The Council of Murnoth
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Endel was lost. From the seas of the northern shore she had wandered, over hills and through lowlands, along rivers and roads, and through strange, lonely fields that delivered her finally into the shadows of Lurwood. Like a starving wolf chasing her elusive prey an enchanting whisper had lured her; a mysterious longing in her heart, drawing her far and painfully over the lands; away from the ocean, away from her kin. Yet without end she wandered, entranced and ensnared.

Now the earth was passing into night’s shroud, and looming trees thrust thick shadows across her pathless steps into the forest’s heart.

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Deep, dark, and full of murky mists was Lurwood; and from border to border it smothered the lands for endless leagues. In its core it opened suddenly into a vast, treeless glade where the air was light and the moon was free to cast her wide, pale flame beyond the wood’s eclipse. In the centre of the glade, a deep and silent pool, encircled by tall stones, was eerily still under an ancient enchantment. It was hither that invisible fingers beckoned the wandering Endel.

Yet to Endel it seemed only that she was following an aimless and miserable journey into a torturous labyrinth of trees. But the whisper inside her was unyielding. It crept into her thoughts and tempted her soul; it filled her body with restlessness. On she wandered into deeper shadows. The air that lingered in the forest was thick and heavy to breathe, and in the stillness the cries, snarls, and snivels of lurking creatures echoed ghoulishly. In the East, the waxing moon rose steadily, up over the treetops. Through crevices in the veiling leaves its flame broke through and turned the mists in the treetops a dim silver. She paused, looked around and sighed. It was a horrible place. blood ambled from a wound across her forehead. and her skin itched all over from the venom of strange, ghastly leaves. Far off, the wails fo some tortured beast traversed through the darkness like a sad and dreadful note from a broken pipe. Behind her worn raiment her long fingers reached, and she clasped a little seashell trinket that hung between her breasts. "Mother-Sea," she whispered hopelessly, looking back from hither she came.

But the voice in her spirit grew all at once stronger, and she stumbled further into the strangling darkness.

It was in the blackest and most silent hour that the unseen fingers dragged Endel through the final, choking wall of trees. Many times had she sunk to the cold earth in weakness and torment, but deep under the spell she had always seemed to find her legs again and stagger a little further, though half-dead. Rent to its last shreds was her raiment, and ulcers wrought by cruel branches and thorns stung her bare skin. Yet now her body was beyond pain. A fierceness like thunder upon the Sea was in her eyes, and it glimmered wildly even in the darkness. But as she passed through the last shadow and into the deliverance of the glade, that which had beckoned and lured her for endless days and darknesses all at once released its grip on her spirit, and in its place prevailed a deep anguish.

She fell into the grass and wept.

 

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Simon Avery
Copyright, 1999.
All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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