There the Clearing sits before us. We, all of us, stand transfixed. This is no ordinary place. This is a Place of Unicorns. There are two standing, one napping, one moving slowly towards us. There is nothing to do but be. And be, very still. The two who are standing appear to pause, as if in mid-conversation. I doubt we are here unannounced, however.
As an animal may sniff the air and surface of a stranger, so it is here - but it is energy they sense and analyze - that deep energy that rests in the throne of each soul. I can feel that deep Touch - yes, I can. I weep, for no reason than the overwhelmingness of unrecognizable emotions, feelings, and spiritual interaction. Whatever is happening lies far beyond my reach, perhaps forever, in this incarnate form. I have no thoughts of the other four - although my guess is that they, too, are experiencing a similar interchange of energy. I have no thoughts of anything. I am caught - gently - in a current of such Peace and Joy that I relax, finally, into it. And breathe. Somewhat. I am a poor breather. Fear always lingers at the edges of my Being, limiting my ability to release absolutely. And, yet, I must have.
When I awoke, it was evening, and I was resting on a comfortable matting of mosses, leaves, and what appeared to be ... Unicorn hair! I fell back into a deep dreamless sleep.
The next time I woke, it was early morning. I looked around in confusion, trying to remember where I was. I noticed the other four, also gazing around, getting their bearings. But none of us made a move from where we had been sleeping.
A Voice spoke in my mind, "How long will you sleep now, oh weary one, or have you had enough?"
I looked toward where I thought these words had been projected, and noticed a particular Unicorn looking my way. "Are you ready now, Human - no, not Human; Elcyrr, is it? Ah, well, yes... are you ready?"
Although I was uncertain what I was to be ready for, I nodded my head, almost afraid to speak and knowing that they read minds easily. I glanced over at the two Elves and two Dwarves. "Are you all right? Are you ready? They want to know." All of them nodded in assent.
As if on cue, the Unicorns re-arranged themselves, and what hadn't been visible before came into view. It was a pool, with a fountain in the center. But not water. It was a silver fluid, glowing brilliantly, flowing thicker than water - thinner than lava, with an inner silver glowing - as if Light had coalesced into a mercurial substance that, in Truth, made all the polished silver I had ever seen, look like dross. (I use the word, "silver", but it is only an approximation... I cannot say exactly its color, texture, or even song... it is far beyond my Knowing, and my ability to translate into comprehensible terms.)
Two-Hammer's silent companion burst out in a reverent sigh, "Mithral!" But the "primary" Unicorn shook her head. (I knew her to be female, in some sense of the word, in some deep Knowing, revealed to me from earlier experiences as well.) And as she moved, her mane sounded in the air like chimes, high and pure and melodious. Her voice now filled the air, so I knew all of us could hear her lilting, soul-caressing tones. Some combination of music and words, I would guess. "It is even more precious than Mithral, Chip," she gently spoke. "And more magickal." His eyes continued to move from her to the silver fountain.
The Captain asked, "Respectfully, Unicorn, for what purpose are we here?" Ever the practical one, he.
"Listen", she said. "There are Changes coming that will seek to divide your races even more than they are now. And in that division, you will be defeated; you will not survive... not in the way you are accustomed to. You have already been given the word (and she looked at me) about the Oneness of all Creation. Indeed, your own Knowing tells you that, but you edit and spin such information, according to your own belief systems. These Changes, however, don't require your beliefs or knowledge. They exist, and will arrive, for the express Purpose of the Creator, regardless. They are not dependent on belief. It is a Creative Process, that is too deep to explain. You need only learn to unite in respectful co-existence, or become extinct."
She was right. Not one of us truly understood the depth and extent of what she was saying. The puzzlement and hesitation resounded loudly through the air, though no one spoke. It was as if, in this Place, all thoughts and feelings were heard and felt by all sentience like they had been spoken aloud.
"If you do not wish to continue this Task, you may leave. I know your hearts. And it must be all five who stay or all five who leave. Choose now. Choose wisely."
The silence lay on us like a thick woolen blanket. Each of us had to measure our hearts, and come to consensus. All or nothing. And my guess was that "nothing" would lead us on a Path that never really went back Home - ever... not that we would be aware of that. But I kept that thought to myself. I already knew I intended to finish this Task. There was no other choice for me. No matter what it entailed.
She asked us to sit in a small circle, with our backs to each other. She told us to look at the ground before us. I saw two stones: one black, one white.
She spoke, "If you wish to stay and finish this Task, pick up the white stone. If you wish to leave, pick up the black stone. Consider well your choice. There is no turning back. Drop the stone over your shoulder."
Now I realized that, though she could see the five stones, we could not. Nor would it necessarily fall next to its tosser. If any stone was black, we would have to leave, but we would never know for certain who had tossed it (or them) unless it was disclosed. Interesting.
Then she spoke again. "All white. Wise or foolish, I do not know - but brave, yes, very brave. You may get up."
Then she looked at me with eyes of the deep blue of ocean under a full moon - yes, with that silvery reflection in them. "Elcyrr, go to the fountain, and take the wooden cup. Dip it into the pool. Then bring it here."
I did as she asked, or rather, stated. Not quite a command - always a sense of allowing for choice. Somewhat. I brought it back to her.
"This is a Unicorn elixir. It exists nowhere else but here. It has never been given to Outsiders. You may only take this one cup, but first each of you must take a drink from it. Captain? You first. Then the King's son; then Two-Hammers; then Chip."
As they solemnly passed the cup around, she continued, "What this does for you two Elves is provide you with a defense from iron, and that which can cause grave illness or insanity in your People. You can therefore travel beyond your lands, when the Call comes. The same for you two Dwarves. This gives defense against Dark Elf magick and Human caused diseases and deception. It is not limited to these things. Far, far beyond it. But it is all I choose to share with you for now. No, Elcyrr, you do not drink from that cup."
I stopped, and looked up in astonishment, almost daring to know why. A reckless streak, I know. But the Captain looked, too. That was comforting.
"You drink from this."
And she lowered her Horn, and allowed droplets to fall from it into my mouth. I swallowed, and dropped to my knees. I was in a silver haze - that pure energy enveloping me so completely inside and out that I lost all sense of myself, and everything else. After a while (and I have no idea how long that was), I was able to stand again. The Captain had stepped over, and gave a hand to help me up.
The cup, held by Chip, had been secured with a lid (and high magick, as well). I knew it was time to leave, but my eyes and mind could only perceive things with a silvery glow or mist. I mean, I could walk - somewhat - but it was just so hard to see things the way I used to.
"Give the cup to the Oberon. He will know what to do. Do not let anyone or anything else touch this cup. If it is taken or tampered with, it will disappear - and so will you all. This must be... and so it is. Good fortune be with you all. And keep aware when walking back through the Myst."
Again, I was point, though I felt a lot less confident, not being able to see clearly... however, my senses were much more sharpened. And strangely, as I walked into the Myst, it seemed more like a blanket-hung Door... a Tapestry between Worlds, so to speak. I walked through, and the other four followed.
We came out at the Waterfall...
There was no way of knowing how long we had been away from this spot, but we all knew it was the same waterfall. There was no need for conversation, though. And, indeed, what would we have talked about? We just kept very vigilant, as we trekked back to the Village, never stopping for rest or sleep. Too many "things" could be attracted to this magic we were carrying. The four all held their weapons at ready, and I concentrated and listened deeper than I ever had. Whatever might have been between us and the Village would not be given an opportunity to interfere.
We walked tiredly into the Village at dusk the following day, straight to Oberon. He took the cup from his son (we all had taken turns carrying such a precious package), and set it in the midst of some sort of magic-bound puzzle-box (Merlin's gift for this Journey). We all watched the box glow into invisibility at the clicking of the last lock.
The Message of Oneness