This is an excerpt from a revised draft. Babe Bump is the narrator in this chapter. The mortal Hermits are in a time warp for a weekend of acclerated magical training. This scene involves a vision of an “Arda”–an elemental city of The Realm.
Visions of Ulmaria
The winery celler expanded for our lunch (faery bread and edible flowers, yum!), then magically contracted into separate, more intimate spaces for our faery city sessions. Breadcrumb told us that we (the humans) would each start with our assigned Arda, an elemental “city,” then we’d cycle through each of the others, meeting with the elves assigned to them and consecrating our magical tools at each station.
We, the Ulmarian gang, met before a dark purple door, which opened into a room with a stonelined cistern in the floor. The water smelled fresh and was cool to the touch. Flowers I had never seen before were scattered on the water, also giving off delicate green scents. After a few rituals I’m not allowed to relate, we took turns stirring a figure eight in the water four times, using a thin branch from an ash tree. Then we dipped our small cauldrons and chalices into the water.
“Fill your cauldron, then set it aside. Drink now from your chalices, then close your eyes,” Parsifal advised.
I closed my eyes. It was as if I could feel each molecule of water as it entered my body, leaving its cool taste, yet woven into each molecule were histories of where it had been: icy comets hurtling through space as fast as seventy kilometres per second; shedding ice in our atmosphere; exploding on impact, creating oceans and rivers and lakes over 4.6 billion years of our planet’s lifespan; water entering and leaving the bodies of plants and animals, including our earliest human ancestors; water seeping through stones and pooling in caves; combining with countless substances; bathing the wounds of saints and criminals; bursting from the wombs of women in childbirth; crushing whole cities beneath massive waves; degraded in machinery and mines; cooling nuclear reactors; water shaken from branches of trees to slake the thirst of a desperate child; and finally, a single dewdrop in the center of a green leaf, reflecting my face…
When I opened my eyes again, I saw like a newborn, my vision restored to the glory of first sight, rinsed clean of the grime of self and the past. Fresh, new, now. Even Parsifal, who’d moments ago looked like a sad, old, out-of-work clown (due to his “grounded” glamour) was visible to me as something perhaps closer to his “real self” as he existed in The Realm. Likewise with Archie, Who’s There, and Professor Almond – they were cloaked less in personas designed for mortal consumption and presented with more nuance and less caricature.
I’d wondered before about the existence of latent human senses, and now I felt I had at least a partial answer to that. I felt that my usual physical vision had taken on additional depth, color perception, and frequency expansion. If I was going to try a little science on, I’d say that maybe my retina was transmitting more data, faster, and from a slightly expanded portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
After blinking several times at our Elven guides, Tomma’s first words were, “I have to look at the Wubbies!” As ze opened the box where they were resting, we could all see a sort of rainbow-colored corona surrounding them. It actually extended about five inches in all directions, and shimmered and fluctuated like the swirling colors of a soap bubble.
“Wow!” ze exclaimed, then looked sad, “Will I have to give them all up, in the end?”
“We don’t know the answer to that,” Parsifal said gently. “But let’s move along now, we have much to do.”
The cauldrons were for scrying. My new sight allowed me to could actually see the layers of water in the cauldron, moving and swirling. Perhaps each layer was many millions of molecules thick, but each layer held a story (or probably many stories). It was a much more textured and complex visual experience of water than I’d ever imagined.
Who’s There said, “Let your intuition guide you to the ‘story’ you are meant to see in the water. Don’t worry too much about sorting or analyzing, just soften and open your gaze, and stare into the cauldron. Accept whatever is there as a gift, and thank the water afterwards!”
Nienna was staring back at me. I imagined that I saw some compassion for me in her emerald green eyes. But it was soon replaced by a look of resolve. In the water image, she turned from me to look behind her. There I could see what first looked to be a battle in a city street, but which I then realized was a protest that had become violent. Nienna’s ravens and crows were flying overhead, screeching above armored police officers and bandana masked protestors. A cop yanked a sign from a woman’s hand, “Trans Lives Matter,” then smashed her to the ground with it. In the watery vision, I could see Oyster reaching out for the woman and then going down beneath the clubs.
I pulled my eyes away from the vision with a start. I muttered “thank you” because I’d been told to do it, but I was extremely disturbed by what I’d seen. I was shaking. Briefly I described the protest and the fact that I’d seen Oyster attacked by police.
“It looked like a city on the continent,” I said.
“The waters show many things,” Who’s There said to me, “but not all of them will come true for you.” She paused, then added, “Or for Oyster.”
Copyright Amy R. Marsh, 2017-2019.