The Fey Bride of Elfland
Chapter Fifteen – Part One
The Wealth of a Changing Land
The land was increasing in height, but not in any regular fashion. I got the definite impression of traveling over an ancient lava flow from the cuts into the land. The higher we moved up with the terrain, the more we began fearing the drops often hidden by thick growths of plants.
Not only were there deep chasms, but large boulders would project themselves up. Strangely, these were not of volcanic rock, usually, but boulders of granite, sandstone, limestone, and even marble As the terrain became almost dangerous to move along, Chamorrick or I would climb a rock to get a better view of the land before us.
“All right, you two, hold it right there.”
The man that stepped out was maybe three feet tall, slightly fat, and with a dirty appearance to his clothes and hair. He did hold a knife in his left hand, but the pick in his right hand was what I considered the most threatening. As I attempted to appraise the threat before me, Chamorrick who had climbed a boulder asked a question.
“Is he one of your relatives?”
“Mine?” I returned. “I would need Rabbit to tell me that.”
The little man said, “I ain’t the relative of either of you big people, and even if I was, I wouldn’t share.”
Chamorrick had not moved from his height as he asked, “Share? Does he have food, Kevin?”
I studied the attire of the man as I answered, “No, it does not look like he has food.”
“Food?” the tiny person said with a tone of disbelief. “You two are not here for food.”
“Uh, no, at least not presently. We have food. Do you need any? We could share.”
The voice of Chamorrick came from above, ”Yes, go ahead, as a man that small should not need too much.”
The little man waved his knife, but I still kept my focus on this pick. “Food? I am not here to take food from you.”
“Then what are you here to take from us?”
“I’m not here to take anything from you!”
“Then why are you robbing us?”
The small person put away his dagger, but I continued to focus on his pick. He noticed where my eyes were set, although then had his eyes look to the rest of my body. I guess that he noticed I did not have a weapon in my hands, as he relaxed his grip on the pick while asking a question.
“Just what has brought you two to this place?”
I pointed to Chamorrick while answering, “He wants to marry a pure fey. While that may not happen, certain people have said that it would do us well to simply meet those of that quality.”
“Men! Why don’t your kind ever realize that there are things you cannot have?”
Chamorrick asked in return, “Why can’t I have a pure fey as a bride?”
I supported my half-brother by asking, “And what is wrong with simply wanting to meet her?”
The little man said, “Oh, bother. Listen, just go on your way.”
Chamorrick asked, “You are not going to follow us and rob us while we sleep?”
“I WAS NOT GOING TO ROB YOU!”
“Looked like you were going to rob us of our lives, if nothing else.”
I again spoke to support my half-brother, “Yes, it did seem that way.”
The little man exclaimed again, “Oh, bother.” He then drew his knife again and directed it as us while commanding, “Both of you, hold your positions.”
He moved to the boulder, then attacked it with his pick. I found myself rather worried about needing to actually fight the small person as he managed to direct his blade at either me or Chamorrick while still striking the rock with his pick very expertly. As time went by, I wanted to ask the little man if he needed help, but decided it best to just quietly watch as he attacked the boulder.
He finally set the pick on the ground next to his feet, then worked with his dagger before pulling out a clear green gem. It was not that big, I doubted that it would be over a carat. After he quickly lifted it to look at it through the sun, he set it into his pouch while wishing us a good day.
“Hold it!” Chamorrick exclaimed. “You put up that scene just for a lousy diamond?”
I corrected my half-brother by saying, “I believe it was an emerald.”
“Emerald? If that was your only problem, you could have just waited for us to move on. I mean, did we give any evidence of being interested in the rocks?”
The little man did turn back to us to ask, “Why else would you be out here?”
“Wrong question, short guy. Okay, to make you happy, that is what I am going to go back telling people. I am going to be telling everyone that the only reason to head this way is to get gems from the rocks. Expect a wave of people coming out here attacking the rocks for the jewels that will just come falling into their hands.”
Actually liking what I heard, I again supported my half-brother. “Yes, why buy them for the ladies? We can just take a short excursion out here and gain a handful.”
“Of palm-sized diamonds.”
The little man reached into his pouch to withdraw the emerald and hold it up while exclaiming, “This is not a palm-sized diamond.”
I clarified, “It’s an emerald.”
“IT’S NOT EVEN PALM-SIZED FOR ME!”
Chamorrick declared, “It will be after I finish telling about you to others.”
“Oh, bother. Listen, there is a cave up near the top. If they don’t want you there, you won’t make it. The volcano is still active, and they will use its power. They however will usually make themselves known.”
“You’ve been there? You’ve seen them?”
“No, but as someone that studies the rocks around here I have learned things. I have heard them. Usually, I get word of others moving about looking for them. I haven’t heard anything about you two however.”
“Wait, wait,” Chamorrick said while dropping from the boulder. He then pulled out the garment given to him by Queen Titania and showed it to the little man. “Could this be the reason?”
The small person did step up to get a better view of the feathery material before answering, “No. The reason they are not speaking of you is that you are probably not worth their notice. Still, start wearing that, and they might take an interest in you. They are not of our land, but are of a time and land before the world we know. It can drive a man crazy to listen to them.”
“Yes, well, the chatter of women tends to drive us men crazy period.”
“My wife calls me crazy.” The eyes of the little man looked Chamorrick and me over before he said, “I really do not know what more I can say to the two of you. I wish you well.”
I replied, “I wish you well. I hope that the land continues to bless you with its bounty.”
“Thank you, but it takes a good eye to find anything out here. It’s there, but not in abundance, but it is there. The pure elves do move about as well. As we are not after the same thing, I have to wish you well.”
We spoke pleasant words to the little man, then as we walked away Chamorrick said, “Let us find a place to camp. I want to wash up before beginning to wear that cloak.”
“That might be tough,” I returned, “as I believe any water will be below us.”
He stopped to look at the terrain. Actually feeling that was a good idea, whether we found water or not, I also eyed the land around us. All I could really see was the lush foliage. I could get glimpses of the top of the volcano far away and above us. I guess that was all Chamorrick could see of the terrain as well, but he recognized that there were other ways of learning about the land.
I simply paused while my half-brother knelt to call down through the plants blocking sight of the gorge below. The idea of calling out to a nymph I felt was actually a good one. He did pause to listen, but after a period of quiet he moved on. I considered the matter settled, since we had no way to cross over to another gorge, but after walking for about another hundred yards he knelt to call again with me now hearing a distant voice.
From the gorge on the other side of path of travel came a feminine voice. Chamorrick rushed over to call back. Soon enough I heard the invitation to come down. I had noticed things in the way the feminine voice had spoken, so made a decision.
“You go ahead,” I said. “If you don’t mind, just fill my empty canteen.”
I had read a lot of folktales and myths, so felt very sure of my reply. “Yes. That’s a nymph. Have fun.”
“I’m not going down there to frolic with her.”
“It’s a nymph, so I suspect the desire to frolic will be strong. I’m not going to chance it.”
“Then, I’m not either.” He raised his voice to speak to the distant lady. “Sorry, fair nymph, but our matrimonial dedication prevents us from imposing on your graciousness.”
I felt that I had made the correct decision when the feminine voice returned, “Where else are you going to get sweet, clean water?”
The expression on Chamorrick’s face indicated to me that he also recognized tones of a threat. “We are not here for water. While it is a necessity of life, we will prove ourselves. We will persevere and reach our goal in spite of the hardships. Thank you for the offer, sweet nymph, but my half-brother is correct that it would be wrong for us to spend time alone with a single lady.”
“You need not fear me, young man. I am not able to harm you.”
I spoke in reply to that statement. “Yes, sweet nymph, you can harm our reputations. I have a wife to whom I will return without any spot of unfaithfulness, and I am sure that my half-brother desires to present himself as being worthy to the lady he wishes for his wife.”
Chamorrick drew his sword. As I was speaking, I cannot say that I heard anything. I did not draw my sword, as I did not feel that an encounter with a nymph would reduce itself to such barbarity. Seeing the tall moss-covered creature that rushed out I however quickly rushed to gain my sword as well.
The combat with the monster was more a reaction to each moment than a strategic battle. The troll was very quick with the advantages of reach and strength. I cannot say that I handled myself with the best of form, but I also did not see well practiced moves from Chamorrick either. I believe that our only advantage was our number, but it was enough to have us win the combat.
As he panted after assuring the monster was truly dead, my half-brother asked, “How did you know?”
“Know? All I know is my relationship with Rabbit. And if you think that I would send you to your death, you have highly misjudged my estimation of our relationship.”
“I want just as strong of a marriage.”
“I don’t know your life, Cham. I grew up with Rabbit, and never did she speak of me about advice in dealing with other girls. When I had questions of the female anatomy, she always shared her own. I thus consider my marriage to be isolated to Rabbit, and I have had no reason to desire otherwise.”
“Well, I don’t want the life of my father. I also like what I see in your relationship with Rabbit. I thus am following your guidance. Good call.”
I still did not feel that I had made any decision concerning the ruse of the feminine voice being a deception, so turned the praise of my half-brother into a warning. “Well, if you do frolic with another woman, expect my chastisement in the form of having this conversation repeated to you.”
“Oh, I have already made up my mind that I will not like everything that you tell me.”
I let the statement from Chamorrick go without a response. The actual phrasing I found a little telling, but there was no reason to challenge him on such a matter. The fact that we were both alive I felt to be a positive attitude that did not need to be ruined by an accusatory statement.
There are benefits to being faithful, proper gentlemen.