The graceful one walks the river's edge, each slow step in perfect order, one after the other, after the other. The flowing, polished water and the sussurating wind make a whispering rhythm for her gait--(one, and two, and three, and four. Sometimes in footsteps, and sometimes in delicate hooves.)
O cervid goddess, with soft eyes and red lips. She watches over the world as it tumbles into her thrall, a flame colored carousel in the open air.
There are lovers at the river this time of year, children who have courted adulthood with as much amore as they have courted one another during the long months of brothers Spring and Summer. They have laughed and they have flirted, chased and dreamed, and those who have survived the fury of the sun-months, those whose white candles of affection have not burned themselves down to naught but glassy droplets of wax, it is they who have begun to discover love. A warmth in the valleys of their thoughts, an armor plating against the cold that will come just as the wolves come snapping at the heels of Autumn's gentle deerhearts.
The deer-eyed patroness is alone amongst her Time-born siblings in her knowledge of the true taste of love. She watches from the copse across the river: a boy and a girl, each turned just fifteen, flirting on the rocks. She has come with the laundry, he with nothing but intent.
The blush of her cheeks matches the autumnal flush of the leaves. Lydia has made her very beautiful, the slight chill in the air makes the girl's blue eyes bright. The heady scent of spices and decay has made the lovers both giddy.
He convinces a kiss from her.
Deer-eyed Lydia smiles, and at her smile a nervous wren darts from the brush, a flash of brown and red, low flying, brushing the water before jerking upwards into the sky and disappearing. The girl is startled, the boy is laughing, his arm wrapped around her shoulders
Her brother is a blaze against the striking cut of the horizon. Her forests cower beneath him and tremble, losing their magnificent foliage in a rattling terror. The Burning Path has come, there is no barring him and his terrible power.
"Lydia." The clear cerulean of his eyes shines brilliantly in the sallow saffron of his face. He has never much cared for the taking on of flesh, and though he can appreciate the uses of a corporeal form, he makes a poor play at humanity in his towering shape, with his tight and waxy skin, with the madness forever gleaming in his eyes.
"Hello, my brother," she greets him with a docility ill-matched to stand against the scorching fury, but in all the worlds of Father Time, only sister Lydia has known the tenderness of The Burning Path. She fears him certainly, and still she loves him, always. She welcomes him into her wooded realms, even as his passage wreaks only destruction and pain.
"Your time has come again, sweet Lydia," he whispers hoarsely, offering her his hand. The skin of his palm weathered and cracked.
Once, so long ago, it was just they two, their father's eldest creations. In their care-- omtheir hands: those of brother and sister, man and woman, husband and wife--they had watched over a simple world. Life itself had only first sparked at the eldest brother's coming, an inception of warmth. Bathed in fire, life had exulted and it had suffered. These mothlike motes of energy and spirit, they had been drawn to the burning center of the universe where dizzily, giddily, they had singed themselves until they fell from flight, cascading downwards in smoldering spirals. Only to be rescued from the darkness by dear Lydia's hands. Cradled lovingly, they had slept and they had been healed, until they were strong enough to flirt with the fires once more.
He had delighted in this, the mad entity which calls himself The Burning Path; so named for the fate he would unerringly uphold. Yes, it shall all end in fire.
Lydia takes his hand now. Change had come to their family long ago, two little ones added to their circle. But this? His hand in hers as the many moons tick, as clock move hands, round and round, this remains. She takes the world from the torments of his grip, and with her touch the stinging wounds are blanketed in damp, fragrant earth. Lydia lays all down to rest.
She takes his hand, and their father's scepter is hers to guard and to enshrine. The sunlight--(her brother's infernal light, so brilliant and so terrible)--shines in her comely eyes, and her red lips smile. She is here, she is now.
She never crosses over the river in this form. It is not for the likes of her to fraternize with the likes of man. Not when she is so much greater than they, bound by neither time nor space, she is all the whimsy of the deer, she is the spirit of sleep in every night, she is all the soil and the earth, and she is a breathing part of every loving mother. She is all the browning leaves, of now and of yesteryear, and even as she wears the shape of woman and walks the river's edge, her eyes--brown as doe-hide--see a thousand other sights in a million different worlds.
She never crosses the river which borders her realm, and those lovers who find it in the Autumn chill of their special stories never notice her in kind, for she is still and she is silent, like all good deer should be.
Who would take notice of her? Such a natural part of the landscape. A hunter perhaps? Of course, it would be a hunter who finally lays eyes on her. Sharp eyes, dark eyes, brown like her own but lacking the suggestion of merriness, of leaves dancing in the wind, casting kaleidoscopes of sunlight on the forest floor.
"Woman!" he shouts, and he startles her. She freezes with wide eyes, heart beating. "How did you make your way across this river?" There is no fording here, and he knows nothing of what lies beyond. He is not even certain where this place is.
She does not answer him, oh no. She turns back to her forest, where the leaves are always painted orange, red, and gold. She runs, elegant and swift, with curious bramblings reaching after her long chestnut hair as she goes streaming past.
Touches of September in the color of her hair, brown-eyed goddess with curving lips, she stands on the mountaintops and watches brother chasing sister and sister trilling fearfully as the noxious fumes of the springtime drive her away from all the beautiful places she would call home. The younger two have hated another ever since the little winter joined their spinning circle, nearly destroying The Burning Path in her infancy with the incredible strength of her frigid touch. Both brothers hate her deeply, but it is Spring which resents her most for usurping his place after Lydia, shunting him to the end of the order--which is also the beginning.
Deer-Eyed Lydia sighs peacefully and opens her arms to the Blizzardseason, who nestles against her trembling like a little bird. Such a deceptive nature to have when she is also queen of wolves.
"You shouldn't let him bully you so," Lydia whispers into her younger sister's dark, wind-tousled hair.
Blizzardseason smiles cruelly in reply, death in the pooling bleakness of her eyes. "He bullies and I bite, green-eyed fool has no power, not like I have, not like The Burning Path has."
Elder sister shakes her head and thinks about the days when it was she and summer alone, conflagrations of greenery and color, cycles of growing and burning and withering. Before the beast of humanity's hunger and the wraith of mankind's temporality were brought before her. Presented to her by those little thieves, glutted on ill-gotten power. They thrive on the tormenting and teasing of man now. They fight between one another in claim of pawns to call their own. A petty competition when they care nothing for the lives they ruin with their games--with their tempests and their floods--but then Lydia does not deny that her little brother and sister are children.
Lydia purses her lips, warm and folly red, dry and pleasant to the touch. Blizzardseason's skin is sleek, like ice beneath her touch.
"Do you take delight in your conquests?" she asks sweetly. Her sister has taken a consort from amongst humankind, Lydia has not yet seen him, though it has been many years. The charged scent of the wolfrider sends her skittering, though she knows she should not be afraid. Jalel is a mortal thing encased in her sister's perfect ice.
Blizzardseason is soft, quiet, enjoys the doe-sweet touch of Autumn's lips upon her brow. When she answers, her voice is powdery and whimsical, distant and perfect.
"He looks at me with hungry eyes," she says. "What would we make, sister, if I let him devour me whole?"
Warm-blooded Lydia says nothing, for they will never know the answer to that. What man could swallow Winter whole?
The letter awaits her. Tucked between the rocks at the access of the river, she can see the carnelian ribbon it has been tied up with flapping in the breeze, can see already where the spray of the waters have left their tear marks on tea-stained paper.
For her? It cannot be, but as she watches those rosy tails dancing in the wind, she knows it is so. Still, she hesitates. Who is to write letters to her? Such a silly thing, but if she leaves it there too long, it will be sodden beyond the ability to really hold in these two hands.
A wren, she calls one up from the deep of the forest with a gentle, searching sigh. Fetch it for me darling, while it is still dry. She watches the little bird dive in over the water, snatching up the silken ribbons and ferrying the parcel back to her. Lydia reads,
I know who you are. As soon as you ran, I could see it in you, all the glory of a queen. How long have you walked these riverbeds in cosseted silence? An eternity I would think from the ways in which the trees parted to see you to safety.
Please allow me to make amends. I will return to see you.
Read again and again, the missive slips from her fingers and is caught up by the wind--(is that her sister's giggling she hears? Little wind-spirit, cannot resist her curiosity, can she.)
Far from the banks the lovers call their meeting place, along the river of Time, Deer-eyed Lydia keeps a quiet glade all her own. Here, great peach-colored fish turn circles beneath a blanket of golden leaves, fallen from the majestic trees that line the river bank. The cold-blooded creatures lurk near a quaint gazebo built on the muddy banks, they are hoping for crumbs to be scattered above for them.
Jalel is waiting at the gazebo for her now, its roof covered in lichens and its timber red with damp. He had removed his furs and leathers before entering her domain, had left his great black wolf in a distant crystal palace for the journey. He has come to wait on her with intent, that much is clear, though she knows not what he wishes to say.
"Sister," he greets her slowly as she steps from the safety of the shaded woods.
She wonders if he is brave to call to her in such a familiar way. Her brothers would be insulted by it. The man may wear the Blizzardseason's rotted eyes, may bear her iciness in his veins, but he is not one of their kin. He is Sister Winter's pet, not their brother, and should never aspire to be. But, they are not here, this is her place, and her sister cares for this wild-looking man, however irresponsible and possessive her affection may be.
Lydia comes to him in tentative steps, brushing her lips over his scruffy cheek.
He gives her a rueful smile when she backs away from him again.
"I won't trouble you long," he promises, already taking something from the pocket of his breeches, offering it out to her. She looks down, curious enough, but as she focuses her eyes go wide for an instant before she composes herself.
Her letter. She eyes the folded paper warily, not sure of what to think.
"I told her it was rude to take it from you." The man shrugs. "She's still sulking."
Lydia cannot help but laugh, a short musical bray vibrating from the back of her throat. No, she can well imagine her little sister's sullenness, how tempestuous the winter could be; one moment all breathless purity and the next a shrieking rage.
Still, she hesitates, does not reach immediately to take the note from him. Her long fingers close around it loosely, remembers the texture of it as if she had held it in her hands only seconds before--(she can return to that time, that place, the moment of discovery and uncertainty.)
He has been waiting for her, several days now. He sits alone in a place that only couples should find and his solitary presence drives the lovers to self-consciousness. Blushing, they slip away to be alone, together.
Still, he waits, patient and unperturbed, as any good hunter should be. Although, he does wonder if the gleaming steel knife at his belt and the aspen bow at his back have kept the woman from appearing before him. The idea settles in his mind, and as the days pass, he determines to remedy the matter. He throws them into the river and lets the waters current them away before returning to his vigil on the grass.
"...you did not have to lose them." An uncertain voice from across the river, and he startles, does not see her anywhere.
"And yet you come to me as soon as I have done it."
There is a rustling of dry leaves, and she comes into sight, an expression of mild reproof on a delicate face. She has not come to him.
"What do you want?" How can she be rid of him, her composure suggests.
The man hefts himself from the grass, moving towards the riverbank, but even with the water between them, every step he takes sees her draw away and he goes still.
"Your name, I should think."
She lifts her chin, frowning. Crossness does not suit her rosy lips. "You claimed to know me, and yet you ask my name."
A rueful smile touches his worn features and she is reminded of the wolfrider.
"I know you are no woman. The color of your eyes, the grace of your step." He tilts his head, she is staring at him, still and silent. "The way you stand, as motionless as these trees."
She snorts incredulously. "What do you want?"
He does not lower his eyes from her.
"To know you as you are, perhaps." How earnest he is, and her expression softens.
"You know me, Alaín." His surprise shows in an otherwise calm countenance. "You buried your wife many years ago. She was young and she laughed like a gleeful little bird, and you had not been married more than two years before disease ravaged her from the inside and she died while you were away. You buried her in the earth, and the earth is mine. You hunt your prey in my forests, you eat the flesh of my wards. You have seen the leaves turn to dusting for over more than four decades." She has looked away from him, watching the river run. Water belongs to her little brother, the rain-maker, the Spring, she wonders if he is spying as well.
"You know me," she concludes.
There is a silence fluttering between them, a moment framed as the man considers turning away to grieve over dead wives and lost years.
"But what name do you call yourself?" His voice is so quiet, but she is everywhere and she hears him.
Her fallow eyes are lifted to him, conflicted. "Lydia. Deer-eyed Lydia."
He nods, and then he turns to go, to give her peace again, and she watches his back until he has moved beyond mortal sight.
"Sister, I've brought you another love letter."
Oh, that dreadful green-eyed boy... Her little brother, Spring Reposing Within, sneaking his way into her realm like the serpent he is. She is fond of him still, hard not to love him when she raised him like a mother. But then... while he has affinity to the earth, it is only as mud and as filth. While he may know of her healing and her medicines, he is the father of poison. He knows of love, but has turned instead to lust. So similar, and yet he is cold-blooded and her heart beats with warmth.
"...they are not love letters, they are merely messages."
Her brother quirks an eyebrow, slim and blond, at her response and his perfect mouth smirks. He is very beautiful, but like each of them in turn, his perfection is itself inhuman.
"No?" he asks airily, breaking the wax seal binding dusty paper:
Despite the Fall, there is a blossom in my heart, a stirring of rooted things which had lain in dormant sleep beneath your fair earth, in your tender care, ‘til you flung up the memories of a young wife with blonde hair, but you are not her and she is not you. Nothing beautiful should be insulted with comparison but as I say, Lydia with doe eyes, you have woken something in me. Who be it that blooms in your embrace? The Liatris, the blazing star. I should weave a robe of them, cast aside my axe and my arrows as I cast aside my knife and bow. I am yours, deerheart, you know well that I am long past my Summer and my Spring as a man, and the breath of you is the first life I have felt in many years. I do not know where I lost my love for the majesty of the world, of earth and sky and twilight, but I have found their love in you. I will wait at the river, if you should ever wish to appear to me again, but I know you are all around me.
Spring sniggers cruelly as he reads it aloud in dramatic pitch, disdainful of the little maggots who called themselves humans. They were so profane and base. He loved nothing more than to feed them their sins unto bursting, to corrupt and to rot them. He was the father of sin, after all, sin and snakes and poison, and before his little sister came, and with her brought death, there was no escape from the cycle. Sin at his hands, excruciating absolution by fire at the hands of his brother, and but a brief, fragile sleep with charitable Lydia.
"He thinks you inspire me in him." Hah. It would be an insult if it were not so pathetic. "Come now, sister, don't look at me that way, you knew what it said."
"Enough, little brother," she says gently, and he goes quiet because she is his sister. His mother, in many ways, and he had learned reverence for her from The Burning Path, whom he idolized, like any little brother should.
"You won't humor him, will you?" Spring asks of her uneasily. They are the seasons, and though they dance in consistent order, they are change, there is no forecasting one another.
"I speak to whom I wish, brother."
Something like fear flashes in his glorious beryl eyes, but he says nothing more.
She returns. A shy spirit at the tree line, she peeks out at the man on the opposite shore. He has lain himself out in the grass, lax against a sun-warmed rock, and she watches the in and out of his breathing, studies his features while he is yet unaware of her.
She has known this man all of his infinitesimal life, he is one of an untraceable eternity's worth of sparks, and she had paid him no mind before he stood before her. Even her little brother and sister, who engage the humans as children engage with toys, do not waste time on their tiny stories, all of which are as similar and as repetitive as their features. They are meaningless specks in the volumes of existence, which is painted onwards in wide brush strokes and subtle music with long intervals. All is known and seen, only to be slowly ordered as each sibling takes their turn to breathe in tune with the worlds.
But... disinterest does not suggest inability. She can focus, can trace his every fine-lined instantiation, from childhood to here, for she is all those times and she is now, but she can look no further when it comes to him. It is a strange sensation to her, a precarious balance: the future awaiting her decisions.
He had been an affection child, had lived and loved the way innocents do. He had married in youth, and he had lost in youth, and he had lost still more over his tiny span of being. Death had haunted his steps, bearing the Blizzardseason's ghastly smile all the way.
I am yours, deerheart, you well know.
She does. Tired and battered, past his prime and wandering in his own lonely way towards death. Lydia's warm heart swells for him.
She crosses the river with a thought, from one moment to the next, and is sitting beside his relaxed form. Her eyes are gentle as she reaches to stroke his graying hair. His face is lined with memories and ideas, thoughts, just like the ringing of a tree. His eyes open in that weathered face beneath her touch.
"Your eyes..." he murmurs quietly, "are infinitely more fascinating at this lesser distance."
She smiles in bemusement. "Alaín, you take your words so seriously."
"I do," he agrees, placid beneath her touch. "Does it surprise you a hunter should take care of his words?" Perhaps it does, the cervid queen does not see the wolf as bard. "Words are all I have to make tangible the ethereal, so that I may give it to others." He thinks back on days spent reading beneath the shade of the great trees in his village, and he thinks of her in those memories, of all the places she had been, where he had not thought to look--(and there must be others like her too, mustn't there.) "Perhaps they are not much, but they are mine."
It is not something that Lydia truly understands. Time has no language, not even in the numbers meant to mark its passage. Perhaps their innateness is superior, her siblings would certainly say so, but Lydia... she knows of love.
"It is more than enough, Alaín," she objects tenderly. Feeling playful, she plucks up a purple flower from some far off place and she nestles it into his disheveled hair.
In her name, the hunter composes poems and songs. Perhaps he is a hunter no longer, however: he has not replaced his weapons, and he spends his days with her. Shall she call him poet now? Or will merely Alaín do? She has not yet decided as the days wander past them and she watches the blossoming of ink across tea-colored pages.
Her sister steals a few of them to titter over excitedly, and her little brother returns others with apprehension in his eyes.
Lydia soothes him as best she can, but still she keeps her missives tucked away safely, guarded by a nest of valiant sparrows. The words are all precious to her, as if they were living things. There have been poems written of her before, but none which have known the true color of her eyes, the true length of her lashes. And she delights to hear these compositions in his voice, curls into his side contentedly and listens to the time-worn tones as they make the love and light in his mind real to her. The warmth of his heart, of course, she can experience for herself.
Comforted by their companionship, the younger couples begin to return to their secret place, to giggle and play, shameless even in front of those they perceive as adults, for they must know love as the young coupes do to sit in the fading sunlight together in just the same way.
But do they truly? Lydia has only ever known the affections of a mother, of a sister, and the first time Alaín places his lips on hers, she is motionless with open eyes, watching him. He is always gentle with her, has learned to revere her as one does the brave doe who ventures from asylum to nose a proffered hand. He knows she is not fragile, but he would not wish to drive her off again.
So he pulls away after his chaste kiss and gives her that same rueful smile. Lydia wonders what thoughts have inspired such a bashful, ambiguous expression. Jalel had smiled the same... why? Lydia reaches to touch her poet's face, as if she could draw the answers out with the palm of her hand, the pads of her fingers.
It does startle her when his mouth is pressed to her again so suddenly, and her long lashes flutter nervously until her eyes are closed. In that darkness, her senses are aware of arms around her, of breath mingling with her own. She tastes citrus on him, late oranges she had procured for him in exchange for his sonnets and rhymes.
Perhaps they linger together too long? Certainly Lydia would not know, but a boy down the riverway hoots an encouragement at them and Alaín turns to give the youngster a look of dry disapproval.
Lydia merely smiles, rests her head on the man's shoulder and asks softly to hear more of his words. He is pleased to oblige her.
Perhaps it is the influence of the other young lovers which led him to kiss her rosy lips, to learn their trembling fold over fold, to hold her at his side. Perhaps it is the youngster's excited manners which lead goddess and bard to consider something more than hearts and minds, to send thoughts winding over skin--(and hers is lush and smooth, her hair silken floss. He cannot deny the most superficial appreciation for her when he unwraps her of simple skirt and blouse.) Perhaps it is their excited games of exploration of conquest, of give and take and the merriment it inspires that lights her eyes and fans his tenderness.
He knows well that none have touched her before himself, and he considers the honor of drawing a map of pleasures over her corporeal construction an offering far above a conquest. His love transformed to physical embodiment is of as great an importance as his words, and she listens to what he writes in flesh and bone. They are such expansive ideals for such a tiny and limited creature, and it is as if they are his creations, the form and function unique to his handling.
Passion, rejuvenation, inspiration and devotion, dedication, fascination. He is captivated, entranced by the zest of fallen leaves which clings to her brown hair, drawn by the songs of sparrowbirds as suggested by the quirking of her burgundy lips--(lips he has garnered for himself, and has garnished in kind with kisses. It has been many times now, as Winter draws closer, week after week, after week.)
She takes to his love, just as she had taken to his verses, to his touch, his kisses. She learns the game of giving and of taking, and is astonished that it should seem so new to her. She was a giving spirit, and many had taken from her, but when had someone looked to balance the accounts with her? Looked to her to truly share what is yours and what is mine, to make something of ours, a marriage of the two.
The moon is full when she realizes no longer will her feelings as a mother be borne through the experiences of others. She will have a son of her own, a fawn to raise and to cherish, who will wear his father's features as memento long after Alaín is gone, a life born out of love. Her eyes are bright with joy, and all the does and hinds of the forest begin their pilgrimage to her, to congratulate their goddess on her lucky stars. From the hilltops, harts and stags bray proudly to the sky.
The Autumn burgeons with her jubilation, the colors of dawn and twilight bursting with depth, birds singing all the louder in their travels.
Alaín looks up as they go shooting past, shielding his eyes from the piercing white rays of the day as he admires it. The season has been one of happiness for him, but something has certainly pleased Lydia, and he smiles along with her as he walks along the roads, towards the village of his youth.
( Spring Reposing Within watches the world changing with anxiety. Change is one of his greatest purviews; inception. This should not frighten him so. )
The daystar watches all. The fanatic eye of The Burning Path, a fiery wound upon the sky, adored and feared, the true source of all living things. Without his radiating lights, there would be nothing, and what he has given, he will one day take away. God of destruction, of insanity, and of anger, he basks in his dreadful promises.
Desert ruler, king of scorpions and insects, he considers himself superior to all but Father Time, does not trouble himself to enjoin the mortal worlds. He merely waits above, on his throne of lava and chaos, and those sinners most cowardly may come before him with their penitence and ask to be burned clean again, changed by agony, melted down and reformed anew in torment.
He never expected that his beloved sister would join their caste--(she belonged to him. That cervid queen was august and she was delightful. She was hiswife, his consort, what rights did that filthy human have to her?)
He never expected such a hideous transgression as this, that she would celebrate so blatantly, and he descends from the sky in his unsettling visage with its sickly jaundiced skin, its mad eyes, and its whips of long rust-colored hair, wound in knots from the way it swirls around him on the scorching sirocco which surround him always.
His wrath is swift. The man is dead, and it takes only an instant to see it done, the same moment in which he appears before his sister. The hunter who cast aside his bow is consumed in flame, the smothering heat of a thousand living stars, and the smoldering ashes of him are enough to catch the nearby grasses alight in kind. In a flickering, it begins to consume the countryside, and it will burn on unchallenged for days. Punishment for the hubris of man, a scourge of flame.
And Lydia stares at him with her wide, terrified eyes, trembling before him now. She has seen his fury many times before, and it had frightened her then, but never has it been turned on her before.
"What have you done," she bleats in misery, but she knows well what his hand has wrought. She can linger in that moment for eternity, even if her eyes were not there to see it, even if her brother dominates the landscape before her now. The Burning Path's expression is dark, eyes sunken in a gaunt face. She can almost see his twisted thoughts and her bravery fails her.
She turns to run from him and he catches her arm in one of his heated fists, pulling her back to him so that he might plunge the other through the tender swell of her, grasp that half-breed beast and rip it free. It is singed to ashes as easily as its father.
( The Blizzardseason cries out angrily in her crystal palace encased in the distant mountains. No! She will not collect her own blood! What has her brother done? )
"No..." Lydia weeps, blood the deep color of twilight seeping from her in a glistening stain. Her brother supports her fondly as all her strength is sapped from her. As leaves abandon their withering branches, as birds jump from the brush and flee, as moons and stars fall, as babes the many worlds over are born in stillness without breath, mothers weeping as she weeps. "No." she moans.
With the worlds mourning, a pale-faced Spring joins them in Autumn's sacred realm.
"...well done, brother," he says without sincerity, but he is king of liars and The Burning Path does not care either way, flashing a wild and hideous smile.
"Take your sister, child, lay her down to rest."
Child, not brother, and he would be stung by it, if his concern were not focused on Lydia.
"Of course." He reaches out to take her, to wrap her in the sweetness of the flowers, but she hangs limply in his arms. As soon as he has her, The Burning Path abandons them again, as if he has done nothing here. As if he has not ravaged Lydia, has not cremated their unborn nephew, who should have loved them as their sister loves them always. It is indescribably cruel to think how that love is destined to carry on in her. Spring is silent, for a moment, just standing and staring at the hazy mirage on the skyline where his brother had been. Slowly, he turns his gaze down to the ashen widow in his arms.
"...I am so sorry, sister," the green-eyed boy whispers as he bears her body into the woods, trees parting solemnly to see them safely to the heart of the forest.
The goddess of sleeping things watches silently as a young gentleman helps the object of his affections to return her laundry home after washing. Their departure leaves the riverbank quiet, and Lydia to her thoughts. They are destined for happiness, it is Autumn's gift for those who visit this place.
Her fawn-colored eyes drift along the grassy banks. The days are growing colder, in only a few more nights it will be Sister Winter's time to dance and twirl, the girl is eager for it. Lydia thinks on her now, on her barren little sister who can only bring forth death, not life.
Lydia touches the irradiated wound on her stomach slowly, it will never truly fade, and she closes her eyes.
She is ready to sleep, she thinks, ready to hand over the scepter for the year.
Chastised harshly by her brother, Autumn falls into silence.
This lesson shall never bear repeating. She will walk alone.
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