Session VIII: The Journey Stone (part 3)

What Koringa, Stark, and Spiderssen saw.

Turning the corner, Koringa, Stark, and Spiderssen  saw a statue of a lean, naked man with a massive set of antlers extending from his head. His facial features had been largely lost to time, but in the remnants of his eyes there was a look that was by turns both sad and sinister. Both his arms were outstretched, as though inviting his visitors to take them.

Acting individually and completely unaware of anything or anyone else in the room, each of the men took the statue’s hand, and at once it was as though each was in a dream: as though he were witnessing something as she experienced it. This is what it was like:

There was a young man who went out hunting, and all the day he and his hounds hunted everywhere, and they crossed the rivers and went into all the woods, and went round the marshes, but they couldn’t find anything at all, and they hunted all day till the sun sank down and began to set behind the mountain. And the young man was angry because he couldn’t find anything, and he was going to turn back, when just as the sun touched the mountains, he saw come out of a break in front of him a beautiful white stag. And he cheered to his hounds but they whined and would not follow, and he cheered to his horse, but it shivered and stood stock still, and the young man jumped off the horse and left the hounds and began to follow the white stag all alone. And soon it was quite dark and the sky was black, without a single star shining in it, and the stag went away into the darkness. And though the man had brought his bow with him he never shot at the stag, because he wanted to catch it, and he was afraid he would lose it in the night. But he never lost it once, though the sky was so black and the air was so dark, and the stag went on and on till the young man didn’t know a bit where he was. And they went through enormous woods where the air was full of whispers and a pale, dead light came out of the rotten trunks that were lying on the ground, and just as the man thought he had lost the stag, he would see it all white and shining in front of him, and he would run fast to catch it, but the stag always ran faster, so he did not catch it. And they went through the enormous woods, and they swam across rivers, and the waded through black marshes where the ground bubbled, and the air was full of will-o-the-wisps, and the stag fled away down into the rocky narrow valleys, where the air was like the smell of a vault, and the young man went after it. And they went over the great mountains and the young man heard the wind come down from the sky, and the stag went on and the young man went after. At last the sun rose and the young man found he was in a country that he had never seen before; it was a beautiful valley with a bright stream running through it and a great big round hill in the middle. And the stag went down the valley, towards the hill, and it seemed to be getting tired and went slower and slower, and though the young man was getting tired too, he began to run faster, and he was sure he would catch the stag at last. But just as they got to the bottom of the hill, and the man stretched out his hand to catch the stag, it vanished into the earth, and the man began to cry; he was so sorry that he had lost it after all his long hunting. But as he was crying he saw there was a door in the hill, just in front of him, and he went in, and it was quite dark, but he went on, as he thought he would find the white stag. And all of a sudden it got light, and there was the sky, and the sun shining, and birds singing in the trees, and there was a beautiful fountain. And by the fountain a lovely lady was sitting, who was the queen of the faeries, and she told the man that she had changed herself into a stag to bring him there because she loved him so much. Then she brought out a great gold cup, covered with jewels from her fairy palace, and she offered him wine in the cup to drink. And you drank, and the more you drank the more you longed to drink, because the wine was enchanted. So you kissed the lovely lady, and she became your wife, and when you woke you found you were lying on the ground, close to where you had seen the stag first, and your horse was there and your hounds were there waiting, and you looked up, and the sun sank behind the mountain. And you went home and lived a long time, but you would never kiss any other lady because you had kissed the queen of the fairies, and you would never drink any common wine any more, because you had drunk enchanted wine. And one morning you awoke to find a magnificent rack of antlers protruding from your head; and you knew your time had come, and you left your land and nobody saw you ever again.

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~ by erranttiger on August 10, 2011.

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