Nanna began her narration.
"Long time ago, deep into the woods, resided people very different from the ones settled at its edges and beyond. Their world was hidden away from anything or anyone sinister out there. These people grew up to only a few inches, shorter than most of your dolls, child. But, as they say, great things come in small packages, they too were very special in many ways. They were great sorcerers, the Archimagi."
"Did they have a magical wand like fairies nanna? Could they also fly and had wings?", the little girl asked as nanna paused in her storytelling.
"No child, they did not have wands like fairies nor they had wings. Their magical abilities came from the capability of harnessing energy from nature and channeling it to transform the surroundings as they wished. They performed magic using their hands, specific gestures were required to accomplish them. And, despite the fact that they did not have wings, they could fly by using the surrounding energy to give them the thrust." She waited for the girl to comprehend this part of the story.
"They are so different from fairies, the Archimagi! Alright, so what happens next nanna?"
The old lady continued, "The Archimagi, through ages of continued research and stages of natural evolution had gained quantum leaps in their magical abilities. Some of them were capable enough to even transform themselves. But, such people were few, very few.
Laws of their lands prohibited them from misusing their power. They were forbidden from exposing their tribe's existence and their identities to humans. It was feared that if their powers were revealed, their tribe could be exploited by power hungry humans. In order to ensure their safety, an invisible shell was cast over their settlement to make it inaccessible to all the wandering creatures in the woods. This shell acted as a shield to ward off intruders who managed to get close to the otherwise hidden area.
This was an advanced magic and was performed in conjunction by the skilled and highest ranked members of their tribe, the elders, who were the chosen ones since their birth and were responsible for the well-being of their people. They used to have four elders. At the end of every other century, as the elders started to age, they passed on their responsibilities to their successors."
Nanna paused on seeing amazement on the girl's face. "Every other century, well nanna, that is quite a long time, isn't it? How long did they use to live then?"
"Yes it is my child, they had a very long life-span. They could live for as long as five centuries. The first century was their childhood; in the next two hundred years or so, they were at the prime of their youth. It was during this time that anyone could serve as an elder. In the fourth century of their lives, the process of ageing set in, and they spent almost two centuries mentoring young ones or contributing towards magical research till the very end when they united with the spirits of the tribe and strengthened it with their own experience. You can say that they did not die but lived on as the spirits of the tribe. These spirits could be called on by the elders to seek their advice and guidance. However, such instances of taking advice from the spirits were singular, mostly unheard of."
"One more thing nanna, you told that elders were chosen since birth, how was that possible? And, how could they decide who the next elder would be without even seeing what they were capable of?"
Nanna smiled at her and replied, "You don't miss a word child, do you?" The girl grinned as nanna continued, "Well kid, it was believed that the spirits chose these elders by marking them since birth. They were prophesied to grow up and take on the responsibility of an elder", and paused to add, "So, did that answer your questions child, shall we move ahead or do you have anything else to ask?"
The girl nodded to continue and nanna resumed her story.
"So dear, as I told you earlier, the Archimagi had very stringent laws to keep their magical world hidden. However, exceptions had occurred to this. And, those who had allowed themselves to be sighted were punished as per their rules. In such cases, they had modified the memories of humans. For humans, they were a legend, who existed as little people only in fairy tales written using the bits and pieces they could recollect of the encounter."
Nanna stopped shortly as their stomachs grumbled. She realized it'd been some time since the girl had walked in.
"What happened nanna?" "I almost forgot something." "What nanna?" "The croissants that your mama had sent! It's been time since we ate something. Come on, let us treat ourselves with them before continuing with the story, what do you say?" "Oh yes nanna, I am also feeling very hungry."
As they sat eating those croissants, nanna started to picture what she would be telling next to the girl.