Rocky Andrews

The Stars, the Stones, and the Storyteller
Rocky Andrews

About the Author: I’m Rocky. And I’m 23 years old, married, and my wife and I are expecting our first child this June. I love reading C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and I’m even a big fan of the movie. The books are the obvious inspiration for my work published on FanFiction. Other things I like to do: spend time with my family, play paintball, and cook. That’s all for now. Thanks.

Author’s Note: Narnia is not mine, nor the Wood Between the Worlds, the magic rings, Susan’s horn, and many other elements that will come in later chapters. Please don’t sue me.

Rated K+ Suitable for more mature childen, 9 years and older, with minor action violence without serious injury. May contain mild coarse language. Should not contain any adult themes.

Chapter One

This is a story about three children whose names were Evan, Gabrielle, and Graham and something unbelievable that happened to them. You see, unlike common children, concerning themselves with clothing and courtship and such things that cause a bore in life that lasts too long even if it just began a moment ago, Evan, Gabrielle, and Graham filled their heads with fantastic ideas like secret ways to other worlds, talking animals, elves, dwarves, and kings and queens.Their friendship began when Gabrielle and Graham went to the country on holiday with their Aunt Daisy. Daisy inherited a large estate there after her brother died and that estate was right next door to Evan and his father.

On this visit Gabrielle and Graham became wonderful friends with Evan and he fascinated them with fairy tales only read about in books these days (and this book is really being read in a time where fairy tales are thought foolish, and I won’t be surprised if you never finish it and find yourself returning to that bore I was talking about earlier). And though Evan knew the tales well, it was really Graham who believed them and enjoyed them most of all.

“Tell us more about Narnia Evan,” Graham would beg.

“Come now Graham, haven’t we had enough for one day?”

But Graham never had enough, no matter how many tales he heard and it was the hardest on him when holiday was over and he and his sister returned to London.

“Do you think we’ll see you again soon Evan?” Gabrielle asked hopefully, as if Evan had any better idea than she.

“I know it,” said Evan.

Graham just said nothing at all, but stood afar off with a few tears building up in his eyes. And I won’t say that there wasn’t quite a bit of crying on all three sides by the time all was done for Evan grabbed his two new friends at once and hugged them tightly just as Aunt Daisy was shouting from the automobile, “Come now children, we’ll miss our train.”

But this visit to the country was not the beginning of the adventure. No, the adventure started one year later at the window of a study. Evan sat with his forehead resting on the cool glass as the rain cascaded down the outside like a paper-thin green waterfall. These days were always the hardest for Evan, because it was on days like these when Gabrielle and Graham would sit and listen for hours as Evan told tales (he knew so many because of the books he’d read). And sometimes, Evan would read the books alone on rainy days, but lately this hadn’t soothed the ache in his heart for someone to sit and live in that fairy tale world with him.

His father’s study was a very tidy place, with about fifty or sixty books, all about history, on various shelves and always arranged from tallest on the left to shortest on the right. The rest of the shelves and tabletops were sparsely dotted with very old things, many of which were so obscure that visitors often envisioned Dr. Buckston thieving the tomb of a mummified pharaoh or digging for Native American artifacts in the blazing sun with dust swirling around so thick he could hardly see.

Neither of these, nor any other guesses, even came close to reality, for Dr. Buckston had many people who worked for him and these were the kind of men and women for such jobs as getting dusty in the sun or damp in a tomb. No, Dr. Buckston spent most of his time on conference calls, visiting digs, or lately visiting Gabrielle and Graham’s Aunt Daisy in London, for Evan’s mother had died when he was an infant and Dr. Buckston had been quite taken by Daisy when she visited last year. Dr. Buckston actually did very little work commonly associated with archeologists.

In fact, the artifacts scattered about the study were not even discovered by Evan’s father. The dinosaur bone was a gift from a just recently successful archeologist whom Dr. Buckston had mentored, the arrowheads were found on a dig in America, and Graham didn’t even know where the old cracked clay pots came from (he only knew that his father hadn’t personally dug them up).

It was the horn over the fireplace mantle, though, which fascinated Evan more than all the other artifacts combined. It looked to be made of a whole, hollowed elephant’s tusk, completely ivory and carved so the mouth of a lion was the mouth of the horn. Evan recalled stories with horns that led armies into battle, horns that called down mighty eagles from the heavens, and even a horn that would summon help at desperate times. “Of course, this is just an ordinary horn, probably African by the looks of it,” Evan always reminded himself before his mind got too carried away.

But he longed so much for the stories to be real, like they always felt when Graham had listened. “How I wish that Gabby and Graham were here now,” he thought. And whether by some magic in that study, or that his sense of reason left him for a moment, Evan began to dance around pretending to clash swords with giants and evil men. He jumped from the brown leather sofa over a small table into the middle of the room where he spun around and faced the fireplace. And presently his eyes connected with the horn and three things happened at once.

First, he felt that he simply must sound that horn. Secondly (and mind you it really happened at the same time) Evan grabbed the horn from its resting place and blew with all his might. Finally, just as the sound of the horn came forth, a peal of thunder crashed and lightning flashed. Then there was only darkness in all the room except for a faint glow coming from behind the leather sofa.

“Now I’ve done it,” thought Evan as he felt the crunch of clay pot beneath his feet. “Father is going to skin me.” But the power had gone out, and perhaps he would be able to explain it as an accident. “Wait, if the power had gone out, why isn’t the fire still aglow, and why is there a glow behind the sofa?” At this point, I hope you won’t blame Evan if he got a little scared. “Hullo, is there something there?”

“LilyWind! No!” shouted a voice, and presently Evan saw something that not only cast light upon his face, but also on his heart. The glow from behind the couch had gracefully hovered to about eye-level with Evan and stood still as could be about eight feet in front of him. The source of the glow was only a little larger than your fist. Evan knew it was no trick and that there was simply no logical explanation (remember he had read many books), but yet he felt as though he must be dreaming for in the real world there’s no such thing as fairies.

Yet, there she was right before his very eyes. The only light in the room was coming from her; it was a soft, blue light which was brightest around the fairy and gradually dimmed as it stretched out in all directions from her. The brightness of the light made it difficult to see the fairy, but Evan could tell she was fair-skinned with silvery hair and she wore a light purple and blue garment that might have been a beautiful dress at one time, though now had tattered edges and stains.

She did not appear intimidating, but if Evan could have seen her holding the tiny hollow reed she later called a “pipe” to her mouth ready to blow a poisonous thorn straight toward his neck, he would not have said what he said next.

“I won’t hurt you. Please…” started Evan, but he was interrupted by the voice that shouted.

“Hurt her!?” the Voice chuckled. “Now I’m quite sure there’s nothing to worry about from you.” And in saying this, the Voice stood up from behind the sofa and by the glow of the fairy Evan could see plainly that this was no ordinary boy.

Now, if you’ve read many books you probably think this boy was about the same height as Evan, dressed in green, and could fly with the help of his fairy, but this is not a story about pirates, ticking crocodiles, and never growing up. No, this boy was different; he was fair-skinned and very young in the face, he even looked younger than Evan, but with very bright eyes and pointed ears. And he was tall, a head taller than Evan if not two, and he was dressed in very sad colored clothes.

From his thighs up Evan could see, because of course he was still standing behind the sofa, that he wore a grey cloth tunic that was tattered some where his two long, thin, but solid arms jutted out the sides. He wore a dark shirt of mail underneath and a brown leather belt round it all. On his left forearm he wore a tattered leather guard and Evan could quickly see why, for the boy had a quiver of arrows on his back along with a bow. Placed tightly across his brow was a thin band of black cloth that wrapped around and tied a knot beneath his brown hair in the back. And if you’ve ever just barely muffed a hunt because a drop of sweat burned your eye the instant you let the arrow go, you know what the band was for.

“She was going to kill you, did you know that?” said the Voice.

“You’re an elf,” whispered Evan, more to himself than out loud.

“And you’re a boy?” the elf inquired with a very thoughtful expression, “only the second I’ve ever seen and both only in a month’s time,” he continued as his expression lightened and his tone came to that which most people use when beginning to tell a story. “In fact, you must be Evan the Storyteller, friend of Gabrielle and Graham?”

And at this moment, Evan’s eyes grew wide as saucers and his mouth fell open and you would think him rather silly looking, but believe me when I say you would look just as silly. So, the elf began to tell the story about his world and about Gabrielle and Graham, and Evan stayed standing during it all with that silly look on his face.

“Ensveria was such a beautiful country, with the greenest trees you ever saw cascading up and down every hill for miles, flowers and vines with colors so fresh that every day you’d think you’d stumbled across a kind you’d never seen. And the elf children would dance and play all day long chasing the stars (that’s what fairies are called in Ensveria, and if you’ve never played tag with fairies I hope one day you get the chance). Deer and rabbit were hunted and cooked over roaring fires to celebrate the end of every day. The only mining ever done was by the dwarves and they enjoyed it as much as the elves loved climbing trees, which a dwarf would simply never do.”

Then the story paused as the elf gave a deep sigh and his shoulder’s drooped. “But now, nothing is the same. The armies came upon us so quickly and within months the trees were gone, the flowers too, and when we thought it could never be worse, the very Light in the sky was no more. Now all light is against the law unless it’s controlled by the King of Goblins, Arróg-non. He uses the light of stars like LilyWind to mine precious jewels and he imprisons every star he catches in the free lands. The dwarves have all but vanished, hiding underground in their own mines, probably hoping that Arróg-non will not one day strike down a thin wall that separates their hiding places from his ever-growing tunnels and mines. My clan hides in the Stone Forest, one of the last free lands, and it was among those stones that the strangest thing ever occurred in Ensveria. LilyWind and I were gathering mushrooms when suddenly in the finest patch of mushrooms we’d seen in weeks, two figures appeared out of thin air. I was so startled that I fell backwards and bruised my rear, and LilyWind fluttered off behind a tree. Of course, without her light I could see nothing, so I called for her.”

Presently, Evan remembered LilyWind and began to follow her around the study with his eyes. She fluttered to the ceiling, then to the floor, and then a beautiful thing happened, for the room lit up all at once when LilyWind hovered just above the crystal chandelier. Muted greens, purples, and blues splashed over the walls and furnishings and Evan could not decide if he wanted to fly away or slip into the deepest sleep in the history of the world.

“‘LilyWind!’ I called, and she slowly emerged from behind a great oak. Her light cast upon the two figures and I was so entranced that I could hardly say a word.

‘He’s an elf!’ shouted the smaller, while the other just sat staring. ‘And that’s a fairy, isn’t it Gabby?’

‘W-what, who… I say, I am an elf and she’s my star but what are you?’ I asked. The smaller proceeded to tell me his name was Graham and that he and his sister, Gabrielle, came into Ensveria through a pool in a wood with the help of a magic ring.”

Chapter Two

At this point in the story, the elf became quite vague because he knew little about humans and even less about England, so I must tell you what really happened. Gabrielle and Graham had been near their home in London playing amongst the remains of an old train station when Graham’s eye was caught by a sparkle more than thirty feet away from the track. He ran to it and as Gabrielle caught up with him she saw that he’d discovered a very dirty, but clearly green ring.

“What on earth?” Gabrielle said.

Graham wiped in on his shirt and held it to the light. Its shine was surprisingly bright and both children felt that they’d never really seen green in their entire lives before that moment. “I bet there’s more!” shouted Graham as he started to comb through the dirt and rock beneath their feet.

“What do you suppose it is?” asked Gabrielle, “How old is it?”

“How should I know, just help me find more.” And so the two of them began to claw at the ground and before an hour was gone they had begun to dig a hole.

“We must be mad,” interrupted Gabrielle, “it’s getting late and we’ve nearly an hour’s walk home.”

“Just a while longer, I’m sure there’s more here,” answered Graham with his head in a hole, now close to three feet deep. Truthfully, they had stumbled upon quite a trove of treasure, for many years ago there was a train accident at the station and though the site was cleaned very thoroughly, one jacket had been misplaced. Gabrielle stood, holding the remains of that jacket whose pocket housed a young man’s wallet, a set of keys, and the green ring which Gabrielle set inside for safe keeping.

Another hour passed and Graham’s hole was beginning to be quite wet and he could hardly reach the bottom of the puddle inside. “Look! Another green ring!” he shouted and Gabrielle rushed over to fetch it, leaving the jacket behind. “If you’ll hold onto my feet I can reach to the bottom and see if there’s another.”

So, Gabrielle grabbed hold of her brother’s feet and at the same moment Graham found that the puddle grew mysteriously deeper. In fact, his whole head was now underneath the water and he began to be very frightened. While this was happening to Graham, Gabrielle noticed her brother becoming very heavy and she shouted for him to stop playing around and get out of the hole. Finally, both Graham and Gabrielle were pulled completely underwater and as his sister’s eyes connected with his, Graham opened his hand and the two saw a bright yellow ring just before the found themselves surfaced, dry, and standing beside a small pool – not more than ten feet from side to side – with a wood all around them.

“They had a hard time describing that wood to me,” said the elf. “They simply said it was the kind of place you could stay in for years and years and never do a thing, but never get bored, and I said I don’t know if I believe a place like that exists, for elves like me can be bored very easily. Anyway, they somehow managed to use the magic rings to end up in Ensveria, sitting on that yummy mushroom patch right in front and LilyWind and me. And before we knew it, we were all great friends and they came back to my village with me and all in my clan were glad I’d found a boy and a girl and they didn’t even care about squished mushrooms. Gabrielle and Graham told us all about England and even about the stories you told them from another world called Narnia. Graham captivated us all with tales of talking horses, sailing ships, and the defeat of a White Witch. ‘My friend Evan told them all to me when we visited him in the country,’ Graham would say. And soon everyone longed to meet Evan the Storyteller. And here you are.”

“And here you are,” said Evan. “How did you get here? With the rings I suppose?”

“No, you see the children only have one ring, a green one, and it doesn’t appear to work.”

“They left a ring in the Wood!?” shrieked Evan as his face grew very pale and it was about a minute before anything else was said. “I don’t believe this is happening. You can’t really be here and Gabby and Graham aren’t really stuck in another world. I need to wake up.”

Now, you can be disappointed with Evan after I tell you what happened next, but I think you should be reminded that very likely nothing this extraordinary has ever happened to you. You see, Evan knew many stories and he enjoyed them more than anything else on earth, but he never for a moment believed they were true. So presently, Evan plopped onto the floor and began to sob.

“This must be a dream. Wake up stupid! Just like father says, I’ve let my mind go too deep into all that fairy tale rubbish,” scolded Evan to himself.

“It’s not a dream,” said the elf.

“Then what is it? How are you here?” said Evan

“I don’t know, but I know there’s a purpose to all this, Evan the Storyteller.”

“Oh rubbish! What? That you come here and tell me your world is a mess and my friends are stuck in it now too!” said Evan. “Some grand purpose.”

“I don’t know anything more than what I’ve told you, except that for a fleeting moment I thought you might be able to help.” And as soon as the elf had spoken the word help, LilyWind fluttered beside the horn Evan had let fall to the floor. His eyes caught it and immediately he stood.

“That’s it!” he said.

“What?” said the elf.

“That horn was made to summon help,” said Evan.

“What horn?”

“This very horn here, the one I sounded just before you came into my world!” Evan reached and picked it up.

“A magic horn that summons help?” (and in fact this was a magic horn, for once a king from another world was allowed to come to our world for five minutes of our time and while he was here, he mistakenly left the very horn we’re talking about now.)

“Yes, of course, I’ve heard of it before,” said Evan, and then he sat on the sofa with the horn in his lap for a moment. “But I sounded the horn,” began Evan, sounding a little confused again.

“Ah, and yet we are the ones in need,” finished the elf.

“But if the horn is from another world, perhaps here it works backwards!” shouted Evan, standing up again. “Of course, this horn summons help in the world it was born, but here it brings the ones in need of help,” he reasoned. And though this reasoning comforted Evan, he’d have done better to know that when helping others, the helper always receives help as well. “How silly of me,” said Evan feeling rather proud for figuring out the magic, “now please promise me you’ll never speak of my little tantrum to anyone?”

“My name is Avadis Lossëhelin, son of Ereinion Lossëhelin, and I swear on penalty of blindness I’ll never tell a soul,” declared the elf, with a statelier oath than any other Evan ever heard before or after. And just then LilyWind fluttered by the elf’s ear and he added, “LilyWind either.”

Chapter Three

It wasn’t as hard as you might think for Evan to convince his father about letting him come to London. Dr. Buckston, in fact, was in London visiting Daisy and Evan was to come and join him in two weeks anyway as soon as he finished his schoolwork (and now you see why Evan was in the study, for he’d never dare enter while his father was home, and the maid and babysitter were rarely to be found).

No, convincing his father was easy enough, especially since Dr. Buckston was in such a merry mood spending time with Daisy. It wasn’t even hard getting Avadis and LilyWind onto the train after dressing Avadis in some of Evan’s father’s clothing and hiding LilyWind in a briefcase.

And the whole trip Avadis, LilyWind, and Evan traded stories about their own worlds. Evan told Avadis and LilyWind about airplanes and trains and travel, though he said he’d much prefer wings like LilyWind, and LilyWind told Evan about all the fun games stars played with elves when Taivas the Great SkyStar still shone (though Avadis really did the talking because no ordinary boy can hear well enough to listen to a star).

And Evan told stories about Narnia like he’d told Gabrielle and Graham on rainy days the summer before, and Avadis told of shooting contests he and his friends would have if they couldn’t settle an argument. LilyWind told of the tricks she played on BeechFire, the star that she loved in Ensveria (and if you’re still reading this book, you better go ahead and learn now that girl stars are named after flowers and boy stars after trees).

“But a lot has changed since Taivas faded,” said Avadis as a tear trickled down to the end of his nearly pointed nose.

“Who – what is the SkyStar?” asked Evan.

“Of course, you wouldn’t know. I’m sorry,” said Avadis. “He was the Light of our Ensveria; shining in the sky always, never leaving us to darkness like we have under the rule of Arróg-non. By his light we found the Great Tunnels of Tesserack and used them to travel all around our world.”

“There was never night in Ensveria?”

“Not until the goblins came.”

“Is Ta – Taivas a fairy, I mean a star like LilyWind or BeechFire?” asked Evan.

“Many say he is. But whether he is or isn’t, he’s certainly one of a kind; some say he’s pure magic, that he’s not living at all. I just know that without him our world is doomed,” said Avadis. And though all three enjoyed hearing and telling stories, the conversation had grown sad and quiet and they were all a little relieved when the train stopped in London.

Before he’d left home, Evan found the location of the train accident in a newspaper article amongst his father’s vast collection. It was just outside of London, and Evan convinced his father to let him find his own way to Daisy’s so he didn’t have to bother with it. “We’ll take- I mean, I’ll take a cab father,” said Evan.

“This must be it,” said Evan when the cab dropped them at an old abandoned station.

“For certain,” said Avadis, “I can feel something inside me that says we must be close.”

“You said they found the rings in a hole right?” asked Evan.

“LilyWind, see what you can find,” charged the elf. In a moment, LilyWind returned and led them to a hole just about thirty feet from the old train track.

“Here’s the hole, I know it!” cried Evan.

“And here’s something else,” said Avadis, “a tunic of some kind.”

“Yes, is there anything else there?”

“Inside, I don’t know what these are.”

“Of course, I’m sorry Avadis. How foolish of me. This is a wallet and th-” Evan began to jump up and down, “Look! A green ring! We’ve found what we’re looking for.

“Hurry, what must we do?” asked Avadis.

“Put it on I suppose,” said Evan. “Though since there’s only one I think we must all be together and holding on. Let LilyWind into your pocket and let’s go!” With that, he slipped on the ring and the elf and boy clung to one another tightly.

“What’s wrong Evan?” asked Avadis.

“I don’t know, it’s not working.”

“Just like in my world, the green ring Graham had was broken as well.”

“Of course!” said Evan, with his proud voice again as he slipped the green ring in his pocket. “You said they left a ring in the Wood. That is the kind of ring we must find.” And presently, they were searching for another ring.

Finally, in an instant, without a flash or sound, Avadis saw Evan then didn’t see him then did again. Evan quickly explained that he’d found the yellow ring and the moment he touched it, he was sent to the Wood Between the Worlds. He used the green ring (thankfully he’d put it in his pocket) to come back for his friends, and though it altogether took about five minutes for Evan, it happened in less than a second for Avadis and LilyWind.

“Was it frightening?” asked Avadis.

“Not at all,” said Evan. “Are you ready?” And in a moment they were all three standing next to a puddle in the Wood Between the Worlds. “This is my world’s pool,” said Evan, “and I must remember that it’s the one with the spot of bare ground on the bank (for long ago a different boy had marked the pool with his penknife, but that’s another story).

Even though the three friends looked around in different directions, each saw the same – there were only trees and pools as far as their eyes could see.

There were a great many more trees than pools, and the leaves made a kind of canopy overhead that gave you a very safe feeling. Not a bit of sky could be seen through the canopy, but a very bright light pushed its way through and gave a kind of green glow about the whole place. Everything looked so clean and so real that Evan always said afterward, even when he was old, that nowhere ever felt as out-of-doors as the Wood Between the Worlds.

“Now what do we do?” asked Avadis.

“We must find the other yellow ring and find your world’s pool,” said Evan.

But before long they had seen more pools than they could imagine and no rings at all and presently both Avadis and Evan felt like they simply must relax because they were getting so sleepy and why should they be in such a hurry to leave such a wonderful Wood anyway.

“Graham was right,” said Avadis, “truly this is a place where nothing happens.”

“And yet, I would have it…” Evan gave a great yawn, “no other way.”

“Quite sure.”

Now you can’t understand how close the adventure came to ending at this very point because you’ve probably never been to the Wood Between the Worlds. And even if you have, you’ve certainly never spent as long as Avadis, LilyWind and Evan spent searching for something that you weren’t sure you’d ever find.

So, at this moment all three of them lay fast asleep on the cool grassy floor of the completely silent Wood. And for how long they slept no one will ever know. Evan argued later that it was only moments, though Avadis said he felt it must have been a hundred years. What matters, though, is that they woke.

“Hullo, friend or foe!” shouted Evan, “I don’t care which you are, just that you keep your pest away from me while I sleep.”

“I know not whether I’m friend or foe, and I know not this pest you speak of now,” said Avadis, “but if this is the way you meet for the first time, I doubt you have many friends at all.”

The two of them would have argued for a while longer, except that LilyWind had also awoken and drawn their attention to the pest between the boy and the elf.

“Wait a moment,” said Evan. “What is this? The little creature has something tied to him.” And Avadis noticed the small furry creature and the ribbon wrapped round him which held a yellow ring. The two of them almost startled each other to death when they shouted together, “The ring!” as they remembered who they were and why they’d come into the Wood.

“This can’t be the ring that brought Gabby and Graham to the Wood,” reasoned Evan. “Why would they leave it here purposely and in such a silly manner at that? No, I seem to remember something about this little guinea pig from a story I read, but that doesn’t matter now. We should find the other yellow ring hope it lies near the pool which leads to your world. What a stroke of luck this fellow awoke us!”

LilyWind was off in a flash and in only a few moments she returned to lead Avadis and Evan to a pool where a yellow ring set nestled on the grassy bank.

“It must have slipped out of Graham’s pocket when they went into the pool,” said Evan as he knelt down and collected the ring.

“Let’s hope so,” said Avadis, “We don’t want to find ourselves entering a world which none of us knows anything about.”

“Yellow for coming to the Wood, green for leaving,” Evan said as he slipped yellow ring in his pocket and the green ring on his finger. LilyWind flew sharply to Avadis and into Evan’s father’s coat pocket, as the three of them entered the pool and headed on to Ensveria.

Chapter Four

“What on earth!” exclaimed Gabrielle.

“What happened to your clothes?” added Graham, “and wh-”

“I say – look Graham it’s Evan!” interrupted the sister and immediately all three children found themselves in a tumbling embrace, and each began talking all at once and not one really heard the other until Graham finally stood and shouted, “But Avadis, how did you get those clothes!” and this got everyone laughing until Evan finally explained what happened.

“Wow, you saw where we live?” said Gabrielle, “How did you like it?”

“I think your world is simply wonderful,” said Avadis.

“But you never left,” Graham said in a confused voice, “we’ve seen you here with us since we left the Gathering Place.”

“That’s right,” answered Evan, “I forgot to explain that. It must be that, when using the magic rings, a person can spend any amount of time in another world, but will always return to his own world at the exact moment he left. Just like when I went to the Wood on accident and came back for Avadis and LilyWind. They didn’t even know I’d left.” And that is exactly what happened because Avadis, LilyWind, Gabrielle, and Graham were out gathering mushrooms for a festival when suddenly, without a flash or a sound, Evan appeared and Avadis’ clothing changed in an instant (that is why Graham said, “What happened to your clothes?”).

“And speaking of the rings,” said Evan, “I suppose we should be getting home now.”

“What?!” Gabrielle and Graham both shouted at the same time.

“We can’t go now,” said Gabrielle.

“Leave Avadis and LilyWind?” added Graham. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Are you two out of your minds? This isn’t our home; it isn’t even our world! And I’ve brought us everything we need to get back to where we came from.”

“You think you’re here to save us?” asked Gabrielle.

“I think that’s all I know I can do right now.”

“What about them Evan?” said Graham looking toward Avadis and LilyWind. “Who’s going to help them? Didn’t you say the horn called them to earth because they needed help?”

“Listen to me,” said Evan calmly, “We’re just children, and we belong in our own world. We can’t do anything to help them.” He turned to Avadis, “Friend, this has been the most amazing adventure of my life. And when we get home, even if I never wake up to find it was a dream, I will never be the same. But you know there’s nothing we can do, don’t you?” But Avadis said nothing. He just shut his eyes and made a face Evan thought looked very sad.

“We must at least go to the festival!” said Gabrielle. “To say goodbye to everyone, and maybe when you meet them you’ll want to stay.”

“Hurrah! And no one will even know we’re gone,” said Graham. “Why, we could stay here a whole lifetime and still go home to be children again!”

“Won’t you stay with us for the festival Evan,” asked Gabrielle.

Evan sighed and rolled his eyes, “Well, I’m not going without you and it appears that I’m outvoted. But after the festival…” he stared at Graham, “we’re going home!” And though he sounded stern, Evan really wanted to cry again. You see, Evan already loved Avadis and LilyWind and he really did want to help them, but somewhere in his heart he still wanted to be dreaming too.

“If we could just get home,” thought the part of Evan that wanted to be dreaming, “I’m just sure we’d find out that none of this ever really happened. Then Avadis, LilyWind, and all Ensveria would be okay. But then,” thought the part of Evan that wanted to believe, “they wouldn’t be real and we’d never see them again. Oh bother, this is the most wretched good dream I’ve ever had.”

And as the friends made their way through the Stone Forest to the Gathering Place, the Dreaming Evan felt both frightened and depressed at the same time; frightened because of the immense structures all around him and because of the darkness that could have hidden anything amongst them, and depressed because with LilyWind’s light he only saw stone everywhere they went. There was no color, no plants, not a single animal or even a noise. It was only cool gray stone, and there was no other light.

Avadis led with LilyWind just over his head, Gabrielle behind him, and the boys in the rear. This was the order, but really they moved together like one person, so close to one another that they were always touching and they could often feel the breath of the person behind them on their necks. They traveled like this because LilyWind’s light allowed them to see only five or six feet in any direction (Avadis could actually see three or four times as far as the children because an elf’s senses are much stronger than a human’s, but he took care not to forget their limits and besides the stones were usually too close to see very far anyway).

You might be able to picture what they were traveling through if you think of the largest tree you’ve ever seen, and then imagine that instead of a tree it was a stone with no leaves, no limbs, and no color. Some of the stones were as big around as a house at the base and those stones were taller than any tree you’ve ever seen. Some of the stones were only as big around as an end table and the tops of those stones could be seen. The tops weren’t pointed like stalactites, they were flat and gave the Stone Forest an appearance of a great dark city since there were hundreds upon hundreds of the giant stones grouped together more tightly than the thickest wood in our world, so close that sometimes there would be passes between them that you couldn’t even find unless you knew they were there. This is why Avadis led.

“Don’t worry friends,” said the elf, “I’ve been through this way a thousand times,” and he probably was not exaggerating because in truth Avadis was older than even your great-grandfather. You see, most elves live a good deal longer than humans and they age very slowly, if at all.

“How old are you Avie?” asked Gabrielle. The boys chuckled at the name, but Avadis didn’t mind, though he never called her Gabby.

“If you guess, I will tell you,” said Avadis.

“You mustn’t be much older than Evan, though you are taller, so perhaps fifteen years?” guessed Gabrielle.

“Fifteen years?” chuckled Avadis, “Oh, I don’t think you’re going to be very good at this game.”

“Twenty?”

“No.”

“Twenty-one?”

“No,” said Avadis as he smiled to Evan and shook his head. The game lightened Evan’s spirit and eventually they all had a little laugh together despite the very dreary mood of the Stone Forest.

Then, very suddenly the friends were blinded for a moment (Avadis too) and after that saw splashes of bright color all around them. They had arrived at the Gathering Place and for the first time in hours light encompassed them. As his eyes adjusted, Evan saw the splashes of color take shape as giant paintings all around him on all the stones from the ground up to the highest heights, hundreds of feet in the air.

“What trick is my sight playing on me,” he thought to himself. “This is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever imagined.” They had come into a wide-open area surrounded by a painted wall of the giant stones. The area was about the size of a football field and dotted all over the surface were small cottages made of stone with thatched roofs and no doors. The vast mural surrounded the village and made Evan feel as though he had nestled in the center of a beautiful Ensverian rain forest.

Encircling the Gathering Place were flowers and small animals painted near the ground, many of which Evan had never seen or heard of in his life. Ivies and vines began at the ground and climbed up the enormous painted trees, gigantic and green, some flowering and all towering higher than most buildings in our world. There were beautiful creatures painted in amongst the branches and here and there a tree house with a chimney and smoke painted too. The smoke billowed up into the highest parts of the mural where the sky was painted to the tops of some stones and only as high on others even though the stones continued up and up.

Finally, his eye caught the most astonishing sight of all as he rounded the corner of a cottage: a cascading waterfall painted across four of the giant stones and just as the image caught his eye, Evan heard the sound of a winded instrument and he said to himself curiously, “Why, I do believe that waterfall has sprung to life.”

The white foam near the bottom began to roll, the water poured over the edge, and with the song playing lightly and smoothly the Believing Evan felt the immense mural drink him into its painted world so that presently he thought what he saw was either real and not a painting at all, or that he was in fact a painting and surely had always been.

Of course, Evan was a still a boy and what he saw was a painting, a mural that had been painted by the stars. “Because of their size, the stars can paint better than the finest artist in our world,” Graham said to Evan, for he and Gabrielle had seen the paintings many times already since their visit began and Avadis had already taught them both a great deal about the Gathering Place. But Gabrielle and Graham were still no better prepared than Evan for was happening now, for none of the children knew that the stars could do much more than just paint a mural.

“Oh my, we’ve made it just in time,” said Avadis quietly, “Well, go LilyWind! What are you waiting for?” And just then the children understood what was happening, for LilyWind rushed toward the waterfall and as hundreds of other stars joined her, the trees and flowers came to life and joined the waterfall in a dance that followed the lead of the winded instrument.

The stars cast their light, each girl with her greens, blues, and purples and each boy with his reds, oranges, and yellows onto the paintings with such grace that the water appeared to flow, the leaves appeared to rustle, the smoke began to billow, and even the animals’ eyes twinkled. When Avadis looked again at the children, all three of their mouths were open and Gabrielle had tears in her eyes.

“You should have seen in when it was really alive,” said the elf with a smile.

© 2007 Rocky Andrews