Click location text on the map to read a vignette

List of Vignettes:

1. The Point
2. Compass Star (Above Estillyen Map)
3. Misty Shore
4. Lakes Three
5. Monastery
6. Gatherers Hall ( Click on Two story building, across from Misty Shore inlet)
7. The Isle of Estillyen
8. The Infirmary
9. Abbey
10. The Storied Sea
11. Tunnel House
12. Fields and Crops
13. Quill House
14. Three Pond Cottage
15. Dairy House
16. Silo on the Mound
17. Scribe House
18. Barnyard
19. Speakers House

Click location text on the map to read a vignette
The Point Compass Star Misty Shore Lakes Three Monastery Gatherers Hall The Isle of Estillyen The Infirmary Abbey The Storied Sea Tunnel House Fields and Crops Quill House Three Pond Cottage Dairy House Silo on the Mound Scribe House Barnyard Speaker's House

The Point

The Point is one of the most meaningful locations on the Isle of Estillyen. Featured in Messages from Estillyen, this is the high point of the isle, with a 740-foot drop to the rocky shore below.

The Point is where a young Oban Ironbout and his wife, Leslie, chose to build their home some forty years ago. Then, Oban Ironbout was full of zest for life, as he and Leslie awaited the birth of twin boys. The couple named the twins George and Earl before they were born.

Those joyous days, though, did not advance as expected. On the Point, sorrow soon settled in, shooing away zestful dreams. On a cold winter’s night, with the midwife away, Leslie went into labor. Hours passed in pain until just before noon the next day when George and Earl were stillborn. Shortly thereafter, Leslie also passed away.

In a small grave-plot behind his home, Oban Ironbout buried Leslie and the twins. He erected two small, curved-top headstones for the boys, and an identical one for Leslie, only twice as tall. In soberness, Oban Ironbout dutifully performed the task of laying life and love to rest.

Then it was that Oban Ironbout became a different man. Oban Ironbout turned his back on God and man and became a recluse.

The story, though, does not leave Oban to himself. Decades passed, and then one day redemption came to call. Oban had to choose: Should he reach for life, or refuse?

The story is told in Messages from Estillyen.

Compass Star

Estillyen has become a rite of passage for pilgrims far and wide who routinely sail the waves to take in the essence of the isle.

The distance to Estillyen, however, remains a mystery to some. As the best of maps will attest, the isle is charted as far away from everywhere as anywhere. That’s the beauty of a long journey, though: the anticipation of arriving on distant shores. At the same time, everyone that embarks on an earnest journey to Estillyen discovers the isle is mystically near.

Misty Shore

Misty Shore derives its name from the legendary mist that circles the Isle of Estillyen. Miles from shore, the mist is always present, hovering above the Storied Sea. The mist expands and contract, rises and falls, but has never been known to fade away.

Encircling the isle as it does, the mist is revered by the Estillyenites. Others fear it, due to long-standing mystical and folklore legends. Regardless, the mist is a challenge to everyone who embarks on an Estillyen voyage.

To reach the isle, one must willingly breach the Estillyen mist. Most pilgrims do so eagerly, but some voyagers choose to skirt the mist. Although close to their destination, they encounter the mist and simply refuse to enter. The mist confounds their wits, and they sail away.

The “skirters,” as they’re called, miss the warm reception that awaits all who disembark in Port Estillyen. Skirters leave no footprints along Estillyen shores. The marvel of Estillyen life they might have known they will never know. Fear of the unknown has skirted them away.

Lakes Three

Lakes Three is one of the most tranquil and beautiful places on the isle.Sailboats, with bright-colored sails, dash to and fro across the lakes.

At Lakes Three there’s an astonishing phenomenon regarding the transport of fish. The fish, it seems, like to stay abreast of what’s happening in all three lakes. So they have some strange arrangement with the cranes, whereby a crane will swoop up a fish from, say, Lake One, and drop it off in Lake Two or Three.

The transporting exercise happens routinely, every few days or so. It’s a huge draw for the pilgrims, who wait and watch, hoping to see the act unfold.


The Monastery is run by the monks of Estillyen, who belong to an old Order of Message Makers—or Storytellers, as some prefer to say. The order dates back to the seventeenth century. The storytelling monks all have chosen names: Chronicle, Saga, Script, Epic, Plot, Narrative, and Writer. Script, the playwright, is the main protagonist in Presence, the Play.

The message making monks are propelled by the ancient texts of Scripture. The monks have a unique way of becoming the message. As someone once said, “They have a knack for sticking words together in ways they don’t normally run, to help you see things you don’t normally see.”

Gatherers Hall

Gatherers Hall is where many pilgrims choose to stay. Gatherers Hall strips away all comparisons in terms of culinary claim. Locals routinely observe departing guests sniffing the air, attempting to take in one last aromatic whiff emanating from the kitchen.

Some visitors actually weep upon departure, knowing they’ll not savor delicacies so delightful again until they return to Estillyen.

The Isle of Estillyen

Estillyen is a picturesque isle, with flower shops, cafes, a monastery, an abbey, and a vibrant village full of colorful characters.

Steeped in time, Estillyen possesses a very unique atmosphere, a distinct Estillyen-sphere. A rich communal spirit permeates the isle, pleasant to the core but subtly couched in the contemplative nature of Estillyenites.

Generations of persevering Estillyenites tilled the soil and forged the isle out of rugged reality. Over the centuries, though, waves have deposited a wealth of numinous tales upon Estillyen’s shores. The mix of steely reality and tales gives a special lilt to Estillyen life, unlike anywhere else on earth.

The Infirmary

The Infirmary is simply called Good Shepherds by local Estillyenites, who refuse to tack on the word Infirmary. A granite wall stretches for more than half a mile, encircling the infirmary. Up and down it travels, following the hilly terrain so eloquently that some folks believe the wall knows it exists.

The infirmary is run by Abbey sisters, called the Sisters of Good, or Good Sisters—either way. It’s was here, in room 107, that Oban Ironbout made a startling confession to Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze. The gripping story is told in Messages from Estillyen. Presence, the Play brings readers to room 102, where Script, the playwright, ventured far from Estillyen shores in a comatose state.

This vignette, so brief, must include a word or two about Good Shepherds’ renowned mural. In central most part of the infirmary, where all the wide halls intersect, a mural on the ceiling depicts Estillyen life as it might have been two hundred years ago. People travel from around the world just to see the mural.  Some contend the stunning mural is a masterpiece.

A strange thing, though—the artist who painted the mural never signed it. He wouldn’t divulge his true name; preferring to keep it a mystery.

It was during the restoration of the infirmary some seventy-five years ago that the mural was painted. As the story goes, the artist wasn’t from Estillyen, and those working on the project simply referred to him as Uncle Art.

He was fond of rolling little cigarettes and smoking them while sitting out on the stone wall. It’s said that the tobacco had a very sweet, lovely smell. Nobody had ever smelled tobacco like that.

Uncle Art was modest, quiet, and kept very much to himself. He sang little tunes, almost inaudibly. Uncle Art worked as a regular laborer with the construction crew. No one gave him any notice.

Until one day, that is, when he asked if he could do a wee sketch on the ceiling, promising to paint over it if the infirmary objected. No one knew what he was going to draw.

A month later there was a masterpiece on the ceiling, and soon thereafter, Uncle Art was gone, never to be seen again.


Sister Ravena, who runs the Abbey, is the main character to emerge from the storyline of Messages from Estillyen. She first appears in Chapter Six, and is described “as more tall than short, wearing a smart black trench coat, with a wide belt tightly drawn around her waist. The tautness of the strap revealed the wearer to be more thin than thick.

“Her headdress of black and white framed a face that, even from a distance, would catch many a sculptor’s eye. Her cheekbones were so perfectly formed and placed that only upon a face of resolute beauty could they rest.”

In a vignette, such as this, only the best of lines are called upon to occupy the space. Thus, from Chapter Nine, in Message From Estillyen the following excerpt is selected. It offers a somewhat surprising peak into the world of Sister Ravena, and to a degree, the nature of the Abbey community. The chapter is titled “Framing.”

A passionate lover of art, Sister Ravena describes to character, Hollie Macbreeze, her thoughts about framing art.

“I view art as framing. By that I don’t mean something framed. I like to think of art as framing life and imagination: a piece here, a piece there. I have nothing against frames, though,” Sister Ravena said with a smile.

“For example, the painting behind you is perfectly framed. It’s called Rooster’s Call. The frame is simple, very clean. It allows the vivid image of the rooster a place to stand. It’s almost as if the proud fellow were captured and hung on the wall, where he just froze. I do expect him to crow someday—I hope not due to my denial. Really, I love that rooster.

“When you look at the painting to your left, Mary’s Face, it’s different. The painting depicts Mary gazing at her son dying on a cross. It doesn’t want a frame. It shouldn’t have a frame.”

[Page 183, Messages from Estillyen]

The Storied Sea

At Port Estillyen’s Port House, a manifest is kept of mysterious and unexplainable sightings that occur from time to time upon the Storied Sea. With no predictable pattern, the sightings belong to the realm of wonderment that persists in the Estillyen mist.

The following example is drawn from Presence, the Play and features an exchange onboard the Estillyen Ferry between the character of Melchizedek and a ferry steward named Jimmy. Melchizedek prompts Jimmy to give a few examples of stories that have entered the Port House manifest.

Melchizedek asks Jimmy, “These stories—can you offer a few examples?”

Jimmy replies, “Well, let me think. I only go with them that’s put in the manifest—you know, verified, on the record. Tuxedo Tom comes to mind. As the manifest records, there have been more than a dozen sightings of ole Tuxedo Tom playing his cello for the sea.”

“You don’t say,” said Melchizedek.

“The details are pretty much the same. A man, all alone, is seated in the middle of a wooden lifeboat, or some sort of smallish vessel. He is perfectly dressed in a tuxedo, playing his cello for the sea. Those who’ve heard him say the tune is very haunting but lovely, as if Tuxedo Tom is trying to calm the waves. You know, sometimes this Storied Sea kicks up a bit of a fuss.”

“Carry on—another tale would be fine,” said Melchizedek.

“Okay, now topping the list is the Skeleton Ship. As the story goes, suddenly out of the mist, this massive sailing ship appears. But the ship is just a frame, just the beams of the ship. It has no cladding or planks on its hull. Yet the ship sails atop the waves without sails, but the ship’s rigging is still intact.

“Then there’s the part I don’t believe, even though it is documented in the manifest. About half of them sightings list a cat as occupying the crow’s nest. I don’t mean lying down, curled up. I’m saying a cat standing up like a person, looking out at the sea. You know, come to think of it, maybe those sightings that don’t see the cat are when the cat’s curled up asleep . . .”

Tunnel House

In quaint structures dotted about the isle, the monks of Estillyen give their dramatic readings based on Scripture narratives. In Chapter Ten of Messages of Estillyen, readers are introduced to Tunnel House, where a monk named Drama gives a dramatic reading titled Cry in the Crowd.

Before such readings, the presenting monk offers introductions. On this particular day in Tunnel House, Drama addresses a group of twenty-eight people gathered in the upper room awaiting the reading:

“We like Tunnel House for readings because a tunnel is a space for going through; from one side you pass to the other side. One end of the tunnel may show through to clouds and rain, the other end sunshine. Smiles may populate one end, sorrows the other.

“Tunnels are an experience. Some people simply dash through them, while others tend to plod along. Tunnels have a way of silently transmitting to travelers the pace prescribed.

“In life, sometimes it can be difficult to discern one’s direction. In a tunnel, there are only two directions: this and that. But that can look like this, and this, that. Tunnels are funny that way. They can lead you in, or take you away. In and out you go . . .

“A tunnel is a tunnel true—never a passage or a pass. Calling a tunnel something else is like suggesting a crevice is a cave, or a canyon a crack. No, a tunnel is that which surrounds you. You see it all. There’s no denying you’re in it. Encased within you are; through its artery you progress.

“It’s not wise, particularly when inside a tunnel deep, to start racing toward what appears to be a dimming light. For if you do, the light can go out; it can disappear. Before you get to the end, another tunnel has begun, and tunnel two may be twice as long as tunnel one.

“It’s always best when in tunnel space to move at tunnel pace. Respecting the sense of tunnel enclosure is the mode. See it as a kind of caregiver, a respite from the elements that will bring you through, in tunnel time, to the life God has for you.

“Well, that’s a word on tunnels.”

Fields and Crops

A wonderful little Estillyen restaurant known for hot mushroom-chicken potato jackets, and scrumptious crab cakes.

Quill House

An old, sturdy, wooden house, where Message Maker Epic (with the help of his blind collie, Treasure) brings the Readings Did God Really Say? and The Word Became Flesh to life.

Three Pond Cottage

May have originally been two cottages, but no one knows, and was built curiously on the banks of not three, but four ponds. Message Maker Narrative dictates the Readings The Scroll and the Fiery Pot and Piercing Words here.

Dairy House

Message Maker Plot reads Lips Unclean and Stop Doubting and Believe at this house built entirely from stones from Estillyen’s fields, which also calls itself home to Plot’s rabbit named Tremble.

Silo on the Mound

Once a sad, dilapidated structure when the brothers found it, it has since been transformed into one of Estillyen’s most beautiful landmarks and a symbol of rebirth and restoration. Here Message Maker Saga leads the Reading of Picking Up the Pieces.

Scribe House

Sets the scene for the Reading Get Up! Don’t Be Afraid by Message Maker Story. Its defining features are its gigantic mirrors that cover opposite walls.


Home to many of Estillyen’s animals, including a pig named Spook and his feline friend named Tiptoe; run by a Mr. Statter.

Speaker's House

Estillyen’s oldest building, at over 600 years old, this is the only place connected with the monastery and abbey that has a separate kitchen that caters to people with special dietary needs. Used mainly for lodging, but once a week there is a Reading here; Remember Me and Let Me Go! are two such Readings, which Message Maker Writer presents.