“In their world an elf jumps straight off the edge of a cliff as an experiment…”
THE SEER’S TALE
At the highest point of Screamers Cliff, a party of hand-picked observers hunched themselves against the wind. They waited as a small donkey cart made slow progress towards them. The driver hauled on the reins before clambering onto the back of his cart. As he brushed the straw off a newly-inscribed gravestone, three people of very dissimilar appearance left the group and drew near to it. The most interested of these was a female elf who ran forward to look at the stone. The inscription read…
OF THE ALL-SEEING EYE
Born – 979 SA Died –
A tiny bald man, smaller even than the elf, had to wrestle with his wind-tossed white coat before he could approach the back of the cart. “Now will you jump off the cliff?” he said. His hands, pushed deep into his pockets, rose with frustration only as far as the material would allow.
“It’s not finished!” said the elf, still busy checking the spelling.
“Of course it’s not finished!” said the man on the cart. “These things take time, you know. Dragging me all the way up here just so the intended can have a look doesn’t help matters. I’m a busy man!”
“Well we thank you very much for that, Mr Winslade,” said Avis Davies, by far the tallest of the three. Her long black cloak was an indication of her status; she was a witch. “And of course you will be duly paid for your trouble.” The monumental mason, careful not to overstep the mark, nodded in deference. The witch, satisfied order had been restored, continued, “Right, Seer Bigg, you’ve seen the stone and you also have my word. People are getting cold. Now will you kindly throw yourself off the cliff? Then we can all go home.”
JC Bigg had never liked the names her parents had given her. From the day she found out Jennet and Cowslip were actually girl’s names she would answer to nothing other than her initials.
Content in her own mind that posterity would not now mark her out as just another soppy girl, JC focused once more on the job she had chosen to do. With an exaggerated rock back on her heels she set off as fast as she could towards the edge of the cliff. Her tough toned body, despite having to clutch a folded silk sheet to her chest, ate up the ground between her starting point and the cliff’s edge. Behind her the group of onlookers held their breath as she approached the point of no return. Then, with a braking manoeuvre any cannonball hurler would have been proud of, she brought herself to a halt inches from possible oblivion. She risked a glance over the edge. Five hundred feet below her, a larger crowd of probably-more-interested-than-they-ought-to-be onlookers stared right back up at her. A question needed answering. She marched back to the party behind her and singled out the tiny man in the white coat. He was now cradling a large ginger cat.
“Doctor Thumb? Tell me why we need the hole again.”
The little man sighed. “Well…when we did the trials before, we noticed the parachute tended to oscillate wildly as it descended. By putting a hole or vent in the parachute, it seems to stop this problem,” said Thumb, all the while stroking the cat.
“Hang on! I thought you said I was the first person to test this thing.”
“You are.” Thumb ceased stroking and the cat opened its eyes. The first thing it focused on was the folded up sheet JC was holding.
“Then who…?” The cat yowled and scrambled over Thumb’s head in a desperate attempt to escape.
“Oww!” cried the little man, his face already beading with blood. After regaining a little composure and re-siting his glasses, he puffed out his chest like a lovelorn pigeon. “Kipper must have recognised the parachute. Still, he’s been with The Eye for five years now and he’s still got all of his nine lives intact.”
“And just how do you know that, Doctor Thumb?” said JC.
The little man lowered his gaze as the elf watched the ginger blur getting smaller and smaller in the distance.
“I guess it’s just the ‘being-catapulted-over-a-cliff’ bit he doesn’t like”, he said.
JC caught a disapproving look from Avis Davies. It had been The Massy Witch herself, in her role as Commander of the All Seeing Eye, who had taken her to one side some weeks ago. The two of them walked together away from the others.
“Are you scared, Seer Bigg?” said Avis Davies.
“No!” JC was stung her courage had been called into question.
“I didn’t think so. That is why I chose you.”
“It just seems silly to jump all that way when I could fly-”
“That’s just it, Seer Bigg. We don’t know whether the rush of the wind at such a height would allow you to open your wings? Dr Thumb doesn’t seem to think so. Or at least, he wouldn’t let you risk it. He believes the parachute is the safer option.”
“There is no alternative, Seer Bigg. Where you will be expected to go, your magical powers will be useless to you. I don’t want to explain the situation until I am sure you are up to the task.”
“With respect, Commander, if you tell me to jump over that cliff, I will.” JC saluted and waited for the order.
A couple of seconds passed by before Avis Davies said, “Are you ready, Seer Bigg?”
JC felt the eyes of everyone upon her; Avis Davies, Doctor Thumb, her colleagues…even Kipper the cat watched from a safe distance. Mindful of the weight of expectation hanging over her she turned and faced the cliff.
“OK…let’s do it!” Digging her heels into the soft turf to get maximum purchase she was off and running. Once more her body felt good. She knew in her head, she was made to do such things. As her foot hit the edge of the cliff she screamed and threw her body into the star shape they had shown her in training.