In the days of ease there lieth no challenge save that which we create. There exists no trials of life. No responsibilities overshadow to force upon us that which might make our way difficult. No one emerges to force us to participate in the hardships of life.
So we play. We avoid reality. We immerse ourselves in mayhem. Reality falls from view and is replaced by fantasy.
“Ancient proverb of the Dales”
“No way!” Vinnie growled, in response to Stephen’s suggestion.
“I was the Elf the last time, it is your turn to be the enemy.” He continued, bringing his cold grey eyed stare to bear upon Stephen.
The two boys, though friends and co-combatants in every sense of the words, had decidedly selective views in respect to the other races about the Sardist Realms. Dwarves, while hardy and formerly allied to the Scarlottis were no longer the trustworthy, dependable fellows they once were. Since the War of Fellows they had become withdrawn and seemed to have abandoned the works they once pursued with the men of House Scarlotti. The Elves, on the other hand, had always been the secretive guerrillas who, from the edges of civilization, surgically strike, killing the odd and seemingly random foe regardless of how well protected they seem. The Silent Enemy. Despised by Scarlotti forces who embrace frontal combat and hand to hand conflict over all other forms.
But then from aside and unexpected came wisdom well known, yet embarrassingly unwelcome. “Perhaps the history of your people, and the true nature of the world in which you live has eluded you, my son.”
Deirdre Scarlotti, though foreboding, held an air about her which drew others in. Mystery and great wonder were harmonized into her soothing voice. While Vinnie loved his mother, he was afraid of her in a strange way. Not that she would harm him the way that his father might, were he to disobey his father’s word. Yet she, despite her proven love and devotion, had a way of making his his hair stand up on his arm and a chilling shudder run the full length of his body. She could make him feel like she was sifting his mind for the secrets he held while, at the same instant, making him feel so very comfortable and loved. He was certain she was aware of his knowledge of her powers, but she never acknowledged it to him and that made her even more mysterious.
With a dry mouth and eyes widening in her smiling gaze, “I, I am not certain of your meaning, mother? Our… history?”
Her eyes narrowed and he backed away ever so slightly toward his friend, Stephen, who even now would have ran were it not for some force refusing his legs their motive energies. “You forget your ancestors. You forget Antoni and then you forget the grace of Duchess Gabriella Dulccinae, and her strength of character during the War of Fellows.”
Deirdre did not wish to embarrass her son in the presence of his friend, but when he disrespected the Mae her blood began to boil and she felt driven to address the attack personally. Not simply out of respect for the Mae’n people, but that Vincenso might not grow up ignorant of those things which defined his family, and that she might work to form his destiny. She knew that even at fourteen he should have a far greater command of the history of all three races upon Maenatae. She knew that her sons would all be thrust onto the field of combat soon enough. She would have them armed not simply with strength of will and martial prowess, but with a mind full of the things of this world; prepared to make decisions based upon all of the facts available.
And so she beheld her son and his friend now caught in her tale for they began floating back into her grace, with looks of curiosity and perhaps wonder upon their faces. They moved with a mechanical grace as though their movements, while not their own were somehow desired by them, and resisted. The two young men, moving at the very edge of her gaze slid past her and seated themselves upon a nearby bench there in the wide garden of Demon’s Wrest. That garden which herself tended.
She longed to tell her son of the wonders within the Great Tree. Of how there shone the light of the Lunactris tree on a scale not witnessed outside within the bare and open world. She would tell him of running water and brooks that did flow and sound and splash. Perhaps even the grand celebrations which were held by royalty aged across such a span of time that mankind might scarce fathom the wisdom held within those fleshly vessels. Her own long life too would she divulge, but such could never be while reason prevailed. Even now she felt the change taking place; her body was beginning to age. She would have Vincenso informed of those things that mattered to her. Those things too she did bless upon her niece, Yylyssa as was the custom of her mothers, but there was a part of her that said within, “He must know”.
Vinnie saw his mother falter; he felt her hold weaken and her gaze he witnessed move off to the distance. Yet he remained, “Father mentions only and always of the great leadership and fighting prowess of Lord Antoni”, he spoke in a reserved tone, almost as if it were a question.
Turning and realizing that they remained despite her releasing them she responded, “My Duke is wise and with that wisdom he does rule his people, however Lord Antoni was compassionate and above all men he possessed a humility and grace that we have been desirous of, though we knew it not, for a long count of seasons”. She saw on their faces wonder and disbelief moreover confusion, though it quickly departed as her gaze was directed upon the young men and an eyebrow went up, ever so slightly.
Struggling to respond with some fact which might be seen to agree with the points which his mother had made Vinnie responded, “Lord Antoni planted the great tree in the garden there in Merriccia!”.
Smiling at her son and considering his desire to please her she continued, “Indeed he did, but with the aid of the Mae; the very elves which you despise as enemy.” Looking upon the young man she could see the first waves of regret, and perhaps some element of sorrow, upon his face. Perhaps her message was awakening knowledge that already lay within. Perhaps his open disdain for the Mae was simply an outward show of adolescent bravado and nothing more. Then her mind wandered and she allowed herself to wonder if the entire war and the great losses to all sides could be attributed to such a foolish display of insecurity? Men can be childish, she thought.
She allowed silence to work it’s good upon the young prince. Waiting patiently for him to speak. Knowing that he did not wish to do so, but realizing that some lessons which are learned by men they must teach themselves. She noticed him, for the longest time looking at the floor and then about the room, but always avoiding her gaze. He didn’t even look at his friend, rather he avoided his eyes also. Not that looking to Stephen would have helped for he had been practicing his best at remaining invisible to all in the room.
Vinnie knew what was going on. His mother was waiting for an answer, and not just a few words to pacify, but the actual thing which should be said. She waited on some notion that, while within his grasp remained on the very edge of it. When she did this and entered one of these, “teaching moments” as she chose to call them, she would stand him up and they would be locked there in mental combat until that answer came forth. That one thing which best described not only an answer he understood, but a concept that she wanted him to understand. And she was relentless. He knew that, should it be necessary, his mother would sit there looking at him until the full week spun out to its end.
Looking over, he noticed Stephen asleep there on the couch and a thought came to him. He offered his notion quietly, “We are young, mother. Perhaps we do have much to learn”.
Without yet blinking she responded, “I look not for excuses, Vincenso”.
He he’d guessed her response and smiled ever so slightly, causing her to raise an eyebrow. “Mother, I mean all of humanity. We are just kinda like, well, we aren’t grown up just yet.” Upon his face there was the beginning of an answer and he, struggling to get it out, was, even now, teaching himself. “The el, er… the Mae. They live so very long and we so very short of a time. By the time we get the idea we don’t know what we are doing we die and go on”. He looked up into her eyes, “it isn’t fair, mother. We will never get our selves under control in such a short lifetime.”
Dierdre smiled and moved across the span to her son and embraced him, “I am very proud of you, Vinnie.”
Whew, that’s good, she only calls me Vinnie when she is indeed very happy with me.
She continued her thoughts, “however, while you have answered my question you have raised another and incorrectly applied an answer”. She could see the shock on his face and the fear in his eyes.
“Yet, we will not address your suggestion that humanity has been dealt with unfairly in their span of life”, she responded in hopes of easing his fears. “That is a lesson that will require more of life’s days to pass over you before the true answer might be attained”
Caev’eya Nah sat quietly in meditative repose, her daughter at her side. She knew that so much of her father was in Sehles’Ah Selef that meditation nor patience were qualities easily came by. She had extended her umbrage over her daughter as a help and not a simple avoidance of the moment. Caev’eya Nah knew better than any other Mae the impatience of humanity; of their need to make a mark in such brief of an existence. Jean had been with her a long time, by the standards of his people, but despite her elixirs and serums he asked her to let him pass to Gaael and the rewards of his people. It had been merely a moment in the span of time, but since his departing some 14 seasons hence time had crept to a most disturbing crawl. He left at only 208 years of age and without seeing Sehles’Ah Selef reach the fullness of her growth. His last words and instruction for their clan were received by all in the grand room of his clan’s abode. His great nephew, holding the kingship of the people did grant a week of mourning following the solemn event.
“Always smile, my love, for I will be looking down upon you and will be most distressed if you should weep or even should you frown.” A sharp gasp to her side and Caev’eya Nah was reminded that those within the umbrage had full and complete recall of the thoughts of their benefactor. Releasing the wheel she turned to a tearful Sehles’Ah Selef and smiled, “Papa wished we both might smile, daughter.”
Composing herself and dabbing her eyes she whispered most urgently, “I saw him mother! As if he were right here, right now!”
Caev’eya Nah studied her daughter for a moment and remembering that she was only 220 years of age and yet required further development. She would not yet have been subjected to such an transfer of thought within the umbrage of her Crèche Master.
“Soon you will begin the final awakening of your mind, daughter. You will see things that will seem impossible and you will do things which are unforeseen.” Continuing Caev’eya Nah suggested, “Take hold of your senses, as your father taught you, for we will be going before the Matriarch Ma-Primae very soon.” Caev’eya Nah considered her words and hoped that her true amazement with that statement was not indeed impressed upon her face as she revealed it to her daughter. Indeed Gaiae, as the Humans called her, had not requested an audience with anyone in over 420 seasons and while Sehles’Ah Selef was indeed the longest lived of Mae and Human pairing there had to be more. Much more.
Concern upon her face Sehles’Ah Selef turned to her mother and suggested boldly, “Certainly she has forgotten our appointment mother for we have been here for two-hundred fourteen hors and thirty-eight minutes!”
“The mind of a human imposed upon the psyche of a Mae? Or perhaps more than we are prepared to know?” Came a voice from above and to the right of the two Mae. Vaesah Fleas’c Ah came gliding in upon the winds floating with such grace and seated in a restful stance she lighted next to Sehles’Ah Selef, smiling. Her robes, while lovely did pale in the grace and light of her presence and she held within her smile the hope and the heart of her people.
Sehles’Ah Selef froze in place and looking upon the figure of the matriarch she could do no more than wonder. Wonder at the waves of so many unequaled traits all emanating from a single source. Such beauty as was hers, yet it flowed from her not as if it were hers alone, but it was as if the beauty itself possessed a life and a destiny of its own. Indeed, every nuance of this fascinating Mae held its own sway and was living and took life and energy as if that trait itself lived and breathed alone. Her charm. Her poise. Her obvious wisdom. Yet more impressive than any other was the embodiment and aura of her obvious wisdom coupled to the hoary age beyond comprehension of most. There was no need to ask how old this ancient Mae was for the ages sang and spoke of lives and times passed to any within the reach of her intoxicating presence. To look upon her was to hear the whisper of the many storied history of the Mae’n people. Sehles’Ah Selef felt herself spiraling into these myriad of stories with no desire to release from their grasp.
Caev’eya Nah saw it upon her daughter’s face. She was taking The Journey within the vast repository of the memories of Vaesah Fleas’c Ah. It was a journey that she was not yet prepared to take; her mind not yet capable of processing the dream from reality nor physical from mental. But to interrupt the matriarch would be a dreadful breach of protocol and of faith. For it was known that she held the attentions of Gaael and he spoke through her having rescued their people on more than one occasion. Yet, Sehles’Ah Selef was a unique child and certainly such were rare enough that such an interruption by her matron would not be considered forward.
Breaking the gentle gusts of wind and the whisper of storied past Vaesah Fleas’c Ah spoke, “indeed she is unique and you are wise to be concerned with her link to the memories of our people, but it is I who determines what I release from our past.” Turning and taking the girl’s hand and elevating her and then her mother to the air beside her. They felt the waft of the breeze and immediately began climbing upwards in the cavernous main chimney of the collossal tree.
“She has a gift which is unique among our people, daughter”, replied the Ma-Primae as she spoke calmly to the two, mother and child. Clearly she was speaking about Sehles’Ah Selef rather than to her, but that did not bother the girl as it did when others did such, for there was a compassionate feeling of concern and wonder in the voice of the matriarch. “We have much to cover, Sehles’Ah Selef and I, we have much indeed to discuss.” The ancient matriarch seemed to have a new feeling come over her, one that she had not felt in a great span of time. It was so long since forgotten and its patterns so far removed that she almost could not discern what it was, at first. Save for the look upon the young Mae’s face she may not have understood; yes, despite the thousands of years experience and the combined record of her people still she would be sifting through the memories of record. She felt wonder and newness of purpose. She felt a growing feeling of promise and the whispers of the coming of a prophesy given her and shared with a king so very many eons hence.
Turning to Caev’eya Nah she spoke with a most resolute gaze, “I will take her into my training and she will crèche within my household”.
“Papa, your ears. Were they not injured sometime past?”, the young girl asked in her best matter of fact tone.
Sehles’Ah Selef felt more a fear of an answer than she did the question. Fear that others of her crèche were correct. That her father, whom she loved and cherished was not her father. He was so very different than she and her mother. When she asked her mother this very thing she had just garnered that knowing smile and familiar look with a kindly, “They are lovely, are they not, daughter?”
Jean smiled at his daughter and brushed her long white locks to one side of her face. She was nearly 80 years of age and her mind was beginning to open up and develop its connection to The Well. In many ways she held a strange power that he had struggled to understand, but felt eluded him as if that power was aware of his surveillance. He worried for her sanity for joinings between Mae and Humanity often resulted in defects to the children. Defects that could be seen as anything from subtle to grotesque. She seemed intelligent and bright and her form was as lovely as any of the maids in the community, but he could not allay the fear that some malady lurked on their horizon. Some defect of terrible consequence which he could not be permitted to correct nor engage by the Council and their oversight.
“And this troubles you, my dear?” He replied in a calm and soothing tone.
She looked at her feet not making a sound as if her disconnection from the conversation was enough to allow an escape from her father’s question. But he sat, waiting upon her as if the ages held no sway over him. His waiting grated against her, yet it was folly to spoil the truth; in this she gathered her strength. “Members of my crèche have suggested that you cannot be my father since you are not Mae?”, she said boldly yet with great pain.
Jean studied his daughter for a moment, and considered his words that they might not bring pain to her. He also considered how she would certainly relay his response to all future challengers of her linage and her sovereignty. He turned to her and took her hand and as she looked up he said, “Of course you are my daughter, it is the fool which denies our similarities. Do we not have the same hair, for instance?”, he concluded smiling in his wry fashion when he was up to something.
“But papa,” she replied frowning and glancing at him sideways and from her left, “your hair was black until some 14 seasons ago. It only recently has turned white like mine.” A question on her face with the tell tale mistrust that she was being teased in some way.
“Sae’sa, while the people of your mother and those of my line are indeed two people we have bound, in our love, something which is one.” A tear, ran down his cheek as he took his daughter’s hand. He ran his fingers between her long thin fingers, her hand so very lithe and graceful to be larger still than his own. He knew the question that she truly had upon her heart. He had avoided it for all these years. For while she had grown to nearly half a foot above his own stature her mind yet had over 200 years of development left to complete. She was a child and when he was dead and gone she would yet be a child. He longed to impress what he might of mankind and her heritage and connection to the people of the Earth.
“In you I will live on. My thoughts and my family’s history. I know that they will one day be yours. I …” He trailed as, meeting her eyes he saw a desperate look of some understanding within her and he retreated, for the moment, not wishing to overwhelm her with too much, too soon. She must understand before I am gone that we are not lacking in our short existence, rather we go on to a greater service and a place where pains and sadness cannot prevail. He smiled.
In a flash, as though another world opened up she saw a very little boy, scared and fearful of some thing. It was all over his little face. He was looking at her and crying. There were people all about the room whispering, some crying, hugging, some singing songs. It was very confusing outside of the exchange with the little boy.
“It is ok Jean-Jean, Gammy will be looking down upon you. I will remain here in your heart, my love.” An aged hand reached out. The hand brushed the long dark hair back and she knew then. The boy was her father. She gasped as the image departed as quickly as it had appeared.
“Jean-Jean, Gammy will be looking down upon you.” She whispered, crying in a disconnected stupor. Her hands shaking, sweat lining her brow, her eyes red as if there were a change in the well.
Jean looked at her. Stunned. He did not recognize it fully but knowing something was wrong and that he recognized the words which she spoke. He, leaping to his feet and taking a stance of protection, evoked the form of mental shielding to protect her from the well and it’s power till she might revive. She had not been trained and at a mere 79 seasons of age she did not yet posses the nodes in her mind to protect her from a shifting well. If she was indeed using the energies then it could be very dangerous for her.
He held her in his chant and shield. Radiant energies flowed over they two and a soft blue globe circled. Outside of the shield the air crackled and loud booming thunder claps issued from the contest between well and shield. It was then he caught a glimpse outside of the shell of his wife forming The Refuge and extending it over they two. It’s soft, even hues and graces slipping ever so slowly into the protection of his shield. Ever did it expand until completely within she gave him the stern, yet loving look to drop his protection of their daughter who rested now at his feet.
Jean bent down, pulled back her eyelids and looking into her eyes saw she no longer had the red lights within. He nodded to Sehles’Ah Selef’s mother and she lowered The Refuge.
“Caev’eya Nah! She has the vision! At just 79 she has the vision!”, he cried in a whispered shout, tearful, at wits end.
“Yes, my love. We all have the vision, but indeed she is the youngest I have ever seen to display it”. Caev’eya Nah looked intently upon her daughter worried that this malady might cut short her existence. They would need to place her at the side of a guardian all hours of the day or she may indeed be crushed by an advancing well. Lists formed in her head. Plans began taking shape.
“No!” Jean barked, in the same whispered tones, stern and most serious now. “She has the genetic memories of MY people!”
It was that Seh’les Ah’Selef arrived at the Great Tree of her fore-father, Jaeoph to attend and maintain the ancient family home for her education and betterment. Uncertain of her feelings she was. Honored, for certain, that she might be named the Mistress of Home; for such an honor is reserved only for the greatest in ages and they too must have The Gift. Excited also for the wonder and age of this great tree was unmatched outside of the confines and safety of the Glenns. More than any other emotion there was a bald fear. It was cast in uncertainty, and it was cast in self diminishing questions which should have been better left unasked.
Fear, borne out of respect for they which had tended before and the skills which, for over 6000 seasons had maintained the Grace of all Mae outside of their center of power. This Home which served as an embassy between the people of her mother and the people of her father. How she longed to mend that division and mistrust which had lingered those thousands of years since her birth. That there might be one to share joy and life and yes, love. Not so whilst her blood carried the message of mae and men combined. For her and they which lingered as mae and as humanity held no country outside of that which they made themselves. Oh there was acceptance within the people, yet no sire would look at her the way he did his “true sister”. And the humans? They seek companions for a moment and for all of the reasons which the mae despise. Such a sire in his short life, which understood and embraced the way of the mae was indeed rare. It was something not to be looked for.
But that first morn did wash over her such a soothing peace. For it is said that the Great Tree, unlike any other of its kind embodies a peace within that calms even the greatest anxiety, hurt or fear. Some say it is for Antoni’s grave. There within the roots of the colossal growth. He who was blessed and kissed by she who kissed none yet was loved by all. His spirit held a secret and the essence of the prophesy to come. A herald would come and restore the alliance of old and more. It was the more which none knew, save Antoni and She who is Matriarch and Soul to the Mae. So it was, whatever the reason for such grace, Seh’les Ah’Selef who was called so in Mae’n yet translated to The Graces of the Morning Sun, called Morning Sun in the unified tounge of men, rose and felt that power and renewed in her spirit did write of her uplifting moment.
The Apartments of Seh’Les Ah’Selef – Within the Great Tree
The First Morning for Morning Sun
hae’Eka Seh’l Jja Seh’les Ahselef
Fresh is the the mist of breeze,
yet brighter still the gusts
Unlooked for within these halls,
winds puffing fragrance sweet
Waken here like ne’er before,
life of ages courses
The Great Tree they name this,
yet within I see much more
A live spirit – ageless;
enlarging each bright hall
Full in its own great breadth,
yet held in each soft room
Expands to all at once,
breathing joy compounded
For all within do share,
my First Morning at home
“Women? Weh don’t ‘ave women, weh ‘ave kehr’ah, fool! You ‘ave women an they be a might fragile if ye be knowin’ me well.” The squat, muscular Khr snorted as he pried against the reinforcing timber, snugging it into place.
“So, do you mean that they aren’t a fit partner or what?” Responded Jorg, almost afraid to hear the answer.
“Ah main they canna support mah weight an they canna take mah,” pausing, the squat yet hulking fellow looked about to make certain there were no others of his ilk within ear-shot. “They canna take mah stehr’gk,” he rasped in a strong whisper loud enough only for Jorg to hear.
Jorg kept working on the rail tie in the floor of the mine roadway. He let out a sigh out of desperation and not to indicate his dissatisfaction to his friend and arms-brother’s response. But, his response did give him away as we’ll as did his actions around Kg’Brennt’s cousin, Pahrg’jah.
Now Khr females are indeed short, generally four and a half feet tall, and they are very stocky. Yet where they lack grace and curve they make up in their strikingly lovely facial features and overly voluptuous form. Indeed Pahrg’jah was even more striking and overly than the average kehr’ah, or so she seemed to Jorg and he found himself staring at her when she was about.
“Ye fool! Ye love-sick fool!” Kg’Brennt laughed as he sat his pry bar down against the now righted timber. “Yer ne’er gonna get ‘er in the sack by strainin’ an makin’ that silly face ye men do to yer females!” He continued, in a quieter, yet stern tone as he strode over to where Jorg was doing his best to act invisible.
“Don’t let their beauty fool ye, brother. Kehr’ah respect strength and power and force of will.” He said in his most studious voice, continuing, “Yet do they strive to ensure the capacity of their sons to forge a place in our future”.
Jorg turned to his friend and, placing his hand upon his chest in a Khr salute walked over to the side of the cave and sat, legs crossed awaiting counsel. Kg’Brennt, recognizing the serious turn that the conversation was taking came over and place his right hand upon his friends head and spoke, “I recognize your request and accept your need for counsel,” as he seated himself directly across from Jorg.
“I do want her, brother, but I recognize her position and,” he paused, “I don’t think I can satisfy her if she would want me.” Jorg said trailing off.
Kg’Brennt looked as sternly and seriously upon his friend for as long as he could then he burst out in a signature Khrn belly laugh. The fact he was seated made little difference to the force of his laughter. “Oh such a one you are, my friend! Oh such a one! We Khrn worry about providing for residence, for sustenance and for such trifling things as attackers from the ranks of the soulless ones and you worry about tickling her pahrrf!”
Jorg looked about to confirm that they were still alone, though he was certain that the sound had carried, for echoes of Dwarven laughter wafted back up the cavernous halls nervous moments later.
Rage overtaking him and a dose of embarrassment to boot Jorg growled at his friend, “Kg’Brennt! I am a grown man and a combatant bloodied by dozens of fights! Speak not to me as you might a child, or a fool!”
The young dwarf realized that he had personally embarrassed, or perhaps even insulted, his good friend. Against all that it was to be a Khr it was to insult one’s brother or to diminish him before others. Looking upon Jorg and seeing a man he had forgotten to behave as a Khr, he had behaved as a man. Realizing his offense Kg’Brennt offered the only solution he could, “Brother, I will act for you to assist as your Sh’nareth Narghal in this matter. You will have her hand when the falling maul strikes the gavel”.
This oath and its telling brought a smile back to Jorg’s usually cheerful face and gave him a renewed hope. He joined arms with Kg’Brennt and replied, “Brother, I really appreciate your help! I just hope that her father doesn’t choose a champion rather than accept my offer”.
Recorded – Benito Castinelli, Servant of Mindanto, Recorder of the last days of common man
Part One – The Aelvin Long-Script and Mae’n Written Language
From the dawn of their creation the Mae were a nomadic people. This behavior continued until immediately before the great conjunctivae forced them to remain in one place in order to build the transit gate to Phae’dor. A nomadic nature was their way, to travel about from one home to another leaving carvings and works of artistry and imagery in the places which they considered sacred, of strategic or of civic value.
Given their long lives of virtual immortality and their connection to the arts it was natural that once they moved from their spoken history to an recorded history of writings that they would employ a more complex means of recording the innermost thoughts of their vast psyches. Their language is one of metaphor and image full of signs and pictographic representations of the world about them. The simple reference of sounds to those images which are their essence is too simplistic for them to use. Such a system of sounds representing references, such as we use, is too limited for the way in which they communicate. The experiences of so many deeply rooted cultural elements and actions are tied to images which, in some cases to no other than they, have significant meaning in the past, the present and the future.
The Mae did not use letters, as do we in forming their language until after their contact with we humans and the Khrn. In fact the true work in this regard was made within the universities of Caradia. The Caradians were fastly tied to the Mae as we in Coventry have been to the Khrn. The Caradian scholors worked feverishly to expand upon the rudiments of this complex language. The monumental task of deciphering their speech is not one to take lightly. The complexity of an entirely metaphorical language tends to elude persons with no common reference point. Yet Aelvin (Mae’n) scholars created a “Text Speech” which represented the sounds which they made for various “utility” words in their language. This was the first element of the “Long-Script” that we have today. However, remaining within the this script the imagery tends to overshadow many of the words which were developed. For rather than creating a given word for a singular noun or verb the Aelves tended to piece concepts together from many of our words to create a single word that better fit their perception of the targeted notion or idea. Their words are ideals often and not specific in their description. To better understand what challenges the Caradians faced as they pressed forward in their studies one generation after another with aged scholars growing old alongside their Aelvin counterparts and then others being taught what that scholar knew by the Mae themselves year after long year we need to examine their final creation – ASTER.
ASTER or Aelvin Standard TExt Rendition, was born out of the research and development of the Mae’n verbal historical reference. I remind the reader of the capacity of the Aelves to recall events as if they were reading them from a book. Their minds are like a vise in that once a notion goes in it never becomes lost. In the script of ASTER all leters from each portion of every concept that makes up the word are of the same case and there is no reference as to the beginning nor the ending of a “word-reference” within a given idea or representative concept. Observe the following word, first in Long-Script form and then in ASTER.
Kasha-Woonaaga-meh-Fasiesheh-sum-Meyah – Long Script (concept = Mae’n Written Word) – (Secondary = given through men with grace) – (Tertiary = We are their friends in this work) – (Inference = We honor the lives they gave to see this work completed)
KASHAWOONEEGAMEHFAASIEESHEHSUUMMEYAHD – ASTER reference 191-89413 s.117321
The aelves write and read like this and seem unmoved by the complexity. They posses no punctuation within ASTER nor do they indicate where one “word” ends and another begins. A single page of ASTER can have as many as 30 words and as few as one. In fact there have been efforts to lengthen the size of pages in order to get some of the more complex words onto a single page rather than two or more.This extremely difficult language has caused some within humanity to joke that this is why the Aelves are in school for 300 years. Indeed, apparently Aelves tend to memorize their vocabulary rather than study its sounds and its construction.
The most sinister of monsters mixes that which is horriffic, deathly, wicked with that which is beautiful, lively, graceful. In the deepest recesses of the underdark they waited. For thousands of years they plied their craft, perfecting, developing, plotting. Would to all that is holy they had remained at that distance to us. Would that we could continue in careless states relying upon graces no longer within our grasp.
They are among us. One is missing today, two last week, more the month before. Never a word. Never any clue. Silence, deafening silence within the fog until nothing remains, save the swishing of blood in the ears and the pressure of the deepest parts of the night. Race on morning light for moments I have to draw breath and I fear even chance a prayer lest they hear me and find me in this thickening mist.
The Dark Sisterhood. Loveliest, most alluring of women. Timeless beauty upon ageless bones. Hateful core of wickedness embracing sin as a craft wrapped in such wanton, gorgeous feminine grace. Despising that form which poses as woman, giver of life, a blessing to mankind. Pillar and support to he which would aspire unto greatness. They do curse, and she above all, the form and the function of man. For their weight is too great to bear and it has severed them from humanity and the graces of Mindanto.
Mindanto creates. Mindanto loves. Mindanto gives hope unto all that call upon His name. He is blessed above all in His capacity and His certain desire to elevate and disperse love over all. But she cannot love. She cannot hope, despite her timeless ages within that hoary psyche. She cannot … create. None of her sisters can create. They are a dwindling race of super – sub humans, doomed and blessed by their own choice, steeped in regret. Minds spinning wildly out of sync with all that is right and proper and good and just. Pain in all that falls within their view. So they release that pain in the giving of pain and the destruction of all that is decent. Having crafted wickedness and deceit through maladies too numerous and horrific to bear. Each act of focused and deliberate venom another dagger through the heart of a soul long dead, tortured in a life of unlife. For even if death would come it is not possible to embrace it any longer for in order to truly die one must have a spirit to give up in the first place.
That is what she said the humans called her all those many years ago. On that day many thousands of years before Sae’rahsah was born into the light. The Matriarch ma-primae of Clan Paelor’Laer Vaesah Fleas’c Ah. Amongst an enigmatic and capricious people Gaiae was most enigmatic and capricious. One did not question her out of respect for her wisdom, position and devotion to her people. Yet her plans to visit this human had Sae’rahsah concerned for Gaiae, for he was indeed a man of immense power. His martial skills were well known and all feared to engage him, yet did he murder those which tried him as one waves aside the bees near a flower.
“Forgive me Gaiae, for I am young and unlearned, but I fear for this meeting which you plan. This man is a horror, a monster, he is as the soulless ones.”
Gaiae did not speak rather she took a breath amid the cool silence of the morning there on her balcony with the steam from her tea rising up into her strikingly lovely face. She turned slightly to the left and passed the slightest of smiles from the left corner of her radiant lips toward her ward. She returned her gaze to the tea and took a sip warming her mouth and engaging her psychic center.
“My child, your love for me is the greatest honor for its value is without measure and its giving is without request.” Gaiae sat down her tea and rose from her stool floating upon the fresh morning air the energies of her spell washing lightly over her sheer gown and long auburn hair making them to glisten there in the parted rays of the morning light from the giver. She came forth upon the lightest of breezes to near her ward and taking her hand she looked into Sae’rahsah’s deep green eyes. “I spoke to his ancestor on the eve of our woe and did whisper that which is in their hearts till this day. He will receive me and he will hear me and he will not harm me. And you shall behold the beginning of things which you shall consider and strive to understand long after you are my age.” Gaiae, lifting up slightly on Sae’rahsah’s hand began to envelop the girl in those energies which did convey her about upon the air. As the force flowed further down her torso from her hand and reached her legs Sae’rahsah felt it lift her slightly. retracting her legs into a sitting position she closed her eyes and assumed the position of service awaiting her master’s next move.
Gaiae spoke softly yet with bold tone, “Sian’bahllah vellah sah’mierrr – Sehk va sehk um laishk’Ah…”. Sae’rahsah opened her eyes to see where she had been taken, though she could assume before the portation had begun.
Tree Tops. The upper porch of Gaiae’s collossal tree home. The thin air made it difficult to breath so far up, but within the lifting spell there was fresh air circulating, replenishing, uplifting. Gaiae had never taken Sae’rahsah to this place though she knew her master came here to reflect in times of difficulty.
“Sae’rahsah, I came here when our soul was severed.” a tear ran down her left cheek and the light of the new day caught within it shown as a jewel. “I know that our people fear the humans. They fear what these – monsters – might do. But I will share with you something which I have tried to share to others along the span of time. Something which, although none could digest before, yet do I detect in you the capacity to begin to ask if not understand.” Sae’rahsah was stunned and yet honored that her master would share anything with her. All of her teaching had been given by those in service to Gaiae and not by her directly. She did not teach the use of magicks, but she did teach with a word though never was it formal in its delivery.
Sae’rahsah spoke her mind, as was the habit of a Mae, ” I am honored by your grace my Mother.” Smiling slightly and in an obvious nervous tint she looked upon her master for something she feared she was not yet ready.
“I knew Antoni Scarlotti. He was everything which his people are not. Do you remember this name my child?”, asked Gaiae without opening her eyes or casting a gaze upon the young Mae’n female. A silence and then her nod which Gaiae somhow saw despite her eyes being closed. “Antoni gave me a book which belonged to his mother. This book had been in his family for many generations of his line. In fact it actually predated our leaving Maenatae and returning. I was told by him that his mother had read it to him as a child. Upon returning here to my home I brought that book up here at night during meditation and read it. I discovered something quite wonderful and marvelous within that ancient work. I discovered that Gaael is Mindanto. I discovered that he had placed the humans upon a world like ours within a rich and fertile garden. I read on and found that Gaael walked among the male and the female and he spoke to them as he did us when we were new. As he does for yet those of us which find his favor. However, he placed a tree in the midst of their world and within it lie the means to become the confused wretches which you now see. For though He told them never to touch it and warned of their downfall should they eat of it eat they did and were sundered from the graces of Gaael.”
Sae’rahsah was awash. The revelation was powerful. That anyone might defy Gaael was unbelievable, impossible. She felt a tear roll down her cheek. Though she despised the humans she did cry for a people that would defy Gaael and embrace such a dark future.
“Yes, my child. Do not hold back those tears. Cry for this people that has fallen to such a place that they found it within their capacity to defy The Lovely One. For they were cast out of their garden and it withered over time and disappeared from the face of their world. They became vagabond wretches sloughing about the universe seeking a chance to get back that faded glory which they once had.” She continued in a quiet and labored voice. Whispering through tears, pressing on through pity.
“I vowed to help them before He ever called upon me. That is why I asked Jaeoph to give Antoni the seedling to plant in Merriccia. That is why the humans have one of our homes in their midst. That home will become the rest for a clan which is gifted. One day it will be home to gifted and donor alike.” she turned and looked at Sae’rahsah. Both were crying yet on Sae’rahsah’s face was such a look of wonder and confusion. While upon Gaiae’s determination, resolve, conviction.
“Read this book while I am away my child and take care of it for it is very dear to me. We will speak of this when I return, but you will never speak of it to another.”, Gaiae said as she gazed into the eyes of her ward.
Sae’rahsah’s mind raced. Gifted? Donor? A Joining? With the human? Though she would have questioned it she sat silently upon that breeze and forced a smile across her lips. If Gaiae wishes it who was she to question and with Gaael urging her on certainly there could be no disobedience.
“Let us go now. I must prepare your cousin, Sah’les Ah’selef for she too must make this journey.”
As he placed his shining gauntlet on the great door of the chamber Davaronna turned and looked over his shoulder at his king. The look on his face made it plain how he felt about leaving his King, Stephanos with this butcherer. Of all renown that this fellow held, widely was it noised Duke Scarlotti’s capacity to kill and the degree to which he reveled in such acts.
“Davaronna, I was Vincenso’s brother. We fought side by side and lived in the wild together”, Stephanos had confided in him. With a stern brow and a face of revelation Stephanos continued, “Though he could easily kill me he would not. For it was he who raised me from the dead ere I came to be once again in the company of you and my people.”
Such a thing to be given! What reply could be made to this most shocking and unlooked for revelation? That the Grace and Light of Clan Sebastian, Stephanos of the Younger, presumed dead? Yet was Davarona certain of him when others doubted, and now that all had become convinced of his royal lineage and cherished his return as did Davarona in the beginning it was all he could do to chance fate upon the blade of this monster. Oh yes, he seemed to be quite different and changed from the times Davarona had heard him speak or the last upon the fields of combat they strode, but such death and carnage as was from the Duke’s hand should not be lightly discounted by one given charge of his king.
“Davarona, The night is waning”, Stephanos continued calmly and quietly as he turned to the Duke Scarlotti. “You know, I don’t believe my good friend Davarona trusts you Vinnie.” Smiling a knowing grin that was an obvious message between they two, he continued, “perhaps you might allay any fears he has that you are a danger or any threat to me.”
It happened. But it didn’t. It looked, at first as if there was a wave of heat in the room. Now Davarona knew of the powers of Aelvin magick and of human manifestations and these appeared to be neither of those forces. It did resemble a wave of heat rolling off of the stone work streets on a hot summers day. Yet did this wave not only encompass the Duke it flowed out from him. It was part of him and it was a hatred of wrenching terror. It was as if the darkest of fears had wed the most malevolent of intentions and produced this palpable, tangible form which now consumed the Duke, nay it was becoming the Duke. Davarona felt his face wretching into a picture of horror so vivid that he did see it in his own mind’s eye and it’s vision tore at his soul. He sought to move from that spot and flee from the room, but while his mind raced within the advancing moment of terror all time about him seemed to stop. His actions no longer possessed neither beginning nor ending. That which he pondered was he free to expound upon for what seemed an eternity and in his mind did he rise and fall, live and die, fulfill and destroy. he was creating a world where his wife had not died. Where their son had not perished and he was passing the knowledge of his faith on to his fine son. Within this place lie memories of a wonderful existence and so many joys unknown and unachieved by Davarona. A smile came over his face yet his face did not display that smile for where once that had been a man of vapor and horror and fear and reckoning now there was but a wisp of the darkest shadow gone from sight, hunting another. And with his departure did the Duke take that dream and that joy leaving in its place the reality which now seemed like the dream. Davarona longed to awake from this reality and return to that from which he came. a place of joy and love and success and belonging. he did not know that the place of joy had been a trick nor that it had taken place within his mind in the space of a portion of a second. It seemed to him so many years and so many good things which must truly have been.
He came to realize where he was. The Duke spoke from behind him, “Let me unbolt that door for you, priest. You seem… preoccupied.” Wheeling about he saw the duke there behind him, his eyes solid black where once was white and the deepest blue. a smile appeared on his face as he backed from the opening door. How did he get there? How long had it been? Wait, this was how Duke Scarlotti could kill so many men and never get a scratch? His mind raced he must have held the most blank of stares for he, looking back up at the Duke noticed the cool blue eyes and their white field had returned.
Davarona jerked and mumbled, “I… didn’t … See you… Duke Scarlotti.” it was as if he were awaking from a dream that had taken place whilst he slept a lifetime. Even now the finer points of his experience, all so fresh and real but a moment ago were quickly disappearing from memory. He strained to hold onto that wonderful dream as though in doing so it might become reality and this sad existence the dream yet he could not. He was left standing there looking into the eyes of the man who had killed many of his paladins and all but reduced the northern reaches of his homeland to a smoking battlefield. Hatred, awe then fear covered him and Davarona looked upon the Duke not as the leader of his forces looked upon their nemesis, but as a child might look upon a fierce beast. He moved quickly to leave the room and escape this frightening beast when it spoke yet again.
“Priest, you don’t want to forget this, do you?” The duke held out an engraved image of Davarona’s wife. The image was made long ago and in better times. He had always kept it in a pocket inside his breastplate. His mind raced. How could this man have taken this image from me – it would have taken him 10 to 15 minutes to have loosed the bands, removed the image and returned the breastplate to its fully functional condition. This was impossible. It was … true. Davarona still stunned by the events took the image and stepped toward the portal when his king reminded that Davarona need not worry for his safety.
“Davarona, I suppose now you see that if he wanted me dead we would all be dead right now” The king Stephanos uttered in a cold and unsympathetic voice. “You, me and your fifty men outside.”