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Tales of the Steppes, a Trilogy - The Watergate

 

The Siberian summer had been long and dry. One of the driest anybody could remember. The vast Steppes were brown and wilting, the early crops had been abundant, as the mild winter made them ripen quickly. Now the later crops relied on irrigation to keep them green and fresh. Water was as important as life itself, for humans and elves alike.

So, when a distraught messenger elf, burst into the meeting place, in the heart of the Enchanted Forest. Dragonfly the elf chief and the elf elders, listened intently to his plea. “Dragonfly” the breathless messenger started. “Lapwing chief of the Whispering Dell elves, begs you for advice and help. We are in a state of drought; our winter supplies are in danger. But, what’s more all the animals, birds, insects and the frogs, toads and fish, are in need of water”.

Dragonfly perplexed, asks. “Is it not true you have an abundant supply of water from the Crystal-stream? We all thought it an endless supply of pure water fed from the Ural Mountains, indeed from the same source as our Silver-brook”.

“True, mighty leader”, the messenger went on. Our beautiful crystal-stream has been diverted. The Troglodytes, living in subterranean caves under Whispering Dell, have tunneled into the bed of the stream and drained away our precious water supply’. “That is very wrong and very strange, we always got along with the Troglodytes”. Dragonfly recounts. “They lived in their dark world and we live in ours, although not friends, we were never enemies’.

‘Sir”, the messenger adds. “We have sent emissaries to try to reason with the Troglodytes, but none have returned, my brother included. Lapwing needs good counsel, and begs you for your wise advice’. Dragonfly stood erect. “Of course, I and 10 retainers shall accompany you to Whispering Dell. We shall do all in our power to right this wrong”.

The band of elves move fast through the forest, as they got nearer to Whispering Dell they noticed the countryside changing. The greens of the trees and bushes, were turning to browns and blacks. The soil, dusty and fine, no birdsong, dried ponds, no sign of the usual forest dwelling animals. Eventually the group arrives at Lapwings camp, The Whispering Dell elves greet Dragonfly and his elves with due ceremony and affection, as all elves are cousins no matter wherever they dwell. This bond of kinship unites the elf nation and makes it strong.

Lapwing the elf leader, tells Dragonfly of the latest developments. One of the elf emissaries sent to negotiate with the Troglodytes, though taken prisoner managed to escape. The Troglodytes, with their underground reservoirs almost empty, have taken the steps to channel off the elves water supply to top up their own. They are not interested in negotiation; it is battle of the fittest as far as the Troglodytes are concerned. “Well”, says Dragonfly face like stone. “Then so be it, we’re not going to let the Dell die, a plan of action must be made. Show me where the stream has been diverted and we shall work from there”. Lapwing leads the visiting elves to a part of the Dell, where the beautiful crystal-stream flows so gracefully down the valley. The graceful gurgling, sparkling water suddenly disappears in an ugly large black hole in the bed of the stream. Not a drop of life giving liquid got past this spot.

Dragonfly gasped at the terrible sight, then spoke firmly. “We need human help with this problem. Ellya and Vasilia the Fair will have the ingenuity to combat this terrible deed”. “Humans?” Lapwing said. “Yes, trust me Lapwing, these humans are friends to all elves”, dragonfly says, then turning to one of his elves, named Cobweb, Dragonfly commands.” Return to the forest, explain the situation, to Ellya and Vasilia, ask them for help, go now and go quickly. For even as we speak the life of the Dell is flowing away into the blackness. While awaiting the arrival of the two humans, Dragonfly told to Lapwing and the elves of Whispering Dell about the great battle with the Bursurkers. How in the Enchanted Forest, the elves and the humans had defeated the mighty Tyror and his warriors. Lapwing and his elves were much impressed, having never had any interaction with
humans themselves.

Ellya and Vasilia the Fair arrived. Cobweb had arranged for the two humans to be brought by Ellya’s cart, pulled by willing elves from the Enchanted forest, the humans arrived quickly and well rested, eager to help.

Dragonfly, after introductions to Lapwing and his Elves, explained the seriousness of the situation. Vasilia and Ellya could see the devastation caused by the lack of water, trees dying, animals gasping for a drink, frogs and toads, suffering and no birdsong. Ellya, being a woodsman all his life, loves and admires the wild outdoors, gasps angrily. ‘This blight on this pretty Dell is unforgivable”. “Aye”, agrees Vasilia. “We shall do all in our power to right this wrong. Dragonfly, Lapwing, show us where the evil deed has been done. The group makes their way to the gaping hole in the stream bed. Ellya and Vasilia, then move further upstream and survey the Dell higher up crystal-stream. The humans hen talk to one another with much gesticulating and pointing, they nod in agreement and return to the group of elves. “The plan is formulated”, Vasillia says firmly. ‘With Ellya’s knowledge of woodmanship and my knowledge of campaigning for the Russian army, we’ll teach these Troglodytes a lesson they’ll never forget.

Instructions were given, elves were organized into working parties, some with Ellya, some with Vasillia. Ellya, the master woodsmans’ party, cut down strong, straight trees and made them into long logs, dragging and pushing the logs to a narrow part of the Crystal-stream.

 

Vasilias’ group under instruction from the master tactician, rigged up a piling machine. This device made of three logs tied together at the top and the three legs open at the bottom, formed a pyramid. With strong ropes a large stone was hauled to the top of the three legs and by letting the weight of the stone drop, were able to hammer cut logs, standing upright, into the bed of the stream. Two rows of these logs were placed this way, then more logs were placed lengthwise, between the upright logs, thus forming a wooden wall….. A WATERGATE.

Behind this wall was then shoveled tons of stones and dirt. This made the barrier watertight and effectively they had built a dam. The water built up behind this dam and kept rising and rising. Dragonfly and all the elves were exhausted by their massive effort. Breathlessly Dragonfly said to the humans. ‘Friends we have built this wonderful dam full of life giving water, but it will not help the bottom part of the Dell that is dying of thirst”. “Patience, brave Dragonfly’, Vasillia says. “This is just the first part of the plan, next we attack! Have all your elves, everyone mind you even the smallest come to this spot. Warn all the forest creatures to take to high ground for a while, until this pestilence is cured” Vasillia orders stout ropes to be attached to the upright logs in the center of the dam. The waters are rising and rising, but the dam holds. The waters are nearly to the top of the dam, thousands of gallons of water push and strain. The wood is groaning under the strain. “Right “, shouts Vasilia. “ Ellya take half the elves to the far bank, I’ll have the other Dell folk with me. Everybody, elf man elf woman and elf child, grab a rope. Ready, Ready, Pull’. The crowd of helpers heaved on the ropes, the upright posts shuddered but did not give way. “This time, for Whispering Dell, and all the elves and animals in it, PULL”.

The upright loge popped out of the dam like a cork out of a bottle. Immediately, the horizontal logs gave way, the mass of boulders and earth held behind the dam by the logs was washed downstream with all the water that had built up behind. Like a huge brown animal, intent on remaining free, the mass of debris and water cascaded down
the Dell, carrying everything before it. Unstoppable, in a crescendo of thunderous fury, a huge wave of destruction headed to the drainage hole dug in the stream by the Troglodytes. With a whoosh and a roar the front of the tidal wave disappeared down the hole. Tons of water and boulders and rocks and mud, rushed like a liquid battering
ram along the subterranean tunnels. Troglodytes and their dwellings were washed away by the river of fury, leaving the survivors chastened and ready to negotiate with the elves.  The surge of water subsided, the debris had completely filled the hole in the stream bed. Crystal-stream flowed gently and sparkling again as it normally did, the elves and the humans smiled. Already the trees seemed to be straightening up, the woodland animals back playing, the frogs and toads hopping back to the stream, fish jumping. But, best of all the birdsong filled the Dell, the throng of elves held hands and danced all around the Dell.

The celebrations went on all day and all night. Eventually, the time came for Vasilia the Fair and Ellya to head back home. They received the thanks of the Whispering Dell elves and Lapwing invited them back. They would always be welcome in Whispering Dell. Dragonfly stayed at the Dell for a short time, in order to help Lapwing negotiate with the chastised Troglodytes. Saying there was enough water for all, as long as everybody shared. Agreements were made. Dragonfly and Cobweb and the retainers said goodbye to Lapwing and his elves. As is elf tradition, they must call this occasion a name so as in elf history it would be forever remembered. They agreed, it would always be known as:-
The Watergate 

Tales of the Steppes, a Trilogy -  Ellya and the Elves | Vasilia the Fair

Contributing Story Teller:   Terry Voyle - ex bricklayer - disabled now writes short stories to fill in long days. terryvoyle@live.co.uk


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