Argollean renewal

Sticks beating together...and then logs sonorously and rhythmically thumping...and then sticks again. The moon was bright and red in the still falling blood rain. Owls hooted in the omnipresent woods as the piping began. High pitched and lilting, it bid the listener to rise and dance. This was the morning Briar and Raven were to be wed.

Such an event had grown uncommon among the Southern Argolleans. Elven memories are long and none could quite place when the last time the ritual was seen. Certainly around the time of the Auran invasion, maybe for a short while after? "No," an elder elf would correct the statement. "The Aurans drove us from our homes and Aisoth the Vile despoiled our beautiful Cyfandir because we stopped our rituals of renewal, not the other way around. We had ceased our renewal and so the future closed to us. Today we witness a deep magic."

Daria awoke with the first rhythmic tapping, her warrior senses probing the night for danger. She remembered where she was and the manner of transport that brought her here. Deep in the Istrith Forest she should be alert and cautious, yet she felt very...welcomed. There was a sense of joy and expectancy hanging in the air. Shortly after the piping started, there was the laughing of...children? Then a knock at the door. Opening the door, she saw the bride and groom, soaked in the red ichor falling from the skies. Their eyes danced with light and happiness. "Come, Daria! Join the dance!" And off they went to the next dwelling among the trees, knocking politely and continuing the rhythmic movements characterizing the ritual. Bowing and swaying, rotating and swerving around each other down the path, arm in arm. "Come, Meadow! Join the dance!' "Come, Friend Bear! Join the dance!" Daria poked her companions and a sleepy roc bleated like a lamb and immediately hopped into the growing community of rhythmically whirling creatures. Were those...unicorns? And badgers? Definitely badgers! So hard to tell in the predawn rain! 

As she stepped into the dance, she felt more than a bit awkward at first. The roc seemed to catch on instinctively, as did Meadow. Music filled the air drowning out the sound of the rain. Perhaps it was even raining a little less? They advanced down the stone street deeper into the woods for what seemed just a moment and came into a clearing. Briar and Raven were in the center of the clearing, continuing the dance. They were each chanting to each other as the clearing filled. Daria stood next to Meadow and sensed she too was overcome with awe at what they were witnessing, nay participating in. 

Daria wove an enchantment so she and Meadow could understand the words of the chanting. "Sing of Creation, Eamon Arne, sing today. Stars first light who was and is. Dance now at the Foundation of the World. Sing anew the Light who is."

Raven, original art by
The morning sky began to lighten to the east making it clear they stood on a promontory overlooking the ocean. The waves crashed distantly and could scarce be heard over the rhythmic drumming. Increasing light showed the drummers to be rows of giant living trees beating out a rhythm on their branches, all the while sheltering the wedding party and guests with their boughs. The sun began to rise ever so slightly over the horizon and Raven began keening loudly. The drumming and piping stopped as Raven's voice grew louder and still louder. Elven women fell to the ground sobbing for what was lost to them. Meadow and Daria both felt their hearts beat in their chests, trying to break free of the sorrow imprisoning them, yearning to fly free. Elven men stared shamefaced at the pooling red ichor at their feet. All the while, the circle around Briar and Raven kept rotating like the wheel of the sky. The women who had collapsed were helped back to their feet by neighboring women who had been keening lowly, then louder. As all the women keened as one, a deep sonorous hum began to grow. first from Briar, then to all the men. It grew louder until it became one with the keening. All the beasts of the field and birds of the air soon joined in just as the sun came fully over the horizon. With that, the drumming and piping began anew, and the wheel stopped turning.
Briar, original art by GardenGnome

Briar and Raven approached the Lady Mornya first and the three engaged in a rotating exchanging dance which then moved to Gwrach Gwyedd who seemed the most skilled in this dance even if a bit old for an elf. The four proceeded to dance around the circle of guests, which numbered in the hundreds, bowing and dancing with each guest. While they made this circle, tables were brought out and set, all under the protecting arms of the ents. All manner of food and drink were presented and sat for a moment before a hungry bear made his way forward to help himself to some fruit. With that, everyone joined in. Briar and Raven continued their rounds, stopping only when they came to four ornate chairs where they knelt down together and bowed. Gwrach Gwyedd had moved over to Daria, Floyd, and Meadow. "Those would have been their parents. Long dead. Such is the way of things. It is good to have humans here. It has been a very long time since an Argollean has seen this ritual. I suspect it may be the first time an Auran has ever seen it. You are welcome here; the feasts and celebrations will run for the coming week." With that, he stepped back into the dancing.


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