Set off to pitch a fire, instead found a new home. The svartalf helped me find this place, but only after days of purgings and purifications at his insistence, and by his hand. The cave didn’t look like a natural formation to me, there were too many inconsistencies given the dark granite that formed it.
When I eyed the svartalf in silent accusation, he laughed and admitted he turned a natural crack in the granite into the many chambered cavern that now opened before me. “Before you accuse me of stalling you with the works I put you through, you did need the cleansing. You aren’t what you were before, my friend.” Okay, he had a point. But did it have to be so elaborate?
“You call holes in a cliff, elaborate?” I looked at my friend, at the mirth on his face, and found I could not qualify my judgment. “Dear Weaver, you keep judging yourself and finding faults. This is affecting your sight. I did not make this elaborate by any means. I made only what you need. It is up to you, to modify this any further.”
I gruffly thanked him for the effort. I’m very much a city-girl, and am book-learning country skills. “Good, go practice by getting wood. I made a cache for you here.” He pointed to where a few token wood pieces were sitting as example, then sat on a nearby rock and started tinkering with something from his pocket.
Walking through the nearby forest, I felt very much alone. This place wasn’t like the Forest of Shadows, where Shambles rose from the forest floor and trees moved to confuse the unwary. This area felt more of the Waking world, than it did the Dreaming. A bundle of wood on my back, another bundle in my arms, and my pockets stuffed with tinder, I returned to the granite cave.
The svartalf looked over my gatherings. “That’s a start.” I wasn’t sure if he was approving, or tolerating my attempt. “Get to it, Firelover, make a fire!” It’s been a few years since I lit a fire with just wood and tinder. But then again, I was in the Dreaming, I had the Kenaz rune at hand. After a few false starts, I lit the kindling, and managed to keep it going long enough to light the wood itself.
“Why didn’t you just use the rune directly on the wood?” He came to the fire, inspecting my handiwork. He grunted, and pushed a log further into the flame.
“It didn’t feel right to do so.” It really didn’t, but I couldn’t come up with a reason why.
As I lit the fire, the far horizon glowed almost in response. As I studied the increasing light, I realized the cave faced East. “East, my friend? Intentionally, or happenstance of the environment?” He only returned my question with a steady stare and a non-answer of “It is, what it is.”.
As the sun rose, I noted his skin darkened immediately at the touch of sunlight. “I don’t want to find out you’re allergic to sunlight the hard way, my friend. I’ve always seen you pale, for you to be darker than me is strangely disconcerting.”
He laughed. “I’ve been around longer than you think. Certainly longer than you remember. Yes, I prefer night, but I am not banished to it.” His mirth suddenly faded. “When will you remember, Weaver?” I started to ask him to clarify his question, but the way he set his jaw and watched the rising sun told me he would answer no more on the topic.
He sat with me for a while. The two of us sitting on the formed rocks outside the cave. We watched the fire quietly, and noted the shifting shadows as the sun moved. I familiarized myself with the local landmarks, and was surprised to see a feature from a different vision. The svartalf told me to pay attention to that feature, it is more important to me, than I had given it first thought.
Throughout the day, I kept the fire going. Not a great raging bonfire, but a little fire that was just enough. I didn’t burn wastefully through the fuel I had gathered, again, trying to apply what few country skills I know. The svartalf kept me company, even though his dark grey skin kept unnerving me when I had forgotten about it. But his eyes still sparkled like flint, and he took mirth in my disconcerted glances, so all was well.
We talked, he and I, of many things. Of my past and lives before this one. Of the present and how things were changing. Of the future and possible paths my life could go. He knew of Loki’s deception, but refrained from interfering because as distasteful Loki was to him, he really was what I needed at the time. The day stretched on, becoming a lazy afternoon, then an azure evening.
As sunset approached, I felt it in my bones. The air changed, and the ambient sounds shifted with it. I noted the cave entrance was raised above the valley floor somewhat, giving me a clear view to the edge of the forest in the north, and the river’s edge in the southeast. I was concerned about predators in this feral land. At the moment of sunset, a flash swept across the land. If I had not been primed for the unusual, I would have missed what the flash revealed. A boundary surrounded the cave entrance, sweeping almost to the treeline, and halfway to the river.
Again, I silently look at the svartalf in accusation. “You’re not as helpless as you feel, Weaver. You need to trust your instincts more. Don’t you think it odd, you took a large sweeping path when you gathered wood?” I knew then, what my instincts had led me to do. That was my boundary, set up as I took ownership of the svartalf’s gift. Only it wasn’t my human self that laid it down, but that other, feral side of me. Just thinking of kem called the feathered cloak over my shoulders.
“I’m learning, my friend.”
“No, Weaver. You’re remembering.”
We sat a few moments more in silence as the night deepened. His stone skin slowly losing the “tan” accumulated during the day. I started to hum quietly to myself. I felt his eyes on me, became self-conscious, and stopped. He sighed.
“I miss your singing, Weaver.” I turned to him surprised. “I miss hearing your voice shuddering the cliffs. I miss feeling you dancing to the song, each step trembling the ground.” He had faced the fire again. His voice unbelievably soft, almost wistful, almost for his own hearing and not for mine. He sighed, uncharacteristically, and faced me squarely again. “You’ve been silenced. How you have been able to bear the chaining of song inside of you, I do not know.”
The late evening wind stirred a few feathers on my cloak. It was chilly, but I was not cold. I knew, come the dawn, my time here would be over for now. “I forgot how to sing. This life…”
“How is it you would say? Bullshit!” His vehement outburst cut me off. “This life has been a fearful one for you, yes. To repeat another one of your favorite phrases… Get the fuck over it.” He is suddenly embarrassed by his unusually emotional outburst and settles back down beside me.
The silence was harsh between us. The fear made my bones itch. The sudden desire to move made my bones ache. I jump to my feet, the feathered cloak stirring up the dirt under me. I glared at him, almost in challenge, and thrust out my left hand. I didn’t know what would come. I expected nothing to happen, actually.
The wide drum came as summoned. On an intellectual level, I was shocked to see it. On a deeper level, I knew this was right. As I raised my right hand, a short two-headed beater solidified in my grip. I almost started crying to see it. The last time I saw this drum, I was thrown into a series of journeys by its wielder. Now, I was the one wielding it. And I wasn’t afraid. Much.
I fumbled a lot at first. Over thinking what I was doing. After almost chucking drum and beater into the fire several times, I relaxed and let the memories take over. The rhythms came slowly, haltingly, but soon smoothed into a sustainable flow. I don’t remember when I started moving to the sounds I was making. Only one moment stand out, when I realized my movement around the fire, mimicked the earth’s movement around the sun.
I don’t remember when I started singing. Only that it felt odd to hear my voice. Odd, and comforting. The more I sang, the more smoothly I worked the drum, the more I danced in intertwining movements. He didn’t join me, just watched from the stone seats near the cave’s entrance. I could feel him smiling at me, but I didn’t look to see. I was remembering something, from very deep inside, and I wanted to hold on to that memory as hard as I could.
I became lost to the rhythm, to the ecstatic drumming, and slid into a vision inside the dream. My third eye had changed color, or rather, lost the iris’ color completely. Everything looked different, and I stumbled from the disorientation. The eye then changed to a brilliant, vibrant, flashing color, reminding me of the Eye of Horus. I was brought to a standstill and fell onto my knees. I held my marked hand to my face, and when I pulled the hand away, the third eye was gone from my forehead. It was now in the palm of my hand. Where ever I faced my palm, I could see and See. I knew there was a mystery here, and that I would not unravel it right away. I accepted the change of position and placed my hand back on my face in acknowledgement. The third eye moved again, returning to my forehead! With some practice, I was able to shift the eye’s location at will. The vision inside the dream ended, and I was kneeling before the fire again. The svartalf was standing behind me, ready to catch me if I fell.
The horizon began to glow again as the last of the embers began to fade. I staggered to my feet and returned to the seat by the entrance. The svartalf pointed towards the direction of the Tree, and gave me further information about it. “It was good to hear you sing, Weaver. Thank you.” He bid me adieu, then walked away from me. He walked south, along the cliff edge, until he had stepped beyond my unseen boundary. He entered the very rock itself, and moved through it back to his world.
I poked experimentally at my eye, and found that it hurt. Laughing at my success, I went into my cavern, to find a mostly smooth floor, and convenient outcroppings of rock that would make a good table or pallet surface. I went to a snug corner, wrapped my feathered cloak tightly about me, and fell into a deeper sleep.
Make of that, what you may.