The Legend of the Goddess, cont’d
“Shiir,” his older brother said as he looked around the clearing, the pond, the unfamiliar woman, “what… we came to see what was keeping you so long.”
“The stag,” one of the archers whispered, crouching low and he readied and arrow in his bow.
“Milady,” Shiir’s brother called is a hushed voice, “if you could step aside, we would be most grateful.”
Jenh looked down at Shiir’s brother, then to the archer. She turned around to see the stag directly behind her, staring at the elves with a mouthful of grass. When she turned back to the group, she spoke in a calm voice, as though she feared nothing.
“This one cannot be your dinner, sweet elves.”
“I have a clear shot, if you would care to move,” the archer told her.
“Then you do not have a clear shot,” she replied, giving him a knowing smile. “I will see to it that you do not go hungry, my child, but the stag is not to be harmed.”
“What is she talking about?” one of the spearmen asked, his irritation clear. “And what is a woman doing in the woods?”
“She…” Shiir began, breathing hard, “she is not a mere woman.”
“What? Shiir, do not be a fool,” his brother chided, narrowing his green eyes. “Whoever this woman is, she cannot have promised you anything. Why did you not kill the stag when you had the chance?”
Shiir swallowed hard and shook his head. “She is a goddess.”
Lowering his bow, the archer scowled. “I knew he was not ready for the hunt, Theron. Now he is talking nonsense!”
Theron looked closely at the woman, trying to understand what his brother was talking about. “It is not entirely nonsense,” he told the others. “Look at the way she glows.”
The hunters spoke in hushed voices for several minutes, debating whether it was safe to be near her as well as what to do about the stag. Shiir went over to them, crouching beside his brother as he explained what he knew. Had she wanted to harm them, she could have already done so, he added once they understood what a goddess was. Theron looked over at her, pursing his lips nervously.
“Then what do we do now? We have no supper, and if we waste much more time trying to track an animal, we will be late returning home.”
“I have a feeling that this is more important than the hunt,” Shiir replied, standing up straight.
“Nothing is more important than the hunt,” the archer told him, his voice bitter. “If the hunt fails, the village does not eat.”
Jenh, meanwhile, held her hand out to the stag. It walked over to her as though she had its complete trust, and let her caress its head. That horns that adorned it were massive, branching out a great many times to show that it had lived for a long time. She hopped nimbly onto its back and as though light as a feather, then whispered to the animal. It walked over to the group of elves, who stared at it with their mouths agape.
“I will not let you go hungry,” the goddess told them.
Some of the elves backed away, but Theron and his brother held their ground.
“We have an entire village to feed,” Theron told her. “It is not just us.”
“I know about your villages,” Jenh replied with a kind smile. “I have been watching you build them for many years.”
“Perhaps if you showed them what you can do,” Shiir suggested, “they will be more willing to accept that you are a higher power.”
“Of course, dear one.”
After giving him a fond look, Jenh placed her palms together in front of her and closed her eyes. Still together, her fingers tilted forward and began to glow. The golden-green light flowed up each of her arms, and then down her chest, around her belly, and along the length of each leg. She began to float, rising up from the stag’s back until she hovered above the group of elves that watched her.
“What power is this?” the archer asked, keeping low just in case she turned to doing something terrible.
“Incredible,” Theron whispered. “She has been a part of our world this whole time?”
A moment later, Jenh’s hands parted, stretching out to either side in front of her. Light of all colors flowed between her hands in a wide arch, greens slipping past blues and reds, white creeping slowly past yellow and purple. When she opened her eyes, the arc of color coalesced into a series of circles, each with its own pattern. The circles, each the same size, appeared thick and tangible as they floated before her.
“These are the Medallions of the Twelve Elements,” Jenh explained to the elves. “Each elements supports and helps create this world, and each one is protected by a different guardian who serves me.”
“Then we are not the first to learn about you?” Shiir asked.
“You are,” she replied. “My guardians are no mortals, my sweet elf. They are magical beings called the Elementals, and they have dwelt with me for as long as I have been a part of Lorata.”
Jenh let the medallions dissolve back into a mixture of light and flow along her body. “We look after the earth, the plants, the waters that feed them and the fire and lightning that destroys them. We are the waves of the sea and the wind on the plains, even the ice of winter. My elementals protect the animals and inspire ideas and deep thoughts. My last two give shade to those too long in Ser’s light, and create the illusions that keep me hidden from your sight.”
“All this time,” Theron said, “you have been hiding from us?”
“I have been letting you live your lives on your own,” Jenh explained. “Look how well you have done for yourselves, even without me.”
“Then why come to us now?” the spear-man asked.
“I did not expect your young friend to happen upon me today. I knew that you were nearly ready to your goddess, but I had planned to greet your elders first.”