Thursday, September 1, 2016

Broken Strength by Bekah T.

Let me tell you a story. Its beginnings are simple enough. It begins in a peaceful world, but what kind of story would this be if it remained so?

Our tale commences with a girl astride a large, bay horse the forest. Simple enough, I grant you. So why do the stars look upon this event with such interest? Please let me explain, dear mortal. 

This girl, while seemingly fair enough in features, was in contradiction to the grand steed she was riding. Her rough, woven clothing spoke more than many words could of her status in her world. The steed in comparison was quite a noble creature, bearing his seemingly humble passenger with powerful grace. 

This forest they traveled through separated the girl’s tiny village from the rest of the worlds beyond. Close by were the lands of a great Lord. The surrounding lands were under his protection and care. The woods under his domain contained a border from the mortal realm and the realm of the Wood Beyond. This land was not the of the mortal and belonged the Immortal Fae. Many stories had been told of the strange and fantastic creatures that lived beyond the knowledge of the mundane world. While the stories were legend and more fable than believed, no one dared to enter the woods. It was well known that if you did, you too would join those legends and never again would your name be spoken above a whisper, lest those speaking befall the same fate. 

It was with this knowledge that the girl stayed away from the small river separating the two worlds, not one to tempt fate. But still, being human and fickle, casting glances into the deepening woods. A strange tangle of wilderness and murk, beckoning and foreboding to those who would linger to look too long. 

She was on her way to see her betrothed, a young knight under the service of the Lord. The grand steed she was upon was a gift from the knight. Finding him gallant and heroic, the had girl accepted his marriage proposal. 

Though many thought a match such as this was unevenly created, to his credit, the knight fought valiantly, not in strength of body but in resolve of spirit to be granted permission to marry her. Thus once granted, he gave her the gift of the powerful creature she came to love. A horse more noble than many could say, not a beast of a charger and not a nag of a horse, but a friend and companion with power and gentle grace.

Now, my dear friends, do not despair at the turn in this tale. This is not one of the fables you have heard before from gossiping women and love-struck youths. Trust me to tell you that our story is not one of such kind. For I, Master Teller of Stories, would not lead you astray. For my songs are of legend and my voice rings true, but alas we must not tarry for there is much we must do. 

It was upon the day when the girl was riding to her betrothed when a young sorcerer Fae from the Wood Beyond, entered the world of the mortals by means unknown. There were rules in place that he chose not to follow. This young sorcerer had but one goal on this day; to test his developing skills upon the unsuspecting, weak mortals of the land. He crossed the border with little incident, only the forest feeling the altering of that moment. The trees seemed to whisper among themselves of the power they perceived had entered their realm, only to fall silent as he passed them by. They observed and they watched with quiet fear, lest they draw the soccer’s eye.
The sorcerer came upon the mortal girl in the woods. His light steps did not catch her eye, nor the eye of her steed and so they continued on, unaware of the figure in the trees. When he first beheld her, it did not seem an event that would reach out past those woods to grasp others, weaving their destinies into this story as well. 

So versed in the arts of magic and the seemingly impossible always unfolding under his direction, the sorcerer could not grasp the sight of this woman, comely though she was in features, doomed, ephemeral and enslaved to the ravages of death. For he saw within her the glance of her soul and of potential; the glimpse foreordination. Only a blurred moment was given to him, for it was darkness he used to realize his power and such darkness cannot illuminate. It can only obscure and give a diminishing glimpse. But that glance showed the power and resolve lurking beneath her mortality, dormant and unable to emerge with the meager life she was fated to.
It was then that a decision was made. This choice solidified the destiny that had been waiting, watching, and straining to emerge. The choice was simply that she had to belong to him, always. 

Now let me again stop you here my mortals, while this turn of events is startling in its severity of course and speed, allow me to further elucidate for you. Gifted as I am with understanding and knowledge of the heart and many ballads of the past, please understand this was not love. No, my dears, I do not use this word so lightly for I understand the power it contains. Our sorcerer in this tale had reasons that brought him to this conclusion, reasons that only he can fully understand but blessed with verses as I am, I will try to expound on the muddy reasoning behind this fantastic choice that was made. 

There are some in these worlds who crave the power that promises to elevate and enthrall us. This power remains out of touch until such a price is given that often demands more than is initially thought. This sorcerer was blessed with an affinity to change the world around him, but what he was given was not enough to satisfy his craving. Therefore, he paid the price that was demanded for the power he so desperately pursued. Such dealings I will not delve into, for it is not stories I delight in telling and my lips will not speak such malefaction. But thus, those actions caused the sorcerer to gain power at an alarming rate, even by the standards of the Fae who do not look at time the way mortals do. But as fast as he was growing in power, the sorcerer knew on some level he would always have limitation. He was an immortal and powerful Fae, yes. But he was not all knowing. To have a being beside him, one able wield great power but under his thrall was a tempting recourse. And what mortal would not agree to leave the stench the dying existence they were bound to?

It was this thinking, my dear friends, that caused our sorcerer to reach the conclusion that he did that day. Thus he presented himself to the girl in a startling manner, appearing on a small hill off the road in front of her in a sweeping appearance, his black cloak swirling around him as he stared her squarely in the eye. He then bowed, never taking his eyes from hers. 

His appearance startled the peace of the forest; The girl’s steed rearing high and snorting with fright. The girl, though very much alarmed, worked to calm the powerful creature as she tried to assess the stranger presenting himself in such a manner so close to the shrouded world beyond. 

“Greetings to you, my fine lady.” He said. “Forgive my intrusion. I mean you no harm, but a word I would have with you, if you would allow me to speak.” Smiling, he asked, “May I have your name, oh lady of the forest?”
Knowing full well that names were of great importance to the Fae kind, she did not tell him where she was from or the name of her kin. “Larina.” She replied.

“Larina.” He repeated. “A very fine name. I must apologize at the manner of my entrance but I could not let you pass by. You know not of what you possess within you. There is much waiting to be unlocked. I know not of how a mortal came to be the bearer of such power. But this is a reason to rejoice. For your gifts have saved you from this life. There is much I could teach you and much more that you can learn. You can learn to change worlds and alter the course of life. So much power I can offer and so much wealth I can bring. All that I would ask is for you to be by my side. I know it is much for you to leave this life that you are accustomed to. But this life is so fleeting and will be gone in a moment. Who will remember you and what will you have done? Will anything you do in this life outlive you? I do not think so, my dear. Think of what it is I am offering you. To escape the ordinary and break off your restraints.”

The girl stared at him for a time, her mind unfathomable. What could a mortal think of such an offer? Could her mind ever fully comprehend the scope of what he was offering?

“I thank you for your most impressive offer, Sir.” She replied. “But I am promised to another and this life is not something I wish to escape. This life may be common and ordinary, but this life is mine and my place is here. I will make my home with the ones that I love and only them shall I accept.”

Anger welled up in the sorcerer at this response. “Think well on your actions as I offer you one last chance. What I offer will allow you to escape the pain of age and death. Ever you will be with me and ever will I give you what you heart would want.”

Still she shook her head. “A forever life was never promised to me. I have no grand plans. To be useful and hopeful is what I would ask. I would like to know I have done well and been true when at last I make my journey beyond. Power I do not ask for and it is not something I want.”

At her words the forest grew dark, the birds ceased to sing and the wind lashed the trees. The sorcerer spoke once again, his voice now riddled with contempt and force. “Then as you will not take my blessing, take then it as a curse upon you:

 Forevermore will your life endure
Never shall you abide to accept death’s allure
Immune to the ravages of time and age
Your youth shall become your gilded cage
Neither will your ears be able to behold
That final voice calling for you to be consoled
Forever you shall be alone
And never shall you find a place to make a home
Never can you be set free
Until you find a love that can challenge me.”

With this the sorcerer gathered himself into the shadows, leaving nothing but the quiet forest, void of sound and intention. 

In his anger the sorcerer had spread wide his words of despair. The girl along with her steed and a flourishing oak were trapped in his web. The horse cared little for the turn of events and often gave little thought to dying at all. The oak was similarly undisturbed; digging deep into the earth without thinking of when it would cease. Long after our tale was completed and the ages passed, long after it was forgotten that same tree still endured. It watched and it waited for the sun at every day.  

The same could not be said for the poor girl in our tale. Heartbroken and confused, she found there was little she could do save continue on to her betrothed. Sher left the area with haste and cast many glances back, lest the darkness give chase. 

She entered the walls of the castle, her steed rushing into the courtyard where her young knight waited for her and was alarmed. She dismounted and rushed to his arms. She relayed her story with rushing words, finding it hard to fully recount. As fantastic as her tale was to hear, two things gave her knight pause to scoff. His maiden was not given to embellishments or to fabricate such an event but even harder to shake was that her person appreared altered. Nothing apparent to be seen but a shift in her essence that could almost been detected in the corner of an eye, but the moment it was searched for it was hidden in her to the study. The knight’s training on chivalry and courage bade him to protect and avenge his betrothed from such unknown evil. He did not delight in the thought of facing a powerful immortal, but to demur would forever cast him into a coward’s light. Many in the courtyard listened at the story that was told. Some listened with fear and others with disbelief, but all looked to the knight to triumph on this day. 

“Never fear, oh poor maiden of mine.” The knight told her for all to hear. “We will venture out and bring light to this darkness and bring peace henceforth.” 

Not very grand words, I grant you but mortals have little time to craft such things.

Upon a grand white charger, he marched out of the walls. A noble knight on a righteous quest. Beside him, his frightened maiden rode on her steed as they entered the fated woods. Whatever discredit he had given to her story faded as they delved deeper. A darkness had leeched into the forest, casting shadows at every turn. So soon did it seem that they reached the same hill, and it was there the sorcerer was waiting in plain sight. He was not hiding. No, my poor souls. He eagerly awaited their arrival. 

Quite a sight it was to behold, a knight in his glistening armor, dismounting his pure white charger to alight the hill to face his nefarious foe. Darkness emanated from the stranger like tendrils and waves. As arresting as this scene was, it was not to last. The knight’s courage, of what little he had left, all but deserted him as he drew near. He drew his sword and shuffled forward, trying to be brave.

No words did the men speak, for their intentions were clear. The sorcerer smiling with confident malice, as he waited. But as the knight approached closer, the sorcerer held out one hand, stopping the knight’s advance with a simple gesture. It was as of the world stopped. Nothing moved. Not the trees, nor the creatures hiding within the woods. The girl, waiting on the path unable to stop what was going to happen, dared not to breathe.

“I present you with a choice, noble knight.” The sorcerer’s voice echoed through the trees. “Heed my words and chose carefully. I will show two fates. Your choices are set but you must say which is to pass.”

Once again I must interject into this tale to give some clarity. Some immortals and Fae are given to embellishments and exaggeration. Not me, my dear friends, for I will only tell you what I know to be so. But now whether or not the two choices the sorcerer presented were the only ones that could have been, I cannot say. Such knowledge is not mine to give. What I do know comes from my own knowledge and experiences which are quite vast. I can tell you that many times I was presented with choices to run and survive, or fight and make the journey to the Final Waters in the service of my Prince. Yet, here I still am, and I assure you, never did my confidence waver or my resolve weaken. 

But alas, this knight was not so stalwart as I. For when the sorcerer gained entrance to the knight’s mind, the images that unfolded were only an impression of what could be. His mind filled in the rest with all that he feared. Behind his eyes he perceived the forest, unchanged from before, but now the sorcerer was standing over a crumpled form as the mist in his mind swirled in eerie silence. His mind beheld his own form laying there prone at the villain’s feet, broken in defeat and despair. Tears glistened on the ground, sparkling as they came to rest on the forest floor, glistening clear in the murk of the vision. 

The knight recoiled, staggering back as his steps faltered. The sorcerer waved his hand and the vision disappeared. The booming voice again pieced the silence, filling the knight’s head above the sound of his heart.
“Doomed you are if you pursue me, but see it is not the only choice you have on this day. See and chose. Only one chance will you have.”

A much different fate was presented to our presumed champion. The knight saw himself drop his sword at the feet of the sorcerer and leave, never looking behind and not stopping for his betrothed. His mind then shifted and the forest disappeared. A grand manor came into view. It was an estate of notable size. The knight saw himself seated in a grand chair surrounded by comforts and luxury. Some years had aged him as he had lost the exuberance of youth and age had begun to work upon his face. Beside his older self sat a woman, his wife. Her elegance, poise and breeding evident in every fiber of her being. She sat with her head lifted high. The knight was not broken and he was very much alive. The vision slowly faded leaving them in the forest once again. 

“Chose.” Said the voice of the sorcerer, his mouth never moving. 

A much less noble scene I now must tell, for the knight hardly took but a moment to consider. He dropped his sword on the forest floor and leapt to his horse. He raced off back to the castle with not a backward glance, leaving his once betrothed to face the darkness that waited.

No more will the knight beleaguer our tale as his part was competed, no matter how small. Now I must let you know, dear friends, his vision did come true. He lived long, having never came to ruin. Does that anger your being and your sense of what is fair and just? But perhaps I should mention what his vision had missed. The knight discovered that his life was not of comfort not matter how grand. His wife though beautiful would never be a love and only strife did she bring. All of his life would his choice would haunt him to the end of his days.
Left alone to face the evil that was in front of her, the girl knew she had little chance of her freedom, but she would not go quietly into her fate. Taking up the discarded sword, the girl hefted it, unused to its weight and size. Determinedly, if awkwardly, she charged him, desperation clinging to her soul. She brought the down the sword to strike upon his head. His left hand shot out and stopped the path of the blade. Not a drop of blood traced down his hand, no damage had been done. He struck her to the ground, dear mortals, and such a blow it was! Words cannot describe the effect that blow had upon the mortal being. How can I tell you sufficiently that it drained her strength and will of her soul? She lay at his feet, prone and broken in despair. Tears cascaded down her face and fell to the forest floor, shimmering just before they hid beneath the ground. 

Leaning down, he whispered. “It is not enough, my vengeful soul. Your will on your own shall never be enough. You have not the strength. Wander until you accept me for your own.”

The sorcerer left her once again, vanishing into the darkness to his land once again. The girl did not arise even long after the forest had regained its song.

That, my dear friends, is where I come into this tale. For tasked as I am to ensure the fates are well managed, something drew me beyond my realm. Not often is it that I deign to step into your world. I know you cannot help it but the stench of death is such that it is hard to breathe in your air. 

But I felt drawn to this scene and found the girl unmoving on the ground. No mortal wounds were upon her form, but her soul was all but ravaged beyond repair. Though she was mortal born without a doubt, her body had since stopped its decay. A mortal who was mortal no more. 

Her faithful beast had not tuned in flight at what had transpired and such bravery in a simple creature I could not understand. Lifting the girl onto its back, I headed back into the Woods Beyond, knowing only one who could help the girl in spirit and in soul.

The Haven is quite a place to behold when you first see it, if you are granted to see it at all. When I presented the unconscious girl to the caretaker in this place, one would think that I was the perpetrator of her condition on how she questioned me. But I do suppose finding out that you are not the only mortal that would never age is quite something to comprehend. The old girl is quite a tyrant when pushed. 

Dame Imraldera cared for the girl day and night, singing her back to health and repairing her soul as best she could. The girl slowly revived and regained her strength. Her soul was still damaged and her curse still intact. For there was nothing I, nor Imraldera, could do to alter it. 

The girl became angry and forlorn. Her curse would prevent her from ever being able to live at her home. Forever would she be compelled to leave. Her family would not be able to comprehend, for their lives were filled with everyday things and there are some things that mortals will neve believe until they see it with their own eyes, as dismal as that may seem.

She took to walking in the forest, but could not go very far, for the forest was savage and unpredictable at best. As she walked, she dwelt on the hopelessness of a life, ever to wander and roam. She was grateful for the help the Dame and I had given her, but it was unable to provide a fix for her soul.

As she reached a quiet corner of a glen, she fell to her knees, crying and sobbing. When her strength and despair was all but spent, she remained quiet and unmoving. A small song of a bird called out through the calm. Its voice sweet and clear, its voice full of promise. She looked up as it continued to sing. A small common wood thrush sat on a limb. Signing its song, it watched her and waited. She watched the bird as it then drifted away. 

“Would that I could be like you and fly away from the pain.” She whispered as she lost sight of its small frame.
“But if that were so, you would not know the strength you possess.” A new voice answered in kind. “How would you be content not to live the life you were meant for?”

Larina looked to find a young man standing before her. She looked around trying to understand how it was this man could have found her in the vast and winding woods. 

“I was told you had gone walking.” He continued with a smile. “I thought this would be a good place to look. This glen is quite peaceful.” He held out his hand to help her rise. “I am Prince Aethelbald of the Farthest Shore.”
“You are the one that those of the Haven serve.” She said as she looked at him.

“Indeed I am he. They are loyal and good and help all that they can. For the worlds grow dark and there are many who are in need of help, much like you. They have told me much of your story.” No sorrow nor apology was said in his voice, but his eyes bespoke compassion as they walked back to the Haven. “Your sprit may be broken but your will stll carries you on. However, a life without purpose, a life without meaning, is hardly one at all. Will you carry on forever, no hope for your soul?”

“What hope is there when my choices were taken from me? Where is it that I can go?” She asked in anger and desperation.

“Your trials are hard, make no mistake, but you are the only one who will be able to decide if you want to make what was given to you count. There are many you could help and many that only you could save. Always I look for those brave enough to use what they are given, be it good or bad, to help others. If you enter my service, your road would be hard but my strength would always be with you.”

“To where would I go and which road would I take? These Woods are not meant for those mortal born or otherwise.”

He gestured to the path they were on. “My Paths will take you to the places you need to go. Follow where they lead and do not stray. No creature nor evil can harm you on this Path. Will you become one of my knights? Will you do what is asked?”

She looked at the Path, not knowing where it led. “But I am only a poor farmer’s girl. What help could I be?”
“That I will not tell you. That you must discover on your own. But your strength is what gets you through and trust that where I send you is where you need to be. Not all my knights are warriors and not all the battles fierce. Strength of will is just as important as the power in your form.”

And so it was that the girl traveled the border of the lands to the mortal realm, keeping the mortals safe from interference from the immortals that would wish to do them harm. Such stories I could tell, but our tale must not go on forever.

It is now I bring us to another day in the forest with the girl riding her steed. Walking on the Path set by her Prince, she traveled.

 She tilted her head, hearing a sound foreign to the cadence of the land. A whistling, in tandem with hooves, became louder. She waited for the traveler to appear, pausing in the middle of the Path, wondering if they were traveling the same as she or if they were talking one of the many that crossed in the Woods. Not all were true or friendly. 

A single rider appeared, moving at a leisure pace, completely at ease. He was human, of that she was sure. This was the closest she had been to one in many a years of the mortals. Her being was filled with wariness and confusion at the approaching man she immediately perceived as a knight. Few mortals crossed into the Wood, those that did wandered and despaired. The Woods were unforgiving and vast and did not often give up their prey. She had found a few humans in her time in these Woods, happening to pass them as she traversed her Path. Often they were half mad with panic and fear. Helping as many as she could, she attempted to take them home, wherever it would be. But the Woods take their price for each that they claim. Many she rescued found their homes much changed when they returned and the ones they loved long gone. This knight, however, was content in his Path. Even though these Woods could consume him whole, no fear, no trepidation showed upon his face. 

Something rose within Larina that she had not felt for some time. A feeling of loss and remembrance of a life long passed. But she was not the same timid, ordinary girl from the tale of old. For a moment she recalled the memories and then put them aside, for memories when held and recounted can grow. They become more than a memory and less of a past. 

The knight had since seen her and raised a hand in surprised greeting. “Good day to you, my traveler.” He called out in greeting. 

“And to you, Sir Knight.” She responded in kind. 

“Pardon me, I do not mean to presume, but may I ask if you are alright in these Woods? It is not a place of leisure nor is it a place where your life is held in value by most.”

She smiled in thanks and inclined her head. “I thank you for your concern on my behalf. This is my home, and where I make my stay. And of you sir, knight? You seem far from home in this place.” Their steeds began to walk side by side on the Path before them.

He looked at her with a new kind of curiosity. “Indeed? I have been venturing in since my youth. Farther each time. These Woods are well known to me and some of the creatures within, but I am sure you would know more than I about the dangers of these lands than I.”

She inclined her head in agreement. “And what is your purpose here, Sir knight? Not many wander here by choice.”

“I seek fame and glory.” He responded with pride. “To make a name for myself in the world and to prove who I am. One does not truly know who they are until they have looked at what they fear and have faced it down.”
Sadness filled her as she looked at him. “It saddens me to hear such words. For life is more than glory and fame. To know your strength does not mean that you go looking for evil. Evil is all around. You fight it where you can. There does not exist a world where it is not present. Must you travel so far just to find the right kind of evil you must face?”

He studied her once again as they traveled. “No, my lady. I search not for the right kind of evil. I search for the evil that is mine to battle. Too often people will rush to fight an injustice they see. Perhaps they are not the right ones to fight. Perhaps what they see is someone else’s to conquer. Is it wrong to fight an injustice that is not yours?”

“And if others are suffering?” She asked him.
“Then any human is bound to try and intercede.” He quickly said. “No matter their preparedness. It is the greatest of love that I know; fighting a fight you know you cannot win simply because you are doing it to save someone else.”

Age and sorrow filled her response. “A love like that is more rare than you think. Mortals value above everything else the life that they live.”

“Perhaps that is what makes it so special a gift for us mortals. Do you not think?”

She looked at the knight wondering at life and the things that might have been but would never be. A sad smile alighted her lips. “What is your name, Sir Knight?”

“Leond of Ruhfal.” He said with a small bow on his horse. “And may I have the honor of yours?”


And so the two continued for some time as they traveled and talked. How much time? I cannot say, for in the Woods time comes and goes in its own way. Perhaps they spent a lifetime together and perhaps only a day. But understand my dear companions, their two Paths stayed connected and led them away. 

Their Path led them deep into the wild, the world becoming stranger. Many dark and foul creatures tried to lure them from their Path. They continued on until the light of all was shut out. The Path led them on and began to glow with an ever so faint light. It ended in the center of a dark grove. Shadows and whispers swirled about.
A foreboding and dread filled Larina as a familiar presence became clear. For once again her fears were unfolding in a scene very close to the she had witnessed before.  

The knight got down from his saddle, drawing his sword in the darkness. Larina wished to leave and never return, but a small glint showed the Path leading to this point. No further did it travel and it was here she was asked to remain. Murky light revealed a figure not too far away. A figure that often followed in her dreams, unchanged from the day that they met. 

The voice filled with greed and power called out. “My dear, you have found me! I knew our time would come. How familiar this scene is and how I have longed for its coming. I grew impatient at your absence. Have you now come to accept me and all that I offer?”

Her heart knew that this day would at some time come forth. No longer did she tremble and no longer did she despair. She called out to him, her voice steady and true. “Though time has passed and many things have changed, this will ever be so. I reject you and I will again and again. I will never give way.”

The sorcerer looked at the knight by her side. “And is this is your champion that you bring to challenge me? Oh, my dear, this is not so. This is no hero that shall set you free.” 

Our Knight, Leond of Ruhfal, never wavered. He rushed to fight and defeat his strong foe. But remember my friends, no matter how brave, he was still only a mortal in a world of power and evil. Darkness assailed our knight. Formless and void, it laughed and encircled the knight as he slashed with his sword. Unharmed, it stole his strength and it stole all of his days. 

Larina tried to rush to help him but the sorcerer attacked her yet once again. He threw her far and she could only watch the darkness drain Leond of all that he was. Her heart felt as it was breaking all over again. She could not save him, nor he save her. The darkness now slated, dropped Leond to the ground. He fell with a heavy crash and did not move again. 

Looking over at his still form, the sorcerer chuckled. “It was not enough, not even close; for my curse is still strong. This was not love. No, not yet, my dear.”

As she struggled to rise, she cried out in desperation and despair. There was nothing more she could do. She could not best the sorcerer and her hope was but lost. She called out in a whisper for her Prince to hear her cry. The call of a wood thrush rang clear and loud in the dark. Larina raised her head to see the small bird perched on a tree. It sang to her in its clear and pure voice, calling her to rise up. 

“What if I cannot do my task?” She asked as she struggled. “What if I am not strong enough? Why must I always fail?”

The thrush called again and then a hand touched her head. Her Prince’s loving and stormless voice touched into her bruised and battered soul. “Oh, my cherished one, never shall your strength be enough. I ask you to give all you have and to try, but beyond that you are mortal and more is needed than you can give. But do not despair my beautiful, strong warrior. I will always be there to guide you and to shield you, for my strength is more than enough. You have done as I asked and served steadfastly. Forever be faithful and serve me in love.”

The woods thrush departed and all remained quiet. Larina raised her head and looked above her. Darkness and chaos swirled around her. All looked as hopeless and lost. The Sorcerer looked at her with malice and glee.

“I grow tired of this game, my dear.” He said with far too much exultation. “Chose me and live, or reject me and die. The choice, as always, is yours.”

Larina raised her broken shoulders off the ground, rising to stare him in the eye as she said,
“Take this then as my pledge to you: 
Never shall you have me and never shall I be yours
I heard that voice calling
And a song most enthralling
A greater love I have found
Forever to serve him I am bound
I trust your fate into his hands
To my Prince and King of the Woodlands.”

The smile drained from the Sorcerer’s face as he listened to her declaration. Summoning the darkness, he flung it at her, and it reached out to embrace her. Larina closed her eyes, once again hearing the song of the wood thrush soothing her soul. But the darkness fled around her before it came to harm her. For a light consumed the darkness and chased it far away. The Prince stood before her, standing in the Path, blinding in his purity.

The sorcerer screamed at this light. “No! No! She is mine! Never will I give her over!”

“No,” said the Prince. “Her love has freed her and her price is no longer hers to pay. Her curse is henceforth repealed and forever she shall flourish and sing. For my servant is one I cherish above all and my love for her had paid the price. But you, oh sorcerer, will never again be seen. Never to wander the land of immortals or men, for your crimes are numerous and many call out.”

The sorcerer wailed and raged. He raised his accursed sword of night attacked the Prince of Light. But the Light consumed and surrounded him, erasing the dark and the wicked. 

Larina could no longer look at the light, and closed her eyes as the world was bathed in white. A roaring of wind filled the trees and then ebbed away. A wood thrush began singing and called out to the Woods. The night had been broken and day was underway.

Now it is soon I must leave you, my friends, for our tale is almost done. What little I now tell you happens after the battle was won. The knight Leond survived his wounds, oh yes. He was brought back to the Haven to be able to recover. Much time was spent between Larina and her knight, but time is such a fickle thing. Even when we count it or not, it passes us anyways. Once healed, she escorted him to the land of the mortals where they parted their ways. Her Path took her to continue her task given by the Prince to protect all lands. The knight’s Path took him home to the land of his birth for there was evil there to conquer, but he went more ready than before. For when the sorcerer was defeated and his death complete, his gifts, given at birth before mangled and distorted, were bestowed on another more worthy. The stars had given the gifts for a purpose and they saw the man who could do with them many great deeds. For the newest knight of the Farthest Shore would need much strength is his travels. But do not be sad at this last turn in our tale, never will I say that was their last meeting. No, their Paths crossed again. But no more can I tell you, for that tale is not for the ears of man.

One last thing I, your humble storyteller, Eanrin, give you as before you leave. My last gift is a moment as Larina turned from Leond to depart to the Woods.

Her Prince walked beside her, not there a moment before.“I have one last task for you as you carry on with your life.” He said as she turned to him. 

“What must I do?”

“Be brave, little one. Always be brave, for I am with you for always, to end of your age.”

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  1. This was so pretty, Bekah! I enjoyed it!

  2. I started reading, and was thinking, "Hmm, is this who I think it is?" And yup it was. XD
    Lovely story. Great job, Bekah! :D