pretentious cosmic picture


The next few days Falnee and Braele were very busy with Seeliski, and Heosun also helped as much as he could.

It was curious the differences between the mortals and the elvenchild. Despite the mortals being from different lands, different continents, Seeliski's difference was immediately apparent, though not from a distance. Her eyes were bigger than a human's, more fitted towards a nighttime existence than theirs, for seeing in the halflight. The ears were slightly pointed, able to hear better. She was slim, and smaller than the average human of the same age, although not terribly so. But there was a calm assurance in her movements, a grace no human could equal. They were not sure how old she was. There was literally, no word for "time" in the Elvish tongue. Or "year", for that matter. They had the concept, but they talked in terms of "festivals", of the three festivals the Elves celebrate during the year. If they asked her how many festivals it had been since she was born she would just answer, "Many. Who counts?"

It was of little interest to her.

She attended their classes, but to learn mortal languages. The magicks were laughably simple to her. For instance, they attended an introductory class on levitation. The teacher was explaining the discipline and limits of such, and then looked up. Seeliski was sitting with her legs crossed, floating upwards among the higher branches of the trees. Her face seemed serene, but Falnee, at least, could detect the slightest smile there.

Falnee called,"Sil tam!"

"No," she answered in the mortal tongue, to his Elvish, "come down".


She considered his "please" in the Elvish tongue. Then she gently wafted down.

The teacher just said, "Uh...good demonstration."

Later Seeliski demonstrated how she could levitate large objects, at will. Even the instructor could only levitate small objects, the size of a ball or such. Seeliski could levitate whole boulders. She had no interest in such. She was fascinated by humanity, however.

Slowly she learned the mortal tongue, which was the formal old Cathurian tongue, Honrala, He still had to help her with some words, however, and she in turn helped his Elvish immensely.

"Fall-nee," she said one day, "do you mind being--ummm, ahhh...ober?"


She repeated the word. "Mortal. Do you mind that Zaer the Ender of Things will come someday soon...and you will be--kill? die?"

"Dead. Yes. I mind very much. Although I don't consider it soon. For mortals, I'm pretty young."

"But in just two hundred festivals, you probably will be...dead, Fall-nee."

Roughly seventy years, he thought. "Yes. Most probably, Seeliski."

She shivered. "How do you stand that knowledge?"

"Zaer could come for either of us tonight, Seeliski. A tree might fall on us, and kill us both."

She laughed. "Not if I see it first!"

"Yes. But it could hit us from behind. Or an animal might attack, too swift for you to use your magicks. All sorts of things could happen."

"And if Zaer comes for go somewhere...and I stop altogether."


"I will remember you, Fall-nee. When two thousands festivals have gone by, I will remember you."

"Thanks." In seven hundred years, that'll probably be the only way I'm remembered, he thought.

"If you reach the Greater World, will you remember Seeliski?"

"Yes. I don't think I could ever forget you, Seeliski."

"You hope to see b'Chaun, yes?"

The Maker, he translated to himself. "Yes. We call him C'Don. That's my hope, Seeliski."

"Will you tell him something for me? Since I will never see him myself?"

"Well, I'll try. Mortals don't know much about what it's like in the Greater World. People don't return..."

"Then how do you know...? Nevermind. I will never understand sidober."

"The mortal race? Probably not. What do you want me to ask C'Don?"

"When you speak to this great allpowerful, allknowing being...who chooses to let elves die utterly...who made all things as they are..."


"Tell him for me...that he does good work."

She was staring at the rushing river Mabsin, in the tree-enshrouded halflight, like being encased in a globe of greenery. Yggsdrasil trees reached hundreds of feet high, with thinner, yet even taller ukera trees shooting even higher. He was aware, somehow, of the silent presence of dryads. Gardens of golden youthfruit and desirefruit trees were nearer to the college, interspaced with the honey and nectar giving pukatala trees. Fairies flitted on lotus flowers, and pixies scurried underneath reshem stones, and nixies leaped out of the water and entered again. Faroff they heard a faun's reedpipes play. Farther off, from miles away, they heard a mantichore's growl. The growl died, but above the leafy canopy came the scavenger shriek of a harpy, perhaps hoping for the leavings left by the mantichore. Closer, they could hear the snorting and neighing of the domesticated animals kept at the college, the unicorns and minotaurs, used for transport, burden, and at least in the minotaurs' case, for food and leather.

Everyday things. Nothing special. But the scene was especially beautiful, one of those rich, deep moments that sometimes happen when you are in the woods.

"Yes," said Falnee, spurred by a rich feeling of dwelling in the moment. "I hope I tell him not just for you...but for me."

For previous story, go to A Guest Among the Guests.

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Copyright © 1997 Al Schroeder