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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
This story happened in the elven world, in the modern epoch, when the Horiathon was about to re-open definitively in both ways, allowing the Elves to contact again the Humans and return in their world. The Elves had to be ready for this encounter, and for this they had to develop modern things and modern science. They were very successful in this, and they even outmatched by far the human science. There were rumours of things happening, many unusual prayer requests in the temples, strange noises in the sky, and many other things said to be the result of science, like the wonderful radio transmitters. It was time, as the Human world was getting increasingly polluted and its nature destroyed, so that the wisdom and magic of the Elves would be badly needed...
However the daily life of Elves remained based on magic, and techniques were used sparingly.
Far on the hidden side of the Dauriath (The Elven world) was a strange place. Imagine a plain, filled with marshes, about 10kms in diameter, with an island in the middle. Water was not deep, but plants were growing into it, making it look like a forest. The climate was tropical, warm all year long. There were strange plants with large leaves and plenty of big red flowers. Others were jutting above the water, kind of banana trees, harbouring many insects and birds. It was a pleasant place, and, as the water was shallow, it was often hot, with the sun. However no Elves could live close by, as huge swarms of frogs were making unpredictable bursts of terrible noise.
There were hills around, with villages and elven people living here. They loved the marshes, and used to venture a bit into them. But it was very difficult to travel into them: people could not walk in, it was too deep. Boats could not go in, as it was encumbered with grasses and leaves. This made that travelling away into this place was long and arduous, and people did not go farther than some tens of metres.
However there was the island in the middle... and an inaccessible island is fascinating! It was visible from the hills all around the lake, as a small hill covered with trees. And Elves living around were feeling that there should be something special there!
And some said they saw LIGHTS on the island, late in the night! This did not happened often, and the witnesses were alone... and before they called for others to see, the lights were gone!
So stories were going on, with other rumours of magic and hidden places... Curiously, the elders were silent, not commenting, and even eluding questions. They should know, however... The Elders usually know everything!
Some wanted to go on the island... But this was very difficult, and even dangerous: it was impossible to walk into the marsh, and boats would get entangled into the thick vegetation. Going 5kms away to the island would take several days... and nights. As one cannot sleep in the water, they needed some boat... and food. All this is large and cumbersome in the marshes! Not to mention that the frogs would not allow them to sleep, screaming and jumping on them all night long.
One of the surrounding villages was a big-family, with a gang of merry Elven children, all about the same age.
Big-families were created because, in this epoch, when the Horiathon was about to be definitively re-opened, the Elven population was reaching the limit that nature can sustain. So the Elves were slowing the growth of their population. And children were less numerous, and, to avoid them being isolated, parents used to gather in a village, and have children in about the same time. This is what was called a big-family.
The results were merry bands of children or teens. In the village of the story, they were all about 13 to 16 years old. Of course, few were physically brothers or sisters, but it was like a huge family of about 35 children and 20 parents. They were all much loving each other, as true brothers and sisters do. Such kind of gangs usually break up when comes the age of marriage, using to sough love elsewhere. But some were marrying together... It is so good to find love just when getting out of childhood! But let us see some closer friends, two gals, Terylene and Melorene, and two boys, Mechel and Mizar.
It was a very beautiful village, on a small flat between forested hills, with a grassy space in the middle, and houses all around, for the children and parents to live in. A bit further were two or three community houses. Further were gardens, with trees shadowing the places, and of course plenty of flowers. The centre of the village was adorned with funny children builds and experiments, play things or childish art works. But now that they were teens, they were rather doing more mature stuff in the outer circles of the village, like small houses and workshops for smithies, carpentry, wood crafting, sewing, painting, music, and many others. Some were engaging into studies in arts or science. Others were building small temples and meditation lounges higher in the woods. The Elves always left untouched nature ranges between their villages, so that there could be peaceful and nice places for communion with nature, or with the inner spirit.
Elves usually do not need modern things to live, and for this reason there was no electricity in the village, just a radio transmitter for messages, with a pedal generator. This was not from a cult of poverty and ancient things, it was rather to keep an unspoiled magical life. Training for telepathy is much harder than pedalling the transmitter, but this produces a growth of the mind, while the transmitter does not! So the transmitter was here only for some emergency messages or general newscast.
So this was a wonderful place for being happy, all day long resounding with laughter, music and songs! Without noise or shouting: they were sweet elven children!
However, from this village, the sight was extending over the marshes... and to the mystery island. No Elders lived in the villages near the marshes, but there were some in a great temple nearby. Elder elves often have magical powers, so that they should know what is on the island... But they were not speaking of it! So that is anybody wanted to know what, they had to go themselves.
One morning, Melorene was so excited: She had seen the lights! A 10 seconds white flash. Enough for her to be sure, but not enough for calling others to check.
So the four, Mizar, Mechel, Terylene and Melorene, were very excited! This is how they decided to go and see.
All the children here were strongly united in their quasi-brotherhood, but they were growing each a different personality. With teenage, difference were becoming more and more visible. These four formed a more daring group, with a growing desire to see what was in other places, and special interest in magic and strange things. This is why they were more and more having their own projects, and were not speaking of their intents to anybody else in the village, already knowing that magic lives in the secret. And they already did some expeditions in the surrounding hills.
They all already tried to go into the marshes, and they knew how difficult it was. Not the least difficulty was that they could not see through the bushes, so they could easily get lost.
Mizar built a narrow canoe, able of squeezing between plants. They tried it everyone their turn, and it proved able to sneak between branches and bushes, although not without effort. They had to pull it with their arms, using the other branches around. And it was very prone to capsizing... Clearly they could not go far with this one.
They built another one, with a keel and ballast. As most of the boughs were vertical, there seldom were horizontal obstructions, so the keel added little burden.
An idea of Terylene, the shape of the canoe was somewhat like an arrow head, so that the bow of the following canoe could fit in the notch. Then the canoes would form a kind of train, saving a lot of efforts in sneaking into the bush.
Mechel added a waxed fabric cover shaped as a small tent, tightened on a light frame, to protect from rain and from jumping frogs.
As the canoes were long, our mates could lay into them, and sleep. But they still had a serious issue to solve: the noise of the frogs. They were making such a din that no village could be built near the marshes. It could be heard at several kilometres. More often at night, but sometimes at day, frogs were whimsically starting shouting parties. And then it felt like a jet aircraft approaching!
Elves do not need as much sleep as humans, but they still need some, and several days without is too much for them. Mechel came with some cotton-wax mixture earplugs, for being able to sleep despite this terrible and unpredictable noise. They also brought blankets, for a correct rest.
To address the issue of keeping their bearing, Terylene came with a pole fit with a mirror, to be able to see above the bush. So they would not get lost and wander for weeks into the endless maze of leaves.
The most difficult was doing all this in secret. Their friends were so kind, encouraging them, and coming often to see their progress... So that they exchanged their four canoes at night, in the carpentry workshop, to make their friends think that there was only one!
At last Melorene came a set of several poles, to attach the boats side by side at night, and allow them to sleep safely without the very narrow boats capsizing while they were sleeping.
They planned food and water for one week. The water of the marshes looked unsuitable for drinking, even for Elves, and they could not make fire to disinfect it. Elves have a much better health than Humans, but they still can be sick, or be poisoned by dirty water. Happily the shape of their canoe allowed them to store a lot of stuff under the sitting level.
One morning very early, they departed silently, just leaving a message in their rooms. They already did kinds of expeditions like this, and nobody would be worried about them before the midday meal. At this time, they would be far out of range for calling and shouting.
This is how they started their arduous journey, pulling with their arms to squeeze the prow of the first boat between the vertical boughs, and pushing them apart. To give an idea, there often were only 10cm between the boughs. One was easy to push, but they had to move 30 at a time! So it was harder than they expected, and they advanced only slowly, getting quickly tired of this.
It soon appeared that there were patches of very thick bush, and other lighter places. Soon they were able to sense the best places, but their trajectory was sinuous, and at evening, they did only one kilometre, half of their expected distance. One kilometre per day, this would take ten days to go and return, and they had water and food for 8. Happily the mirror allowed them to know exactly where they were, using surrounding hills as beacons.
Happily, the second day, the bushes were becoming thinner, and they even found patches of free water. So not all the place was a marsh, it was rather a lake. So that, in this way, they could travel much faster.
At the evening of the second day, they were only at 1km of the mysterious island. They had to set their camp (attaching their canoe together) in a thick patch of bush, with plenty of frogs. It was hard to sleep here, even with the earplugs, and worse, hosts of frogs were jumping on them! If the canoe were not fastened together, the frogs could make them capsize! Happily the tight waxed tents were protecting the canoes from being filled with frogs.
In the third morning they were tired (even Elfs can get tired, when submitted to intense effort and sleep deprivation). The bush was becoming very thick again, and they progressed very slowly, advancing only 400 metres in the whole day!
Only at evening of this day they were able to see the island! It first appeared as something dark through the plants, a bit scary. And suddenly they were in free water, with, in front of them, at some hundreds of metres, the dark silhouette of the trees covered island, in the dusk. It was surprising, awesome and somewhat intimidating... But they were so happy to reach their target at last, and to see the end of their tiresome journey! There seemed to be no obstacle now...
So merrily they paddled the remaining way, and soon they reached the very shore.
It was of flat rocks and short grass with some small bushes. There was an overwhelming feeling of a presence around, although nothing was visible in the darkness now. So they quickly took council, and decided to pull they canoes under the nearby bushes, so that their presence would not be noticed. They took their sleeping bags off the canoes, and installed themselves in a hollow bush. Happily there were no noise on the island, so that they could have a good sleep.
At least until two in the morning, where they suddenly heard a scary metallic ringing, coming from the summit of the island... It lasted a moment, and they had trouble to sleep after, hiding under their covers, frightened or on their guards.
The next morning, the sun reassured them. As soon as daylight allowed, they installed a better camp. Only three days of travel were allowing them for two days to explore the island, and even more, if they could find water. In facts, Elves can stay about a week without eating, without feeling bad. But lack of fresh water is more problematic.
In the sunrise, the place was now appearing merry and friendly, with nice green trees and clean water around. But they were still having this strong feeling of a presence, of being not allowed here, and getting some terrible punishment if they were caught.
It soon clearly appeared that the island was inhabited: a foot path was along the shore, with fresh traces into soft earth. Who could live here?
So they kept mostly hidden into the bushes, until the day was bright. Then they decided to explore around the island, while keeping hidden in bushes and between rocks. They advanced along the shore, and they quickly found a little water flow trickling between grasses. A very visible foot path was leading to the spring... nicely arranged with a stone border, enamel basins to fetch water, planks for washing clothes and even sheets drying on a wire nearby! A path was winding upward, with neat grass and pruned trees bearing lot of fruits, some that they did not knew.
They took some water, remaining only very shortly near the basin, while watching upward if somebody came... but nobody did. They were prettily scared, as if their life was at stake!
Rather than following the upward path, they decided to follow the shore. Getting all around the tiny island was only 3kms of easy walk, but they were avoiding the foot path, always keeping hidden under the bushes. So that it took the whole morning, in facts.
There were two little springs around the island, and a smaller third, left wild. In a place, they were very surprised to find a little harbour, with about a dozen canoes, very similar to theirs, even with the arrow shape!
Soon midday approached... they noticed nothing special, save that they were feeling happy and well in this place. They even had a desire to meditate. It was much easier... They had a desire to stay here for weeks... and it was very possible, with plenty of fruits to eat and water springs. But they had no idea of who was here, and what produced the lights. So, in the beginning of the afternoon, they decided to make it until the summit of the hill!
There were several paths leading to the summit, but they were too shy to follow them. They started to climb into the bushes, afraid of meeting somebody... The climb was easy, but soon the bush turned to orchards, and even small fields. Fruit trees were pruned and attended at... They were not free to take food here, anyway, as somebody may need it.
As they approached the summit, they found other evidence of presence, both ancient and recent, such as an ancient oven for ceramics. And toilets, and other things. So that when they arrived near the summit, they had a feeling of being really out of place!
They started spying the summit from behind a hedge. It was flat, with grass. There was like a camp, huts, and what looked as a fireplace in the very centre. Could the fire produce the lights? No, it would be seen as a purple dot, not as white flashes, and anyway it was sheltered from sight, with the hedges and trees around.
Suddenly people appeared just behind them... They were discovered!
Two hermits, wearing white priestly gowns, were standing besides them, looking more amused than angry... Probably others were in the huts or around in the wood, busy at gardening.
Our four friends blushed heavily, said hello awkwardly to the hermits, who replied hello too.
The four young elves were feeling faulty, as they knew that hermits must not be disturbed. They could be scolded, and even punished. Of course there are no delinquents among Elves, but they knew that sometimes children were misbehaving, and they were punished, see spanked. Perhaps the Hermits would retain them prisoner on their island!
Instead, the hermits welcomed our four friends, making them feel well. Usually hermits protect their places from visitors, with signs planted around, so that people cannot disturb them inadvertently. But these hermits were deep into these inaccessible marshes, so they were really not expecting visitors here.
However the Hermits were keeping mostly silent, not explaining anything of what they were doing here. Instead, they brought our four friends lower on the hill, where there was a kind of house for storing things, and a room for visitors to sleep. When the evening came, they shared a meal, speaking at soft voice, not to disturb the others meditating in their huts.
It was common in the elven lands to see places with people meditating. But the Hermits had no need to go as far as this secluded island, that they could reach only with a tiresome and dangerous journey: It was enough to go in the woods, away from busy places, and put signs to keep visitors away. So being quiet was not the reason why they were here.
This made that our friends were wondering why the hermits had to go into such an impractical and dangerous place. There should be some special thing here... The lights?
The evening came, then the night, with still no explanations. Anyway, our four mates would not dare to ask...
At last they were invited to sleep in some of the huts on top of the hill, which were empty. These huts were away from each other, so that they could not speak together. Anyway speaking was forbidden in this place. So what else to do than sleeping?
Late in the night, they were suddenly awaken by the slow ringing of a gong...
All the hermits were here, in a circle, around a place at the very centre of the grass, where the soil was bleak and rocky. The gong was rolling, together with a slow mantra murmur, by all the chests around. So this is what they heard the previous night! Our four young Elves, half awakened, were deeply moved, and a bit scared, not knowing what ritual was to take place in this strange setting. They were invited to sit in the circle, with the others.
A long wait started in the cold night. They did not dared to move, under the spell of the powerful ritual, mantra buzz and slow gong pulse...
While their eyes were adapting to darkness, the other hermits were appearing as clear silhouettes, all clad in white. They were very visible, and even the stones in the centre were fairly noticeable. It was as if a subtle light was pervading this place...
Then, they realized that their faces were now visible, the folds of their clothing, and even the grass blades...
This was not natural!
Everything was getting cleared and clearer into the circle, as if a lamp was in the middle... But there was no visible lamp!
They realized that one of the hermits was not sitting, but lying on a couch of straw, close to the centre...
And suddenly there was a wisp of intense white light in the middle of the circle, illuminating their faces!
The light flared for some seconds, and suddenly leaped to the lying hermit, and disappeared in him. All became night again, totally dark.
Our friends felt hands on their shoulders, inviting them to leave and go to bed again. They still had to keep silent, but their hearts were full of questions: What was this strange ritual? What was this light? But they had to wait for the day!
The next morning, the hermits were not in a hurry about replying questions. As usual, they asked our friends to keep silent near the ritual circle, and invited them to the common house, where they offered them a morning meal. Only few of the hermits were visible, busy at chores. The others were probably meditating in their huts or in other places.
At about 10 in the morning, the hermit who was lying on the couch appeared to them, and started to speak, at a low voice.
What was the light? nobody knew, in fact. This kind of phenomenon happens in some places.
(On Earth, we have one spooklight which was studied by scientists, in Hessdalen, Norway. It started to manifest in 1984, after a small earthquake, but its activity is now becoming rare. Several photos and videos were taken, but the elusivity of the phenomenon allowed for no real science study, and no explanation was found. It is said that there is one in Wu Ten Shan, China: Mao's fascists were unable to approach this place, and in Google Earth, a large patch of greenery was visible around, at a time. Buddhists say that this place is the abode of a great Boddhistasva: Manjrushri. The most well known and approachable spooklight would be the Joplin Spooklight, USA, said to manifest every night since 1884. But curiously, little science studies were made of it. Many others are said to appear more rarely, in many places on Earth, but it is difficult to know how many, as amateurs of false mysteries often report car lights as spooklights. But what is on the Hessdalen videos is not car lights!)
So there was a spooklight on this remote island, and the hermits were using it as a mean to leave their body, and have experiences in the other world. It seems that, in the contact with a spooklight, we can have some kind of spiritual experiences, that the hermits were seeking, for purposes of high magic.
The Hermits were however not willing to say more, and there was little to say, anyway, than this fantastic unexplained fact. And soon they asked our friends to leave. They were clearly no allowed here, even if their visit likely did not happened at random. But they had many things to learn before being able to safely engage into this kind of high magic!
So they had to take back their boats, and one of the hermits accompanied them, showing the path. The return journey took only one day and a half, as their guide was knowing the best passes in the marshes.
But they first had to take an oath of not speaking of the island to anybody!
So they came back to their village, and were welcomed by all their friends, and some elders with a strange smile... They told a story as what the island was just uninteresting, not worth the risk of the journey. Their embarrassed silence was tell tale evidence, however, and it comforted everybody in the idea that there was something out there, but they were not allowed to know.
But at least, our four friends were now knowing the name and place of the High Elven University of Magic!
This story was improvised in 2009 in the Elf Circle Bardic Circle that I was holding twice a month in the elven Lands of Second Life. I got the seed words «old tree», «Heat and Summer - Rain», «smell of rain», «Hurrycan», and «love and light».
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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