heights, where the Carolan fronted the sprawl of the Westland forests, visible all the way to the ragged jut of the Rock Spur south and the Kensrowe north, he paused. The first glimmer of sunlight had crested the trees behind him, but night still enfolded the land west, purple and gray shadows clinging to treetops and mountain peaks like veils. In the earthen bowl of the Sarandanon, small lakes and rivers reflected the early light in silvery flashes amid the patchwork quilt of farms and fields. Farther out, the waters of the Innis-bore shimmered in a rough, metallic sheen, their surface coated with broken layers of mist. Somewhere beyond that lay the vast expanse of the Blue Divide, and it was there that he must eventually go.
He looked all about the land, a slow, careful perusal, a drinking in of colors and shapes. He thought about the history of the city. Of the stand it had made in the time of Eventine Elessedil against the assault of the demons freed from the Forbidding by the failure of the Ellcrys. Of its journey out of the Westland in the Ruhk staff and the magic-riven Loden to the island of Morrowindl—buildings, people, and history disappeared as if they had never been. Of its journey back again, returned to the Four Lands by Wren Elessedil, where it would withstand the onslaught of the Shadowen. Always, the Elves and the Druids had been allies, bound by a common desire to see the lands and their peoples kept free.
What, he asked himself in dark contemplation, had become of that bond?
Below the heights, swollen with snowmelt off the mountains and spring’s rainfall, the Rill Song churned noisily within its banks. He listened to the soothing, distant sound of the water’s heavy flow as it echoed out of the trees. He stood motionless in the enfolding silence, not wanting to disturb it. It felt strange to be back here, but right, as well. He had not come to Arborlon in more than twenty years. He had not thought he would come again while Allardon Elessedil lived. His last visit had opened a rift between them he did not think anything could close. Yet here he was, and the rift that had seemed so insurmountable now seemed all but inconsequential.
His thoughts drifted as he turned away. He had come to Arborlon and the Elven King out of desperation. All of his efforts at brokering an agreement with the races to bring representatives to Paranor to study in the Druid way had failed. Since then, he had lived alone at Paranor, reverting to the work of recording the history of the Four Lands. There was little else he could do. His bitterness was acute. He was trapped in a life he had never wanted. He was a reluctant Druid, recruited by the shade of Allanon in a time when there were no Druids and the presence of at least one was vital tothe survival of the races. He had accepted the blood trust bestowed by the dying Allanon hundreds of years earlier on his ancestor Brin Ohmsford, not because he coveted it in any way, but because fate and circumstance conspired to place him in a position where only he could fulfill its mandate. He had done so out of a sense of responsibility. He had done so hoping that he might change the image and work of the Druids, that he might find a way for the order to oversee civilization’s advancement through cooperative study and democratic participation by all of the peoples of the Four Lands.
He shook his head. How foolish he had been, how naive his thinking. The disparities between nations and races were too great for any single body to overcome, let alone any single man. His predecessors had realized that and acted on it accordingly. First bring strength to bear, then reason. Power commanded respect, and respect provided a platform from which to enjoin reason. He had neither. He was an outcast, solitary and anachronistic in the eyes of almost everyone. The Druids had been gone from the Four Lands since the time of Allanon. Too long for anyone to remember them as they once were. Too long to
Theresa Marguerite Hewitt