Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
Part 4, Vinyagarond
Tom walks slowly to the Vinyagarond mirror and sets his palm on its surface. After a few moments, the glass beneath his hand begins to feel softer. Soon it feels as if the mirror is liquid beneath his touch. All he would have to do is break the surface tension....
The image in the mirror shifts. Tom's reflection vanishes and the room it shows fades out to be replaced by a small library, paneled in hardwoods. Tom reaches out his hand to Braeta who takes it immediately, without hesitation. They step through the mirror into the library.
As they arrive, Tom's brow furrows with worry. The house seems to be filled with noise. Voices too indistinct to follow, scrapings and murmurings, thumps and... what? Braeta, either sensitive to Tom's reaction, or through some sixth sense of her own, moves to crouch lightly on the balls of her feet as if ready for trouble.
Tom stares at the library door, hesitating a moment in thought, a thought that is never completed, as the door pops suddenly open, letting in more of the sound and a young elf. Tom thinks he's seen the fellow around Vinyagarond but doesn't place him. One of the Middle Earth refugees is all he can say for sure.
"Oh! Excuse me! I didn't know anyone was in here, sir, lady." The young elf looks quite abashed at having burst in on them. He begins to step back out the door. "I didn't mean to intrude."
Tom relaxes somewhat and says, "Quite all right. We've just arrived. Could you tell me what all the noise is about?"
"Yes, sir." The elf nods dutifully, "Preparations for the Visitation and the Council."
"Yes, sir. The second council. Like the one tw... a fortnight ago, sir. You'll remember."
'Will I, now?' Tom thinks to himself, but he hasn't the heart to voice the thought to the earnest young elf. As he contemplates asking what 'The Visitation' is, the door pushes wider open in the young elf's hand and a child comes scooting into the room. No, it's--
"Three!" says Tom, relieved at a familiar face.
"Oh, no." says Three with finality. "Name is Angel. Great Lady send. Great Lady say see who comes. Says if cow-en-sell-her or family, bring." He nods and reaches out to take Tom's hand. "Come. Come come. Great Lady send Angel to bring!"
'Yup. That's Three. Or Angel,' thinks Tom. 'The name is appropriate to his job. Of course, if our messengers are angels, what are we?' Humility was never Daewen's fatal virtue, but Tom experiences a brief anxiety about hubris. He squelches it. After all, "Angel" is a perfectly ordinary name in many human languages.
Tom turns, smiles to Braeta and shrugs. He lets Angel lead him through the rambling house. He beckons Braeta along. Vinyagarond is more abustle than he can recall seeing it. Folk are coming and going everywhere. Most he only vaguely recognizes. Voices buzz everywhere. In the distance there is a thumping, a rapping -- bdddap-brap-bap. bddap-brap-bap-bap -- and somewhere else there are rhythmic voices, chanting or singing.
Angel rushes them through the house to one of the guest sections where they find Daewen. She has her back to them as they enter, giving directions in a low, tired voice to a pair of young elf maids. They nod and hurry off on some task.
"Great Lady! Angel brings!"
Daewen turns and, seeing Tom, smiles before a worried look flits across her face.
"Thank you, Angel. Tom! You're early. Nothing's wrong is it?"
"Welcome, Lady. Lady, Angel sees Jeffy. Jeffy comes. Angel says Jeffy wait in the rond."
Daewen smiles and nods to both Tom and Angel and casts a quick glance at Braeta.
"Thank you. Tell Jeffé I'll be there soon. Yes, the second meeting was supposed to be a full moon after the first. Oh, please tell me you're not on time! It can't be yet!"
Tom hesitates for a moment, "I can't say really. We just..."
"You're not early, are you? You're Early!"
"I... I wouldn't have thought so."
"But you haven't been to the First Council meeting have you?"
Tom pauses in thought a second. "No," he says.
Angel dashes off while Tom is thinking.
"Oh, dear. How rude of me. I haven't met your lady friend." Daewen dusts off her hands and approaches.
"Daewen, this is Braeta. Braeta, this is Daewen. This--" His wave takes in Vinyagarond. "--is her home, Vinyagarond. It's in the south of Faerie."
The two women reach and shake hands, exchanging straight-ahead appraising glances. The two are of a height, but otherwise very different. Daewen is tall, elegant, almost impossibly thin, with an exotic delicacy of feature. Braeta is tall, strong, earthy, with a solidness that is almost forceful.
"We had been hoping to ask some advice, but it looks to be a rather busy time. What, is going on? Or shouldn't I ask?"
"Well, if you shouldn't or I shouldn't answer, there's no sign of it. I suppose I might as well explain." She pauses and a smile creeps onto her lips. "You were awfully quiet at the first meeting. Maybe you'll know too much and have to be quiet."
Tom smiles weakly. There's something a little disquieting about Daewen casually accepting the snarling of his sequence. He had wondered when, in Faerie history, he'd come back to Vinyagarond, but he had hoped it would be in sequence. After all, he'd deliberately time-traveled back to this year for that purpose. Oh, well.... He reminds himself to put a telepathic tag on that tree.
"Walk with me?" she asks. "I need to greet Jeffé and check on a few things. If you don't mind?"
"Not at all. I..." Tom is suddenly interrupted by a low rumble like thunder rolling into the area, or a dragon's roar or... or what?
The two tall women turn in synch in the direction of the sound.
"What the..." Daewen's voice trails off and she starts to head toward the sound.
The rising roar mixes with the rapping: Bdddap-brap-bap. Rrrrr-rrrr-rrrr. Bddap-brap-bap-bap. RRRR-Rrrr-rrrr. Bdddap-brap-bap.
The three hurry through the house towards the sound and the front door. As they get closer, a look of dawning recognition spreads across Daewen's face. As they step out the door, the great growling sound approaches out of the woods to the north.
Suddenly at least two dozen huge motorcycles burst out of the woods. They are gigantic, dwarfing their riders. No. The riders are dwarves. Dwarves in riding leathers. Dwarves in chainmail. Dwarves in black leather and chains. Dwarves in the leather coveralls of the great forges at Dwarrowgard. Dwarves in horned helmets. Several of the bikes have side cars or are pulling small trailers, all filled to overfilling with tools, equipment, and baggage.
Daewen just shakes her head. Tom thinks he hears her say something like "Why me?" under her breath.
She nods and says, "Of course," resignedly.
The motorcycles roar to a halt on the gravel road before Vinyagarond, sending up a shower of pebbles.
The dwarven leader leaps from his motorcycle no later than the instant it shudders to a halt.
"AH!" his voice booms, perhaps even more than is usual for his sort. He swaggers or waddles forward to stand before Daewen. "Lady!" He beams and bows deeply, which is something of a feat for someone who is nearly as wide as he is tall. "Caredwang, at your service, mum.
"We were on our way through to your new lands and thought we would see if the Gathering has started yet." He beams a smile that bespeaks his lusty appetites, somehow making it quite clear that 'Gathering' connotes something of a feast to him.
Daewen smiles widely and nods something of a bow in response. "You are the ones that Jonathan sent for then?" she asks and the dwarf nods.
"Angel!" she calls out, and the little fellow arrives almost at once. "Show our guests to the stables and then to a place to clean up. I'll inform the kitchen... Perhaps you should as well, in case I get interrupted."
Tom looks over the dwarven motorcycles. While they aren't actually as huge as it had first appeared, they are at least as large as the biggest Earthly motorcycles. Several are probably bigger. They look like someone saw a classic "hog" and then went ... hog wild?
After so long in Dwarrowgard, Tom is pretty familiar with dwarf-tech. If he had been asked to imagine a dwarven motorcycle without being given an example, he'd have expected a thing like a squat and macho bicycle, which you pedal with small effort, but which nonetheless delivers the power (and noise) of an internal combustion cycle. But these are clearly a Dwarven interpretation of the sort of late twentieth century street machines that Aelvynstar first brought to Faerie. Come to think of it, he did have a dwarf or two help him with his.
Tom turns his attention to the riders. True, he mostly hung around with the scholarly crowd, but even scholarly dwarves mess around with crafts and machinery a lot, and you've got to step off the campus once in a while. He doesn't see anyone he knows by name, but one or two look familiar, though garbed as they are it's a bit hard to say, as it isn't the way he last saw them.
Tom leans over to Daewen and murmurs, "I think I need an update. Why are biker dwarves heading to Lanthil? What is the Gathering for? And the Visitation? And these Councils? I have some guesses, but I'd like to know. For that matter, you need to know why I've brought Braeta. Her case is rather like the Marginalia's."
Daewen sighs and turns to face Tom, smiling, and nods. "It don't suppose much more can go wrong if I take a few minutes." she laughs a bit, "And even if it did, it would overshadowed by everything else.
"I do need to go greet Jeffe. He's not used to his new role. Walk with me?" She turns to Braeta, "Please join us, Braeta, wasn't it? And welcome to Vinyagarond."
As the motorcycles quiet down Tom realizes that the rapping sound he heard earlier is even louder here., coming from the woods to the northwest. Bdddap-brap-bap bddap-brap-bap-bap it echoes out across the clearing. Daewen notices Tom looking toward the woods and smiles.
"That's Aelvynstar. He has a crew up in the trees expanding the tree houses. We'll need more space to house folk for the gathering." She shakes her head, "I can't believe it. In order to leave Faerie we're building more houses here." She laughs and starts back into the house.
"Where to start? I take it you know Angel?"
"Last I knew he was called Three."
"Good. Then you've been to Lanthil. That will make it easier. Well, as you know, Lanthil -- had we named it yet when you last saw me? We called it Lanthil, punning on 'lanthir', waterfall, and 'thil', shining with silvery light. Any road, it was generally agreed that it would make a good new home for the New Blood. It seemed to me that if we're to make such a large step, that we should make sure we all agreed to, so I called a meeting of the heads of the families and the leaders among us. Since a lot of us were the group who administered things in the Dreamtime, I called it the 'silver council', which is what we called ourselves there.
She stops an turns smiling to Tom, "I'll bet you didn't notice the bid mistake in all that." She doesn't wait for an answer. "It was the name. I should have known better. Names are important here." She sighs.
They enter the kitchen where a half a dozen elves are preparing food. Daewen takes time to talk with a couple of them, asking how the preparations are going and thanking them for their help before leading the way down the corridor towards the conservatory dome.
"Lord Alvirin heard that the Silver Council had met to discuss the founding of Lanthil. He decided if the Council, which had been the ruling body of the Dreamtime before Jonathan ceded it to him was concerned, and the Path to the Dreamtime was on the way to Lanthil, then perhaps he should meet with the Council and Silverhand and Nightingale -- yes, That Silverhand and Nightingale. Alvirin appointed them as viceroys in the Dreamtime. I think they're from the Real Ennorath. You can imagine how all the elves from the World Bender Ennorath reacted when they hear the Real Beren an Luthien were coming to Vinyagarond, to say nothing of Lord Alvirin!"
Tom smiles sympathetically.
"So, Alvirin sent me word that one month after the Council meeting he'd like a second meeting of the 'full Council', with himself, Silverhand and Nightingale, Jeffé, and the leaders of Glorian and Vanessa's refugees, who of course had to be talked into selecting their own leader. Someone had put it into their heads that they were the 'People of Daeanna'." She makes what has been called 'a Scottish sound' in the back of her throat at this.
Copyright © 2003, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.