Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Saga

Well dear readers, since last I wrote, Amberle is settling in quite nicely. She has become good friends with all the other girls...especially with Merilwen. We all thought things were going quite well. And they got even better with some exciting news if it being Christmas Eve isn't exciting enough!

Early this morning, a little bird arrived with a message for Master Elrond.
It was from Master Allanon, Elrond's cousin and soon to be Amberle's tutor. It would seem Master Allanon had finished his mission in the Lonely Mountains to gather herbs and other magical sorts of things found only in those wilds. He was planning to return to the Academy today....Christmas Eve. And, it on his way down from the mountains, he met Father Christmas. Father Christmas had quite a lot of gifts to deliver to good girls and boys and was a bit burdened with them all. To be kind, Master Allanon agreed to help him out by delivering our household's gifts himself.

Master Elrond called the household together for a special assembly and announced the good news. The girls were overjoyed!

Well, most of the girls were overjoyed. Amberle didn't look joyous at all...not even with the news Master Allanon was bringing gifts.
While the other girls ran off to tell everyone the good news, Amberle quietly slipped back to her room.

Merilwen and Betsy ran to spread the news to the other little girls of the household.

Tottie, a member of my household and a fellow travel companion, had been visiting the academy and quickly brought the news to our household.

I spread the news to Eilonwy and our larger companion friends....

and to Penny, who was doing double duty as a companion and a Christmas decoration.

I took a moment to climb the Christmas tree to look out the window, hoping perhaps Master Allanon was bringing snow as well as gifts from Father Christmas.
I was disappointed to see only rain, but even a dreary rain can't stop the joy of Christmas.
Once the news was spread, the girls returned to the academy.

Merilwen went to look for her new friend to share the Christmas Eve celebrations. However, she quickly noticed Amberle was not part of the celebrations going on at the academy. Merilwen went to Amberle's room, only to find her friend staring into the fire, with a rather annoyed look.

" something wrong?" Merilwen ventured.

Amberle sighed deeply. "Yes...something...or rather SOMEONE is VERY wrong. ALLANON!"

Merilwen looked confused. "But...have you ever met him...he is quite nice really...if a bit scary at first. He is so tall and so wise and ancient that we girls were afraid of him when we met him. But, after we got to know him a little, we all really liked him so far. Maybe you will get to like him too. He is going to be your tutor after would be easier if you could like him...wouldn't it?"

"I don't WANT to like him!" Amberly abruptly replied. "I have only met him once and I was too little to really remember it. He is actually my Uncle you know."

"He is? So he's family. Won't it make you feel better to have a family member as a tutor...even family you don't really know yet...since you are away from home?"

Amberle looked even more agitated. "NO! HE is the REASON I am away from home!"

"Master Allanon sent you here? But...I don't understand...I thought your parents sent you here to learn more about using your magic...." Merilwen tentatively asked.
Amberle sighed. " are my friend, aren't you Merilwen?"

"OF COURSE I'm your friend!!" Merilwen quickly replied.

"Then, I can trust you with the truth. You see...I have more magic than most Elves my age. I can't help it...I've been that way since I was born. "

"Isn't that a good thing?" Merilwen ventured, rather confused. "I mean, I only have a little magic, being only half-elven...I wish I had more...."

" careful what you wish for. I suppose more magic would be good if it didn't...uhhmmm...get out of control sometimes. You see, if I really wish for something to happen, or sometimes when I sing and get carried away with what I am singing about, things...happen. Or, if I am trying to make a potion or use a charm, sometimes my magic is too strong and they...don't turn out right."

"What do you mean Amberle...I mean...what kind of things happen?" Merilwen asked, a bit worridly, despite her fondness for her new friend.

", last summer it was a very hot day. I was sitting under a tree thinking how hot it was. Then, I got to thinking about winter, and how nice it would be to have some snow to cool things down. I was just THINKING about how I wished it would snow...and it did! Then, I couldn't stop it. That happens sometimes even when I try to wish something HADN'T happened. Our whole valley was covered in snow until one of the more powerful Elven wizards got there the next day to stop it.

Then, there was the time my friend wished her hair was red like mine. She had lovely silver hair and I didn't know why she wanted to change it, but she did. I tried to make a potion to change her hair color...I even followed directions exactly for the potion. did change her hair. Bright orange hair grew all over her! It was awful! Fortunately, one of the older Elves changed her hair back to normal. But, she wouldn't be my friend anymore after that.

Then, one time a couple of rather snobbish and not very nice girls were teasing a friend of mine in the apple orchard. I happened to be walking there and saw them. A rather mean thought popped into my head...that I would like to throw an apple at them to make them stop. They were making her cry! I would have NEVER really done such an awful thing...but after I thought it..the trees started throwing apples at them! They quickly ran to tell their parents, and I was in trouble again. And those are only a few example of my magic...accidents."

Amberle hesitated and sighed deeply.

"Well," Merilwen began, a bit unsure of what to say. "But, you didn't really mean to do any of those things. Didn't people understand that?""My parents and friends did...the ones who stayed friends with me, but other people didn't. Some of them started to be afraid of me. Other people just eyed me like some type of curiosity. My parents tried to help, they hired tutors to try to help me control my magic. None of them lasted very long though....most of them got "fed up" with me and my accidents and left after a couple of years at the most. One of them I got "fed up" with because he was mean. So, I put frogs in his desk, honey in his bed, charmed all his books not to open when it was class time, made the clock run fast so my lessons were over earlier...nothing really bad mind you...but enough little things so that he got "fed up" and quit. He told my parents he "despaired that I would never grow up into a respectful Elven citizen." My parents were running out of tutors. Except for the mean one, I really did try to work hard for my tutors, but I just kept getting into trouble in spite of myself."

"So..your parents decided to send you here for school? I did Allanon make you have to leave seems your parents were just trying to do what is best for you if they ran out of tutors?" Merilwen asked curiously.

"Well, my father wrote to his MUCH older brother, Uncle Allanon, for help. Uncle Allanon suggested a fresh start for me until I got my magic under control and the Elves at home perhaps begin to forget about my...accidents. Maybe living with my grandparents on my mother's side for awhile would give me my fresh start, he suggested. Grandfather Elrond also happens to be a distant cousin of my father and Uncle Allanon so they all know each other quite well and are friends as well as family.

Uncle Allanon is considered one of the, if not the, greatest Elven wizards and wise people of all time. My father and Grandfather Elrond hold Uncle Allanon in the "highest esteem" in their words, so they will listen to about anything he has to say. So, although they didn't want me to leave home, my parents thought the idea of a fresh start and a chance to learn to control my magic was a good one. And add insult to injury (that's a human expression I just learned)...Grandfather Elrond asked Uncle Allanon if HE would be my tutor and he actually AGREED.

My parents and grandparents told me I am most fortunate to have such a highly esteemed and powerful Elven wizard as my tutor and I must take full advantage of this opportunity. They asked me to promise to try my very best to be a good student for him and to work hard at my lessons. Above all, I am NOT to try to get rid of him. I really didn't want to promise, but I love my parents and grandparents and I couldn't refuse to promise to try my best." Amberle sighed, looking rather downcast again.

"Well, Amberle, Maybe it won't be as bad as you expect. I kind of think Master Allanon would be a good teacher. He seemed rather nice and he tells such wonderful stories and does neat magic tricks, and he knows SO much. Perhaps you will like him after all. Maybe he will be like Professor Dumbledore in those Harry Potter stories we like so much."

Amberle looked rather doubtful, thinking Allanon would be more like Professor Snape, but managed to give her new friend a small smile.

"Perhaps things will be alright. Anyway, at least I have more friends here than at home. I just hope I don't have any mishaps."

"Maybe you won't. And, we'll still be your friends even if you do." Merilwen promised. "Oh...speaking of mishaps...about the box of potions you sent. Do you think it is wise to keep them...never mind use them. You know, with Master Allanon joining us there are as many adults as students here. It is getting harder and harder to get by with any type of mischief, no matter how small. It was hard enough when there was just Ms. Merriweather. But with Professor Arthur, Master Elrond, Lady Celebrian, Master Allanon, AND Ms. Merriweather it is almost impossible."

Amberle thought for a moment. "Well, I hate to get rid of them. I did work hard on these and I tested them myself, so I know they work. They can be very useful...especially the one to turn you invisible. I used that one sometimes at home if I didn't want to be found. And, the new hair color changing one works. So does that one that speeds you up...very useful for doing homework or finishing chores. I mean...maybe I won't use them, but I don't want to get rid of them just yet."
Merilwen looked concerned at that. "Well, just make sure you don't use them. If you do and Miss Merriweather finds out I helped you smuggle them in here, I'll be peeling potatos in the kitchen, sweeping all the floors, dusting and doing all sorts of extra chores and assignments until she thinks I've learned my lesson. And, if you get caught, somehow I don't think Master Allanon would object to you having to do extra chores to keep you busy and out of trouble. I really prefer to have fun during my free time, so I do mostly try to keep out of mischief....although I don't always succeed in that."

"Oh Merilwen, if I get caught, I would never tell on you for helping me! You have nothing to worry about!" Amberle exclaimed.

"I know you wouldn't tell, but Miss Merriweather would find out anyway. She always does. She says she can't use magic, but the way she finds out about mischief is just like magic. I'm surprised she hasn't found the box yet and I'm worried it is only a matter of time before somebody does find it. I think you should get rid of it, or at least don't use any of the potions."

Merilwen hoped her friend would come to her senses about ridding herself of the temptation to get into mischief and silently vowed to keep an eye out for her.

In the meanwhile, downstairs, Ms. Merriweather heard a rather large "POP!" and Master Allanon suddently appeared in the classroom...right out of thin air!

"Oh Good Heavens! You DID startle me, Master Allanon!" Miss Merriweather exclaimed.
Allanon bowed deeply. "My sincere apologies, my dear Miss Merriweater. I should have given you warning I was coming before just dropping in. I'll be more careful next time."

Miss Merriweather blushed a bit (something we have noticed happens quite frequently around Master Allanon). "Oh, no matter, no matter at all. My, my....are those the gifts for the girls?"

"Yes fact, there are gifts for everyone," Allanon smiled.

Before long, Master Allanon was seated in Elrond's study with his bag of gifts. The girls eagerly gathered round. Well, except for Amberle, who refused to leave her room. Even her grandmother could not coax her into joining the festivities.
With a sigh, Lady Celebrian returned to the study and the festivities began. Master Allanon read a Christmas Story to the girls....
And then began presenting the gifts. A wonderful, large doll for the academy girls. Miss Merriweather said she was a sewing model, for the girls to learn to sew and create clothes. The girls paid no mind to that them, she was not a doll at all, but a new companion. They eagerly began trying to think of names for her (without reaching much agreement).

A lovely new necklace for Marley, Miss Merriweather's helper. A pet mouse for Paddington (much to Miss Meriweather's dismay)....A lovely necklace for Miss Merriweather, much to her surprise and delight... (and she really DID blush when Master Allanon handed it to her )...

A necklace for Celebrian and new maps for Elrond.

After he finished handing out the academy gifts, Master Allanon made the rounds of the rest of the household until every companion, except one, had a gift.

Amberle was still sulking in her room. She heard a quiet knock. Thinking it was Merilwen, she told her to come in. When the visitor entered the room, Amberle cried out in dismay and buried her face in her pillow.

"Amberle, my dear has been quite awhile since I've seen you. You were only a tiny little girl then and now you are a lovely young woman. And quite talented I understand."

Amberle started up in shock. "Talented????" she thought....nobody had ever called her powers a talent.

That is the last thing she expected to hear. She slowly looked at her uncle.

He didn't look she thought he might given his knowledge of her recent exploits. In fact, he looked rather kind. Elspeth, Amberle's dog, even jumped into Allanon's lap. Hmm..that was strange. Elspeth had a good sense for people and she obviously liked her Uncle.

But still, the fact remained it was her Uncle Allanon's fault she was here and not at home. Although, she did really like it at the Academy.
As if he read her mind, Allanon began to speak. "Amberle, I know you are angry at me, and rather afraid of me."

Amberle quickly tried to protest the last part of the statement, although it was true, but Allanon continued over her protest.

"I know you don't want to hear it, but your parents, your grandparents, and....myself...are only acting in your best interest. Tell me truthfully Amberle, don't you want to learn to control your magic?"

Amberle hesitated before whispering, "Yes."

"I thought so. It is not fair that you are shunned by others due to something that you were born with. It is not your fault you were born powerful, child. But, with power comes responsibility. Your responsibility is to learn to control your power and to use it wisely. I am here to help you do that, and I will help you in every way I can."

Amberle sighed. Her uncle really DID sound rather like Professor Dumbledore.

"And," he continued, "You are not losing your home. You will be visiting your parents every week. I will take you. In fact, we will visit tomorrow if you wish."

Amberle suddenly brightened, "You will??? They want to see me????"

"Of course they do...they love you dearly. We all do. Amberle, being at the academy is not a punishment and...

neither is having me as a tutor," Allanon added with a smile.

"Your parents did not send you here out of anger, but out of love. It is simply what is best for you. They are quite eager to see you."

Amberle looked happier than she had in quite awhile.

"So...will you allow me to be your tutor so you can learn to control your magic and return home permanently?"

Amberle shyly nodded.

"Good! I am looking forward to having such a talented pupil. And now, perhaps you would like your Christmas gifts? You will need at least one of them for out trip home tomorrow. It is snowing there and quite cold."

Amberle again nodded shyly.

With that, Allanon pulled a lovely velvet Elven cloak from his bag...
Amberle gasped in surprise. " is Beautiful!!! My favorite color! Oh thank you Uncle!"

"Don't thank me," chuckled Allanon, "You can thank Father Christmas for that gift."

"But...I do have some gifts for you myself. First of all, a magic textbook...we will be needing that as soon as the holidays are over and we begin our lessons."

"And, some new potions bottles. I made these especially for you."

Amberle's eyes widened. These were the prettiest potions bottles she had ever seen. All made of colored glass with golden stoppers.

Her Uncle continued.

"But, for these, I would like to propose a trade."

Amberle looked at her Uncle, rather puzzled.
"You give me the potions you have hidden behind your bed...."

Amberle was shocked at that statement, and more than frightened. How could her Uncle have known about those?????

"Because I just ALWAYS know about things like that..." he continued.

Amberle was even more startled and silently vowed to never try to slip anything past her Uncle again.

"That would be most wise..." Allanon continued.

Amberle grew even more astounded and quickly scrambled to relinquish her unauthorized stash of potions.
"Thank you, my dear." Allanon said with a smile. "Now, we'll work on making some more, shall we say...productive potions soon..and only as part of our supervised lessons."

Amberle quickly nodded her agreement. My goodness! Merilwen was right! There would be no mischief at the academy anymore!

Her Uncle Allanon simply smiled at her, nodding his head, "Correct you are, my dear."

"You know Amberle, it is really not very late. How would you like to go visit your parents tonight?"

Amberle happily agreed, and off they went for a Christmas Eve visit.

In their dorm, the other girls played with their new doll....although still not agreeing on a name. Everyone was having a Merry Christmas indeed.
Much later that evening, the girls were all tucked into bed, with visions of Sugar Plums dancing in their heads....
And the Academy staff settled down for some tea and a nice silent night.

And with that, I bid you all a Most Merry and Peaceful Christmas!

Hitty Rowan