A young man is tried to receive a priceless treasure.
|”…the difference between things that are important and those that only seem important at the time,” said archdruid Cormorant.
Apprentice Nithose slouched against a tree as his eyelids remained half open. He sighed as he frowned and ran his palm down his face.
They young man jolted and his eyes shot open. “What!”
“You never cease to be careless. What will you do when you embark on your journey to find your Mind Stone? You lack even the basic wisdom of a druid-to-be,” said Cormorant.
“Is a Mind Stone so necessary? None have attempted reading the emerald scrolls without a stone. It may be possible without one.”
“You speak an unlikely thing. Have you tried to start a fire with no flint except for magic?”
“You prove my point. Who needs magic when flint is available?” said Nithose.
“But can you summon lightning or disperse ice from your hands lacking a stone?”
“Perhaps I don’t care for such abilities.”
“You will do as the rest of your fellow brothers have done. Now go rest. Your next lesson begins at dawn. And Nithose-pay attention.”
Nithose stood, stretched and yawned. He walked out of the meadow to his hut and lay down and thought. “I’ll show the whole druid brotherhood the truth. I do not need any further knowledge. That Mind Stone will be mine. I’ll leave and return with the Stone before dawn even comes.
At midnight, Nithose packed provisions along with a sword and shield to explore the White Caverns. Dragons rumored to dwell there. Ice filled the caverns and inside was a lake.
The hour came and Nithose poked his head out of his earthen hut. All was silent. With his pack on his back, he light-footed through the settlement and into the outer forest with a lamp.
The moon shone full and drifting clouds careened across the sky like sleeping spirits. The moist mist rose to Nithose’ shins. His jaw dropped and he widened his eyes. “This place feels so sad, peaceful, but sad.”
The trees began to thin and the mist cleared some. The grassy terrain inclined and it was fully exposed by the moonlight. He crested the hill and saw a cavern mouth. “The white Caverns,” Nithose read from a superscription at the top of the entrance.
He smiled and walked to the entrance.
“I wouldn’t go in there Nithose. Someone as unversed as you would find it a deathtrap,” said a tall person with pointed ears.
“How do you know me? You sound like one of my teachers.”
“Call me Terinth, elf of the wood.”
“What powers do you possess?”
“like all elves, I own such abilities that mankind calls magic.”
“Why did you forbid me from going in?”
“Like I said, you lack knowledge to find the Mind Stone. I’ve come to offer you another prize, one that far exceeds the power of the Mind Stones.”
“What is this great thing?” asked Nithose.
“You may refer to it as the Word. I will say no more but I will guide you to it.”
“Where is this treasure?”
“Within the cave. Come with me.”
Nithose followed Terinth inside. “The gift of the Word requires three things: humility, wisdom and faith.” The elf sat on a rock. “Bow before me and then wash my feet.”
Terinth frowned. “I am greater than you.”
“I will not!”
Nithose seethed in silence. Something occurred to him, this elf held great wisdom. It burned Nithose to prostrate himself. It proved hard to swallow his pride. He bowed his knee then Terinth lifted his robed to show muddied feet. A washpot with a rag appeared before Nithose. It felt humiliating but sobering. He rose and the Terinth smile and embraced Nithose. “You’ve learned humility!”
The two walked farther into the cave. They stopped at an iron door. “What virtue excels all others?” asked Terinth.
Nithose was silent.
“I’ll give you a clue: it binds hearts and overcomes all.”
Nithose sat against wall. “It is not tangible. I believe it is a notion or feeling. Hmmm…” He thought for a while. “For the love of Earth! What is it!”
“You’re on the cusp of it just now.”
Nithose paused. He snapped his fingers. “Love! Love excels all virtues!”
“You’ve achieved wisdom.”
Nithose laughed. The iron door opened.
“Let’s proceed,” said Terinth.
They walked in and a large black book rested on a golden altar. “Such a book must be filled with ancient knowledge!” He ran for it and a wall of fire rose before him.
“This is the last test: faith,” said Terinth.
The obvious test of faith must be the wall of fire. “I have to go through that don’t I?”
“It is the hardest thing.”
Nithose neared the flames that gave an uncomfortable heat on his chest. He moved closer and the heat increased. He pulled back. “I can’t do it! It’s suicide!”
“Reach deep inside. I know you can do it.”
Nithose fell to his knees and gripped his scalp. He stood. Shook himself, then took a deep breath. He took a few steps back. And closed his eyes. He let out a cry as he barged for the wall of flame. The heat increased as he neared it until it vanished.
He looked behind him. “Success!”
“You have overcome and the prize I yours.”
“You mean the book?” asked Nithose.
“It is the Word. This holds the key to true wisdom from the God who made heaven and Earth. It shows the way to righteousness and eternal life.
Nithose went to the book and felt its leather cover stained with dust. He opened it to the first page and read. In the beginning was the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
He looked up. “Archdruid Cormorant should read this.”
“Alas, only you will believe it.”
Those looked down. “I see. What is next?”
“Read the book and take it to heart. A glorious future awaits you!”