Logan stepped into the clearing. The ancient tree beckoned him. There was a strong aura of magic surrounding it.
He laid his palm gently on its gnarled trunk and closed his eyes. Visions flooded his mind, narrating to him, a saga of broken dreams, shattered heart, deep and unforgivable betrayal and a lingering sense of heartache that seemed to come from within the tree.
Taking a deep breath, he removed his hand from the tree, feeling thoroughly shaken. He knelt before the tree and sent out a silent note of apology. My Lady, grave injustice has been meted out to you by my kingdom. On behalf of the entire Mystic Dale, I humbly bow to you and apologize for everything. I will set things right. I have no intention of closing access to your realm for the humans. Is there anything more that I can do for you?
Logan heard a gentle voice speaking barely in a whisper. That is all I ask, Elf-prince. Leave the humans here in peace. With every book they write and publish, another part of my broken heart gets mended. I am at peace here.
Melinda watched him anxiously. There was something other-worldly about him. He both intrigued and terrified her. Although he looked to be of her own age, there was something timeless and ancient about him. The leaves on the tree ruffled as a light breeze blew and for a few seconds, his hoodie was pushed back, revealing pointed ears. She gasped.
Logan bowed to the tree, feeling a lump rise in his throat. He rose and walked towards Melinda.
“You are not human, are you?” She said, her tone conveying both acceptance and defeat. He shook his head.
“Elf?” She whispered. Ever since she had found the enchanted clearing, it was as if her mind had opened to all possibilities, and nothing really shocked her now.
He nodded and gestured towards the clearing. “That is a part of a forest that actually belongs to my kingdom, Mystic Dale. It exists parallel to your realm but is separated by an invisible barrier. For some reason, this clearing is visible to you because of the tree’s magic.”
“Are you going to ….” She gestured towards the tree, unable to form words for the thought that was wreaking havoc in her mind.
“No, I am not going to do anything.” He gently assured her. “Your bookstore is safe, the writers are safe and they will always have access to this part of the land.”
She nodded, feeling immensely relieved. “Did the tree show you the visions?”
He looked surprised. “It showed you too!?” When she nodded, he gazed at the tree thoughtfully. May be, all this was happening as per the grand scheme of the Universe.
“Do the writers feel the magic? Have they spoken about it to you?” He asked her.
She shook her head. “Most of them just say that they feel very peaceful here and the place seems to enhance their creativity.”
For a while, the human and the elf stared at the writers who were blissfully lost in the process of writing.
Logan cleared his throat. “So, this is where I will take my leave. I wish immense success, prosperity and peace to all of you. May your tribe flourish.”
“Will I be seeing you again?” She asked, a hopeful note in her voice.
He imagined seeing her as and when he wished to, of spending time with her and getting to know her better. He realized that the prospect of meeting her again delighted him, something that he, as a stoical elf was unused to.
He smiled. “Yes, you will. For now, there are some wrongs to be mended.” He looked at the tree wistfully. “A book awaits the name of its rightful author.”
With a polite nod at her, he left for his realm.
Few minutes ago:
Logan stepped out through the portal. The sudden change from his elven realm to the human realm threw him off guard. The very air in the human realm felt stale compared to the fresh and natural air of his elven realm where Nature abounded in plenty. The high-rise structures that the humans called as ‘buildings’ both intrigued and repelled him. He felt them to be artificial, compared to the lovely tree-houses and the wooden cabins that the elves lived in.
The bookstore was a few paces ahead. He adjusted his clothes – a thing called as ‘hoodie’ that perfectly hid his pointed ears and the pants called as ‘jeans’ that the spies of his kingdom had procured for him. He liked the clothes. He decided to get some from the shops before he left the human realm. Of course, his father would object to them. But by now, Logan was accustomed to being ridiculed by his father at every chance. He had stopped trying to please the old man.
He reached the bookstore and felt a mild zing of magic as he entered it. The lady at the counter was writing something. As he approached her, she lifted her head.
He was struck with an instant feeling of having met her in every lifetime. Big brown eyes met his own curiously. She looked to be in her early thirties, a child as per the elven standard of life. He himself was a hundred years old, young enough in his realm where eternity was not unheard of. He could not stop looking at her. Beautiful ringlets of hair curled around a face that looked ageless and beautiful. And then she smiled. It was as if the sun had risen in Mystic Dale.
Logan shook his head. He had important things to do here. He reminded himself that he had nothing to do with the human realm, except close its access to the enchanted part of his realm.
“Hi… How may I help you?” The lady asked him.
“Umm…” Finding himself temporarily at a loss of words, Logan gestured to the note-book he was carrying.
“Oh, you are an aspiring writer. You have come to the right place.” She smiled. “I am Melinda. Come with me.” She stepped out of the counter and gestured him to follow her.
She pointed to his notebook. “Most people use the laptop now-a-days, you know. It has been a long while since I saw a writer actually writing in a book.”
“I am old-fashioned that way.” He said. She laughed lightly.
“People say there is magic here, and that is what helps them to write successful books.” He said, hoping to gain an insight into the workings of the bookstore.
She sighed. “The writers who come here say that they feel inspired and the calm aura helps them to write better stories.” She stopped beside a door that opened out to a porch facing a large clearing of land.
“Tell me, what do you see there?” She asked in a low voice. There were people sitting at the porch and blissfully typing in their laptops.
He looked at the beautiful vision before him – a large clearing with many trees surrounding it and at the center, a towering and ancient tree.
“I see a magical realm here.” He whispered and Melinda nodded thoughtfully, looking at him in a new light.
One day ago, in the elven realm of Mystic Dale:
The court was all a-stir. The elf-king, Erick, had convened an emergency meeting of his ministers.
The administration had long changed in Mystic Dale. The Elven Elders who had ruled over the realm had departed for the Higher Realm and an age of Kings and Courts had been ushered in. And yet, for the elves, nothing had changed much. When life was as eternal as it was for them, time moved at an alarmingly slow pace. Not that anyone of them complained. That was just a way of their life.
The king rose from his throne and looked at his ministers. “Our spies in the human realm have reported that the humans have gained access to a part of our kingdom.”
Murmurs erupted in the court. The elf-prince Logan listened with rapt attention.
“It seems that a book-store has been built upon a land that is at the edge of the barrier that separates our realm from the human realm. The book store has been constructed such that aspiring writers sit at a porch that faces our realm. I have reason to believe that the humans are availing the benefit of our enchanted forest. It is said that each and every book written there meets with instant success.”
“We cannot allow humans any access to our realm. The reason we both are existing peacefully is because our lives do not intersect at any point.” An elderly minister said in concern.
The king nodded. He turned towards Logan. “Son, go there at the next daybreak. Find out the secret behind the success of the writers. Whatever the reason might be, we cannot allow humans to avail our enchantments. Whatever magic you find there, put an end to it. Do something so that no part of our realm is visible to the humans.” The king telepathically sent an image of the bookstore that he had received from his spies, to Logan.
“Father, it is just a bookstore. I do not think the humans are doing anything wrong. Can’t we just allow them to write their books peacefully? So what if a part of our realm is visible to them? It is not as if they can enter here and cause us any trouble! The elves have always been more powerful than the humans and there is nothing about the humans that can harm us.”
The king shook his head in disdain. “It is exactly this soft and weak nature of yours that makes me question your ability to become the future king of our realm.” The sharp words of the king, uttered publicly in the court, made Logan’s heart burn with embarrassment.
“Is it softness or weakness to be considerate about other lives?!” He quietly asked the king who simply glared at him for some time. The later smirked evilly and said. “If you are too much of a coward, then I will send someone else to do the job. Tell me, what do you prefer? Do you have it in you to do this simple job that even the children of our realm can do?”
Swallowing his mortification and anger, Logan replied in a low voice. “I will go there myself and do what is expected of me.”
The king waved his hand to him in dismissal.
Three months ago, in the human realm:
Melinda sighed as she drove her car into the parking lot. This was the last site for the day and then she was done, she promised herself. Why was it so difficult to get a sense of connection with land that one wanted to buy? Did most buy lands, just keeping their return-value in their mind? Wasn’t it imperative that one felt a sense of belongingness with the plot, a feeling that this was right?
She gazed around the plot. Area-wise it was more than sufficient. And it was placed off a busy highway which meant she could attract enough customers.
“Ms.Melinda?” She turned around and saw a man walking towards her. “I am John. We spoke over the phone about the land.”
They shook hands.
“The land has been in my family’s possession since fifty years. It was purchased by my grandfather. He is no more now, and I and my parents have absolutely no idea what to do with this. Hence we put it up on the market for sale.” John explained.
Melinda nodded and walked around the perimeter, imagining her blue prints come to life here.
“What exactly are you planning to do with the land?” John asked.
Melinda turned and smiled at him. “I want to build a bookstore here.”
As she said this, her vision blurred. Before her very eyes, the land transformed. She saw a wide clearing surrounded by beautiful trees. But one particular tree stood in the center. A magical aura surrounded the tree.
Melinda shook her eyes. May be she was tired and hallucinating. The vision did not change. She turned back and saw John speaking on his cell phone. The place where he stood looked normal. But the place where she was standing felt – enchanted. There was no other word to describe it.
She took a step forward, feeling both terrified and excited. With every step she took, the enchanted piece of land beckoned her more and more. She neared the giant tree at the center and placed her hand on it.
Whoever writes in this forest will get a magical vision of what they want to write, and will be blessed with success, fame and prosperity.
Melinda heard the whisper as clearly as if someone had spoken just beside her. She turned around but found no one. The whisper seemed to have come from the tree.
Later, when she would be in her home, she would probably brush this off as one of those unexplained events that life surprises people with, sometimes. But this moment, she was totally captivated by the enchanted land. She ran her palm over the tree and softly asked. “Who are you?”
She gasped as the life-force of the tree sent one vision after another in her mind. It was a saga of hopes, hard work, and dreams; of expectations and crushed hearts; of betrayal and despair. She removed her hand from the tree, feeling thoroughly shaken by the visions that had just run through her mind.
Please build the bookstore here. Make aspiring writers write here. I will bless them with such visions that will make them feel every emotion and become one with their stories. I will bring out their scenes alive for them, so that they can do full justice to their narratives. That is the only way my soul will be at peace. It is my only redemption.
Melinda took a deep breath and gently patted the trunk of the tree. She walked towards John who was waiting beside his car. When she neared him, she turned back and saw a clear demarcation between where the ‘normal’ land ended and where the enchanted land began. An idea formed in her mind and she smiled. She held out her hand towards John. “I like this land. I would like to buy it.”
May be this was the worst decision of her life. May be she was being impulsive, stepping into danger beyond human perception. But everything felt just right about this place. She was all in with her plans now.
At Mystic Dale, the elven Kingdom, three centuries ago:
Leia patiently waited outside for her turn to meet the Elven Panel. She felt equally nervous and excited about meeting them. After all, she was going to show them the draft of the book that she had written painstakingly. If they found it to be worthy, they would publish it free of cost. And she would be a writer!
The guard announced her name as the next visitor. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside the room, suddenly feeling nervous as she faced the panel made of seven Elven Elders – the most influential elves that ruled over the kingdom of Mystic Dale. They oversaw the functioning of the entire kingdom and any new venture or event required their approval.
“Yes, Leia – what have you brought to the panel today?” Elder Loghart asked in his deep, baritone voice. He had a quiet yet commanding presence that made people fear him.
Leia cleared her throat and offered the draft of her book to him, feeling terrified. “Respected Elder, I have written a book – a tale of an elven kingdom that sees many downfalls and yet rises every time by the sheer efforts of the people who keep up the fight to revive it. With your blessings, I wish to publish it and achieve a dearly-held dream of becoming a writer.”
The Elder nodded. “Let me give this a read. If this is approved, you will receive a notification about the publishing event. Otherwise I will return the book to you.”
“Thank you, Elder. I will eagerly wait for your response.” Leia said, suddenly feeling emotional about her book and her dream. With a wave of his hand, the Elder dismissed her and she left the room.
The very next morning, Leia found a note at the entrance of her cabin. With trembling fingers, she took the note, the neat handwriting already notifying her that it was from the Elven Panel.
With great pleasure we invite you for the publication of the new book, ‘The Struggle To Revive A Kingdom’. The event is to be held on the third night after the full moon.
Kindly attend the event and grace it with your presence.
Yours in faith,
Leia jumped in joy, ignoring the pinch of her consciousness which was trying to bring her attention to something. Today was the happiest day of her life and she would not let anything mar her joy of having finally achieved her dream!
The night of the event finally came. Leia donned her best dress – a violet gown that was exquisitely layered and fit her slim waist snugly. She chose to leave her hair loose, a swirling mass of curls that hung all the way to her hips. She dabbed some rose-water on her cheeks, not that they needed the blush; the happiness and anticipation of what was going to happen in a short while already made her skin glow. Her very first book! Who would have thought!? With a final glance at the mirror, she left for the woods where the event was to be held.
The clearing in the woods was beautifully decorated with lights that hung from the trees surrounding it. Already a lot of people had assembled there. Leia greeted everyone heartily and went to stand beside the raised stone-dais where the Elders were seated. Elder Loghart gave her a curt nod and turned sideways. Leia felt a prickle of unease but she decidedly ignored it.
The magically-enhanced voice of Elder Loghart drifted across the clearing. “My dear brethren, it gives me great pleasure to see you all assembled here to celebrate another book being brought into the world. Books are the reflections of the world and a mirror to our souls.” He cleared his throat. “I am proud to publish a new book titled ‘The Struggle To Revive A Kingdom’ by my grandson Arthur.”
As the community applauded, Leia felt a sharp ringing in her ears. She hastily took a book from the hands of another Elder and checked it. The title was of her draft, all right. She read some excerpts from random pages. They were her narrative. Only the name on the book was that of Arthur Selbert Loghart.
Her world came crashing down.
“No! This has not been written by Arthur! This is my first book, the draft of which I had submitted to the panel for their approval to publish!” She screamed.
A hush fell over the crowd.
Elder Loghart looked at her coldly. “It seems Ms.Leia is not in the right set of mind. Healers, please contain her in the infirmary and look after her medical needs.”
Leia watched in terror as two elves started walking towards her. She could only imagine what kind of ‘infirmary’ she would be put in. She turned around and ran into the woods, the elves in hot pursuit.
Leia cried out to the Enchantress of the forest in sheer despair. Just as the two elves were closing around her, the ground erupted in flames and formed a protective circle around Leia who leaned against the sole tree in the circle. Her life was officially over. There was only one thing left to do. She turned around and hugged the tree and sent out a silent prayer to the Enchantress. “May my spirit merge into the tree, and may the tree provide the vision to all the aspiring writers in future. Only then will I be redeemed!”
Before the elves’ befuddled eyes, Leia merged into the tree, leaving no trace of her physical being behind.
Her saga ended, but it was the beginning of something else, something magical, for both the elves and – humans.
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