Mary gasped, and her hand gently reached out and touched the beautiful thing.
“It’s so pretty.” She said, her eyes shining. “Where did Old Elliot get it?” Justin’s eyes smiled at her.
“He got it from an elf. I don’t know which elf, for there are quite a lot.” Mary smiled.
“I’d like to meet the elf that made this. Maybe if I became its friend, it’d make me one.” She fingered the delicate artwork. Justin smiled.
“Well, we may, we just may, meet the elf that made it. But we need to get started finding the elf, before it’s too late. Remember, this is a warning note. Shetta Gloriheem, whoever that is, is in great danger until we let it know it’s in trouble.” He walked towards the door.
“Where do we start?” Duncan asked. Justin stopped and turned around.
“I don’t know. Where do ye think we ought to start, Mary?” He directed his question at his younger sibling. She thought for a moment.
“I know that elves come when there is a ring of stones, so why don’t we make a ring of stones, deep in the forest, and sit in the middle to wait for the Magical Folk to find us. They will ye know, they have eyes everywhere.” She said all this quickly, unlike her usual behavior, and her brothers listened carefully. “Also, we mustn’t, under any circumstance, fall asleep inside the circle, if we do, then the elves will kidnap us and not let us back into our own land, they don’t like children to meddle with things they consider sacred, and we are children.”
After this the three children secured permission to explore the wood behind their house, and they quickly found the much needed clearing. It was more difficult to find all the stones they needed, but they busily searched for them until the circle was complete except for one stone’s worth. As much as they searched, they could not find another stone. Suddenly, Duncan put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the stone he had found in his shoe. It fit perfectly. The children sat down inside the middle of the ring of stones and waited in silence.
Darkness came and they all felt sleepy. Mary kept the boys awake by pinching them every once in a while.
The silence was suddenly broken by a multitude of voices. All three were instantly wide awake, adrenaline surging through their veins. The voices came closer, and soon the children realized that they were surrounded. Torches were lit, and they began to be able to see the host of Magical Folk in front of them. Their spokesmen came forward, an elfin man of at least six feet. He held a sword in one hand, and a shield in the other. He spoke to the children, his voice strong and brave.
“What are you doing in our wood, inside a sacred stone circle?” he asked in their language. Justin cleared his throat and looked at his sister. Mary stepped forward very carefully.
“Are any of you Glevanne Addets?” she asked quietly, her soft words flowing over the multitude. There was a session of whispering. The spokesman, after discussing a while, looked at the children, his harsh voice softer.
“Glevanne is not with us at this moment, but he is one of us. How came you to know him?” He asked, his voice filled with curiosity. Mary was careful in her reply.
“We have only just heard of him.” She said. “We came here to look for him. I beg yer pardon for not warning ye, but we need to speak to this Glevanne Addets.” She spoke with a desperate earnestness as her eyes swept over the Magical Folk. The spokesman went up to her gently, and his hand rested on her shoulder.
“Why don’t you come to our kingdom and rest until Glevanne can meet you in private?” he asked, his eyes meeting Mary’s. She nodded, and let the spokesman lead the way.
Soon, the elfish kingdom came into view. The sight of its beauty made all three children stop in awe. The spokesman assured them it was quite safe, and they took his word for it.
He looked at them approvingly, and beckoned them to follow him. He informed them that his name was Valkin Tredhale, and he was one of the king’s messengers. Justin walked next to him on one side, Mary on the other, and Duncan followed, warily scanning the crowd of elves following them. Valkin noticed his uneasiness.
“Haflit! Haflit! Gredha blettash koona Glevanne Addets!” He yelled. Immediately, the elves all backed away, in fear and awe. Justin looked quizzically at Mary.
“What did he say?” he asked in a loud whisper, forgetting that Valkin understood their language. Mary thought for a moment, her mind translating the elfin speech into something her brother would understand.
“Very roughly translated, he said something like this: ‘Back! Back! These are outsiders who want to visit Glevanne Addets!” She said, after a pause. Their guide looked at her in surprise.
“You know the language of our people?” he asked. Mary blushed, again.
“Only a very wee bit,” She said honestly. “I was taught by an old man in our village that knew yer people.” Valkin frowned slightly as they continued their journey up to the large castle. He turned suddenly to Mary.
“Do you know the meaning of my name?” he asked. Mary thought for a while, her lip between her teeth.
“Doesn’t it mean something like Finch Moor?” she said after much consideration. Valkin looked at her, gazing deep into her eyes.
“Yes, it does. My name in your language would be that.” He removed his gaze and looked into the sky. “Your knowledge of our people is great. Who taught you these things?” Mary looked over her shoulder at Duncan, who gave a slight shake of his head.
“I would prefer not to say.” She said slowly. Valkin looked sharply at her again. Duncan, being at the back, was quiet through all of this, himself deep in thought. Hearing the name of their guide in his own language reminded him of something. If only he could remember what. It came to him at last: during one of the random days at Old Elliot’s house, they were talking about the Magical Folk, and the old man mentioned how their name system worked! He had remembered. Excitedly, he tapped Valkin’s shoulder. The guide turned.
“I think I know how yer names work!” he said. Valkin raised an eyebrow.
“You do?” he asked. Duncan nodded vigorously.
“Aye! It’s like this: First names of boys are either the names of trees, the names of water, or the names of birds. First names of girls are either the names of flowers, animals or berries. Last names are land formations like mountains or valleys. Am I right?” He said all of this in a rush, to get it out before he forgot again. Valkin listened silently as Duncan’s words came out in a tumbled fashion. These humans were like none other he had ever seen. It made him feel glad that some of their kind still cared enough to teach the younger generation about his people. After Duncan’s flow of words stopped with his breathless question, Valkin smiled.
“Yes, you are right.” He replied, and continued leading the three children up to the castle, himself still puzzling over the children’s knowledge of the Magical Folk.
They at last reached the massive gate of the castle. Valkin walked up to it fearlessly and slapped it with the flat of his hand as hard as he could. Justin, Duncan, and Mary winced as the sound vibrated through the castle.