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 XVIII: Oakhaven
¶I. When out of the tunnel’s egress the Nymphs emerged, they were greeted there by twelve Oryads, each tan-skinned and roan-haired with brownest eyes, who helped them from the hole and into the garden.
¶II. This place wherein they now stood was bound on all sides a bluff of crude iron. Around them everywhere were towering oaks and evergreens with bark faintly cast in red by the fire that behind the Oryads brightly burned, not ten cubits away. In the shades was a sparse underbrush of shrubs and small trees. And draped from the evergreen limbs were curtains of greybeard, laden by the whilom storm and brighten by sallow starlight.
¶III. Serenity tossed her bludgeon onto the ground before her, adjacent a pile of staves, and Faith threw down her bludgeon as well, and Liberty her flail, and Lea her own bludgeon, and Willow hers. Fervidness douted the flame of her torch with her hand, and she too tossed her weapon onto the pile. Willow, Faith, and Serenity then removed the coiled whips from their shoulders and tossed them also onto the heap.
¶IV. “Who are these Nymphs?” asked one of the Oryads.
¶V. “They have come seeking us,” replied Sapphire. She then introduced the Oryads to the other Nymphs, and their names were Amber, Jade, Carnelian, Onyx, Amethyst, Catseye, Silver, Ruby, Violan, Emerald, Matara, and Crystal. And then in return the other Nymphs introduced themselves to the Oryads.
¶VI. “Welcome to Oakhaven,” said Amber, their tribe’s Alpha Oryad. “Whereto do we owe the pleasure of your presence? Why is it that ye have sought us?”
¶VII. Faith stepped forward, and explained Serenity’s sorrow to Amber. She explained of her taking Serenity to seek the aid of Daphne, and of meeting Liberty and Fervidness along the way, and their encounters with the Maenads. She explained of Daphne’s charge that Willow lead them unto the Star Nymphs of Mount Ævalwark, of defending the Aulonyads from the Trull, of the Oracles’ bid to seek out the Oryads and be led by them to the Oracle Duir of the Oak. And she explained of Brook and her death at the jaws of the Drolls.
¶VIII. Amber looked to Serenity, and said unto her: “Thou wishest to take this Darkelf as a mate, and to have by him children?”
¶IX. “Yes,” said Serenity, “I wish it more than anything.”
¶X. “That is not the way of Nymphs,” said Carnelian, bearing upon her face a look of deep confusion.
¶XI. “It is the way of Nymphs to always be free,” said Serenity. “I desire the freedom to live as our Elven ancestors did: to take for myself a mate, a man -- to be with him and bare by him a an infant child.”
¶XII. “To live as our Elven ancestors did is not freedom,” said Matara. “Even here upon the mountain Ævalwark we learn of some goings on amongst the mortal Færykin. There are many Elven women that would wish nothing more than to have the freedom we Nymphs have -- to be not forced to submit to a single man, or to be able to have only other women as mates.”
¶XIII. “I simply wish not to be bound by the way of Nymphs. For although it is surely a proud and noble way, it still was not my choice. And if it was not my choice, than it is not freedom.”
¶XIV. “What would thou say unto all those Elven women that desire to be liberated from their men,” asked Crystal, “and would accuse thee of harming their cause?”
¶XV. Serenity thought for a moment. She thought of the Dryads of the Somberwood, and how they thought themselves to have been given freedom by the Maenads. She thought of the Dryads of Liss-Heim and the Lampads of Shroomseid, and how they thought themselves to have taken their freedom by stealing away into the shadows. She thought of these things she’d seen and pondered in those past three days, and so said unto Crystal:
¶XVI. “I would say unto those women, that liberation comes not from the form of the choice thou makest, nor the choice thrust upon thee or given unto thee by another. Liberation comes from choosing for thyself, for freedom cannot be granted or bestowed. One cannot be free if the nature of thy freedom hath been dictated by another. I would say unto those women that by declaring all women live as they demand, by defining and dictating what all women must do in order to be ‘liberated’, they are no better than the men they feel submitted to -- for they seek to strip their sisters of the very thing that would give us all the freedom we entreat: the right to live according to our own hearts.”
¶XVII. “How is it thou canst disavow the way of Nymphs whilst defending thine own freedom to pursue of all creatures a Darkelf?” said Emerald.
¶XVIII. “He is a good Darkelf,” replied Serenity. “Withal, true freedom must include the freedom to err, and to learn from thine errors.”
¶XIX. “Verily thou hast a wisdom that stretcheth far beyond the Emerald Forest,” said Amethyst.
¶XX. “Ye must be weary from your journey,” said Amber. “Join us by the fireside, and allow us till morningtide to pamper your every want.”
¶XXI. Sapphire and Amethyst each took one of Serenity’s hands, as Carnelian and Violan took Faith’s. Emerald and Jade took Willow’s hands, Silver and Crystal took Liberty’s, and Catseye and Onyx took Lea’s, whilst Matara and Ruby took Fervidness’s hands. And with Amber they went to the fireside, and by the heat of the flames they sat.
¶XXII. There in the fire’s warmth the Oryads coddled the other Nymphs, feeding them dewberries, acorns, blackberries, currants, and rowanberries. The Oryads played with the other Nymphs’ hair, and stroked for them their necks, shoulders, backs, breasts, midriffs, thighs, rumps, calves, and feet. And at times an Oryad would sweetly, softly sing a song unto one of the other Nymphs to quietly soothe her. And all were thankful for this, as they had not been subject to such comfort for a time far exceeding that to which most Nymphs were accustomed.
¶XXIII. Serenity lay there by the reddling glow of the fire, on her back atop Sapphire, with Sapphire’s legs wreathed around Serenity’s waist and her feet between Serenity’s legs. And Serenity lay there, eating the currants that Sapphire dropped into her mouth as her head contently rested in Sapphire’s breasts; and she stared grievedly at the stars, troubled terribly by her leisure.
¶XXIV. “I’m sorry about Brook,” said Sapphire, as Amethyst tenderly worked the knots out of Serenity’s tired muscles.
¶XXV. “As well I,” said Serenity.
¶XXVI. “At least she did not die in vain,” said Amethyst.
¶XXVII. “How dost thou mean?”
¶XXVIII. “This quest of thine to find for thyself a way that thou canst be with thy mortal swain. ‘Tis a noble thing thou doest, to seek without relent the freedom to live as thou desirest. Every wight must be free to live as it wisheth, lest our lives be just small and petty things that matter not, spent in the useless wise of mere being.”
¶XXIX. “Far too many people,” said Sapphire, “no matter the race, seem willing to abandon their freedom for safety, or for comfort, or simply to evade the challenges that await in a free world. But this is not the way of Nymphs. It is the way of Nymphs to be free in all things, and it is thy journey to at any cost obtain thy heart’s desire. Any Nymph should be proud to die for such a cause, for the freedom of all Nymphs is upon thy shoulders.”
¶XXX. “I thought my desire was not the ‘way of Nymphs’,” replied Serenity.
¶XXXI. “If the way of Nymphs is not a choice,” said Amethyst, “then it is not a thing of beauty, but a thing to which we are all captive. This life we Nymphs live is a life that I love with all my heart and all my soul, but I had no choice in it. It was laid upon me by birth, by the nature of my flesh. If thou succeedest in thy quest, and receivest what it is thou seekest, then that meaneth the way of Nymphs is not a thing forced upon us, but a thing we have a choice in.”
¶XXXII. “It is thus not merely thine own freedom,” added Sapphire, “but the freedom of all Nymphs that is at stake, for the way of Nymphs should not be as law.”
¶XXXIII. “Thou flatterest, verily.”
¶XXXIV. “Thou truly thinkest so?” said Liberty, who with Silver and Crystal lay very near. And she sat up, and looked to Serenity. “Why dost thou think I am here? And Fervidness, what of her? Why hath Willow been sent to accompany thee? Why did not Brook return to her tribe after leading us to the Tribe of Daphne? Why hath the Oracle said this journey is thy destiny? Be it wittingly or not, what thou doest for thyself, thou doest for all Nymphs.”
¶XXXV. “I’m quite sure,” said Serenity, who closed her eyes then as she rolled her head to the side, and there she fell asleep.