Prologue: The Bond of the Elves
The elves remained. The earth moved and the world aged yet the elves staid. Man had risen and raged. Creatures great and small toiled. All of them wondrous and not passed before the elves like falling leaves of trees. Flesh lived, died and passed into forgotten memories. All the while the elves remained as constant as the sand washed by the endless caress of the sea. The elves endured the wars and flames that man threw at themselves and the world.
There was a time in which man and elves had lived together. Not in harmony but in awareness. Each viewing the other with a watchful eye and so it had been for centuries beyond reckoning. While the spirit of the earth grew the elves tended it with loving, care and respect. Man instead sought to harness that spirit and bring it to serve them. They dug into her with picks of iron and shovels of steal. They dammed her rivers. They stopped the flow of life from its nurturing course. Soon elves and men stood as adversaries. They clashed and fought battles now long forgotten. The rocks where they bled are now turned to dust. Continents have shifted, oceans formed and mountains sprung to life.
The elves were losing the struggle. They knew the soul of man would never quiet to the peace of nature. The elves turned away from men and beast. They secreted themselves into their living homes amongst the trees. They became furtive and isolated. With time they past from the memory of men and became legend and legend became myth until they became nothing more than children stories.
Feeling the earth wane and fearing that the man would eventually destroy them utterly the elves met in council. Four great nations of elves came together in communion and set forth a plan to stave off their race from annihilation. They gathered magic, stored their holy blessings and created a protective bond that bound the elves to thier beloved trees. The magic Bound them with a certainly. Their wisest assured it would keep them until the passing of man. Each soul of the elves, man, woman and child were bound and locked into the hearts of trees deep in forest untouched by man. There they slept and waited. It was their belief that in a few hundred years man would spend himself out. Then the earth would rejoiced at mans passing. The bonds that preseved the elves would crumble and they would once more dance and sing to mother earth.
The elves were long lived, some would say immortal for no man, nor did his children’s children ever know an elf to age. Indeed it was the long life of the elves that foolishly led them to the belief that man would perish as had so many other creature before the elves. But here the elves were wrong. For while their magical bond of keeping preserved them throughout the age’s man did not wither and die. Instead his might grew and rivaled that of earth herself.
He dug deep into the earth and stole her power, tapped into and made it his own. He unleashed powers upon earth that destroyed cities and leveled mountains. He dammed mighty rivers and altered the course of nature without regard.
With the elves locked in their immortal prison the earth struggled to fight man. She threw disease and pestilence but still man survived. She shook her body to crumble the building of man and throw them from their feet. They stood and rebuilt. She breathed wind that ripped trees from the ground and hurtled them like missiles and yet man would not break Man defied and defiled her, beat her until she was finally cowed and spent. She became feverish; her streams no longer flowed to cool off her body. Her temperature climbed and man still remained strong. She was in her death and the world was becoming a barren and arid dessert. But man in his arrogance turned a blind eye and believed they would master her yet still and turn her into a servant of man.
The elves, trapped in their prison of trees, began to die. The elves had created the bond so that the soul of each elf would float from tree to tree as an inmate is moved one from cell to the next. Never did they imagine that much like the prisons man had built there were soon not be enough trees to hold the eleven nations. As the earth was feverish and man cut wide swaths of forest down to make fuel for his perpetual war the eleven nations began to dwindle. The souls of the elves passed into the heaves and wept for their folly. They screamed to their brothers and sister to wake from their sleep and escape the bond. Millennia past yet the bond held. Mother Nature still hoped she could defeat man and release the bond to let the elves free.
Chapter 1: Katrina’s Return
Hurricane Katrina was a year old and while the wounds of the storm were still visible in the city of New Orleans people were beginning to rebuild. The government was providing assistance to reconstruct homes and the army core of engineers were busy rebuilding damns and levies as they had been before. They vowed New Orleans would live on and they would build better and higher levies to defeat even the harshest storms that nature threw their way.
Charles scanned the front page of the Times-Picayune. He was waiting to read if the damn government engineers had decided on a course for the damns and levies holding back the might Mississippi. Charles held a doctorate in botany and had a particular interest in climatology. He was an environmentalist. Not the tree hugging hippy kind who drove to their anti-mega mart rallies in energy wasting SUV’s. No he was a scientist first and foremost. He left the chanting, marching and what he termed belly-aching to the disenfranchised generation X. He admired them for their temerity while at the same time chiding them for their naivety.
Charles knew from watching as young boy the civil right marches and rallies that while things may change on the books some things never change. Blacks in Louisiana were still mostly poor, whites still were the political movers and shakers and racism had been upstaged by national politics. Instead Charles researched, studied and analyzed data to prove scientifically that New Orleans for all its history, culture and spirit was a bad idea waiting for a calamitous end. Charles watched with a twinge of shadenfreuden the destruction of New Orleans. While his heart ached for the loss of life and home he knew that New Orleans time had come. He himself had lost his own home in Jefferson parish and was not staying in a trailer the state had finally managed to deliver nearly a year after the storm.
Charles was a child born of the bayou and made his home amongst the swamps and mashes of the Louisiana delta. He had spent his childhood exploring the back waters and streams of the bay. He would camp weeks on end in rickety huts made in the shelter of hoary willow. He often felt more at home in the bayou than in his home in what was his home in Jefferson parish. Charles was in the bayou now studying the effects of toxins leaked out into the delta by the wrath of Katrina. He was worried for a grove of old Holly Oaks. Their foliage had been sickly in the spring and now as fall was approaching he could see limbs beginning to wither and dry. He did not think they would survive another hurricane. He had hoped to find a link between their sickness and the known toxins that had been released. He ran every test and measure he knew of and found nothing but the Hollies were dying. He was determined to find out the cause.
Deep inside the bayou of Louisiana, in an old marsh full of weeping willows and oaks, an elf stumbled out from behind a tree. She drew a deep drought of air deep into her lungs for the first time in four thousand years. She immediately coughed and choked. To her the air was fetid and reeked of death and decay. She could taste foul gases mixed with other toxins she had no name. She glanced quickly around and found she was alone. Disoriented, confused and struggling to breathed she huddled down by her tree and tried to think. Where were the others? They were all supposed to be released from the bond together. But she was alone.