Advent 2021 – December 15

December 15 – Damien

The next person to step up was someone Molly loved seeing around the town all year. Damien was a Bard, an elven entertainer who had chosen to semi-retire to the Cove after traveling the Realms had begun to pale. He never seemed to age, as most elves didn’t, but even with the blue jeans and flannel shirts he wore, it was easy to see the magic that flowed around him like a pet. If he was in town, he was usually in Molly’s tea-shop or Katarina’s coffee shop, often accompanied by his only student, Starsha. She stood several steps behind him, waiting to offer the ornament she carried as well.

“One of the most wonderful things about moving to a human realm is Christmas, in my opinion.” Damien’s deep, fluid baritone floated around them. “We don’t celebrate Christmas where I come from, but from the first time I stepped into Carter’s Cove, I realized what a wonderful season it is. You’re very lucky to live here, all of you.” He turned and smiled at the crowd. “And I am lucky to live here now as well. So while I don’t have a lot of Christmas memories to place on my tree yet, I’m hoping to have many, many more years here to gather them. So I chose to bring this.”

He unwrapped a cloth bundle and blew across it. “My apologies for the dust,” he said. “It’s been hidden away so I didn’t break it.”

When her eyes cleared, Molly was standing, not in the Cove, but in a lovely green meadow, edged on one side by a rushing brook, and by the other three sides by gently rolling hills. Trees covered one such hill, and Molly could almost smell the sweet green of new grass and icy water.

In front of them was a simple arch of stone and wood that she and Schrodinger recognized instantly. The Gate was in ready mode, although she couldn’t see where the control panel was. 

There isn’t a physical control panel here, Schrodinger told her. It’s one of the Old Gates, and is completely magical. There aren’t many in the Realms you’ve probably visited. Wherever we are, it’s one of the Old Places.

“The Old Places?” Molly asked him, as she watched a small crowd of elves in long robes of leaf green and sky blue come out of the copse of trees down towards the Gate.

That’s what the Librarian calls them, he said. Places that have been alive for many, many millennia before humans found them. Places where Old Magic hides. It’s like the Snow Queen’s realm, that’s an Old Place.

“Gotcha.”

The elves marched slowly down the hill and separated into two lines, one on either side of the Gate. They carried different flowering branches in their hands, and held them, not like swords, but like pennants. Once they were in place, they raised their branches and began to sing.

It was no song Molly had ever heard in her life, and there weren’t exactly words, as far as she could tell. It was a song of the world around her, with various voices conjuring the sound of the river, the smell of the grass, the taste of an apple, the chill of a breeze, and so much more that Molly felt herself almost carried away by it. 

The Song of Remembrance, Schrodinger said reverently. To remind a traveler of the home they carry with them wherever they go.

“How do you know this?” Molly said, as Damien appeared at the edge of the hill, carrying his harp and a backpack. This Damien looked exactly the same age as the Damien she knew, but instead of jeans and flannel shirts, he was wearing soft pants of dark brown, tucked into boots that came up to his knees. His tunic was the same material, and there was a wide belt of leather around his waist, adorned with several pouches.

He reached the edge of the party and paused, obviously waiting for someone. The song grew quieter, not dying out, but moving into the background, and the Gate shimmered into life. Out of the Gate came two people. One of them was an elf dressed in the same outfit as Damien, although his showed more wear and tear than Damien’s did.

The other was someone who made Molly think immediately for Phoebe, Drew’s godmother. This woman shown with an inner light, as if magic rather than blood ran through her veins. 

The Troubadour, Schrodinger said. The Spirit of Music, patron of all Bards.

She was tall, almost more fluid light than flesh, her voice encompassing all the singers as she said, “Are you ready, Damien?”

“I am.” He knelt before her, bowing his head. “May I take your blessing with me?”

“Always.” The Troubadour laid her glowing hands on the top of his head, and sang something. It spoke of traveling and safely and home and adventure and things Molly didn’t understand. As she sang, the others lifted their branches again, and joined in her song. Various pieces of flowers and leaves detached themselves and swirled together above the Troubadour’s head. The air itself hardened around the bits and pieces, and then floated down into Damien’s outstretched hand.

“Take this, and remember where you come from,” the Troubadour said. “We shall always be with you.”

The scene ended, and Molly and Schrodinger were back. “Christmas is memories,” Damien was saying. “And connection with your family.” And he handed the ball to Jade. “This is my family now.”

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