The Fey Bride of Elfland
Chapter Fifteen – Part Two
The Wealth of a Changing Land
Once his panting reduced to normal breaths, Chamorrick moved to the edge of the gorge while saying, “Trolls are filthy creatures, but if there is water down there it might be best to go on down.”
We both turned with shock to hear the voice of the small man say, “Of course there is water down there. Water does not bother trolls, and they usually lair where others will come to them.
My half-brother replied, “Well, the next concern is if there are more.”
“Game is rather abundant, but not really of the nature to support a group of those monsters. I thus suspect that we should find the lair clear.”
“Oh bother. Are you going to go down?”
It helped the attitude of my half-brother and me that the little man was willing to help. The stench from the offal and maggot infested remains of previous meals was horrible. There was not enough water to wash away the filth. We ended up moving the rotting accumulation of plant matter on top of the bones, then setting the pile to light. The fire intensified the stench at first, but then actually smelled nice as the aromas of cooking flesh mixed with those from the fuel being used. With the help of the little man we managed to do enough to have a safe, and slightly pleasant, refuge for rest.
Chamorrick did take a bath. As he set out the cloak to air out and allow certain parts to lose wrinkles from being packed, we commented about the fashion. The little man did not take part in our conversation, but after I took my bath Chamorrick lied down to rest with our tiny companion speaking with me.
“You boys really planning to meet with the pure elves?”
“That’s our objective. My half-brother has his own goal, but none have spoken against us at least making the meeting.”
“No, I guess not, but I find them scary.”
Considering some of the things I had heard, I had to accept his statement, although I did try and turn the words. “Honestly, the whole matter of courtship I find scary. Having my wife given to me I consider to be a most wondrous blessing.”
“You mean having a good wife given to you.”
I could not tell what the little man meant by that, but I spoke simply to keep the conversation from turning sour. “I believe there is good in all, even women. I also have to allow that my wife had the opportunities to help raise me, so simply trained me to like the way she treats me. In any event, I will say that every man should love their wife as much as I love mine.”
“Yes, my wife is a bother, but I have to agree with those words.”
Thinking back on the folklore and mythology that I had read, I found myself wondering about the little man. Stray events did not usually happen in them. While modern retelling would complicate the tales, the actual core stories were usually simple with a focus on the main plot. I thus wondered if the little man was not more than he appeared, and spoke attempting to ascertain a fact about him.
“Speaking of being scared, it does bother me about why the pure elves are still around. Their time has passed. Once the purpose of a fey has run its course, they usually accept that their time as passed as well.”
“Purpose is an allusive thing. Most end their time feeling their goals long achieved, while many more feel that their time ends much too soon. As strange as it might sound, their purpose for continuing on might simply be to meet with you two. As for gaining a wife, you must make the lady accept that her purpose in life is to bond with yours.”
Thinking of my own situation, I added, “Either that, or you must accept yourself as bonding with hers.” I then however considered that the debate could continue. “I however wonder about the fate of this pure fey lady having any purpose at all.”
He easily countered, “Assuming that her purpose is not to become your half-brother’s wife.”
“I am wondering if she will see our coming in such a fashion.”
The little man got up from his position, then moved to the edge of the clearing that was one of the sides of the gorge. I watched as he attacked the hard dirt. Freeing a rock, he then struck at it to reveal the beauty of a geode. He then carried back to his position, and showed the crystals to me as he made his point.
“It will be decided upon how both sides are looking. If she is looking for a husband then all could go quite well. If he is looking for something of beauty in what others only have considered to be worthless detritus of a bygone age, he might find something so precious he is willing to work with all his soul to obtain it.
I actually felt the man had presented his point very well, so only lightly replied, “I hope that the challenge does not risk his soul.”
"No, but I told you that I have not found any desire to further what I have learned of the pure elves. What I have heard has scared me. I am allowing that your half-brother might find the beauty in them, but I am also saying that I have not ever suspected any of being there.”
Honestly wondering, I asked, “What exactly did you hear that scared you?”
“Just their complete mystification with our world. The trees, the animals, I heard them speak about what they have encountered on their excursions from their caves and realized that they know nothing of it. It causes me to wonder about what type of world they were to maintain – about a possible world without our abundance of life.”
“Their statements were not destructive, were they?”
“No, not destructive. It still was unnerving to realize that they had no real comprehension of the life around us. As someone that seeks the precious items in the ground, I can find beauty in the things that live on and from the ground. To think of the world as having none of that, well, bothers me.”
“Yes, I can accept that.” Hoping to put some positive words behind my half-brother’s objective, I added, “Maybe after we have spent our time with the pure elves, we can drop back to see you and give you a more complete perspective of their personalities.”
“Whatever the reason, I would be glad to see you. It is a lonely life out here.”
Just to continue the conversation, I said, “That is what I suspected about the lady we are looking for. I felt that she would be lonely.”
“Or just bored. I mean they have not given me the impression they were looking for anything specific, but just moving about.” He then stood and stretched while saying, “I’m going to sleep. What are you going to do?”
“I’m an astronomer. I will thus probably move out to where I can look at the stars.”
“Cannot see much down here.”
He was correct that we were down over twenty feet in a slice of the ground. Not only did I have the walls of the gorge blocking my view, but the limbs and leaves of the plants covering the ground above. I however did not allow myself to speak of being disappointed.
“No, but I will see what I can. There are wonders in every section of the sky.”
He wished me a good night, and returned the good words. I then stood to look up and determined just what patches of sky I could see. It did help me feel that it was a good night in that no layer of clouds prevented me from seeing the celestial lights.
I had to spin to assure myself of what direction I was looking. Once I had verified the compass points, I then did what I could to ascertain certain stars and objects. Nothing seemed out of place, although I again spent time wondering about what some of the celestial lights were that I was looking at.
There was a wind, so nothing about the movement of the plants alerted me to the sound of someone talking. “Just a little fire. All they light are little fires.”
“It seems to be sufficient, and not as dangerous as our fires, although you can do more with molten rock.”
I found the conversation curious, but not scary. What concerned me was that both speakers seemed to be male. Making an assumption about the voices, I went ahead and interrupted the conversation seeking to gain some information.
“Excuse me, but is Lasotherral with you?”
The entire forest seemed to suddenly go very quiet. Even the insects stopped their cacophony. Only the wind did not stop, but it did not disturb the plants enough to have me hear their sounds. I did not hear any distinct movement, but the voice that replied seemed to come from further away in the forest.
“How do you know to ask about her?”
“My half-brother seeks an audience with her.”
There was a momentary thought not to answer. I however accepted that I had initiated the exchange. I thus went ahead and supplied the answer.
It actually filled me with hope not to hear anything negative, so I spoke with a little more boldness. “He says that she was betrothed, but that the marriage was never consummated. He thus feels that she would fulfill every requirement of a proper bride, and would provide a better bloodline to his lineage than any other lady.”
“So, his desire is something other than basic lust.”
Not really spoken as a question, but I still felt a need to supply some positive information. “He has found nothing to have him lust after the lady. None to my knowledge has told him anything to have him lust after her. His desire is purely driven by a belief in what he needs to bring stability to his land.”
“And what more can you tell us?”
“Little. He is the heir to the throne of Florinew. I am but a half-brother, although I travel with him to provide counsel. Toward that end, I hope to set things in motion not to have us treated as annoying travelers upon our approach, but as guests who would be honored simply to have an audience.”
Suddenly the sounds of the forest returned. I did not know if that was a good or bad thing. All I could say was that I had not been threatened or even slandered. I took that as a good sign, and hearing no sounds of danger I decided to go ahead and get some sleep.
And Queanay returns.