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Submission #1 – Silvered by Julie
Once, many years ago, long before you or your mother or your grandmother was even a possibility, there was a distant realm full of beautiful things. The land itself was full of shining waterfalls and emerald forests, crashing ocean waves and majestic mountains. And the beasts of that land, though no more magical than those you and I see every day, were faster, fairer, and friendlier than any found in the lands beyond.
It is said that when the folk of that land first awoke from their long slumber, they saw all that was and would be, from the northern snows to the southern jungles, the western mountains to the eastern seas. And love of the land set a song in their hearts, filling their ears and loosening their tongues. Perhaps there is some truth in this legend, for the realm was known for the simple joys of their songs.
The craftsmen of that realm were honored above all others. From the journeyman to the youngest apprentice, all who wove or spun or built or carved or forged lived with the land, and loved the land, and the love of the land was in their hands, so that nothing crude or common could be found in all their dwellings. And the greatest masters, those who loved best, were given the title of Handsmen and sat in honor to serve the land. Of the Handsmen—not often, perhaps once in the time it takes a forgotten nut to grow into an oak, fall, and be crafted to a fine home—one might be asked to serve as leader, the Maker of the realm.
In the days of my tale, the Maker was a carver, with more scars and scratches on his hands than on the wood he polished and waxed. He was called Yew in the custom of the Handsmen, though he had been born Isleen. His wife Maed loved rather the small blossoms and soft mosses that grew amidst the roots of the great trees, but she was dead these six years and more from a fever no herb could cure. Yew and Maed had four children together, three sons and one daughter, but the boys perished in the same plague that killed their mother.
Only the eldest, Carlin, survived. But the fever left her eyes weak, unable to bear the strain of fine work. Perhaps she could have served as an apprentice, for her fingers could find any flaw in wood or fabric, yet she would rather work not than handle only raw goods, knowing she could never make a masterpiece.
One day in early spring, Carlin was wandering through the warehouses , enjoying the silence and peace of empty rooms. As she wandered, she came into a room of old crates, thickly coated with dust. She ran her fingers over the boards. No, there was no strength left in this wood. Perhaps they could use it for the mushroom beds. She’d have someone come back later with a wheelbarrow.
One of the crates had already broken, leaving a hole large enough for Carlin to reach inside. Instead of dust and mouse bedding, her fingers felt a rough burlap cloth wrapped around something. She carefully pulled it out, letting the cloth drop to the group.
It was mostly round, but with a narrow, oblong shape at one end. “A handle?” It did resemble a handle, but to what? The round bit was too large to be a spoon, even for stirring. She turned it over. The front was tarnished silver, but the other side had only a thin band of silver along the edge. Instead, it glistened in the dark room, reflecting light from the high windows. Carlin resolved to take it home and see if any of the Handsmen knew of it.
Now, many merchants made the long and difficult journey to Atelier, the city of the Handsmen, drawn by rumors of marvels: tapestries that changed from spring blossoms to autumn leaves, plows that left ankle-high wheat in their wake, bowls that boiled stews from rock. The guest houses and stables of Atelier were always full, loaded with the finest goods of distant lands.
When the doors of the Great Hall opened, the traders would begin to wheel in their goods. As they passed the first table, they gaped. At the second, they stared. At the third, they wept, for never before had they seen such beauty. No merchant ever made it to the center of the hall, but left in haste and shame. In their haste to be gone, sometimes things were forgotten, only to be found many years later.
That evening, as the Handsman Melody sang, Carlin carefully polished the strange item. As she blew off the dirt, it shone more brilliantly, reflecting the many torches and the last of the light through the open windows. When she looked down, she saw a face staring back.
Submission #2 – Elf Story by I Am Thor
I grimaced at the smell of the glass which had just been electrified, and smells horrible, like burnt rubber. We make it from sand. I couldn’t wait to get out of the factory, and get home to my foster parents, although it isn’t much better than the factory.
“Matthias! Get back to work!” My boss yelled at me, spit flying everywhere.
I sighed, looking at the huge clock on the wall. Ten twenty-nine, which means one more minute ’til I get out of the dusty, dark factory where I work. My job is to cut the sheets of glass that the others electrify.
I jumped. I’m still not used to the alarm, and I’ve been working here since I was ten, which is about seven years.
“Whoa!” I yelled when someone pushed me into the black wall on my way out, probably trying to get out of the dreary place. We built it over a small portion of the beach. Everything here is black, even the windows. They are black from the charcoal that comes from all the electricity.
I arrived home and began sneaking in, trying not to let anyone know I was here. Acerbus and Ater have a birth kid, Nox, too, and spoil him with treats and toys and such. Unfortunately, Nox jumped out from behind the door and started electrocuting me.
“Eh-eh-eh-eh!” I made a weird sound while I bounced up and down, trying to stop my foster brother.
“S-s-stop I-it!” I yelled, electrocuting him back.
“Matthias! I’m ashamed of you! Electrocuting poor Nox!” Ater exclaimed, cuddling Nox like he hadn’t just zapped me himself.
“But-” I tried, but she wouldn’t have it.
“I don’t wanna hear it. Go to your room!” I growled, making sure to stomp extra loud up the swirly yellow stairs. Really? I thought. I sighed, flopping on my bed. Actually, its more of a cot, which is probably good, since my bed is more of a closet, the exact opposite of Nox’s. His room is ginormous and bright. My room also has a tiny window that shows part of a tree.
I stood up. Might as well hear what they talk about when I’m gone, and see what they hide from me. I tip-toed down the elaborate stair case, stepping over the parts that squeak. I walked into Acerbus and Ater’s room, starting to search the drawers. I found lint, dust, a few mints, a work schedule for the factory, and a small slip of paper. I unfolded it
slowly. It was ripped on one side, and yellowed around the edges. It said:
A Lightning Elf shall find two Snow Elves
One with white hair one without
They then shall find a Aqua Elf
And teach him how to fight and shout
I wonder what the rest would say if it wasn’t ripped. I pocketed the slip of paper, heading back to my room.
On the way up the stairs I hear Ater say, “We need to talk to Malum. He needs an update.”
I hear some scuffling, like she is getting her glass out. Our glass isn’t always normal glass, it can be anything like something to communicate with, to read with, or to write in.
“King Malum, the great and mighty dark Lord, we have found an elf from your prophesy. We would be willing to trade him for some coins.” Definitely Acerbus. But who are they talking about? Prophecy? What prophecy? The one I found?
“Finally you notify me! I was about to come over there, and that would NOT have been pleasant. When you bring him here, I will give you anything you desire.” Who is THAT?
I went further down the stairs, trying not to let it creak. I saw Ater and Acerbus crowding around their glass.
“His name is Matthias. We’ll bring him to you tomorrow. He is in his room now, so no need to worry about him hearing us.”
I gasped, running back up the stairs while trying to step over the squeaking parts.
SQUEEEEAK! “Matthias, is that you?” Oh, great. Now I’m going to be taken to an unknown man, who wants to use me for some prophesy-thing that I have no clue about. What is going on? I’m not sticking around for this.
I kept running, grabbing my small bag from its hiding spot underneath my cot, opening the window, vaulting over the side of it and into the tree, and climbing down as fast as I could.
“Matthias! GET BACK HERE!” Ater and Acerbus screamed. I paid no attention, jumping over the fence, and sprinting towards the forest and out of sight. I’ve always been a fast runner, so I lost them pretty quickly, hopping into a bush.
“I think he went this way!” I’m pretty sure that was Nox.
“No, he went this way!” For a second the voices came closer to me, while my heart pounded so hard in my chest I thought they would hear it and come over.
“We’ll hold a search party tomorrow. Its getting pretty late and he probably won’t get far. Come on Nox, its past your bedtime.”
I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding, then waited about half an hour before I got out. I glanced back at the city I had lived in since I was born, watching the frequent lightning bolts light up the yellow towers and houses and hearing the waves slap against the beach.
Exhaling, I turned and ran the opposite way. I’m going to miss this place.
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