Chapter II: Nepenthean Eve
One sennight did the woodland age
since Serenity’s sorrow incited;
since Faith, the Dryads’ trusted sage,
her sister to Esbat invited.
And Serenity waited night after night
as the full Moon’s eve had near’d,
and gathered her hopes upon the rite
as she readied to meet her wyrd.
Copyright � 2002-2017 by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: Decemberrd, 2017]
§αII�I. Swithly upon that hinterland skirting the frontiers of Elphame in which both the timeless lands and ceaseless worlds of Fairy and this Middle-earth crosshatch, sprawling from the illecebrous, bosk-gyven hamlets and boskets cresting the thicket-clad downs, gilded meadows and wooded heaths webbed by stilly meanders veining the moors east of the [[mountain valley]] mysty kells and ponds shaded under ferny scarps deflowed by the trickling waterfalls of inditing tarns cradled neath the vasty indomite trusses of bows that held the indescating viridity of southern Elphame aloft its virgin gledeworks climbing northward about the arboreal Elftons of Transylvany unto the roots of the craggy and riparian mountainous terrain straddled by lustrous Elphame with its BLANK castles, bridges, and both open walkways, BLANKS (crenellated rails), cols, and vaulted gimmels of arcades slithering horizontally along the hillsides bordered by perrons and vaulted stairways ascending and descending the floral scarps littered with fountains, waterfalls, and aqueducts that lay a testament to the Inner Seely Courts and betrayed their various histories in these leys since the founding of those halidom Fairmarges wherein the Emerald Forest rooted at Fairmark Brake (((adverb))) lay was the full Moon quarter come, and ever those first starry three eves that did darksome lay afore that holiest of moonlit sennights as ever Her fullness nearer the Moon Queen waxed were rested Serenity�s thoughts always upon her burdensome plight. For as evermore nigh drew the night of the full Moon�s peak, so too had evermore deeply raught the abysm Serenity so coldly aching within her felt into the miserly hollow of her woebegone soul, till finally, whenas nigh Her height in that quarter�s fourth night sailed the Moon Goddess her barque aloft pale mysts of the clouded welkin sea, stole Serenity, Harmony, and Faith together away unto a dark corner of that very wood and therein those recessed shades of the seasonless Emerald Forest�s depths spied they a small and myrky pool by which Faith could work her seid, and quickened they thereunto in the dark blue light of the moonlit night.
§αII�II. There under the silvern light of the Moon Goddess , Faith browsed the nearby bushes and trees, her shaman-staff in hand, gathering many a fruit and herb.
§αII�III. There under the silvern light of the Moon Goddess , Faith browsed the nearby bushes and trees, her shaman-staff in hand, gathering many a fruit and herb. And ever the while the Rhapsodess Harmony piped away on her crude reed flute, playing along to the chanting Faith sung as she quietly canted her shaman-song:
§αII�IV. As Faith rowned her heart upborne was come upon waft of moonlit air, and from the depths of her breast these lyrics she sang her shamanic song as if by the eldest of eldritch wights had ever it been sung, and accompanied by the stirring weep of Harmony�s crude reed flute her whispered words sailed softly aloft breaths of such deft and topless feat, that nary the finest mortal voice could ever hope compare -- and would do naught but in their beauty pale. And thus were riven the night�s mysts by the refulgence of the Rhapsodist�s play, and the wake of them filled with a magique by the very soul of Faith inspired.
§αII�V. And �cross her chest wore Faith a strap sewn of braided hemp, whence a hemp purse at her dexter hip hung. And ever the while as she sang dropped Faith into the purse each new fitting herb she�d found from among the ever-new foliage of that forest seasonless and seidful : apple blows and cherry fruits, strawberries and redcurrants, petals of rose and rose-hip, trefoils and blossoms of clover, red berries of elder and bramble and rowan, young seed pods of red poppy , and a single grenade tree�s pome .
§αII�VI. In the warmth of the dark blue night stood Serenity, listing unto her sisters� whispered song as the evermore quietly reverbing rune grew muffled by the rustling maple leaves that nightly gilded shone, as fireflies flitted about the eventide wyld to a quiring of crickets and toads. Faith used her long shaman-staff with its manate crook to aid her. Yet stilled not could Serenity be; her throat knotted and heart quaked, kneeving hard against her quivery breast as her shoulders slightly trembled, for never before had she to the work of a shaman�s Craft been subject, nor to a rite�s first spelling witness, and kenned not precisely enough for her liking of what doom would soon betide her.
§αII�VII. Erelong and returned the Dryad Ladies twain unto the pool whereat its eastward end stood Faith opposite Serenity, as in silence stayed Harmony just behind her. And into the purse that at her right hip hung raught Faith, and upon the moonlit water cast a handful of her herbs. And as the herbs fell upon the pool the water�s subtle motion obscured the white moonglade, and by the full Moon�s brightness cast upon the dark and unstill pool were the Dryads bathed in dancing veins of brightly sallow moonlight
§αII�VIII. holding affirm the treen shaft in her right hand, carved of alder propertied with the crisply edged white of flagstone reminiscing great fin glaciers marred with the black of unfathomably deep crevices in the ice, or of marble nigh opalescent in its alban luster and veined sable in the sparkling feature of charcoal, clad in the motley greens of the ivies and mosses growing upon its isen-marbled, ivorine ruel-wood shaft with clusters of white, red, and blue grapes, black and red currants, ___, ___, and many an other varied sort of vine fruit draped like strewn pearls from the unciform crook of the staff, all about the (entwined braiding???] of vines bound fast / ferruled unto the ruel-wood shaft by metallic black rings/ferrules wrought of bloodstone by the Clovenbeard Clan of the Reddwarrows, uplifting it by the swart leathern-girt handle carved of the treen rod, raised Faith her staff above her, with her face then skyward-turned, and with her eyen shut she rowned: �Hail to the Sylves of the Air! Watchers of the Eastern Gate! Powers of Moisture and Heat And of the Sacred Circle�s fate; Unto thy Watchtower I thee call To keep this Circle�s verge, From all malice protect it, And from it, all evil purge!
§αII�IX. As Faith spake these words crept a breeze through all the nearby wood and be�tween the trees around them, and all about the leaves and branches swayed in the night air�s currents. Faith�s whispers were carried throughout the shades on back of the eve�s idyllic winds, as the toads and crickets ceased their song, for those prayers whispered purged the darks themselves of all the wyld about them, and rebellowed quietly everywhere, inspiring the eventide ether. And a few steps �round the Moon-sprent pool went Faith deosil unto its southward end. And there cast Faith over the unstill water another handful of her herbs, and turned her face unto the sky above as with her staff held high she closed her eyen and rowned: �Hail Djinn of the Salamanders! Watcher of the Southern Gate! Powers of Heat and Drouth And of the Sacred Circle�s fate; Unto thy Watchtower I thee call To keep this Circle�s verge, From all malice protect it, And from it, all evil purge!
§αII�X. As these words spake Faith the clouds above the southern Silvern Hills, hid partly by the treetops, lit up in violent fulgor, as from �yond the distant mountain = earthquake, Levin = fire And the sky above them darkled as in the distance came rain-fraught clouds rolling slowly over. Then deosil went Faith �round whither stood Serenity, and there at the pool�s westward end she cast another handful of her herbs upon the water, and with her eyen closed and face up-vised she held high her staff and rowned: �Hail Nixsa of the Ondines! Watcher of the Western Gate! Powers of Moisture and Rime And of the Sacred Circle�s fate; Unto thy Watchtower I thee call To keep this Circle�s verge, From all malice protect it, And from it, all evil purge!
§αII�XI. As a myst began to fill again that dark corner of the wood, and a soft and tepid rain alit lightly adown on them. And Faith walked deosil �round unto the circle�s northward end, whereat she stood and cast her herbs upon the hissing water. And unto the sky she faced with eyen held closed as the heavy dew deflowed her pate; and with her staff held high above her she began again to rowned: �Hail Ghob of the Gnomes! Watcher of the Northern Gate! Powers of Drouth and Rime And of the Sacred Circle�s fate; Unto thy Watchtower I thee call To keep this Circle�s verge, From all malice protect it, And from it, all evil purge!
§αII�XII. As Under the Dryads� feet the earth began to slowly warm with a gentle, silent hum. And smiling to each of her sistren, Faith stepped deosil back unto the circle�s eastward end, ere she kirked once more her lidded eyen up to the darkling sky, and held high again her staff above as she began once more to rowned: �Hail Ghob of the Gnomes! Watcher of the Inner Gate! Powers of Ether and Light And of the Sacred Circle�s fate; Unto thy Watchtower I thee call To keep this Circle�s verge, From all malice protect it, And from it, all evil purge!
§αII�XIII. A sudden and the rains had ceased and the earth and air were calmed. And the last remaining thunders from the clouds above waned away into nihility, as the clouds themselves receded, and with them took the rain. And all within that corner of the Emerald Forest was silent and still, save for those enduring whispers of Faith�s reverbing rune above the quiet hum of the fireflies flying abound. Thus was laved all the woodland near in unseen magics descending from the Moon and stars and sky above, and uprising also from the earth below; and thus also were the Dryads warmly rapt in those viewless ethers unto them becked by sacred hest of Faith. Eft a few moments� silence, Faith glanced and smiled at her sistren twain, and raised up again her staff, and with her eyen wide open looked up unto the sky and galed: �In the name of the Light-bearer , Apollo , of the All-seeing Eye; in the name of the Great Mother, Diana , of the midnight sky; and in the name of Their proud Daughter, Aradia , Traveler on High ; that properly cast be this Circle, do now proclaim I!�
§αII�XIV. And as Faith outcried these last few words they rebellowed throughout the nighted wood and faded slowly away, taking with them unto silent end the evermore quietly reverbing runes that had preceded from her. And all in that corner of the forestland was yet quieter than it ere had been that eve, for naught but the gentle hum of the fireflies in flight could be in that moment heard in all the nearby wood, and nobbut those swarming creatures seemed to in that moment move. Thus remained though only briefly, and eft a mere moment more the crickets and toads resumed their quire as all the wood returned to life. Faith then laid her staff and sachet on the ground aside her feet, and lowered herself adown into the myrky pool wherein its limous dreg she sat with her legs folded each into its other. Whenas comfortable there stretched Faith out her arm to offer