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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
Come hear me live!
Saturday, May 4, 12PM SLT, 19hTU, in Inworldz, at Fleure enchanted corner (Falathrim 40,44,142), storytelling event! (In English)
May 5, 1PM SLT, storytelling with Ilianor (harp). In the gypsy camp in Cormear, on the bard's boat!
Moved! new date: May 10, 12PM SLT, storytelling with Ilianor (harp). at Express Yourself Art fest
Saturday, June 4, 12PM SLT, 19hTU, in Inworldz, at Fleure enchanted corner (Falathrim 40,44,142), storytelling event! (In English)
This story happened long, long ago, well before the Horiathon was open, maybe one thousand years before the Great Exile of the Elves. In these ancient times, the oceans were higher than today, and they were still covering many of the lands which are today inhabited.
Especially, the Shartan was not yet a continent, it was still an archipelago of thousands islands of varied size, some bearing active or extinct volcanoes. The weather was warmer than today, and many islands were bearing lush tropical vegetation. Other islands had less rain and were poorer. Sometimes only pirates could inhabit then, growing vines.
The larger islands were ruled by a king, by a Marshi, or by a council of the most powerful merchants. Some small islands were belonging to a temple or a spiritual order. The smallest islands were ruled by a baron, or often just by a merchant of common birth. All of these were more or less sailors, especially on the smaller islands which were often heavily relying on trade for their basic survival.
Nimly was living on one of the smallest islands of the Shartan Ocean. His family established here 80 years ago, after a dispute with a more powerful island lord. It was a very small island, no more than 800 metres large (half a mile), explaining why it was formerly uninhabited. Just pirates had build the castle. Regular rains allowed for growing orchards and gardens, but there was not enough place for cultivating grain food. At one end of the island was the harbour, with a fortified enclosure for docks, the castle, and lodges for some servants and clerics. Outside, wooden houses for slaves were scattered among trees and gardens. Around, along the coasts, were some rocky mounds unsuitable for cultivation, covered with ferns. Nowhere one could escape the sound of the ocean and the wail of sea birds.
Nimly's father was a merchant and a captain, and he was the owner and tyrant of the island. He was living in the castle, the only stone house with some luxury, into the walled compound besides the harbour. So Nimly had a comfortable material life, enjoying the best wealth available in these harsh forgotten times.
However he was not happy. First, he had no mother, even not remembering one. He never knew why, and the father never replied any question on this. He even dismissed Nimly angrily, so Nimly soon renounced to ask. The other clerics also avoided this discussion, looking annoyed or making fatalistic remarks, but without replying the question.
Second, he had no friends. The father was seldom speaking to him, so all his young child education was entrusted to the servants. Most of the time however, young Nimly was left free to wander on the island. As of every child, he was eager to play with other children. But they dismissed him too, refusing to take him in their roleplay games. In the rare instances where they accepted, Nimly was soon bored of their fight, blows and bruises.
While growing, Nimly found that most children, and nearby everybody on the island, were slaves of the father. He needed years to fully understand what this was really meaning... but it was a shock when he realized that him was free to wander in the orchards around, while the other children had to stay in given places and work most of the day.
Some were clearly angry after him for this reason, although none dared to insult or beat him, the son of the master. Others seemed not to be angry... but they did not accepted him either, for some mysterious reason.
«You are not like us» they were saying, without any hint of what this was meaning. Nimly had hard time to understand... Until one day, he told a buddy that he enjoyed to hear a bird singing... At once, the buddy took a slingshot and aimed at the bird... that happily he missed. Nimly could not avoid to cry, and since this day he was called «the bird lover» and mocked at openly...
«We do not like you Nimly, they said, because birds are to be eaten. To love them is not normal.
-But before you did not loved me either», he argued. But of course they eluded this question.
So Nimly was growing, mostly alone, walking in the orchards, and beyond to the moors and crags, where he could at least be happy with himself and with the poor bits of nature their tiny island had to offer.
At least, this was much better than being bullied by these vulgar and prosaic companions. And Nimly, without realizing, learned here very important things: the beauty of the sunset on the sea, the wail of the sea birds, the never ending breath of the ocean, and the joy of the pure air in his lungs...
Could he be happy Like this? Yes, save that was painfully alone.
Or worse: One day, the father angrily asked Nimly in his office. Nimly loathed this place filled with scrolls and drawers, and completely devoid of anything intended to make life pleasant. It was just the business world of the father, the only thing which mattered for him. Usually Nimly went here only to be scolded, the rare occasions where the father spoke to him. Some times he was flogged, and he knew that several slaves got much worse.
Perhaps this time was different: there was another man sitting besides the father, that Nimly never saw before. He was no more young, and his belly and half bald head did not bettered Nimly's feeling. His clothes were showing some luxury, like embroideries. However they were somewhat worn, pointing at somebody who had had some social statute, but lost it. He was not looking at Nimly in front, as if he had some trouble to do so.
«You are no more a child now, Nimly, started the father. This is the end of your lazy life and bird loving nonsenses.
«Right now and in the future, you shall stay around in the compound, and not go beyond the first orchards. You have to be set at work, and learn the trade. For this, you shall learn writing, calculus and clerical work with Master Eyquem here.
«I also command you to learn sailing, on our boats, starting from being a ship's boy. You need to do so, if you want to be one day a true captain.
«Get in your mind that your duty is to bring a continuation to our family name. You must take the commands here when I shall be dead. And for this, you need a good education»
Hearing at this speech with only one ear, Nimly was rather trying to evaluate the man. Master Eyquem was too glancing at Nimly, but this was more looking like embarrassment than any kind of authority.
Then the father led Nimly and master Eyquem to their learning room. While walking, Nimly was feeling so bad, his face distorted by a repressed burst of crying: He was deprived of nature, of his only joy! This was a catastrophe!
Right when the father left them alone, Master Eyquem started to look more confident. They both sat besides a table in a stone walls room, where a dark shale blackboard and chalk were prepared.
Immediately after they were alone and safe, master Eyquem took a more relaxed posture, and he started to smile and to introduce himself. He was in fact a philosopher, and he had much more things to learn to Nimly than just clerical stuff. He was a former member of a philosophy school, supported by a group of rich merchants in the largest Shartan island. This allowed them for a good living standard, in a kind of lyceum.
Could it be be avoided? One day, a disagreement among the philosophers brought a brutal repression by the authorities, forcing Master Eyquem to flee. Since, he was working as a cleric or teacher to earn a modest living. Generally, in these dark times, philosophers were not in high esteem, and many had to work, instead of being supported for offering their wisdom... (As if today road workers had to wash dishes in restaurants to be able to buy the tar they need to make roads for everybody! We would have a whooping 50m of road in the world, as a militant effort).
Hours after hours, days after days, master Eyquem's soft and gentle voice won Nimly's sympathy. It was the first time Nimly was hearing somebody who was not naturally expressing some mockery or contempt. But more, his company proved to be very interesting. This is how Nimly started four happy years of learning with Master Eyquem, and how they soon became dear friends. He opened so many new horizons to him, about things he could even not imagine from his tiny island.
And master Eyquem, as a seasoned thinker, was not naive. It was probably not the first time he was working to educate a son of a dumb father, and he showed an expert in the art of switching from an interesting conversation to a tedious clerical calculus, when the father was unexpectedly irrupting into their room. He also found all kinds of pretexts to go outdoors, and even in the small patch of nature that Nimly loved so much.
Rapidly Nimly was fond of him. But this was also excellent pedagogy: Nimly, his curiosity piqued, asked himself questions implying reading, calculating, etc. Only the commercial management part was still cumbersome to swallow, but Master Eyquem was introducing it with stories and adventures... So that, without noticing, Nimly soon became more knowledgeable than his stubborn father!
Doing so however still increased the gap with his trite and dumb buddies... When Nimly was brought to the docks for some practical work, he was all the time mocked at... not openly, as this would be punished, but in a still painful way. They were all hinting he was a privileged, an intellectual, but he knew well it was not the true reason. Things even went worse when he found obvious mistakes into accounting... happily he did not guessed that these mistakes were in facts tampering by one of the clerics! On such a tiny island, where food was meticulously controlled, sparing a single loaf of bread was priceless...
Time passing by, many subtle connivances established little by little between the philosopher and Nimly. There were many things that they could not speak about openly, into the unhealthy promiscuity of the compound, where ears and eyes were always spying, ready to nab them. For instance, «Your father said...» or «My father would say...», far from being a mark of respect and obedience, was in facts a way to mean that they were disagreeing with the father! And to be sure to always be safe, they were doing this even when they were sure to be alone. Sometimes just a smile was telling that something was not to be understood literally...
Rarely they could go out in the moor, and it was their only safe moments, away of the father's house. The noise of the ocean was making sure that no ear could hear their murmurs, and nobody could approach without being noticed. Still, Master Eyquem set some rudimentary gnomon and was doing gestures of teaching, while they were speaking of totally unrelated things.
It was however not a completely reciprocal relationship: Master Eyquem was not totally confident with Nimly. As anybody who had to hide from persecution, he was instinctively wary of everybody. In more he knew that teens often change their minds when they are in age of enjoying power in their turn... he had seen so many, right at this moment, endorsing the ideas they were criticizing two years before... So, when Nimly was saying that he opposed slavery, or that he loved birds, Master Eyquem usually replied something such as «your father would say...» This was a way to mean that he, Master Eyquem, was approving Nimly, although he was not free to do say it. But too, it was a way for him to avoid to literally say things which could be turned against him later! This complicated play was of two nice souls stranded into a cruel world, and not daring to believe their happiness...
Good education includes manual training. So, Nimly was also learning sailing. For this purpose, he went on the three small grey wood boats with triangular brown sails, coasting the neighbouring islands of the Shartan, exchanging food grain against fruits. This is how they were able to live on their tiny island.
Aboard the small ships, he learned the basic sailor stuff. He was also more openly bullied and mocked at, as there was nobody to nab the culprits. This is what they called «to learn to live»! The only thing he escaped, due to his father's position, was the custom of raping all young boys on the ship.
Under the only wind and sky, he much loved sailing, and he was sometimes spending hours looking at the waves, feeling the wind and the spray, spying fishes and dolphins, until somebody started mocking at him or scolding him.
It is at this time that he started to imagine how life could be, without mocking and stupidity... But this just increased more the rift with all his mates, as he just too well noticed all the occasions they were missing.
Keeping with the tradition of the island, they also had some deep ocean trips, for triangular trade of rare fabrics, gold and spices, into far away lands. For this, they had a larger ship, looking great, with two masts, white square sails, and a painted quarter-deck with windows and lanterns. It was old, but recently re-caulked, so it could still bring many services. It was the pride of the father, and the main asset of their family. The father never missed to tell the story on how this ship was recovered from a pirate gang, by Nimly's grandfather, using a cask of poisoned wine and some wicked fights to end convincing the remaining pirates.
So, as Nimly was completing his studies, he ended to be enrolled into one of the trips, with the father and the philosopher. The sailors were also guards, as in these times pirates were common.
The outward journey went well, and they visited several exotic harbours.
While they were not on duty, Master Eyquem explained many history and geography facts, about large kingdoms beyond the Shartan. But Nimly was mostly not allowed on the land, he had to stay aboard. He just could look at mountains or buildings, from the ship. Only at some occasions he was allowed to follow the father on the markets, after due warnings on the danger of being hijacked, taken as an hostage, or just as a slave.
On the quays, large buildings were visible, and beyond, wonderful temples, large trees and hanging gardens. At night, Nimly could hear music and chants, which strangely moved him, without he understood why.
These busy harbours were always filled with a hustle of people with strange clothes and varied skin colours, bringing all kinds of rare merchandises accumulating in the holds, in exchange of weapons, vegetable oil or hard wood from the Shartan. Rich merchants were climbing aboard, discussing into strange languages, and bargaining for hours while sipping tea with the father.
However each time they loaded or unloaded something, they saw scraggy porters wearing just a dirty loin cloth... Nimly was sitting besides the father, who explained him accounting and negotiations. But in reality Nimly was sad to understand that slavery was widespread, so that most people in the world had to bear hard work and abusive commands from insensitive masters... The rare times he went out, there were also muddy streets and toilet smells emanating from slums, between the wonderful buildings... so this world was intricately mixing wonder and ugliness, happiness and sadness...
Only in the last harbour they visited, Borong Gündür, they found something different!
Unexpectedly, one morning, an elegant white boat came mooring just behind their own ship, along the quay... And for the first time, Nimly was seeing Elves! from the quarter-deck window of his cabin, Nimly had a view on its deck! They offered a huge contrast with them, nicely clothed in clear colours, speaking calmly and kindly, to the contrary of all these rough men with harsh voices and coarse speech...
So, these Elves were artisans, and especially goldsmiths, exchanging jewels against many other goods useful for them. The father warned him that Elves were extremely efficient at trade, because they used magic. This was not true, there was here only the skilful application of basic trade methods, far beyond the understanding of this dumb man: the huge added value from raw gold to jewels allowed the Elves for a very good living standard, without getting out of their usual way of life into beauty and poetry. In more, elven ware was often very demanded and overpriced, as many people believed that they had some magic properties, or they were lucky charms.
At one occasion, some Elves went into Nimly's boat, for exchanging jewels against dyes and hard wood. But the father at once started to warn Nimly of the danger of dealing with Elves, who were, as everybody was saying, treacherous creatures using magic and enchantment to deceive and lure honest people. The bargaining sessions was short, as the Elves use to be straightforward, not speaking uselessly. And they soon came to bring their merchandise and take their wood... that they carried themselves, not using slaves! Just they had some simpler tunics of solid fabric, which is understandable. When they left, they said goodbye to everybody, and one of them looked at Nimly straight in his eyes... Nimly missed a heart beat...
During the talks, Nimly was not allowed to comment, and Master Eyquem was keeping silent, his personal way to mean that he disagreed with the father.
Escaping the work for some minutes, Nimly could discretely look at the elven ship from his window... It had more elegant shapes than the other ships, and it was nicely painted in white, outlined with some streaks of vivid colours. On the deck, the Elves were speaking merrily, exchanging some jokes in their melodious language. And there were elven ladies too... They seldom went on the ground, as it was dangerous for them. So, they were talking and laughing on the deck of their ship, hidden from the quay by a large curtain. But, from his vantage point, Nimly could see them... He heard several times calling «Naëreen», a name which sounded so melodious to him... and a superb young lady replied «ee» (Usually with two notes, like «ee-ee»), which probably meant «yes» in their language. She was wearing a white tunic shining in the sun, and superb golden hair, looking luminous and ethereal... Most of the time, instead of walking, she was jumping merrily when somebody called her, as would do a young child playing, as if her body had no weight. But suddenly, she looked toward Nimly, probably sensing his presence. She became shy, just waving a little hello and a wonderful smile at him, before entering the cabin. No more Elves were visible that day. Dream broken...
Later in the evening, while in bed, Nimly had his window slightly open. The Elves were no more visible, just a warm light was emanating from a hatch, with laughters and voices. These laughters were different of the mocking laughters he was used to, arising content and joy... and making Nimly happy! At several occasions, he heard clearly a voice or laugher burst, he was sure it was Naëreen...
Elves can be sometimes amazingly united: all the voices suddenly stopped together, without apparent consultation, and a song started... Probably it was Naëreen, he was not sure... but this pure voice and melody transported him... He was in another world, a world of beauty and kindness... a wonderful emotions started to spread in his belly and his whole body... He had a violent desire to be with the Elves, with this marvellous creature producing such effect with only her voice!
Violent feet stomping suddenly came in the gangway, and Nimly's door burst open: the father entered, looking frightened «Nimly! You must not hear these chants! Elves are magicians, and they will bring you under their enchantment! You will forever long for them!»
Exsanguine, the father was, for once, not looking angry, but rather expressing some fear for his son, as if there was a real danger... And Nimly, inexperienced, was suddenly frightened: if the emotion he was feeling was the enchantment of the Elves? Doesn't «enchantment» mean «being under the influence of a chant»? He would forever long for them... he was already doing so. Scared and doubtful, he followed the father toward another cabin, where the chanting was no more audible.
Nimly often thought at this moment, later: he just had to slip off the deck of their boat, and, using some floater, swim toward the elven boat, and hide into it... But as soon as the next morning, it was too late: they left the harbour early, and the masts of the elven ship disappeared behind the jetties... Soon, only could be seen the marvellous vista of the elegant ochre minarets of Borong Gündür emerging from the pink and mauve morning mist... then they disappeared in turn, as their ship was taking speed toward the deep ocean. Nimly was now confusedly feeling that his father broke something, that this elven enchantment was not something bad, but an opening toward another life, a world of merriness, beauty and joy, where stalking and mockery were totally unknown... When the sight of the coasts faded, Nimly started to feel a bitter regret... Was it really some bad magic, or simply the wonder he missed? The stubborn silence of Master Eyquem was hard to understand...
The inward journey was more difficult, as the father decided to take a shortcut: passing near the Horiathon, the dangerous obscure place where the Dauriath, the World in the Sky, nearby touches the Here World, the Nyidiath.
In doing so, they should gain two or three weeks of navigation... However they were also taking a serious risk, as the Horiathon is a dangerous place, where it is especially difficult to keep a bearing.
But the father was very confident into his ability to keep his bearing even in the dark and sunless Horiathon, and beat their competitors... Later he entrusted Nimly into his secret: a strange stone attached to a floater in a water basin was moving in a way to show the north... The father was thinking it was some magic, and he used to make the ritual of Marna, the goddess of luck and travellers, before putting the floater in the basin, as if he was doing a divination session. He was keeping saying that never the stone betrayed him, and thinking he had a special personal protection of Marna, who, as everybody knows, usually refuses to help merchants.
The large ocean encircling the Horiathon had permanent strong winds, so that it was easy and fast to travel. But the close approach of the Horiathon shows strange things: huge and slow waves, everything becoming very light weight, the horizon strangely distorted, and a permanent storm...
They were unlucky with the wind, and they approached much more than desired... in more, in these times, ships could not sail upwind, so they had trouble to escape the unpredictable spiral winds around the Horiathon... They were soon caught into the central storm! It is definitively not a good idea to invoke Marna for business purposes!
But this mistake allowed them to see the eternal lightning!
Imagine a thunderbolt, but which never stops, into the dark yellowish gloom of the Horiation (sometimes as dark as the night), wriggling, sizzling, stopping for a second, just to reappear a bit further...
Into this blinding flashing light, the clouds above were visible, forming rapidly moving circular walls, a terrifying funnel raising tens of kilometres upward... where they could have a glimpse of the Dauriath, looking like a gate of water at the very top of the funnel!
The permanent lightning was leaping between the two worlds...
The noise was deafening, into all the range of acute cracking to the deepest rumble...
At times, a higher wave raised in a point, and masses of water seemed to be aspired by the funnel, travelling slowly upwards... they needed about a quarter of an hour to make all the way up and land on the Dauriath, splashing its surface in white. For these people with no astronomy knowledge, it was very hard to understand how water could stand above their head without falling, and all the more to rise up... So they were really thinking and feeling as if this place was some demonic demonstration, with the fear of seeing the devilish god Niszun appear out of the lightning and hijacking them up to the Dauriath!
They turned madly into this huge tornado, for seven hours... When they managed to escape, it was night, the rigging was damaged, and the crew exhausted. But they succeeded into their bet, arriving ten days before the closest competitors!
While on board, Nimly and Master Eyquen could not speak freely, so that they had to keep on writing and calculus, while the father explained many trade bits... But once back to their island, Nimly and the philosopher could again meet in safer places. Although they were more and more wary, feeling as if they were spied.
Nimly asked many questions, and it took weeks to Master Eyquem to reply all. Nimly started with questions on the countries he visited, the horiathon, and other things. But of course, he quickly went on the Elves... Master Eyquem started to be a bit reluctant to reply...
He explained that Elves were like humans, but with a great love of life... They were artists, living in beautiful places, while much respecting each other. Also, they possessed a great wisdom, and magical powers, which made that most people were fearing them.
«Do the Elves mock at each other?» Asked Nimly.
-No, they never do this» replied slowly Master Eyquem.
Nimly grew prodigiously interested...
But Master Eyquem was less and less at ease, breathing heavily. Nimly, from his enthusiasm, could not guess the inner fight of this man, torn between his love of truth and the fear of repression... this was not a light issue, only some weeks ago the father made a slave tortured and killed for a minor mistake. But the philosopher still found the courage to reply:
«They never do this. Bullying or mocking are things they totally ignore. They always respect and love each other.
-Do they kill birds?
-No, neither. In facts they even not eat meat at all. The so called need to eat meat is an invention, just a pretext to justify a world of fear, suffering and killing.»
Nimly was thinking silently... Then:
«Do you know why the others specially bully me? Is it because I am the son of my father?
-No» Master Eyquem replied without hesitation. Then, with difficulty: «They bully you because you are able to live by yourself, instead of following a model. They feel it, and they want to destroy this thing that they cannot control. Their minds are too complicated to understand simple things, and their hearts have dark folds fearing the light. So when they see your inner beauty, they feel a sickly desire to smother it. This is also the reason why they kill birds and cut down flowers.»
Some days later, the philosopher was seriously ill. Nimly was allowed to see him only once, and for a short time. He was pale and labouring in the throes of a terrible belly pain.
But when Master Eyquem saw Nimly, he managed to smile and say: «Philosophers don't fear poison, because poison cannot make their teachings false». The cleric who was watching Nimly immediately asked him to get out.
The philosopher died this very night, and there were little funeral ceremonies. The father soon made as if he never existed, just alluding one or two times to «the problem» he had with him.
So Nimly was now alone, or worse, because the father was constantly retaining him and speaking of trade. Nimly already knew more than him, but he was not allowed to reply. So he could just stand and hear, even when the father was obviously wrong. Worse, Nimly had nobody to speak now, and he was more and more unhappy, spending most of his time into the cold stone buildings, with these people speaking only of commerce...
At night, he was more and more often dreaming of Elves calling «Naëreeen... Naëreeen!» And a silhouette of shiny gold and white light replied «Eee-eee» while jumping merrily. She was so nice and so happy, that, each time, Nimly was feeling a warm stamina and incredible strength filling all his body... Other times, he was walking into his moor, and suddenly she was here, shining like new snow, smiling at him, and singing for him... And then, Nimly awoke, finding himself alone in this dark and sad place...
But what could he do? He thought to escape this island, and maybe join the Elves... But how? How he could only find them, or even ask his way, in a world where, he was told, most people were wary of the Elves, and at least very uncooperative toward them? Master Eyquem told him too -and he was a reliable source- a young man wandering along in the world was exposed to a great danger, mostly to be taken as a slave by the first person he would meet, and spend a short life working until exhaustion... still worse, he could be taken into a kind of harem, or into a pirate group... Weren't pirates kinds of bullies, much worse than the ones he had here?
He had several occasions to escape, while plying along the neighbouring islets with the three small boats. But in facts, he did not dared: the people here were looking much like on his own island... and, once, here, he had no way to go further! The few times he heard about Elves, they were far away, and people did not wanted them closer...
He clearly needed a ship, for his quest! But how could he sail alone, even with only one triangular sail? He was now knowledgeable enough about sailing to be allowed at the helm, and even to give commands to the other sailors. Anyway, these small ships were clearly needing at least three persons to manoeuvre them. Who could help him pursue his dream?
Perhaps the solution was to wait that the father allowed him to be a captain... But even if he could command one of the small ships, they were giving access only to the small islands around: little chances to find Elves here. He needed the great ship, to go through the whole Horiathon ocean! But there were little chances that the father abandon its command before his death, which may occur only in tens or years... no way to bear such a long boredom!
His dreams were happening less often, but not really loosening their grip: he kept seeing her at times... He arrived in a harbour, and the elven ship was here, with her standing on the deck, waiting at him...
He thought he could manage to escape in a harbour, when they were travelling with the great ship. But the father decided not to bring him in these journeys, so that he could take care of the business while he was away! When would he allow him again in the great ship? One month? Ten years?
One more year passed, where things went worse and worse. He was locked in the compound around the harbour and the father's house, and forced to stay with the slaves and clerks.
They were no more daring to openly scold or mock him. Instead, Nimly noted fear, as he was the heir of the father, and expected to be the master one day. So they ended up understanding that mocking at him was probably not a good idea... But they had a terrible way to ignore him, speaking only of work , becoming silent when he entered, and taking a cold tone when they could not avoid speaking to him.
One day, the father summoned Nimly in his office. «It is time to marry, he started. You are my heir, and you shall take the direction of my business when I die. But in turn you will have to get your own heir, so that our family name is maintained. But be careful not to entrust a philosopher for his education, so that we don't have again these problems».
The requirement of marrying first worried Nimly. Then he wondered if women could be better than men... He seldom saw maids of his age, as they were most of the time confined in a walled yard of the compound. But soon he felt a stronger trouble... Naëreen! How could he marry anybody else? He realized that his attraction to her was not just a dream, it was his life! He wanted to marry her!
So what to do?
For several days, Nimly was tormented... Had he to accept a real wife, or to pursue a dream he may never reach? He dreamed that he was entering the walled yard of the maids... and he found Naëreen! But also, another evidence struck him, all the stronger that he did not realized it before: admitting that, by some extraordinary luck, he found her somewhere abroad the large ocean, would her love him too? She just showed shy when she spotted him, and probably not saw his face... she may even not remember him!
Fortunately, at work, the conversation sometimes went on the Elves, who were regular commercial partners with the father. Nimly skilfully introduced the idea of business marriages with Elves... He had some experience of hinting innocently, from Master Eyquem. But one of the clerics (the less bullier) replied immediately: «Elves and Humans are two different races, who cannot marry together. In more, Elves use to kill anybody approaching their women». Nimly had to get out immediately, with some pretext. He could not avoid to cry, once in his room. So all this was just an impossible dream... Perhaps the Elves really enchanted him, after all, with their song, in order to make him eternally unhappy!
Next night dream seemed to confirm his finding: He saw Naëreen, fading away like a mist... But sadness was still in his heart in the morning when he awake. So, in the morning, he thought, well, better to decide to have a real woman... After all, there were good men, like Master Eyquem... So there may be good women too? He had nearby no experience of young women, as they were all the time locked in another part of the compound, doing kitchen and sewing. He just knew that they were doing wonderful embroideries, that the father was selling at a high price. But he never heard them laughing, just, at times, disputing noisily... So what? Perhaps there was a female counterpart of him, waiting for a husband who would not bully her?
A great bal was organized, where 8 young ladies were invited, so that he could choose one of them. He was told that one was of a «better family» and better clothed, so that he could recognize her, and choose her. The others were still acceptable, but lesser choices. At a pinch, Nimly could nearby guess the name of his planned spouse... all this was just a simulacrum.
The bal went well, and Nimly felt under the charm of these smiles and sweet talks. However he still sensed some giggles and remarks at low voice...
He was so beginner with women that, happily, the sensual desire had not yet enough force to blind him. But he was knowing what he wanted: a woman with a nice heart like him, who would understand him! Only this could erase the haunting memory of Naëreen and his impossible love... So he asked to have private discussions with each of them, in turn. The father reluctantly accepted, as if he knew the total mess up to come...
The first interview started well, with the lady (the imposed choice) making convened elegant gestures intended to seduce him, and repeating ready made sentences...
But Nimly asked accurate questions, about birds, kindness, bullying, slaves.... Useless to say, only some minutes after it was a complete loss, the lady panicked, just muttering ooohs and aaahs, and unable to reply in a sensical way to any of these questions... despite her own happiness being at stake!
Later he heard her sobbing into the father's office...
Under the silent but dreadful look of the father, Nimly asked to speak with the other young ladies... two, three... with still the same results. But they probably exchanged between them, and the others straightforwardly refused to speak with him! Even the «lesser families» who however would get a great social promotion with him...
Nimly was sad, as he realized that, after all, women were not better than men... just having different ways to shun him... and much more painful, as he was starting to feel a growing desire to marry, but with a nice hearted woman who would accept his own nice heart!
Some days later the father summoned Nimly again in his office. There was an unpleasant lady that Nimly sometimes met around.
«I am ashamed with you, he started angrily. You were unable to choose any of these rich ladies with high social statute. Instead you insulted them with your nonsenses, and no one wants of you now. So my decision is that you shall marry Dammiel, the lady besides me, daughter of Domron, our chief clerk. It will be a good social opportunity for her, and at least she is strong, and she will lead you correctly. As, remember, your duty is to have a heir in your turn, so that our family name will continue to exist. But my heritage will pass over you, to your son, so that my business will fall into more responsible hands.»
Panicked, Nimly had a look at Dammiel... She had the smile of the bullies! So even women could do this! She was 25, when he was only 15. The beauty of youth on her face was already fading up, like a drying fruit, while the ugly wrinkles of tyranny were starting to form. She would mock at him constantly, scold him all the time for no reason, she would make him feel guilty, and never let him out, as of a sick person. She would accomplish her «marital duty» just once, as an unpleasant but necessary thing, and never give him any tenderness after. He knew it was useless to say yes or no, or whatever else, as the father used to never change his mind. A path of suffering was awaiting for him...
For some astrology reason, the father delayed the forced marriage three months later. Nimly had just this time to find a solution... But what? How to get out of this deadly tiny island? Opportunities to escape were all fading as soon as approaching... each time a trip on one of the small boats was planned, he was not allowed in!
He had new dreams of Naëreen, but, surprisingly, they were very different... She was sad and asking for help. Her intense light had faded, and she was just wearing ordinary clothes and skin, while her magnificent hairs were cut, giving her a cute boyish look. But this was just making her closer, more looking like a flesh person, and still more lovely... For the first time, Nimly was experiencing the sensual desire!
Dammiel started at once to criticize Nimly, scold him, command him, speak of his «madness» in front of everybody. He already was her thing, her toy, to play with and constantly poke him and humiliate him...
And above all, she was looking at him all day long, as of a child, to see if he was not doing some «blunder».
Fortunately Nimly was growing taller and stronger... he found that he was now able to climb the encircling wall, and jump free outside. Of course he could do this only at night, when everybody was thinking him asleep. So he immediately took his freedom... dashing through the orchards, avoiding the houses of the slaves, he went to one of his loved nature places, the closest of the compound... It was dark, as in the Shartan the Dauriath is obscured in the first part of the night, until early in the morning.
There was a house here now! With light...
Past the shock, Nimly started to move back... But suddenly he saw...
An unhearthy purple light through one of the windows...
Flabbergasted, Nimly did not dared any move... How did they arrived here?
Then he remembered hearing about «people» being stranded in their island... Bad things for Elves certainly, to be blocked here, with no way to escape or warn their mates...
Nimly did not dared to come closer this night. He heard too many stories of Elves killing people who approached them, or putting spells on them... But the next day, at work, Nimly just missed to ask where these Elves were coming from, realizing just in time that this question would betray his nocturnal escapade.
But some nights later... he did it again, approaching still closer... He noticed this house was in fact a shag made of planks and broken ship parts. They were living here miserably, but still looking happy...
The third time he came here, he started to observe the Elves from his point of view... but seconds after three of them arose from behind him: he was spotted! By some elvish trick, they had noticed his presence, and this time they were waiting for him!
«Hello sir» one said. Nimly expected to be scolded, but no, this was said in a kindly tone. He was very embarrassed, to be surprised in this spying position... But the three Elves were not looking angry for this.
«Why do you stay here in the cold, come with us for the evening». This was so kindly said, that he could just accept. He followed them in a house lighted from inside by a kind of lamp he never saw before: some were white, but others were shining of varied rainbow colours... This was wonderful, even with the poor furniture.
This house was made of recycled ship planking and beams, apparently broken from the wreckage. It was very poorly furnished, with cut sails and a lot of dried fern.
It was inhabited by about 30 Elves, including some children. They were clothed with worn fabrics and recycled materials. They looked skinny and poor, but their smiles and eyes were still wide open, and they welcomed Nimly full heartedly...
But suddenly Nimly saw her:
Oh, was it really her? In the dark room, she looked so different of with the bright sun in the harbour... she was not clothed in white either, in purplish tones, looking dark here... and yes, she had to cut her hairs, for some reason, probably one of these absurd requirements of the father. For some seconds, Nimly completely focused on her, but she was shyly looking at the ground... Under the reddish dim light, she was looking very sensual, and now Nimly was experiencing all the nuances of desire, not just the romantic part...
Two of the Elves were speaking Nimly's language, and they started to call him «sir Nimly» in a ceremonious way... So this is why they were so friendly... They knew he was the son of the master of the island... they were interested! This showered Nimly's enthusiasm... But wait, how could they know him, they never saw him???
«How are you doing, since we met in the Borong Gündür harbour?»
Nimly felt as if he received an electric jolt! Of course they knew him, it was the tribe he met in the harbour, while in trip with the father! So it really was them... therefore it could really be... HER!
One of the Elves just explained their situation in some words: Inadvertently taken in one of the numerous petty wars of the Shartan, they were mistakenly rammed in by a war ship... The heavy bronze spear badly damaged their boat, and killed some of them. They could just strand on this island, and wait for some help, but with little hope to be found by their kins. Waiting, they were exchanging work or handicraft with the father, just to earn an insufficient food... They asked the father to send a message, but he was delaying this solution, for some reason only him knew.
Despite this grim situation, they were merrily singing together, and they invited Nimly to join them. So he sat on a plank posed on stones, which was used as a bench.
In doing so, he was not far from HER...
As Elves were speaking, he clearly understand her name: Naëreen... He uttered, without realizing:
«So this is Naëreen...»
She startled suddenly!
The song stopped, and everybody was now staring at them... Nimly suddenly felt embarrassed as if he did some horrible blunder... and ruined everything! Happily it was not true.
The Elves were now murmuring together, and even giggling softly... This just added to Nimly's huge embarrassment: he was so often mocked at, that anything looking like laughter was making him sick! There was nothing he could do to avoid this...
He could hardly believe that they were not mocking! His deadly fear was that they would also start mocking at him, or becoming angry for some unspecified reason. He was already seeing his elf dream fading like when awakening in the morning...
But nothing such happened. Instead a song started again, a soft song... Naëreen was not singing, but staring at the ground in front of her...
Nimly did not dared to stay too long, fearing that somebody discovered his empty bedroom. So he said good bye to the Elves, and went back... But looking above his shoulder, he saw Naëreen eyeing at him... and felt very sad of leaving her!
Back in his room, he just could not sleep... So, he did not found her, but, by some trick of the Gods, it was her who found him... But now? What to expect? She seemed so close, now, but in the same time, much more distant... What he could propose to her? What he could offer to her? Would she accept? How the other Elves would react? Could he just marry her simply, or was it something impossible, unthinkable? All these questions which were obliterated in the dream were now arising acutely, in the reality, now that she was here in flesh: he had to make a proposal to her! But how would she receive it? Would the other Elves accept him? And, admitting he succeed, where this would lead, with this Elves powerless prisoners of an island where nobody was willing to help them? A plan was emerging: when the Elves would be found by their mates, he would flee with them... admitting that Naëreen share his feeling, and that the other Elves accept... Nimly was suddenly overcome by shyness: how could he dare to ask for such a thing?
A simpler plan was to marry her openly, so that the father had to accept the fact! But he never saw the father changing his mind on anything, and especially not from somebody else's advice! Anyway Nimly had to keep silent until he knew what to expect of the Elves... If they were just friendly with him because he was close to the authority on this island? For them, clearly, he was the son of the father. This made him important to their eyes, but it was certainly not a good recommendation... And if all this was just an illusion, if the Elves were just playing with him, like the others?
Nimly came a second time, a third time, still hiding at night... Things went well, and he was happy to find some friends at last. But he was still feeling shameful when they laughted...
It was very hard to hide himself, into the constant guardianship of Dammiel, the father, the guards, the clerks, and all the slaves, constantly spying at him... Nobody he could be confident! Even the most despised slave would nab him at once, just for a meal!
His attraction for Naëreen went even stronger, without him daring to do anything to tell her... But the other elves noticed too, and the third time they managed to have them sitting besides each other... They both remained stuck with shyness all the time!
This double life was hard to bear for Nimly, as he was tired and sleepy all day long, while the father asked him for more and more work. Dammiel took also much time to speak to him of «reason», poking him angrily when he was drowsy, and finding all kind of pretexts to avoid him to have some rest. She soon guessed something, as she started to stay later and later with him... vicious minds can be aware of all kinds of subtle details, as they had nothing else to do of their time. And actually Nimly never saw her working more than some minutes before getting angry and taking some virtuous pretext to fob the duty on somebody else. So she really had all the time she wanted for spying Nimly, finding his weak points, or doing schemes against the other clerics as well. If Nimly knew, he would have noticed that she manipulated the father with a disconcerting ease, playing with this childish mind as a virtuoso with a piano. She was the true master of the island. But honest minds can even not imagine this kind of things...
Each time Nimly visited the Elves, he stayed longer and later... He was now feeling what being in love is... But he would never dare to say anything! So it was Naëreen who at last dared to tell: she kissed him passionately, in front of all the other Elves... Then, they remained motionless, entangled, shivering...
So, it was true! She really loved him!
And he could marry an Elve! And the other Elves, far from being angry, were smiling kindly at him, visibly happy of this nice unexpected love story...
He had little time to kiss her back, as it had to scoot to the father's fort... Once here, he fell in sleep immediately. But for the first time of his life, he was feeling that he was important for somebody else! And happy!
The next day passed as usual, save that nobody was speaking to him, even not Dammiel, smiling threateningly... He could even have a nap during the afternoon, an unexpected treasure.
But at the end of the afternoon, Dammiel suddenly irrupted in his room, with a wide grin: «We know where your problem is coming from. But we are now taking care of it. You will be free soon, and you will thank us all for it».
At first, Nimly wondered of what she was speaking about... It was as if she was in a completely different story... He was to ask what she meant, but she swiftly went out of his room, and... locked the door from outside! He was a prisoner in his own bedroom! Impossible to open or break the thick wooden door... Impossible either to go through the iron bars of the window!
Nimly started to be angry and raised his voice «let me out»! He tried to shout an take an authoritarian tone, but he was so accustomed to threats and forced submission that he could just mutter something in a trembling voice... Only the laughter of Dammiel responded, followed by a gleefully threatening laughter of the father, that he never heard before...
But soon he heard other much alarming noises, from outside... Orders given with a frightening tone... then increasing shouting and bawling replied, coarse laughter and a rumpus of angry crowd... Rushing at the window, Nimly saw a host of slaves and clerics, brandishing bludgeons or improvised weapons, led by the guards, and moving toward the place of the Elves!
His heart went mad, and he started to hit his door with his fists, screaming and begging to be left out... Only mocking laughters replied, then silence...
And Nimly had to witness, his heart ravaged, the crowd setting up, the noise diminishing... until he heard new cries: the Elves... a smoke arose in the sunset... His friends and his love were dying, right now, and he was here, powerless, locked in his own room!
After a while, he heard the crowd coming back, and Dammiel opened his door, starting a huge sadistic smile to announce him the new...
But he was heedless, rushing through the door, down the staircase, bumping into the father, dashing outdoor, and running toward the poor elven home, followed by a host of angry father, angry Dammiel, and all the crowd laughing at him, or asking him to be «realistic»...
But it was too late, way too late... Only slain corpses, bruised faces, blood and scattered clothes, beneath their burning home of misfortune...
He found Naëreen, her poor body broken, blood on her lips, but her perfect oval face was still serene... He could only cry madly, as he never cried before... He was losing forever his happiness, just some hours after finding it!
But soon, he had to look behind him... the crowd was gathered again... And he was their only focus, now!
They were all here, the father, Dammiel, the ladies who dismissed him, the guards, the clerics, the slaves... all together, laughing at him, speaking at him as to a baby, or a mentally retarded... all these ugly faces distorted by stupidity or coarseness... And they were «comforting» him, saying that they «loved» him, that they did this «for his good»...
An incoercible fear seized Nimly... He receded toward the red flames, despite the extreme heat...
The ugly circle tightened around him... their expressions changed, from mocking laughter to a disgusting nuance of petty frustration... The father ordered the guards to catch him. Nimly knew that they would not kill him... Instead, they would lock him for the remainder of his life in a small room with barred windows, as of a mad person, with only his torturing regret to endure forever... And this was much worse than death!
Grasping hands approached... They were now crying, moaning, begging... «My heir» made Dammiel. But they were not arising any empathy, just an extreme disgust, as their grief was only from their disrupted egoistical purposes... or even completely fake, as Nimly already saw in other occasions.
Nimly could only recede still closer to the house, which was now burning fiercely in the evening dusk, sending jets of sparkles. He was seeing only grasping hands on a dark background... A more arrogant one touched him, but receded swiftly. Nimly's disgust was so huge that he jumped and entered the fire! At least they would not follow him here! Pain and death were much less a problem than being caught and locked forever by these sick people...
He felt the harsh breath of the flames, which comes before the scorching pain...
But Nimly felt nothing, as the crowd saw him engulfed into the blaze... Soon, the house collapsed into huge gusts of sparks. Two hours later, the last embers were dying.
There was nothing, just darkness...
Nimly was seeing nothing, feeling nothing... unable to think, as in a dream... But he was still here... Where was the fire gone? He expected to feel an extreme pain... But there was no pain, no fire, nothing. Just an absolute darkness... So this was to be dead... But he was still here, in a way. Still aware, although like in a dream, without the inner movie we are always doing in our mind. Distant strange sounds were echoing as in a huge cave...
Then there was the light.
An intense white light... And Nimly knew that everything was perfectly well. No sorrow, no pain. No stake, no need to hurry.
The first thing he felt was a wonderful emotion... just as if a marvellous music was playing, with exquisite chords making our spine shiver, or languorous melodies moving our heart and awakening tears of happiness... But there was not really a sound, just this constant ever changing emotion, as if somebody was playing notes with our heart...
Then there was a merry light, warm red, like the sunshine through our eyelids.
Then there were sounds... Birds... and joyful voices...
Opening his eyes, he needed some time to realize where he was... a meadow... trees... a merry sunshine, but without any dazzling sun...
He had something like a body... that he managed to move, after some attempts to find out how to control it. So he stood on his elbow... he was in a merry meadow with strange soft fuzzy grass strewn with marvellous purple flowers... varied delicate perfumes, on a background of scented air... A strange sky, of a wonderfully pure blue, but fading in a mauve haze near the horizon... Green trees, orange trees, purple trees... golden little houses... Colours were all pure and intense, like in a rainbow... and above all, there was a strong, luminous, warm, merry sensual vibration!
He felt that, instead of a scene awaking a feeling of joy of beauty, it was this very vibration of joy and beauty which was emanating these images, this inaudible music!
And around him... he saw them... The elven tribe! There were some he did not noticed before, probably the ones killed sooner in the battle. They were standing around, first not seeing him, and them spotting him merrily.
She leaped at him, kissing him passionately... in this world, contact was different... The body and skin were not feeling like ordinary material objects, instead they were made of warmth and energy... much more intense and pleasant than the physical sense contact! In more, she had a subtle but delicious fragrance on her skin, and a wonderfully sweet taste on her lips... probably he had too, as she tasted his lips with a surprised delight...
There was now a song in the air... The landscape had its music, and the associated emotion... tenderness... with a sense of awe of the powerful universe around.
They had no need to speak, although they could do if they wanted. The thought of anybody was available to everybody else, but this was not a problem in this world of love, without judgement or mockery. Even Nimly's fear had disappeared, and he was proudly standing among his new friends, fondly hugging Naëreen... In this world of pure love and shared thought, no misunderstanding could ever separate them now, or even embarrass them.
The tribe was now merrily greeting Nimly, and he was unable to stop thanking the Elves to have accepted him among them. This recognition was for him an incredible feeling of pride and gratefulness...
Some other great presences were to be felt, and even visible for some minutes. Radiant with purple light, several ancient Elves were welcoming them in their new life, emanating an incredible feeling of kindness... Nimly understood that they were in the elven paradise of Shelenaë, the mother goddess of the Elves, that the first Elves established into the realm of the spirit, to offer an heavenly adobe to all the dying Elves. So, this was in no way an illusion or a dream: the consciousness of Naëreen, and all the others, were really here with his own, sharing the same emotions, the same images, the same strange and moving experience! And here, they were all forever free of any sorrow, forever free to love each other as much as they wanted!
Nimly's only regret was that he missed all the beauties of his ancient world, but this was not without solution... They would see later.
He also had a thought to his ancient mates on the father's island... but any grief or anger dissipated at once... What for? He was free to live into this new world, and to forget the ancient. But one of the elder Elves remarked Nimly's scruple. He came near him, and kindly told him that he could still help his ancient mates to evolve, and become Elves in their turn, as he just did himself. This was important. But not urgent... They would see for this in due time, if he wanted to. For now, Nimly had to explore his new life, holding Naëreen's hand, walking without moving his legs along a glowing orange forest with mauve vines flowers and dark purple fuzzy grass, toward a village of merry songs... thousand laughters and flutes were making eerie reverberation in the undergrowth... He knew that a little hut of golden green ferns, with a scented couch of mauve flowers, was awaiting for him, to at last freely love Naëreen... Oh, this was urgent, they ran, among the sweet and tender laughters of all the tribe!
Into the physical world, the father, Dammiel, the young ladies and the main clerics, all showed a great grief... but it was only the ugly sting of the frustrated ego, which arises no empathy to us normal people. They threw the corpses of the Elves in the ocean, as they used to do with their slaves. Nimly's poor remains were found and buried with a great ceremonial and much cries... as if they never hated him.
After, they continued their usual life, soon forgetting the incident for other schemes, for other victims. The story was added to the collection of racist anti-Elf stories, after being strangely distorted: the inhabitants of the island said, and even soon sincerely believed, that their beloved Nimly was first ensnared to suicide by the Elves, and after, that they killed them as a punishment... If you ever guessed how such ugly defaming stories are created.
These people were engaged in the path of arrogance, and it is a much, much longer and much more painful path than the path of humility and love. They were bringing their own hell with themselves, wherever they went, life or afterlife... Unless, sometimes, «unpredictable» events happen «as at random», forcing them to open their hearts to others, to life. When this happens, some Elves in the Shelenaë paradise stop the ritual they were doing, and they feel much happier and proud than with any paradise vision.
It is said that Nimly and Naëreen are planning to reincarnate, but after the modern times, when this world will be definitively free of evil. They had their share, and it is no more their concern. They have much better things to build now, in the infinite universe. But this is beyond the reach of even our wildest imagination.
This text, first improvised in my bardic time, was then presented in the bardic competition «The Power of Love», an Elf Circle Bardic Event, in March 2011, where it won the first prize in the story category. The theme was to write a poem, or a story, with a theme that demonstrates or celebrates the power of love. I reworked this text since, to make it longer with a more gradual plot.
Texts were added the following copyright notice:
IMPORTANT COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: Original Bardic submissions are protected by copyright in the creators resident country. Material may not be used in whole or in part for any purpose by anyone other than the original author without prior consent in writing. If you want to use it you must contact the author and get written permission. If you are unable to get permission or reach the author, then it cannot be used.
IMPORTANT LEGAL CLARIFICATION:
I heard people saying that this text would constitute an apology of suicide. I totally dismiss this idea as false and legally defaming. The reason is that, when one submits a person to such a suffering or threats, that this person prefers an horrible death, as in this story, then this is an assassination, not a suicide. And in more a very cruel one. This assassination may use only psychological means, such as stalking, threats and mockery, but it is still a fully formed assassination, that law and courts must recognize as such.
The cause of the huge rate of youngsters suicides, elders suicides, and now children suicides, is not mental troubles or cults. In virtually all cases, the direct cause is the suffering caused by this ugly egocentric materialistic world, which offers only illusions to people, without any perspectives of true happiness. Common other causes are sociopaths (All the stalkers, hazers, mockers, racists, segregationists... morons), the dire consequences of recent sadomasochist economy restrictions, sad musics, sad books, sad movies, etc.
No religion promotes suicide as a mean to join the paradises which however are their main objective. One of the many reasons is that we have a lot of things to learn in this life, that we would miss once on the other side. And science confirms this: NDE experiencers, despite they are no more afraid of death, do not try to suicide, on the contrary they promote the love of life, and training into the way of loving others.
At last, there are ways to dodge painful experiences, and make of them occasions of evolving, instead of letting them destroy us.
The purpose of introducing the death of the hero in this story is obviously to show the after death, a condition we shall be confronted anyway, even if we try to delay this moment. Usually, novel and stories obey the «happy end» rule, where we see the characters eliminating their foes and marry. If not, at least the book offers some moral message or energy boost to the reader, as this story does. Novels not obeying this rule are just unpleasant to read, and they often are the true promoters of suicide, even if they do not say it openly. This is not a speculation: I know from real cases that a book can bring a deep trauma, and even kill. And there are many such books freely available in the libraries and supermarkets, that any teen can buy and read freely, without any warning of the threat they represent.
However, there is no end to life: even if the characters marry and are happy at the end of their adventure, they will anyway get old and die (In the anti-romantic modern version, they will have to bear a senseless work, the supermarket, unemployment or administrative harassment). So that the usual happy end is not really one. The only authentic happy end is when we definitively escape all suffering, with the elimination of all our neurosis. Only after, we can get better controlled life conditions beyond death. Hence the need for dealing with our neurosis, and for this, staying alive as long as we can, because we are now in the best place to do so.