The two friends turned about startled. Before them stood a deer; yet, its neck and head were replaced with the upper half of a naked female-elf. Her long hair covered both of her petite breast.
“To you as well.” Said the male stranger, who added, “I am Fayendar’Kyon, and this is my companion, Saleeth.” He was amazed by the sight of the creature before him.
“I am Lyreah, an elodreen from the yellow woods of --” Her words were interrupted.
“Kinderval!” Exclaimed Saleeth. She added, “I have met some of your kind before.” Sounding insightful.
“Elodreen!?” Breathed Fayendar with wide eyes. “I had always heard and been taught they were fictitious -- I mean no offence, but horrid creatures from children’s bedtime stories.”
“You have lived a sheltered life indeed, Fayendar’Kyon.” The elven-deer smiled angelically back at him as if at a child, “For we are neither horrid nor fictitious.” Then adding in a lower tone and cutting eyes to Saleeth, “Yet, I assure you our spell-charms are quiet real.”
“You are a good distance from your own woods --” This time Saleeth’s defensive words fell short.
“Just as you are from the Grey Havens, Saleeth of no House name.” The Elodreen’s manner was poignant.
Saleeth caught the intent and asked, “Are we familiar? Do you know me, eldren?”
“What brings The Fallen to our woods?” Dismissing her Lyreah looked to Fayendar.
Breathing courage he answered, “We fled the Western Sea Port and sought an alliance with those of the northern hills…”
Her expression raised, “Dwarves? How fascinating indeed!”
The wonderer continued his brief-story, “After a season of years a force from Mithar lay siege upon Mount Ipstha as few escaped.”
Reading between the lines as if she herself new more detail than were being given, Lyreah asked, “I see, and you must be ‘a remnant’ of that few.” Sharpening her words again up Saleeth, “The others, where are they?”
“A half mile back, we were hunting when --.” She answered, trying to avoid the intense stare.
Politely demanding the greater truth, “You were talking, not hunting, and in your discussion you came upon something?”
Fayendar injected, feeling subdued, “Yes. Yes, we -- saw an island just off the southern cliffs of this mainland’s coast.”
Cocking her head slightly to the side with a wicked grin cautioned him with, “Wary now, what else did you spy?”
Saleeth’s words came out on their own, “A light. There was a tree that gave off its own light. Did you not see it Fayendar?”
Yet being totally honest Fayendar admitted, “No. No, I did not, but we --”
He walked a little behind her and had not seen what she had.
Nevertheless, Lyreah injected upon them, “You must return to your people and turn their hearts to this island, for it shall prove to be that which you have so long sought after.”
. . . . . . .
=You spoke of other matters as well, before your discovery of the tree, did you not? Come now, and let us sit together and speak of such things. For I am eager to enlighten you both upon our shared history, and from it you shall learn the truth that has eluded you both for far to long. The Truth that even Murelen’Fay himself rightly uncovered.
+I was raised in The Truth, and obtained the fourth degree of Accurate Knowledge; for the Founder’s Book was the foundation of all our
=Then all the more reason for you to hear my tale, Saleeth. For, Seraphim, the author of that work was gravely biased by his own agenda, and those who adhere to its premise are just as flawed. Seraphim later regretted his version of hope, and sought the eastern homeland of our people, long before Fay’Valen’s brave declaration. After Seraphim’s departure he was never heard from again, except for the one time he and I met in Kinderval.
-Lyreah, how do the Elodreen know of Murelen?
=lol=Surely I am not alone in the world, and the House of Fay is older than Murelen?
Rubbing her hands clean, Lyreah knelt the front portion of her deer body down into the grass, as her powerful hind legs followed into a seated, then laying posture. With that Fayendar was prompted to sit down on a nearby fallen tree trunk as well. Saleeth remained standing off to the side, a few paces to the left of the scribe. They watched the Elodreen vigorously rub some twigs together, and gently blow on them. In no time a tongue of fire leapt up into a blaze.
The quickly lit fireside soon dispelled the oncoming of night with a warm glow. Its orange radiance gave Lyreah's lightly furred facial features an even more exotic look. She smiled with pride, from the fire up into the watching eyes of the scribe and said, “All these lands are our home, and like you, I too am on an errand of my own business, Fayendar.” Then to his companion she replied, “But come, let me share a tale with you of our mutual beginnings.” Gesturing, with an outstretched hand, she added, “Saleeth, may your heart not be troubled and your mind set at ease, please -- sit.” With that she crossed over the fallen trunk and sat down on the ground, making the three of them into a circle.
“Listen well, my fallen children.” She withdrew a small handful of fine power from the pouch that hung across her shoulder, and suddenly scattered it over their campfire that soon became the center of their attention. Its flames roared twice as high and shimmered with a multiple of various colors as sparkling lights danced deep within the blaze, causing it to leap higher. As she spoke to the them their minds wandered and their heads felt light and airy as if they had drank too much wine. Then, without being told they somehow knew that they had been transported back to the days of their founding fathers.
The port city of Mithar was virtually empty. Its vast fleet of swan-shaped sailing ships had already departed for the journey of no return, past the great bookend like, mountain-cliffs of Isil-riena and Anar-alca; the harbor's gateway to the sea. Their 'Great Departure' would soon see the last of Elvendom fade from the world of men; crossing over, beyond the rim of the endless sea to the divine paradise of the nether-world. They would go unto that happy fair-land where crystal towers spiraled into the heavens, and where endless days of joy were to be spent in unimaginable bliss and song. A realm where dew and mist fell, but never a harsh rain. A place where dead loved ones still lived and waited eagerly to greet those yet to arrive. For such was their hope, and our remembrances of their now faded dreams.
Yet, there remained a single ship. Docked to the old world, like a great bird withheld from flight, tethered to the ground, still bound to the illusionary world of our mundane concerns of the here and now, with all its bitter sorrows.
Off - in the distance - a bell in the highest tower of that ancient city had begun to ring out the wind's solemn tune. It was a slow and sad mournful sound indeed. Just then a handful of richly-clad figures stood arguing at the end of the pier, as storm clouds rolled in over the bay's horizon.
The white ship belonged to the Lord of those Grey Havens, and it was he who went briskly down the boardwalk, as his silent boots turned left onto the weathered planks to go aboard. He stopped, half way in-between both worlds it seemed; one foot on the pier and the other on the gangway. From the corner of his eye he noticed that the others had not followed him. They gathered, mid-way on the faded deck, and waited -- some with hands staunchly placed on their hips, but all with grim expressions.
Shelda’Mar's blue-grey eyes were almost tearful as they gazed into those of his twin brother, Vendu’Mar. It was he who lead their dissent.
"Our time has passed." Shelda’Mar said, as the winds increased the breaks the waves multiplied. He was tall, and very pale complicated. Beautifully attired in his formally embroidered robes, and green-velveteen over-sized cap slanted on his head. "You know we must leave; the others have gone already," he added with an extended hand that accented the desperation in his usually calm voice.
Vendu’Mar's mirrored image refused the gesture, and with a slight tilt of his head, called back to his twin brother, not so loudly, "Nay, Brother! We have need to stay. To guide the councils of these weaker men." He said the last phrase with contempt in his voice, as his slanted eyes narrowed on his slim face.
Shelda’Mar was calm, but firm, "There is no need for that; for their time has arrived, and ours finished. The Elder days have ended, and the Lesser children's already begun." The hem of his cloak rippled in the growing breeze, as its shimmering fabric lifted behind him. "The Lords of the Elder lands have returned home, and we are the next among their great houses to follow; come brother, I implore thee to be wise." His words held no malice, as his blonde hair swept across his somber expression.
Almost with a rage just beneath the surface, Vendu’Mar's squinting eyes flared back at the copy of his own, "They fight constantly among themselves, are easily led astray from their destinies, and are wayward! No - no, we must stay. We must stay and guide them to Illuvathian’s Light." Vendu’Mar took a step backward, into the chest of the white robed figure that stood behind him.
It was Sal’Gilvan's cue, and it was not lost on him to speak up next, "Our losses in the War for their freedoms was high, and I for one shall not be moved!" His left hand toyed with the pommel of the sword resting at his side, while the other stroked the length of the scar along his right cheek. Gilvan had lost his wife and seven children, and both sets of parents in a single night. Those deaths had embolden him to speak his mind without fear.
Yet, Shelda’Mar, motioning with his hand, missing its own thumb, had great losses in his family as well -- as they all did. He pointed to the ship beside him, "Our reward for that cost, is admittance into Valithnor, that Undying Land shall be veiled hereafter from the eyes of mortal kind." But Gilvan and the others remained bitter and undaunted.
From behind Gilvan, Veth’Dema pushed his way forward. The only one with dark hair, and dark eyes, and a fat belly; he stayed for his own unannounced reasons, begun to shout at the ship master, "Then ye, may wait for our arrival, in our own good time." A contemptuous smirk grew on his round face.
But Shelda’Mar grew frustrated with their stubbornness, and looked directly at Gilvan, "Thou knowest well, I hold not the key of that realm. It was given unto Gan’Meirith, and it was he who bade us come, for we are now the last to heed that call."
Gilvan disliked Meirith, that messenger from across the sea. He disliked him because he had not partaken in the War, nor witnessed the transitions of the last few months, and so Gilvan waved off the sound of his name like an annoying fly searching for a resting place, "Then be gone. We will remain 'til we are called again."
But Shelda’Mar felt compelled to restate the former's admonishments, "Remember his final call? I warn ye now: henceforth shall all your days dwindle to naught, for the doom of men shall fall upon you as well. For if ye depart not, then ye too will know the tears and sting of sorrow and pain. The longevity of your lives has been cut short by death's touch. None shall see more than one hundred and twenty years; after this day."
But they just stood there looking at him with disgust and disbelief, firm in their convictions to remain behind.
Seeing that they were all unwilling to leave, the High Lord of the City turned about and once again headed for his waiting vessel. It was a massive ship -- two hundred and fifty feet long, with its three huge, slanted sheets unfurled, waiting to be turned into the growing winds. Its foremast was draped with the emblazoned, seven-pointed Silver Star of the elven people. Its bow was ornately carved with the head and body of a great swan, whose wings formed the entire length of the grey-white hull. Its reflection was broken up by the foaming waves slapping the pier that it was moored to. An ornate vessel that declared the workmanship of a now fading people, to those who refused its heritage. Its crew, however, readied the lines for whenever the word was given.
Shelda`Mar's pale face was moist from the mist of the salty air, as his clear blue-grey eyes tearfully viewed the entirety of the city for the last time. With its solitary tower reaching skyward, and its uniquely designed Great Hall in the foreground, the grey havens suddenly took on the appearance of a graveyard to that departing Captain. The wind blew strands of his long blonde hair; through which, Shelda`Mar sadly looked down upon those who remained on the pier below. They murmured among themselves while staring up at their last chance slipping away. He tried to convince his kinsman to join them one last time, but their silent stern faces was his only answer. He knew then that leaving his brother, and the others, was difficult, but they had made their choice.
As the evening shadows lengthened, the pale moon rose brighter. Moments later the enormous canvases of the frail ship were filled with life, as they breathed in the westward winds, and were drawn out through the cleft gateway to the Great Sea beyond. The remnant they left behind only watched, with mixed emotions. It was now too late for a change of heart as the vessel grew small against the setting sun's horizon for the last time. Soon it joined the awaiting twelve of the White Fleet. With the final rays upon that fading armada they disappeared, never to be seen again; and in that breath the bell began to toll, atop the solitary tower, as the sun covered the blackened city.
Those who remained behind, came to believe that they did so only because they later wanted the others to return and create a paradise, grander than the old world. Yet, even as they stared upon that silent departure, they knew in their hearts all their hopes were in vain. They would become a diminished and forgotten people.
Slowly they turned back to their abandoned city. In the bright, full moonlight they watched as the waters of the bay had strangely gone placid again, without even the hint of a ripple or cloud above. Upon leaving the pier, they saw the reason for the bell's sounding; for a darkly cloaked figure approached, from its now reticent direction.
Upon clearly seeing the disappointed face of the one who hurried to meet them, Vendu`Mar broke from the group and angrily shouted, "Meirith! Why have you stayed behind?"
Pulling his pointed-hood back, he replied, "All is not lost: perhaps a signal may yet be heard -- "
Gilvan cut him off with, "Your advice was not heeded the first time, what makes you think it would be welcomed now? You did not understand our plans before they left, and with every argument you fought against us at every turn, do not start up again."
Veth`Dema admonished him with a hiss and pointed finger, "Be gone, you unwanted Apostate, and trouble us no more with your tainted words of a false hope."
Seeing that they were all in agreement against his presence, Meirith retorted, "So mote it be! Yet, others shall now be offered the chance to glory in your misstep." He replaced his hood and headed for the southern gate, toward the Blue Mountains.
As the weeks passed in silence, the harbor remained empty. A quiet somberness fell upon that remnant who stayed. Slowly we grew used to our new solitude.
Eighteen days later, it was decided that an eternal flame should be made, and continually kept burning atop the solitary Tower. Some thought, just in the event that the others might return like a thief in the night. Galadir`Mar, the nephew of Vendu`Mar, was charged with its continual care, which he did with loving and grave vigilance.
The day that the flame was to be lit, also marked the Conception Day of Lord Fay`Symodare. At one hundred and twenty years old he was counted as the eldest among those twenty-one Watchers who remained behind and saw their brethren leave. However, as the youngest among them, Seraphim was sent to awaken him; yet, upon arriving at the door of his chamber, Symodare was discovered lying dead in his bed. His serene face mocked the frightened ones that gathered him up for his burial.
As a bed of acacia wood was erected, Symodare's lifeless form, was bound with cords, wearing his most elaborate of red robes, and laid upon the bier. The hood-covered face of the shrouded figure gave no response, as the eternal flames were lit high in the heights of the tower above; likewise, to those that engulfed his final slumber. As his cold body burned before those gathered, the smell of fragrant herbs, anointed oils and consumed flesh had begun a new and somber rite for them. For the prophesied words of Gan`Meirith had now been fulfilled, and the reality of their folly, set in. But none could turn back now to unring the bell of fate; so -- Seraphim rang it anew to mark the occasion, and every year thereafter, on that same day was it rung twenty one times, for each one of us who stayed behind.
After the body of their peer had been fully consumed, the ashes of his crushed bones were gathered. We, each in turn, took a handful and scattered them in the direction of the bay's gateway to the sea. The remainder of his ashes were placed in a brass and ivory urn, into which the others pledged their own would some day join.
Nol`Mithlon, the half-brother of Sal`Gilvan said, "May these words ever be spoken at the passing of one of us, and may they be remembered before any of our future children: 'Long have the days of Elvendom passed, when their frail beauty and longevity inspired the heart, for the fires of forgetfulness have consumed them, and their hope of immortality, lost.' " Those words too, were carved on the Watcher's Urn.
Of all the Watchers who remained behind in the port city of Mithar, I was the only female among them. For I am Lyreah, the older sister of Seraphim. I was the first to grow disenchanted with their reasons for staying behind, and after the passing of Symodare, was the first to leave those Grey Havens.
The morning after his funeral rite, I announced to that gathering, during breakfast, "I can no longer stay here and watch as we all perish into forgotten ashes, one-by-one."
At which Gilvan sounded surprised, "Where would you go?” he said to me. “Surely not to the dwarves?" Then glanced around to see if any of the others agreed with him, that the possibility of my going to the mountain dwellers was an evil choice.
But I said, as if the answer should have been obvious to everyone, "No. I feel the need to return to the ways of nature. For, we once had many friends among that kingdom as well, before our hearts became compassionless."
Then the green eyed, Baal`Yic smiled, and with a hand over his heart nodded, "Blessings to you then, may we all meet again in Valithnor." From a raised goblet he drank to my health and leaving.
But I was too newly-bitter then, and much surprised by his words, and replied, "Blessings to you all; though I fear we are all doomed never to see that happy fate." As I left the marbled dinning hall of Varlendur in silence, and for the last time; my plate and glass remained untouched, for I had had my fill of their tainted “spiritually-incarnated” food and self serving lies.
Know this and keep it secret no longer; that I was the last of our people to possess the ability to use the morphing craft of shape shifting, and in the Yellow Woods, east of those Havens, I became one with the animal kingdom. The speed, agility and strength of deer-kind had won my heart as it was to them I was drawn.
My offspring came to partially possess that morphing gift as well, yet by their second generation the merging of our two races became the mixture you see in me now; and the Elodreen race of Kinderval. We are loners, and treated as outcast among both our original people. Feared for our differences and new ability to charm, as you have seen; yet, it will be our doom that we are to perish. But before we are gone from the world know that we were indeed here, and know too the truth of your own people as well.
For, no one can tell me what the Truth of the Nephilim is, or what they believe, because I was there. I know first hand what happened. And all the stories and versions I have heard since are only embellishments made by fools seeking a name for themselves.”
Slowly the flames of the campfire died down to mere embers of glowing coals in the now early morning light. With the breaking of dawn, the spell of enchantment faded. Lyreah was no where to be seen.
They woke up in another location different than where their original camp had been
Dazed and confused not only that their camp had been displaced, but also astonished by the group of onlookers staring down at them asking a multitude of questions: ranging from Where have you been for two days to Why were you sleeping here, and are you alright?
The only thing that told Fayendar that he had not dreamt their encounter with Lyreah was when he noticed the pouch she had been carrying had been left behind and was now at his feet.