Copyright © 2002-2017 by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: Decemberrd, 2002]
Like most Palaeoboreanic epics, The Book of Rowans follows a fairly typical Palaeoboreanic narrative structure, containing an antegesis (pre-story), imegesis (in-story), diegesis (through-story), and exegesis (out-story).
Episode XIII: The Elderwood
¶I. On the third day the Nymphs clomb out of the tunnel, leaving the underground behind them, and ascended into the green woods of the upper world.
¶II. The Sun Himself had just begun to rise, and all around were dew-laden leaves that in rays of sunlit morning fog were glittered. All about were dampened stems and barks, silvery-edged by golden sunlight, and alive with beetles, moths, and all the rest of Nature’s tiny folk as they scurried up and adown the trees’ trunks.
¶III. Everywhere under the canopy the forest seemed crisp and pure, with not one dead limb or withered leaf. Everywhere the thrushes warbled, chipmunks yipped, toads croaked, and Crows cawed. Everywhere did Nature sing.
¶IV. The Nymphs listened, and breathed in the brisk morning breeze as the Dryads basked in the Elderwood’s virgin luster. And then amid the forest’s song the Nymphs faintly heard a streamlet’s purl, and were drawn to it, for they had grown thirsty.
¶V. Through the bushes they passed, the Dryads gamboling as Fervidness paced cautiously through the wood with her torch. And after a mere moment they came unto a bourn.
¶VI. At the shaded stream’s banks sat six Nixies, and three Nixies were there also in the bourn itself. In the sparkling, sun-sprinkled stream the three Nixies playfully splashed at one another, waist-deep in the thrilling waters as excitedly they shrieked. And the other six Nixies lay three to each bank, and laughed at their sisters’ merriment under the bright sunbeams that by the canopy’s shadow spersed.
¶VII. When Fervidness had caught up with the Dryads, having been careful not to set the forest afire with her torch, she, Serenity, Faith, and Liberty went unto the nine Stream Nymphs, and Faith hailed unto them.
¶VIII. And the Nixies warmly greeted the other Nymphs, and introduced themselves; and their names were Rille, Brook, Race, River, Linn, Flux, Beck, Sike, and Ghyll. And so Faith, Serenity, Liberty, and Fervidness introduced themselves as well.
¶IX. “We are looking for the tribe of Daphne,” said Faith. “Could ye offer unto us any aid? It would greatly be appreciated.”
¶X. “Of course,” replied Rille. “Brook shall fain show you there.”
¶XI. And so Brook clomb out of the waters and came to Serenity, Faith, Liberty, and Fervidness, and said, smiling warmly unto them: “Follow me.” And to this they agreed, and began to follow Brook as she strolled off into the denser wood.
¶XII. Brook stopped, and turned to the Torch Nymph. “Thou wilt have to extinguish thy flame,” she said. “There must be no fire lit within this blessed Elderwood.”
¶XIII. Smothering the flame with her hand, Fervidness then followed the other Nymphs as they departed to find Daphne’s tribe.
¶XIV. “Why art thou seeking Daphne?” enquired Brook.
¶XV. “Serenity hath become forlorn,” said Faith, “and discontent in the way of Nymphs. I have offered to take her to Daphne, whom I am sure wilt make her more content.”
¶XVI. “Serenity, wherefore art thou forlorn?” asked Brook.
¶XVII. “I wish to have a mate and children,” answered Serenity.
¶XVIII. This greatly disturbed Brook, for this was not the way of Nymphs. And so Brook said unto Serenity: “But is not your Alpha Dryad the mate of all your tribe? Canst thou not lie with her, and cause her to bear for thy tribe a caul? And doth this caul not grow into a Nymphet?”
¶XIX. “It isn’t the same,” said Serenity. “Our ancestors, the Elves, had real children. I’ve heard the stories, and I have seen many Elves. They are not nearly grown, as Nymphets are, when they are borne. The Elves have infant children that they rear from small pups until the age of a newly borne Nymphet. To do this they pair with one another, male and female, and love each other in ways no Nymph can ever know.”
¶XX. “And thou wishest to know this love, and to bear these pups?”
¶XXI. “With all that be within me,” said Serenity, “for neither spellcraft nor elixir could cure my sadness -- not after I had fallen in love with a mortal, and was given a small taste of this love. I must be with him.”
¶XXII. Brook smiled at Serenity. “I hope and give thee my luck that Daphne hath the ability to help thee.”
¶XXIII. “As I,” said Serenity, “but I thank thee anyway.”
¶XXIV. The Nymphs continued for many minutes through the morn-damped bush, their skin wetted by besprinkled leaves as through the bright and fog-filled forest they strode, till after only a short time they came unto a misty glade wherein were twelve shadows.
¶XXV. And the shadows came forth from the mists, and revealed themselves as Dryads, whose names were Willow, Holly, Maple, Lily, Veronica, Ivy, Daisy, Laurel, Ginger, Cassia, Jasmine, and Violet. And this was the eldest of Dryad tribes.
¶XXVI. And Brook introduced Serenity, Faith, Liberty, and Fervidness to the eldest tribe. “They wish to speak with Daphne,” said Brook.
¶XXVII. “Concerning what, precisely?” asked Veronica.
¶XXVIII. “Serenity hath grown forlorn,” said Faith, “and discontent in the way of Nymphs.”
¶XXIX. The eldest tribe was greatly surprised by this, and so Jasmine, confused, asked: “How?”
¶XXX. “I wish to mate myself to a man, and to have real children,” answered Serenity. “I wish to live as our ancestors once did.”
¶XXXI. “That is not the way of Nymphs,” a voice from the mists declared.
¶XXXII. And there was another shadow, walking slowly toward them from behind the white veil. When emerged from the fog, the shadow could clearly be seen as a Dryad; a Dryad more beautiful and radiant than Faith, Serenity, Liberty, or Fervidness had ever seen. The whole of her being seemed to shine as moonlight, her mane was as threads of gold glinted white as the glare upon a silver stream, and the sparkling of her blue eyes were as the brightest stars. And upon her head she wore a crown of ivy flowering white.
¶XXXIII. “Lo,” said she, “for I am Daphne, Queen of the Dryads and daughter of Zeus. I shall hear thee, and consider thy plight, and offer what help I may.”
¶XXXIV. Serenity explained to Daphne how she felt, and about her affairs with the Darkelf, and how she longed so desperately for him whom she feared she could never have.
¶XXXV. Daphne thought; for many moments she thought, for she knew not of such desires.
¶XXXVI. “Willow shall take thee to Mount Ævalwark to see the Star Nymphs, who will make thee more content.” And to this, with a nod of her head, Willow agreed.