The Days and Nights of NellyMas
Close heed now, here in this place of beginning, for to start we must look upon two different events at the same time. They both happen at the same time and are extremely similar in nature, thus a compelling coincidence and as good a point to begin with as any.
The events are simple to present; Two young men, barely so, one way over here, one way over there, at the very same moment, catch an unexpected glimpse of their own reflection and linger a longer moment yet in the looking. The one, in a high scraggy place foraging, is startled as he passes over an unlikely pool of water frozen mirrorsmooth and is given pause as the scar splitting his right upper lip jumps from the ice, through his eyes and into short memory to the moment it was made…. And then continuing on with his searching. The other one, in a more populated spot with people and buildings all around, sees his image reflected in the deep shine of a silver suit of armor. His attention is drawn immediately to the ridiculous looking hat he has been forced to wear, winces in the further reminder of a miserable existence, and looking away continues on.
In the mountains is Vehn Rous, who is known by most people as Mouse, the scavenger’s boy.
In the town is Ahna, known by most people as the squire to the Silver Knight.
The coincidence is not that these two young fellows saw their reflections at the same time in two different places, but that this happened, and very shortly after this happened, they met each other for the first time. It would happen on a clear Nellymas night….
MACROCOSMIC MONOMYTH presents
The Days and Nights of NellyMas
First Night NellyMas
Hagstraw is the old man, the one in charge. And Mouse is the young man, the charge, the adopted son. As the sun is slow to set this eve, a perpetual dusk creates this atmosphere, here in this lonely low mountain pass. Both are sitting on their haunches on either side of the big stew-cauldron bubbling suspended over a small but efficient cookfire, simultaneously clutching wooden spoons in their right hands and polished scavenger’s bowls in their lefts, still somehow finding room to rub their hands together to both generate warmth and express anticipation, licking their lips, sucking smoky tendrils of stew-steam into their hunger flared nostrils. Young Mouse interspices the aromatic blip blooping bubbles with the sound of words;
To which Old Hagstraw replied;
-It’s been a long time since we’ll have eaten this well!
This statement is an exaggeration, as the two wanderers had enjoyed both a stout breakfast and hearty lunch that day, and everyday for that matter. It is well known by those who know of such things that among scavengers very few priorities rank higher than keeping a full belly. So for old Hagstraw, maybe it’s not such an exaggeration after all. Young Mouse goes on;
-It smells especially good because you put in the Mountain Lipa-Grass!
-Can’t fool The Mouse’s nose!
Mouse rubbed a finger under his nose, which sharply sniffled with a suddenly revealed disappointment, which he followed with a question he knew the answer to;
-So you’ve given up on finding him?
Hagstraw stirs the golden soup, pursing his lips with a grunting acceptance;
-Mmm. I’m afraid so. I thought we might catch up with him.
-We still could. Don’t you want to meet him?
-I do. And if we had met him, we would have shared our Lipa-Grass sweetened stew with him. But we didn’t, and there’s gathering to do in parts north, so it’s just us who gets it.
Mouse gazed at the fire beneath the cauldron, wondering aloud;
-I would have liked to meet him.
-Console yourself with the stew.
-Oh I will. I just thought…The Silver Knight! He’s close by, I know it! I can almost smell the silver!
-Me too, Boy, me too…
-I’m sorry, Mouse, I’m as disappointed as… A rider, coming this way.
-Any rider coming this way would be anything but disappointed, smellin’ this stewpot!
-No, Boy, look! A rider approaching!
Before any further unfolding of these events, this event, gather round this spot to see a light shine on certain hidden knowledges. Hagstraw and Mouse , the old man and the young man, both of that rare and far-wandering type called scavengers by their fellow men, are known by us by names assumed, names not as once they were called. Hagstraw was once Renquin Vaash, but has not been so for long years. Mouse was, will be, and is Vehn Rous in various different times and various other places, including this one, the last of a familial warrior tradition, the last of those legendary fighters known only as Trueblood’s Hounds. If these were not secrets, both of these men would be long ago harried unto Death’s bowl.
The man they speak of, the man whom they have been searching for, is the Silver Knight, a recently born idea that has spread from mind to mind of the long despairing good people of the Solid World as a consuming fire, inspiring hope and excitement and bravery everywhere. That is one way of describing the Silver Knight. Another presentation would be to say that the Silver Knight, like Hagstraw and Mouse, is not what he appears to be. What people think he is, he really isn’t. Not entirely.
So. A rider is approaching.
As the two scavengers both turn their gazes upon him, he reins his horse to a stop and raises a hand in greeting. Hagstraw manages to grumble louder than his stomach;
-HM! He’s a polite one!
And waves the distant rider in. The long dusk has given way at last to a quickly gathering darkness. Entering into the rising glow of the cookfire the rider is revealed as a young fellow himself, yet dressed in fine squire’s garb of bright colors, complete with a fancy hat plumed with a single silver feather, riding a magnificent horse equally bedecked. Drawing to a halt, the young fellow speaks;
-Good Even, Fellows.
Looking over the grubneck pair in their horse-skin coats, briefly eyeing their strange black covered wagon, but mostly following his comparatively well washed nose to the sweetly bubbling cauldron, the fellow has seemingly become distracted… Hagstraw imposes on his aroma induced distraction;
-You hungry, boy?
To which the fellow quickly replied;
-The smell from that stewpot of yours would make a fat man stuffed full from feasting ravenous yet again!
-Sir, is there some way we may be of some assistance to you?
-You’re the Scavengers, aren’t you? That village to the south of here ran you off four days back?
-They ran us off, all right. It happens.
-You should have cooked for them. The smell of that stew leaves room in the mind only for the belly’s wants.
The old Scavenger and his boy look at each other with happily surprised looks, and break into sudden, simultaneous laughter;
=Hah hahHah Hah!!
-My friend you turn a phrase for the belly worthy of Nelly!
Mouse pointed at Hagstraw, crouching slightly;
-Hey that rhymes! Ah, hah!
-Ahhh… To be fair, stranger, we had hoped to share this fine stew, but have been disappointed by our intended company.
-You should join us! For supper!
-But I am not alone.
-Where are your companions?
-He’s waiting for me some distance back. To be fair, we two have become a little lost, and we followed our noses to your camp here, but not wanting to come off as a menace, or be rude, I…
-Yes, Yes, Boy! Go fetch him along then!
-Thank You, Sir.
-Boy, one moment, please. I am Hagstraw, and this is Mouse.
-I am Ahna. Squire to the Silver Knight.
-Allright, then. We’ll wait for you.
As Ahna rides off the two Scavengers look at each other boggle-eyed;
-The guest arrangements!
A flurry of rushed activity follows as the boys set up a nice spread, pulling all manner of unexpected items from the inside and underside of their monstrous black covered wagon, including a large round stone table that sits low to the ground and even pillows for sitting. Mouse is in a state;
-I can’t believe it!
-We were saving the Lipa-Grass for them! We should have tossed it in the pot a week ago!
-We didn’t have it a week ago! You only found it four days ago!
-There! A worthy spread for the first night of Nellymas!
Mouse looks at Hagstraw with a curious tilt of the head, thinking for a second first;
-Is it Firstnight NellyMas?
-If you knew it was Firstnight Nellymas, then why were we haunchin’ it and gettin’ ready to spoon our stew straight from the cauldron?
-I was disappointed. I wasn’t feeling the spirit.
-And me NellyNosin’ a blue streak earlier! You think I’d talk like that I knew we were in Nellymas?
-You shouldn’t anyway. Besides, you want to know what day it is you should keep better track of time.
-HMM! Wasn’t feeling the spirit…
-I used the Lipa-Grass, didn’t I? That should have told you something.
-Yes, it tells me you finally found where I hid it! Oh, Sweet Nelly will forgive you!
-Here they come!
As the boys marveled silently, the elements of day’s light all but fled were finding themselves a home in soft burbling glows as they are absorbed , transformed and released into and out of approaching enchanting silver.
-You can see the magic in that armor. Can you see, Mouse?
-Yes! Why do you think he’s got the whole thing on? How’s he see anything out of that helmet at this time off day?
-Maybe he likes to make a big entrance.
No one said anything as the riders drew up, their magnificent horse’s breath rising as billowing steam in the dimlight, though Mouse waved at Ahna with a goofy smile. The Knight raised a dramatic arm;
-I am the Silver Knight!
-This is my squire!
-I am Hagstraw, and this is Mouse. You are welcome, Sir Knight, to share our set.
(Removing his helmet)
-I thank you for that.
Hagstraw and Mouse share a look as the Knight’s face is revealed, heroically handsome, as if plucked from the fertile imaginings of eager young girls;
-The way the smell of that stew is traveling, I would not be surprised if you drew more hungry bellies than ours tonight.
-Ah, there’s no one around out here!
-That’s what we thought.
-Mouse here will see to your horses.
-My squire can tend to them.
-Please. We’ve set our guest’s table for you. Both of you sit. We’ll take care of the horses.
-It’s his job.
-Thank you, Mister Hagstraw. I’ve got it. Is there a likely spot nearby?
-Mouse, show them over yonder by Clarissa by the stream ‘round the bend.
Mouse takes The Knight’s horse by the reins and Ahna follows, still riding.
-Make sure you tie those horses up good now, Boys! Weird winds blow through this pass! HahHah! Hahh!…eh, I was just picturing our flea bag mule Clarissa in the company of those two champions! I’ve seen horses as noble as those two in my day but none to surpass them! Magnificent animals! How did you acquire them? Gifts from a King? Or Queen, perhaps? Mmm?
(A bit of the old Julian blank gaze)-… Actually they’re from the squire’s Father’s stable.
-Really! What a story that must be!
-Well, it will be a few minutes before the boys return, and we’ve prepared a washbasin for you…
-Of course! Refreshment by water! Take off Your armor and stay a while!
-What is it?
-I usually stay in the armor.
-You do? Isn’t that uncomfortable? No? Well, You can take it off now, can’t you? Like I said, there’s nobody around this place.
-You two are here. We are here.
-It’s incredible coincidence, isn’t it? In places where no human goes, you may yet find one of two types; Heroes or Scavengers. And here are both at once! Isn’t that something?
-I guess so!
-HaHa!Ha! Surprise is spent this night, that’s for certain! Wash up over there. We even got a little fire going underneath, so the water should be nice and warm! Need a little help takin’ that off?
-No! I mean….. it’s easy to remove.
-Really? It appears seamless! As if were cast upon your very body.
-I know. Secret concealed hinges.
-Ah, I see. Well I’ll leave you to it. .. see to the stew. Just about ready, I’d say.
-The aroma has lessened somewhat since our arrival.
-Progressing unto subtlety…A sure sign of perfect percolation….Mm? Oh, excuse my drool….
Meanwhile, concerning Ahna, Mouse, and the horses, Mouse has a question;
-So, what, You’re gonna ride while I walk the whole way over or what?
-S’allright. I’m Mouse.
(extends a hand)
-Ahna, Squire to the Silver Knight, Right? Nice ta meetcha. Really! It’s a pleasure!
-It’s very nice to meet you, Mouse.
They finally stop shaking hands, though that goofy smile sits yet upon Mouse’s face as they resume their way. Mouse said,
-You’ve got great manners, you know that ? Did you grow up in a castle or something?
-My Father’s house is as big as a castle, but he is not a King.
-What is he then?
-He is a merchant.
-Yeah? I’m a merchant, you know! Sometimes. Not all the time. I sell stuff. Sometimes. Not for gold, though. I generally deal in trade. So I guess I’m not really a merchant ever, but a trader.
-What do you trade in?
-Well, You know… Curious items, rare herbs, maps, information.
-There’s nothing more valuable in the solid world than information. Secrets, especially!
-HAH HAH HAH!
-What? What’s funny?
-When you said that a funny thought struck me. Ah. Never mind.
-Sure. So, you two got turned around, eh? Lost?
-That would be one way of putting it. Another way would be to say -we have absolutely no idea where we are.
-Well, it’s bound to happen when you’re always on the move in unfamiliar territory. It makes our unlikely meeting a fortunate one.
-We followed our noses.
-It’s the only leader to follow! HahHahhah! I still can’t get over that, by the way! I mean, we’ve been saving that mountain Lipa-grass for a week now, for YOU, and when we finally give up and throw it in our pot, look who rides up sniffin’! Aw, Man, that’s great.
-I understand some of that. Not all of it, but yes, it is great.
Hold up. Looking. Goofy smile still persistent;
-Hah! aHahHahh! You’re a damn agreeable person to meet out here in the middle of Nowheresville, you know that?
Hold, thinking, then deadpan;
-There’s Clarissa! Hey Girl, how are ya? We got some new friends here for you, so be nice….There ya go… easy now! All right, Ahna, you tie these prettyboys over here with Clarissa and I’ll grab the oats..
-You’re going to feed our horses?
-When’s the last time they ate?
-Couple of days. They’ve been grazing.
-You two do travel light. We got some sweet oats right over here. It’s not a problem. Check ‘em out! Nice, eh?
-Here we go… Oh yeah, they like that! Look at ‘em go! Uh Oh! Clarissa’s comin’ in for her share… Would you look at that! They’re all sharing’ nice and easygoing! (looking over to Ahna) I guess they’re agreeable too!
-You’ll get no disagreement from me!
-I won’t, will I?
-Wait! The smell of the Lipa-grass has lessened. That can only mean one of two things; Either the stew is ready, or there is less stew than before. Let’s get back before they eat it all!
-Well, Hagstraw would. Would Your guy?
-Let’s get going.
More to come if you want it! Just let me know!