Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Fantasy Revealed, Part VIX

Fantasy Revealed
By H.A. Handy
Copyright 2005 (C) by H.A. Handy

(Part VIX)# # # # # # #

The table was a living tree whose large root rose up out of the ground to actually form it and our chairs were living vines and twigs that wound and bound themselves into that shape. Each chair was attached to the table in some form or fashion and were green and lovely, and quite comfortable. Vegetables, fruits, breads and cheeses filled the table itself to almost overflowing as my companions and I sat down. Elira sat at the head of the table and other elves served us with their flowing hair and robes giving them the allure of wisps.

There was a tall, almost wispy male who sat at Elira’s right hand. He had silver bracers at his wrists and a silver band around his long white-silver hair. He had not said anything the entire time we had been at the table and ate sparingly. To Elira’s left as an older elf, and he looked old, ancient in fact. He wore the same type of bands as the one on the right, except they were etched in detailed leaf and vine patterns. This turned out to be Elira’s father, Galan. The younger one on her right was Delentrol, her husband. All around us sat generals and the finest warriors and poets, according to Dremor, that Silver Wood had to offer. It should have made me feel special I suppose, but all it did was make me feel uncomfortable and very much a fraud.

Besides myself and Dremor, Fredrick was also present, more composed now than what he had been earlier. Kolbar also sat at the table, but there was a good space between himself and his elven table companions. All through the meal I could feel Kolbar’s eyes upon me which only added to my discomfort.

“I thank you on behalf of myself and my traveling companions,” Dremor said, raising his glass to Elira and the other elves who sat at the table. Elira inclined her head graciously and lifted her own goblet of purest gem and smiled.

“It is only our pleasure to help in times such as these,” she said. “Which way do you plan on taking from here?”

“That is up to the Keeper,” Dremor said. He stiffened slightly. So did I. “It is she who will direct our journey.”

Elira’s tinkling laugh wafted over the table, “And this is surprising news to our Keeper, I see.” I felt myself blush slightly as I nodded in agreement. “There is time and space here for you to rest long enough to decide which direction you need to go, Keeper,” she said.

“Thank you.” Part of me was relieved, and part of me was still terrified. These people, this world was depending on me, me who had no experience of being a hero or of even fully standing up for myself. Everything I had ever failed to do flowed through my mind at that moment and I could not imagine for the life of me why these people could trust me as they did! I had no earthly idea of what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to do it! All I knew for certain was that they were depending on me and I could either give up or go on, and, at that point, I was not at all certain what I was going to do. Everything felt very over-whelming and heavy to me at that moment and the thought of having a day or two just to think, to let everything settle (if that could even be possible).

The meal ended, thankfully, not too long after and each of us were led to our quarters for the time being – all of them were in a large tree with vines limbs that were magically encouraged to grow into steps leading up to large boughs where more limbs were encouraged to form walls and roofs. There were no rails on the outside of the steps and I found myself keeping a hand on the tree itself as we ascended. Elira and the others, except for Fredrick (how tall it must have been to him!), did not pay attention to the winding stairs and the absence of a rail.

My room was really a small house nestled high in the tree. It was furnished with a table, a couple of chairs carved from wood it seemed, and a large, comfortable bed. Large orange gems lay upon several clusters of stones throughout the room. Heat radiated slightly from them. When Elira had excused herself with promises she would have someone return for me, she motioned for the others to follow her.

“I’ll be staying right here,” Kolbar said flatly. “The floor is good and solid and I AM a gentleman,” he said. Elira looked to Fredrick who shrugged, and then nodded. “Only for your protection, Keeper,” Kolbar added. There was a sparkle to his dark eyes that made me almost furious, and also amused me. Dremor, not at all happy about the situation nodded, bowed at the door and stepped outside. Fredrick followed and Elira smiled a soft, welcoming smile, and then backed out the door. A thick curtain fell down behind her leaving me totally alone with Kolbar.

“All of this is a bit much isn’t it,” he said, quite matter-of-factly. “Safe and secure as you can be in your world, you come here to uncertainty and possible death to assist a people you never even heard of before.”

“I’ve heard of you, but just in stories,” I said suddenly. Kolbar smiled down into the heating stones.

“I saw your face at the meal,” he continued. “You need space to rest and think, and let whatever is leading us tell you where we should go. Dremor is a good fellow. He is brave and kind, even if he is a little dense at times, and he would die to help you and help our lands, but sometimes he puts pressure on a person by merely being in the same room with them.” Kolbar chuckled softly. “I know from experience. Fredrick is a wizard and curious. He will have questions flowing out his ears as well as his mouth for you, which keeps you from hearing your own thoughts, much less the full content of his questions.” I found myself smiling. “He is a good enough chap as well, even if he is a wizard. He too would die to assist you and our land. Me,” he said with a heavy sigh, “I am keeping a promise I made to a very kind king. I would die for my land, and if you can save my land, I will die for you. Besides, there is something out of place about you, and I understand it. You are out of place, and, at the same time, right where you need to be, even if you don’t understand it at the moment.” Kolbar suddenly looked uncomfortable. “I will be right outside. If you need anything, just call me. No one will bother you as long as I am here.”

“Thank you,” I said, feeling quite small and very close to tears. Kolbar bowed and went through the heavy curtain door to leave me alone. Ella and Enyo both yawned and stretched. They looked at me hopefully, their tails wagging almost in tandem. I crawled up onto the bed and they followed. I had planned to just lay down and think for a moment, but ended up falling fast asleep.

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