Chapter 12: The Tale of the Illuèn
In the end, Brandyé and Elven stayed for several months among the Illuèn, and came to learn their ways. It was some time before Elven was well enough to walk again, and longer still before he had overcome his incessant desire for corinthiaë. The Illuèn healer told them that they had discovered a hitherto unknown property of what was commonly known as a pain reliever. Brandyé was curious, but wished heartily that he had never come across the plant. Too many nights had he sat beside Elven, sweating and shivering, crying desperately for more corinthiaë and speaking to people who were not there.
During his time on their island Brandyé discovered many wondrous things, but none so startling as the great population of swans that lived with and among the Illuèn. Great birds of purest white, the glided serenely on the water or settled on the grass near the Illuèn’s homes, and Brandyé recalled the one time he had seen them before, with his grandfather on their journey to Daevàr’s Hut in his youth. “The most graceful birds in all of Erâth,” Reuel had said of them, and Brandyé could not help but agree. He found it peculiar that there were so many living here in the middle of the Trestaé mountains, and asked Elỳn about them.
“You did not think there were only creatures of Darkness?” she asked with a smile. “The swans are our own – creatures of light. They are gentle but powerful, and they remind us of the splendor of the world that once was.”
Sonora, having circled anxiously over Elven during his fever in the forest, finally came to rest with them on the Illuèn’s island, and did not particularly like the swans much at all. To her they were too large, and would not let her near the water. It was a consolation that she was by far faster and more agile than they, and she would often dive headlong in the water of the lake, retrieving a fish and taking it high in the branches with her – always in the view of many swans.
Elỳn introduced Brandyé and Elven to many of the folk, including Elven’s healer, whose name was Rỳlan, and Kayla, who helped him regain his feet afterward. Kayla had been among those who had fought the fierundé, and from her Elven learned many techniques of combat, and they spent much time together.
As for Brandyé, his desire for combat was less than ever, far from the fantasies of glorious battle from his youth. He had seen too much death, first in Consolation and then among the Cosari, and did not wish to learn how to deal it. For him, he was far more interested in learning of the Illuèn, and the nature of their influence upon the world.
“You are clearly not everywhere,” he said to Elỳn, “yet there is light everywhere. I can see you have great control over light and its power, but how is it you can influence what is seen hundreds of miles away?”
“We were responsible for bringing light to Erâth in its earliest days,” she replied, “but we are not ‘light’. Light would exist without us; yet our existence brings light to the world.”
“I do not understand,” said Brandyé. “What were to happen if there were no Illuèn?”
“There will soon enough be none,” Elỳn said with a sad sigh. “We are relinquishing our influence over light, leaving it to the natural course of life. In some centuries, no doubt, we will be no more. You have perhaps seen some of our people that do not appear quite as the others do? They are those who have begun to fade from this world already.”
Brandyé shook his head, for this was difficult for him to grasp. “Where are they going to?”
“Not here,” she said simply, and Brandyé could understand no more of it.
So it was with much of what he encountered during his time with the Illuèn. He could not understand how their orbs of light functioned, and thought it must be magic, though they assured him it was not. They would give no further explanation, however, and he wondered if perhaps the Illuèn themselves no longer knew how their homes had once been built.