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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
«But I am an Human, and how…
-You know, we don't have any hate for Humans. They are just misled by their unmastered emotions, and...
-But cannot share with you…
-But you are most welcome here, and...
-How can I remain here among you? I don't deserve it!
-I am just a filthy Human. Forget me. And this Listal thing was just a joke.
It certainly was the most foolish thing I ever said. Alanar and the others were just staring at me, with gaping mouths. It was as if the spring sun had suddenly left place to a winter night blizzard, as if the golden light was replaced with hellish darkness. A silence felt on the room, and I saw Ludmila turning pale as a dead, jumping off me like bitten by a snake, and fleeing the room in a hurry, followed by most of the attendance. No more music, no more joy, but scattered cushions, a forgotten lute and dishes fallen on the floor. A total mess.
Calls were heard in the corridor, while the remaining Elves were staring at me. Their infinite astonishment was soon replaced by severe looks, while the guards were entering.
Mad with suffering of my broken dream, I heard sentences turning around me: «A joke... How could you induce our Elders in mistake? You don't imagine the consequences... Elves only have one love, you ruined Ludmila's life, if she not just die on the spot with such an affront.» And I soon realized that I could too die soon, as I was entrusted into their secrets. Daggers had appeared like from magic in the guard's hands, and they were now blocking the only exit of this room, sternly staring at me. Even Erwan who kindly greeted me was now looking at me with a merciless face, his knuckles whitening on the handle of his knife.
I was just able to stay here in my infinite sorrow, clutching that bloody Listal on my shoulder, which caused all this turmoil. But the worse was to not understand what I did, what deceived my new companions.
I remained like this for about five horrible minutes, so sorry that I was even not able to cry, just thoughtlessly staring in front of me, lost in the tempest into my mind. Only Alanar was watching me with some of his friends, exchanging some dark sentences in their language. All the ladies were gone.
The Elders entered, the two I saw the last day, and two others I did not knew.
«You fool, what you did?» The first with dark blue gown said.
«How could you mimic such a sincerity?» asked the blue one. But they started to exchange in their unknown language. Then they went silent, approaching me and taking my hands, eyes closed. It was like a medicine session, except that the outcome would be death, not cure.
Soon they looked intrigued, and even somewhat disagreeing with each other. The sensual old woman entered in turn, and they discussed. At last, one asked, with a softening voice:
«Tell us exactly what you did. What was the joke.»
I could only tell the truth, as I even not knew if I had to tell it or to hide it, a dagger was waiting for me in either way.
«It is not me, it is Jossie and his gang, they forced me to wear that Listal when entering here for the clock...»
They looked like astounded.
«But you knew what it means! You knew what could happen when entering into this room bearing this scarf!
There was a huge silence. They were just able to look at each other.
«So it is in this way that you looked completely sincere. You really are sincere. But you did not knew… and now you still not realize... »
I suddenly began to tremble and cry, like for mercy, and I shouted, with my voice distorted by crying:
«Sorry, I don't know, I don't understand what happened, I just realized I did not wanted to cheat with an Elve lady with something I cannot give her, I would not betray you all who were so kind with me! And I fell on the cushions, sobbing and shuddering.
-Pheeeew! This is incredible, let us check again».
And they both five remained silent some more time, examining me. Then the dark blue one concluded:
«Well, young Human, you are worthy of our confidence anyway. The ONE guided your noble soul, but through strange ways. We just have to see Ludmila and repair the consequences of this filthy joke from your buddies, if it is not already too late. And they will have some news of us. Tell us their names.
-Jossie. And Crazie and Lizzie!
-Well, we shall take care of them. But for now let us see with Ludmila. Alanar, make him know, please.
-I don't want her to die! I cried, not her! Kill me if you want, but don't her let die! Please!» But they were gone in a whirl of cloaks, save the sensual old lady, who was not speaking our language. But I understood that she was comforting me, taking my head in her arms and smiling.
Alanar went to me, and started with a strange half smile:
«So you came here while wearing this Listal, without knowing what it means! You are really the foolest Human I ever saw!» He told me, half laughing, half shocked.
«Please, please tell me what was all the matter with that thing?
-This is quite simple: a Human bearing a Listal is asking for the love of an Elven companion».
He continued: «It is what this Listal is meaning. It is what everybody understood here, and especially Ludmila. And you got what it was asking for, it is said that a sincere Listal bearer never waits more than some days.
-But how could I love an Elve, me filthy Human? Dirty and bad smelling? Even if I could wash everyday and learn your language, I shall never be perfumed, I shall never be able to enter into your dream world!!
-Oh, the human smell. We don't like it either, even if it is not so bad than you imagine. But obviously you really don't know what was to happen, after you have found an elven companion.
«By accepting the love of an Elve lady, you shall metamorphose in an Elf yourself.
-Hey no, how can this happen? It is impossible…
-It is magical. And it works very well, every time. Just accept the love of Ludmila, and you will become a true Elf, in a matter of weeks. You will no longer have bad smell, but instead a perfect health and stamina, long life and beautiful body…
-But we are two different races, and...
-No, we are not two races. We are only one race, one family. Hear well, Lonie Oromë. We have the same body, eating the same food, having the same needs, fearing the same evils. But the Gods of the Elves grant their magic to anybody with a good heart, to every sincere followers of the Path of the ONE. Thanks to them, the followers of the ONE magically become Elves. It is the magic of the Gods, and only this, which makes us having a better health, a beautiful scented body and a longer life. Whose who are scorning the Path of the ONE, unmastering their emotions and doing wrong things, they remain Humans, without magic. But when they understand, when they seek the Good and behave accordingly, they can become Elves in their turn, and they are granted all our magical protections. So those humans spontaneously become Elves. But this is a slow and painstaking process, with some dangerous pitfalls. So the Gods designed a much safer way: they allow us to become Elves by having an Elven companion. This is a much faster way for the follower of the ONE to get involved into the magic, and it saves many difficulties. Seems that, from your sensitive or kind heart, the Gods guided you toward Ludmila, although in an odd way.
«But what is important for you to know, right now, is that it is perfectly correct for you to love Ludmila, and to express your love in whatever way you feel it, by day or by night. Little problems like smells will be arranged in a matter of weeks, when the metamorphosis will be complete.
-You say that I can...
-Yes, I say that you can».
This was the strangest thing I ever heard. In the midst of absolute despair, on the verge of death, I suddenly realized that there was nothing to fear, instead a path of happiness and light was opening right before me. I just had to accept... The daggers had disappeared, and the guards were now rather looking as friendly helpers than as executers. The old sensual lady was smiling and cuddling me, and I was now clearly feeling a kind of light flowing from her fingers into my body. It was different of Ludmila's, more resembling the back side of leaves illuminated by the sun in the underwood, fresh and flooding me with health and well being, dissipating any darkness and worry. After what she exchanged with Alanar, I understood that she was named Vershania.
«But then, the Elven Gods have much more power than the ONE?
-Yes they have much more. The only power of the ONE is to make us discover the value of Kindness, of Selflessness. But if you think in depth, this is the main thing, the centre, the source. Any other power is meaningless and deceptive without a good heart. Power without heart can be very effective for any purpose, but it is basically unable to give us happiness. So power without heart is just useless: only a good heart can be happy. Rather have no power at all, and even being unhappy, than having a power which will send us to hell.
«This is why magic is granted only to the Followers of the ONE. But on the other hand, everybody is free to follow the ONE in the way he feels.
«Shelenaë and MakTar were Humans, about ten thousands years ago, in a time where Humans were living in huts and hunting animals for eating. They were among the firsts to hear the ONE. In order to stop the killing of animals, Shelenaë learned to kitchen grains and she created farming, as the legend says. They both meditated all their life long, and when they died to the material world, they had enough magic to become Gods and help others with their Magic. As it was still difficult for them, they preferred to help a small number of more promising disciples, who became the first Elves, into some secluded and well sheltered place of the Blue Mountains. Today, Shelenaë, the Mother Goddess of the Elves, is busy with life magic, beauty, arts, farming, healing. MakTar, the father God of the Elves, is rather about crafts and building, and also, if need arises, about defensive magic. This is why many human priests consider MakTar as an evil God, a servant of Foggier. But He is a true servant of the ONE. And our intensive use of defensive magic, even legitimate, acted as a warning signal, telling that something was wrong. So Maktar restricted His help, in order to make us accept the Exodus in the Dauriath. Once here, defensive magic will no longer be needed, and MakTar will be able to use His powers to help the remaining Humans to understand.
-And those human monks, why don't they become Elves, if they follow the Path of the ONE?
-Hmmm… they do follow the Path of the ONE, but in a subtly distorted way: they think to be the only ones true, and want to convert all the others to their own concepts. The Gods much dislike this, as it goes straight against the fundamental freedom of conscious beings. Some of these monks end up to understand, and could become Elves, but usually they want to explain this to the priests, who kill them. However, whatever their mistakes, they gained their place in the elven Paradises. Just they will be really surprised with the freedom of love up there, ah ah ah ah!»
One of the Elders appeared again, telling me:
«Ludmila will live, but she was deeply shocked, it is better not to try to see her before one hour and more!
-Sir, tell her that I love her, sincerely! THIS is not a joke!»
As he was walking away in the corridor, I shouted:
«I love her! I loooove her!»
I had stopped crying, but I was still trembling madly. However a strange peace was now filling into my heart and mind.
Alanar was now silent, but Vershania told him something that he translated:
«Oromë, we can arrange some things, while waiting for Ludmila. We have some places to bath and wash, and give you better clothes. As I said, this is not really necessary, but you will feel much better, more confident. We have some time left for this.
-Oh, it is not only for me! You did not guess what is under my clothes! I am paralyzed with shame to the simple idea of her discovering this!
-Let me show you the place.
-And too, show me how we wash, I never did that.
-Pfffahhahahaha you really are the foolest darn Human I never saw! Vershania will show you everything, she is a healer. Go!»
They led me all along several long straight corridors of the former barracks. It was already late in the night, and we crossed only few people. They kept silent, just looking intensely to me. Seems that everybody was already knowing of my strange adventure.
Bathing was really a new thing for me, and I had to learn the use of towels and soap. And really, really, this bath was needed. My undies were just good to be burned, and as a matter of fact I never saw them again.
Vershania did things well, with hot water, and just in the next room somebody was playing flute and soothing songs. And she gave me a simple blue gown and sandals. I was trembling as with cold, but it was not from cold, rather a mixture of the after effect of the previous moments, and the expectation of seeing Ludmila again.
At last, Vershania showed me something. I first though it was a kind of small door into the wall, but when I tried to engage in, I was suddenly blocked by a nice male Elf coming right in front of me, wearing the same gown as me. Then I realized: the «door» was a mirror! To see myself already so much resembling an Elf was a shock, a very odd experience. And pleasant, I must say. That darn magic was working!
Then came the time to see Ludmila. Alanar asked me to come, and, still some corridors later I was allowed into a room, a former soldier dormitory. It had been partitioned by furniture and curtains, into lovely alcoves, allowing for a better individual life. Elves have an incredible talent for making ugly places look cosy and cute.
«We explained her what the misunderstanding was, and she understood. Now she is asking for you, but be cautious, she is still very weak»
The room was dark, with only some silhouettes visible. I guessed they were the Elders, and probably nurses.
«Oromë... » and something I did not understood.
«She is asking if you really love her. If yes, just repeat: Ia ilia manaë»
I repeated the best I could.
She extended her arms toward me and grasped my gown, grabbing me on her, and she kissed me passionately, her arms around my neck. And I was proud, and happy as never I was: I was kissing an Elve, a marvellous and yet powerful creature! If I could only guess this only some hours ago! I was feeling her light, a beautiful orange light, just weakened like the sun at the end of a winter afternoon. She had gone through a deep sorrow, now dissipating, but the wound was still tingling her.
We remained like that, hugging each other or kissing, with the only discrete presence of Vershania. Some soft voices were to be heard around, and the warm light of a candle was filtering through the curtains. Then Vershania told us that Ludmila had to rest, even if my presence was very good for her. So she led me toward another room, and left me alone on a bed. A bag was awaiting me here with my human clothes and belongings.
I was now alone, and my head was turning with this incredible story: like in a legend, a lonely human, poor and despised by everybody, finds suddenly himself loved by a marvellous creature, all in beauty and kindness, among a community of gentle people who were taking care of him as of a much loved son. It was so unexpected, and so powerful... I owe only to the very late hour to be able to find some sleep.
The next morning, I put my human clothes and went out of the room. I found Alanar who frowned at me a bit, seeing me human again. He told me the place to have a meal. There were several Elves here, some smiling at me, some looking in another direction. My story was known, and it aroused mixed feelings, probably it looked to them as incredible as it looked to me. Everybody was very calm however, silent or speaking with soft voices.
«Alanar, please explain me, why was her so ill?»
There were some glances toward me, some with a touch of anger. But Alanar just explained with a low voice:
«When Elves are in love, they share much more things than Humans do. They share their magic, and this makes it much stronger. It results in much more happiness. But we can do this only once, and if the partner dies, or deceives us, this has deep consequences on us, we lose our magic, and we are very sick, and most often we die. If we don't die on the spot, we generally do this in a matter of months. The elven Gods designed things this way, because, we think, they wanted to place a strong emphasis on love, this sacred selfless love, the deep sharing between two souls, much more profound than only the mixing of two bodies. So they made it irreversible, a one time only experience. This is the cost for a deeper and stronger happiness, and also for the correct use of our magic, which true purpose is to enhance happiness of all beings. Dying of love certainly looks tragic, but it is not, in facts: remember that separated Elf lovers are anyway able to reunite beyond death, in one of the heavenly Paradises of the Elves. So it is better if the survivor doesn't wait too much…
-Humans too are very unhappy when they lose their love.
-Yes, definitively. They are our brothers, always keep this in mind. Humans too are very unhappy, but this is not a physical threat for them, so generally they don't die, unless they suicide or let sorrow gnaw their will to live. And they can have another love, although it never has the taste and intensity of the first.
-Well... I think I have some business to do outside» I concluded.
Alanar frowned at me, as of something he feared.
«I think you should not go outdoors now. I have a feeling it will lead to something painful. Anyway you don't have any more business outdoors, I think.
-Yes I have, to pay my rent to my caretaker, and end some jobs for Arkad. I don't like the idea of leaving him a completely disassembled clock in his workshop.
-Well, this is honest from you. But think, it is dangerous, so many Humans hate the Elves. They will feel something, you know that the most evil have an incredible nose for finding the Elf under the human clothes. Why do you think your buddies were mocking especially at you and made such a silly joke? Those wicked blokes sensed your good heart as surely as our Elders do.
-Ok, I shall be careful, and stay as shortly as possible. After all, Arkad can find another apprentice, as he told me.
-Yes, be careful, and come back as soon as you can. And mind, first of all, go out through the tunnel and the inn, so that nobody can suspect the connection between the inn and this place.»
I did as Alanar requested, and went back through the tunnel. Its entrance was so well concealed that I had to ask him where it was. Vision tricks were used, and probably magic too. Then, I went through the inn, where I met only one person, who helloed me kindly. I had a strange feeling, as if nothing of this never really existed, as if I only had spent the night into a room of the Old pastel Inn, and all this story, the tunnel, Ludmila, the Elders, was a dream I had that night. Yes, that was that, it really was too incredible, impossible, that me, a modest Human, a poor dirty apprentice, could ever enter into the heart of a wonderful Elve.
Probably I should not have left her through the tunnel, and I suddenly feared that it did not existed at all, and Ludmila no more. As irretrievably lost as a dream when we awake. I suddenly had a strong desire of running back through the tunnel before it evaporates, but I did not dared, as if my steps were driven by somebody else. Soon I went out of the inn, into the street and merry morning sun.
Although it still was soon in the morning, there already were plenty of people walking or driving carts and horses, in order to avoid the afternoon heat. Nobody was looking at me, so I sneaked out as if I never went into that inn.
A «gentle laughter».
Darn, those damned guies had spied on me all night long, or what? Doing as if I never heard them, I just had a circular glance all around, and saw Lizzie and another hidden behind casks, in a recess. Oh, if I could tell them my marvellous story and nab then once and for all. But it was them who looked unreal now, from their so stupid attitude. I wondered how they could follow me in the dark, yesterday. But they did not needed to: they knew what the Listal was meaning, so they just had to spy at Elven places.
Probably my short stay among the Elves, and my chaotic love story with Ludmila, already changed me a bit. I used to pass along this street nearby everyday, just thinking to my business or worries. But this morning, I was feeling the warmth of the sun. Not just the physical heat on my skin, but a sense of merriness and fulfilment in my heart. I noticed the numerous trees and blossoming orchards while walking along, and the perfume of flowers. In the souq, heaps of fruits and vegetable had new hues and an inner light I never noticed before. And, very strangely, all this world of light, colours and feelings was now looking infinitely truer to my mind, than the world of stones, dirt and business I used to see with my eyes.
I bought a fruit. Usually it was a forbidden luxury for me. But I just had to enjoy it, as a recall of the marvels of the night.
At home, I even not dared to go upstairs to my poor room, which now looked so awful to me. The noisome smell of toilets in the staircase was enough. And what to get there? An old raspy tin fork, a dinted pan, dirty covers, the broken candle holder? Shame on me. The next renter would just be so happy to find an already furnished place. I just went to the caretaker and paid her all what I owed. I had one month late to pay, but now I had no need of this money to eat, so I could repay all my debt.
When I told her I was leaving, she frowned at me. Probably she suspected something odd about me. She was not really bad, but very down to earth, and probably she would be upset if I told her why I was leaving.
Then I went to Arkad's workshop. I expected he would be somewhat angry, as I was late. But I was the one who disassembled that foreign clock, and thus the only one able to re-assemble it.
Oh no, he was not angry.
He was in a rage.
For about ten minutes, I had to withstand a tide of insults and sputtering. It was unexpected, but I was still more amazed by my own feelings: all this simply looked unreal, absurd, and just not hurting me. But I wondered, why was he so angry? He knew nothing of what happened that night. But precisely yes, he knew, I even heard him speaking of Elves several times, and of the Old pastel Inn. Jossie and his gang really had done a dirty job, telling him all what they saw.
Then he suddenly went out of the room, and... locked me in. «The Militia is warned, and coming. Prepare your back for the whip, you rascal!»
This was much more serious. Months of jail were usually following the whip, so I was suddenly losing everything, my new Elf life and my new love! «No, Arkad, please, don't do that!» and I started to implore and cry, as the little Human I still was, mostly. But he did not replied, I only heard him muttering words and his steps going away. Soon only Klassie, the other apprentice, was to be heard, working in the other workshop, where I had left the clock disassembled. I really was a fool, he was perfectly able to reassemble it.
For two hours, nothing happened. I just cried, from my Elvish dream gone. I knew the militia men were merciless, cruel, and worse, dumb, without any kind of judgement. They would surely whip me, and after throw me in jail, for who knows how many months or years, unless I die from damp and filth into the cold cells. And I would never, never see Ludmila again. Even if I survived so long a time, the Elves would probably be gone. And Ludmila... I even not dared to think what would become of her. Oh, if I had followed Alanar's advice, and just forget my minor businesses, and never take such foolish risks just for a clock! I rather just had to disappear from Tellutaar and go on with my new life, without worrying for Arkad and my caretaker.
At last, I heard voices, and Arkad, but he was calmed down, for some reason. Firm steps approached, with an unmistakable clicking of iron: two militia men! The lock was opened, and they entered, followed by Arkad who looked as frightened as me, now that the Tellutaar authority was actually present. A smell of leather and sweat filled the room as they went in, wearing their brown and grey uniform of leather clad with iron. They just had a circular look in the room, and straight on me. They were not angry, just calm and self-confident, in the way powerful people are. But it was in a different way of the Elf guards, fell and cruel. Inflicting torture and death was a heartless routine for them.
«So you spend a night in the Old pastel Inn. Why? Started the sergeant.
-Err... I was invited for a talk...
-You were saw wearing a Listal. It was not just for talking.
-It is too late, Jarval, he is smelling the Elf, said the second.
-No, this is soap smell, Malron, but the result is the same. And you, you went into that elven inn wearing a Listal, and of course what was to happen happened, I swear.
-I did not knew what the Listal was meaning, sir.
-Phieeew! You did not knew? How this is possible? What an idea to bear a symbol you don't know what it means?
-It was not my idea, sir. It was a joke, Jossie and his gang forced me to bear it, when I entered the barracks, for Arkad's business.
-Don't believe this, started Arkad with a trembling voice. Jossie is an honest guy, not the kind to merge with foreigners, I just regret not to have him as an apprentice in place of this rascal.
-Jossie, you said? Asked me the sergeant. And who else?
-Jossie, Lizzie, Crazie, Mattie, Borner, Filowten, Arlouss, and others I don't know the name. But I could recognize them if I meet them.
-Well. And after, you entered into that inn, and we all know too much what happened, so that you are becoming one of them, right?
-Er, it is not my fault, I could not guess what was to happen, sir. Blame Jossie, please, not me.
-Don't speak evil of them» uttered Arkad, as frightened as me.
The sergeant suddenly turned as one block toward Arkad, looking sternly at him: «Sir, we know well Jossie and his gang. They were already involved into several tricks, but always were smart enough to escape our action. But now, with such a joke, and its consequences, they will certainly not escape the whip, or worse. And you (he turned back toward me) we are certainly not happy with you, but no law forbid to become an hairy Elf if it is just what you want to do with your life. You had a good job, and the confidence of your master Arkad, and now all this is wasted. But there is nothing we can do for this now. And you know the law, Elves are not allowed to have a work in town, so your apprenticeship contract is now cancelled, and your master Arkad has no more obligation toward you.
«And now both of you follow us to the fort, we have to gather your testimonies. Sure Jossie will heard of us soon.»
The two militia men went out, even not checking if we were following, sure as they were of their authority. But now Arkad looked as flabbergasted as me from the incredible turn of the events.
After all, it was not so bad for me. I had some hope to escape jail. And, as incredible as it can be, I was recognized as an Elf by my very Human fellows, as of a real thing, not a dream!
Arrived in the fort of the Militia, they led us into corridors. From downward stairs, a foul smell of damp, filth and despair was telling the way to the jails. Seeing this, I panicked with the idea of being thrown here, but right on the contrary we were led in the upper storeys, and asked to wait in a room for the judge. We waited four hours for him, and Arkad's anger had subsided, so that we had plenty of time to speak. Strangely, he seemed influenced by the attitude of the guards, and no longer angry to see me going elvish. After questioning me on how Jossie could lure me into bearing the Listal, he asked:
«It happened so quickly, it is incredible. I guess you found an Elven lady, to marry her.
-Yes I did. But I am myself very surprised. I really did not knew at all what was to happen.
-Okay, then I guess you shall be happy in a way, with her. At least I wish you so. Since I lost my wife to that horrible black canker disease, I never really stopped mourning her. And you will have a better life with them. They much more take care of each other than we do here in Tellutaar.»
«I really am surprised that the rascal was Jossie. I did not believed that from you, but from the sergeant, I must admit it. That is a good thing I know it now. My only regret is that you leave. You were a good worker, but now I cannot hire an Elf, this is forbidden. Anyway, you will not stay here, I guess. You will have many other things to care about than my clocks. Maybe you will make an Elf clockmaker. And me, I must take a new apprentice, but nobody of Jossie's gang, sure.»
I really was surprised with Arkad's confidences. It was as if I was discovering a new man, more true, the man he would have be without lies and coarse interests to disturb his mind and raise hate into his heart.
Suddenly the judge was here, with some clerks and guards, including that Jarval sergeant of the morning. He was wearing a black robe, and his white bony face was smelling the death, that death he could give at whim.
«So it is you who turned elvish, he started without introduction. This is a thing which happens some times. It is a great shame, but we must admit that, in the instance, it is not your fault. And anyway we cannot repair what was done. But we can punish the culprits. And for this, Lonie, we need your testimony. Can you repeat to us the story that you told to the sergeant here?»
I had to repeat the story, and reply to many questions. Especially I had to tell all the names I knew. This was easy, but after he went on some past affairs where my role was more ambiguous. I suddenly found myself explaining that I was not really agreeing with all this, but that Jossie abused of my loyalty to involve me in his tricky plans. At last the judge stated:
«Well, you should have been more cautious, not to go to an appointment with the Elves anyway. You were enough warned of the danger by your master Arkad. You shall be punished for this. However we owe you to be able to catch this gang which was scoffing at us since months. So we shall be lenient with you. Sergeant, you shall give him 15 flat whip blows, and after you shall expel him to the Elf embassy. You shall proceed discretely, to avoid the spreading of rumours and bad example around this affair. And now let us go to the gang and fix our sentence for them.
I could just thank the judge, forgetting my own punishment. All my fears were gone, I would be able to be back with Ludmila in only one hour or two, and even the perspective of being whipped was unable to alter my joy.
I had to wait for two more hours, alone this time, as Arkad had to speak in front of the gang. This is how administrations work, I had to wait in jail even for being liberated.
Then Jarval came back with two other militia men.
«I have to give you the whip myself, although I don't like this, now. Remove your shirt, and don't fight back, it will be off sooner.» I was no more thinking to that whip, but seeing it frightened me. Fortunately, it was the flat whip, which doesn't left scars, used for smaller punishments. But each time I saw people flogged with that noisy leather thong, they howled with pain and implored to stop. The two militia men attached my arms to a ring on the wall. I noticed they did not brought me in the jail, with the other prisoners. Probably a way for then to show some respect or sympathy.
The first blow came, and a searing burn in my back which cut my breath. My body arced in defence against the second... and then... ... ...it was over, the militia man was untying my hands. My breath was short, my heart beating mad, and all my body trembling. I never understood what happened exactly. I simply don't remember any more suffering. I am unable to tell if I shouted or what. It was if my awareness had withdrawn out of my body, letting it wriggle and shout alone, automatically, without me being involved. Or perhaps I did not shouted at all, as Jarval was considering me with a kind of silent respect.
«Now come. You are legally an Elf, now, and we are bringing you to the Elf embassy, so that you will find your love and be in her arms just tonight. But before we can show you something you will like to see. Follow us.»
They brought me back to the street level, and engaged into the downward stair to the jails, with its foul smell of mouldy straw and toilet tins. An alarming squeaking sound was coming from the dark vault, and I stopped, heart beating, expecting something horrible.
«Oh, pity, they already started. Jossie being given the great whip, please come to see and enjoy», said one of the militia men, really finding normal that I would like such a sight.
-Oh, sorry, sir, but... I don't want to see that.»
They stared at me, so astonished that it frightened me. I tried a lousy excuse:
«After being whipped myself, you understand.»
They had knowing looks at each others, meaning that I was kinda mad, or admirable. Or already irretrievably elvish, not to enjoy like everybody to see my enemies suffering.
I understood how lucky I was, not to have been straightforwardly thrown into jail, without any judgement, by the usually dumb and cruel militia men. Jossie and his mates got this ugly fate in place of me. They much more deserved it than me, but...
As to me, I suddenly remembered the Elder's speech: «we shall take care of them». I began to realize that some terrible magic had really operated, not acting in a visible way, but efficiently changing the course of events...
Outdoors, night had come all of a sudden, without any remnant light in the sky, from the shadow of the Dauriath. Jarval brought me in a cart, where he could transport me without anybody seeing me. At last he left me in front of the door to the barracks. The Elven guards looked somewhat upset to see militia men knocking at their door, but they recognized me, and politely thanked the militia men, before closing the door again. I just had a glance of Jarval waving a lucky sign to me.
«Well, Oromë, we heard of you being arrested, you scared us a lot, how foolish it was to go in town with that elvish look, just for some small money business! We could arrange all this without bringing trouble. Most humans are used to us, but they dislike very much that we take some of them, they consider this as a hijacking. Fortunately Ludmila is still in her room, she was not told!
-Well, it would kill her, if I went to jail.
-Oh no, she would be very unhappy certainly, but this would not kill her, she would patiently wait for you, with all her love. But imagine her, who always lived in freedom and greenery, to stay five years without leaving a room in the Old Pastel Inn…
-Do you mind, Oromë, if you wash again, as you have this foul militia smell on you. And also... sweat of suffering... did they tortured you?
-Err... I don't know exactly.»
I only too late realized how odd this reply was. Anybody tortured obviously remembers it all the remainder of his life. But the guards did not looked really surprised. Probably this strange oblivion was also the effect of some Elf magic.
I was quickly brought to the Elders, for some checks. Probably their worse fear was that I spoke of the tunnel. But they seemed reassured. Then Erwan brought me again to a washing room. There was no more Vershania, as I already knew how to do. Erwan just confiscated my human clothes. «So you shall not do it again» he laughed, but his tone was really serious, see threatening. Probably the elven community was relying on some freely accepted but strict discipline.
He also noticed that I really had 15 red marks of the whip, equally spaced and not crossing each other, to avoid more profound injuries. It was now aching a lot, so he offered me a balm for this, which made the pain subside in some minutes. «Well, you are very lucky after all, to get out of their horrible jails with only this. Those marks will need weeks to heal, but they will do without scars».
After washing, I was given a meal into the large community kitchen. Nearby alone. Usually Elves eat much less than humans, so they take only a midday meal, sometimes a breakfast. I felt a bit shameful to take the daily food of ten persons in only one meal, but I still had a human stomach to fill. It is at this occasion that I met Mülna, a former woman who secretly sneaked into the embassy just before the Elves arrived, also bearing a Listal. She found a young elven companion only three days later, when another group of Elves arrived from the harbour. And now, she was already looking very elvish, but with still a need for more food, like me. So I understood that all this was a very common experience, after all. Anyway we had plenty of time to discuss about this, but this is another story.
Then, at last, I was brought to the same room than yesterday, with all the Elves men and ladies gathered. A rumour greeted me, with varied looks, astonished, curious, admirative, but never hostile. Alanar and Elena were here, looking happily to me, and explaining things in elvish language. Vershania and the blue Elder too were here, for some reason, speaking in a familiar tone with everybody.
Alanar raised his hand to get some silence, and asked me to tell what happened today. He would translate into their own language.
So I started to tell, and a chord of lute began to follow me. In this way, I began to really feel an Elf, telling a story with a music line behind me. Alas, what I had to tell was not really elvish, and the lute soon stopped to follow me. I understood that I had to make it short, and ended with the story of the missing time during the whip session. I had in front of me only worried faces, some concerned about me, some even angry against my buddies. But in a way we owed them that I turned elvish, so what to say?
«It certainly was a dangerous thing to go in town while in the process of metamorphosing from an Human to an Elf. This makes many Humans angry, as they believe that we stole some of them. But remember that Oromë had an honest motive, to end paying his debts and duties. This story also tells us that not all Humans are bad. And even those who look bad often just have few things to understand to become good.
-So the ONE guided Oromë, in a way, said a dark haired Elve.
-Perhaps. But let us not try to interpret everything as the action of the ONE. It is already much that he awakes our hearts to goodness, very probably he does no more, and all the situations we create after are ours, not His. But...»
(Read with the music from Kitaro, Heaven and Earth May contain advertising, sorry I am not responsible of this)
Everybody turned their heads toward the door.
SHE was here!
Today, she was wearing an orange silken dress, with her light brown hairs spreading over her shoulders. She was staring at me with hesitation, like a little girl who was unfairly scolded and is seeking for some sign of reconciliation.
My first idea was to draw a cushion near me, and repeat awkwardly: «Ia ilia manaë». But everybody started laughing, in a so kind way that I laughed too. Ludmila just smiled and went sitting besides me.
Oh how sweet it was! We started passionately kissing and hugging... and all the Elves accompanied us with the lute and cheers. Then she spoke to me, and I understood nothing, but this was filling my heart with happiness. I was really happy, of what I had, and of what was repaired…
Having such a beautiful and kind Elve in my arms was still looking as an incredible or undeserved favour to me. She was so warm, now, I felt she was recovering quickly, her light taking over any trouble or cold, into blossoms of warm living flames in all the hues of gold and orange. I still had my manly urge to love her right now, it even went stronger, but strangely it was much more bearable, and even pleasant to wait for hours until they were all tired of songs and stories. Anyway Vershania told us to wait for two of three days until she fully recovered.
My elvish metamorphosis was one of the fastest ever seen, probably from its dramatic start. Three days after, Ludmila and me had our first love night, and a really marvellous one! Many took place since, and even today they are still becoming better. Oh, it is really different of human love, as our heart is much more involved, we can stay for hours, motionless, just exchanging light and warmth flowing across our bodies and minds, making us thousand times happier than the brief human experience.
At this occasion, she started teaching her language to me, beginning with the loveliest parts.
Of course, she saw the whip marks. She never commented them, just kissed them until any pain evaporated. Only one week after they were nearby gone. This young Elve already had a strong magic, of a kind now rare, able of having direct effects.
Her perfume was still stronger, and I even not thought to my own smells, which already much subsided. In the beginning, it must be said that I much more owed this to soap, than to any kind of magic! But in the following months, washing became nearby useless, with the magical self cleansing of the elven body. And my own perfume began to appear… that I immediately loved much. In facts the bathroom was scarcely used, only by new Elves like me, or when there was work in the dirt, gangs of laughing workers came at the end of the day to bath all together.
Only four days after this story, I attended the Midsummer Night Festival, at time of the solstice, where Elves use to stay awake all the night long, and make bonfires and merry dances in celebration of Mer, the Goddess of light and joy. We did a huge straw fire in the centre of the former honour yard, illuminating the ancient barracks in orange and red. And, climbing on the roofs to peep over the encircling walls, we could have a glance of numerous other fires in the warm and perfumed summer night, set by Humans for exactly the same ceremony. It really was an impressive and soothing moment to see us all, Humans and Elves, reunited all together peacefully, in the same celebration of joy and happiness, at least for that night…
At this occasion I had my Dharsham Illam, the official admission into the dream world of the Elves, a thing that some had waited for months. They told me their main story lines, and I could really feel that it was not just stories: each plot had its own vibration and taste. And, when the Elves were spending hours sitting and singing with each other, they really lived another life, a dream life, a virtual life, that they shared together, with all its real charge of emotions and happiness.
I soon noticed more physical results of my metamorphosis. I had to eat much less, and began to feel an incredible stamina, with no more need to sleep after a meal. My body hairs disappeared into the following year, so that I never had to shave my face. My strength increased, and my gestures were much more accurate and nimbler. My mind also became clearer, with a much better memory. So I learned the elven language, thanks to Ludmila, much faster than I expected. I was able to have a much better concentration on any task, without being bored or letting my thoughts wandering around. The later especially was an excellent gift, as I could, at will, fully enjoy any pleasant situation, or withdraw in the dream world in dull times (what not often happened with the Elves). I also became much more receptive to beauty and emotions, especially from music. Just hearing some chords was able to move me to tears, from happiness.
Because being an Elf is not just having a nice body, it is also having a good heart and wise mind…
At last I understood why most Humans say that the Elves are odd and absent minded: Elves are much more receptive to many things, and just a stray sun beam, a bumblebee humming or a perfume of rain is enough to fulfil their attention. And they are able to share this in society, and all together enjoy it silently, to the contrary of most Humans who just miss that, and feel awfully awkward of being silent in society. So they feel an overwhelming urge to chat all together, and in this way they unmistakably kill the happiness of feeling such little things of life. So that, when Elves are with Humans, the Elves feel that those Humans are spoiling everything with continuous meaningless chatter, and they just try to escape this. On their side, most Humans, unaware of the problem, think that the Elves are just absent-minded, unable to enjoy society life, or even boors unable to behave properly in society!
In the beginning, I had to remain in bed all the morning, to compensate for the long nights of chatting and playing music, that I would miss at no cost. As the Elves need only about two or three hours of sleep, Ludmila was getting up far before me, and she used to cuddle me and bring me some food from the common morning meal. From this, I missed a large part of the day work, but nobody never did any kind of remark or reproach about this, even implied or subtle. And after only some months, I was able to myself get up early enough to join the others in the day activities.
Even elven sleep is different of human sleep, as dreaming is a much larger part of it. In facts, we are aware nearby all the time, and dreaming. In the beginning I had only ordinary dreams, but with time they became beautiful and inspiring, as vivid as in reality, and even more. Often they reply to the dream life of the day, so far that I just had to retell them in the next evening session. Of course, each Elf or Elve has his own part to add to the story, but I soon understood that there never was any contradiction between these parts. We were really dreaming together! Clearly magic was at work…
Still more, I soon heard that some Elves are able to master their dreams, and from this to obtain a direct control on magic, to make it work according to their conscious will. But I was not allowed in this. Not yet.
At day, I was put at work, mainly copying scrolls and documents. I was not good at writing, but this was enough to duplicate texts without adding a lot of spelling mistakes. Most of the «lazy elves» were in fact very busy all day long, as the ongoing negotiation round entailed much clerical work, copying and documenting. Ludmila was also working in a nearby office, and I heard her singing from times to times. I was also asked to skim through several books, and secretly copy parts about crafts, agriculture or science, when I happened to find some.
I was soon entrusted as a full fledged member of the community. In the beginning, I was just obeying and asking what to do, not daring to give any personal opinion. But, with months passing by, and days of quiet work with the trust and warm support of the other Elves, I became more self-confident and knowledgeable. So I was given responsibilities, first on small things, and later as of any other Elf.
During several years I kept this feeling of shyness, of an undeserved favour of being admitted among the fair Elves, something too beautiful for me. I certainly became confident in society, and even sometimes bold, but any blunder was leaving me red faced and inhibited for days. It took a great patience to Ludmila and all my new friends to help me in these moments. Strangely, magic was of little help for this. The other Elves much respected this feeling, which, they said, was an evidence of a very pure heart, very sincere in his motivation of becoming an Elf. The proverb goes saying that the finger of the ONE shows the shy as an example. So nobody ever tried to cancel this feeling, which however subsided enough to stop being a problem. But it never disappeared, and it is still today my way to enjoy the wonderful happiness of being an Elf.
One day I had the odd surprise of receiving a gift from Arkad, with a note explaining: «Lonie, I hope you shall be happy with your new wife. I imagine that she is very beautiful. As for me, I shall never become an Elf myself, but I wonder if my poor wife was not becoming one, as she left some nice tapestries she did in leisure time. Just one is unfinished, as that dreadful black disease claimed her life in only some hours, before she completed it. Probably she was unhappy with me speaking only of work and business. If it was to be re-made today, I would do otherwise, certainly. But now that she is dead, I cannot repair that. So I decided to go ahead and stop living with this bad memory. I cleared my home of all what was reminding me of her. But I could not throw away those tapestries, which are valuable I think. So I give them to you. Please accept this gift, in token of reconciliation after all the nasty things I said on you and made you whipped. I was told by the guards at the entrance that you were forbidden to get out of the embassy, so we probably shall never meet again. Be happy with your beautiful elf wife, as I wished to be with mine.»
In a bundle, I found several nice looking works, probably awkward to the Elve's standards, but of merry and warm colours, anyway good enough so that Ludmila decided to complete the unfinished one. They all ended on the walls of one of the long corridors, to bring here some life and warmth. My dirty crumpled Listal was also displayed somewhere, as it was the custom for winning Listals. After, with the hustle of our urgent moving from Tellutaar, and all the upheaval which followed, I lost track of all those items, but I know that they are still today ornamenting some elvish place, and somebody seeing them would think it is true elvish work. This was the best imaginable homage to the unhappy Arkad's wife.
Our negotiation round failed, but it was only a step into a many years process. The Elders were skillfull at leading talks, and this apparent failure was a subtle but real step toward our victory, an argument supporting our project, while looking unintended.
We had to leave Tellutaar with only a two days notice, and had just time to pack all our things and fill the tunnel with earth. Some of us departed through the mountains by foot, while the others left the former barrack at night, with heavily loaded carts, toward the harbour where mighty white elf ships were waiting for us. Ludmila was shivering with cold and emotion, while I was having my last glance at Tellutaar, the place where I was born and spent all my poor youth. Seen from the ocean, it was so beautiful, and it really deserved its name of «Pearl of the Somman» (the Middle Ocean). The rising autumn sun was casting pink hues on the large domes of our main temples, on top of the plateau, between green masses of trees and bold minarets. I was a bit sad, as it was a wonderful sight, how pity that we were just unable to be happy together in such a place. But soon the stony shores, bare from the recent ocean recess, disappeared to the sight, and then the blue mountain scenery which was the background landscape of my childhood.
But when I discovered the true Elven Lands, with all their incredible beauty and peaceful nature, it eclipsed Tellutaar by far. Of course it was much more beautiful than any human place; but also those marvellous buildings and pristine forests had a life and magic of their own, offering their soothing happiness and merriness simply from seeing them, not to speak of inhabiting in. It was really a pain in my heart to understand that all this was bound to destruction. Only Elves could feel the loss…
But we did not much enjoyed our ancient lands: as most Elves involved in the negotiations, we had a chaotic life, gathering in a place, moving urgently to another, separating and gathering again. It was an incredible period where I learned several elven languages, and many things about our countries and customs, and also about the many human countries. I also had the chance to meet in person most of our Elders, and this, little by little, made of me a highly esteemed character, with many people seeking my advice and experience.
The negotiations went over 17 years later, with a signed agreement as what all the 18 million Elves of the Nyidiath, the Here World, were exiled to the Dauriath, the World in the Sky. Seven more years were still needed to clarify who would cover the expenses and provide with the necessary ships and implements for the settlers in the Dauriath. At last it took 63 years to complete the Exodus itself. Great human kings were happy to at last get rid of the Elves, and especially to appropriate their lands and mines, to a lesser cost than a war. But we were the true winners: the Exodus was in very good conditions, and we were given many material and resources, allowing a quick start for our new lives in the Dauriath. Even Humans spontaneously becoming Elves would be warranted a very good treatment. And, obtained in a last minute rush, the magnificent Shantar Anar Marjun, the Golden Palace and its surrounding Blue Mountains, were made a reservation, to be left untouched. This was a good new for everybody, as it was the most sacred, beautiful and magical place, the very heart of the elven lands, where the first Elves appeared, where Shelenaë and MakTar themselves are said to have spend their worldly life ten thousands years ago. Now it is a kind of unofficial elven embassy, occupied by a small number of Elves (and Elves to be) who remained in the Nyidiath.
But all this was no longer my concern. Only three years after our departure of Tellutaar, a first elven ship secretly attempted the crossing of the Horiathon, the dreadful pass leading to the Dauriath in the sky. Well before the official Exodus started, agriculture was already established in the Dauriath, large docks were filled with grains, and Ludmila and me were among the first pioneers.
So you now understand, dear sons and daughters, how I became an Elf, 185 years ago, and why you should not hate the Humans despite all the evil they did, to us and to themselves.
Ludmila and me, together with some of the Elves I encountered in Tellutaar, like Alanar and Elena, and the blue Elder, settled in this place we now call Daur Asnath Anarië, a 20kms circular plain circled with cliffs, with an isolated mountain in the centre. We know that, when the ocean will stop rising in the Dauriath, this mountain will form an island, in the centre of a circular sea. So we reserved this island for special temples and high spirituality. We also hurry to dig some ores which are to be covered later by the water.
In the beginning we were not encouraged to bear children, as we had to first develop agriculture for millions of people coming in the same time. But after the Exodus was completed, Ludmila wanted to have children. She loved cuddling babies, and I enjoyed explaining to you all the crafts and science I knew. One child every ten years, it is far enough to populate the whole Dauriath and outnumber the Humans before we meet them again.
As you know, in the beginning, we had a world to build, farming, housing, mining (even if there are few mines in the Dauriath, it is far enough for our discrete living standard). After, we had to set again beautiful houses and palaces, and we did great for this, although there is still a feeling that none of our new creations are matching our ancient buildings into the Nyidiath.
But now our Elders are asking us to study science, as we shall have to outmatch the Human science when the Horiathon will allow for a safe two way communication, into five centuries. So this is why we are now building this gnomon, to try to solve an enigma: when the sun goes across the constellations, throughout the year, it goes a bit faster in summer than in winter. I myself found this strange result while trying to set accurate clocks. We must try to know the exact movement of the sun and planets, and find which of them is at the centre. Alanar was able to build a new larger telescope, to study the movements of the planets, and together we already went beyond the human astronomy knowledge.
But all this science is closely monitored by our Elders. Science and techniques are very deceptive and dangerous. They look so overwhelming and efficient, giving immediate results and powerful means, without the need for any moral effort… In some centuries we shall be able to travel across the Dauriath in a few hours, speak to far away people, or light our houses as in full day. But technology can also build dreadful weapons, able to incinerate a large city in a second. We could be tempted to use those weapons against the Humans, before their foolishness becomes so enormous that it destroys both our two worlds. But in doing this, we would lose our magic, and become unable to make Elves of Humans, if we don't just become Humans ourselves.
Magic is difficult to obtain, and it requires a strong discipline and moral mastery for those who are not born with the rightful spirit. For most of us, it just has indirect or unpredictable results. But only magic is really able to solve all our problems, only magic is able to reach the Human heart and start the Metamorphosis. This will take centuries, even after the Horiaton will be open, but everybody will be able to understand and become an Elf.
And, as to illustrate this, you know that already, more and more human ships attempt the passage through the Horiaton, of Humans trying to become Elves, what we call Listal Ships. Some of the new comers have bad ulterior motives, and we have to park them into reserves, free to live as they wish, but with men and women thousands kilometres away. But fortunately most of the new comers actually become Elves. It is a great pity for the Humans that their world is now empty of Elves, so that those ready to understand have to go through great difficulties, and even to bear racism and intimidation. But the only thing we can do for this is magic, to protect them. And for them, things go toward the Good, even if it is through strange ways, as it happened to me.
So let us become wise and explore the universe, but let us not forget to follow the three basic tenets of the ONE: °To be confident in life°, °To have a modest life°, and °To be kinder with others than with ourselves°. If we do so, then Shelenaë and MakTar, the Mother and Father Gods of the Elves, the Eternal Lovers, will continue to grant us their Magic, and once again allow us to share this magic through love.
This story has a short continuation, written later: the arrival of Oromë and Ludmila in the Dauriath )
Copyright… yes this text is copyright 2008 Yichard Muni, my identity in Second Life, or copyright 2008 Richard Trigaux, my identity in First Life.
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.•*?`¨`• METAMORPHOSIS •´¨`?*•.
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Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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