I was lying quietly on the bed late that night, unable to sleep because of the thoughts of my mother, not to mention the pain I felt from the excitement of the day. I missed my mother with all of my being. I wore her bracelet to remind myself of her, glancing at it every few minutes. I was miserable; there was no denying it, and I did not have the energy to try to hide it. I missed Ember’s comforting presence and wished I knew where he was. I had not seen him in the Elemental enclosure, and I didn’t want to ask Elthinor. I figured he’d gone back home. Or what was left of it, anyway. My hands clenched, wrinkling the blankets at the thought of my sweet Ember. I was startled by a quiet knock on the door, and I opened my eyes to see Elthinor standing stiffly, his hand on his side.
“I thought you might be awake. Mind if I come in?” he asked, sounding hesitant.
I shook my head and sat up, wincing as I put pressure on my left arm. I leaned against the headboard and rubbed the sore spot as Elthinor gingerly made his way over to the bed. He sat down, looked at me briefly then lay down across the bed and slowly stretched his arms above his head. His feet were still on the floor, and he folded his arms to put his hands behind his head. Every move he made was slow and was made with great care. He must be in more pain that I am, I thought.
“Boy,” he said. “That was some fight, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” I replied unenthusiastically.
He frowned. “Aw, come on Fily! That was amazing! I have never felt so, well, so in control!”
“You were in the air, upside down at one point, and you call that in control?” I asked dryly, pointedly ignoring his use of that horrible nickname.
“Well, yes, but that’s not what I meant,” he said, sounding sheepish. “My whole life, I have been told what to do, when to do it, how to do it. For the first time in my life, I was making my own decisions. I loved it, Fily.”
This time I could not ignore it, and I frowned. “Don’t call me that.”
He looked at me, his brow furrowed. “Why not?” he asked with a pout. “I think it is a nice little nickname for you. You seem wild as an unbroken filly.”
I leaned back and uttered one word. “Tynan.”
“Tynan? What, pray tell, is a Tynan?”
“Tynan is that big bully I told you about a while ago. He’s the one that shoved me around. He used to call me Fily just to grate on my nerves. I hate that name.”
“I bet I can make you like it,” Elthinor said in a sing-song voice, his eyes mischievous.
“Elthinor, watch yourself,” I warned, fighting back a smile.
“Fily, Fily, Fily,” he began to chant.
I lost the battle with my smile and worse, I started to giggle as he continued chanting. “Stop it!” I finally exclaimed, sitting up and reaching over to poke his wounded side.
“Ouch!” he gasped, more dramatic then he needed to be. “Fily,” he whined. “That wasn’t nice.”
“Ha,” I said smugly as he mock glared at me.
“Well now, what’s going on here?”
“Grandfather!” Elthinor exclaimed, sitting up and groaning at the abrupt movement. I snickered, still feeling a little vindictive from the nickname.
“Stay down, boy,” Aloron chuckled coming over to sit beside his grandson. “You’re hurt enough as it is. I heard talking and was wondering what it was about.”
“Just that fight,” Elthinor said with a smile on his face as he lay back again. “It was so fun! Except for, you know, the wound,” he finished sheepishly.
“Well, you don’t become an amazing warrior overnight. Keep that in mind. You were blessed this time. Next time you may not be.”
“Yes, Grandfather,” Elthinor said meekly.
Silence engulfed us, and the air suddenly felt thick. I wanted to ask the question on my mind, but I hesitated. I didn’t know how they would react, especially Elthinor. I weighed the question in my mind for a while, wondering. Aloron and Elthinor just stayed where they were, the former looking from me to my Elf friend and the latter just resting. Finally Aloron got up and bid us goodnight, walking for the door.
“What does a Follower believe?” I blurted out before he left.
He paused and looked back, surprised delight etched on his face. “Do you really want to know, my dear?”
I nodded and he smiled, closing the door before walking back over to where we sat. He seemed eager to share, but I noticed the uncomfortable look in Elthinor’s eyes. Aloron noticed it too as he sat down, reaching over to rub his grandson’s silver and green hair in a comforting gesture. Elthinor blushed and moved to push his grandfather’s hand away, glancing at me. I pretended not to notice, keeping my eyes on Aloron, who smiled at Elthinor’s actions.
“You can leave if you would like. I know you don’t like what I am,” the older Elf said softly.
“It’s not that,” Elthinor said shyly, looking away. “It’s, well, that I am afraid I will want to believe what you do. I don’t know if I could stand it.”
Aloron smiled. “If you truly understand my beliefs, then you will not be ashamed of them.”
Elthinor thought about it in silence for a few minutes then conceded. “Fine. I shall stay. I can’t help but be curious.”
“Good. Now it is best if I start with a few questions. How do you believe we got here?”
I frowned. “Well, I don’t know about you two, but I was brought here on a horse.”
Aloron laughed softly. “No, no, dear. How do believe that this place came to be here?”
I opened my mouth then snapped it shut. I had not expected that question. It sounded like the questions that had bothered me after the dream with the man in white. At the thought of him, I immediately felt as if something was missing inside. I glanced at Elthinor; he looked confused. I looked at Aloron who was staring at us expectantly.
“I don’t know,” I said finally. “But it has bothered me before. You just brought it up again.”
“It will not bother you for much longer, my dear,” Aloron assured me. “Followers are a small group of Elves that believe in an all powerful creator we call God.”
“So this God, He made us?” Elthinor asked.
“He made the whole world, all the animals, and all the intelligent races. And what is even more amazing is He knows each of us as we truly are. You see, God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. But in the beginning of our world, our time, God created…”
He began the story of creation, and I closed my eyes, desiring to see it as it unfolded. My imagination, fueled by the look of the forest in which the man in white had spoken to me, supplied such beautiful images that a smile graced my face throughout the telling of the story.
The man in white stood there on a newly created Earth. He was looking around at his creation, appraising it. There were beautiful, fully grown trees that looked young and supple as saplings, and there were flowers so bright and colorful that it seemed that their various hues had just been introduced to the world. Then there was the river, so blue and wonderful, with sunlight sparkling off the surface. Rainbows careened off the small waterfall in brilliant arches that glittered as water droplets seemingly hung in midair. The sun shone down, making the whole world even more bright and cheerful, if that was possible.
The sound of the river running was like laughter, and it filled my ears as only a part of the noises that were the new world. Frogs croaking, insects buzzing, and fish splashing, were only a few of the animal noises I could hear. The symphony of sound was the most beautifully raw and joyful song that I had ever heard. The freshness of the water and flowers made me realize that I seemed to be in another dream, though I did not remember falling asleep. I could still hear Aloron’s voice telling the story, but it was just a shadow of sound. This vision was much more real.
With a smile on his face, the man in white deemed this new world ready for what his plans. He knelt near a spot of bare dirt beside the river, rolling up his sleeves as if getting ready to do a project that required no obstructions. Such a look of concentration suddenly appeared on his face that I did not dare move or make a noise, lest I disturb him. He studied the dirt, like the potter in our village did a new lump of clay, as if envisioning the end result. After some time, anticipation climbing higher every second, he reached down and brought water up from the river, wetting the dirt.
On a whim, I suddenly looked up and saw, peering through a veil in the sky, what looked to be many faces, more than I had a number for. Hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of faces, but nothing like what I was used to. I had never seen such terrifying faces. Yet, I somehow knew these beautiful, frightening beings would not harm me. Besides, they ignored me completely, as if I wasn’t there. I looked down to see if I indeed was there, and I was, yet I could see through myself.
All of them were looking at the man in white, observing with such intensity that it rendered my fascination as mere passing interest. I turned my attention back to the scene, watching with those strange beings. The man in white now had a pile of mud in front of him. Dark streaks of mud already stained his clothes, along with splotches of water. He was molding the mud, and love was now woven in with the concentration on his face. He formed every curve with care and gentleness. His hands moved skillfully, taking away some here, adding some there, and caressing every bit lovingly as he formed it. Finally he sat back on his heels, staring at the finished project with a smile so bright that it put the sun to shame. Before him was a fully grown naked Human, perfect in every way. The man looked on his handiwork, clearly pleased with the results.
He smoothed a hand over the man’s cheek tenderly then stood and left the mud man and made his way to a tree. Using his hands, he began to mold the wood as if it were mud as well! Gasping in shock, I distantly heard the murmur of the beings above me, too amazed at what I was seeing to comprehend what was being said. He pressed the form into a male Elf, as naked as the Human. The Elf looked Human, save for pointed ears and a fairer, more delicate build. The man in white picked a flower and pressed it into the wood that formed the Elf’s right cheek, the bright blue and green colors standing out amidst the brown. He then dipped a finger into another flower of the same blue and the color came off the petals like paint onto his finger.
The man in white drew a fish on the Elf’s left cheek. Then, after wiping the paint off on his dirty clothes, he dipped his finger into the green stem of the same flower and drew green scales in the body of the fish. He stood back, hummed, wiped the green off his fingers again, and soaked two fingers in the blue of the flower. He then proceeded to paint the Elf’s chest, making a blue and green forest scene, with plants of all kind curling out of the blue earth, flowers of blue blooming out of stalks of green. He went to the back and continued to paint, though I could not see what, and I was too stunned to move. After drawing vine-like patterns down the Elf’s arms and legs, blooming into flowers on the tops of his feet and the backs of his hands, he stood back again, still not satisfied. The man in white walked to the waterfall in the river and scooped up a part of the glittering rainbow. He walked back over to the Elf, opened his hand, and blew the glittering water droplets hanging in his hands over the designs, where they stuck and shimmered. He smiled and nodded then caressed the Elf’s face just as tenderly as he had the Human’s, a loving expression still on his face.
There was loud murmuring as he did the same with stone for a small creature Aloron’s faint voice called a Dwarf. It had stony skin with the texture of a rock, and into it, the man in white placed two smooth gems for eyes. Out of the grass a creature that looked half Human and half goat with horns atop his head was formed. Finally, the man in white did something so amazing that I could only marvel at him. He caught the wind and formed a creature that had the full body of a horse, but where the neck and head should be sprouted the torso and head of a man. I heard Aloron’s voice tell me they were referred to as a Satyr and a Centaur respectively. Not a one of them had any scrap of clothing, though the Satyr and Centaur did not seem to need them. I suddenly realized how innocent everything seemed, and I wasn’t embarrassed in the slightest, though I should have been having been raised to know nakedness was a private affair.
The man in white walked into the center of the circle and looked around at his creatures for a moment before heading back over to the Human. He knelt down, picked up the mud form, leaned over the man, and blew softly into his face. I could see a flash of silvery wind fly into the man’s nostrils. Nothing happened for a moment then the man gasped for breath and sat up. He shook his head and dried mud dropped off him in clumps. He had brown hair and brown eyes, with olive skin. He seemed confused as he stared at the face of his Creator, but the man in white just chuckled softly, holding out his hand. The Human was pulled to his feet, mud still coming off in flakes. At the smile of the man in white, the Human smiled back, raw delight flushing his cheeks.
The Creator blew into the nostrils of the Elf while the Human was looking around curiously. The same thing happened. There was nothing for a moment, a desperate gasp for breath, and the tree began shuddering before releasing the Elf, who realized he had legs and stumbled forward into the embrace of the man in white. Once the Elf was balanced, the man smiled at him, gave him a soft kiss on the cheek then moved to the Dwarf, then the half-goat creature, and finally the half-horse creature.
I noticed the beings above us again, though the creations did not. All the beings showed their awe of their creator differently. Some were talking amongst themselves, others were shouting praises to the man in white, and the rest were silent and straining to see the new creatures.
Once the Centaur stood up and stumbled around for a moment, the others seemed to realize that they weren’t the only ones who’d been brought to life. They had been focused on themselves, but now there were others to study. Once they realized this, the Elf wandered over to the Human and touched his face, laughing when he realized that this one was just as real as he was.
“What are you?” the Human asked, tracing one of the designs on the Elf’s hands. “You are like me, but I don’t have such markings.” He did not sound jealous or disgusted, just curious.
“I am not sure,” the Elf said. “But I believe we are all different. I don’t have such hair on my legs as the one over there, and I most certainly have only two legs.”
“Yes, and we are all taller than the one there and don’t have skin like that,” the Human said, pointing out the Dwarf. “But why?”
“You are all different because I made you different,” the man in white answered. He then gestured at a couple of trees bearing strange fruit I had never seen before. One tree had beautiful golden fruit. “This tree is the tree of life, of which you may eat freely along with almost every other tree in the garden. This,” he said, gesturing at the tree with the black fruit, “is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat of the fruit of this tree. If you eat of it, you shall surely die. Now go. Look around and enjoy yourselves.”
They all seemed to be content to do just that, even if they were all different. They walked away, exclaiming at everything, pointing out things that were so commonplace, like the river and different kinds of fish. They were child-like in their innocence, and it made me long for that for myself. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one not bothered by their nakedness. In fact, they did not notice it at all.
Suddenly everything stopped and I realized that Aloron had ceased talking. I frowned, sitting up straight, Elthinor mirroring me. I noticed he did not look too happy about the story ending either.
“That just can’t be all, grandfather! They were all males! What about females?” Elthinor protested.
“Yes, and if they were all so companionable, why do we not even know each others’ races anymore?” I asked.
Aloron laughed softly. “There is more to the story, that is true, but it is time for bed. The Followers are having a meeting in a week, and I shall see if I can have them speak of the beginning.”
“But grandfather, how are we supposed to sleep with the story unfinished?” Elthinor demanded.
Aloron chuckled and stood. “Goodnight, Elthinor. Goodnight Filynora. God bless.”
He walked out, leaving us staring stupidly after him. Elthinor finally lay back down and groaned, but because we were to get no more information tonight or because he shifted too quickly and hurt himself again, I was not sure.
“That’s not fair! Not fair at all! I want to know more!” he groused.
“He promised that we would know more,” I said, trying to reassure myself as much as him.
“Yes, but a whole week? That is forever from now!”
“A week can take forever to pass,” I agreed. “But that does not mean that it will not come eventually.”
“I suppose,” Elthinor muttered darkly before sighing. “Well, we had better get to bed before Father catches us. He will not be as lenient as Grandfather.”
He bid me goodnight walking out, closing the door behind him. I sighed as I eased myself back down. The story buzzed around in my head and brought up many questions, especially about this God. Was He kind? If He was, how could He let us live in the world we have today? Why would He make us? What was our purpose, if we had any? After an hour of thinking, I felt exhausted. It was getting extremely late, and my wounds ached. Closing my eyes, I forced myself to relax. With that, my tired mind quickly pulled me into oblivion.