Warning: This poem contains some intense and controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It includes interdimensional travel, threatened kidnapping and child harm disguised as "destiny," radically different cultural values, references to dire situations elsewhere, arguing, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.
"The Heart to Rejoice"
[June 21, 2015]
It was Sunday, so Eric was
dressed up as Somerdai
for the Ozarcane LARP.
His mother Shannalyn was
a ranger -- both in the game
and for real -- and since Eric was
doing well in Waldenkinder school,
she let him scout ahead now.
They were on their way to
the archery field when Eric
felt a weird sort of shimmer.
He glanced around. Nothing
looked out of the ordinary.
Something still didn't feel right,
though, so Eric kept a sharp watch
as he came over the next hill.
Two strangers stood in the trail,
one in courtly robes of green who
had some pretty great elf ears, and
another one dressed like a wizard
with a huge rock on his staff.
Neither of them matched any of
the groups in Ozarcane, though.
The wizard's hand moved, and sparkles
appeared, but they didn't look anything like
the magic dust people were supposed to use.
And he'd gotten it on Eric's tunic somehow.
Eric stopped well out of reach and said,
"Welcome to Norfork Shoals State Park.
The Ozarcane LARP is running today, but
if you want to join, you need to stop by
the Visitor Center first to get the rules."
"This is the Chosen One? Our hero?"
the older man said. "Are you certain?"
"Quite certain," the wizard said.
"See, the magic adheres to him,
and you know magic cannot lie."
"Hail, Chosen One, son of Iarec,"
said the courtier. "Prepare the heart
to rejoice, for you are very special!
Prophecy foretells that you will kill
the Benighted One and save our land.
Come with us, and we will prepare you
for your destiny as a mighty hero."
"I don't want to kill anyone,"
Eric protested. "That's not
what heroes do! Heroes help
people, they don't hurt people."
"Difficult times call for difficult measures,
my liege," the courtier said smoothly,
waving at Eric's ranger costume. "I see
that you already carry a dagger, and
a sword is not so much harder to learn."
"This is my everyday carry knife, and
I worked for months to earn it!" Eric said.
"Mom says it takes years to learn swordplay,
and I can't start that until I reach ten."
Now the older man looked shocked, and
the wizard said, "He is half-elven and this is not
our world. He may truly be that young. It does
not matter, my lord, the prophecy holds true."
"Come with us," the courtier said, beckoning
to Eric. "Your father's people need you. We
will show you a world full of magic."
"No!" said Eric. "I don't like you.
I think you're the bad guys. Powers
are for helping, not for hurting!"
"I assure you I am quite well trained in
my magic," the wizard said in a snooty tone.
"Yeah well, it doesn't show," Eric said.
"Maybe you're a supervillain and the cops
are looking for you. My mom's a ranger,
and that's a cop who works in the woods."
"Enough of this nonsense," the courtier said.
"Lorane, pick up the king and let us be gone.
Thaelon cannot hold the spell forever."
Neither of the two moved, but
a blue jay shrieked an alarm.
Eric had grown up in these woods
and knew how birds sounded when
someone tried a flanking move.
The two men he could see
were not alone, and that
was not a good sign.
Like any kid raised on
Bom Bom Bunny, Eric knew
just what to do in an emergency:
He ran for his mother.
* * *
Shannalyn Summers -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long straight brown hair. She is tall and slim with an athletic build. She is the mother of Eric Summers. They live in Mountain Home, Arkansas inside the Norfolk Shoals State Park. Shannalyn is 26 when Iarec's people come looking for Eric. She speaks Cajun French, Cantonese, English, Esperanto, German, Faellyn, Osage, Sindarin, and Spanish.
When Shannalyn had just turned 18, she took a summer job at the Russellville Renaissance Faire between high school and college. There she met Iarec Highwood, who like her was working in the Elven Forest show. Only Iarec claimed that he was really an elf. Shannalyn figured he was a soup like the mermaid girl working in the Pirate's Cove. They became friends and spent a fun summer together before he had to go home and she had to start college. About a month after they said goodbye, Shannalyn realized she was pregnant.
Despite the challenges of single motherhood, Shannalyn graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management specializing in Communications in Natural Resources. She also earned a minor in Criminal Justice. She volunteered for various projects in Arkansas parks to gain experience. Since trouble always seems to find her, she figured that she might as well get trained and paid for dealing with it.
Now Shannalyn works as a park ranger at the Norfork Shoals State Park, partly because it has the Kirchhoff Waldenkinder School for Eric to attend. During the week, she does tours and presentations for park visitors. On weekends, she runs events the Ozarcane Live Action Role-Playing Association. She is an excellent archer and a capable swordswoman. In character as an elven ranger, Shannalyn carries a bow and arrows (hybrid recurve longbow) along with sport drinks in unbreakable potion bottles. She always wears a silver heart-shaped locket that Iarec gave her, which marks her as an ally of the Holt of Highwood.
Qualities: Good (+2) Archer, Good (+2) Formidable, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Ranger
Poor (-2) Trouble Magnet
Norfork Shoals is a Terramagne-Arkansas state park between Bull Shoals Lake, Norfork Lake and part of the Ozark National Forest.
University of Arkansas at Monticello, School of Forest Resources is the only school of forestry in the state.
University of Arkansas at Monticello
School of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Criminal Justice Minor Requirements: 18 hours
• CJ 1013 Introduction to Criminal Justice (ACTS Equivalent #CRJU 1023)
• CJ 3243 Constitutional Criminal Procedure
12 hours of electives in Criminal Justice, at least 6 of these hours must be at the 3000-4000 level.
• CJ 2133 Criminal Justice Ethics
• CJ 2143 Juvenile Justice
• CJ 4903 Criminal Justice Capstone
• PSCI 2213 American National Government (ACTS Equivalent #PLSC 2003)
• PSY 1013 Introduction to Psychology (ACTS Equivalent #PSYC 1103)
• SWK 3123 Cultural Diversity
CJ 1013 Introduction to Criminal Justice
A.C.T.S. Equivalent Course # CRJU 1023
3 credits: 3 hours lecture
A survey of the various components of the criminal justice system.
CJ 2133 Criminal Justice Ethics
3 credits: 3 hours lecture
Examines the history and theory of ethics and its application to the field of criminal justice. Emphasis on the ethical standards and the implications of ethical violations for criminal justice professionals.
CJ 2143 Juvenile Justice
3 credits: 3 hours lecture
Structure and processes of the juvenile justice system.
CJ 4903 Criminal Justice Capstone
3 credits: 3 hours lecture
Prerequisites: Permission of instructor/Senior Standing
A senior-level course designed to allow the student to review, analyze, and integrate the work he/she has completed
toward a degree in Criminal Justice.
See a closeup and full view of Shannalyn with her bow.
Eric Summers -- He has fair skin, bright blue eyes, and short brown hair. His ears stick out sideways and have slightly pointed tips. Bullies tease him about them all the time. He is the son of Shannalyn Summers and Iarec Highwood. He is 7 years old when his father's people come looking for him.
Origin: His father was an elf from another world.
Uniform: The most rugged playclothes his mother can find. On weekends, he dresses up as the half-elven character Somerdai and wears ranger garb.
Qualities: Good (+2) Agility, Good (+2) Lovingkindness, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Preferred Target
Motivation: To be one with nature.
Iarec Highwood -- He has fair skin, blue eyes, and long straight hair of golden blond. He is tall with wiry muscles. He is an elf with pointed ears.
When Iarec had just turned 100, the elven prince traveled from his world to Terramagne, where he took a summer job at the Russellville Renaissance Faire. There he met Shannalyn Summers, who like him was working in the Elven Forest show. Only she was a human girl with fake elf ears. Iarec found that amusing. They became friends and spent a fun summer together before he had to go home to the Kingdom of Forestglen and she had to start college. He never realized that she was pregnant when he left.
Eight years later, the Benighted One arose and killed King Iarec along with the rest of his immediate family.
Origin: Iarec is an elf.
Uniform: Light ranger armor of black leather.
Qualities: Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Leader, Good (+2) Lover, Good (+2) Ranger, Good (+2) Stragetic Thinking
Poor (-2) Grasp of Human Culture
Powers: Good (+2) Elf
His abilities with nature and magic are species gifts rather than superpowers.
Motivation: To serve his people.
Raewyth Highwood -- He has fair skin, dark blue eyes, and long straight hair of golden blond. He is an elf with pointed ears. His face is marred by dark scars, one high on his right cheek and the other on the right side of his chin, from fighting the Benighted One. Raewyth is one of the few to survive the attack. He is a distant and much older cousin of Iarec Highwood. He is 2,162 years old when he goes to Terramagne in search of the Chosen One.
Origin: He is an elf.
Uniform: Court clothes, often in rich shades of green or blue.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Politician, Good (+2) Big Picture Thinking, Good (+2) Dutiful, Good (+2) Poise
Poor (-2) Affinity for Magic
Powers: Average (0) Elf
He lacks the affinity for magic that most of his people have. His best elven skill is growing delicate flowers.
Motivation: To keep the Kingdom of Forestglen running smoothly.
Lorane Goldenleaf -- He has fair skin, dark blue eyes, and long straight blond hair. He is an elf with pointed ears. Lorane travels to Terramagne in search of the Chosen One. He works much better alone than as part of a team, but he was the best tracker they could find in a hurry.
Origin: He is an elf.
Uniform: Light ranger armor of black-and-brown leather.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Tracker, Good (+2) Balance, Good (+2) Intrapersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Reputation
Poor (-2) Teamwork
Powers: Good (+2) Elf, Good (+2) Nature Affinity
While his magic is merely adequate for an elf, he is quite well attuned with nature.
Motivation: To protect the forest.
Thaelon Sunbearer -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and long wavy brown hair. He is short and slender. He is an elf with pointed ears. Thaelon serves the Holt of Highwood as a wizard. After the Benighted One killed most of the royal family, Thaelon cast a spell to find the proper heir -- who was Iarec's son in another world -- also prophesied to kill the Benighted One and save everyone. The unhappy elves then formed a search party, and Thaelon opened a portal to pursue the Chosen One.
Origin: He is an elf, who studied formal wizardry.
Uniform: White robes with black elven runes. He carries an enchanted staff with a huge quartz crystal at the top, a gold sun medallion, and two magical rings.
Qualities: Expert (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Loyal, Good (+2) Meticulous
Poor (-2) Timid
Powers: Good (+2) Wizard, Average (0) Elf
He has the elven species gifts of nature and magic, but does better with formal wizardry of the solar school.
Motivation: To hold back the dark.
* * *
"I have nothing but contempt for you idiotic chosen ones who have the heart to rejoice when there are the damned in Hell and the poor on earth; as for me, I am on the side of men and I will not leave it."
-- Jean-Paul Sartre
See a map of the Ozark Plateaus. This map of Arkansas shows the federal lands.
Norfork Shoals is a Terramagne-Arkansas state park between Bull Shoals Lake, Norfork Lake and part of the Ozark National Forest. It includes a number of cabins, mostly for guests, but rangers have the option of living in one.
Shannalyn and Eric live in a cabin in Mountain Home, Arkansas inside Norfork Shoals. See the side angle. The back porch has a hot tub.
The basement has a family room with a fireplace. The kitchenette is nearby. There is a bathroom in the basement too.
The main floor features a living room, office, kitchen, common bathroom, master bedroom, master bathroom, and Eric's bedroom.
Outside are the garage and the greenhouse. Steps lead down to Darter Branch. See the patio, hammock, and screen house. Here is the base of the staircase leading into Darter Branch, and a view along the water.
Waldenkinder -- A T-American alternative school that draws some inspiration from Waldorf and Montessori models, Waldenkinder has a naturalistic theme and believes that children learn best from going outside and doing things for themselves. It was founded by a German husband and a Jewish wife who left Germany for America in 1934 and started the first school in 1935. In good weather, most activities take place outdoors. In bad weather, students study in classrooms with natural furnishings and large windows, then make shorter excursions outside. Teachers present some lessons, but a majority of the learning is self-directed.
This is the Kirchhoff Waldenkinder School. The Seed Room has floor beds, infant slings, and baby toys. The Seedling Room includes a plant table, overhead sculptures, nature area, construction area, and kitchen. The Sprout Room offers small desks and chalkboards. Each school room has its own dottie; this one belongs to the Seedling Room. The Sapling Room has tables arranged in a long rectangle with chairs around it. The Tree Room features large desks, chalkboards, and bulletin boards. The public bathrooms lie between the general classrooms and the special purpose room.
There are separate art rooms for children and teens. A science lab provides space for experiments. Older students can learn cooking, sewing, and other household skills in the Practical Life Room. The school library includes computers. The children's gym has various play structures while the teen gym has open space for sports.
Outdoor learning areas include the science lab, classrooms, and loose parts. In the garden, older students often teach younger ones, thus cementing the information in everyone's mind. The storytelling circle is designed for younger students, but older ones can use it too. A playground invites physical activity. Fern Trickle runs by the edge of the playground. The picnic area includes several tables. The beach lets students learn about water.
Nearby, the Mountainview Recreation Center provides a lounge, a multipurpose room, a game room, an exercise room, and an indoor pool.
Some live-action role-playing rules use marking materials to show when and where spells have been cast. Different materials may be used for drawing runes on the ground, throwing magic dust over a spell recipient, and so forth.
Boy Scouts divide blade skills into the Whittlin' Chip and the Totin' Chip. T-America teaches knife skills to children and expects them to earn this responsibility. If they haven't by age ten or twelve, people start to worry.
Eric's everyday carry knife has a full tang with a wooden hilt, then a short blade with a deep belly, tucked into a leather sheath. It is optimized as a tool rather than a weapon, and this is typical of belt knives in historic re-enactment or fantasy organizations.
Help-seeking is an essential life skill. This is harder when someone has a disability and/or negative experiences with seeking help. Healthy people in good circumstances are more willing and able to ask for help when they need it. Notice that the standard heroic fiction portrays people who can't or won't ask for help, or they have nobody to ask. When someone actually has support, the story takes a very different turn. Learn how to raise a securely attached, emotionally healthy child who will readily turn to you for support.