Morgan Llywelyn, internationally acclaimed author of 1916 and Lion of Ireland, returns with a powerful fantasy saga that sweeps from the dawn of history to our own near future. It is the story of Earth and her elements, and of the men and women whose fate lies in her hands. . . .
Water. The ice caps melt, the seas rise, and Kesair, a woman of Atlantis, leads a handful of survivors on a desperate search for land – and a new beginning.
Fire. All the world centers around the empire of Crete, where Meriones, a humble musician, performs before the mighty in their palaces. Until the land shakes, the volcano speaks with a voice of fire, and Meriones finds his life changed forever.
Earth. Old beyond imagining, the Earth knows neither hate nor pity. And from Annie Murphy, a strong-willed New England housewife, it demands a sacrifice both unexpected and irrevocable.
Air. The ozone dwindles, and the forests dies, a new plague walks the world. And on a day just after tomorrow, thousands of years after Kesair's struggle, another small party of survivors, led by George Burningfeather, comes together on a desolate Indian reservation. As the ice melts and the sea rises once more, they fight one last battle for the Earth – for mankind and hope.
The Elementals is the epic, ongoing tale of humanity's turbulent relationship with the Earth – as only Morgan Llywelyn could tell it.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|File size:||399 KB|
About the Author
Since 1980 Morgan Llywelyn has created an entire body of work chronicling the Celts and Ireland, from the earliest times to the present day. her critically acclaimed novels, both of history and of mythology, have been translated into many languages. She is an Irish citizen and lives in Dublin.
Since 1980, Morgan Llywelyn has created an entire body of work chronicling the Celts and Ireland, from the earliest times to the present day. Her critically acclaimed novels, both of history and of mythology, have been translated into many languages. Her books include 1916 and Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish. She is an Irish citizen and lives in Dublin.
Read an Excerpt
As the ice cap melted, the seas rose.
When they realized the land mass would be
inundated, people reacted in various ways. Some
planned, some panicked. Some did nothing, retreating
into apathy until it was too late.
A colony of craftspeople that had established itself on the western shore of a forested peninsula built a boat. They equipped it with oars and a square sail, and painted it a defiant crimson. They worked night and day on their project while the sea crept higher with each incoming tide.
Soon they found themselves having to fight to defend their boat from others who had not been wise enough to build one. The attacks grew progressively more desperate and savage. By the time the boat was completed only three men of the colony survived. Three men, and fifty females.
The woman called Kesair was big-boned and tawny-colored, with angry eyes. When the others gave way to despair, she climbed onto a stump left by the timbering and shouted at them. "Get ready to board and set sail! We must leave here before we are attacked again and lose the boat!"
"How can we," asked a grieving widow, "with no men?"
"We still have three," Kesair reminded her, "and our own strong backs. Don't just sit there! Let's get going!"
The surviving men, exhausted by their labors and battered by battle, gazed numbly at Kesair.
Fintan had broad shoulders and a noble head, but his face was grey with fatigue and blood was seeping from his bandaged arm. "She makes sense," he said hoarsely. "Let's do as she says."
"I don't like taking orders from a woman," Ladra growled.
"Then why didn't you get up on the stump and give the orders yourself?" asked Byth, the third man, who was slumped on the earth as if he had grown to it.
Ladra said defensively, "I was busy tarring the ropes."
"That's an excuse."
"Take the livestock from their pens and get them into the boat," Kesair ordered. After a brief hesitation, the others began complying. Fintan and Byth joined the women in the work, but Ladra stood off to one side, scowling, until so many people glanced at him contemptuously that he was forced to join them, muttering to himself.
They loaded a few small black cattle, a few long-legged sheep, a trio of yellow-eyed goats. The animals resisted but not very much. They could sense the sea, waiting to swallow them. They clambered up the ramp into the boat and stood shivering, with no control over their fate.
The humans felt the same.
When the moment arrived, they were sick with fear.
"We can go inland and wait a while longer," Ladra urged. "Perhaps the water will stop rising. We'd feel like fools then, if we had panicked unnecessarily. It would be better to be safe on dry land than on that boat somewhere. What if it leaks? What if it sinks?"
Kesair looked at the sea, heaving and muscular and alive. Then she looked down at her feet, where the first wavelets of the inrushing tide were already lapping her toes. "The peninsula will be inundated today," she predicted, "and I had rather be on the boat when that happens."
Turning her back on the others, she marched up the ramp.
They followed her. Timorously, casting anxious glances at the water and the land as if there was a choice, they followed her. Even Ladra, in the end, boarded the boat.
They pulled up the ramp, secured their vessel, and settled down to wait for the sea to float the boat.
The water hissed around its timbers as the tide swept in, rising past all previous high-tide marks. Rising and rising. There was a gentle bump; the boat shifted slightly. Its occupants tensed but nothing happened. Then it rocked again and they heard a grating sound down below.
At that moment men came over the horizon, running hard, yelling, waving weapons.
"We're trapped here!" Ladra cried. "They'll kill us and take the boat!"
The running men drew closer, shouting threats and demands. Byth, who was a grandfather, regretted his age. Fintan regretted his wound. Ladra shook his fist at Kesair. The women drew together in the center of the boat as the sea, testing, tentative, gave a tug at the vessel.
Then it wrenched the boat free from its blocks and swung it into the tide with a creak and a groan and a mighty rolling motion.
Kesair gasped and caught hold of the nearest support. A cow bellowed, a goat bleated. The waves pounded in, devouring the shore, hurling the boat forward like a battering ram. Its attackers broke ranks and ran, making for the rapidly shrinking surface of the dry land. The sea pursued them, driven by a power beyond all understanding. Reclaiming the earth.
The boat was hurled across a shallow sand spit and into deeper, roiling water that swept it away like a leaf on a river.
At first its occupants were too dazed to do more than hang on and stare back at the land as it fell away from them. They were dazed by the rapidity with which they were launched. The square sail was still furled at the mast, the oars lay untouched in their oarlocks. No one was doing anything, except the sea with its unexpected tidal surge.
"Can't we steer this thing?" Kesair cried.
Fintan shook off his shock and hurled himself toward the tiller. His wounded arm was the left; his right arm was undamaged, and strong enough to grasp the tiller and begin trying to bring some direction to the boat's gyrations. When she saw what he was doing, Kesair made her way to him and crouched down beside him, adding her strength to his on the tiller.
Through the wooden shaft and up into their straining arms came a sense of the boat and the water beneath it. Their efforts seemed hopelessly minuscule, compared to the forces with which they struggled, yet a faint response shuddered through the boat timbers. Out of sight, the rudder moved, making a statement against the tide.
The prow of the boat edged northward.
"Yes," Kesair said. "Yes!"
"We can't do anything with the tiller alone," Fintan told her. "We need the oars and the sail."
She repeated his words in a shout of command, addressing them to whoever would respond. Byth and Ladra were the first. It was hard work and they were awkward, being carpenters rather than sailors. Those who knew how to manage the boat had died defending it.
Some of the women began trying to help them. Confusion mounted. Men and women got in each other's way, stumbled, lost their tempers. An oar was somehow broken, snapped like a twig.
Fintan groaned in despair. "We have to do something," he said through clenched teeth. But he did not say what.
Kesair knew no more about boats than the rest of them. She was a weaver. But she was familiar with lines, leverage, spatial relationships. They were part of her craft. She squinted at the sail, which was now half-raised and flapping. "Take hold of that rope, that one there, and pull it toward you hard! No, toward you!" she shouted at Byth. Then, to one of the women, "And you there, take an oar and sit there, And you, next to her…"
They gaped at her, but did as she commanded. Hers was the only commanding voice in a great din of sea and snapping sail.
The sail tautened, the boat bounded forward.
Then the wind failed. The boat hung in the water. The inexperienced rowers flailed the oars to no purpose.
"Someone needs to set a beat for the oarsmen to follow, I think," said Fintan.
Kesair caught the eye of the oldest woman, Nanno, who had no useful strength, but had always been musical. "Nanno!" she shouted. "Pick up that broken oar and beat it against one of the kegs in a steady rhythm. The rest of you, follow the beat, row together!"
After a bit of trial and error and some ludicrous mistakes, the amateur crew began a rough approximation of rowing. The boat moved forward, slowly but with a sense of purpose.
"You don't know any more about boats than I do," Ladra said resentfully to Kesair. He was among the rowers, but had soon learned he did not enjoy the feeling of blistered hands.
She did not bother to answer him. The intensity of the task at hand--molding a crew out of people with no training, when she had no training in seamanship herself--took all her concentration. She paid no more attention to Ladra than to the bleating of the goats.
When the wind filled the sail, Kesair let the crew rest on their oars. When the wind fell off, they rowed again at her command. She began to feel an unfamiliar, and pleasant, sensation of power, as if the boat itself were consciously obeying her order.
The vessel was not easy to handle. It had been hastily built, wide in the beam to carry livestock, but with a draft too shallow and a rudder inadequate for the size of the boat. A rough sea would have swamped them.
But the sea was not rough. Once they passed beyond sight of land it subsided into vast grey-blue swells that heaved slowly, almost titanically, carrying the boat gently along. Toward sunset it grew even calmer, a huge beast settling itself for the night.
Fewer people were vomiting over the rails.
Byth leaned on his forearms on one of the barrels lashed to the deck, watching as the sail was lowered at Kesair's command. He felt shrunken by the immensity of sea and sky. "What will happen to us?"
"Did you say something?" Her task finished, Kesair turned toward him. She was hoarse from shouting orders.
"Just talking to myself. I…did you ever really believe the ice was melting?" he asked abruptly.
"I didn't pay much attention one way or the other, not for a long time. We were always being threatened with something, weren't we? Failing economy, disease, war; one after the other. That's why we moved to the peninsula. At least, that's why I did. To escape all the gloom and doom and live a constructive life in some sort of peace."
"Once it began, the disaster came upon us so fast," Byth said wonderingly.
She nodded. "What do you suppose has happened to the others?"
Byth drew a deep breath. "I don't know. It depends on where they were, I suppose. And how soon they realized the danger and began preparing for it."
"We didn't start soon enough, ourselves."
"No," Kesair agreed, "but at least we started. We didn't sit around waiting for someone else to save us. Those who waited are--"
"--probably dead now."
"Yes," she said sadly. "When I was a child, there were always strange men who wandered around prophesying the end of the world. My mother said we should feel sorry for them because they were mad."
"When I was a boy we threw stones at such men," said Byth. "If I had one of them here now, I would apologize to him."
"So would I."
Byth looked at Kesair out of the corner of his eye. He liked her. He wondered what she thought of him. He ran his fingers through the tight curls of his close-cropped, grizzled hair. You are an old man, he reminded himself.
Aloud, he said, "We have fifty females and only three men."
"What of it? There were always more women than men in the group anyway."
"But not such a disparity. Wherever we land, if we do land, it could be a problem."
"What are you talking about?"
"I am saying there is a possibility we may be the only people left alive. We haven't seen any other boats, not one. If you are going to be the leader, you have to think about these things."
"I never said I wanted to be the leader."
"No, but no one has challenged you for it."
"That's because they're dazed by everything that's happened."
"You were less dazed than the rest of us, it seems," Byth pointed out. "You could still think and act when action was most needed. That's what leadership is, I suppose. You have the title whether you sought it or not, and I suspect it will be very hard to put down."
Nightfall necessitated assigning people to stand watch. Kesair chose the most alert to take turns. Ladra was among them, grumbling, but he served his time when it came.
Kesair the leader had been created where only a weaver existed before.
When the last light faded from the sky it seemed to linger in the sea, a dark green luminosity lurking in the depths. Then it too faded. A velvety darkness, more intense and tangible than they had ever known, clamped down on the occupants of the red boat. Its weight pressed them into their weariness and they fell asleep thankfully, except for the few who had duties, or tried to stay awake long enough to search for familiar stars in the sky.
There were no stars. The night was overcast.
The wind ceased. The air was still.
The ocean surrounded them like a dark universe, oily-smooth, boundless. The brooding, merciless, destroying sea.
Empty except for themselves.
The boat drifted on the surface of the sea like a child's forgotten toy.
Trying to follow her mental image of a leader's behavior, Kesair had taken a place in the prow. There she spread her blankets for the night. She meant to sleep but lightly, just enough to restore a measure of energy.
The sail was lowered, the oars were in their locks. She had decided there was no point in trying to make more headway. They might as well drift during the night.
Tomorrow would be soon enough to decide on a course and begin a serious search for land.
But in which direction?
Kesair closed her eyes, but she could not sleep. Her eyeballs felt grainy against her lids. She opened them again and stared into the darkness.
The sides of the prow rose, curving, above her, like walls looming over her. Like waves about to crash down on top of her. She felt suffocated. She sat up abruptly and bunched her blankets behind her back, so she could lean against them without lying down.
Time passed without definition. Kesair tried to fight back the fears that kept surfacing in her mind. Her fists clenched with the effort.
A delicate, questing touch drifted across her face.
"What?" She glanced around, startled. She could make out only faint shapes in the darkness, but no one was anywhere near her.
There was no wind to have blown a strand of hair across her face.
Her mouth went dry. Don't panic! she told herself sharply. You're tired, that's all. You're imagining things.
She was touched again. This time the pressure was more pronounced.
Gooseflesh rose on her arms. Her frantically groping fingers found nothing in the air around her face.
She started to get up and was touched a third time. She froze, knees bent, one hand outstretched. The touch trailed lingeringly down her cheek, explored her lips, cupped her chin, then circled around below her ear, crawled up her hair, across the top of her head, down over her forehead, pressed her eyelids closed.
The thudding of Kesair's heart shook her entire body.
The pressure on her eyelids eased; she opened them. She was aware of a presence, unseen but palpable, beside her. The nearest human lay sleeping several paces away.
Something else was with Kesair in the night.
Copyright © 1993 by Morgan Llywelyn
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I couldn't put this book down, once I started it. The author puts you on the scene & keeps you there. I will buy more books by this author.
Water¿. The melting of the ice caps leads to the great flood destroying Atlantis. Few survive the calamity, but Kesair leads the small band in a desperate search for land that takes them to Emerald Isle in hopes of starting over. ¿Fire¿. If you can make it in the palaces of Crete, you can make it anywhere thinks talented musician Meriones. When the volcano erupts, spewing fire everywhere, Meriones struggles not just to survive, but to rethink his philosophy of life. He now understands that man proposes, nature disposes. ¿Earth¿. Good old Earth allegedly has no feelings as mankind goes about destroying it. Tell New England housewife Annie Murphy that Earth lacks compassion as she is the demanded sacrifice or else the planet has nasty plans for mankind. ¿Air¿. Several millenniums have passed since Kesair survived the sinking of Atlantis. The Earth has seen what man has done and become. George Burningfeather leads the final battle of survival though it seems obvious that mankind¿s reign is done. This is a cautionary ¿anthology¿ consisting of four warning novellas that if humanity does not change and take care of the planet, the Earth will react. The first two tales are incredibly powerful ancient historical stories that adhere to the warning theme inside an exciting narrative. The ¿Earth¿ story seems a bit flat compared to the previous duo while the ¿Air¿ contribution will leave readers breathless. Superb admonitory ecological allegory that not so gaily asks, ¿What¿s Going On¿ while forewarning that ¿in the Year 2525...¿ Harriet Klausner
I'm writing a series call the elementals! It's not published, but one day i will publish it! I'm not even a teen yet but its on wattpad and is still being written. Ironic, right?