28 of Eleint 1371, Year of the Unstrung Harp
Thou shalt find to the left of the House of Hades a Spring,
and by the side thereof standing a White Cypress.
To this Spring approach not near.
But thou shalt find another, from the Lake of Memory,
Cold Water flowing forth, and there are Guardians before it.
Say: "I am a child of Earth and Starry Heaven,
but my race is of Heaven alone. This Ye know Yourselves.
But I am parched with thirst and I perish. Give me quickly
the Cold Water flowing forth from the Lake of Memory."
Upon assuming my absurd costume, I decided to have a better look at the surroundings. By that time, I was ravenously hungry, and since my supply of provisions was gone together with my old clothes, I needed to look for sustenance. The deep crevasse that hosted the elemental pool was surrounded by sheer red cliffs, so typical for the part of great Calim desert adjoining the spurs of the Marching Mountains. But where the desert rocks were bare of life, sticking out of the desiccated land like broken teeth of a thirsting demon, these stones were abundant with vegetation that managed to find a foothold in every small crack and crevice of the wall glistening with water that was seeping down its rough, red surface from a hidden spring above.
I looked closely at the vines that covered the side closest to me. Most of it was a tangle of various species of ivy and hop. But lo and behold - among the star shaped leaves I found clusters of purple grapes, small but incredibly sweet after weeks of soaking in the sun of a high desert. Those left a taste of muscat and spice in my mouth, and took the edge off my hunger. I hoped there was fish in the little creek that fed the pool, but whether that was true or false still had to be discovered. The pool itself was empty of any species of piscene persuasion, the fact I could appreciate, since nothing nibbled at my toes while I was suspended there in perfect balance between life and death.
I sat on the strip of sand, munching on the remains of my grapes, and looked at the pool. The water was still bubbling and whirling inside its almost round aperture. I wondered if there was a hot mineral spring at the bottom. The water was very warm, even for a desert, and the gas bubbles seemed to indicate that that was indeed the case. I suppose I could have left the place right then, and walked away in search of my way back to the Marching Mountains. But the stubborn desire for answers to my questions held me back. My whole encounter with the water elemental now felt like a hallucination of my tired brain. Still, someone brought me here on the winds of the sand storm. Someone provided me with clothes. Now I wanted explanations. I concentrated on the largest eddy swirling at the very center of the quietly simmering reservoir, and tried to imagine the elemental raising from her watery abode. The circle blurred rotating faster and faster, the vortex deepened reaching almost to the bottom of the pool, and suddenly exploded upwards in a white column of vapor and foaming spray. When the mist cleared the translucent figure of my host was floating above the surface. The elemental nodded and glided to my side.
I remained seated. I was not about to jump at her every whim. She had made me wait, after forcing me wear this ludicrous outfit. Surely, she could not expect me to thank her for it.
"I am glad you've found everything to your satisfaction, Nwalmaer." The elemental's voice sounded delighted at the sight of me in the damnable robes. "I am sorry, but your own garments were destroyed by the sandstorm. The angry earth and air are formidable powers. I asked a Marid of my acquaintance to provide clothes suitable for a prime, but I am afraid the water djinn have rather peculiar tastes."
Now, how was I supposed to know this? It was too late to back off and express my gratitude, which would be taken as a show of weakness anyway.
"Who are you?" I asked bluntly, angry at my own inaptitude and quickly deciding not to bother with niceties.
"I am called Aluril among the People, and this place is Nelle'N'At - the Brook of the Other," the elemental looked at me with her liquid eyes as if expecting immediate reaction. "But humans sometimes call it the Heart of Water."
Since I remained silent she floated even closer, and added in a voice less certain and murmuring like a small stream. "How can one of the People forget what I am? It has been very long since I had the pleasure to sing for Tel'Quessir, but surely not that long "
"What are you talking about?" I snapped angrily. "And who are the people you keep mentioning?"
Something flicked in her strange silvery eyes then, and she bent over touching my forehead with her hand, leaving a trace of moisture on her wake. I recoiled but obviously too late as she began to nod, and whisper softly to herself.
"Yes, I see now. It is even deeper than I thought. How awful for you. Forgive me, Nwalmaer."
"Why do you call me a tormented one?"
"Because that is what you call yourself in your mind. You speak the language of the People without realizing it, don't you?" She nodded again. "There is something else that is strange about you but I cannot tell what it is without looking. I did not dare to enter your mind without your permission. Do you want me to dream for you?"
"Why would I want to?" I almost exploded. "You've brought me here without my consent; you continue to speak in riddles and now this question. I want my answers first."
"Without your consent?" Aluril was clearly puzzled. "I could feel your need from miles away, Nwalmaer. I anticipated your arrival for months, if not years. That was what woke me up this time, but I never had to wait so long for a petitioner before. When I sensed you moving away, I asked the aerial ones to help you find me I am sorry, they can be a little frustrating."
Was she talking about the air elementals in the storm? I seethed with anger. A little frustrating? More like bloody lethal, and enjoying it.
"The People used to come here and play music and sing with me, then listen to my dreams. And humans ... they were so amusing. They built a temple on the other side of the rocks to please me, never mind that I could never see it or partake of their gifts. I can feel something dark and ugly emanating from that place now...maybe that is why they stopped coming. I was asleep for a very long time, Nwalmaer. Ever since the Gods had walked the land."
"So, you've been sleeping since the Time of Troubles?" I asked trying to make sense of what she was saying. "And you awoke because you 'sensed my need'? What can I possibly want from you?"
"My dreams of course." the elemental looked upset. "That is how I can see what had passed and what will come to be."
"So, you are some sort of an oracle?" I was surprised and not a little worried. It was too convenient, and yet it rang true. "Can you tell me my name? My true name?"
"It does not work like that," she wavered a little. I decided it was her equivalent of shaking her head. "I can only tell you anything after I see it, or not. Do you wish me to dream for you, Nwalmaer?"
"I suppose I do," I said carefully. "But as far as I know these divinations never come free."
A shadow of a memory dawned on me then, as if somebody was whispering the words into my ear. The four Elemental Planes and the strange beings linked to these but bound to the Prime. They were called elemental weirds as I recalled now, both for their eerie appearance, and for their particular magic ability to see in the future. There were four very old poems, each about specific element. I tried to remember the water one - it was very long, and all I could recall was the ending.
Sink deep. Surrender to grief. You will rise again.
Surrender? No. My very being screamed in murderous rage at the idea. Whatever was assigned to me in the books of fate, surrender never was an option.
"What would you ask of me in return, spirit?" I raised my head, looking into strangely limpid eyes of the weird.
"That you fulfill your destiny."
"And that is all?"
"That maybe a great deal more than you will be willing to give. I dreamt of your coming for almost a century, Nwalmaer. Whatever tortured paths you've walked, you were always running away from your destiny, yet now it is at hand. Will you surrender the knowledge of your future to me for a reading? It is a dangerous endowment, for on your shoulders may ride the future of this whole world. Though the final choice will be yours alone."
"Now you've lost me." I tried to reduce the tension by rubbing at my temples. Something was missing. I was not used to have my hair flowing freely and getting in my eyes. It was disturbing. It broke my concentration. "I am a nameless wanderer, with no memory of my past and unclear ancestry. Yet you are saying I have a destiny that may include saving the world?" I laughed, suddenly relieved of my worry. "Is not it what you say to everybody? I yet to hear of an oracle that would not predict to her supplicant that he ought to save the world from one plague or another."
"That is quite understandable," the elemental suddenly laughed in return. Her laughter was bright and bubbly, akin to gurgling of water, as all the sounds that she made. "No true oracle would bother to answer the call that involves less. The powers that we wield are too rare and precious to be wasted on less important cases. The last time I awoke was to speak of the passing of a Goddess."
"Now, which one was that?" I asked mockingly. "I do believe I know of at least one, although she had safely returned."
"Do not speak lightly of these things." Aluril seemed disturbed by my attitude. "The trials of Waukeen in the Abyssal Plane merit your respectful silence, if you are not capable of compassion. No one deserves what she was forced to endure, and her only crime was her trustfulness, for she had relied on a word of the Demon Lord, who betrayed her and trapped her in the Abyss."
"I would say it was her arrogance rather than gullibility," I shrugged dismissively, "surely, she believed she could buy her way out at any time. And she was not bound to that place ... But enough of this nonsense. I am tired of this conversation, spirit. Now you shall either tell me what I want to know or I will depart." I rose to my feet to make my point.
"You will let me read your future then, in return for what I shall see of your past?" she asked intensely.
I nodded my confirmation though I was quickly losing interest in the whole affair. Whatever she was going to tell me was probably not worth a copper. The Gods rarely let us have a peek at their designs for mortals, and Aluril was no exception. She may think highly of herself, she may even command some elemental powers, yet her words would be dark and murky, which rendered them useless at the end. The prophecy is always best explained after its aftermath had sunk deep into the roots of the earth. Something bothered me about it. The prophecy?
"Do you know of Alaundo?" I asked hesitantly.
There from the gate wall shall descend
A serpent to blow the Horn of Doom
At the graveyard Kingdom of Man.
She recited it in her fluid tongue and chuckled gently. "Yes, of course. Do you know he was born not far from here? He came to me once, many years ago. Humans are so easily impressed. Alaundo was a wise man, with a terrible gift singing in his blood, but a mortal nonetheless. I would rather not speak of his prophesies as they do not concern me now. The human lifespan is so short - it is like a flight of a firefly through the hot day of summer. So, when one of them can feel the coming of a night breeze that will sweep away a flock of his comrades, he is well praised for writing it down and passing on the next generation of fireflies - beware of the coming night. Yet, does it truly concern a fish swimming in the creek or a bird in the sky?"
"I see you have high opinion of humans," I chuckled acerbically, "and since I happen to be one of them..."
"Surely you are not," she frowned concernedly, "don't you remember anything of yourself, Nwalmaer?"
"Would I be asking if I did?" I raised an eyebrow.
"I see," she sighed gently. "Please do understand that I cannot answer the questions on which you already know the answers. Let us begin."
I was sitting cross-legged on the little beach for hours, and could not even force myself into meditation. For all the brave face I've put on before the elemental, I was too worried to relax and slip into proper trance. I was numbed, tired, and irritated. I had cramps in my back, and butterflies in my stomach. Aluril was singing. It was a pleasant melody at first, smooth and harmonious, like a flow of a great flatland river running through the green peaceful plains on a hot summer afternoon. Her face was serene (if such description is applicable to the fluid features of a water elemental that are always in motion), her eyelids closed, her head lolled gently from one side to another following the slow, steady rhythm of her song.
The black shadows of jagged rocks surrounding the small canyon crept closer as the sun finished its daily run and disappeared below the tops of the red cliffs. I was beginning to feel queasy from the combined effects of returned hunger and dull headache. The elemental continued to sing but the melody slowly transformed, first into a sad lamentation, then into angry, tormented cry of sorrow, culminating in the notes of such extreme anguish that my heart twinged in cold grip of fear. Whatever Aluril was seeing, it surely was not pleasant. I expected that much. My nightmares were good indication that something was very wrong with my past, and judging by the pained expression of her translucent face, and small cries of anguish interrupted by frequent sobs of distress, she was having a hard time watching it unfold.
I was so desperate to know the worst that I reached forward with my tired mind, trying to probe the consciousness of the elemental as I did many times before during the endless hours of my wait. This time Aluril responded. Her strength was amazing. Her awareness sprang forth like an immense silver serpent, or a deadly enchanted blade drawn from its scabbard by a steady hand of a warrior, and pulled me into her dream.
I stand at the center of the universe. My roots reach deep into the damp fertile soil, forming a vast network of sensitive tendrils that allow me feel the movement of every small creature arduously digging its small tunnel along my path, and the twitching of every earthworm pushing infinite mass of dirt through its tiny body in the never-ending labor of feeding. I can sense the first tremors of an upcoming earthquake on the Giant's Plain to the north, or a volcano erupting among the fields of Black Ash far to the east. I know by heart when each small blade of grass in my meadows unfolds its perky emerald stem under the warm caress of the morning sun, showering the earth below with droplets of dew. Birds of the sky build their nests on my shoulders. They bring me news of my siblings dwelling far and away in the vast northern woods, and on the mystical isle across the waves of the western ocean.
I am Wealdath - a single tree, but also the forest in itself. I know the slow, lazy thoughts of a sugar maple daydreaming on the sun on my southern border, the windy dreams of a tall pine up on the sandy hill, and the prickly mind of a hawthorn down by the trout creek. I am an endless ocean of trees spreading from the shoreline of the Sea of Swords to the spurs of the Snowflake Mountains. Deep cold streams teeming with fish run through my heart; herds of deer, elk, and wild boar roam my depths; swift grey shadows of wolves and ragged hulks of owlbears stalk my wilderness. Centaurs run through my glades in the deep of the night, and shy dryads stage their strange dances under uneven light of the moon. I am one with the thickets of lush rowan trees on the hills, groves of ancient oaks in the shadowed dales, and clumps of grey willows on the banks of swift Suldanesse River. My branches shade the entire hill upon which I am standing, spreading over the gentle slopes running down into the dell that fosters one of the greatest wonders of this world - a living city of my Children. The city is an extension of me, and as my arms spread over it in protective embrace, so is the invisible aura of power that engulfs it in a golden bell of mythal. Safeguarding my Children is my life. I cannot remember if there ever was a time when I was not entrusted with this sacred duty that brings so much joy to my heart. Watching over the living towers of Suldanesselar, its delicate web of aerial bridges and balconies sparkling among the green curls of the forest like precious diadem on the head of a queen is what keeps me young at my age that should be measured in millennia rather than single years. I sigh in deep satisfaction, caressing the city with the vast power of my mind, and drift into a blissful slumber, once again content in my watchful reverie.
I am pleased today. My favorite Child, the one with joyous intellect of a creator, and a passion for learning has come to visit. I can always hear his mind buzzing like a hive of industrious bees well before his lithe form appears on the trail leading to the top of my hill. He likes to sit in my shade leaning on my trunk or climb into my crown, fast and nimble as a squirrel. Most of the time his feelings are too quick for me to capture their meaning, but I like the aura of bright inquisitiveness that emanates from him like a sharp scent of musk from a young fox. Lately he has developed a passion to try and merge his quicksilver thoughts with the slow current of mine. These sessions please me immensely. For a short time he is able to break the barrier that separates his brisk flickering flame of a mind from my omnipotence, unwillingly feeding me the torrent of his everyday impressions - worries about his work, progress of his research, and the troubled relationship with his lover. In return, I try to regulate how much new lore he picks up from the vast reservoir of my experience. It fascinates me to feel his hungry mind snatch the information like a small child stuffing his mouth with too much candy. More often than not he is overindulging, and I have to break the connection. Afterwards he is angry and petulant, but I know what dangers await the mortal mind that is trying to tap into an infinite ocean of knowledge unprepared. I rarely attach myself so strongly to a single Child, even though the Children's lifespan is long compared to that of shorter living races. It is appropriate - an intelligent creature that is able to separate itself from the rest of the lifeforce should be granted time to develop a personality before settling into a new realm of beauty and splendor. But even knowing that they are leaving me for a brighter world, it grieves me deeply when one of them passes away, and I cannot follow as I am forever rooted in this Plane. Yet, I am so fascinated by the quick and hungry intellect of my Chosen One that I often think of him amongst the dreams of things green and growing, even when he is not around.
Today he is silent and remote, as he was for the last few weeks, or was it longer? It is hard for me to keep track of time on such a short scale and the events of the last few seasons often blur into one rainbow-colored impression. There is none of his usual easygoing conversation and sarcastic remarks. I try to catch a glimpse of his thoughts but he snatches them away, almost angrily. I withdraw carefully, not willing to intrude upon his highly valued privacy. It would be too easy for me to break his barriers, drowning him in me, swallowing his finite mortal mind in my limitless one, and he is precious to me the way he is - a bright, inquisitive elf-child with ancestral magic running in his blood, and clever hands that can make a tree change direction of its growth of form a spacious chamber inside its living body. I love the touch of these hands, the way he caresses the scaly grey bark of my trunk making me forget about his awkward silence and strange secretiveness, relax my vigilance, and at the end lose my ever-present awareness of the golden magic of the mythal, as he snatches the threads of the weave one by one, cutting them away from me and forming them into a new pattern of his own. As I drift further and further away, I begin to feel remote pangs of fear rise from the depth of my consciousness. Something is wrong. He can hurt himself and many others. He would not be able to handle that much power on his own. But his magic has lured me onto a path to oblivion, and I lost the power to turn back. I have only a few moments to realize the depth of his treachery, when the loss of too much energy upsets the balance of my spells and I burst into flame, illuminating the hill like a giant torch surrounded by a bright nimbus of fire.
I soar above the swinging treetops swathed in a golden shroud of light. The brightness of it makes me sing and laugh uncontrollably. Every cell of my body is filled to overflow with magic of the Tree. I can siphon the lifeforce of the entire forest forever as it is replenished through the vast network of roots that spreads for hundreds of miles below ground, and through the shimmering kaleidoscope of thousands of leaves in the air. I am invincible. My powers can only be compared to that of a god. I am a god in every sense, apart from the fact that I am not bound by any rules or concords that always link the power of a deity to the contents of her portfolio. I am almost omnipotent, yet I cannot be begged for favors by mad priests of an obscure cults, or elderly matrons of some dying nation. I try to imagine the expression on her face when she finds out. I am going to make sure she is the first one of them to know.
The value of the prize bought by my sweet betrayal cannot be described in any mundane terms. This is the infinity we are talking about. Infinite knowledge of the laws that rule the Universe at the tips of my fingers. Infinite time to absorb it all at my leisure. Infinite power to coax the amorphous matter into new shapes and states begotten by my imagination. I raise my hands willing them into a pair of golden wings, that of a phoenix, or a bright celestial creature. Humans say that a thousand angels can fit on a sharp tip of a needle. I used to sneer at the absurdity of this saying, but now I can taste the splendor of existence not bound by basic four dimensions. I muse about thousands of portals into infinite spectrum of worlds beyond any imagination that can easily fit on that needle tip, and it is only the simplest example that instantly springs to my mind.
As my wings unfold above my head in a brilliant wave of light, I suddenly see another explosion of brightness emanating wave after wave of scorching heat. I turn my head to determine the source of that second luminescence, and waver. The Tree is on fire. In an onslaught of triumphant emotions that came with my victory I almost forgot about the Old Man, whose powers I stole so ingeniously. Now the sight of him surrounded by the roaring inferno makes me fervently angry. Why can't he go peacefully to his end, surrendering to the ultimate right of the young to take over from the old, as Spring will always triumph over Winter? Even now, while the juices of his life are boiling inside his living body and his crown is engulfed in a blazing bonfire, the Tree is stubbornly maintaining the remains of the mythal. I despise that ancient magic trap forced upon the city by a team of elderly high mages eons ago. It encases Suldanesselar in a golden shell, like a piece of amber that preserves a long-dead wasp, after all signs of life are gone from the dead body of the insect. It is a beautiful casing but it does not make it any less of a tomb.
I am burning alive. My crown is a network of fiery red lines exploding in angry fireworks of sparks. My mind is shrinking to a whirlwind of searing pain, as I quickly lose my connections with plants and creatures of the forest. Yet disintegration of my material substance is not what causing me the most painful agony. I know that I shall die with destruction of the mythal but this knowledge is only a passing flicker of a thought. What makes the Suldanesselar's mythal different from other spells of this class, is the fact that it is always watched over and maintained by its Guardian, as it is woven into my very soul and body. Now that my treacherous son is ravishing my mind my healing powers are fading, and the Children are dying. Over the centuries of my existence I became too involved with their lives. The city is permeated with healing and supporting magic, and many of the elves became too dependent on it.
Perhaps, it was my gravest mistake. The mythals were not originally designed to serve as a crutch for the needy. But inside the shimmering borders of Suldanesselar every small wound is healed within hours, and the muscles of an invalid can carry his inept body as if he was a champion athlete. The Children have grown weak. Every new generation is more reclusive and distrustful of the outside world. I don't blame them - they have plenty of reasons to be suspicious of human tribes, who are encroaching on our lands, cutting down trees and viciously killing our nomadic brethren. But with unraveling of the mythal the Children would stand naked and defenseless against the dangers of the outside world. They would not be able to survive this dissolution.
First I feel the deaths of sick and elderly, then it is turn of the younger ones. My heart is being ripped apart as I sense the passing of every small soul, the last breath of every frail body. They all shall die if I cannot stop this madness, I realize suddenly. In my desperation, I decide to take my only chance and risk everything, relying on my deeper knowledge of the traitor's mind. Joneleth is strong. He is probably the strongest mage born to the Tel'Quessir in two or three generations. That was what fascinated me about him, and perhaps contributed to his corruption. But his mind is still one of a mortal. He should not be able to handle all the energy of the mythal at once. So far he was very clever, as he unraveled it strand by quivering strand, taking his time and carefully waving it into a new pattern that would feed his own ambitions. But if I release all that is left of my powers at once, he may falter.
I cringe as I see the fire spread to the grove of giant beach trees, which encircles the queen's palace. The rain of burning twigs and hot ash is falling on the city from the conflagration above, starting more fires. It is becoming hard to breath, and I am forced to rise higher. Now she is going to blame me for this unforeseen damage. For a brief second I can taste a familiar coppery tang of anger and humiliation - then remember what I have become. When I come into my full power a simple wish will suffice but for now I would have to do it properly. I mouth an incantation following it with a quick flash of my fingers in an intricate pattern of the spell physical component.
Immediately, a flock of heavy, bruise-colored clouds infused with silver streaks gathers over the top of the hill promising quick relief. I raise my hands to call down the rain, and at that moment a surge of raw magic energy released by the weakening mythal hits me with a force of a giant pendulum suspended from heavens on a cord of blazing blue radiance. It stuns me, unraveling my spell and drowning the remaining specks of my consciousness in a flood of power with ease of a waterfall quenching flickering ashes of a campfire. The last thing I see, before a flash of white light explodes inside my head and my eyes close forever, is a green carpet of earth rushing into my face with astonishing speed. Then my body reaches the roaring inferno below, and the Tree takes me into its flaming embrace, melting my skin and turning what remains of me into a quivering mass of scorched flesh.
He falls like a blazing meteor or a phoenix ready to rise from the ashes of his ruin. My burning hands take him in, and he is thrashing and bleeding, impaled on a sharp stake of my broken limb. His flesh is running down like a stream of molten wax. He would be forever branded a traitor by these terrible scars. The stolen energies are leaking from his dying body together with his lifeforce and as my healing powers return I try to stop this devastation, patching the most grievous of his wounds, and maintaining his failing heart until the elves come for him and take my ruined son away from me. I cannot hate him even now. It is my purpose to take care of the Children, and whatever he has done - he is still one of them.
I found myself on the bank of the elemental pool, tossing and moaning under the impartial gaze of the raising moon. Aluril's face was bobbing in the air above mine, and I could feel the wet touch of her fingers on my brow.
"Whoever it was," I tried to sound indignant, even angry, but the words came out in a single violent sob, "it was not me."
"Remember, I did not name any names. It was your own doing."
"Don't you dare mock me. I had enough of your nonsense already. That mage ... and the Tree It can not be a true story."
"If you say so, Nwalmaer."
"I ... I could not possibly be that person, whatever you say. He must have been a wizard of incredible power. Look at me. I am too young to even dream of this kind of magic. And the scars... the Tree said he was scarred forever, even if he did survive the fall. No, this is some kind of madness. Do you imply I am his reincarnation?"
"It could have been an ancestral memory, I suppose," the elemental sighed. "You may think of it this way if it makes you feel any better."
"No, it does not," I snapped sitting upright and hugging my knees with shaky hands. My face was wet, and not all of it was Aluril's touch. "But at least it is a reasonable explanation. Although it still does not clarify who I am, and how did I end up in Amkethran."
"Well," she gurgled gently in that annoyingly sweet voice, "I gave you something to think about, did I not? And don't forget - I was able to divine your true name."
"Only if I accept that the memory you've came across was my own, and not some long dead ancestor's."
"As you would have it, Joneleth."
"Do not call me that!" I was shaking all over again. "Whoever he was - he is long dead, together with his fantasies of godlike powers. I have no claim on that name. Besides, it may not be a real one. Jon-eleth, the Elf-Child, that's all it means. Maybe that is how the Tree called him in its mind. What was that thing, anyway? I never seen one that big... and it was alive. Not that all of the trees are not alive," I added hastily, "but that was different. It was a sentient being, capable of great magic, and it was benevolent to that ... that man."
"I should not answer the questions on which you already know the answers since you are going to deny everything anyway." Aluril shifted again. "But as for the Tree Remember, you called him the Old Man?"
I cringed at her stubborn insistence to equate me with the dead mage but swallowed my protests.
"Once upon a time there was an intelligent race that the People called arakhora, 'the tree wardens'. They were akin to us, elementals, except they drew their lifeforce from the forests in which they dwelled, not from the elemental planes. They were capable of collecting and preserving magic energy, and giving it back to the land, in the time of need. They were also caretakers and guardians of the elven realms of old but even the Fair Folk had forgotten about them now. Perhaps your Old Man is one of the last? As the centuries passed, their descendants became smaller, more agile but also less powerful, as they spread over the lands of this world. Nowadays they are known as 'treants'."
"So, this is what you granted me," I sneered resentfully wiping my eyes with a sleeve, "a crazed dream of the ancient treant, a name that is more of a tag than identity, and another headache. What happens next? I never learned how it all ended."
"Oh, you know how it ended," the elemental undulated serenely, "you have chosen to interrupt the vision when it became too painful. Do you want me to take you back to it?"
"No!" I almost screamed at the very thought of it. "No. I don't trust you. For all I know you may have your own reasons to force someone else's memories on me. What was it that you wanted in return? To look into my future, or rather, to shape it to your liking?"
"To know the future I must see the present first," she stated impassively. "Would you like to proceed?"
Mythal (elv.) - A mythal is a living web of magical energy created by elven high magic. Given a primitive consciousness and a task of protecting a location, such as an elven city of holy location, mythals are powerful and extensive wards that endure for thousands of years. Designed to protect those inside and repel certain kinds of creatures, mythals use knowns spells, although each has a set of unique abilities that do not duplicate any known spell.
This complicated spell is in many more of a ritual then a spell per say. To cast the spell a minimum of ten casters must be present excluding the central caster who is the only one who has to have the spell memorized. Four of the additional casters are the spell's secondary casters and the rest, tertiary casters. As the spell is cast rays of white light will leave the central casters fingers to touch each of the other casters, one ray to a caster, whom must all stand in a circle around the central caster. The central caster's body will then explode into a cloud of bone and blood, which will slowly transform into a giant pillar of white fire. The fire, will then flow to engulf all the other casters to form a web of white fire and the creation of the Mythal will begin with the central caster's life force becoming the Mythal itself while imbuing the ward with one major and one minor power.
Until it losses it's first power the Mythal works perfectly, it cannot be corrupted, harmed or destroyed in any way short of a divine Wish or the powers of an artifact such as the Gate Keepers Crystal. Once it loses its first power it begins to deteriorate its powers capable of being corrupted and it will begin to warp plant life in its area of effect unless it is renewed, by another casting of this spell. In addition to any major and minor powers possessed by the Mythal a Mythal is a "place of power" in which all High Magic can be worked without fear of backlash or any other detrimental effect. This power of the Mythal cannot be corrupted and lasts until the wards collapse regardless of any other changes in the Mythal.