A description of what happens as the Hermits begin to encounter their magical potential. Third draft version.
It would be hard to describe the mood of the Elves. There are no human equivalents for the emotional layers of practicality and whimsy, deep brooding concern and lightness of heart, that were streaming through the Fey Folk. But what they projected was the practicality of experienced field operatives, though in a slightly exaggerated manner that made one wonder how seriously they took themselves or the tasks at hand. Was it all but a play? The humans were more apprehensive (except for Aarrf, who was wholly engaged with miracles of smell, sight and sound).
One grows up reading faery tales and adventure fantasies, and discovers tricksy imps and wicked queens, handsome woodcutters, imperiled princesses, recalcitrant villagers, impossible tasks, the youngest of three sons, and help from unlikely quarters. Or perhaps there are wizards (both good and bad) and goblins and haughty Elves, magic swords and magic rings. There are witches and ghosts and cats who can speak…severed hands that hold candles in the long dark hallways through which you must pass…(And pass you will.) And the end will be happy enough for some, and the old barrel studded with knives will be the fate for the cruelest of sisters or the greediest of kings, tossed over a cliff, with cries of despair diminishing as the barrel and its contents shatter on the cliffs below. One reads such things and they live in our dreams, but no one after a certain age expects to really meet magic. Not really. And certainly not during a peri-menopausal hot flash, or in the midst of a midlife crisis, or while filing paperwork for a bitterly contested divorce. Not when your bones are beginning to creak, your knees are starting to give, and your skin sags under your jaw. The appearance of magic will disappoint you then, because you won’t be young and beautiful, or young and hopeful (which is much the same thing). You will have forgotten what it was to be foolishly brave and youthfully impervious to harm now that you are called upon to do the hardest work of your life, with your soul in peril, as everything you cherish is brushed by danger, while evil leers and grins through every window and door. You will have forgotten what it was to believe in magic.
All this on the back gravel roads of Puna.
Third draft version. Copyright A. Marsh 2018.