Thursday, 6 April 2017
The Time Of Becoming (and how to avoid it)
In days past, there was just the Village and nowhere else mattered; there lived a boy who was on the brink of manhood and his name was Aflet, which meant “fleet of foot” in the native tongue. He had the look of a man in every way save the depth of his eyes, which betrayed his age.
Aflet lived with his father and two brothers on the outskirts of the village overlooking the forest that surrounded them. There was a wide road which was the only way in or out.
All the villagers knew that Aflet was coming of age, and in five days there would be a huge celebration and preparations were being made. The villagers all knew each other; it was a tight knit community, even before the word was in use. The village pulled together as one.
But Aflet, by the large, took his own council; no one asked his opinion and he asked no one for theirs; and in amongst all the celebrations he was the only one who was not enjoying the festivities. He saw no reason for the party; for him growing up meant the death of childhood and a farewell to the days of innocence and happiness. Adults had lost the spark behind their eyes and all the parties and enthusiasm seemed like a sham to him, nothing but play acting. Aflet didn’t want to grow up; he wanted to stay a child.
So on this first day of celebration he found himself walking away from the village centre heading into the forest on the east side. Now, children were not allowed to wander into the east side of the forest as those were the times when the Faire Folke lived (This was before all the Faire Doors were sealed and they departed the land) and many imps and sprites had much use for the innocence and magic that lay inherent in a child’s eye and soul. But Aflet cared little for that; he didn’t believe in the Faire Folke and thought them to be a tool to frighten children into obeying adults.
Finding himself a log to sit on in a secluded part of the forest he whittled on a chunk of wood that he found with his small pocket knife. So intent on his whittling that the woman had approached him and sat down next to him and he moved not a muscle.
“I thought that all villagers had keen hearing and honed senses,” The girl said, her tone slightly mocking, “but here I am sitting right next to you and you never even heard me approach.” Aflet barely looked up as she said all this; he cared not for the girls of his village. He certainly didn’t see them as potential mates nor did he feel any stirrings towards them. So her slinking, shining hair; golden in the glow of the morning sun, barely registered with him, nor did the floating blue of her eyes –deep in Fairey passion- stir anything in him. Nor her cherry lips and inviting breasts that promised more than he could ever imagine –he was oblivious to all of this, so intent was he on his whittling.
“I heard you but chose to ignore you. I knew you would not hurt me; could not hurt me, that is. If you had tried then you would have found out why they call me Aflet.” At this he looked up at the girl before carrying on whittling.
“Ah –I see. So you think that you’re fleet of foot, do you? Could you, say, outrun a deer?”
“No,” He replied, “but I can carve one.” And he held up the most exquisite carving of a stag, standing proud with regal antlers. The girl commended him on his carving and asked if she could hold it. “If you wish.” Aflet replied and handed it to her. When she took it their fingers touched for the briefest of seconds, but it seemed like an eternity to him. Something changed in him, and he spoke as if seeing her for the first time. “Who are you?”
“I am one that knows what flutters in the human heart, and rides the waves of passion of the tide that forever turns.” She said, all the time caressing the carving of the deer with slow, lavacious strokes, never taking her eyes from his. “My name is Nimè and I am one of the Faire”
“I don’t believe in the Faire Folke.” Aflet said, feeling a stirring deep within himself –he had never faced emotions like this before and didn’t know what to say or do.
“Ah, but it’s enough that we believe in you, dear Aflet. Tell me,” She paused, taking a slow breath; Aflet hung on every second, “Do you like deer? You have crafted such an exquisite likeness that belies a passion that is rarely seen in mortals.”
“I love deer –I sometimes wish that I could run with them through the forests, that one day I will run so fast I will turn into one.”
“That may happen,” Nimè replied, “But you must want it with all your very being. You must give of yourself freely and totally for that to happen. And I am not sure that you really want that for yourself.”
“Are you saying that I could do that? That if I ran fast enough I could become a deer and leave my adulthood behind?”
“You have no adulthood to leave behind, young Aflet.” Nimè handed the deer back to Aflet and put her hand on his. “You are on the cusp of becoming a man and have nothing to lose, except your childhood –you know this to be true. You know that the adults lie to you, they want you to become like them –dead inside- whilst I want to free you, for you to become like me; alive and one with the wind. I can grant you what your heart desires and all that is asked of you is that you want it more than anything.” Aflet started to speak but Nimè placed her hand on his mouth. “Do not answer me now, you must think on it. Think long and hard because once lost, you will never become a human again –you will become like me for all eternity. You must think on it and come back here on the night that you become a man.”
“But there is a party which is being arranged for me.” Aflet protested weakly.
“A party that you do not even want to attend –is that not right, Aflet.” Aflet shook his head. “If you still wish to run with the deer and be with me then you will meet me here at sunset five days from now.”
“But I want to run with you now.” Aflet said, his words leaving his lips before he had even realised what he had said.
“Aflet –learn patience. You must be patient if you wish to become a man.” Nimè said this in a mocking tone but Aflet was oblivious to this. “Everything has to be right for this to happen –your birth-signs must be in conjunction, and they will be that night. Meet me here when the moon is full on the night of your celebration –then we will be together. But in the meantime, wear this, my true one. This will be a token of our love, and all the time you are wearing this I will not be far away.” Aflet felt Nimè stand up and put a gold necklace over his head before she walked away from him. He was alone once again and could only wonder how he was going to fill the next five days.
The time went so slow for Aflet. Five tortuous days crawled past minute by arthritic minute. With every waking hour his thoughts were with Nimè, and by night he dreamt of her - running with her through the forests, naked like the wild. Every time he missed her he would finger his necklace and count down the seconds until they could be together.
He became even less sociable and wanted nothing to do with the other villagers, spending more time in the forest in the hope that he would see her again –but this never happened.
None of this went unnoticed by Aflets parents, nor the other villagers. They had noticed the change in Aflet and seen the new necklace that he now wore and fondled frequently - and on the last day of the festival week they finally confronted him; they knew the signs. Aflet was bewitched, and once confronted he denied nothing –it was well known that he did not want to be initiated into manhood but it did come as a surprise that he had surrendered so willingly to Nimès charms.
There was talk to postpone the celebrations until after Aflet had been initiated and until that time he was to be kept under constant watch. The initiation had to take place –the celebration could wait. When it was finally agreed upon, Aflet was led back to his home to be kept under strict guard for his own protection until after the initiation –only then would he be safe from the Faire magick.
By some quirk of fate Aflets bedroom took its view over the east side of the forest –he knew that he only had to make a dash for it and he would be with his beloved. However, he was watched closely by his father and older brother. His younger brother, on the other hand, did not understand what was being done, and believed that Aflet was being punished for something; and it was to this that Aflet played to.
He would secretly call to his brother Boltur through his bedroom wall. Boltur had a room next door and Aflet talked to him through the wall, and after much gentle persuasion Boltur agreed to help Aflet escape –not realising the consequences of his actions. Boltur distracted his father long enough to allow Aflet to climb out of his bedroom window and run to the forest to be with his Nimè.
Sure enough, she was there waiting for him. On his approach she opened her arms and herself to him, and they became one in animal heat and love.
It was at this time that Aflets father and brother realised that he was no longer under guard, and with horror they knew where he would surely be, and prayed as they ran that they would be in time to save him.
When they finally caught up with Aflet they found him naked, embracing a fallow doe as if they were lovers. The doe immediately bolted, glancing back at Aflet as she ran –an understanding passed between them, and he turned to his kin and faced them. The Aflet whom they had grown up with was gone –the man that stood up in front of them was no longer mortal. There was an otherness in his eyes that spoke of foreign lands and magicks that they would never know.
“You are too late.” He said, his voice now deep and booming.
“Come back to us.” His father said to him, his arm outstretched.
“There is still time for initiation –we can undo what has been done to you.” His brother implored.
“I do not want initiation, oh my brother. I have never wanted initiation. Nimè has given me my hearts desire –to run with her, to be one with her.”
“Come back with us, brother –please.” His brother begged now, fear trembling in his voice.
“No –I stayed here to fare you well –to say good bye to my mortality. Do not try and follow me – this is what I want. This is what I have always wanted.” And with that Aflet turned and ran. He ran as he had never done before –he could see Nimè as clear as the morning sun even though she was far in the distance, waiting for him. His eyes were so much more powerful now, his hearing acute and his sense of smell keener than ever. As he ran he could feel his body shift and change. Soon he was running on four legs, a full set of antlers growing like a crown.
His brother and father could only watch as the transformation was complete.
Far in the distance, at the other end of the forest, stood two fallow deer; one doe and one magnificent stag. Around the neck of the stag a golden necklace glinted in the evening sunset, and with that the deer ran off.