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FALLING (current93 + Bjork)
"You were good, husband of the forest, your eye has seen any trace your bow has broken down in silence every obstacle, you rightly guided our men in the hunt so that none of the beasts that walk has been saved. You have our admiration and gratitude, but all you asked in return was that stone .. "
The elder Volva had braids wrapped in nine laps as due to her rank, her hair were white, her wrinkled face covered with fine tattoos.
They were in a round tent of thick leather, a chill wind blew outside, the autumn was cold at the border between the Empire and Kislev.
"This stone that I ripped from the hands of one of those beasts, I saw in a dream, as well as the emblem of the stork on your tents. I did not come by chance, woman of dreams, I searched you for months."
Eitheldėn sat in the posture of respect that his people took in front of the elderly, the stone held in his hand with a leather strap, although it was not certain that the Volva was really older than he.
There was another person in the tent, a thin man with blond beard, but his eyes were those elongated typical of Kislev, had not yet made a single sound.
"I did not know that elves dreamed, our stories tell you walk under the stars never sleeping."
"The singer who has passed this tradition was not well-informed, woman-who-see. I sleep as you, I dream, and I was told that you are expert in these things."
"Tell me what you dreamed of then."
"My love ..I won't pronounce her name in my language, but would sound like" Swan's Home "... she died .. and I have been accused unjustly and exiled from the hidden realm. A curse prevents me from finding the road. For a long I have ventured into the lands of men, but then I dreamed. Her feet were tied by three chains, she did not speak, but showed me this stone and your tents, since I had no peace until I found both. Is there a meaning? "
The quiet man had taken a small drum and was playing an almost imperceptible beat, the old woman had her face hidden in her hands, her voice now sounded like someone much younger, it remembered the sound of water running over stones.
"Her voice would kill you, so did not talk. The chains are three bonds that prevent her spirit to leave this world. she want to be free, and want you to find your way home. The stone that killed her is cursed, for this the beasts liked it, if you were her real murderer your hands would be covered in blood as soon as you touched it. Taltos! Taltos horse! he can find for you the way, he can speak thrice in his life, you must find him! "
The woman looked up from his hands, with her normal voice she spoke with the man in the language of Kislev, he stopped playing and walked away quickly.
"I told Emre to prepare the medicine that gives sleep, you'll keep it until it is needed, nothing more I can tell, Silent Fount."
Eitheldėn was surprised that the old woman knew the meaning of his name, but had bowed and left the tent. There was still the sun when he entered, but now the stars shone in the sky.
Ghost Of Tom Joad (Bruce Springsteen)
That winter a new story spread among the tribes of horsemen come from the steppes to Kislev through the high pass.
It was the story of the Chanter, no one knew who he was, wherever was a camp or horse market he arrived, walking in the snow with a step so light as to leave no traces, had a bow and a lute. Often he asked hospitality in a isba and was said that he rewarded his guests with precious gems. Then he sat next to the pens of horses and sang in an unknown tongue, into the night.
Sometimes he joined groups of hunters or young people looking for treasures, seemed to have a feud with the animals that walk because he lost no opportunity to exterminate without mercy, but soon he was again singing to horses.
It was said that one day the daughter of a chief had accompanied his song with a rare instrument, a mouth organ made by Erengrad craftsmen, and that he had gifted her a pearl of distant seas.
It was also a widespread belief that it was not a man but a spirit of good luck, so those who still had not seen him watched the snowy expanses and had prepared the tea and butter of the highest quality in the hope of having him as a guest.
But eventually this unusual winter passed and the tribes gathered at Praag for the feast of thaw, before starting the journey back to the great steppes beyond the mountains.
The Chanter could not miss such an occasion, he sat around the bonfire with men, and sang the songs of his people, carrying the scent of spring breeze. Rivers of vodka and ayran ran that night, only shortly before dawn the men returned to their tents and the Chanter went as usual to sing at the horses.
"I'm crying sitting here in the firelight
Why not listen to me Taltos?
I'll give you the most fragrant grass, blankets for the cold
We'll ride along under golden trees
In Laurelorn where time stands still. "
It was the song that was sung throughout the winter, but this time something new happened: a horse out in some way from pens was walking toward him.
With a sense of foreboding stood and watched in silence as he approached, but when they were facing was the horse to speak in the language of the elves.
"I liked your song, is really the hidden realm so beautiful?"
"So that my words are worth nothing to explain, but a spell prevents me to find my way. They told me that you can do it for me."
'It is true, I can, but my master is old and do not want to leave him in poverty.
Let's do this, listen well, because I can speak only once:
If you walk in the woods in that direction you'll find two trees that arise from the same root.
Look under the trees near the ground, there is a hole, and a bag in the hole.
If you are honest you will keep it close and take nothing from its content. Then ask the old Attilla and offer it to him in exchange for his dappled horse. It will be an honor for him to give the best horse to the Chanter.
Take me to where you can get and still at that point you'll have to blindfold.
Clasp you to my neck, and be mindful, only when I'll stop you can open your eyes in the enchanted kingdom. "
John Barleycorn (Traffic)
They rode along river Lynsk until Erengrad, where Eitheldėn stopped briefly at the extreme offshoot of the sea of claws, because the song of the gulls and the smell of the sea are irresistible to elves.
Then they took the road to Salzenmund, but soon abandoned it and headed south into the forest of shadows. This was a place avoided by most travelers, haunted by goblins, spiders and other horrible creatures that could not stand the light. Few knew of the brilliant gem hidden in the heart of darkness, the shadow of the forest was a protective shell, the first gate who was in search of the hidden realm had to cross.
The Taltos horse traveled easily between the intricacies of the undergrowth, it seemed that the plants were opening to let them pass, and then shut behind them to protect them from harm. The trip was much shorter than Eitheldėn remember and without unpleasant encounters. Finally they came to a clearing where a large hawthorn bush grew, the plant indicating that accesses to the enchanted kingdom. Eitheldėn stopped the horse, blindfolded, and leaned on the saddle to talk softly to his ear while clutching his neck.
"Well, we arrived. I can not go farther, now I can rely on you only."
The horse went with no haste, Eitheldėn wondered how long it would take at that pace, every moment he felt like hearing the swish of Waywtcher's arrows aimed at his back. But despite increasingly intense anxiety was determined to keep his promise not to take off the blindfold. Whispers came to his ear, as if there were people nearby, then laughter, voices called him by name and asked him to join them. He resisted, the horse always indifferent proceeded at the same pace. A sudden scream, a female voice: "Eitheldėn save me, take me on your horse, a monster is chasing me, do not leave me here!" He already had his hand on the bandage, but he thought that the horse would not be so quiet if he really was getting by a monster, he returned to clutch his neck with both arms, eyes shut under the blindfold.
Finally, the horse stopped.
He removed the blindfold, he was astonished to find himself under the stars, he thought that the ride had not lasted more than an hour, but now it was night, anyway the starlight was enough for his eyes elf to recognize each leaf and every rock, and although the golden hue of the trees was not visible at night he knew to be home.
Laurelorn, Goldentree, so everyone called this place, but residents used a different name: Tor Laurean, the last colony of the high elves in the old world, hidden by a web of spells from the distant time of the war of the beards.
To survive they had adopted the customs of the Wood Elves, but in the heart were still Asur, faithful only to the Phoenix King of Ulthuan.
So strong was the emotion of these memories that for a moment he had forgotten his constant thought in the seven years of exile. Alquamar, his lover killed by someone.
Eitheldėn would not rest until he found the real murderer and obtained justice.
The houses and walls of Tor Laurean were a fragment of Ulthuan transplanted on a hill in the middle of the golden wood. Eitheldėn rode at the foot of the hill, headed for a place not far from the city, where the rose bushes grew wild among the willows. Was the preferred place of Alquamar, often she went alone to walk under the stars, he was sure that there had happened the tragedy of her last night. On his arrival saw he was not alone, someone was carving an inscription on a stone slab. He dismounted and walked silently unsheathing his long elven dagger, the person bowed before him was certainly Maegir the poet.
Every day of those seven years the scene had passed before his eyes, the morning he woke up in his tree house, the crowd below and Maegir shouting and accusing him of murdering Alquamar. He was so upset by the news that he could not defend himself, had remained silent while the judges asked him to exculpate himself, in less than an hour he was already cursed and exiled.
Maegir had finished what he was doing, stood up and saw Eitheldėn, dagger in his hand and the chainmail under the green cloak, his expression went from surprise to fear.
"Eitheldėn .. just this morning I saw the Waywatchers take you out of the woods .. are you a ghost?"
He knew time passed more slowly in Laurelorn than in the outside world, but did not think so, seven years had passed for him, and for Laurelorn was one day.
"I have something for you Maegir, have you ever seen this stone? "
As he held out towards Maegir his hand felt damp, the stone was jetting blood, now dripping from his hand.
The expression of Maegir now expressed real terror, instead of replying he turned and ran like the wind.
Eitheldėn was about to throw the dagger, but the Taltos horse spoke again to stop him.
" Killing him now will not give you justice before your people, Eitheldėn, let go, he will not go far because the kingdom is well watched.
Rather it is time to do something important, were you given a drug that gives sleep? "
"Yes, yes, the Volva gave it to me and was always in this pocket, I had forgotten .."
"Climb on my back then, and take your medicine, sleep is the little death, I'll take you where the dead dwell so you can talk with your loved one."
Where the wild roses grow (Nick Cave + Kylie Minogue)
That slab between the roses was Alquamar's tombstone, he climbed into the saddle and took the narcotic hoping to be able to really see her again. The horse stepped around the tombstone at constant pace, sleep wrapped him and found himself riding in a silver mist.
She was there in the fog, floated upward as if she had no weight, but the two chains on her feet held fast to the ground, her face was sadder than he had ever seen, even her voice was pained.
"See Eitheldėn? Now that you've found the way home one of my chains fell, and another will fall when you will obtain justice, but I have to talk of the third chain."
'Just tell me what should I do to break it and will be done! "
"Only your forgiveness can break it, because really you have some things to forgive me ... see ... I love you, but you were not the only one, there was also Maegir .."
Eitheldėn felt the world crashing around him, as if someone had removed from under the feet all the reality in which he had always lived.
".. .. Then old wizard Corigil too .."
"Anyone else? .." Eitheldėn said.
"Well no ... Arthedan and Corillor were just a game, I never felt anything for them .. Balinor twins ..."
"You bit .. rayer! Do you realize that I spit blood seven years for you ? "
Eitheldėn wanted to dismount and see if a ghost could be killed a second time, but the Taltos intervened again.
"Watch out! If you touch her, or if your foot touches the ground I can bring you back no more. You and she'll be here forever as ghosts without peace."
For a moment he was tempted to accept this fate, it was impossible to suffer more anyway, and at least she would have suffered equally.
Or he could just say goodbye and go recover the lost time as she would still suffer as he.
But what would be served then all he had done so far?
"Okay, for the things you did I forgive you."
A chain broke with a tinkle, the shape of Alquamar then shone of light and smiled.
"Vindicate me now Eitheldėn!"
His eyes opened suddenly, he was awake, the silver light of the moon fell on the tombstone. Spurred his horse and galloped off towards the gates of Tor Laurean.
At the entrance of the city there was stirring despite the late hour, Maegir was making a mess with the guards, claiming that a ghost and a talking horse followed him. When they saw an armed knight really coming they got him arrested and took his weapons. Finally both were led by one of the judges so he could clarify what happened.
The magistrate was not at all happy to be awakened at that hour.
"Eitheldėn, you have not been away long, why are you already challenging our decree ? "
"What I challenge is my accuser, to duel, it is my right."
"But if here one day has passed, it was much more time for you in the outside world, I see you have a chainmail, sure you had a long training with the sword, it would not be fair."
"I do not intend to assert my strength, Maegir is a poet and I want to challenge him to a duel of songs on the grave of Alquamar."
All the time Maegir had remained silent with bowed head, refused to respond, the judge took as assent.
"Granted, return to your homes and prepare the instruments, people will listen when the sun is high in the sky."
Were many who were seated in the Willows for the event, colored clothes were laid on the ground and kegs of wine were brought, only the clearing where the crime had happened remained free, and there met the two contenders.
Eitheldėn placed his stone on the slab and sang first. In his song had collected all the feelings of his exile: the longing for his distant homeland, the pain of the loss of his beloved, the anger at the injustice.
Everyone thought that his style had much improved since the last time, some even said that perhaps the court had ruled against him too quickly. But now they awaited Maegir's replication, hoping for a masterful poem to remember for years to come.
They were not disappointed, the dirge for Alquamar would be remembered as the highest work of the poet, bu something never seen before happened: blood was spurting from the stone on the slab.
The more Maegir sang, more the stone was bleeding, more it bled and more Maegir cried, his voice was still clear, but the words were changing.
" The stone in my hand tight
Said all beauty must die
The wind light as a thief
As i kissed her goodbye
Lying where wild roses grow "
Everyone was stunned by that confession, but even more so when they saw mist rise from the pool of blood and take the form of a lady dressed in a funeral shroud.
Alquamar was, but was also the Banshee, moved into the air off the ground and approached Maegir still singing and weeping. People were close to panic, but none found the strength to move, the magicians searched their minds for a spell that could prevent a disaster, but no one dared to act first. If the banshee had emitted her moaning it would have been a massacre. Only Eitheldėn stood beside her in the clearing without showing fear.
But the ghost was there for one person, she leaned over Maegir and hugged him talking in his ear. He only heard the lament, they saw him shrivel and wither in a few seconds, until in the arms of the one he had loved and killed only a cloud of dust was left.
Alquamar turned to Eitheldėn, gave him a last smile of gratitude and in turn vanished into the mist.
"At the end was with him she wanted to go ..."
The old wizard Corigil meanwhile had arrived at his side, he was also the highest of the judges who ruled the hidden realm awaiting the return of the Phoenix King.
'It is true, she has finally chosen, and we can not do anything more.
But at least you have been returned to this land, Eitheldėn, welcome back home. "
They embraced like old friends.
Last edited by Hermann Morr; August 15th, 2010 at 13:10.