The Érenyel: Part 10 (Vúnyeðel's Choice)

Fiction By James // 10/25/2011

Kindred was separated from kindred, and although Vúnyeðel found comfort in Shereynah his wife, he missed his brother Durfil who had left in pursuit of Ordéash.  He worried for him as well, and feared what might befall him.  He decided to set out after him, taking Shereynah with him.  After making another boat, they sailed to all the islands that he and Durfil had explored years before, and found traces of his passing: places where he had beached his boat, and footprints where he had walked.  They also found evidence of the passing of another being: rocks broken in half, trees shredded and torn up by the roots, and even remnants of small animals torn to bits.  When she saw the malice, destruction and death, Shereynah buried her head in Vúnyeðel’s shoulder and wept.  She had resisted evil, and thus had come to know of it; but now for the first time she observed its physical carnage.  Vúnyeðel also deeply grieved, but did his best to comfort his wife.  There was no doubt: the twisted one had preceded Durfil here.  It seemed that because of his father’s choice, Ordéash had been granted a power to destroy that was not formerly his.

Vúnyeðel and Shereynah continued following Durfil’s tracks until they reached the shore of the mainland to the north, where Vúnyeðel and Durfil had landed on their first voyage before turning south.  They went inland a ways, and saw that they were in a pleasant land dressed in airy woods, gurgling rivers and grassy meadows that rippled in the breeze.  Here Vúnyeðel and Shereynah stopped.  The tracks of both Ordéash and Durfil continued North, but for now they would rest from following them.  The day was almost gone, and as the sun fell the weary couple sank with it and slept in the grass.

That night, Áronyeh came to Vúnyeðel and said, “Do not fear for your brother Durfil.  I will protect him from harm – yet, he will be tested, and the choice will be given to him to obey me or to seek his own counsel.  Although his choice to seek the stolen stones was not wise, he did not act wickedly, and this shall work either to his triumph or to his fall.  You also, Vúnyeðel, have yet to be tested.  Seek not your own wisdom, but seek mine, so that in the day of trial you shall overcome.”

In the morning, Vúnyeðel told Shereynah of Áronyeh’s visit, and they decided not to pursue their brother any further.  Instead, they tarried in that land for a month, exploring its woods, its rivers, and its mountains.  After this, they journeyed home, agreeing that some day they would return and sojourn there again.

Years began to pass, and Vúnyeðel was anxious – he missed his brother, and he felt a tension between himself and his parents.  They rarely spoke to each other.  Rayôn and Qeyrah hung their heads in shame at his approach, and Vúnyeðel found it difficult to think of anything good to say to them.  He spent much of his time away from them, doing his best with Shereynah to care for the creation around them.  Áronyeh had gifted them both, and they used their skills to speak to the trees and awaken them, and teach them thoughts.  They cared especially for the willows that grew along the rivers, and the birches and oaks that grew in the woods.  The trees began to awake under their care, and something like minds were kindled in them – minds full of the wetness of water, and the sweetness of sap, and the slow process of growth.  Vúnyeðel would listen, as Shereynah sang to them, and was sure that he felt them speaking.  It thrilled him.

Another blessing came to them – Shereynah found she was with child.

Yet amid this news, Vúnyeðel was troubled.  He thought of his posterity, and the future offspring of his parents.  His would be unfallen, but his father’s would struggle with the stains of his rebellion.  They would be born wicked, and though some might turn, surely many wouldn’t.  Vúnyeðel feared there would be destruction in his beautiful world.  Men would multiply everywhere.  He feared what men would do.  Rayôn and Qeyrah had not had children for nearly ten years.  Vúnyeðel was not sure, but he thought that his parents’ shame from their deed lingered strong and prevented them.  But if this was so, they would soon heal as their deed faded into the past and the shock of their fate wore away.  They would have children again.

And what then?  Vúnyeðel’s thoughts strayed toward gloom.  Evil things would happen.  Rayôn’s seed would destroy Arah.

One day, while Vúnyeðel was thinking such things, he sat under the shade of one of the oaks that he cared for, and felt it speaking again.  But now he clearly understood its words.

Is all well with you, friend? it said.

Vúnyeðel was slightly surprised that this tree had gained such clarity of thought, and was thinking outside of itself and reading his thoughts.  He responded, All is well, friend.  Be at peace.

The tree seemed to sigh contentedly, and it said no more that day.  But the next day, Vúnyeðel again rested by the tree, and it again spoke to him.  Is all well with you, friend?

Vúnyeðel guarded his mind carefully, not wanting to give the tree reason to worry.  Yes, all is well, friend.  Be at peace.  Today is a good day; the next day will also be a delight.  Again the tree responded contentedly.  Good.  I am happy.  Vúnyeðel went to speak with the other trees, and felt their thoughts – but none spoke to him with clear words like the oak.  Vúnyeðel wondered at this, and thought that the oak must be unusually bright.  He visited the oak every day and conversed with it.

One day, he looked up and noticed with a shock that its leaves were wilting.  Is all well with you? he asked the tree.

No, said the tree.

What is wrong?

I am sad, said the tree.  I fear what will happen in days to come when the fallen sons of your father multiply in the land.  Perhaps I shall be cut down. If not me, then surely countless ones among my kindred.  I grieve and I do not drink.

“I must not have hid my thoughts well enough,” thought Vúnyeðel to himself.  “This tree has burdened itself with my cares, and now it will make an end to itself, and it is entirely my fault for my carelessness.”  He turned to the tree.  Take heart, and drink.

The tree did not drink, and Vúnyeðel’s concern grew.  He encouraged the tree with promises that all would be well, but to no avail.  Finally, Vúnyeðel said, It is no good wilting yourself.  My father will have sons, but so will I; I and my sons shall protect you and your kindred.

It won’t do, said the tree.  You will not be able to protect all of us.  Arah will still suffer under their feet.

Vúnyeðel could not contradict what the tree said; it was merely echoing what he had been thinking for many days now.  He thought a moment before replying.  Perhaps so; we won’t be able to stop all of it.  But we can help guard against much of it.

It won’t do, said the tree once more.

There is nothing else that can be done! said Vúnyeðel.

But there is!

Vúnyeðel paused a moment.  And what would that be?

Do not let your father have children.

Vúnyeðel was taken aback by the tree’s response.  He shook his head slowly, and said aloud, “Such a thing is not for me – that is between my parents, and Áronyeh who inspires love and gives life.  It is not my place to make such a decision.”

Then I shall continue to whither.

“You mustn’t.”

I’m sorry – I cannot drink.  My fear prevents me.

Over the next few days, Vúnyeðel tried to reason with the tree.  Shereynah wondered at his activity, and Vúnyeðel told her, “a tree is suffering by not drinking, and I am trying to heal it.”  Shereynah followed him to the tree and sang to it.  The tree responded by sighing, but it did nothing else.  Vúnyeðel did not want to bother her, so he did not tell her that the tree could speak clear thoughts.  When Shereynah had gone, the tree again spoke.  It is not too late, Vúnyeðel.  The seed of your father threatens us all, but it can be stopped.

You counsel me to harm my father.

Not at all.  It would not harm him, but it would stop his seed forever.

How would this happen? said Vúnyeðel.

If you make a tea with ten of my leaves, and a leaf from a hemlock, and several kinds of flowers, it will destroy the seed in his body, but him it will not harm.

Such a thing is not for me to do, said Vúnyeðel.  What you ask, I cannot give you.

Days passed, and the tree continued to whither.  Vúnyeðel watched it sadly.  And then at night he had dreams.  He saw men all over the land, wielding axes and swords, and slaughtering each other.  He saw them wielding fire, and marching to the forests, hacking and burning and destroying everything in their paths.  The dreams disturbed him, but he told no one.  Yet every night he had such dreams – and finally one night he saw Ordéash, laughing in triumph as men reduced Arah to ashes.  All that was left was ash, fire, blood and stone… and one oak, dry and dead in the midst of the desolation, its leaves long since departed from its blackened branches.

Vúnyeðel awoke with a start.  He could not let such things happen.  He would not.  When his father had sons, he would not let them do this.

The thoughts of the tree came back to him.  All this could be prevented.

No, not that way, thought Vúnyeðel.

No one would be harmed.

But it goes too far.  It’s not within my dominion.

Vúnyeðel went outside and looked around him.  He was in his dominion.  This is what Áronyeh had given him to protect.  Was the oak right?

All day Vúnyeðel struggled internally.  Evening came, and a dread of sleeping came to him.  He did not want another nightmare.  He closed his eyes and remembered them.  He pictured the oak, and the other trees, cut down and burned.  No, it wouldn’t happen.

He opened his eyes.  He had made his decision.

Comments

NO

That's an evil tree! Bad tree. Bad tree. Don't trust him. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Julie | Wed, 10/26/2011

Formerly Kestrel

What a great twist! I am

What a great twist! I am literally on edge, wondering what will happen. Is the Evil One in the tree too, or is this part of the earth being cursed? 

In hope of a new chapter soon,

Anna

Anna | Tue, 11/01/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief