Author's Note:Narnia is not mine, nor the Wood Between the Worlds, the magic rings, Susan’s horn, and many other elements that will come in later chapters. Please don’t sue me.
Rated K+ Suitable for more mature childen, 9 years and older, with minor action violence without serious injury. May contain mild coarse language. Should not contain any adult themes.
“What on earth!” exclaimed Gabrielle.
“What happened to your clothes?” added Graham, “and wh-”
“I say – look Graham it’s Evan!” interrupted the sister and immediately all three children found themselves in a tumbling embrace, and each began talking all at once and not one really heard the other until Graham finally stood and shouted, “But Avadis, how did you get those clothes!” and this got everyone laughing until Evan finally explained what happened.
“Wow, you saw where we live?” said Gabrielle, “How did you like it?”
“I think your world is simply wonderful,” said Avadis.
“But you never left,” Graham said in a confused voice, “we’ve seen you here with us since we left the Gathering Place.”
“That’s right,” answered Evan, “I forgot to explain that. It must be that, when using the magic rings, a person can spend any amount of time in another world, but will always return to his own world at the exact moment he left. Just like when I went to the Wood on accident and came back for Avadis and LilyWind. They didn’t even know I’d left.” And that is exactly what happened because Avadis, LilyWind, Gabrielle, and Graham were out gathering mushrooms for a festival when suddenly, without a flash or a sound, Evan appeared and Avadis’ clothing changed in an instant (that is why Graham said, “What happened to your clothes?”).
“And speaking of the rings,” said Evan, “I suppose we should be getting home now.”
“What?!” Gabrielle and Graham both shouted at the same time.
“We can’t go now,” said Gabrielle.
“Leave Avadis and LilyWind?” added Graham. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Are you two out of your minds? This isn’t our home; it isn’t even our world! And I’ve brought us everything we need to get back to where we came from.”
“You think you’re here to save us?” asked Gabrielle.
“I think that’s all I know I can do right now.”
“What about them Evan?” said Graham looking toward Avadis and LilyWind. “Who’s going to help them? Didn’t you say the horn called them to earth because they needed help?”
“Listen to me,” said Evan calmly, “We’re just children, and we belong in our own world. We can’t do anything to help them.” He turned to Avadis, “Friend, this has been the most amazing adventure of my life. And when we get home, even if I never wake up to find it was a dream, I will never be the same. But you know there’s nothing we can do, don’t you?” But Avadis said nothing. He just shut his eyes and made a face Evan thought looked very sad.
“We must at least go to the festival!” said Gabrielle. “To say goodbye to everyone, and maybe when you meet them you’ll want to stay.”
“Hurrah! And no one will even know we’re gone,” said Graham. “Why, we could stay here a whole lifetime and still go home to be children again!”
“Won’t you stay with us for the festival Evan,” asked Gabrielle.
Evan sighed and rolled his eyes, “Well, I’m not going without you and it appears that I’m outvoted. But after the festival…” he stared at Graham, “we’re going home!” And though he sounded stern, Evan really wanted to cry again. You see, Evan already loved Avadis and LilyWind and he really did want to help them, but somewhere in his heart he still wanted to be dreaming too.
“If we could just get home,” thought the part of Evan that wanted to be dreaming, “I’m just sure we’d find out that none of this ever really happened. Then Avadis, LilyWind, and all Ensveria would be okay. But then,” thought the part of Evan that wanted to believe, “they wouldn’t be real and we’d never see them again. Oh bother, this is the most wretched good dream I’ve ever had.”
And as the friends made their way through the Stone Forest to the Gathering Place, the Dreaming Evan felt both frightened and depressed at the same time; frightened because of the immense structures all around him and because of the darkness that could have hidden anything amongst them, and depressed because with LilyWind’s light he only saw stone everywhere they went. There was no color, no plants, not a single animal or even a noise. It was only cool gray stone, and there was no other light.
Avadis led with LilyWind just over his head, Gabrielle behind him, and the boys in the rear. This was the order, but really they moved together like one person, so close to one another that they were always touching and they could often feel the breath of the person behind them on their necks. They traveled like this because LilyWind’s light allowed them to see only five or six feet in any direction (Avadis could actually see three or four times as far as the children because an elf’s senses are much stronger than a human’s, but he took care not to forget their limits and besides the stones were usually too close to see very far anyway).
You might be able to picture what they were traveling through if you think of the largest tree you’ve ever seen, and then imagine that instead of a tree it was a stone with no leaves, no limbs, and no color. Some of the stones were as big around as a house at the base and those stones were taller than any tree you’ve ever seen. Some of the stones were only as big around as an end table and the tops of those stones could be seen. The tops weren’t pointed like stalactites, they were flat and gave the Stone Forest an appearance of a great dark city since there were hundreds upon hundreds of the giant stones grouped together more tightly than the thickest wood in our world, so close that sometimes there would be passes between them that you couldn’t even find unless you knew they were there. This is why Avadis led.
“Don’t worry friends,” said the elf, “I’ve been through this way a thousand times,” and he probably was not exaggerating because in truth Avadis was older than even your great-grandfather. You see, most elves live a good deal longer than humans and they age very slowly, if at all.
“How old are you Avie?” asked Gabrielle. The boys chuckled at the name, but Avadis didn’t mind, though he never called her Gabby.
“If you guess, I will tell you,” said Avadis.
“You mustn’t be much older than Evan, though you are taller, so perhaps fifteen years?” guessed Gabrielle.
“Fifteen years?” chuckled Avadis, “Oh, I don’t think you’re going to be very good at this game.”
“No,” said Avadis as he smiled to Evan and shook his head. The game lightened Evan’s spirit and eventually they all had a little laugh together despite the very dreary mood of the Stone Forest.
Then, very suddenly the friends were blinded for a moment (Avadis too) and after that saw splashes of bright color all around them. They had arrived at the Gathering Place and for the first time in hours light encompassed them. As his eyes adjusted, Evan saw the splashes of color take shape as giant paintings all around him on all the stones from the ground up to the highest heights, hundreds of feet in the air.
“What trick is my sight playing on me,” he thought to himself. “This is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever imagined.” They had come into a wide-open area surrounded by a painted wall of the giant stones. The area was about the size of a football field and dotted all over the surface were small cottages made of stone with thatched roofs and no doors. The vast mural surrounded the village and made Evan feel as though he had nestled in the center of a beautiful Ensverian rain forest.
Encircling the Gathering Place were flowers and small animals painted near the ground, many of which Evan had never seen or heard of in his life. Ivies and vines began at the ground and climbed up the enormous painted trees, gigantic and green, some flowering and all towering higher than most buildings in our world. There were beautiful creatures painted in amongst the branches and here and there a tree house with a chimney and smoke painted too. The smoke billowed up into the highest parts of the mural where the sky was painted to the tops of some stones and only as high on others even though the stones continued up and up.
Finally, his eye caught the most astonishing sight of all as he rounded the corner of a cottage: a cascading waterfall painted across four of the giant stones and just as the image caught his eye, Evan heard the sound of a winded instrument and he said to himself curiously, “Why, I do believe that waterfall has sprung to life.”
The white foam near the bottom began to roll, the water poured over the edge, and with the song playing lightly and smoothly the Believing Evan felt the immense mural drink him into its painted world so that presently he thought what he saw was either real and not a painting at all, or that he was in fact a painting and surely had always been.
Of course, Evan was a still a boy and what he saw was a painting, a mural that had been painted by the stars. “Because of their size, the stars can paint better than the finest artist in our world,” Graham said to Evan, for he and Gabrielle had seen the paintings many times already since their visit began and Avadis had already taught them both a great deal about the Gathering Place. But Gabrielle and Graham were still no better prepared than Evan for was happening now, for none of the children knew that the stars could do much more than just paint a mural.
“Oh my, we’ve made it just in time,” said Avadis quietly, “Well, go LilyWind! What are you waiting for?” And just then the children understood what was happening, for LilyWind rushed toward the waterfall and as hundreds of other stars joined her, the trees and flowers came to life and joined the waterfall in a dance that followed the lead of the winded instrument.
The stars cast their light, each girl with her greens, blues, and purples and each boy with his reds, oranges, and yellows onto the paintings with such grace that the water appeared to flow, the leaves appeared to rustle, the smoke began to billow, and even the animals’ eyes twinkled. When Avadis looked again at the children, all three of their mouths were open and Gabrielle had tears in her eyes.
“You should have seen in when it was really alive,” said the elf with a smile.