The Geekwif and I had a lovely vacation weekend last week. We traveled to Houston, TX, USA to visit some old friends, and went with them to the Conroe Renaissance Festival. This Ren Fest is somewhat bigger than the one in MN, which we have been to many times. Anyway, that's the reason I didn't post anything last week (and in fact forgot to even mention I was going offline for a few days).
Now, on to the story sample. This is another scene in which Balfrith is confronted with an aspect of the Elefdar which he cannot understand. As with his first glimmerings of understanding about how long they can live, and what that must be like, he finally begins to get some small understanding of just how magical the Elefdar are. Magic isn't something they create, or wield. Magic is what the Elefdar are.
* * *
Year’s End caught Balfrith by surprise. The first he heard of its approach was in casual conversation with some of his Elefdar peers, as they mentioned the coming holy day, and the giving of gifts. He held his tongue at that time, but later when he met up with Eldamir, he asked what day they were talking about. They sat on a large shoulder of rock nestled in an open glade in the forest, about a third of the way up the mountain, with a beautiful view down upon the city and the surrounding country.
Eldamir, laughing, replied, “Balfrith, surely you jest. Do Men not celebrate the Long Night, and the coming of the dawn?”
Balfrith had to think a moment, muttering to himself, “The Long Night…?” before it dawned upon him, and his countenance changed as he exclaimed, “Oh, you mean Year’s End Day? Of course we celebrate that, it’s one of our most important holy days, perhaps the most important of all.” And then he looked about at the lush forest, draped in the bright colors of autumn. The temperatures had only recently begun to turn cooler, as far as Balfrith could remember of recent days. “But surely that cannot be what they were talking about? For it is only autumn, and we have months to go before the solstice.”
Eldamir cocked an eyebrow at him, and replied, “Balfrith, how long do you think you have sojourned among the Elefdar? How many moons have passed us by since the spring-time when you entered Fanyamar?”
Balfrith paused, thinking, but he hadn’t really kept track of the passing months, and had no guess. He shrugged and said, “I don’t know, but it can’t be close to Year’s End. Look about you, Eldamir, at the fall colors. We haven’t even seen our first snow yet.”
Eldamir paused this time, and responded more slowly. “Balfrith, I tell you we are four days from the Long Night. And I testify that I have not seen winter’s snows in the city of Fanyamar, or in any part of our surrounding domain, my entire life. For the power of my people keeps winter’s bitter chill at bay, just as it also wards the summer’s burning heat. Outside, beyond our borders, the weather does as it will year round. And our Guardians must prepare themselves for whatever the seasons may hold, as they range to and fro throughout the land. But here, we are at peace, and worry not over cold or heat.”
Balfrith was stunned, and sat in silence for a while. Finally he asked, “Is this … your ability to keep out the worst weather … is it Elefdar magic?”
Eldamir laughed, and said, “As always, when you speak of magic, Balfrith, I have no idea what you are talking about. You speak as if power is something apart from us, outside of us, something to be wielded like a blade or manipulated like clay. Perhaps it is this way with Men, but with the Elefdar, there is no magic. It is who and what we are, neither more nor less. We are protected from the elements because we want to be.”
Balfrith stood up on the stone and looked about him at the trees, the land, the mountain, and the sky, amazed at what he’d just been told - amazed at what his own eyes were telling him. “That simple,” he said. Finally, all he could do was sit back down. He had no reason to believe that the Elefdar, and Eldamir in particular, were trying to deceive him, therefore it must be true - no matter how inexplicable. This was not the first Elefdar mystery to confront him, nor, he was certain, would it be the last.