Copyright © 2002-2017 by Dustin Jon Scott
[Last Update: Decemberrd, 2017]
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 XIV: Mirthmoor
¶I. Now Willow, the Beta Dryad and Shaman of the eldest tribe of Wood Nymphs, had led Faith, Serenity, Liberty, and Fervidness out of the denser woods and to the boundary of a hilly pasture. In every direction there were mountains reaching high above the morning brume that befogged the surrounding Elderwood, and ahead was one mountain greater than all the rest. And the pasture looked as a dark chasm had riven it, with a stone arch that linked its nighest to forthest half.
¶II. And as Willow, Faith, Serenity, Fervidness, Brook, and Liberty ventured ever nearer the stone bridge they heard laughter amidst the cloudy veil around them.
¶III. Forthwith from the fogs there came eight Aulonyads, skipping and frolicking and leaping about as they laughed and played. So rapt were the Field Nymphs in one another that they hadn’t even noticed the three Wood Nymphs, the Stream Nymph, and the Torch Nymph.
¶IV. Fervidness raised the end of her torch to her mouth and hotly outbreathed upon it, causing its tip to ember, and then to burn once more.
¶V. Seeing the sudden flare of fire, the Aulonyads instantly halted and warily yet half-smiling walked toward the other Nymphs. The Aulonyads were somewhat smaller than the other Nymphs, and their skin was opaline, their hair waxen, and their large eyes a pale gold.
¶VI. Brook and Willow introduced the Aulonyads to the other Nymphs, and the Field Nymphs’ names were Meadow, Lea, Vale, Dell, Ravine, Glen, Valley, and Dale.
¶VII. “What hath brought you Nymphs here?” asked Meadow.
¶VIII. “We are on our way to Mount Ævalwark,” said Willow.
¶IX. “I’m sorry,” said Meadow, “but ye mustn’t go near the bridge or attempt to leap the chasm, for within the chasm there resideth a Trull.”
¶X. “A Trull?” said Brook. “In Mirthmoor?”
¶XI. “Ay,” said Ravine, “a Trull.”
¶XII. “I say we kill it,” said Fervidness.
¶XIII. “Fervidness, hast thou ever seen a Trull before?” asked Meadow.
¶XIV. “No, but surely it is no worse than an Under Orc.”
¶XV. “A Trull,” said Valley, “is the largest of all the land Orcs. ‘Tis also called a Giant Orc. We could not possibly hope to vanquish such a monster.”
¶XVI. “But we must reach Mount Ævalwark!” said Serenity, her eyes welling with tears.
¶XVII. “Thou shalt worry not,” said Fervidness, “we shall kill the Trull, and these Field Nymphs will aid us.”
¶XVIII. “Pardon me?” said Meadow.
¶XIX. “Art thou deaf? Ye will help us slay the beast.”
¶XX. “And if we do not?”
¶XXI. “Then,” said Liberty, “ye will be terrorized relentlessly. Ye must defend yourselves, or ye shall lose your freedom.”
¶XXII. Meadow thought for a moment. “Fine, but at least we will wait till the Sun is at His highest, when the Trull moveth most slowly.”
¶XXIII. “Trulls move more slowly when the Sun is high?” asked Faith.
¶XXIV. “Under the light of the Sun,” said Glen, “they are practically as stone.”
¶XXV. “Then at midday shall we lure the Trull from his den,” said Fervidness, who then smiled the brightest and most joyous of smiles, “and destroy him utterly.”
¶XXVI. And so the Nymphs spent the rest of the morning amongst the bracken at the Elderwood’s edge. Serenity browsed for cherries (for her caul had been grown in a cherry tree), as she had grown weary without them. So too did Faith pluck her own life-fruit of the grape vines. And Liberty ate of the Elderwood’s plums as Fervidness picked toadstools, whilst Willow took of the nectarines. The Aulonyads merely wrestled playfully and tittered amidst the tall, bedewed grasses of Mirthmoor.
¶XXVII. As the morning waned and the Sun neared His greatest height the Nymphs prepared to battle the Giant Orc. Serenity, Faith, and Willow had braided vines together into whips. Liberty and Brook had each fashioned a flail of a branch, many lengths of vine, and a large stone. Meadow, Lea, Dale, and Ravine had constructed simple and lightweight bludgeons out of small logs with bramble vines twined around their ends, while Valley, Dell, Glen, and Vale had braided two lengthy ropes from the bramble vines. And Fervidness had her torch.
¶XXVIII. Midday came round, and the fog had burned away, and the Sun shone brightly upon the stone bridge. And the Nymphs marched ever toward it, ever fearing for their lives and ever thirsting for their enemy’s death with parched and knotted throats; and they trembled.
¶XXIX. They came unto that segue of hoary stones, broad and surfaced smoothly, with its pair of posts at either end, and stood there for what seemed a great length. The Aulonyads forced their eyes from clenching shut in the fear they felt so far within them, and the other Nymphs assayed to tame their unsteady breaths, and all’s hearts shook within their breasts.
¶XXX. And the Nymphs began to sing.
¶XXXI. And a great hand slowly reached at the heavens from the chasm’s deeps. Its sickle-clawed fingers were spread from one another, and bent so wickedly it was if the hand of Orcus Himself had been loosed from Hell’s blackest fires, from the very belly of Gaia to pluck the Sun from His place in the skies above. And the Nymphs ceased their song of lure.
¶XXXII. The hand then came down against them, and the Nymphs ran back, and stopped as it sunk its talons into the earth.
¶XXXIII. Then another clawed hand upstretched from the darks below, and slowly it too came adown and dug its hellish paw into Mirthmoor’s ground, and the beast had thus begun to raise itself upon the land.
¶XXXIV. As it clomb the Nymphs could see the Trull’s face; its blood-red eyes under shade of heavy brow, fore-faced and set at furthest ends of broad face; its nose flat with flaring nostrils almost upon its brow; its apish maw with its dire tusks; its slender and pointed ears.
¶XXXV. And with its long and brawny arms the beast pulled itself forth from the chasm, and languidly it clambered upon Mirthmoor from its dank dwelling below.
¶XXXVI. The Trull then reared upon its hindlegs, and the Nymphs were in awe of the creature’s prowess. The monster was muscled with great bulk, yet was fat-bellied. Its wet skin glistened in the sunlight as if covered in slime. Its hide was a yellowish, sickly pitch-grey gleaming greenly in the light of day. Its arms were long, and its fingers dangled at the ankles of its squat, bowed legs. Its height was no lesser of twenty cubits with shoulders at least ten cubits wide, and its swarthy form was clad only in a bearskin clout. Claws ended its every finger and toe, and its tail, if it had one at all, must’ve been no more than a stump.
¶XXXVII. Under the Sun’s harsh rays the beast feebly raised its massive arms high above its head, and with face turned skyward it let from its bellows a roar that seemed to quake Mirthmoor and the surrounding Elderwood. And birds fled from the trees.
¶XXXVIII. The Giant Orc let its arms hang once more at its sides, and with its hulking neck lowered its head again to glower at they that dared disturb it. The thing then horribly smiled, and sanguis dripped from its red-sodden lips as it bore its bloodstained teeth at them. And from its nether lip there fell a hand and piece of dainty arm, which yestern had been a Field Nymph’s.
¶XXXIX. Slowly then did the Trull lurch at them who in fright began to back away. With each step it took at them its feet sank deeply into the mud below it, and its gnarled fingers swept through Mirthmoor’s grasses as its arms heavily swung.
¶XL. Fervidness then ran past the Trull, with Serenity, Faith, Willow, Ravine, Lea, Dale, and Meadow following closely behind her. But the Trull did not let its attention from the Nymphs still before it.
¶XLI. Dale, Meadow, Ravine, and Lea ran hastily across the bridge, as Faith, Serenity, and Willow lashed at the Trull’s calves with their whips. And the Giant Orc turned then very slowly to face them, and with ire it glared as it trudged at the three Dryads, hungrily growling.
¶XLII. The Dryads lured the beast in this manner onto the bridge, as Glen, Vale, Dell, and Valley tailed the monster, each carrying an end of either of their two long ropes.
¶XLIII. Cracking their whips at the beast, Faith, Serenity, and Willow brought it to the other side of the bridge. The Giant Orc then halted, and once more lifted its arms into the air and let out a thunderous roar. As it did, Dell held one end of her rope at the monster’s left side as Glen ran the other end behind the creature, tween it’s legs, and then afore its right. Glen and Valley then worked quickly to tie both ropes together, as Vale took her end of the second rope and wove it tween the monster’s legs just as had Glen, and with Dell tied both ropes together at their opposite ends.
¶XLIV. The Trull looked adown, and grew greatly enraged by what the four Field Nymphs had done. The beast tried to grab at the Nymphs, but under the Sun’s light was far too slow, as the Aulonyads scurried swiftly away.
¶XLV. As the ropes had been wrapped about the Giant Orc’s legs, so had Willow, Serenity, and Faith run to join Meadow, Ravine, Dale, and Lea behind Fervidness. And as the Aulonyads fled from the monster’s attempt to grab at them, so did Fervidness lightly blow upon the end of her torch, and from it burst a spate of fire that rushed against the Trull with all the force of Nature’s fury.
¶XLVI. But the Orc’s slithery, hairless skin was harmed not by the flame, nor was its clout more than slightly singed. Still did the Trull start to stumble back, and with wisps of steam wafting off the sizzling slime that swathed it did the Trull tumble back, and fell against the bridge with a crack that shook the moor and toppled trees at the Elderwood’s outest rack.
¶XLVII. And by the Trull’s weight was the now-sundered bridge thrung partly back. And by its own weight the beast lay battered, and began to rouse itself to rise again the Nymphs from the riven stone, but its body could not abide its will. And so the Trull lay almost limp, in slowness stirring there upon the hoary bridge.
¶XLVIII. That moment Brook and Liberty came quickly up abaft the beast, flails in hand.
¶XLIX. With her flail Liberty struck at the Trull’s right eye, and was swashed with blood as the monster howled out in pain. And Brook took up her own flail and bashed at the beast’s left eye, and she too was bespattered in blood.
¶L. Then with a jolt the bridge asudden sank slightly adown, and Brook and Liberty jumped back of it onto the muddy earth of Mirthmoor.
¶LI. The Trull reached its hands to its face as it writhed about the stone archway, and away the bridge cracked and crumbled beneath it, and with each shift of the beast’s weight the bridge fell evermore upon itself.
¶LII. Not yet an instant thereafter the bridge at last gave way, and the Trull screamed shrilly as with slabs of stone it plummeted swiftly into the pit below. And up from the depths of the chasm’s deeps echoed the Trull’s ghastly shrieks with the companied crashing of the bridge clods that with it fell, fore the beast fell so far its voice could be heard no more.
¶LIII. And the Aulonyads rejoiced, as Liberty and Brook ran and easily leaped the chasm’s cubit-score width to join the other Nymphs.
¶LIV. Serenity, Liberty, Willow, Fervidness, Brook, and Faith did not rejoice, however, but only panted in their tire, with their hands resting upon their knees.
¶LV. “Ye mustn’t leave us,” said Meadow. “Please, ye must stay and defend us from future terror. We will obey your every wish. Ye may call Mirthmoor your own, and we will gladly pay you offerings in return for living upon your land, and in return for your protection.”
¶LVI. “I must reach the Star Nymphs of Mount Ævalwark,” said Serenity.
¶LVII. “And I must accompany her there,” said Faith, “for I am her Alpha Dryad.”
¶LVIII. “And Daphne herself hath charged me with showing them the way,” said Willow.
¶LIX. “And I am charged with seeing them safely returned as far as Shroomseid,” said Fervidness.
¶LX. “And I shall see them returned as far as they will be safely past the Somberwood,” said Liberty.
¶LXI. “And I was only supposed to show the others the way to Daphne’s tribe, but now go with them to Mount Ævalwark to aid in whatever wise I’m able,” said Brook.
¶LXII. “But we require your protection from terror!” said Ravine.
¶LXIII. “Ye must protect yourselves,” said Faith, “not depend on us to defend you.”
¶LXIV. “We cannot govern you,” added Liberty, “for the government of others’ lives is the greatest of all evils. Greater than any Orc’s terror.”
¶LXV. “And if we should die?” said Meadow.
¶LXVI. “Then ye should die free,” said Liberty.
¶LXVII. “Meadow,” said Fervidness, “thou art the Alpha Nymph of thy tribe. It is thine own duty to see that thy Aulonyads can care for themselves.”
¶LXVIII. “But do not govern them,” said Liberty. “Thy authority over them must be limited to the authority of a mistress over her apprentice. Thou should teach them to defend themselves. Learn from this morrow, and strengthen thy tribe to need not the defense of rulers and lawgivers.”
¶LXIX. “I will,” said Meadow. “At least, though, allow us to repay you for the help you’ve given us this morrow.”
¶LXX. “If ye truly wish to repay us,” said Serenity, “then ye could accompany us on our journey.”
¶LXXI. “Methinketh,” said Meadow, “that we ought to stay and hone our defenses, as Liberty hath said. Though I do very much wish to repay ye for what ye’ve done for us.”
¶LXXII. “Could I go?” asked Lea.
¶LXXIII. “Alone?” said Meadow.
¶LXXIV. “At least one of us should, and I would enjoy the adventure.”
¶LXXV. Meadow smiled. “Alright.” She then turned to Serenity, Faith, Willow, Liberty, Brook, and Fervidness. “Lea will go with you on your journey.”
¶LXXVI. “Alright,” said Faith, smiling at Lea.
¶LXXVII. And so Lea said farewell to her sisters, embracing each of them and giving each of them a passionate farewell kiss.
¶LXXVIII. Dell, Vale, and Glen then gave their bludgeons to Faith, Serenity, and Willow, as Lea took up her own bludgeon. And Liberty and Brook gathered their flails, and Fervidness had her torch in hand. And all with their weapons departed then from the Aulonyad tribe, and they trudged through the tall and dewy grasses of Mirthmoor as they ventured forth unto Mount Ævalwark.