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This text is a part of a larger plot, beginning with «The Kiss of the Worlds»
This story is the first of a series I improvised or composed as a bard in the Elven world of Second life: «Elf Circle».
The theme is a world of Elves and Humans. As of all my stories, the purpose is to express a vision of a better world, with the description of the thoughs and feelings of the characters.
It is recommended to read this story in first, in order not to spoil it. The other stories are each independants, although they happen in the same world. You can read them in any order, or in the historical order. This order is indicated in the vertical bar at left.
Söjen was looking at the sunset. One of the reasons why he disliked this bleak land was the night falling at three in the afternoon, well before the normal end of the day. But they had no other choice than to walk still further, since the war with the Humans forced the Elves to flee along this deserted plateau. The climate was already cold here, from the short day, but it was still worsening, with the vertiginous drop of the general level of the oceans, which transformed this lush plain into a bleak moor.
At first, the sun was looking as if something was biting in. It was still high into the sky, but its light decreased second after second, turning pale and cold as in winter. Soon only a half of it appeared, and then a thin segment, turning red. For some seconds the landscape was illuminated in a dull red light, which suddenly went off like a dying candle. And in the now black sky, only remained a short red bow with irregular orange dots, under a kind of purple aura. It was better not to be found outdoors without a lamp!
Soon these remnant lights also faded out, while the eyes were getting accustomed to the night. Stars appeared, except under the former place of the red bow. Here there was a vast round expand of dark sky without stars, stretching from the horizon up to near the zenith, an absolutely black brooding silhouette standing sharply in contrast over a diffuse white gleam in the starry sky.
This was, as Söjen knew, the Dauriath, the Other World in the sky, which was now allotted to the Elves, as decided by the World Nations Council some years ago, to put an end to the millennia old wars and segregations against them. But now the Dauriath appeared only as a dark rounded form looming above them into the sky. Some pretended they saw lights in there, but Human scholars said this was impossible, the Dauriath was too far for this.
Söjen turned back to the camp, toward his Elven tribe, toward his new wife Eleanor. In this obscure afternoon, they would have to wait for hours before the real night. Anyway they could not walk any longer this day, and had to set fires for kitchening.
They were a large tribe of 300 and more, from a large house in the ancient Elven country of Terallion. But they had to leave, forced out by the human soldiers. Oh, they were not violented, but leaving their wonderful painted carved wooden house and centuries of memories was as strong a pain. The country of Terallion was a wide forested plateau, cut by deep gorges and strewn with rocky hills forming strange natural castles. Elves were seeing here a marvellous land with magical hidden glens resounding with melodies of birds, when human administrators were only seeing a strategic plateau with mines and timber. So the Elves had to leave, not daring to look behind to the billowing smoke of their arsoned house.
The evening went smooth, with songs and music, as usual. Among the few belongings they could carry on their backs, the Elves found that the most important were some music instruments, the most ancient, those bearing names. Söjen himself was carrying a small clock dear to his memories, although it was useless now, as the pendulum clocks were becoming slower and slower while approaching the Dauriath.
But the most important, Söjen thought, was themselves. They would be free in their new world. So their long and exhausting journey along the Trail of Tears was, certainly a deportation, but it was above all a path to freedom. And to safety. In Dauriath they would no longer have to bear war and hate, they would enjoy a peaceful land, without any need to take turns for guard or to beware from strangers. To expect only merry news and nice surprises from the unknown guest is a treasure worth all the carved houses. To feel only confidence with the passing stranger is an eternal source of wonder and happiness they could not renounce, would the Trail be ten times longer.
Their camp was set besides an ancient deserted human village. Söjen sat on a stone bench, and at once he felt the hands of his wife Eleanor on his shoulders. She sat besides him, merging her hairs with his own hairs, sending her warm breath on his neck. He passed his arm around her back, and pulled their only cover to protect them from the bitter wind. For long minutes, they just stayed like that, simply enjoying the presence and warmth of each other.
The cooks began to distribute the food of the day, kind of military rations left on the path by the Trail Guards. Those Humans were in charge of the welfare of the retreating Elves (and of watching at them too). But the Elves seldom met them, on the wide stretches of this ancient wealthy cultivated plain, now a deserted moor strewn with decayed fence posts and broken walls. So, depending on the place, the Elves got outdated army food, or bags send by charity trusts, and often nothing. Charity food was sometime very good, or really inappropriate, such as those large bags of white sugar, wet from the rain, they had for only meal the last day. Army supplies, at least, offered a whole meal, even if very far from the tastes of a meal.
They would not suffer from hunger this night, but they were all tired with this long walk. Tired and sad of all what they lost.
But Söjen also realized that they still had the most important. Objects only were lost, not lore or wisdom. Objects could be rebuilt, not lost memories. Most of their songs and ancient tales, they knew then by heart, or could recover them from other tribes. Skills and talents were still in their hands, too, to learn other artists and artisans. They would soon have again marvellous rounded houses and exquisite music instruments. They would also have beautiful gardens, whatever strange trees and flowers they would find in the Dauriath.
The most important was their spirit and values. Elves always were respectful of others and of every life, including humans. They did war only for defence, and many disappeared simply from refusing to fight back the Human invaders. Only their spirit and values allowed them to be happy together, and to spend their long lives without disputes or disagreements. Of course, each of them had different ways, but this never was a problem so long as they were respecting other’s ways.
Eleanor put her cheek on Söjen's cheek, and he thought that love was the most beautiful and important of everything. So long as they would be breathing and conscious, they would be loving each other, whatever it would be the scorching love of the spouse, the warm cheer of the friend, or the comforting social recognition of the Tribe. As long as they would be loving each other, there would be a purpose for their lives, and it would be worth working for maintaining this life. Even their nowadays plight, this exhausting walk and insane hope to reach this mysterious Dauriath looming in the sky above them, all this was worth doing it, provided they did not forget to bring love with them.
From the Terallion, the Dauriath was not visible, so that they had real sunrise and sunset. But as they were approaching it, its huge dome was growing higher and higher into the sky, cutting more and more of the day.
Eleanor was now singing for Söjen alone, a whisper of love, into his hear. It was so moving, so beautiful, it recalled them the beauties of their lost country. But wherever they would go now, so long as they could be able to enjoy the beauty of places, they would be happy, and their lives worth living. Surely there would be beautiful places in the Dauriath, the Other World, that they could enjoy. Even if there were not, they could arrange some, plant trees, build new houses, and paint them as they used to do. And be happy in.
Two days ago, they caught up a small group of old Elves, the only remnants of another tribe. Those had a much harder fate to bear, their whole tribe was slaughtered, leaving only the oldies unable to bear children. They were slowly doing their way toward a thin hope for a better life, but their hearts were heavy with sorrow. So Söjen's tribe adopted them. They would walk more slowly now, but neglecting hospitality would be a much higher cost. If they had left these oldies, they would reach a nice place faster, but the oldies would certainly die without ever reaching it, and remorse would forever dim their own dreams.
The meal finished, they just had to sleep, snuggling against each other, with the only thin covers they had. Fortunately those covers would protect them from rain, but it was not raining, and it was better not to seek shelter into the ruined houses close by. So Söjen was lying in the grass, Eleanor into his arms. The Tribe had set, from long ago, a system of turns, with some of them sleeping one night on the side of their group, and the next night into the warmer middle. But this had to be bettered, as some were more sensitive to cold. Of course their few children were always in the middle, and Eleanor too, as she was bearing the promise of life in her belly. Then Söjen was more often on the side.
It was difficult to sleep all this long night, and Söjen was awake several times, aware of the dark looming silhouette of the Dauriath standing against the starry sky. At three in the morning, the very top of the Dauriath used to turn reddish. Soon it went white and shiny, and sleep was becoming uneasy. Eleanor hide her face with a corner of their cover. Every morning the same incredible view was offered to them. The thin white crescent on the top of the Dauriath was enlarging toward the bottom, and little by little the black silhouette was changing into a glory of light, as far as turning the sky to indigo, hiding the stars and awaking the birds.
At five, the whole tribe was awake, and most of the Dauriath was illuminated, a large tapestry of blue embroidered with white, on patches of green and ochre. The white patterns were always moving slowly, but the coloured patterns used to remain always in the same place. There were mostly circular patches, and Söjen was wondering what they were. Lands, forests, mountains, oceans, it was said. One of these green circles had started to turn blue during the previous month, the blue catching day after day over the green.
This strange immobile dawn was clear enough to allow for a safe walk, which was anyway better than lying miserably on the ground, unable to sleep and shivering with cold. For this reason they used to set up early and have some rest at noon.
When the real day arose, the sun seemed to add only little light to the display of the Dauriath, the Other World. Simply the sky went blue, and only the white tapestries of the Dauriath remained visible, the darker hues drowning into the blue of the sky.
As the day was passing, the bottom of the Dauriath was becoming invisible into the blue of the sky. This blue oblivion was climbing slowly, the white patterns were fading one per one into the blue sky, until only a thin white bow remained, with the sun nearing it. At last only the sun was visible, until it reaches the Dauriath and disappeared behind, as they saw yesterday.
About two other days later, the Trail crossed a road, with a small town at the crossing point. Most of its former inhabitants were gone, fleeing the climate change and the now inhospitable plateau where cultivations became unproductive. It was now a busy, ugly and muddy area, with plenty of makeshift builds and barracks, occupied by all kind of Human folks, Trail Guards, charities working to help the Elves, or on the contrary adventurers and crooks trying to take profit of them. They knew (or believed) that many Elves were carrying gold, jewels or precious stones, and tried to bargain them against ridiculous amounts of food or medicine. The Trail Guards had much to do to keep all this working, offering meals, pitching tents, and catching thieves. Söjen noticed that they were bearing fire arms, long rifles of a modern type using a flintstone and a leg for aiming. These were the wicked weapons which doomed the Elves, making nearby useless their skillful bowmen and seasoned stealth forest fighters. At two occasions they heard the ugly cracking sound of them, but without knowing what happened or who was shot.
Their tribe was assigned a large tent, but tribes were not allowed to merge or communicate. Anyway they were not permitted to stay more than three days, unless the physicians authorized them for more. Large chariots were coming to bring food, and leaving empty, not allowed to carry the tired Elves.
So they had some rest and warmth, but the stay here was overall unpleasant. They had to keep on guard all the time, avoiding being alone, and especially not to get out of the guarded areas, by fear of robbers and attacks. Even into the area, they were always solicited by crooks claiming to help them, but in fact trying to ensnare them into schemes for money, false authorisations or womanizing. There even were frightening stories of disappearing children. For the confident, straight and honest Elves, those lies were often difficult to understand, and they could really defend themselves only with a systematic defiance toward all those beautiful speakers. But pitifully this also prevented them from communicating with the some true hearted Humans who were coming here to help them, to meet them and understand them. So they just accepted the food and politely thanked for it.
This mandatory defiance was clearly pointing at their most precious treasure. It was not the gold encircling their ankles, wrists or necks, not the shiny stones on their brooches or talismans, but their honesty into their hearts. The trouble ambiance of this camp was sharply contrasting with the peaceful confidence which was an absolute standard in their tribe, and abroad in the whole former Terallion. They were sure, anywhom Elf or Elve they could encounter, that his or her intent was made clear at once, and that this intent was kind and helpful, or at least legitimate. So they could open their heart or their home to anybody unknown, without any fear or suspicion. They never heard of any theft or abuse in their kin, and they could left their gold, and even their hearts, in the view of everybody, without any problem never happening, even not a feeling of trouble or something being wrong. How to live otherwise? Wagons of gold would not compensate for the sad boredom of living alone in defiance of others, centuries of life would be of no use if they had nobody to open their hearts and share this life. Söjen hoped that it would be the same in their future stay in the Dauriath, whatever living conditions they would encounter there.
They left the muddy town in the morning soon, before the hustle. They were allowed to stay until the afternoon, but they unanimously preferred to walk a bit, and rest in the open, than breathing this unhealthy suspicion. But they were anyway spotted by a charity group, and soon followed by a bunch of smiling and laughing women and teens, offering them each a bag with food, some medicines and a cover, which were all really welcome. At first the Elves were cautious as advised by the Guards, just thanking politely without slowing their walk. But they all had a feeling that these women were sincere, and, as soon as they all were out of sight of the Guards, there was a long lasting hugging session! Seeing this, Söjen was first troubled, but he realized why: the nasty ambiance of the shanty town had instilled a tiny amount of defiance and mistrust into his heart! Such a feeling, if he accepted it, could quickly make him unable to enjoy being confident with others, unable of being happy with them! How gold could repair such a disability?
When they finally departed, Söjen noticed one of the adult woman crying, and the others comforting them. Crying and smiling in the same time, while waving goodbyes with her hand... Her young Human daughter was joining their Elven tribe! These mother and child would never meet again, but the daughter was following her way...
And, after all, what was the matter of being an Elf or a Human? Some Humans were too able to be kind, helpful and honest like the Elves! So where was the difference between Humans and Elves? «The Blood» were saying all together those warriors and managers who hated the Elves and were building grey towns and square houses where people were living for themselves alone, in defiance of each other. What could be this «Blood», when Humans and Elves were able to have children together, who were later turning Human or Elve, depending mostly on their basic education? Söjen, and many others, was wondering if that «Blood» was not just a pure invention to separate them and offer a grip for the hate.
Two days after, the Trail was following a peaceful river, among what were once lush fields and meadows, now a dark moor lined with grownup hedges. Ruined cottages could still be seen, and former orchards sometimes still offered some fruits to glean.
But suddenly the peaceful river engulfed into a deep gully, looking unnatural between its freshly hewn walls of crumbling earth, which were cutting hedges and even a house. There was a bridge, of which only a stump of an arch remained, hanging over a dark chasm it was now unable to span. Water was ominously roaring into the bottom. With the vertiginous drop of the ocean level, rivers were now deeply gouging their former beds, especially if they were running into soft soil like here, instead of rocks.
Seeing the gaping gulf and hearing the frightening noise, Söjen shuddered, for the first time feeling the overwhelming power of the huge natural forces which were now transforming their world, insensitive to the frail creatures which were walking on its thin surface.
They found another similar chasm before the end of the day. The Guards had blocked a former branch of the Trail which was recently cut by this new chasm, and were redirecting the Elves toward a safer path, through a group of low hills.
Again one day of march, and they found the ancient harbour which was once feeding this country. The town was now cut in two by a wide gully, which mercilessly engulfed the whole central district, with its main temples and mayor building. Heaps of stones, tiles and broken beams were slowly sliding along the slope into the gulf, or sometimes falling with banging noises. The remaining houses were scarcely inhabited now, and often ruined. Large docks were now used by the guards and charities. A lighthouse and two large stone piers were now uselessly hanging above what seemed an infinite down slope, its bottom lost into a distance haze. They realized that the ocean was really gone, very low and very far, even out of sight from here. The former plain was now a mountain! Futile attempts were made to build wooden jetties at a lower altitude, and some rotting ship hulls were still visible among trees and meadows, as only witnesses of the lost sea.
This place was also occupied by humanitarian workers and Trail Guards, with a better efficiency, as they were able to ward off robbers and thefts. But the Elves went aware of a new and unexpected problem: the young human lady who joined them had to hide from the Guards, for some reason. They had to exchange clothes and disguise her. This situation arose a concern among some Elves of their tribe: why to hide, when we are honest? None of them asked any question to her, from respecting freedom and privacy, but this was introducing a trouble in their group. She probably felt the trouble, as she explained herself the matter: her father was a violent man who mistreated her mother, so that she had to ask for a divorce. But now the father was threatening to catch the daughter, to take revenge of the mother. So the daughter decided to flee to protect her mother. And to flee with the Elves, as she was fond of Elvish culture.
Understanding that, all the Tribe went silently working to hide her, without any more comment or hesitation, and helping her to quickly learn the most visible Elvish ways and culture. But Söjen could not avoid a profound feeling of disgust and nausea toward this foul man who cheated with the confidence of his loving wife. What did he earned from this? Nothing at all, he just lost this confidence, with no kind of compensation. Elves even had no word for such a stupid behaviour, but Humans had one: dishonourable.
At evening, while trying to sleep into one of the dark human houses, Söjen was feeling the body of his own wife, confidently abandoned against him, with her breath and heartbeat (now two heartbeats). This was really the most sacred to his feeling, and he received as a great honour and mark of trust that a woman allowed him to touch her body. How could he betray such a confidence, how could he dare to hurt her, how could he only imagine he could make anything which would drive her unhappy, which could only put her not at ease. Loving was like that: giving time, work and energy to make somebody else happy. A high cost, certainly, to be paid in lifetime and freedom, for no apparent profit. But without love, life was simply senseless.
They left the broken harbour soon the next morning, and began their long descend along the former continental slope. At first, nothing indicated it once was the bottom of the sea. Most of it was now covered with a lush forest of young green trees, and even with fields, at places. But landslides had also cut huge scars, with muddy slopes, dangerous to climb down. There were ropes hanging down to ease the descent and make it less hazardous. They also found freshly cut gullies with muddy salty springs, some of them gurgling with a kind of black stinking oil. They even saw one spring hissing and spouting all together water, oil, noisy red flames and black fuliginous smoke. Fearsome place, smelling of ashes and soot!
The Trail was skirting around cultivated areas, to avoid problems with the inhabitants. In some places, stones and fences were put across adventicious paths, to forbid access to farms and fields. Some even exhibited anti-Elve writings, in coarse and square letters. This was really not needed to keep them on the Trail.
At last the Trail was reaching the former bottom of the ocean, which was now a flat country covered with fields and young trees. Many Humans were living here, and new towns were built with whitewashed houses having large windows and pink tile roofs. Wide and straight streets were radiating around elegant temples and large community buildings. There were many small trees and flowers. Schools and shops were visible, and people were busy, looking happy. Around, large fields, vegetable gardens and orchards were bearing lush crops. Everything was looking clean and newly built, even the trees were all young and lively. This was a sharp and merry change from the sad deserted plateau and its dark old unhealthy houses.
Söjen feared that the ocean could come back one day, and cover all this flourishing life without warning. But it was impossible, as the ocean was now leaving the Nyidiath, The Here World, and filling into the Dauriath, the Other World, through the Horiathon, the Junction. This started seven centuries ago, when the Dauriath, slowly but inexorably approaching, went so close of the Nyidiath that it began to suck its ocean. Until now, the waters lowered nearby seven hundred metres down, and this would still go on for seven more centuries, until the Nyidiath and the Dauriath would be close enough to share only one ocean. At least this is what Söjen was told, from human astronomers, as he was completely unable to figure how water could flow from the Nyidiath on the ground, to the Dauriath into the sky. But he would know, as they had to pass by the Junction... a mysterious and dangerous place, it was said, and some even told them that no Elf was actually able to survive this passage, and they were just all sent to death.
Fortunately the new Human land was much friendlier to the Elves, and some were even wearing clothes in elvish style. At the great surprise of the whole Tribe, the trail was stopping at the first village, and chariots were waiting for them, led by men. A clean clothed Elf went out of a close house, and warmly welcomed them, explaining what was going on in this country.
When the World Nations Council decided to send the Elves to the Dauriath, they knew that the project would entail much work and cost. So, while discussions were going on, they requested the Elves to support themselves some part of it. Strangely the Elven High Council never really opposed the exile itself, but they stood fast on requesting that Elves should manage themselves their own work and effort for the project. So the Elves were allowed to have harbours and build ships, in order to sail toward the Horiathon, the Junction. As it was a one way passage, once beyond the Horiathon, those ships would be unable to come back from the Dauriath to take other passengers. So a great number of ships would be needed, to carry eighteen millions of Elves from the entire Nyidiath world.
And now Söjen’s Tribe was arriving into one of these Elven harbours. If we could call this a harbour, as the ocean was retreating hundreds of metres a year along the plain, and the Elven shipwrights had to use floating docks and piers.
Amazed, the new arrived tribe was discovering a huge undertaking in a whole region, where tens of thousands Elves were waiting their turn to build their ship. For this they needed huge amounts of food, lodge, tools, and timber, that only the local Humans could provide them. At first those Human were not interested into helping the Elves. So they asked for barter: In return, the Elves should work for the Humans, following a fair agreement. This was unnatural to the Elvish mind, where a gift is made full heartedly, without ulterior motive. But they had to accept or to wait forever.
So the first Elves to occupy the harbour had laid a powerful organization. The newly arrived Elves were put at work into schools or hospitals, and they were building new villages and towns near the retreating ocean front, inhabiting them first, and giving them back to Humans when they had built their ship and left. But they were not receiving commands of Human foremen: right on the contrary they were managing everything themselves. This way was much more natural to them, organizing their work themselves and managing their situation, rather than just receiving charity and grants, or leaving a debt behind them.
Söjen's tribe was received in a dispatch camp, well tidied and healthy, where they could rest for three full days, wash and have new clothes. Then they moved toward a new village being built on the ocean front, with some empty houses and buildings. They left their jewels and music instruments in one of the new community house, and were assigned each one a work by Elven managers. It was an incredible organization, and everyone was finding at once an activity fitting his skills and strength. Söjen and Eleanor had to learn the basis of the local human language. Only one month later, Eleanor became a nurse, and Söjen a school teacher! Most of the others were doing masons, carpenters, nurses, tailors, cultivators, and of course shipwrights. Even the ship building was very efficiently organized: frames and planking were made from templates into roofed workshops, and carried toward the floating assembly docks with large carts. By lack of tall trees, masts were made of smaller parts tightly assembled with iron circling.
This was so far from the traditional ready made image of the lazy and inefficient Elves, that so many Humans had in mind! Just being able to waste their incredible skills for building only music instruments! This industriousness, self support and organization was allowing the Elves to build their ships at a much better rate and lesser cost than planned by the World Council. But also it resulted into something very unexpected: nearby all the humans around became very happy with the Elves, who were building their houses, teaching their children, tenderly taking care of their sick and old people! This is why this region became very Elf friendly and so cooperative, to the contrary of the mountain people around who usually hated the Elves. A great confidence was build, so far as entrusting Elves into police functions where they showed very efficient.
At first Söjen was feeling very not at ease with such an organization. It was so straightforwardly the opposite of their usual life, based on freedom, spontaneity, individual initiative and independence. Now he had to deal with a strong hierarchy, obeying commands, answering to calls far away, and above all being alone for hours in strange places, without his dear wife and friends. In more the Elves did not liked the square brick houses those humans were asking them to build. But Söjen and the Tribe soon understood that they had no choice. Wisdom was to accept these necessary conditions, in order to fulfil their goal. So he put himself at work full heartedly, even anticipating the commands and needs.
In the first days, the Tribe attempted to gather every evening with their music instruments and everything, but they soon had to abandon and gather only on rest days. They even were somewhat scattered, but in exchange they were meeting people of other tribes. New friendships and new loves appeared in this time, and many youngsters joined or left their tribe.
On this occasion they could realize the incredible diversity of their Elvish cultures. From the same basic themes, each country had developed its own stories and styles, and all the artists had very happy times comparing their works in long community evenings. Also, all the elves had developed kindness, wisdom and love of life. But each applied them in his own way. Stealth warriors, peaceful bards, magicians, Urban Elves knowledgeable in science, wandering sailors or wild Forest Elves, everyone had his say, and they swore to carefully maintain this diversity in the Dauriath, with rebuilding each of their countries. But they would not commit again the error of remaining isolated each in his place…
Once accepted, this life was much more bearable than expected, and even pleasant. The urge of willingly accepted commands was, in fact, giving Söjen energy and good spirit. And he still remembers those seven hustling and exhausting months with a strange nostalgia. And with a kind of pride, very different of the subtle shame he was feeling into the refugee camps: what they did, they did themselves, with their own work, skill and willingness, owing nothing to nobody. Certainly he had to do things when he did not had the desire for, but accepting this allowed the community to achieve a much greater goal than just a collection of unconnected individual initiatives.
They even did more, as they helped others.
Even several Human teens were asking to depart with the Elves, and their parents confidently accepted. A well respected rule however was that only Humans who were in the process of becoming Elves could depart.
And many of the local folks were now regretting that the Elves were expelled from this world. They would deeply miss their kindness, honesty and beauty.
About this, a word of mouth was starting to buzz: their banishment was not forever. For several other centuries, they would be forced to stay in the Dauriath, unable to come back to the Human world. But, sheltered from war and persecutions, they would develop and evolve of their own, gaining in wisdom and knowledge, happiness and strength, and becoming much more numerous. And one day, the Horiathon would allow sailing in both ways. And at this time, the Humans themselves would ask them back, understanding that they had lost the best of themselves while banishing the kindness and beauty of the Elves.
Time passing by, the top hierarchy was leaving for the Horiathon. So Söjen’s mates had to become managers in their turn, and take newly arrived Elves under their command. Eleanor, who was now heavy and tired, took the head of her nurse team, and she started at once to train somebody else to replace her in the commands, once she would be gone.
So, when the Tribe was told that their ship was ready, seven months later, it was a bit of a surprise, a joy, and a grief to lose all their new friends.
They just took some hours to pack their belongings, their precious music instruments (They even managed to build new ones!), into protective cases in the holds of the ship. Adding to this was a fair lot of tools, fabrics, seeds, house implements, and food. The heaviest gear, a stock of iron ingots, copper ingots and other metals, was skilfully put into the keel, so that they had no need to add ballast into this one use ship. The Elves even managed to wrap gold and silver ingots in clay, and drop them into molten tin. So the controllers of the Council were seeing tin ingots, of normal density! But it would be easy to recover this gold, at the arrival.
The ship itself was rather strange, as the deck was completely covered with a rounded roof, as if it was intended to sail upside down. It was black with caulking. Rigging and sails were of good building, but masts and rudder were short and sturdy, and the keel looked too large. They entered inside through watertight hatches, and could see outside only through small glass portholes. Inside, gangways were sneaking between trusses of beams, which ensured a very sturdy building of the hull. Even cabin walls were part of the frames, adding to the overall solidity. There was no kind of painting and decoration anywhere, only raw wood and the bad smelling black caulking, that kind of oil they saw spouting out of the springs. It was really an emergency ship, that they would not regret to axe down into firewood after its only one course. They could enter at 900 inside, although this would require a strong discipline to be bearable. So Söjen’s tribe went in with another large tribe, together with some other scattered Elves and newly converted Humans.
They cast moorings as soon as they were ready, despite the evening hour.
There was a bit of a way to the Horiathon, the Junction, and only the captain actually approached it to see how it was looking like. But he replied no question about this, looking a bit scared.
They sailed well, as the ocean around the Horiathon had continuous strong winds. So they just had to keep wind astern and wait.
The travel took two weeks, and the closeness of the space into the ship would make the situation really unbearable, without the strong Elvish sense of respecting others. Being continuously hampering each other created an intense stress, and there were some disputes. But these disputes were managed as soon as they appeared, and even before, to avoid bringing the individual disputes into the whole community. Those disputes could generally not be solved, so most of the time the concerned people were brought to separated cabins, and that was enough to avoid propagating resentment to others. Anyway people were spontaneously exchanging places for many other reasons.
One of the disputes was about Eleanor giving birth to her baby during the travel. Such an event, usually a source of joy, was a cause of grief for many: why they did not started their journey at another moment, so that they not had to bear the children's cries? There was no reply to this, as other Elves were pregnant too, and deliveries would have occurred at any further date. But, in these times of stress and pain, this argument was not enough, and, to put an end to this, the captain gave up his own cabin to the mother and baby, sleeping with the other sailors. And Söjen was left alone...
While approaching the Horiathon, they started to notice strange things. They were feeling lighter. Pitch and roll were slower, and less disturbing. Looking outside the ship was much stranger. Only the topmen were allowed outside, and they said that the Dauriath was now approaching the zenith, blocking half of the sky, and mostly blue now, without the green and ochre features. The other Elves could look through the portholes, and noted that the horizon toward the Horiathon was lost into a white haze of distance, while it was looking strangely sharp and close in both sides, as if they were near the top of a hill.
Two days before reaching the Horiathon, those outlandish features were getting worse and worse. The Elves had games where one person could carry several others without a trouble. The portholes were showing a strange vista of huge waves around the ship, which would have terrified any sailor and crushed the largest ships at once. But those waves were strangely slow, and the ship was simply climbing on them, and falling hundreds of metres, without harm, into the following gap. The sky was becoming darker and yellowish, as under a storm cloud. The sun was scarcely visible between whirling clouds, and it was now just a pale disk, as in a sunset, that they could look at without being dazzled. And now their weight was nearby zero, so that they could fly in the gangways, if they were large enough.
The close approach of the Horiathon was announced by a deep roaring sound, high in the sky, as from a hail cloud. This suddenly stopped all discussions and games, and brought a sense of fear on all the faces. After all, they all knew little of it, and nobody ever went back of that place to tell if they survived. They all had a view of a terrific maelstrom crushing their frail ship like a nut shell... Add to this the now nearby complete weightlessness, and the disturbing motions of the ship, which was prancing on huge waves, slowly free falling for endless seconds, landing without shock, and even, at times, turning upside down, as they all feared from the beginning.
The captain had a grave look, probably as frightened as everybody else. He commanded everybody aboard to attach themselves on their bunks, with the straps which were provided for this purpose. From the beginning of the journey, these straps were clearly visible, but nobody ever dared to ask what they were for...
Söjen and several other artists were allowed near the portholes, as witnesses for the community. The ship was silent, with just some prayers, or the confident babbling of Söjen's little daughter somewhere into its flanks. And the now loud ominous never ending roar…
What Söjen saw remained engraved into his memory, although he understood it only later.
There were waves tall as hills, moving slowly as in a dream, into this sinister yellow dusk. The hollows between the waves were dark chasms, and the weightless ship, pushed by a stronger and stronger wind, was jumping from wave to wave, giving a feeling of endless fall, leaving Söjen completely disoriented, not knowing where the top and bottom were. They were really spinning upside down, and for this reason, the topmen had furled all the sails tightly, and closed all the hatches. Now the ship was completely out of any control, only led to its success or doom by the unleashed natural elements.
When on top of the waves, the view was incredible. It was as if they were at the point of an immense conical mountain. But the horizon was far below its normal position, about 45° under it, and lost in far away haze. So that there was yellowish sky all around them. Above, the Dauriath also was a huge cone, in a symmetrical position, its own point at the bottom. It was occupying 45° around the zenith, with an inverted horizon, ocean above and sky under. And the two points were nearby touching each other. But there was still a little gap, and, from the very top of the Nyidiath the Here World, the water was aspired by a gigantic tornado, and slowly rising toward the Dauriath, the Other World, twisting and billowing like an angry storm cloud.
For about two hours, they bumped and rotated madly around the Horiathon. The strong encircling wind was howling and pushing them without the need for sails. At times closing, at times recessing, they were completely out of any control, hopeless toys into the jaws of the roaring maelstrom. Many feared that the Horiathon would just be some huge rotating crushing machine. How could their High Elven Council have accepted to send them into such a place without any protestation other than purely formal? They were all confident into their wise Elders, or thinking that the Council had some good reason to do so, and still a better reason to keep silent about it. So they just accepted the commands of the Elders, and walked and worked for months, without any question. But now this confidence was put on an heavy strain, and most were wondering what foolishness they were in, or simply crying with fear. But it was too late to change their mind, only water and wind would decide now.
With the random spinning of the ship, Söjen could catch some seconds a glimpse of the very point of the Dauriath, into its outlandish twilight, that he often reproduced in his paintings, later. The water was crashing with the roaring sound on the point of the Dauriath, launching all around huge plumes of foam. And there were... little specks of white... yes, ships! «I see ships in the Dauriath! They made it to the Dauriath!» he screamed to all those who could hear him.
At last their ship was engulfed into the slow but overwhelming funnel, which was so thick that darkness fell on them. They were spinning and yawing madly, as a little piece of wood into a cataract. The upward fall lasted many long agonizing minutes, and Söjen could see many fishes wriggling around them. He even guessed the silhouette of a whale, slowly undulating. Probably the huge animal desperately struggled for hours against the attraction of the Horiathon, until she was caught and sent into the airs. So samples of all the life forms of the Nyidiath ocean were aspired to the Dauriath ocean.
At last there was a violent thump, terrifying creaking sounds filled the ship, while some passengers screamed, probably injured. This was the ultimate second, where all their efforts and the sturdy truss structure of their ship went to their test: to sustain the crash into the Dauriath ocean, after a ten kilometres fall... Even with the near weightlessness, they gathered enough speed to make this really challenging for their ship.
For some minutes, they were still shaken without any visibility. They had landed into the worse position: mast first, upside down, and even the hundred tons of metal into their keel needed several minutes to bring them back into the normal position.
There was a terrific roaring rain, a cataract, it was one, on their roof, crashing from a world onto another. While collapsing down on the Dauriath, the water jet was violently ejecting steam and foam all around, quickly pushing them away. Söjen had a last glance of the other side: the Nyidiath point was now up into the sky, looking toward the bottom, surrounded by its gigantic spiral waves, and the tornado starting. And now the huge cataract was going down, toward them, falling on their heads, on the Dauriath where they were now.
Then, little by little, rain and wind softened... The Elves untied their straps, somebody opened one of the hatches... they saw only a foam fog, cold and damp. But they were safe, and their ship in the right position.
Two hours later, they could see in the distance one of the other ships, and follow its signals. As soon as they could, the topmen unfurled the sails and they took the bearing indicated by the other ship, which was staying around here despites the foamy hurling wind. Some Elves were hurt, most shocked, but they had made it! And they were alive!
They flew away of the Horiathon, as nobody wanted to remain into this terrific place. This unearthly and terrific vista soon disappeared into the horizon mist, together with its frightening roar. As they went away, they recovered their weight, and the waves become again the small naughty waves which shake ships with pitch and roll, in a normal way.
The sailors took axes and cut large windows into the upper hull of their ship, making of it a more normal ship with a deck, where they could enjoy the sun. They had no intent whatsoever to go back to the Horiathon, and anyway they could not pass it in the other way.
They found only some benign leaks into the hull. The ship had withstood the shock, but they however understood that many joints were weakened. The structure would not resist a strong tempest now. This was really a one use ship, and, after their arrival, its only value would be the good wood it was made of.
The life into the ship was getting worse and worse, with dirt accumulating and food exhausted. However there were no more disputes. They had made it, they managed this incredible thing!! They were in the Dauriath, now, into the Promised Land, into the Freedom Land! Writers, singers and musicians started to compose texts and music to celebrate this incredible event, founder of a new civilization!
Two more weeks later, they reached their first landing. From relief, they all went out of the ship, to run happily into the grass. But they noted that here, the ocean was rising, covering the tall trees near the shore, which had their feet into the water. Finding a place to live would need to account with this.
They remained here two or three days, to wash themselves and to fetch water from a spring. They noted that they were now seeing the Nyidiath into the sky, and all the phenomenon went into reverted order: the sun appearing suddenly in the black sky, at eleven in the morning, the Nyidiath becoming progressively visible into the blue sky, the sun setting, while the Nyidiath was still shining into the night sky, until eleven in the evening.
They found signs engraved on rocks, indicating the direction and distance of the next place to meet people.
It was a small floating harbour, mainly dedicated to welcoming new Elves landing on the Dauriath. A true stone Elvish palace was being built much higher in the mountain, safe from the rising ocean. They were given food, and maps and charts to lead them toward their mates of the New Terallion. Not all the Dauriath was charted and explored yet, and there were many places to settle in, even with the ocean rising. Landscapes were different here, with tall rounded mountains covered with forests, and cut with gullies. Rain and rivers existed here only for a short time, and had not time yet to form pointy mountains and valleys.
One month later, they landed at the foot of a large mountain range, to rebuild their ancient Terallion. Nearby, the ocean was pouring over a pass, into one of those large circular plains, forming a huge cataract. But it was nothing compared to the Horiathon.
They found other tribes of the former Terallion, who were already cultivating and smithing, so that their arrival arose no problem. But they had only small log houses for now, as the emergency was to cultivate food for all the new comers.
They were few, they were alone, they were surrounded by immense wild forests and strange mountains of loose angular boulders of every sizes and kinds. They had only the little resources they could obtain with their hands and with their own work.
But they were FREE.
They could resume their Elvish way of life, playing music, telling stories, having long evenings together... and being in peace and safety, not having to guard or protect their places! Some went sailing back to the harbour near the Horiathon, filling their holds with food and grain and medicine, to help others to travel with better conditions. They could also go to varied places, to gather fabrics and other goods. Which were offered full heartedly...
From their place, they could see the Nyidiath, the world of the Humans. It was much lower on the horizon, and not cutting the path of the sun, so that they had a normal day, and a warm climate. But the ancient world was visible...
… and reminding them of the Humans.
As the prophecy was going on, the Horiathon would stop flowing into about seven more centuries, to form a simple bottle neck between the two oceans, which would then have a nearby stable level. It would be possible to sail normally into both ways, and to come back to the human realm. Until this moment, the Elves had time to multiply, to grow into wisdom and knowledge, and to rebuild a wonderful land. Into seven centuries, and even before, Humans themselves would ask for the Elves to return and share their wisdom and kindness.
Already the Elves were finding unofficial buoys, sent by activist groups through the Horiathon, containing encouraging messages, tools and other goods.
So what an enthralling purpose... Söjen started it at once, by educating his daughter to the kind Evish culture, and the three other sons Eleanor bore later.
I, Yichard, Elf Bard, composed this text especially for the Bardic competition which was held in January 2008 in our Elven lands of Elf Circle, in Second Life. The stake of this competition was to illustrate the Nine Virtues of our charter, and in a general way all the Elven values. My entry was not prized, but this was fair as there were many high level texts and I was myself very hesitant to choose the best.
This double world is in fact a double planet. Such things are much more common than we imagine, and around Earth many asteroids have a peanut shape. Many double stars too happen to swell and exchange matter, in a way similar to the one described here. Ideally they then take the shape of a hour glass with two rounded ends (a eight). But in a general way, one of them is larger, so that when it swells, matter falls on the other star in a kind of funnelling jet. Large planets like Earth are usually not known to be double, but we can consider Moon-Earth and Pluto-Charon as double planets, as much as we find many double stars. To have a double planet taking the shape of an eight (two water drops touching by their points) must be rare, but it is not impossible. So that the double world described here, sharing a common atmosphere and ocean, is likely to exist somewhere in space. And the strange phenomena around the Horiathon are a thorough reconstitution of the physical reality of such a place.
In the story, these two worlds were initially separated, as Earth and the Moon are, but much closer, so that they took an egg shape, and later a water drop shape, instead of a sphere. Air and life evolved on the larger Nyidiath, while the smaller Dauriath remained airless, strewn with large craters like our Moon. But with the slow evolution of their orbit, over millions years, the Dauriath world was approaching the Nyidiath. At first, air poured from the Nyidiath onto the Dauriath, about 3 million years ago, bringing here rain and moist, then the seeds of many plants. The Dauriath became covered with huge forests, populated only with some species of insects. Later, some birds found their way to the new world. Then, when the Dauriath was close enough, the ocean of the Nyidiath began to pour on the Dauriath, bringing sea water and all the species of fishes, coral and algae. At that time, some wise Elves began to send to the Horiathon rafts containing birds, squirrels, ants, and many others, with the hope of making of the Dauriath a much nicer place. What they did not expected was to be themselves sent through the Horiathon…
The total endeavour of sending 18 millions Elves through the Horiathon took 63 years, implying the building of 22000 «Liberty Ships» into 45 harbours, producing each one every six weeks. The most difficult task was to gather a huge quantity of timber, and, to be frank, this cost not only much work to the Elves, but also a fair part of their secret gold reserves. On these 22000 ships, 33 were lost in storms and other ocean hazard, versus only seven through the Horiathon pass itself. The found wreckages indicated that likely they fell one on the other at their arrival into the Dauriath ocean. This happened because it was impossible to predict when a ship would be taken into the funnel, despite precautions taken. Theoretically there was only one ship a day, so that collisions should be impossible. But in some cases passengers reported to have been spun for more than 48 hours into the inverted whirlpool.
The travels did not completely stopped with the end of the Exodus, however. Some humans soon realized that the deportation was a huge mistake, well before it was completed. And every year, one or more human ship still attempted the voyage, loaded with volunteers, mostly humans who spontaneously became Elves, or who wanted to share their life. Those immigrant ships were welcomed by the Elves in the Dauriath, although it happened that some of these humans had not so good ulterior motives. In the worse cases, they were slain, but if they were discovered before doing any evil, those false Elves were simply put into reserve lands, where they could live as they wished, but with men and women thousands kilometres apart. The Dauriath was the Elven Land, they had paid enough for it, and to make it clear, they build a powerful fleet of mighty war ships continuously circling the Horiathon, to prevent any intrusion. And they sent clear messages as what attempts to enter by force would result into death.
As messages could be exchanged between the Dauriath and the Nyidiath. The most elegant way was using migratory birds, who found their ways to the Dauriath tens of millennia ago. Also many humans secretly sent buoys and rafts, for varied purposes, but in a general way to send rare supplies, or to share progress from the human society. The Elves also used large catapult ships to send smaller items to the human ships circling the Horiathion on the Nyidiath side. With the weightlessness, those projectiles easily made for tens of kilometres upward before falling on the other side. Later the Elves used large guns, firing wooden shells hollowed in a way to contain messages or other items.
Contrarily to the usual view of the Elves, I don’t mention magic in this story. In the original text, it was to focus mainly on the extraordinary phenomena taking place around the Horiathon, which would look magical for any people having no knowledge of physics or astronomy, just as the midnight sun and icebergs looked magical to the eyes of the antic Greek traveller Pytheas who visited the Polar Circle, in Norway or Iceland.
But we can guess that elder Elves have good premonition abilities, or more, in order to accept their exile through the Horiathon with an exact knowledge of what happens here. And indeed the majority of the other texts I composed after, mention widespread use of magic by the Elves. We can say that magic powers were not evenly shared by all the elven tribes, some had such powers, others much less. Especially, in these painful times of tribulation, the elven war god Maktar withdraw his protection to the Elves, in order to help them to accept the exile, instead of fighting a hopeless war in front of an overwhelmingly stronger human civilization. The withdrawal of the Elves was the only mean for them to recover their strength, while waiting for their return into the Human world. However this return would be asked by the Humans themselves, longing for the wisdom and beauty of the Elves, after having polluted and destroyed most of their own world. So this return would be the ultimate victory of wisdom and loving kindness.
The races in this text:
Contrarily to the Norse mythology or Tolkien’s world, Elves in this story are not a separated race, Humans and Elves are the same race, who can cross breed without any problem. This was a purposely choice, to deal with the matter of racism and segregation in a way closer to the conditions on Earth.
Scenario, graphics, sounds, colours, realization: Richard Trigaux (Unless indicated otherwise).
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