Awaiting the Ship (Part 3)

Selkirk arrived at the little garden with bread in one hand and a rolled-up scroll in the other. Marla was already here, having been brought by the attendants in her large, round basket bed with the thick comfortable pillows. It seemed to Marla that her withered limbs were getting noticeably more limber and sensitive to touch. It was getting easier to swivel her head, too, so she had no trouble turning to see Selkirk as he approached.

Waving the loaf of bread as a greeting, Selkirk said, “Good evening, Marla! I’ve brought another kind of bread and something to read. How are you feeling tonight?” The elderly drow gentleman took a seat next to the basket bed on the stone garden bench and crossed his legs as all proper gentlemen do.

Marla smiled and chuckled at the odd mannerisms of her new friend. She had never known a dark elven man to act as Selkirk did. Nobody she had ever known behaved like this. Her smiles were coming more naturally now and with frequency that Marla would have found alarming a century ago. She answered by saying, “I am doing better, thank you. You are right, there is magic flowing all throughout this wondrous place. I feel almost as if I am getting younger by years with each passing day.”

Selkirk gave a soft laugh and said, “You might at that. The very topic of this scroll. I had a devil of a time finding this particular one. There are quite a number of these things tucked away in the library here, and none of them are categorized in any intelligent fashion. Luckily magic can sort through the rubbish and now I can share this with you.” Setting the scroll in his lap, Selkirk tore the bread in half and handed Marla her portion. “You’ll find this one a bit savorier than the one from last night. They make it with a different sort of grain.”

As the two of them sat chewing the bread and making the proper yummy sounds, Selkirk unrolled the scroll and with a snap of his fingers a small bauble of light appeared above and behind his head to illuminate the text. The writing was in elvish, as would be expected for the library of Havre d’Anges, and so Selkirk translated it into dark elven as he read. Marla stared up into the night sky and listened. Selkirk’s reading voice was somewhat deeper than most people would imagine, and his soft, melodic tones were deeply soothing. Elvish was a profoundly poetic language and in this setting the words seemed almost as a lullaby.

The scroll described the mystical properties of Arborea, the plane in which all elves were believed to have originated and to which they would one day return. Most dark elves had long ago abandoned any hope of being allowed entry to Arborea because of the loyalty that their ancestors had sworn to Lolth, the demonic Goddess of Spiders. The afterlife for the majority of the drow was going to be spent in the torturous depths of the Abyss, one of the outer planes where those who had spent their lives engaged in chaos and evil would inevitably end. But for elves who had steered towards good, or at least neutrality, in their dealings with others could look forward to being rejoined to their kin in Arborea.

Selkirk read one passage twice to highlight its importance. “Here in the paradise of time eternal will the fair folk be restored in mind as well as body. The ravages of life in mortality will be soothed and the effects of great age and illness removed. Thusly rejuvenated will they spend the rest of their existence in the presence of beauty, light, and peace.”

Marla furrowed her brow and she said quietly, “I’m not sure about spending eternity in the light. That doesn’t sound remotely soothing.”

Selkirk replied with a chuckle, “I am certain that the effect it has on you know won’t be the effect it has on you there. The important bit is that we will have our worn-out bodies restored. You’ll be able to walk, or dance, or just sit upright if you like.” He turned and gazed over the garden wall at the sea beyond. “And I’ll have my sanity returned fully.” he almost whispered. “Not like it is here. It is better now than it was, I’ll grant you that. But better still in Arborea.”

They sat quietly eating the bread, and Selkirk rolled the scroll back up. Marla looked at him and asked, “What if I don’t want to walk again? What if I just want you to levitate my basket and float me about?”

Selkirk thought for a moment and then said, “Then I shall weave you a better basket.”