she was able to fall trees and build a larger one, with stones, logs and shingles, and a chimney for cooking. She also made a shelter for the horses, so that they could live here, all four together. There was a spring nearby, so they had plenty of water. But food soon became a huge problem. Milly had many seeds, but one year is required to cultivate them. Even Jerusalem artichokes need this time to reproduce and give enough crop, not to speak of wheat.
So Milly had to take the milk of the mares. She knew how to do, but rather as a loving communion mean than as a basic diet.
On their side, the horses were very happy, with plenty of grass to graze. Food was not a problem for them, and they soon foaled, helping Milly with more milk in the process. So they quickly became numerous, and Milly could no longer take care of them all. So they swarmed after some years, forming tribes of wild horses, each leaving the place in a different direction. Each time a herd was leaving, Milly never saw them again... so she deduced that she was on a great island or continent, and the horses had plenty of places to go.
The very presence of horses much changed the place, as they create meadows into the clearings. They however avoid non-grassy plants, which taste bad for them. So that the landscape turned into a kind of garden with grassy nooks and crannies between rocks and bushes of flowers or herbal plants.
Milly's explorations on horse showed no better places, so she lived here, doing everything herself. First, rebuilding a more solid house than the first hut. For this she needed to fall trees, which also provided her with a clearing for gardening, where she cultivated artichokes and other vegetables. But she gave up wheat, too work-consuming, the seeds wasted in failed attempts. She much missed the good smelling bread of her childhood, thought.
Despite the young horses departing, there were always a group of faithful ones remaining around, who helped her to carry wood, explore or plough. They were elven horses, smart, and understanding well what she expected of them. She often wondered what would become of her without their invaluable help.
So she soon had a nice place to live, and well enough food for her.
What she missed the most was iron, for tools. She tried to forge, but it is a lot of work too. So in the beginning she had only some rough tools. Happily there is iron everywhere on the Dauriath, and good quality meteorite iron, which does not rust like the mine iron. But it usually comes into large blocks, and she could forge only small ones, which are harder to find. The good point however is that meteorite iron is already smelted, which much eases things. But we still need a good fire to make it red hot and shape it. So she needed a lot of wood. Happily there were plenty of fallen branches, and the horses helped a lot. She ended up with a skilfull system: an oven leaning against a large iron block. In this way, she could melt enough of it with one load of charcoal!
Despite her solitude, Milly was confident. There were no enemies around, no dangerous animals or pests, so she could leave her home for weeks, to explore the region, just keeping her seeds into jars.
But she was not happy, feeling very lonely...
Oh yes, horses are a good company... But they do not replace friends or husband!
So, at times, in her log cottage, by rainy or cold days, she cried, wondering what was going on with the other Elves. Where were her seven companions? Were they even alive? What the other Elves of the Nyidiath were doing? Were they sending other rafts, or did they abandoned them? What if, finally, the Exodus never took place? Anyway, even if other expeditions came, the Dauriath is a planet, and a planet is wide... she had very few chances of being spotted, her little clearing and shingles cottage, on a thousand kilometres long island with no straight roads... even the smoke of her little hearth was very thin under the rain, and probably not visible further than one kilometre. So she felt really abandoned...
It was not possible to explore her island entirely. But worse, with years passing by, she was seeing the ocean creeping slowly into the valleys, so that she started to wonder if she was safe here... It was a difficult dilemma: higher lands were far away, so it was difficult to move... but if she waited too much, she would have to build a boat, and restart everything from the beginning!!!
Milly was especially longing at Mandë, another young Elf of her group... When they embarked in this mad adventure, she was 16, and not much thinking at love... But she was soon 30, and even 50... the adulthood age of the elves, where they form unions. So she found herself thinking often at Mandë, and even dreaming at night that he was singing for her besides the fire, or taking her in his arms in her little ferns bed...
Happily her home place was becoming nice, stumps had disappeared, and the small clearing was sunny, cosy, with many birds, while flowers and cultivations were growing around. She had some good tools, now, and she was lucky, after all. Good food, white horses gambolling around and helping her, sometimes coming here just to offer their swollen udders, so that she could make cheese in a cave nearby. Yet the Jerusalem artichokes were her staple diet, with some other vegetables. The Elves say that the artichokes were created by Shelenaë, the first Elve.
So Milly lived here for about 70 years. As an Elve, she was still young and healthy, and she could live for millennia. She had fields all around her, and something was telling her to spread cultivations, store grains and forge tools, much more than she needed. She often had checked intuitions of other things too.
But one day, the horses started to behave strangely. Ancient herds, disappeared from sight since tens of years, were coming again, doubling her own herd, just to leave again, galloping away.
This lasted for several days.
Milly was in a field at one hundred metres of her house, when she heard a large group of horses trampling fast and snorting... this was common these days, but she soon heard something else, which echoed strangely to her ears... she was startled, thinking first at enemies or danger! She had seen war when she was a child, so the sound of fast approaching cavalry was reminding her of fearsome things.
Her first idea was to run and hide... But she had to see what was going on anyway. Better to know, before acting.
And she saw: galloping horses...
Many horses... and they were mounted by Elves! They had found her!
Well fed and colourfully clothed elves, when she had only a raw linen blouse sullied with earth... She felt out of place!
Imagine that 70 years passed...
At first she could even not speak, hardly understanding what they were saying.
But of course, soon joy spread over all of them.
But one of the voices was familiar...
It was so huge, so surprising... she hugged him, unable of saying anything else than «hello»!
He was looking less surprised, but very happy too... he was still celibate, despite living here for so long... The others, she had no idea of who they were... this meant that other Elves managed to pass the Horiathon!
They spent several days here, explaining each other what had happened. The seven had landed on another large island, and, thinking it was impossible to find her, they settled in this other place. Of course, things went much better for them, as they could start farming, cultivating wheat and other grains, doing smith work and the like, much more rapidly than her, so that they were soon able to have children. By the 30 following years, they were joined by other Elves, and still later, heavy boats of thousand settlers each were coming nearby everyday: It was the exodus, with all the Elves coming here, installing villages everywhere, starting cultivations, exploring, using boats.
But how could they find her, lost in a 1000kms long forest? What happened is very strange. And very beautiful... They knew this long mountainous islands since years. But they noticed that meadows had appeared on it... So, one day, they landed on Milly's island, to see what was going on. Soon they found the horses. Very kind white horses coming toward them to help, and even couching for letting them mount. They understood that they were the descendants of the three accompanying Milly 70 years before. Of course, their first idea was to look for her, but in this huge forest with tortuous routes, chances of finding her at random were negligible.
But the wonder which happened is that the horses themselves showed the right direction to the settlers, and bore them straight toward Milly's place! Despite it was a 200 kms travel on a crooked path...
So they were still elven horses, even ten generations later! /P>
Milly had done such an incredible work, that they could install at ten in her place, that they called Milly Mountain. Of course Milly and Mandë married some days later, and soon the small village was wealthy enough to have children: they had to populate the Dauriath!
And as soon as the next year, Milly could taste again the wonderful bread of her childhood, burning her lips of not being able to wait for it to cool! /P>
The place of Milly village is still revered today, but unfortunately it was covered by the ocean before it stopped rising. Sometimes, by sunny and calm days, moved pilgrins can still see under the water the rocks where her house was, with drowned tree branches and trunks. Of the 1000kms long island called Milly Mountain, only three smaller islands remain, the largest being about 200 kilometres long. Here Milly and Mandë are still living today, with many friends and their descendants. Milly is now considered as an Elder Elve, with an excellent intuitive understanding of nature, and a strong power for speaking to the trees and plants. Especially she learns them to form a wonderful landscape and greet the visitor with sweet vibrations. And of course, their white horses, so smart and so kind, are still gambolling freely around... /P>
I was invited in 2012 to tell stories in a nice place for a small elven tribe into Second life, which is now sunken under the ocean. After a request for a lady living alone in a house in the forest, I improvised this story, in order to fit it in the general background story of the Elves of the Dauriath. I later put it under a more literacy form.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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