Elijah: A Very Short Story

Once upon a time, there was a young piglet whose parents had been sent to the slaughterhouse. He was all alone, and he had nothing but the desolate landscape of his thoughts to keep him company.

One day while he was walking through the enchanted forest, he happened upon a mighty panther, so long and sleek and powerful. The piglet was sure that the panther would devour him immediately. And, without doubt, that thought crossed the panther’s mind.

But then . . . a beautiful and delicate fairy drifted down from the White Tree of Magic, and she informed the panther that the piglet was in possession of the purest soul she had ever borne witness to. The panther was a hunter, a merciless killer; and yet, the fairy’s words touched his heart. He spared the piglet, slinking past it on his way to some alternate feast.

The beautiful fairy did three revolutions in the air, waving her ornate oaken wand and sprinkling the dust of her race over the piglet. In less than a moment, he had transformed into a tall and strapping man.

“You are human now,” the fairy said to him. “You shall protect this world from evil and greed. You will live many years, and you will do incredible things. Henceforth, your name shall be Elijah.”

With a flutter of her lace-like wings, she flew down to Elijah and kissed his cheek. Then she disappeared.

Elijah still lives to this day, just as strong and pure of heart as ever he was. He awaits the last battle with steady hands and a patient heart.

The Great and Mighty JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL.

For the first time in a LONG time, I’ve been reading a work of modern literature. I usually don’t like them.

But Susanna Clarke changed my mind.

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Now, admittedly, this book IS over a decade old. But, to me, that’s pretty modern. And yet, with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, you’d never know it. The writing is seamless, perfect in every way. The book is a masterpiece.

It is, however, over 1,000 pages long — and I’m only on page 200. So I’ve got a-ways to go. But I don’t mind! I’m a slow reader, though, so it’ll probably take me a while.

I love fantasy; and I love classy writing. Therefore, I love this book. It’s got just the right amount of darkness and eeriness; and I love that, too!

Here’s what the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said about it.

“While Jonathan Strange is every bit as whimsical and playful as the Harry Potter books, it is also grave and upsetting, the very opposite of comforting children’s entertainment . . . Clarke has delivered a book of universal truths and unexpectedly heartbreaking acuity.”

Take, for example, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair. When he comes to bring Miss Wintertowne back to life, he makes a deal with Mr. Norrell.

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“Grant me half the lady’s life and the deal is done.”

“Half her life?” echoed Mr. Norrell.

“Half,” said the gentleman with the thistle-down hair.

“But what would her friends say if they learnt I had bargained away half her life?” asked Mr. Norrell.

“Oh! They will never know anything of it. You may rely upon me for that,” said the gentleman. “Besides, she has no life now. Half a life is better than none.”

“How long is a life?” Mr. Norrell asked.

The gentleman with the thistle-down hair spread his hands in a gesture of the utmost candour. “How long would you like?”

Mr. Norrell considered. “Let us suppose she had lived until she was ninety-four . . . If you were to bestow upon her another seventy-five years, then I see no reason why you should not have half of it.”

“Seventy-five years then,” agreed the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, “exactly half of which belongs to me.”

Mr. Norrell regarded him nervously. “Is there anything more we must do?” he asked. “Shall we sign something?”

“No, but I should like to take something of the lady’s to signify my claim upon her . . . It ought to be something . . . Ah! I know!”

And then, a short while later, after the young lady has been revived:

Miss Wintertowne . . . rose and smiled at Drawlight . . . And she held out both her hands to him, and he took them.

“Madam?” he said. He gave a short, embarrassed laugh (which was odd enough in itself — Drawlight was not easily embarrassed). He did not let go of her hands but looked around the room as if in search of someone to help him out of a difficulty. Then he lifted one of her own hands and showed it to her. She did not appear in any way alarmed by what she saw, but she did look surprised; she raised the hand so that her mother could see it.

The little finger of her left hand was gone.

Ah! What a strange gentleman — that fairy with the thistle-down hair! Equally entertaining and sinister is his meeting with the servant Stephen Black, and the subsequent extension of an invitation to the gentleman’s strange ball at Lost-hope House . . . but I’ll wrap it up for now.

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The illustrations in the book, by the way, were created by Portia Rosenberg. A very talented woman, that.

As is the lovely Susanna Clarke! Thank you for a wonderful treat, Miss Clarke. I look forward to reading the rest of your masterpiece.

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Lamia and the 7 Elves of Kildún.

There was once a young woman named Lamia, who dwelt in the world of humans, and who longed for someone to love her. While she was lying in her bed one night, and wondering what it would be like for someone to hold her, and tell her that she was dear to them, something amazing happened. She saw a bright light shining through her closed eyelids: and she looked to see a pure white doorway standing open in the wall of her bedroom.

She got out of bed, and walked to the doorway, just past which there was a very small elf standing. “Come into Kildún,” he said, “and find the one you love.”

So Lamia followed him through the doorway. Beyond, there opened up a beautiful world of green grasses, blue skies, and sparkling waters. Lamia had never seen anything like it.

“Come,” the little elf repeated. “Come and find the one you love.”

He waved for her to go on; and then he disappeared. So Lamia went, moving on through the land of Kildún. It wasn’t long before she met another elf: very young, very beautiful, and very playful.

Caina

“My name is Caina,” she said. “If you will love me, I will give you wings to fly — and we can soar together for the rest of our days.”

“No,” Lamia said. “Though I should like very much to fly — I’m afraid I don’t love you.”

Caina shrugged, and giggled. “All right,” she said. “Goodbye, then!”

And off she flew. So Lamia went on, until she came into a darker place, and found there a very eerie elf, who walked upon the water of a vast black lake, and who held a dark wooden wand in her hand.

Medruga

“My name is Medruga,” the elf said. “If you will love me, I will use my magic to make it so that you can walk with me upon the water. We will live here on this lake forever.”

“Only God in heaven can make it so that I can walk upon the water,” Lamia answered. “So I must tell you no.”

Medruga was more hurt by Lamia’s refusal than Caina had been; but still, she simply nodded, and watched sadly as Lamia began to walk away.

A while later, Lamia came to a great tree that stood in the midst of a flowing river. On a throne before this tree, there sat an elf with hair the color of blood.

Sylphona

“My name is Sylphona,” she said. “If you will love me, I will let you drink from this river, and together we will be forever young.”

But Lamia shook her head. “I have always imagined someone that I can grow old with,” she said. “Then, when one day we die, we will be in heaven together. That’s the life I dream of.”

“Very well,” Sylphona replied, waving her hand in a very stately manner to show that Lamia was dismissed.

So Lamia set off again, until she came to a vast hall of stone, in which there sat a pale, horned elf upon a throne carved of marble.

Borrigan

“My name is Borrigan,” the horned elf said. “These two elves beneath me have held up my throne for centuries — but if you will love me, I will call them out, and make them your servants.”

Lamia was horrified. “You remind me of the devil,” she said. “You are cruel to keep those elves beneath your throne. You have no heart; and I cannot love you.”

This was the first of the elves to become angry when Lamia refused her. With a face full of rage, Borrigan leapt up from her throne, and made to strike a blow towards Lamia. But Lamia ran away, and went around the hall of stone before Borrigan could catch her.

Though she was very shaken, Lamia went on. Soon, she came to a shadowy wood, from out of the depths of which many voices cried out in pain. She went into the wood, and soon came across an elf who was covered from head to foot in a dark cloth. She held a wand as Medruga had done, and she knelt upon a stone block, at the foot of which there was tied a very frightened prisoner.

Malina

“My name is Malina,” the elf said to Lamia. “I have many prisoners such as this one. Can you hear their voices crying? If you will love me, I will slay them all, and offer you their blood as a wedding present.”

“You disgust me,” Lamia said. “You think you are powerful, because you hold these people captive — but you are only evil. I could never love you.”

“Oh, well,” Malina said. “Perhaps someone else will come. It wasn’t long ago that another girl came by — perhaps only fifty years ago.”

And she settled herself down upon the stone block, to stare off into the trees, awaiting the arrival of another young woman who might like her offer better than Lamia had.

With a terrible shiver, Lamia turned away from Malina, and hurried off. After a time, it grew dark, and it became hard to find her way. But suddenly she made out the light of a candle, which was burning above an elf who hovered in midair.

Corella

The elf was holding a box in her hands, and was staring down at it, so that she didn’t notice right away when Lamia arrived. But then Lamia cleared her throat, and the elf looked up.

“Hello,” she said. “My name is Corella. This box holds the ashes of my lost love; and I always hold it, to make me feel that she is near.”

“I’m sorry,” Lamia said.

“Don’t be sorry,” Corella said. “But if you will love me, I will put this box away, and never look at it again.”

Even as she said this, though, she was still staring at the box. It was clear that she could never part with it.

“No,” Lamia said. “I’m sorry for you — but I’m afraid I can’t love you. I hope that someday you find happiness.”

She walked away from Corella, but the elf didn’t even notice her departure. Lamia hung her head as she walked, and wept, because she was beginning to think that she would never find her true love.

But suddenly, she came into an open field, where there was a shining sword lying upon a table. She came closer to inspect the sword; and out of nowhere, a lovely elf appeared. She wore a green cloak, and she smiled kindly.

“I have been waiting for you for many years,” she said to Lamia. “My name is Panya. If you will let me love you — I will use this sword to vanquish anyone who would harm you. I have never had to use it before now, but I would use it every day from now on, if only to protect you.”

She took up the sword, then, and lifted it in a solemn oath.

Panya

Lamia looked wonderingly into Panya’s face, and then began to smile. Panya was the first of the elves to say, not “If you will love me,” but “If you will let me love you.” And though it was obvious that she didn’t want to have to use the sword, she was willing to do it for Lamia.

“I will let you love me,” Lamia told her. “And I will love you in return. I will not go back to the world of humans; but I will stay here with you in Kildún.”

So Panya took Lamia’s hand; and they went away together, to live out the rest of their days in the magical land of Kildún.

THE END.

(This is an original story crafted with images from Brian Froud & Ari Berk’s book, The Runes of Elfland.)