Widow of the Lake
The wind howled like a phantom from the Realm of the Dead across Kenban's Moor, bringing the icy chill of Skadi; the mighty goddess of winter with it, even though it was early spring. The moor was green with short coarse grasses unfit for horses to eat and little star-shaped purple-pink moor flowers. In the Steamy Mountains that separated Kenban's Moor from the rest of the High Kingdom, wolves howled adding their eerie cries to the howling wind.
At the side of a gray lake stood an old woman with a worn cloak wrapped around her shoulders, her rust-red grey at the temples hair fell to the small of her back. The blazing sun tanned her rough weather worn skin. Her eyes were the color of the water she looked at. To her left was a ruin castle, the Castle Kenban. The few that lived on the moor believed that none lived in the castle, but she did and the boy.
The wind blew across the water making small waves that hissed as they hit the stony shore. The only reason why ghosts didn't haunt the moor was because the bones of her ancestors were at the lake's bottom. Even those of her sons and husband, tears ran down her cheeks. Lake Kenban would be her resting place too, like all of the Kenban bloodline. All but John Kenban himself, the ankh out in the middle of the moor marked his resting place. She heard the sound of footsteps as they crunched the pebbles. The wolves howled and the eagles cried and the wind moaned.
"Tayren, I am old," she said not looking at the lad, the boy of seventeen stopped only a yard from her.
"You are not my lady," he said, she smiled still looking at the water. Thunder clapped and lightning answered, a storm was rolling in from the Steamy Mountains. Storms always came from the Steamy Mountains.
"I have lived for what seems like a century, I have seen elves born and grow, they grow more fair with time as we grow more ugly. I'm old Tayren, but I feel young," she still looked at the water. Tayren made a sound and then he looked at the water.
"You aren't old, you are as young as a yearling!" he said, she smiled. Rain started to come down in big cold drops. They were soon soaked from head to foot.
"Tayren, you may deny that I'm old but I can't. Tayren, we aren't like the elves, they live long, longer then we do, but they die… eventually. I have only lived this long due to the magic of this land. I'm over one hundred years old, and Tayren, you just have to face it that I'm old. I'll live a few more years but I'll join the bones of my kinsmen when I die." Abalyn sighed before continuing.
"Tayren, all things die, even the mighty dragons that rule the sky, the proud eagle that rule the clouds, the mighty wolves that are kings of the forest. All things die in time, nothing is immortal but the Fae Folk yet even they can be killed. Life is a gift from the gods, but they saw that the gift could be used for evil so they gave another gift, the gift of death." she sadly said.
"But then why do dragons and elves live so long, Abalyn?" Tayren asked as lightning forked the black clouds.
"Because they are the Children of the Gods. Dragons, elves and dwarves are the Children of the Gods. Man, is the Thirdborn Children of Mul'gan, elves are the Secondborn Children, and dragons are the Firstborn Children of Mul'gan. Life and death, death and life are gifts from the Great Ones," she continued watching the water while lightning forked the sky tearing the clouds asunder.
Tayren sighed, "But why do we have short lives and the dragons and elves have longer ones? Life is better than death, right?" she smiled at him.
"We have shorter lives because of the Taint of Alka, we have wills that can make mountains fall and seas dry up, elves and dragons do not. Men have the power to change the lives of all… that is what Alka's Taint did to us. Few men don't have that taint, but most have the Snake's Taint." Abalyn bowed her head, taking in the cold air of the moor…her home.
"Yes, life is better than death and we all know it, but that is how the River of Time flows and the Riverbed of Age follows the flow of the River of Time. But the elves see death as another journey, dragons see it as a passage into the Land of Their Birth, we see it as an ending, but nothing truly ends, Tayren, it only begins anew. Time flows to an unreachable sea, Age is the riverbed that Time flows on. Age follows Time's flow. We are just stones that are tossed into the river and settle on the riverbed, nothing more and nothing less," the old woman looked at him, age and wisdom in her eyes and face. "I'm going in, you on the other hand can stay out here and think about what I said." Abalyn added walking passed him.Tayren sat down and pulled his knees to him and stared out across the lake. He saw the ghostly outline of the Lady of the Moor. A spirit that while it haunts the moorlands; it also protects them. He sighed, what Abalyn had said danced in his head like fairies.
Something hit the back of his head.
"Ouch! Okay whoever you are you'll pay for that!" he shouted getting up, spinning, and drawing his blade. To his folly no one was there, the wind brought the Song of the Lady of the Moor to his ears; sheathing is blade a flash of emerald green caught his eyes.
"What is this?" he asked the wind, bending down to pick it up. It was a smooth emerald green stone with a golden dragon rearing in flight, its head cocked to one side so that its eye stared at Tayren. He heard a whisper on the wind.
"Green One must fly!" it said, Tayren shuttered and pocketed the warm stone. He turned towards the castle, when he heard a scream.
A scream that would bring any mortal sudden death, only the Children of the Gods, the legendary creatures of the Fae Forest and the mysterious Green Ones could survive this sound.
"Agh!" Tayren clapped his hands over his ears, seeing two dark shapes flying in the sky. Before he could do anything, Castle Kenban was set ablaze by dark magic! The dark winged shapes screaming.
"Run!" whispered Lady of the Moor. Tayren didn't need to be told twice! Scrambling to his feet, he ran towards the Steamy Mountains; at least there, he had a chance of hiding from the dark flying shapes… Deathfliers, he thought to himself, that is what I'll call them until I learned what they truly are.
He ran into the rowan trees and was taken by the strange powers of the Steamy Mountains. The deathfliers circled the burning castle and the body of a dead woman laid before the blazing inferno once the legendary Castle Kenban the sentinel of Kenban Lake. The boy that lived with her was now somewhere deep in the Forest of the Steamy Mountains.