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Welcome To Elysia

(Realm of Elysia, Dove’s Sanctuary, Date unknown)

Perfect, deep, blissful sleep. Bren stirred in her large feather bed, snuggling up to sheets so luxurious, she held them to her cheeks just to feel their softness. Eyes fluttering open, she gazed up into a vaulted ceiling, decorated with a mural of angels. Stretching, arms extending over her head, she felt refreshed and whole. Nothing hurt anywhere in her body, and the air she breathed in deeply felt deliciously fresh and clean.

Turning over to one side, snuggling down into her bed, she said sleepily, “Who are you?” to the woman sitting across from her.

Focusing more, she looked at two perfectly shaped, barefoot legs, crossed. “You’re so beautiful…” she murmured as her eyes traveled up, towards the lady’s face. “Are you an angel?” Bren asked.

“Not exactly,” the woman said, smiling, “I’m a Seraph, and my name is Dove. Welcome to Elysia.”

Bren couldn’t take her eyes off her face, for she was the most lovely woman she’d ever seen; stunning steel blue eyes, high cheek bones, full, perfectly formed lips and long golden hair, streaked with blue, falling down around her shoulders.

“Am I in heaven?” Brenzel asked, beginning to rise to full consciousness while propping herself up on her elbows.

“No, dear one, at least not yet. As I said, you are in my home, the realm of Elysia.”

Bliss

“I feel so rested,” Bren admitted as she sighed. “Everything’s perfect.”

Dove said, “You were in pretty bad shape when you arrived, so I shared some of my Bliss with you to help in your recovery.”

Bliss?” Bren thought, “is this what bliss feels like?” Truthfully, the young hunter felt more at peace than she had ever felt in her entire life. Nothing seemed more important than snuggling down in her sheets. Dimly, she remembered bits and pieces of a bad dream, but it didn’t matter now, she was awake and everything felt lovely.

Standing up, Dove walked over and felt her head, then her stomach, which made Bren giggle and squirm a little. “Yes, you’re alright. You will be back to normal in a few days. My attendants will bring you something to eat and help you freshen up. You’ve been through a lot, Brenzel, just rest for now. I’ll be back to check on you later.”

Bren looked up at Dove, astonished, saying, “You’re so tall!”

Breakfast in Elysia

Kissing her forehead softly, Dove smiled as she left, while a flock of five young women introduced themselves. “I’m Robyn, I’m Felicity,” then in rapid succession the others said, “Hope, Mercy, Manu.” All smiles and excitement, the young women, clothed in very shear, short dresses, brought breakfast, a small table, and some chairs to Brenzel’s bedside. Sitting with her, they chatted like chipmunks as she ate.

“I love the flowers in your hair,” Bren commented, as she looked at each one.

Smiling, Manu exclaimed, “You are so beautiful!” as she felt Bren’s hair lovingly. “I’ve never seen such hair, except, of course on Dove.” Indeed, each of the girls’ hair was brunette, with deeply set brown eyes. Bren, feeling completely at ease with them, marveled at their unity. When talking or moving, they moved as one, never getting in the way of each other at all.

Walking with friends

After eating, the bevy of young ladies encouraged Bren to let them give her a short tour of their home. Walking with their new friend, Robyn took the lead, showing off Dove’s palatial sanctuary. Felicity peppered her with questions, which Bren felt more than happy to answer, including her taste in boys, prior loves, and other deeply personal life experiences. Hope and Mercy mostly listened and giggled, each taking an arm as they walked, sneaking in touches of Bren’s golden hair intermittently. It was as if they were all childhood best friends, reunited at long last.

Presently, they led Brenzel onto a balcony overlooking a large courtyard, which led to an even larger garden, chock full of brilliantly colored flowers.

Bren, not a fan of heights, hesitated at first, then edged closer to the stone balustrade. Peering over the railing gingerly, for it was a great way down, she said, “I do so love flowers.”

“Oh yes, we do too!” each of the girls said in a chorus of sweet affirmations.

Felicity asked the others, “Do you think we should?

While Manu questioned, “Isn’t she tired still, she just got up from a weeks nap!”

“Please, please, I want to take her!” Mercy chimed in.

“She’ll love it!” Hope stated.

Robyn reminded, “But she hasn’t even bathed!”

Then in agreement, they said, “Oh, yes, aren’t we silly! First, you must wash up, come with us!”

The mount of the congregation

A pair of doves flew above the great hall, situated half way up the mountain that held the Elder Seraph’s Sanctuary. Below, in the vast chamber, the council met to learn about and discuss the Dragon Attack at Alfheim.

Six Seraphs sat on six thrones, each made out of native gemstone from their respective realms. One throne, on the right, noticeably more ornate than the others, remained empty.

Dove’s seat, fashioned out of light blue living sapphire, was front and center. Before her, sevens steps led to her and her sisters, each step made out of similar living gemstones.

The rest of the congregation sat, amphitheater style, in a semi circle facing the Six Sisters; Dove, Alethea, Thandeka, Whaitiri, Guanyin, and Coatlicue. Great columns of the purest marble lined the great hall, whose capitals supported a frieze of alternating cherubim and palm trees. There was no roof, for it never rained during any meeting.

Each realm, in turn, was represented by 24 elders:

  1. Elysia, 24 elders (Dove)
  2. Hala, 24 elders (Alethea)
  3. Zulu, 24 elders (Thandeka)
  4. Aukum, 24 elders (Whaitiri)
  5. Tian, 24 elders (Guanyin)
  6. Omey, 24 elders (Coatlicue)
  7. Eden, 24 elders (Dove’s protectorate),

One hundred and ninety nine Seraphs and elders in all.

To the right side stood the seven chief guardians, Michael being their captain. To the left, stood the psalmists and many musicians, Gabriel being their chief.

Not since the rebellion

After introductions, music, and prayer, 3 and Michael were called forward to give their report about the Dragon Attack in Alfheim. Both told of arriving from their meeting with the Librarian, and how that infernal beast appeared out of nowhere, without warning.

3 told the council how Hatshepsut was wounded. When he came to the part where Alethea gave the nectar of Hala’s Tree of Life to Hatty, a murmur rippled through the council. 3 paused his narrative, to give time for comment, yet, unexpectedly, none of the Seraphs challenged Alethea’s decision.

After 3 finished, Michael concluded with, “I’ve never seen a dragon that size since the Great Rebellion. Frankly, it seemed as if it attacked Hatty on purpose.”

Dove, turning to 3, asked, “My seer, you didn’t see any of this coming?”

3, looking pained, confessed, “No, Your Majesty, I was completely unaware of it, though I felt uneasy about Hatty seeing the Librarian. With all my mathematical powers of prognostication, I was as much in the dark as anyone else.”

Darkness hides evil

Whaitiri, standing, said with disdain, “It’s Beauty, it has to be. Only her original sin can hide such evil.”

Many others spoke in turn, Michael and 3 interjecting pertinent details here and there. Some present advocated for war while others urged caution, but all were outraged at the brazen attack that destroyed the Great Bridge and almost cost a mortal’s life.

Finally, when all had spoken, Dove stood, her majestic wings fanning to the full, saying “I thank all of you for contributing your collective wisdom. I understand that this is a grave matter we’ve discussed. Yet, when I search my heart and His Spirit, I feel it is not time to go to war…yet. We simply don’t know enough about our enemy and why this is happening.”

No one spoke, no one stirred as the great hall fell silent. Then Alethea, troubled in her spirit, stood saying, “My honored sisters, it was a direct attack on Alfheim by a Dragon! How much more provocation must we suffer? This beast almost killed Hatty!” Alethea, pacing the court with her hands and arms outstretched, looked at her sisters and the elders questioningly.

Caution

Dove, as serene as always, walked over to Alethea and, taking her hands in hers, looked into her eyes, saying, “Sister, I feel violated too, but must we risk opening old wounds? Dare we invoke another war in the Seven Realms before we are certain of our enemy? I beg of you, we’ve had peace for over 1000 years, surely we can wait a while longer to end it.”

Feeling her heart and understanding Dove’s wisdom, Alethea asked, “Then what shall we do? Surely, there must be some response.”

Thandeka stood, as all focused upon her, saying, “Great council and my esteemed sisters, you know that I am not one to shy from battle or shrink from a fight, but hearing Dove’s heart, I must concur with her wisdom. The peace was hard won and it has held for over a millennia. I also urge that we not make haste to break it.”

Knowing the threat we face

Alethea sat down again, as Guanyin spoke up next, “Then, sister Thandeka, what do you propose we do?”

After a moment’s pause, Thandeka offered, “We must know the magnitude of the threat we face and from whence it comes. We all assume who must be responsible, but let us make certain of our enemy before we act.”

There was a general murmur of agreement throughout the counsel members. Seeing as there was no one who wished to speak further, all the Seraphim stood together. Dove spoke, “It is decided, then, we will determine who is responsible for this violent act, then take action as needed.”

Turning to the guardians, Dove commanded, “Michael, I appoint you to carry out the will of this council. You may chose whomever you believe capable to accompany you. Find out who is responsible for this provocation and report your findings directly to us.”

Michael, solemn and alert, said, “As you command, Your Majesty. I choose 3 to accompany me as my second, with your permission.” Dove simply nodded.

3 walked over and stood at Michael’s side, pledging, “Here am I, my old friend.”

Getting used to Elysia

Over the next week, Bren gradually became herself again, Dove’s bliss wearing off. Spending most of her time with Dove’s attendants, the bevy of young maidens, she came to know the lay of her host’s enormous estate. As far as she could tell, Elysia was as near to perfect as it could be, a foretaste of heaven itself.

Always pleasantly warm, it only rained after midnight. Birds sang and chirped their way throughout the day, but never to the point of being annoying. Green plants grew everywhere, in and out of the Sanctuary, but never seemingly out of place. The food, mostly fruits, nuts, breads, and confectioneries, tasted better than she ever remembered anything tasting on earth. Dove saw her as often as possible, and with time Bren finally began to get used to her size and unearthly allure.

Bren, how much do you remember?

Eating with Dove at an evening meal, Bren, asked, “How did I get here? I mean, last thing I remember on earth was that I was about to be hung.”

Dove, finishing something akin to a large peach, replied, “How much do you remember?”

“Well, I was standing on the platform and as the hangman fitted a noose around my neck.”

Indeed, it was all coming back to her now, and a shiver ran down her spine and then raced though her entire body.

She relived the feeling of cold and sweat she had experienced that day, as well as the draining feeling of being sick and tired, waiting for the inevitable end. Dark clouds gathering above, flashes of lightning here and there, she just wished for it all to be over.

Then the priest said, “I forgive you…”

It was Traveler!

Dove asked, “Do you remember who the priest was?”

“Oh my, yes!” Bren said, eyes wide with sudden realization, as the events flooded back into her mind, “It was Traveler!” He didn’t forsaken me after all! He’s the one who gave me a blue feather. Then I woke up here!”

Looking at her with kindness, Dove said, “I’m sorry to have had to put you through all that, but we had to improvise at the last moment. You see, the original plan was for you to come directly here.”

“But I didn’t do that…did I,” Bren said remembering how she let the feather fall to the ground and threw away the hat in anger.

“Yes,” Dove intoned with a kind smile and a slight flare of here hand, saying, “you, shall we say. . .chose a different path.”

Looking down, feeling ashamed, Bren said, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, there is no need,” the Elder Seraph said sympathetically, “you accomplished what you needed to do.”

“But Your Majesty,” Bren said, tears welling up in her eyes, ” I failed her, I didn’t save my friend Wichapi.”

That was never your mission

Looking at Bren with her steel blue eyes, Dove said sweetly, “That was never your mission, Brenzel.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Your mission was to connect with Wichapi, to fall in love with her, to become part of her and she a part of you. Brenzel, you succeeded beyond our greatest expectations. You did very, very well indeed.”

“I…I don’t understand,” Bren said with a perplexed look on her face.

“It’s alright dear, it will take a bit of explaining. For now, just know that Traveler is very pleased. So pleased in fact, that it was our decision to rescue you and bring you here anyway.”

“Both of you did that?”

I’ll show you

“Yes,” Dove said as she stood.

“I still don’t understand, how did you rescue me?”

“I’ll show you,” and turning her back to Bren, Dove’s six wings fanned out, their width being over twice her height, full of blue feathers.

Bren, jaw dropping, exclaimed, “It was you all along!”

SEIOB.