Chapter Thirty: The Blue Flame
The forest rustled with a wind that sang through the trees as the queen of the elves made her way down a winding stair. She paused a moment and felt the sunlight on her face, aware of something in the air. She heard it in the stir of leaves, a sense that things had changed, and the wind seemed to whisper with the promise of things to come.
Outside the palace, elves and men were gathering in the forest. The two groups greeted each other with smiles and laughter in a meeting that had no precedent on the elven isle. It was the largest group of men that had ever entered the elf wood or witnessed the rituals of the Braey. Colun and his knights stood in wonder of the elves who welcomed them as honored guests. Many of the men had never seen the mystic folk; their bright voices seemed like music that filled the air and warmed their hearts. There were also some elves who had never seen men and they regarded these knights with a plain curiosity, but none were wary on this day when elves and men gathered to celebrate their victory against the dark.
Jahan emerged from the palace and all eyes turned to the High Priestess. She wore a light headdress and a gown that sparkled with many crystals. Behind her, eight priestesses appeared, all wearing pale robes and bracelets. Jahan halted and they formed a wide circle around her and stood very still.
Peledomn and Ragner led the council of lords into the wood, glimmering in their silver mail, and all hailed the bright host.
Jahan raised her hands and a rush of wind rustled through the trees and sent leaves spinning in the air. She spoke in the ancient tongue of the elves and the four priestesses chanted the elvish rune with her. Her hands started glowing and suddenly a strand of mist was twisting in the air. It grew larger as they chanted, curling in the breeze until it stretched to a height above the trees. Jahan spread her arms and the glistening thread swelled with her movement so that it took on the aspect of a shimmering column, twirling round and glinting in the sun.
The queen of the elves came into the wood and men murmured as she passed, struck by the power of her presence. She was a comely figure, her lithe form moved with the grace and beauty of her elfin kind. She walked among them, looking like a fair youth with her flowing brown curls, but those who met her gaze knew she was older than she seemed, for her eyes held the wisdom of ages. She stood a moment staring at the curling mist and then she turned to the lords and knights.
“Since the beginning of days, the elves have had ties with the powers of earth. Our ancestors summoned great forces and the sea and sky were their allies, yet we have been too long estranged from the ancient ties and our light has waned in these days.” She glanced at Wyn and the archer came forward. “But a new age is upon us,” she said, “for the earth is healed and the winds sing with the old harmonies. The Runes are broken.”
Wyn reached a hand into the column of mist and it lit with a blue flame at his touch. The forest glowed with the light of ancestors as elves and men mingled in fellowship around the pillar of flame with no suspicion between them.
Efkin was standing with Daneia, feeling the warm breeze on his face, when he heard something in the whispering wind that made him pause. He stood staring into the wood, and then a faint glimmer of light caught his eye, hovering in the air amidst the trees. He went toward it, almost in a trance as he stepped deeper into the wood. The light was fading as he approached it and he stood for a moment listening to the wind. He became aware of luminous strands curling and bending around him. He watched the glowing threads interlace and then a glowing portal opened in a flash of light.
He entered the bright threshold and went up a passage that shone with an emerald light and wound its way into the sky. His physical form was changing, becoming ethereal as he crossed into the other realm. He saw a blue light ahead and felt a familiar presence.
“The sylvan chord is restored,” said the druid. His voice sang in the glowing air and the emerald passage shimmered with the sound. Efkin stood for a moment staring at the forest spirit. He had seen Nemral in his true form only once before, when he crossed the planes the first time, and he was no less daunted by his presence now, for the druid shone with the light of stars.
“Come, Efkin.” The druid led him through the mystic tunnel between the planes toward a power he could not apprehend.
“It will be some years before the old ties are strong again,” said Nemral, “but in time the elves will summon the Blue Flame as their ancestors of old.”
Efkin stared at the shimmering mist that spread around them. “Did my ancestors carve the Runes?”
“Is that what Vahnd told you?”
“He said the Kyre fought kindred powers.”
“The Kyre fought an older race of beings, entities that once shone with the light. But that was another age, before the history of elves or men.”
“Then it is true that they are kin.”
“They were,” said the druid. “Long ago, they were part of the same chord.”
“What were the trolls?”
The druid lowered his head. “They were fair beings once, but they sided with the rebellious powers that created them. The centuries they have spent in shadows estranged from their masters has turned them into hideous things.”
Efkin paused as veils of light wafted in the shimmering air. “Did the dryads forge Harbinger?”
“The sword is their creation.”
“Why did they mix iron with silver?”
“The dryads knew that iron would become a deadly poison to the elves in days to come. They made a silver blade that would not be tainted by the signs, but imbued the sword with a small amount of iron, which, by their arts, would remain pure inside the mystic silver. The iron was needed to protect the Sylph from the poison of the Runes.”
“The Runes corrupt the iron in our blood, but the signs do not affect the blood of men. Why are they immune?”
“The elves were created before the Runes were carved, but men sprang from the dust after the earth had been poisoned. Their blood was already tainted.”
Efkin was stunned.
“We have won a great victory, but the war has not begun,” said the druid. “A dire power was loosed on the world when the Runes were carved and men still have knowledge of dangerous forces. As we speak, the lords of Mor make a pact with a terrible power that will test the might of the elves.”
Efkin was unaware that his eyes glowed with a white light as he turned to the druid. “Can we defeat this power?”
The druid met his radiant eyes and smiled. Then his gaze fell on the gold leaf Efkin wore. “Keep Jahan’s pendant near. Your light must be veiled while its strength grows.”
Efkin stood facing the druid a moment, hearing a music in his voice that sang with the chorus of creation and, for the first time, he perceived a greater pattern in this music. He knew that each passing note brought him closer to its entirety, when its true harmony and his destiny would be revealed.
And strands of light were spinning in the air like glowing threads as the Sylph stood between the planes.
Here ends The Sylvan Horn.
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