Tell us a little bit about your latest release...and about The Storyteller.
My latest release is also the first book I ever wrote. It has gone through a few morphs in its time. Even with, or perhaps despite of, the “first novel” missteps, Elfen Gold continues to hold a special place in my heart.
This release takes the previous versions: Elfen Gold – The Season of Gold and Elfen Gold – The Season of Silver, and reunites them back into one volume, the way it was first written. I also left the tale as is, filled with all the wonder of a new author who has yet to realize that the writing journey isn’t at all simple or as innocent as she first imagined. I wanted to leave the tale as is rather than rewrite it into something it was never intended to be. It is the tale I wanted to tell when I took my first feeble steps on a journey I continue to this day.
Elfen Gold and I have come full circle.
The Storyteller, a voice/character I also used in The Birth of Spring and Summersong, was born within the pages of Elfen Gold. When I created him and his narrative, I thought of it as a way to convey parts of the tale that I didn’t really want to write. New writer J
Elfen Gold actually started out as a story poem. Forty-eight pages of prose that rhymed, can you just imagine! The way the poem was written lent itself to a storyteller feel. So, it seemed natural to me to transfer that into the novel. I honestly didn’t think he would create such a mystery to my readers. Rather than asking me about Ra-May or Michall, all I ever heard was: Who is the Storyteller? To which I would reply: You know I know. Do you really want me to tell you?
No one ever did.
The Storyteller has become as dear to me as the book that gave him birth.
May the magic always brighten your world ~ Sheri L. McGathy
Excerpt from ELFEN GOLD – A STORYTELLER TALE
Elfen Gold ~ The adventure begins…. A Storyteller Tale by Sheri L. McGathy
“Gather round. Aye, gather near, and I will spin you a tale of magic from a time long since lost to lore. Come and I will tell of elves and the kingdom of Ra-Jee, a kingdom now forgotten in the mists of enchantment. “This tale is one of sacrifice and sorrow, yet one of hope offered to a future not yet written.”
The Storyteller curled his gnarled fingers over the worn top of his cane and smiled. “And it is a tale of a young elfen maiden named Ra-May and the human male, Michall, she is destined to meet.
“Come, join me as I tell of these two very different and unique individuals, brought together by fate, and guided by ancient magic as they venture forward to save Ra-Jee—or die trying.
“And so,” whispered the old Storyteller. “The tale begins….”
Once Upon a Dream
Michall sat beside the forest pool pondering his own melancholy reflection. His image shimmered as it floated atop the pool’s silvery surface. Like his reflection, his thoughts had no anchor, wandering to and fro, backward then forward, like some endless tug-of-war.
To feel so unsettled while at his little pool was a strange emotion. It had always been his sanctuary from the confusion surrounding him.
Yet, this day, the glimmering water with its soft, gentle murmurs offered no peace. The water was tranquil; it was his mind that was full of murky debris.
He leaned back with a heavy sigh and surrendered to his unease, allowing his thoughts to roam where they chose.
He drifted, effortlessly recalling a succession of fleeting moments from his youth, until one memory surfaced that refused to lay meek. Its bold demand for attention forced all other thoughts far into the background while awakening emotions he’d buried deep within himself—so deep that his subconscious had relegated them to the faded remnants of dreams…until now.
He recalled the forgotten cycle had dawned like countless others, with little to mark it dissimilar, but it had felt distinctive to him then.
An odd feeling of inadequacy had overcome him, leaving him inundated with emptiness. He felt completely entombed by oppressive sadness, shrouded by a dark, threatening cloud. He’d been quite young at the time, and not understanding the disquiet, it had frightened him.
He’d happened upon the pool that same spring morn, although he’d not come looking for sanctuary from the regiment of his daily life. He’d happened across the pool in his one great act of rebellion. His headlong flight of escape—escape from trying to be all that others expected him to be.
He’d run that cycle to be free of tutors, of duties, and all the things others said he must know because of who he was—and he’d run from the fear that gripped his heart. That morn, he didn’t wish to be a prince, youngest child of the House of Doran. He’d just wanted to be a little boy named Michall, responsible to no one.
So, he’d rebelled that long ago spring morn—rebelled against rules, restrictions, and station. He’d yelled and stormed in a most unprincely manner, then raced out of the palace toward the stables. Once mounted, he cleared the courtyard and gave his steed free rein.
The wind buffeted his small frame, sending his long, thick locks trailing behind him to join the wind in a spiritual dance. He was free, if only for a while. For one brief moment, he was the wind, wild and unhindered.
His horse had run on and on without him caring in which direction they headed. Then he’d felt the wind die away and his senses slowly return. His mount was spent, its weary limbs quivering with exhaustion. It could run no farther.
He was within a small, secluded glade nestled deep in the royal forest, staring at an inviting pool that stood at its center.
He knelt at the edge of the water and let the reflections skimming its surface console his troubled thoughts. The cool liquid slid smoothly over his fingers as he trailed them lightly through the water, the action creating tiny rings that skipped over the once calm surface. The lapping sounds caused by the gentle rippling whispered to him, shooing away the last dregs of his anger.
Without being consciously aware of it, he dozed.
Within the dream, he saw beautiful things—images that floated within a misty reality woven from pure light.
Drawn to the glow, Michall approached the weave, but, strangely, he walked as a man, not the child he knew himself to be.
The man…or himself…stood beside the pool of silver, caressed by the glowing light of a growing enchantment. On impulse, he looked across the water and was surprised to see he wasn’t alone.
The light of the magic wrapped itself about them as he looked upon the maiden watching him from the far shore. She belonged to the enchantment, he was sure it could be no other way. No real being could be so perfect.
The sight of her made his heart ache. Her golden eyes pierced his soul. He’d never known such exquisite pain, nor joy, and thought with some dismay, that he finally felt complete.
He wanted to call to her, ask her name, yet said nothing for fear that in breaking the silence, he would break the spell that was upon him. So instead, he stood beside the pool, in a body not his own, and watched her in silent agony.
She met his stare, holding it as she pointed downward toward the little pool. His gaze reluctantly left her face, traveling the length of her arm to look upon the pool’s shining surface.
The water had hardened and took on the true features of a mirror, yet, unlike a mirror, gave nothing back—no reflections to mimic him. A cold chill ran down his spine and the small boy in him grew afraid.
The pool’s hard, slick surface changed, turning a golden hue before his eyes. His fear turned to shock as his mind sounded off its own warnings. What abounds within this glade?
Images formed within the watery depths—images of things he’d never known, but somehow knew. He saw tall towers stretching skyward from a lake of crystal blue, while slender bridges arched outward toward a shore draped in shadowy green. A palace with walls of purest white bordered the lake’s far edge, its ethereal beauty a haunting reflection upon the watery surface.
People in soft flowing robes strolled on manicured lawns and across the delicate bridges, moving as one toward the towers. Laughter filled the air.
Then darkness descended over the once blue skies. Screams rode the wind as panic-stricken faces looked upward in confusion, their cries suddenly silenced by the growing black void. The source of the darkness stood upon a great golden dais set between the tall towers, a thing of evil that sucked the life from the air and filled it with its foul breath.
Michall started to turn away, unable to abide the destruction, then hesitated when he saw a man standing near the edge of the dais, cradling a small babe in his arms.
The evil turned toward this man, its darkness swooping down as a falcon would his prey.
Somehow, Michall understood he must act, he must give them his strength. Instinct alone drove him as he stepped toward the vision. When he moved, a great sword suddenly appeared in his hand, its power surging through him.
As Michall thrust the sword’s sharp tip into the water, a blinding flash erupted from the rent, rendering him sightless. The light drove into the darkness, its force throwing Michall backward upon the ground.
When his sight returned, he sought the pool’s surface. The scene had changed. The man and babe had vanished. The evil thing screamed, the sound bounding across the land in resounding waves.
The valley Michall so admired lay in ruin. He looked to where the maiden stood, her tears leaving watery trails down her pale cheeks. She held out her hand to him, and then pulled it back to clutch her heart. She began to fade.
“Wait,” Michall said. “Don’t go. Tell me why. Tell me why you’ve come. Are these events of things to come, or things that have already passed? Do you warn, or do you seek to punish me for my disobedience?”
Upon the winds came a low, wistful sigh, “Ra-Jee, Ra-Jee, Ra-Jeeeee.”
Then Michall awoke, or had he ever been asleep?
All his instincts told him what he’d seen had been real. He looked down at his hands, inspecting them for change. He was no longer a man, but a little boy lying beside a small pool in a forest glade.
Awash in emotions, he grieved for the loss of the maiden. Whether real or not, having seen her, he knew his life was forever changed. He laid his head down beside the pool of silver moonlight and allowed himself the luxury of tears.
Again, the old memory faded. He’d not thought of that long-ago cycle, or the vision in many phasings, and wondered why he should choose to recall it so clearly now. Still, if he was to be honest, he’d carried the horrors of that cycle with him ever since.
He remembered how useless and out of sorts he’d felt after returning home. His parents knew he was troubled but reasoned it centered about his recent outburst. They’d left him alone with his thoughts.
For many full turns thereafter, a terrible foreboding shadowed him, his sleep plagued by nightmares—evil, horrid scenes, causing him to wake screaming of the dream city and its ultimate destruction.
Each new cycle saw him more sullen and moody, withdrawing farther from his friends, and snapping at his sisters whenever one penetrated too far into his inner sanctum.
Unable to understand, his parents had summoned specialists, hoping their skills could somehow soothe their son’s troubled mind. But the specialists found they could do nothing to dispel whatever demons haunted Michall’s dreams. Rumors circulated throughout the grounds that the young prince was slowly going insane.
In desperation, Michall’s father, King Mikam, gave up on the so-called medical profession and turned to mystical ways. He summoned an old soothsayer rumored to know all there was to know of magic—evil or good. King Mikam begged the man to try whatever was necessary to help the young prince.
Michall had sat with Helmon-Dy-e, the “magic man,” as he’d dubbed him, and told of all he’d witnessed by the pool. Helmon-Dy-e had listened patiently, nodded often, and occasionally waved, but always coaxed him to continue.
When Michall had cried out the last of his tale, Helmon-Dy-e had reached over and patted the prince’s hand. “Listen to me, boy, for I’ll tell you, and you alone, the secrets behind your veiled eyes. You’re not mad, child. No, no, not mad, only chosen.”
Michall jerked his head up.
Helmon-Dy-e laughed. “Come now. Don’t look so stunned. Is it so hard to believe that you could possess magic?”
Michall said nothing.
“Listen and believe,” Helmon-Dy-e said. “A very long time ago, long before our time, there was a place called Ra-Jee. I know this to be true. My Masters taught me of this place and I have no wish to doubt their words. No mortal place was this Ra-Jee. No, it was a valley filled with magical beings known as elves.”
“There’s no such things as elves,” Michall said, his chin lifting in challenge.
“Oh, no? Well, regrettably, there isn’t now.” Helmon-Dy-e sighed and shook his head. “But once, long ago, they walked our world. Once, they lived and breathed. There were great numbers of them, existing in our world then, as easily as we live here now. Then one cycle, Ra-Jee and its race disappeared. No one knows what happened. There are always rumors to consider. Perhaps your dreams are the answer to the riddle. Perhaps you’ve been given, not a burden, but a gift, a chance to see what no mortal has seen.”
“But, if these visions are from the past, and the maiden a being departed, why do I dream endlessly of Ra-Jee’s destruction? Why does it haunt me?”
“My Prince, magic is a tool rarely understood. It comes and gifts so very few that answers evade us.” He shrugged. “I think now that you understand these dreams are of the past, and that there is nothing you can do to help Ra-Jee, your nightmares will ebb, and eventually fade into nothingness.
“One cycle, very soon, you will sleep and your dreams will be filled with promise and hope. You may not even remember these trying times. Don’t fight the demons, rather, let them play themselves out and be done.”
“But what of this pool where the visions first appeared?” Michall whispered.
“I wonder myself about the pool. Perhaps it was once a doorway to that enchanted kingdom. Maybe a small bit of magic remains, even this far into the future. You, a gifted one, may have felt its lingering call. Who can really say?”
Helmon-Dy-e had been right. The dreams disappeared as quickly as they’d appeared and Michall had tucked the memory of them deep within his mind where they no longer troubled him.
Yet, this cycle, the memory came back with startling clarity. How could he have buried those visions? How was it possible he’d forgotten the maiden? Now that he recalled her, he couldn’t put her from his mind. To have been shown such beauty, to have found his kindred soul, only to remember he would never know her was a cruel irony. She was gone from his realm, lost in her own time, hundreds of phasings past.
Gripping his gloves in his balled fists, he took one last wistful look at the pool, then turned to remount. He must return to the palace. It wouldn’t do to be late for his birthing celebration. He felt a prickle along his neck and turned again toward the silvery reflections cast by the pool. The reflection of the man he’d grown to be stared back at him, the same man from his long forgotten dream….
“…And a very lonely young man,” said the Storyteller. “He’d been all his life. His eyes, dark and swirling with barely concealed emotions, always searched each face he encountered. When he didn’t find what he sought, he withdrew into himself, shutting others away….”
Thank you for hosting me, Marie. Visitors: If you’d like to win a paper copy of Elfen Gold – A Storyteller’s Tale, leave a comment and your e-mail address, and I will pick one winner from the posts!
Thank you, all.
About Sheri L. McGathy
“Born a buckeye, I was uprooted in 1971 and replanted amongst sunflowers, tornadoes, and college football. It’s a good life.” ~ Sheri L. McGathy
Sheri is married and has one grown son and three wonderful grandchildren. She works in prepress in a graphic design department as a Graphic Arts Coordinator/Copy Editor. When not working, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, and spoiling, not only her grandchildren, but also her dogs.
Sheri is the author of several works of fiction as well as a contributor in the non-fiction release: The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Novels: Volume 1
In addition to her writing, Sheri also designs cover art. For a list of Sheri’s fiction or to view her cover art work, please visit her website: http://www.sherimcgathy.com