Etwas the Elf

Etwas the Elf
Our heroine, photo by Maia Ycot

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The elf and the secret to the underworld

Once upon a time, Etwas the Elf was running through the forests of grass, under the canopies of clover and around the stems of tall flowers when she saw some dwarves coming in and out of a mine, singing their dwarvish hymn, If I Had No Shovel, No Pick, No Hammer, Then Mama Would Have Me Adopted.  The elf wondered what it would be like to be miner so she found a soft patch of ground beneath a round rock and started to dig with her hands.

She tunneled straight in and level with sea.  "Boy, oh boy!" she cried, "This mining is going great."  When she was so far back, that the mine started to feel like a castle, she started digging a pit.  "I know," she thought, I'll dig for coal!"

Down and down she dug, until her chest was covered in mud and her fingernails were eroded away.  Then something hard blocked her.  She dug over the hard place and after a while discovered the obstacle was round and three times as wide as she was.  But Etwas was a very strong and determined little elf, so she cleaned and brushed and moved mud until she discovered that the hard, dark, wide disk was shiny.  Inscribed on the top were two fish.  She pried and pulled and cleaned and undermined and finally, she got the coin to stand up.

Underneath the coin, she found the top of a spiral staircase.  "Wowie!" she thought.

She rolled the coin down before her as she followed the staircase deep down into the earth.  She traveled a very long way until she found herself in a giant cavern, lit by the flickering, erratic red flames of torches.  Around the cavern wall were thousands of alcoves that led to thousand of little of little staircases just like the path she had taken.  Etwas, one of the smartest elves ever, marked the staircase she had come down with a tiny, Elvish "E."

Downslope from where she stood, Etwas saw it was very misty and deep in the mist was a figure, shuffling away and in the direction it was going she could barely see the bent frame of a man with a pole in its hand.  "Hey, Mister!" she shouted.  Want a coin?"

The nearer figure turned towards her and held out one hand.  In the other it held a lyre.  The musician took Etwas' krona and handed it to the bent ferrymen.  "Thank you," the ferryman told the musician and the musician told the elf.  When the ferryman spoke, it sounded like dried leaves scraping a fallen tree before a storm.  When the musician spoke it sounded like angels singing and Etwas danced to the gratitude.  Then the musician hopped into the ferryman's boat and the two took off over the river.

Etwas found the staircase she ha descended and then decided to take a different one which brought her into daylight over a rice field surrounded by dwarves in thatched hats.

And ever since then, the Elves have believed that every staircase goes up and every staircase goes down and that's all the geography you need to know.

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