There was a Calling in the wind. It whispered through the Village, intriguing many, including me. My Elf friend nudged me. "Listen. Can't you tell? The message is for you."
I only knew I was drawn to follow it, but no details and no assurance that it was really my Call.
Later that evening, I was "invited" to the Oberon's Palace. No one turns down those kinds of "invitations". I wasn't sure whether to be pleased or scared to death. When I arrived, I was surprised to see not only the Guard Captain and the King's son, but also the two Dwarves who had been notable in the Journey of the Ruby. The Oberon spoke:
"Strange as it may be, the five of you are going on another Journey. (This brooked no argument.) You will pack tonight, lightly, for perhaps a two-week's trek. You leave before sunrise."
And then there was silence.
So, finally, I gathered my courage and asked: "Respectfully, sir, where are we going?"
"I cannot say. I only know there will be signs for you. Head east. Toward the mountains. It's all I know or can say."
"Merlin, my King?" queried the Captain, more as a statement than question.
"Not involved." The Dwarves stood stoic and acquiescent, as if this were some commonplace event for them. They loved quests.
"Curious. You couldn't tell us even if you knew, could you, Father?"
"No. But it does grieve me, my Son, to know that the risks involved may be deadly. Hopefully, the benefits outweigh those risks."
It was hard for me to conceive of any benefit that could outweigh a life. However, it was truly all said and done... it was merely being explained to us.
I went back to my room and gathered what few supplies would be necessary or desirable on such a trip - no destination, no specific time-frame, no known path. I considered and re-considered carrying my Elf-knife, but finally left it... a small whisper in my head told me I would need much more to keep my hands free and my ears listening. (They never listened as well when I held my knife.) I tucked what I would take into my bedroll, tossed a few odds and ends into my pouch, and gathered my cloak and clothes near the door. This would be a short night, indeed.
It was early dawn, dark and crispy cold, when the Captain tapped on my door. I was ready in a few minutes, and walked out to meet him.
The other three stood waiting, silhouetted dimly by the small torchlight by my door. I put it out, and we set off eastward. The mountains stood distant, and black, as if holding the night against a persistent day.
We started along a familiar scout-path until we were deep in dense surrounding forest. "Turn right," came a Whisper in my ear, or mind, or something... and the Path forked just ahead. I told the Captain the message, and so we turned onto the right pathway. "Follow this path for two days," spoke the Whisper again. Again, I relayed it to my comrades.
The voice had a strange misty taste to it, clear as a meadowlark's song, but with such a depth and texture as to be unimaginable - and certainly impossible to describe in any terms. There was a sense of urgency but not haste, a sense of compulsion but not control, a sense of gentle firmness and unfathomable power. I did not question it, and my friends did not question me.
At the end of two days, we made camp at the base of a waterfall. It was glorious and awe-inspiring. It sang so joyously in several harmonics that Beethoven would have wept. There was no message, and so we set watches and went to sleep.
When morning sun broke, we were not where we were or had been. The landscape was so incredibly different. The Dwarf on dawn-watch was dumbstruck, explaining over and over again to the Captain. "Truly, this happened between one eye blink and the next. I did not doze!"
"It is of no matter, Two-Hammer, it just is. I do not fault you. There is great Magic afoot. Stay aware. As much as you can. As much as any of us can."
I just kept staring around at the landscape. It was somewhat misty, but smooth, and a very pale lavender. The mist seemed more like Light-droplets, than water,and sentient, but I can come nowhere close to explaining that!
I heard - ear, mind, and surrounding me - a Voice (such limit in that word!). It said: "Look to the Path at your feet."
And, indeed, as I looked down, a Path appeared. I mean, as I was looking, it manifested there... as if by my belief or intent, along with some kind of permission - there it was! I knew enough then to follow it, and called to my companions.
I took point, because the Path seemed to only manifest before my feet - and not the other four (we tried!). It felt like we had walked half a day, when I realized that the Path at my feet had become a rope bridge across a chasm, which we could neither see the bottom of nor the other side. On we walked.
To me, it seemed like an hour or two that we spent on that bridge, but time was so odd here. There was really no sense of Time even existing here. Truth be known, it was hard to say what DID exist here.
Finally, I saw a cliff ledge and grass before me - stepped a ways in, and collapsed onto the ground. All this felt strangely, as if - between us and whoever we were meeting - things were manifesting one thought after another. Definitely could create a deadly scenario if we weren't careful. I shared my concerns with the Captain, who agreed. It was just hard to say, to know, to have a feel for the moment. The only thing I knew for certain was that this Path was "right", and the Voice was "good, Light-filled, to be trusted". I prayed that this was so, because our whole company depended on my perception and direction in this peculiar Quest.
Suddenly, as if right behind me, the Voice said: "Spend the night here; we'll meet in the morning." I jumped, startled to "feel" it, or whoever, so close.
I passed the message on, and we set camp and watches. The Captain took the dawn-watch this time, not because he did not trust Two-Hammers, but because he wanted to see for himself how this Magic worked.
Again, in the morning, the landscape had changed, and the Captain just stood rubbing his eyes, not believing the instantaneous shift that had occurred while he had determinedly kept strict watch.
He looked at Two-Hammers and said, "Forgive me if I showed any doubt in your story last time. We are indeed in the midst and Presence of a more ancient and powerful Magic than I have ever known or heard about."
Two-Hammers just rapped him good-naturedly on the back, rocking him a bit, saying, "No problem, Dayj." He alone among us could call him by name. They had shared too many dangerous forays to stay formal for long. And this whole scene spoke of danger, in the sense of ignorance not being bliss but deadly, with any wrong word or move. They both looked at each other, and then at me.
I was still gazing horizon to horizon. It looked like a rainforest on "acid" to those who know... everything was in motion... everything. Opalescent energy fields flowed in and around every sentient lifeform. Feeling a breeze brush my cheek, I suddenly realized I am seeing its color, hearing its song, tasting its effervescence. Nothing is still, in the sense of non-action. I could see rocks reaching out to each other, or some insect, or a bit of moss, like communicating, interacting, nurturing, telling jokes... that kind of thing. I don't know. My mind was absorbing it all, but nothing was registering. It was all a bit overwhelming. I watched a dragonfly...heard it, tasted the wake of its passing, felt it zing through my own energy field, exchanging bits of knowledge I've yet to be able to tap into. And I know it was overwhelming for my companions as well.
There was a narrow path to follow... that called... resonated with excitement and determination... like it echoed the intent of whomever was calling us. But we walked very slowly, so completely aware of our every movement affecting something else -- affecting hue, texture, the timbre and tempo of harmonies and life. Life. The word is so locked into obsoleteness and limits when compared to THIS, that it seems sacriligious to even use it. This was to understand what Life was when the first Word spoke Creation into Being - and Life. So far on beyond what I can say or write. And I know much of it is far beyond any kind of comprehension tools I may possess anyway.
We walked on, so very carefully, deliberately, learning how our very breath, thoughts, even feelings, were affecting the world around us. Even far beyond the experience in the Faery Realm. It truly was overwhelming.
Suddenly, the forest stepped back from the Path (that's exactly what the experience was!), and a clearing appeared before us.
The Unicorn Journey: Part 2
Journey of the Ruby