Sunlight washed my face and I sat up in bed. Aside the bed the elders convened in their usual spot with the healer standing just outside the circle. She was the first to notice my awakening. A feeling that I was the topic of discussion washed over me as the elders all turned to me and surrounded the bed.
"You were busy last night," a familiar thought-voice stated. The elder seemed to be bristling with anticipation. "Why did you return to us?"
"Let me show you." was my response. The elder's beak opened and closed again and they stepped back from my bed as I rose. "Where is my pack?" the elders all looked toward a window where all my gear sat, leaned casually against a wall. I set to work pulling out all I had found.
"First, I discovered enough iron to make a large quantity of armor and mining picks." I set aside a stack of thirty iron ingots. Next I set to work withdrawing the gold, of which I set twenty ingots aside.
"Next, I found a large quantity of gold. I also found an enormous quantity of this strange dust." I proffered several leather bags of the red dust from the deep red ore and showed them to the elders, who observed without a thought or sound.
"Finally, I found these." At this I procured the three diamonds from the backpack and set them before me where I sat on the floor. If they were discussing discreetly amongst themselves what they were seeing all discussion ceased and their eyes were locked upon the diamonds. The elder stepped forward and spoke.
"You have been very prosperous indeed." the other elders around nodded sagely or worked their jaws thoughtfully. "We have intentionally failed disclose numerous things to you before but we are now ready to present to you our full knowledge as you have proven fully capable of putting it to use. What is it you wish to know, other-kin?"
"Well," I hesitated a moment, my eyes hovering on the healer and remembered her form. How human she looked and yet how super-human she appeared. A glint in the elder's eye flickered as he knew to what I was referring.
"Ah, that. Well, I suppose it was impossible for Elara to work her craft without showing you her true self. You have seen the vision of the one we call Elara, the light-self of our town healer." my face grew confused and I recalled my discussion with the villagers about their lack of using names.
"We lied." was the simple response. "But not entirely. We as our physical forms do not have names. Each of us is made of the same combination of elements in our physical-selves, therefore we have no reason to distinguish ourselves from one another, physically, beyond male and female. This was not your question, however, and when you asked you pointed, therefore interpreted as your reference to our physical-selves. Our light-selves, however, are wholly individual to ourselves. You do not show your true self to anyone unless you trust them or are close to them, which bespeaks a certain profundity of faith in Elara. She is a healer because of her compassion and faith in the wholesomeness of the spirit and light-self of others. My light-name is Galendar. I am the Patron of this village." This unbalanced me a little and took a moment to process fully. When I had a firm grasp a flood of questions pored into my mind and the elders winced a little as I was still having trouble telling when I was thought-speaking.
"Then why did she look human?" was the the thought that won the strongest voice.
"Because you are human." he knew I did not understand. "No one's light-self has a form. It is unto itself the truest of forms above corporeal distinction. There is no true image or shape that falls to it other than what image of itself it projects into your consciousness. Much the way the mind can take a word that has the same letters for the start and end, but even with the middle scrambled the text is still entirely legible. You see her that way because it is the easiest way for your mind to interpret what it is seeing."
"So what exactly was I seeing?"
"Something beyond spatial comprehension." I nodded to this, finding it a little easier to wrap my mind around.
"So you do have texts?"
"Yes. They are written in a language you will not be able to read. Should you wish to obtain their knowledge, however, Elara will be able to interpret them for you." her eyes flicked to Galendar then back to me and she seemed to blanch and looked at the floor, smiling inwardly. I was brought back to the discussion by what I took to be an elder clearing his throat and ruffling his feathers. The next questions were easy.
"What can you tell me about these things? The iron and the gold I am familiar with, what can you tell me about the red dust. And these?" I pulled several lumps of the blue stone from my bag.
"Ah, the dust is power," the elder eyed the stones, "and this is a dye."
"Yes, other-kin. You remember the life-force energy we taught you to sense in common materials and use to shape those materials?"
"Well, this dust contains an extra-concentrated amount of that life-force energy. It can be honed and used to transmit that energy through the dust." I was obviously confused. "The old-texts provide more detail, but my understanding is that it can be used to create powerful devices."
"Why did you want me to bring these diamonds back here?"
"So we could show you how we refined your tools and help you to do the same with these." Galendar nodded to the diamonds.
"A pick of diamonds?"
"Yes, other-kin. Such a pick will be indispensable to travelling into the land of fire and darkness."
"What else can you help me make?"
"O, I shall not be teaching you to make anything, other-kin. Our master in that craft will aide you in such tasks. Allow me to introduce you to Elder Kalandrin." one of the other elders stepped forward and nodded. An excited and reedy voice trilled in my mind.
"As the metal-worker of the village, I am very eager to begin as soon as is possible, other-kin."
"As am I, Kalandrin." I looked at the elder. He seemed no more strong than the others, but I sincerely doubted that he ever actually touched the pieces he crafted.