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Sunsinger of the Silverleaf

by Jela Schmidt
translation by Channing Jones

a tree line

Many have already seen these strange creatures. Some already live in our native land, the great Akhian Empire. Some have been seen in the Grunwald, in the woods and at the lake there. One knows little about them, only that they are different than us. They are apparently peaceful most of the time. They love the woods, the music of the rustling of the leaves. They are talented in the fine arts. Only recently in our singing reclude, the Burgenland, one was heard speaking of the beauty of the green forest at springtime. With a voice of pure silver and words, like from the beginning of time.

His heart wanted to overflow and jump with joy:
What happiness, this beauty of poetry, the perfection of the verse, the meter, the melodious words! And oh the pain, the vision which he has kindled in us. The yearning for the smell of the grass, the light breeze in the treetops.
His name was Anarlindalė Celeblassessė (Sunsinger of the Silverleaf) and he was rightly called so, because this means so much as "the one who sings under the silver leaves of the sun". He indeed brought the sun in his poems and songs into the hearts of all who listened to him.

His hair shone silvery like moonlight, and his eyes were like the stars of the night. Tall as many of his people was he and so graceful and gentle in his movements.

Yes, here in Burgenland, I met one of his kind for the first time, I spoke with an elf for the first time. I was captivated by his beauty, his voice and his shimmering eyes. They were green and silver like the leaves of an aspen.
As he stroked his hair back I saw the tops of his pointed ears which ended in a curved line. He noticed that I was fascinated by these ears, and that I had never seen the like. I averted my gaze bashfully being suddenly conscious of my tactless curiosity, but he only laughed softly and looked at me.
"You aren't the first, master Aariond, who is surprised at the ears of the elves. Many wonder quietly, why ours are so pointed but they harm only themselves in doing that."
Harm? I didn't want to come to sorrow only because I had been astonished. Frightened, I looked at him. He must have well known what I thought because he laughed quietly again and continued to talk:

"Through wondering in silence they are missing out on a story, which would have gladly been told them if only they had openly asked."

A story, yes, that I would like to hear because Sunsinger of The Silverleaf was an excellent narrator. Therefore I urged him to tell it to me. So he sat down under the shade of a tree, crossed his legs and invited me to his side.
His eyes shone as green as moss as he began with his fable in a gentle voice:

"There was a time before the age of the dreams in which there weren't any elves. There weren't any humans, dwarves, trolls or gnomes, either. Everything was quiet, in the great woods there only lived small animals and deer. The woods were wide and dark and filled with peace. The aspens didn't tremble yet in the wind as they would do later but they were strong, proud trees, the rulers of the woods.

For a long time they weren't different from the others except in size, the form and color of their leaves. However, it was one evening in the Fall when a Rijun, a rabbit, was being chased by a fox. This was nothing unusual in itself but this Rijun had a litter to feed and therefore needed to live. The aspen towards which the Rijun ran, felt deeply sorry for the young ones. All trees feel it when an animal dies. This is the way of harmony. However, this aspen didn't want to see the young become motherless and decided to help the Rijun. The trunk of the tree shook and the leaves rustled and sang a song of rescue. The Rijun ran towards the aspen, attracted by this song. The slender trunk bent gently towards the ground and the Rijun jumped into the branches. When the fox reached the aspen, the tree had already straightened up again. The Rijun was safe.

A murmur ran through the treetops of the forest, whispering of betrayal and disgrace. The leaves of the ancient aspens rustled of impeding doom. You have prevented the course of life. You have interfered in the eternal law. You have violated the forest. So it roared through the crowns of the trees. The aspen trembled in confusion. The Rijun's young would have died without their mother. But that did not matter. If the eternal law requires it, then they must die. One mustn't interfere. Perhaps the children of the fox will starve now. Are the Rijun's young worth more? Who are you, that you may judge? The aspen trembled again this time with anger and despair. Who are you that you can tell me whom I may help? If the eternal law only means, that one must watch helplessly without doing anything then that is no law but only a shackle which keeps our will in bondage. The whispering got stronger. Was the aspen right? Did one have to make up ones mind? Was the eternal law only an excuse to remain in eternal equanimity? To just beckon with the wind? This could not be.

The eternal law gives us support, like our roots. If you denounce this hold, so raise your roots of the earth now, and make your way without their security! The aspen raised itself. What an idea! To be free. Going wherever the wind blows. Running with the Rijun and the Ahir, the bear. Yes, to be free. The aspen raised its roots out of the ground. Whoever does not want to hide behind the law, whoever wants to be free, and whoever wants to choose shall now go with me and look for a place where the terrible eternal law does not rule. The tree trembled with joy. Seeing this, some aspens followed it. They pulled their roots out of the ground in which they were secure but imprisoned. Filled with liberty and confidence they gathered on a clearing in the forest.

The ancient aspens murmured and roared, horrified by this revolt against the eternal law of the forest. They had to punish such insolence. Whoever leaves these woods, shall never sink their roots into the ground again. They may not hear their leaves rustle in the wind ever again, and may never drink the sun again. But the aspens on the clearing remained firm with their decision. They didn't want to only watch the game of the life. They wanted to participate in it. And thus it happened. The ancient aspens rustled their leaves in rhythm and summoned ancient magic from the woods. A tremor and a shiver ran through all the trees. Then it was quiet.

Not trees wanting to be free were now standing on the clearing but strange new creatures instead, as had never been seen before. They were tall and slim, only much smaller as the aspens which had remained in the ground. Their eyes were silver and green like the leaves, brown like the bark, blue like the water and pale grey like the winter. For the first time the wind didn't blow through leaves but through hair. Hair in the colours of the sun, the earth, and the night. For the first time their trunks didn't buckle gently under the breeze. Some fell down because they couldn't find the support they were used to with their new legs. But their friends now had hands which could reach out to help the fallen, and arms to hold up the insecure ones.

The creatures looked at the woods once again to bid farewell and went away. They looked for a place where they could get familiar with the course of the life. Being born there, the creatures always remained children of the forest. They loved the woods, they had been home there, at one time anyway. Sometimes they were full of fear because they could choose now. They had never made decisions before and occasionally it wasn't easy to do this. But they never regretted having raised their roots out of the ground. They wander in the forest as if they were part of it and they become as old as many a tree.

The new creatures gave themselves the name by which one knows them today: Elves.

And their ears are shaped as the leaves of the aspen, so that they will never forget where their roots came from and that they choose freely. The ancient aspens take care of them because they are their children. They tremble in the wind, some out of sympathy with those, who don't have any roots, and some out of longing, to be free like them."

With these words Sunsinger of The Silverleaf leant against the aspen which protectively cast its shadow upon him. His eyes were as green as the leaves in spring.

Aariond Nataliam
Bard to the Court of Traumstein

a tree line

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