We sat around a fire - Chip, the Rock Troll chief, his son "Tonner", and I. The Chief and I recognized each other, and I knew it was Ergt, just as Merlin had said. It was dark - no moon, but the flames were warm. The "guys" were trying their hand at toasting marshmallows (I carry them with me), but the goal was more like letting them blaze - to see whose would blaze first, biggest, or brightest - and then to try and blow the remnants off the farthest. It was sooo funny to watch.
"It was good of you to see us during the nighttime. We are nocturnal people, as you see. You will not see us moving in the daytime."
And, as if to emphasize the point of moving, Tonner approached closer to me. It was like watching a boulder dis-joint itself and then re-arrange itself in some other place... a kind of rugged flowing that truly has no word or concept that can describe it. But it was like rock flowing into different shapes - yes, that's it! like a shape-shifting rock, or rather, a Rock Troll Shape-shifter. Tonner was very good at it.
"He is a talent, he is. But too full of himself and too much time on his hands. So, Lady, why do you seek counsel with me?" the Chief queried.
"Important Changes are occurring that will threaten your World and Way of living,Ergt," I said.
"The Elves and Dwarves, you have spoken with them?"
"And what do they think of your words?"
"They have caused division, because I speak of disrupting their quiet isolated Way of Being."
"So, what is it you say?"
"I say, or rather Spirit through me says, that what happens in the World of Man will negatively affect your World, too."
"Spirit created all. Spirit is in all. There is not one thing that is, that Spirit does not exist within. No one thing is more or less than another, just differently manifested aspects of Spirit. Therefore, what happens to the least of ANY world, will affect all. As ripples touch many shores when a pebble is tossed into a pond, so will the actions of Man impact your World. I say you are no more or less than Elves, or Dwarves.... or Man."
"You lived after saying that to the Elves? I'm duly impressed! Yet, how can Spirit inhabit such a toxic race that seeks its own extinction through arrogance!"
"Spirit is in Man - as in All - for Its own reasons; Spirit does and is beyond my Knowing... I cannot answer you, even being from that World."
Tonner was restless, and began more shape-shifting into many different "rock formations". He quipped, "So what? So who cares about Man? So for what reason do you come to us?"
"I have to deliver the Message, to try to minimize the destruction of all our Worlds, not just mine."
"And how to you imagine that we can do that, my Lady?" the Chief asked.
"Perhaps by intervening in such a way as to bring awareness and belief in the Oneness of Creation to Humans... so they see the interconnectedness and their role in that."
Tonner's answer to this "intervention" was to perform a pantomine of being a quiet boulder, bursting into life and movement, and scaring the pants off a group of backpacking tourists. I almost fell off my seat, it was so funny!
"I was thinking more of incidental contact and intervention. For example, a child falls into a stream, accidentally, and one of your people corner him near the shore so he doesn't drown and his parents can rescue him."
"Surely you don't think they'll thank a Rock Troll for that! They never perceive us, anyway..."
"True. No, what they will believe in is miracles, and that's close to Spirit, and that may be enough. Something like that."
"So we wouldn't have to put ourselves in jeopardy or disclose our sentience."
"No - that they wouldn't believe anyway. Not most of them. However, the more Humans we can change to believing in divine intervention or Spirit, or whatever connects them to their hearts, well... the better chance we have of averting a complete annihilation."
"You seem pretty certain of this, my Lady."
"I am but a messenger upon this Path, who believes in the Message. It is for you to seek your own Truth in it, and then do what you will, my good Chief Ergt."
"I will call a Council to discuss these things, but you have a more serious challenge yet to attempt."
"And that would be....?"
"Ah, the Goblins, my Lady, who'd as soon tear a Human to shreds as eat her. See how they take a "message". I'll be very interested in that for sure. We have had some interactions with them, now and again."
Seeing where this was heading, I looked at Chip, and asked him to return Home and tell his mother, Smashfoot, to relay all that had occurred to the Oberon and Dwarf King and let them know where my Path was going next. I was sure she would get that to the Captain, in any case, although - knowing him - he could, right now, be nearby.
The Chief continued, "Tonner needs something to do. He will guide and protect you in their Lands. He also speaks their Language in its gutteral context, and knows what items interest them. Go pack, Tonner; you leave tomorrow night. And for you, my Lady, a resting place my wife has provided."
And, she shifted out of the dark shadows, and drew me up off the ground. She shaped a curved indentation upon herself, which - when I lay down in it - was curiously warm and comfortable. I easily fell asleep.