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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.
I Yichard Muni composed this text especially for the Bardic competition which was held in June 2008 in our Elven lands of Elf Circle, in Second Life:
¸.•*(¸.•*´ ~ `*•.¸)`*•.¸
.•*?`¨`• METAMORPHOSIS •´¨`?*•.
*•.¸('*•.¸ ~ ¸.•*´)¸.•*
«A Midsummer's Bardic Competition» presented by Farley Crabgrass, Master Storyteller, and Rose Mackie, Poet Laureate. The theme was a work of poetry or prose based on the concept of «metamorphosis» or growth, and keeping with Midsummer.
Let us meet for real! Name: Richard Trigaux. Artist name: Yichard Muni
Every Friday, 12pm SLT (19hTU) (France: 21h), Elf Dream Meetings and stories, in our virtual region Daur Anarie in Alternate Metaverse! (How to enter)
Every friday, 12pm SLT (19hTU), Elf Dream Meetings and storytelling, in our virtual region Lysaer (How to enter)
By Yichard Muni, elf bard
Could I introduce myself otherwise? I was a young unmarried man, with simple features, slim body, no beard yet, half long blonde hairs, and somewhat handsome as I understood later. But my buddies were keeping saying that I was a wimp with no chance to ever attract any woman. I was a modest worker, a clockmaker apprentice.
Our clock making trade was a simple one, where we always did the same things. But recently, the development of sea faring and the alliance between the countries of the new Shartan continent, added an unexpected difficulty. When travellers, mostly diplomats, traders or rich explorers, bring their own clocks from far away, we had to tune them again for the local time. This is because of the Dauriath, the Other World in the sky, which makes clocks run slower when we approach it, or faster when we go away.
Pink city it was nicknamed, Tellutaar, the town and harbour where I lived. This was because of its beautiful brick walls and scenery of huge temple domes rising from lush parks and green trees. Seen from this place, the Dauriath was just a low crescent on the southwestern horizon, like a far mountain, bright in the sunrise, dark in the sunset. It did not changed much our day length, just that the summer sunsets ended abruptly, bringing full night in only some seconds. We just missed those long summer evenings.
I was told that the general lowering of the ocean level, which began seven centuries ago, closed many ancient sea roads, and made a continent of what previously was a large span of separate islands, called the Shartan. And it was to continue, as the sea level was still lowering. This brought the end of so many harbours, and some had to close all business only 25 years after the ocean started to descend.
Right on the contrary, Tellutaar took advantage of this situation, as it happened to be over a steep submarine slope, so that the harbour had to be moved only for five kilometres over seven centuries. More, the retreating ocean was uncovering a former sea valley, so that we still have a natural harbour, without the need to build new jetties, just floating wooden moors. Still a former lighthouse was visible, uselessly hanging high above the new city.
In this way, Tellutaar developed much more than any other city in the region. New buildings were made near the harbour, as it was moving down slope. These houses were still useful all along their normal lifespan. When they went too far to serve the harbour, they were used by many other trades like artisans, tailors, artists, and clock makers. Former harbour docks were used by local traders. Still higher on the slope, only long lasting stone buildings remained, forming a district for rich people and luxury houses. Decayed cob houses were destroyed and replaced by orchards, which much contributed to the wealth of our merchants. Still higher, on the top of the slope, in the place of the ancient city before the ocean started to descend, were the palace of the Marshis, the powerful Lords of Tellutaar, together with the antic temples with their majestic domes and minarets. Also, the climate did not changed much in our lands, so that cultivations were still going on the plateau at the top. The losses in agricultural yield were compensated by new fertile lands uncovered by the retreating ocean.
Gaining lands over the ocean created much political havoc. Most of the former islands of the Shartan were independent countries, and some grew more than others, claiming more new soil and changing the force balance. When the islands joined, new boundaries had to be created. After some wars, a general agreement emerged, so that the sharing was made following the water lines, where the ocean last retreated. But this was still leaving many unclear cases, not to speak of bold invaders who were just settling beyond those natural lines, under the pretext that those new lands were unused. Especially the traditionalist Elves, loathing to move, were regularly victims of this scheme, finding one day their ancient sacred lands surrounded by new hostile foreign settlers. Anyway most people agreed that the Elves already had enough lands, and should not claim new ones, even when the cooling climate forced them out of their mountains to get new cultivable land.
Here in Tellutaar we had only few Elves, mostly traders or travellers, gathering at the Old Pastel Inn, a place where only Elves and Elf-friendly Humans dared to enter. As most people in Tellutaar, I was thinking that Elves were just hairy lazy useless hoboes, and that they deserved much less care than us, busy and active Humans. Of course, like most city dwellers, I loved their art work and minstrels with beautiful voices, but this was not enough to make forget all the rumours about their luxury life, hidden treasures and underhand treason. But most people feared the Elves much more than they hated them, so that they were usually left at peace. Few armies dared to enter the elven woods or mountains, for fear of darts shooting out of nowhere, terrible traps and poison, boulders coming loose with no reason, or peaceful beasts suddenly becoming enraged. Elves were feared as unforgetful warriors, and still more as terrible magicians. So many ununderstandable and terrifying things were happening when dealing with the Elves, that most people just avoided any contact with them, crossing them in the street while doing as if they did not existed.
The change in political balance however made the Elves deeply weakened, hungry, surrounded with civilized lands gaining over their wilderness. Even their magic was on the decline. Above all, we were now about a billion humans, and increasing fast, to compare with only a dwindling 18 million Elves, mostly artists and other unable people. So there were now rumours of strong military actions, in order to at last put an end to centuries of skirmish wars, and to be able to develop these lands safely. Also, our armies were now much bolder, as they recently discovered fire arms, able to kill at a distance, making useless the long training of swordmen and bowmen. Bullets flew faster than magic, as it was said. And furnaces were smoking and forges were resounding day and night, so that the fate of the Elves was only a matter of time.
Right now, we were still officially at peace, but the idea of a coming war was slowly but steadily making its way into everybody's mind. Nobody dared to have only a slanted look toward an Elf in the street, but there were knowing nods behind them, and hot discussions going on in the taverns.
I must admit that I did not liked the idea of attacking the Elves, but this just looked like a necessary evil to everybody, in order to bring a lasting peace, and also to make a rational use of their large forests and mines. Certainly I had many sad dreams of disappearing beautiful voices of singing elven ladies, but at day I was simply busy on my clock making work.
Change came unexpectedly, in a beautiful spring day, when a group of several hundred Elves suddenly arrived in town. They were given a former army barrack compound in the rich district, for some commercial purpose, unless it was diplomatic. Rumour was going on that they were here to try to avoid the war, and replace it with a ban, in the Dauriath it was said. Better to say in hell, as nobody never went to the Dauriath, and could even not figure how to go in the Other World in the sky.
Here in Tellutaar the new Elf group was welcomed by an awkward silence, and few open comments. But a discrete stress was to be felt, with however nobody daring to do anything which would actually worsen things. Even the militia men of the city were more often patrolling in the streets, to avoid any actual provocation from drunkards or sword draggers.
After only some weeks, the Elves had cleaned the former army compound, repaired declining roofs, whitewashed the walls, and tidied a place to live in for several months or years. They even managed to plant trees in the former honour yard. This was certainly against their repute of laziness, but far not enough for everybody to love them. Most of the time, they stayed into this place encircled with high walls, going in town only in groups. They were always very polite and avoiding all the many little abuse of ordinary life, such as bumping into people. They also wore discrete common clothes or grey gowns. But despite this effort, there still was an invisible wall between them and us Humans.
Right at this time I became very curious of the Elves, trying to get a glimpse of their place when the gate was open, or saying polite words when I crossed them into the street. But despites this, I could hardly get more than a polite smile. This was very frustrating, especially from the Elven ladies who were really beautiful, despite their modest grey clothing. It was rare to see them in town, and anyway they never were alone.
Days were passing by without change, when I unexpectedly obtained what I wished: my work master Arkad asked me to deliver and set several large clocks in the Elven place. But he warned me thoroughly: «Be careful, Lonie, in this place. The magic of the Elves is still strong today, but more subtle, less visible, and they use it against us, without warning, or for no reason. So you have to be very polite, very professional, never contradict them in any way, and never engage into any personal relation or business with them. Elves are very seductive and treacherous creatures, just forget about their beauty and songs. Love their artwork, but never love them. And above all, never think to only approach one of these beautiful Elven ladies, they will put a dreadful spell on you, that no man can bear».
Trying to look neutral, but in reality as happy as frightened, I went to the portal of the Elve's place, bearing a clock into a box. The former military portal changed little, but the feeling was now completely different, as of a palace, that was the word which came into my mind. I shyly put a foot beyond the half opened door, but as soon as I did, three Elves went on me, asking politely who I was. They were not bearing any distinctive sign, only the same grey gowns that they used to wear in town. But something into their tone and attitude immediately told me that they were guards, and it was better not to play fool with them.
Right after I explained my purpose, they called a fourth guard, who told me: «Sir, I shall accompany you into our place. We usually not receive guests, so please just keep following me, to avoid finding yourself into inappropriate places».
I tried to look everywhere as much as I can, but I found only closed doors and empty corridors, so that my first visit to the Elven palace showed little to me. I placed my clock into one of the main halls, with brick walls, flagstone ground and carpentry ceiling. A wooden platform was set at the far end, probably for some speaker. Some elven insignias were placed on the walls, skilful woodwork and painting it must be said, and I know of what I am speaking. Some Elves men and ladies were passing from time to time, bearing the same grey gowns. From other rooms close by, merry or busy voices could be heard. Nothing very extraordinary, just a subtle scent was to be noticed, under the smell of newly painted wood.
Going back to our workshop, I found Arkad waiting for me. He turned around me, looking carefully, as to check if I was still in one piece. He asked many questions about what I did, who I encountered, if I correctly avoided any look toward an Elven lady, a serious enough offence he said, to deserve a dreadful magical spell. Then he looked satisfied.
At the end of the day, I used to go directly to my little lodge, to get a deserved meal. But tonight I had to work in the astronomy place up the hills above the town. This was to precisely set clocks, with the use of stars, the only safe time beacon into this world of shifting clocks.
Unexpectedly (or very expectably), on my way I met several buddies from my former school. I disliked them a bit, as, for some reason, they always used me as a target for their jokes. It was only «gentle jokes», they said, but most of the time they left me irritated or humiliated. If I tried to fight back with other «gentle jokes», it always resulted into them becoming really angry. So I had to bear this, or to have no friends at all. The choice was just between accepting the «kind jokes», or to have nobody to speak with, except Arkad who was only thinking of business.
I followed them reluctantly, as they invited me in their usual pub. I disliked this place, as there were often boozed people and fights. But it was still soon in the evening, so none of this was happening yet.
Knowingly looking at each other, they «kindly» offered me a large mug of beer, while patting me in the back with loud cheers, and went to their point in a matter of seconds: «Lonie, is it true that you went into the elven barracks?»
So they knew. How? Oh, I imagine they had no need to work all day like me, and had plenty of time for spying at people.
For half an hour, I had to reply to incredible questions, while asked to drink beer. I could just explain that I saw just very ordinary things, and no ladies with transparent dresses wandering along. Then I realized that they were trying to get me drunk, and I had to refuse abruptly the third glass. As usual this made them angry, saying that I was unable to enjoy life. But I knew all too much that after some glasses of beer, things happen which are very far from enjoyable. So I began to tell them that I was to take a religious vow never to drink again. This used to make them really upset, but not this time. Only after I remembered that Jossie, the drunkery leader, was whispering things to the others, hiding laughter. But it was Lizzie, the most «sympathetic» of the gang, who went with the thing:
«Lonie, I know a tip to make you friendly with the Elves!
-What tip? I asked, half confident.
-You wear a white scarf on your shoulders. It is a diplomatic symbol, that you are friendly with them. They will accept to speak with you!
-And tell you their secrets!
-You buggers. Let me leave, I have accurate work to do tonight, no need to be awkward with beer».
I managed to leave the pub, half happy and half mortified, as usual with them, and dreaming of a world without beer and without «gentle jokes», where friends would simply speak together without always trying to mock at each other, and be merry without the need to get sick with drinking. The street was now dark, with lanterns casting some reddish light here and there, just allowing to walk without running into somebody. Windows were gleaming with warm lights, meal smells were inviting, and laughter were heard all along the way. It would be so simple to just enter into one of these pubs, saying that I need some friendship. But I knew that years would be needed to make other buddies. And this just to get other «gentle jokes». What a mess.
I went into the observatory. It was a kind of two storey tower, in a small park behind Arkad's home, encircled with a brick wall and strewn with various trees. I was not allowed in the home, but I could walk to the tower through an alley in the park. It was once well tended and flowered, but since Arkad's wife was dead, grass was growing high.
Arkad was waiting for me in the observatory. The work was simple, but requiring much attention. We had to look at the passage of a star in front of an alidade, and do the same thing the next night. This allowed to know the exact duration of the day, and then we just needed some calculus to correct the motion of a clock. Onto the pendulum of clocks, weights sliding on graduated rulers allowed to set the desired correction. Two nights were enough to set an ordinary clock, and three for a precision one.
But Arkad had found a fix, that he considered as a deadly trade secret: he had made a chart of the exact time between several different stars, and this allowed us to do the job in only one night. Usually 20-30 clocks were to be set in a session. Usually, as we were still dependent on weather, and often a cloudy night was ruining our work. A simple cloud could already be a problem, and for this reason we used to take several measurements, with several stars, for each clock. All this was enough to make us busy until late in the night.
Arkad used to start the work, and then he went to bed, letting me or Klassie, the other apprentice, complete the measurements, what we did each in our turn. I loved this strange place filled with mechanic, accuracy and calculus, but Klassie did not.
So after a while Arkad left the workshop, and I found myself alone into the deserted building in the park planted with obscure trees. There was a little room under the observatory itself, for the calculus and tools, with a candle as only light. Here the clocks were ticktocking in a merry concert, but the upper room was obscure and silent.
Arkad had recently improved our work, with the use of a very strange instrument, that he called a telescope. He too considered this as a deadly secret. But here the reason was quite different: the priests were forbidding this instrument, which use, or mere ownership, entailed a dreadful punishment. It was a bronze tube with a carved and polished glass at each end, allowing to aim at the stars with a much better accuracy, and also to use fainter stars. This eased the work, but Arkad used to warn me never to use the telescope for any other purpose, and especially never remove it from its support, where it could be aimed only at useful work. Arkad was good at saying such odd things. Astonished, I asked why, but he just replied angrily that I should even not think at this, it was forbidden by religion to look at the Gods, what we called planets in the sky. Another time he warned me that people became mad after looking at the planets or at the fuzzy stars. Since, I carefully avoided to ask him any other question about this.
But, this night, I dared to think. The telescope was holding on its support with a simple screw, which could be rotated with a knob. And two planets were clearly visible through the bay we used for work. One minute to unscrew, and one to put back the thing into place. If Arkad came unexpected, or the other apprentice, I could hear them climbing the stair, and had time to put it back in place. So my fear subsided, and I went more and more confident.
Several times, I unscrew the bronze tube, and tried to screw it back as quick as I could. Removing more of the screw each time. But the night was so quiet, I would hear Arkad walking into the alley far before he would climb the stair.
Heart beating, cheeks burning, I moved the telescope out of its socked. And dared my first look toward Ishtar, the planet which is, as everybody knows, the goddess of arts and trades, bearing a woodcrafter hammer and chisel.
Just a greenish circle.
I quickly put back the instrument into its socket, my hand on the screw, tensely hearing at any footstep in the night.
But I was not mad.
It took me some time to look again, with more attention. The planet Ishtar just appeared as a greenish circle, with two small stars just nearby. If it was the hammer and chisel, any star could do the same.
Never looking more than some seconds without putting back the instrument in its socket, I tried Foggier, the planet of evening, which is, as everyone knows, the god of the hells, all the time punishing disobedient people with a huge whip.
A white crescent.
And the fuzzy stars, said to be delusions set by Foggier to imitate the rightful gods.
One was a small greenish irregular blob, the other a large fuzzy oval. But I really had a strange and ununderstandable feeling looking at them, as of something incredible and very important.
This time, I put back the instrument into its socket, not to touch it again, tightening the screw. I realized I took a huge risk: if I had let the instrument fall, breaking the expensive glasses, Arkad would have fired me, and I would be thrown into jail, perhaps tortured.
But I was not mad.
I was not hearing Foggier's demented laughter, not hearing his nine thonged whip whistling and creaking.
Simply I realized that Arkad told me wrong things. And the priests too. And certainly the buddies too, with their «gentle jokes».
I lost nearby one hour with that, and I had to concentrate on the remaining work. What to say to Arkad? That a cloud passed? I don't like to lie. That I felt asleep? He would certainly slap me in the face, but this was less disturbing than telling a plain lie.
Arkad used to allow me to wake up late, after a night of work. When I went back to the workshop, he asked me nothing, just looking happy with the work I did. Probably he did not noticed the half an hour without any result. This happened in routine work.
And I still was not mad. Not seing pink growlies. Not hearing mocking laughers. Not feeling the bite of Foggier's whip. Just life as usual. Arkad busy, grousing after a faulty clockwork as he used to do. Him a liar? No. He just believed the priests. Them liars? Unthinkable if they were entrusted by the Gods. But there were no gods, or at least not in the way they said, not in the sky. The priests were saying something false. How to express this? They were telling lies. And they were ordinary people, not appointed by the Gods. So there was nothing extraordinary to see them telling lies. They were ordinary people, telling lies, like most ordinary people use to do for any or no reason, despite knowing very well it is a sin. And those priests spread frightening stories to avoid people to check. And if, me, Lonie, began to walk in the street saying that Foggier is a white crescent and Ishtar a green circle, they would all say that I am mad. And throw me in a jail. And even Arkad would believe it, and never dare to look in the telescope himself.
«Lonie, please take this other clock to the Elf embassy. I tuned it to our local setting»
So it really was an embassy. I forgot the Elves with this story. Well, it was better to go to the Elves before Arkad noticed that I was unable to work properly today.
Half way down the palace (I could not set my mind on calling it a barrack) I met all the gang of buddies, who were looking as waiting for me. Not really welcome.
«Lonie, try that white scarf!
-Yes, try it! Crazie brought one for you!
-No, I don't want to try that thing!»
But Crazie thrown a white scarf on my shoulders, and the whole gang began to bully me, taking the risk of breaking the precious clock I was bearing.
«If you break it, Arkad will call the Militia and make you pay it all! It is an expensive one!
-We shall say him that you were careless, he will never believe you alone, against ten of us!
-It is you who will get jail and whip!»
Their tone was no more «gentle joking», it was really threatening, as they used to do when they wanted me to involve into one of their mischiefs. So I had no other choice than walking with the scarf on my shoulders, with them coming five metres behind me, with innocent looks as if they were here just at random. I was wondering how the Elves would interpret the white scarf, if it really was a friendship symbol, or some tasteless joke.
We went until the gates of the Elven palace. Still three guards were waiting, but only one of the yesterday team. They could not miss the scarf. At first, they behave like yesterday, not showing any emotion or intent. They pushed the gate in front of the buddies, without any comment. Then the fourth guard came, inviting me with a smile. Was he simply more friendly, or was he reacting to something else than yesterday? At this stage I could not tell yet, but clearly the other Elves were looking at me in a friendlier way, even smiling. And an Elf smiling, it was really moving... not to speak of an Elve!
«Please do first your work with this clock, before we speak». I understood that the scarf had a meaning, and probably a good one. But I had an embarrassing feeling of being cheating, infringing into something, of being out of place, not deserving this confidence. I moved my hand to remove the scarf.
«No, please keep it. There is nothing wrong with this» the guard said with a kind little laughter.
We went in a room just besides the previous, which looked like an office, with writing desks and shelves for scrolls. It was looking like any other office, save some cosy chairs. Only some minutes were required to set the clock in place, and start it. The guard was looking at me with a satisfied look.
«Now please come with me».
I first felt my tongue stuck in my mouth and my heart beating fast. I should tell him that this was wrong, I was not wearing this from my will, it was a joke. I tried to speak, to explain this before something unpleasant happened, but nothing came out of my mouth. I was so used to obey under threat that I was completely blocked now, just able to follow my guide!
But I also began to feel something else, which made me still more shy, although it was much more pleasant: a feeling of self confidence and happiness, to have been noticed by the Elves, and to get more than just their usual polite replies.
«Private» was written on that door. I understood that the previous rooms were for Humans, and some business the Elves had to deal with them. But now I was invited into an Elves only part!
I was led along the same endless straight corridors of the former barracks. The brick walls and stone ground had been scraped off the filth and ugly soldier's tags, and the wooden ceilings had been whitewashed. And now coloured fabrics were set, at places, on the walls. Not luxury fabrics or complicated tapestries, but they showed some attention, to set a much warmer atmosphere, to bring some beauty into this cold place. After only some weeks of elvish presence, the ancient barracks were already transfigured.
The guard knocked at a door. A soft but firm voice within replied, and the guard invited me to enter, following me in and closing the door.
This room was very different of the others. The bare brick walls were covered with green and brown fabrics reflecting golden hues. Low furnitures and cushions were all around. There was a kind of desk, and, sitting behind, two Elder Elves, clothed in their traditional way. One had shiny black hairs and a dark blue gown with clearer patterns. The other was bearing white hair of old age, and a light blue gown with complicated embroideries. A woman was also sitting on a cushion in the corner, looking old, but still very sensual with her mass of brown hairs and green robes spreading all around. The ambient was somewhat solemn and impressive, and in the same time cosy and familiar. But above all, there was a scent, clearly a perfume, an exquisite fragrance that only some flowers or fruits could match. But it was definitively not any fruit or flower I knew. There was no perfume holder or incense burner, and I had a clear feeling that the sweet perfume was coming from the strange Elve lady.
Some words were exchanged, in an elven language I could not understand. Then something strange happened. It lasted only some seconds, but I had a clear feeling that the two Elders were inside me, feeling my emotions, knowing what I knew, what I wanted to do, and were just merrily happy with this. The woman uttered some words again, with a deep moving voice. Then the dark blue Elf spoke to me, in my own language:
«Welcome, bearer of the Listal. We sincerely hope that you shall find what you are looking for. It will not take much time, I guess». and he had a short laughter.
Being accustomed for so long to being mocked at, this laughter made me feel awkward. But in the same time, I had a deep feeling that it really was a kind laughter.
Then, some words again, and the guard invited me out, with no further explanation. We went back into the corridor, and then into the main yard, toward the entrance gate. Only two minutes elapsed into the Elder's room, but for me it was as if half a day had passed by.
«Now the Elders checked that you are sincere into your demand. You are invited to come later this evening, and every other evening, as much as you want, until you find what you are seeking for. But I have to ask you to be careful, and in the very first, never wear this Listal out of this place. You know that many humans are hostile to the Elves, and they could bring trouble to you or to us. Also, we designed a better mean to enter in here, without being watched by everybody. Just come into the Old pastel Inn nearby, and we shall arrange things.»
He waved me a warm but enigmatic good bye, before the other guards opened the gate and led me out.
I just had to walk again into the street, as if nothing happened. I was just so confused: I was sincere, in a demand I ignored... this was just insane, or I missed something. And if...
«Gentle laughters» and steps trotting behind me. The buddies gang had waited for me, and now they were checking the result of their joke. But I was myself ignorant of it...
«You fools, nothing happened, this scarf is just a hello, it has no meaning. I just did my job and was pushed out» I said, without even looking back. The trotting steps stopped, and the laughers went silent with disappointment. My feeling about them was increasingly unpleasant, and I began to really fear their presence, rather than hoping for their friendship. I had a gasp of disgust, imagining their lewd comments and coarse remarks, if they knew that I actually met Elves, and even an elve lady…
I went walking toward the middle town, toward my home. In this district, old wooden buildings were starting to decay, and they were used as cheap rentals for poor workers like me. Creaking grey planks stairs, disintegrating cob walls, unfriendly caretaker, noisy neighbours, and above all mephitic toilet smell, all this was the common lot of most people in Tellutaar. But I had no other hope than working hard, in order to become a qualified worker, and perhaps, one day, become the boss in my turn, when Arkad would be too old. But he would probably entrust the other apprentice before, as I was not good at trading and bargaining. I was told in the temples that lies are bad, and in the same time, I was asked to lie to customers...
I had only a small room, where I had to sleep and kitchen. The wooden ceiling was black with the soot of candles. Under some remaining hints of whitewashing, the grey-ochre walls were uneven, showing at places the underlying cob work. On the bed, the covers were of dark brown fabric. I had a tin jug to fetch water to the fountain in the street, and a pan to cook some food on the black cast iron stove. A metal chest was used to keep the food safe from rats, while some brownish clothes were hanging here and there. And... nothing else, not any decorative object, save an old cast bronze candle holder, that I got for cheap on the flea market because one of its three prongs was broken. But I never used more than one of our expensive candles at a time. Not even a fire lighter, we all had to go down to the caretaker to light our candles. Not very practical, for the ones who were coming back late in the night, like me, and I often had to grope my way up into the stairs.
For the remaining of the day until late in the night, I only little dared to move, thinking to the incredible events of that day.
They all were liars.
First, the priests, who were spreading lies. For what purpose? They were all living near the old temples, in the top of the city, into luxury palaces with plenty of servants. Only few monks were keeping the old tenets of the religion: °To be confident in the ONE°, °To live in a modest way°, and °To be kinder with others than with ourselves°. They were living out of the town, into poor old monasteries in the mountains beyond? Recently one was condemned to death and killed for «arrogant attitude», but nobody knew what this arrogance was.
They told lies about the Elves too. The elf place was clean and beautiful, when my very own home was ugly and dark. The elf place was scented, when all our houses had awful toilet smells in the corridors, and our clothes and covers smell bad. Our very bodies smelled bad, our breath was foul, and I remember my only relation with a woman as a race to avoid smells. Poor Tallia was in balance between me and Rannie, and I must confess that, after that awful night, I did nothing to retain her.
But above all, Elves were all the time described as lazy, proud and arrogant, always trying to use their magic to ensnare people into dreadful suffering. I saw nothing such, right on the contrary, I saw true kind smiles and frank, honest looks.
My buddies too were lying. I was not the poor awkward guy they used to describe. I was able to attract the attention of fair, wise and kind beings, without a need for bad advices from Jossie. Right on the contrary, each time I followed his advices (or rather obeyed him) it resulted into troubles: once I had to quickly throw a scroll into the fire, before Arkad realized it was tampered. He never found anything wrong, but for months I had the awful feeling that he knew, and he was waiting some occasion to nab me and punish me.
So what? I just was able to stay like that on my bed, while the time of the invite with the Elves was passing by. To be right against everybody makes a strange feeling. And very unpleasant too. It would be much simpler to follow the general opinion. Much less troublesome. And if, after all, it was this to be mad? I was not feeling Foggier's whip, but being right against everybody is a worse feeling than being whipped in the public place.
All this ended into a troubled sleep, populated with dreams of Jossie laughing in a demented way, brandishing Foggier's whip, and of beautiful Elves smiling at me in a friendly and honest way. And I enter into a scented room tended with wonderful tapestries and minstrels singing with beautiful voices, and suddenly SHE is here... Oh no, this is impossible, I would never dare!!
The next day, I went at work as usual. But I was so absent-minded that Arkad easily guessed that I was in trouble. But he guessed wrong: «Are you in love» he giggled, and the other apprentice giggled too, a «gentle laughter...» I was just able to mutter something ununderstandable, which rather convinced him than getting him out of his mistake. At least I thought so, before he continued:
«Aren't the Elves who muddled your mind?»
I felt a sting in my heart, to the idea of Arkad commenting my encounter, with the other apprentice doing the disgusting chuckles of womanisers.
«No no, they did not!
-They just led me out after I placed that clock!
-But everybody in town say that you were wearing a Listal! To mingle with that darn race, this is not the kind of behaviour I expected from you!»
This time I was so embarrassed that I could just keep silent. When I managed to recover:
«I am sorry, this was a joke, Jossie and his gang, they forced me to wear that, but I don't know what it means!
-Everybody knows what it means, and it is really a shame.
-They bullied me, and they could break that clock!
-Shut up, you liar! I don't believe that! Jossie is a good worker and a skilful merchant too. He would be a much better apprentice, why the hell did I preferred you! I am no more confident with you, now. Klassie will go to the Elves in your place, and you, I forbid you to go to the observatory now!!»
I was to reply something, but I saw that Arkad was really angry now, and when this happens it is much better to keep silent than to argue. Anything I could say would just worsen things. Even Klassie, the other apprentice, was now throwing dark looks at me, and it was not because Arkad doubled his duty to the observatory.
I was just angry too, and Arkad started to check my work at every minute, scolding me each time I did a mistake. Obviously he was looking for a pretext to put an end to our contract. This was very bad for me, as I would be left with no work and no money, just to ruin my health into dirty or exhausting jobs.
With the end of the work session, I started to think again. So Arkad was a liar too. But in a strange way: just he called a lie everything which disturbed him, even if he knew it was not a lie. And there was a link between the Elves and the look of the planets in the telescope. But what?
My anger somewhat subsided with the evening, allowing me to think in a more sane way. But I was still deeply mortified by Arkad's attitude. I went back to my home, and ate some food.
Then, lying on my bed, I allowed my thinking to go astray... toward the Elves. From some discussions between Arkad and our customers, I understood that this diplomatic Elf group was engaged in an important negotiation, but ordinary people knew little details. The Elves were here so set an agreement between the Elves and the Humans, in order to avoid a new war, a large war which would certainly doom them to extinction. Getting definitively rid of the Elves was a very exciting view for many, and most Human kings were keen for this. But they also feared some dreadful cost, as they all knew that the elven magic was still efficient. Less visible, more discret, but still able of unpredictable and deterring things, not to speak of what would happen if this magic was used at a world wide scale, by desperate Elves… So the elven embassy was considered seriously, and respected.
For me, the idea of the Elves disappearing was already unpleasant. But now, with the marvellous vista of the warm smiling Elves, compared to the petty mindedness of Arkad and most people I knew, it made me really sad. And more, came again the image of HER in my dreams... HER so beautiful, spreading a sensual warmth into my body, and soothing my mind of any sorrow, just with her eyes... I suddenly felt a painful longing, an urge to go back to the Elves again, before it was too late and the dream fades away, forever depriving me of any happiness. Without thinking, I jumped out of my bed, and took my best clothes. I used all the water I had to wash my face and hands at best. Darn rich people, it was said that they used to take baths every week, and use expensive perfumes. But I could not have a bath here. Anyway to take baths was widely considered as obscene and unhealthy, not to speak of the shameful waste of water.
I went out as silently as possible, closing my door without noise, avoiding a neighbour who was using the toilets. Sure, I was going to my invite to the Elves. I had a feeling of something I should not do, which would change my life forever. But today I have no regret for this.
Of course, as soon as I was out in the night, I heard a muffled «gentle laughter». So I took the opposite direction, toward the observatory. Then, when far enough not to be seen, I turned into a smaller street leading me back to the Elf palace. It was a longer way, but I could not be spotted. Many time I checked if somebody was following me, but those guies were not good trackers. This path was unpleasant however, with drunkards and that kind of women I could never love. But I was on my way to...
I had to go through gardens and orchards, a very pleasant place into the warm summer night filled with scents and grasshoppers sounds. Then the Elf palace was visible. It looked dark, all its windows shutters closed, and silent, as if there was nobody in. Some stars were silently shimmering above. Skirting the massive walls, I went to the Old pastel Inn, as specified by the guard. I had a short path to go across the main street, toward the door of the inn. Before showing myself, I had a look. No buddies visible, although they could be hiding into some darker recess. I had an idea, to have this show-off gait they used to display. Probably they could spot me from very far, because of my gait, as I used to walk as I learned from my mother, without trying to imitate those ugly fashioned sword draggers. So, for once, I imitated them... very awkwardly, probably, as a passer by turned his head to look at me.
I entered into the inn. It was looking dark, as all the inns, with only some candles here and there, and a lantern near the bar. Some customers were sitting around the tables, appearing as dark silhouettes. I loathe entering into an inn, as, most often, I am welcomed by «gentle laughter», and even sometimes by openly coarse laughter asking me if I am a girl or a boy. Here, nothing such, just a pause into the ongoing conversations. Several customers were also wearing long hairs in the elvish fashion. Probably they were Elves, or elve-friendly Humans. This was not unusual, as often Elves used to stay in town for some business, or to travel. And, as long as we were not in open war, they were allowed to do so. But it was better for them not to wander at night in some districts of the town, as they could easily be robbed, or worse.
«Good evening, Sir, what can I do for you?» a kind voice asked.
I suddenly felt awkward, not knowing what to do or what to ask for. I certainly was not here to spend hours just chatting or drinking beer. But suddenly I remembered: the Listal! It was still in my pocket, now crumpled and probably not so white. I began to unfold it, but the bar tender suddenly stopped me with his hand, and replied:
«Sir, we have several rooms available. Please follow me.
It was a kind but commanding tone. The Elf bar tender led me through a corridor to another room, with bright candles, intricate greenish paintings on the old wooden walls, and several long haired persons speaking merrily. As soon as I was in, a voice greeted me:
«Ah! Lonie! I wondered if you could manage to come! Feel welcome here among us!»
He was one of the guards I met yesterday!
«Hello, Lonie, I am Erwan, and here are Ishtaran and Mellior. But you will not see elf ladies here, it is better for her to stay sheltered into our compound, and especially not to go in the streets at night, it is so dangerous for them.
-Good evening Lonie, I heard of you. We can bring you into our compound by a secret passage. In theory you are spending a night in room 16. But in facts... please let us not lose time, follow us.»
They took me to the cellar, among chests and casks. Well hidden behind shelves was the entrance of a passage.
«We knew for years that this would be useful one day. So we had plenty of time to dig this tunnel, and make of it a very presentable place. But of course, it is a secret, in which you are entrusted in. Should you betray us, a terrible punishment awaits for you, together with the special hate of the Elves.»
Then, with a softer tone:
«Oh, sorry to speak like that, but we have to be very cautious. Even when we are at peace with Humans, we have to be all the time wary of personal attacks and treasons. But you have the confidence of the Elders. Then...»
The tunnel itself was well tended, dry, with planking all along to avoid dust or dirt. It was not large, but we could walk at ease. And of course it led straight into the former barracks.
«It is funny to know that we nearby finished this tunnel when the soldiers were still here» told Erwan, with a laughter.
The tunnel led us to one of the most decayed buildings of the barracks, which tiles were taken by the Elves to repair the other buildings. But they managed to keep a path safe from rain, well hidden with a realistic mess of old planks and broken furniture, between dirty walls covered with filthy soldier's writings and drawings.
Erwan led me along corridors, toward a room of which merry laughers and songs came.
«Wear your Listal, now, please. It may come to its use!»
He opened the door, and a wealth of golden light, perfumes, merriness and music came out for a second, before I entered and the door was closed back.
It was as beautiful as I imagined, but it was very different too.
I was now in a large square room, windows shutters closed. The whitewashed walls were covered with tapestries, in golden-green hues, with patches of other merry colours. Candle holders were flooding the room with golden light. All around were large chairs of a kind I never saw, rather looking like beds with cushions and pillows. They were of smooth fabrics, mostly of brightly colours, or with sweet soft hues. And there were Elves. Men and ladies, about sixty of them, all lying in cushions and soft shaped chairs. They were not wearing the grey gowns of the guards or travellers, but rather brightly coloured attires of a large variety of styles and shapes. Male Elves were mostly wearing gowns or tunics, or sometime trousers like us men, although of a much more comfortable cut. Women were also wearing gowns, some trousers too, but most often large dresses and elaborated tops, with ribbons and frills. They had long hairs, except some men who probably had guard duties. Most of them seemed young, some more mature, but, as I was told, Elves don't really look old, even when they reach hundreds of years. Most seemed to be companions, snuggled against each other. But some of the youngest were alone. Several people were bearing music instruments of types I did not knew, kind of flutes or elaborated lutes. They were presently not playing, but they had their instruments at hand, ready to accompany a story. And above all a sweet and strong fragrance was filling the room, like thousands of mixed perfumes, making forget even the smell of the candles.
For a second, I stood awkwardly, dazzled by so much beauty and smiles. It was simply too much, far more than I ever saw in Tellutaar, our world of cold stone, grey wood and hard work. For a fraction of a second, the word «sinners» flashed in my head, with the sight of a bony faced black cloaked priest with furious eyes. But it passed, caught as I was in a whirl of new feelings and bright emotions...
«Hello, what is your name?
-Please have a sit among us.
-Welcome in our Bardic Circle!
-Welcome to the bearer of the Listal. We hope that you will soon find what you are looking for!
So many smiles, gentle looks and friendly eyes, left me paralyzed with shyness. It was so different of my buddies, that I did not knew what to think, what to reply. I felt hands dragging me toward a cushion. I muddled my feet into something, and missed to fall. They all laugh, making me turn red. But, seeing this, they stopped and just apologized, looking as embarrassed as I was. Soon I found myself sitting among a group of smiling young elven men and ladies. Even the males were so beautiful that I was amazed.
I had a strong feeling of being in the wrong place, of some shameful misunderstanding, like when, at school, Jossie and his gang pushed me in the girl's yard. Being considered as an Elf was doing the same feeling as being considered as a girl, or perhaps worse. But they all were so friendly and welcoming... I did not dared to say anything.
And suddenly there was HER.
Like in the dream.
She was just some sits away, with another group of youngsters. Incredible light brown hairs flowing on her shoulders, simple orange dress, warm round features, generous breasts, just as I saw her in my dream the night before! No possible mistake, even her slightly slanted smile was true. It was as if I had entered in the dream! And she was looking at me, probably as shy as I was, with her cheeks turning red. It was an incredible feeling of warmth and joy, spreading from my heart into all my body, from simply being remarked by such a beautiful creature! And suddenly I found that my hand was clutching the Listal...
«What is your name? Asked another young blonde lady. I am Elena.
-Hi, I am Lonie, I replied with a trembling voice, not to Elena, but to HER.
-Oh, what a strange human custom to give despising names! Did not your mother gave you a better name?
-Err, yes, but...
-You will never again be alone, Lonie, said an older Elf holding his lady in his arms.
-They gave me this name at school, because I was always alone, without friends. But it was not me who…
-Now you have plenty of friends! What is your real name? Does your mother...
-My mother called me Trichard, but I never liked this name. And sorry, I don't know her. She died when I was three. I just have some memories of a beautiful lady, tickling me and laughing with me. After, she went crying for a reason I don't know. And dad took care of me, but he was never smiling.
-Hmmm... sad. But I wonder...
-No, she was not an Elve, if this is what you are wondering. But she was nice, and very kind... and sad of something. I was told she went sick, but my feeling is that she died from unhappiness.
-Well, Lonie, we can give you an elvish name, when time need. For now let us just talk, said another Elf with shiny black hairs and elaborated blue gown. My name is Alanar, and here is my dear Elena».
And we started long discussions about a lot of things I completely ignored, but that Alanar seemed to know well. At times, I could not avoid to launch glances toward HER. She was speaking with her own group, in her elvish language, but I soon noticed that she was too trying to look at me, while not daring to do this openly. I was mostly shy too, trying to see her as much as possible, but afraid that the others may notice my interest. So I tried to look around as if unconcerned, but catching each time her image as if she was the sun in a landscape. Little by little, I was feeling as if she was the centre of the world, and everything else in the room was revolving around her.
But Alanar's conversation was much interesting too, so I was quickly involved in.
«Well, all this is very sad, but most of the Elves will prefer this Exodus than living in the constant fear of war.
-But how can you figure to go into the Dauriath? It is up in the sky!!
-The Horiathon, the Junction, is a strange place, certainly, and frightening, definitively. But our parents used to send animals through it, since centuries. In the beginning, many died, alas, but with time we could figure better methods, so that they survived. It is now reliable enough to send ourselves. Probably, if our diplomatic mission doesn't succeed into securing our lands, we shall accept this proposal. I even think that the Elders already made their opinion, and say they don't agree only to get some advantages, or to avoid displaying their plans for the centuries in the future. Our enemies are basically unable to have any prospective look beyond the immediate stake, just some years ahead. So, they don't realize at all that, with the exodus they want for us, we shall remain for centuries free to evolve in our own way, and become numerous and recover our full magic. This will never happen if we have to share this world in a so unfair way, always having to fight for a dwindling land. Already my own country is threatened by salvage loggers and gold miners, who now dare to enter in.
-I am completely unable to figure how a ship could go up in the sky.
-This happens naturally in the Horiathon. And we went close enough to look at the other side, at the Dauriath, with telescopes. We were able to spot the rafts we used to send animals. They are safe now, in the Dauriath.
-You have telescopes?» This word was able to attract my attention even away from HER.
«Yes, we have. But you know, today religion forbids the use of them. And our lands are no longer safe, so we had to stop using them.
-Did you looked at the planets and fuzzy stars?
-Yes we did.
-I did too, my patron has one, for setting the clocks.
-And what you saw?
-Ishtar is a green circle, and Foggier a white crescent.
-That depends on its position relative to the sun. Foggier and Ishtar are spheres. They are worlds, like the Here World the Nyidiath, or the Dauriath in the Sky.
-So there could be people in them?
-Alas there are not.
-How can you know?
-Our Elders have a magical sight of distant things. Most of our knowledge of the Dauriath comes from this magic. Telescopes were only used for double-checking, in these troubled times where our weakened magic could be misleading.
-And the fuzzy stars?
-We don't know. What we know is that stars are very far. Incredibly far. But it is easy to guess that, to be visible at such a distance, they must be other suns. With other planets around them.
-In some cases, yes. But this is far beyond the power of our Elders, we don't know more. The only sure thing is that all this is fantastic and wonderful.
-And if planets are not Gods, there are no Gods at all?
-Not in this way. But there are Gods. There is the ONE, and many others.
-How do you know?
-Our Elders know. Ancient religions were true: °To be confident in the ONE°, °To have a modest life°, °To be kinder with others than with ourselves°. But later, this was distorted. Priests and most people just use religion as a justification for deeds which are not spiritual at all. Don't reject everything, thought, some monks still try to live like that. But they have to keep a low profile.
-Have a modest life... but all this luxury here?
-Ah, this is not a sin. Everything we have here, we made it ourselves, from our own work. We are numerous, and we live long, so that our creations accumulate, even without a sustained effort. We don't use slaves to do this, and we even not buy working time from other people. Having a low profile doesn't necessarily mean to be poor. It rather means not to be a burden for others. And this is not arrogant, it is a celebration of life and beauty. The ONE likes this.»
Somebody started two or three chords on a lute. Gently but quickly, talks subsided, and ended before the song itself started, not to spoil it. Even Alanar looked toward the two musicians and a woman singer. She had a warm voice, like copper, and the song was very strange, melodic, like telling a story, followed by the lute and a small hand held drum. At times, everybody took the refrain in a chorus. Probably it was written in some unusual tone, very moving. But pity I could not understand the language...
And SHE was singing too, with a kind of close attention, and so sweet a voice... I heard only HER...
As she was in the good direction, I could tensely look at HER, enjoying every hue of her skin, every inflexion in her voice... when suddenly the song stopped, and she turned toward me. To see her staring at me straight in my eyes, made a shock in my whole body, a delicious wave of pleasure and warmth. Probably she felt the same, and we remained looking at each other, while the conversations started again...
Some small laughter suddenly reminded us of all the people around us. Instantly we both went red and shyly turned our faces in any other direction. Now I could even not dare to cast a glance toward HER, as if she was a blinding sun... an embarrassing but delicious feeling!
I noticed only later, as many people were speaking at low voice, that those small laughter and muffled comments were about us. But it was completely different of the «gentle laughers» I used to hear, and at the opposite of those ugly drunkard's giggles. They found some pretext to exchange places of everybody, and move the cushions, and even before I realized, SHE was sitting just besides me, nearby touching me. A warmth and excitement filled my body, so that I began trembling... One of the Elders said something in the elven language that I did not understood, except that there was my name in the sentence. SHE had a panicked look toward me. Then the Elder continued, in our language, with a strange smile:
«Lonie, let me introduce you to Ludmila. She doesn't know your language, and she is in town for the first time. But I think she will be a fine teacher for you.»
«Our custom is to have a kiss of welcome» while laughers roared all around the room.
Heedless to anything else, I was just staring at HER, at Ludmila as she was named. Looking closer, she was still more beautiful. And she emanated a sweet but intense perfume of a kind I did not knew... I felt a hand pushing me in my back. Our faces went touching... lips went pucking... we had a first shy kiss on our cheeks... and suddenly she pulled her arms around me with a kind of fury, and I was taken in an avalanche of perfumed hairs, soft fabric, and thousands of lips! I just remember applauses and cheers all around, an overwhelming surge of happiness and pride...
When I recovered, I was lying on cushions, with all the Elves looking at me, half sorry, half laughing. A lady, probably in medicine, was keeping my hand and feeling my pulse, probably trying to reassure everybody there was nothing serious. And Ludmila was keeping my head, also looking worried and really astonished of what she produced. Another Elder was speaking to her, probably reassuring her.
«Well, Lonie, this sometimes happens to Humans when they discover Elvish love. I must say that the first time I also fainted...» everybody was restraining laughing, but when I recovered enough to sit, I saw only merry and happy faces, and just besides me, the wonderful eyes of Ludmila, who had her first smile at this moment.
Later, the party continued. I was sitting among cushions, Ludmila against me, clutching each other in our arms, both trembling with excitement. I was now feeling a strong desire to further express my love, but seemingly I had to wait for this, as the Elves were still singing and telling stories, and never hurry to conclude this marvellous night party. Anyway I had no desire whatsoever to look like a boor, confusedly feeling that it would not be nice, not in the elvish way. So I contented myself with having an arm around her shoulders, just caressing her own arm from times to times. She was doing the same on my own shoulder, and we began to exchange in this way.
That was an odd feeling, to have an Elve just besides me, touching me. I never even dreamed of this. It was as if I was admitted into some paradise, to have the right to cherish the shoulders of such a marvellous being, an incredible luck, an undeserved favour.
In the beginning, it was the same feeling than with a human woman, just much stronger. But, little by little, this feeling changed, still strong but different. The painful manly urge was transforming into something more subtle, the desire to make her happy, to feel her emotion. The fleshy desire for gestures was also changing, into a desire for the perfumed sunshine flowing through her carnal form. It was as if the material appearances were slowly dissipating, a curtain of grey and dust gradually giving way to light, a merry and loving light... My nearby unbearable physical arousing subsided, to make room to a quieter, but still stronger expectation. In fact, I had nothing to do, just to enjoy the expectation itself, without even waiting for more. But my manly nature was still hoping for the conclusion...
Then she began to speak to me, in words I could not understand, but she insisted on «Ya ilia minga Oromë amwë. Elia minga Oromë asä. Anaë elia minga?» that she repeated several times, showing my chest with her finger.
«Good, she choose you an elvish name: Oromë. This is much better than «Lonie». My idea is that you will never be lonely again!» commented Alanar.
An Elvish name! I was flabbergasted! They were thinking that I would become an Elf, or what? Suddenly I realized that there was something wrong in all this, something awfully wrong. I was a human, and nothing more. What could I really offer to a marvellous Elf lady? I became aware again of the bad smell of my clothes, and had a sight of Ludmila discovering what was under. Her, so sensitive, could never bear this! For now, she seemed not to be aware of this, but I had a feeling that she was leaning her head on my shoulder in a way to keep her nose away from my shirt.
At first, it was a diffuse feeling, which lingered in the borderline of my consciousness. But slowly it gnawed my happiness and became obvious: I was betraying these people, I was entrusted in a confidence I should not, I was not worthy of.
The conversation went again on the theme of the Dauriath. At that time, no decision was taken yet, but most of the Elves were hoping such a solution, while fearing it: was it really possible to survive the dreadful passage of the Horiathon? But they knew too much that, whatever agreement the Elves could reach with the humans, it would be at the cost of many of their remaining lands, and this to get only ten years of relief. They knew too well that, as soon as the agreement would be signed, hunters, illegal loggers and mining companies would start challenging them in their very ancient sacred lands, until they brought a new war, claiming still more concessions in the name of peace keeping. And worse of all, there were now rumours of gathering the remaining Elves into camps of square houses, with social workers to «reeducate» them to the human ways of life…
But what was casting utter darkness on the future were the new technologies, such as fire arms or compass. And it was said that much more was to come, like the strange attraction of silk fabrics, or the moving force of boiling water. Until now, religion was forbidding all these things, but the mighty traders and forge masters who were supporting religion until now, just had to switch this support to science academies and engineer lyceums, and wait. Even the dreadful black gowned priests would not stand long in front of their powerful banks. Those fearsome banks which looked as an unspeakable threat to the Elves, as they seemed to have no purpose at all, while directing more and more things in the world. Even the fool ones who imagined to manage them were only servants of them, led by them, even at the cost of their own doom. These banks were like a cancer developing for itself, without considering that the death of its host would kill itself too.
I was very astonished to see the Elves happy and merry in front of so evil threats on their future. Alanar explained me that the heart of the Elves is not bound to the immediate emotion, it has the capacity to respond to its own inner life. So Elves were nearby always happy, as evil had no mean to enter into this inner life, their dream life as many Humans called it. Of course, they were still dependent on life support conditions and threat on their physical body, but this was the only way for evil to harm them. This made the Elves very vulnerable to the constant loss of land and perpetual need for defence, in such an extend that many preferred to let themselves slaughtered without fighting back.
So the overall idea of going to the Dauriath was to allow the Elves to have their own secure life, and evolve according to their own ways, free of any threat and need for defence. With time, they would become powerful and numerous again, and strong into their culture and ways of life. And into magic. The Elders also knew that there were only few ores in the Dauriath. Into the negotiations, they used this argument against the Exodus they however wished in secret. Seeing the elves reluctant for the Exodus would make the Human governments confident in thinking that this Exodus was good for them. And they would not fear that the Elves would one day master science and technology, sure as they were that only Humans could develop technology, and that the Elves were basically unable to understand science. Too bad for them, the Elves did not needed technology to live into their ways. And even science and technology would fall into their hands, as soon as they will start to search for it. But they would control these things, in place of being abused by their delusive power.
But the most enthusiastic discussions were about how they would live in the Dauriath.
Alanar was the centre of an enthusiastic group about re-building houses and Elven countries in the Dauriath. What astonished me was the wealth of information they had about this land, from where nobody ever went back.
«We have the telescopes, Oromë.
-Isn't it forbidden?
-Still some tens of years ago, we were more free, in places where no Human invader never dared to go. So we started to discover and explore the sky with these marvellous new devices. But today, with all the hunters and miners coming in our lands with fire arms, it became dangerous, and we preferred to destroy our instruments. It probably was the heaviest sorrow in my life, to lose our window on the universe.
-And you looked to the Dauriath with the telescopes?
-Yes we did. And we saw mountains, forests and oceans, like here. But there are few valleys, rather many round lakes or plains.
-But how to see ores or things like that? It is underground anyway.
-This may look very strange to you, Oromë. But our magic allows some of our Elders to see very far. They know much more things about the Dauriath than our telescopes can see. They saw that the birds and animals we sent are doing well, and some of us will even not wait for this darn treaty to go through the Horiathon. The first trip is already planned, and the first Horiathon crosser ship being built in a secret place. We shall not wait for the treaty. We will go even if there is no treaty at all.
-We even not need technology, Oromë. Technology is like black magic, very powerful, very efficient, very easy, but if we are not wise enough, it takes our soul and becomes our master, like those darn banks that nobody controls. We shall discover technology, as we shall need it to meet the Humans again, later, in seven more centuries, when the Horiathon will be open in both ways, and the human and elven worlds will be reunited. But we shall keep it discrete in our lives. In the beginning, we shall even not use it at all, rather consecrating ourselves to multiply, to develop our culture and become strong again. And magic is most efficient than technology. More difficult to obtain, but much more efficient.
-Technology is useful, anyway. Look at the compass, it allows us to shorten our travels.
-Sheer illusion. You can reach more safely a spot you planned to reach, yes, but you don't know if this spot is what you need. Where shall you meet the love of your live? No compass can tell you. Only magic can guide you. It already did, from the start of your life.»
Again this recalled me of my condition. Ludmila, who could not understand our conversation, was rather interested into another, with Elena and other ladies. Probably they were too evoking their future life in the Dauriath, as this word often came in their speech. I could recognize it easily now, although it was sung differently than in my human language. Ludmila was still besides me, but no longer snuggled against me. It was better, as I was feeling more and more uncomfortable with this situation. To be frank, I was feeling more and more shameful with my dirty brown clothes, a plotch of filth and stink into this marvellous tapestry of sweet hues and perfumes. How could such a beautiful creature imagine that I could love her, make her happy?
My discomfort would have become visible, as Alanar changed his tone and subject. The others were too looking at me. They guessed that something was wrong, but they did not guessed what.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux.
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