by Robins aka Nuada Silver Arm
Legends speak of the fae as masters of both harp and the sword. Some know that the fae have a special power in combat known as Calling the Dragon's Ire which gives them glory in war. More know of the ability of the fae to transcend the mortal limits of performance - of singing, playing, and storytelling, and to sometimes play instruments they had no training in - this ability is known as The Muses Song. The old stories say that in the early days the fae lived separate from humans. They interacted with them but occasionally, and even though they were born of mortals' dreams the fae did not try to nurture the humans to new hopes. When the mortals begin to grow distant, however, when glamour stopped flowing so free as it once had a great one of the fae found a way to nurture the dreams of mortals, to glean glamour from them. This started the path of reverie, the path of the muse. Of course every kith claims this secret to have once been theirs, but no one knows the truth any more.
In that day a great muse of mortal bards fell in love with one of her dreamers. This was not uncommon, nor was it forbidden. But it was well known to bring disaster upon the lovers and all they cared for; and this time was no exception.
The bard was a mortal man, known as Elgi, a beautiful man and true. His songs were among the greatest ever sung upon the mortal realm. They could call rain from a clear sky, heal the troubled spirit, bring tears or sleep - but most of all they brought love. Of all these the greatest were those sung to his fae mistress - the one true love of his heart. She in turn sang great songs to him, songs of love to please him, to inspire him, and to tell him of her love true.
But, as must happen in such things, tragedy struck. The mother of Elgi grew suspicious of the power that the fae woman had over her son. She did not want her beautiful baby to be lost to her or their world. This powerful lady wanted her son to marry a mortal, to raise up children, and to lead the clan in war. She wanted him to become a man as his father had been, a good man, a solid man. He, however, wanted none of this, his dreams were of more mercurial things. Unable to understand, his mother could only blame his lover. So she set in motion a plan to tear the lovers apart, a plan to return her son to the mortal world - and away from the world where lay his love.
Now all the kiths that are have their own versions of what the plan was. The Sidhe tell of politics and intrigue, the trolls of oaths and honor. But it is the boggan's tale that rings the truest. They say that the mother's plan was the most simple and natural she could devise. She knew her son to be a good man, a true man who never turned aside those in need. So the mother went and found a maid for her son to marry. This maid was neither beautiful nor bright, she had no charms to compare to the fae. But she had one thing that no fae could match, she needed. Her father and brothers were all dead, she was poor and despised and alone in the world, but even more her heart was like a hollow hole - and she needed love above all else. She needed what only a mortal heart could give her, needed in a way the fae could not understand.
Elgi's mother brought this maid into their house, dripping wet and covered with mud, and put her in a corner with a dry crust of bread. She heaped abuses upon her tender head, and treated her with scorn. Finally Elgi could take no more of this terrible behavior. He chastened his mother sorely, and then took the maid to wash. He gave her fine clothes of seven colors, he sat her beside him at the table and gave her of his own food. With all kindness he treated her, but near the end of the night she began to cry.
"Why do you cry?" Elgi asked, "Please tell me, that I might end your tears, for they do pain me so."
And the maid answered "You have treated me well enough my prince, let not my tears concern you."
But Elgi could not stand to see her cry, he could not let so poor and defenseless a woman be in such a miserable state, for it was always his way to protect and heal. So he pressed her all the night long, until at last she confessed.
"My lord," said she "I have lived for twenty years upon this world, and in all that time not one person has treated me so well as though hast. You have given me warmth, and song, and soft clothes of seven colors - and for the night you have given me joy. But neither has any ever treated me so poorly. For you have caused me to fall in love with you. But when morning comes you will leave me, you will send me out and return to your fae love. Even if I keep you fine clothes, I will have lost what I treasure most. I will be lower than the dirt upon your feet, for you will give me less thought. And when you are gone, your kin will cast me out and I will surly die alone upon the road."
When Elgi heard these word his soul was greatly troubled. Truly did he love his fae mistress, but truly he felt his heart stir as never before for the wretched woman beside him. He felt a love for her bloom within him, but he could not speak of it. And so, in trouble, he went to his mother and asked her advise.
"All she says is true, my son." Was her answer.
"And can I do nothing to save this poor woman?"
"Only.." then his mother shook her head, "No you would never hear of it, sooner would you see her dead."
"No! I would do anything rather than see her hurt."
"Then son, you must marry her - to keep her safe and loved always."
And Elgi, with great pain in his heart, but great joy also, agreed that it was so.
"But what is more my son," his mother went on, "you must never again go unto your fae mistress. For that would hurt your bride a terrible wound. And never again must you go to Arcadia, for there the time flies from you and you might be gone years without knowing, and your wife die of grief in the meantime."
And heavy of heart Elgi agreed. Great was his love for his mistress, and great his love of the Summer Country - but greater was his love and his need to protect and keep safe his bride to be. He knew that if he was to love her and protect her he must leave behind the old ways, he must put down his harp and leave the summer land for the necessity of raising a family and watching after all the things of his tribe.
And so Elgi and the maid were married, and he never went again to his fae love, nor to Arcadia. He gave up his harp, save for sometimes a moment in the evening when he had time. But that was not often, for the troubles of his people, the long hours of tedious work, the cares of life and the tides of fortune ate up all his time and left him with none to sing. Still, it was not so bad, for the land prospered under his authority, and his wife fulfilled him.
His absence from the silver land did not go unnoticed. His fae love waited long for him - and when he did not come she sought out word of him. She soon found it, and when she heard of his marriage to another she grew wrathful. With murder in her heart she set out for the mortal lands where dwelt her love and his bride.
She found the woman who had stolen her heart washing clothes by the river. With strength and speed she picked up a rock and smashed the back of the girls head, so that she fell unmoving. Grievous though it was the blow did not kill the maid. The faerie wrath was unsatisfied, and so she laid a great curse of withering death upon the girl.
It was fortunate that Elgi came up then. He saw his old mistress standing over his love and cursing her. He cried out for her to stop, but when he moved to stop her a look froze him in place.
"Why, man most mortal, should I show pity to you or your's. You who betrayed our love, who gave what was mine to this piece of dirt. Why should I show pity to the one who betrayed me, scorned my love and my gifts, and cut away my heart?"
Elgi, looking into the wide eyes so full of pain and furry, could find no words to speak to her. For he knew it was all true. He dropped his eyes from hers and went slowly to his wife, gathering her up in his arms. "Please," he said, "please, do not hurt her. I love her, as I love you. But she needs me, and you do not."
But the lady did not relent, for ice filled her heart. So Elgi sang for her one last time. This time, though he sang no courtly ballad, no epic of love. He sang a pure and simple song of the joys of life, the labors and triumphs of living. In the sky his words spun out the pain in his heart, the pain of his choice, the pain of leaving behind that which was most dear for something that was precious.
When it was done the lady of the fae turned from her old lover. She released the curse upon his wife, and with tears in her eyes she turned and walked away.
Elgi gathered up his wife and returned home. He never sang so again, but he found his place - and a happy one, with his mortal wife. But even so till the end of his days he would sometimes stop and looking out the window at someplace far away and his eyes misted.
The seasoned turned, and Elgi grew old. Summer after summer gave way to winter, and in his time he died. At his funeral his fae love came, and standing over him she sang the last song he had ever sung her, and added to it's simple melody the harmony of grandeur - of dreams lost and dreams fulfilled.. She sang with all she was, she sang the sun still in the sky and her heart flew so far towards heaven that it could not return. Soon she, like her love, was no more than a memory.
But those that heard the song would never forget it, and those that knew the lovers would never forget them. Some say that song still sings in the breeze in the winds and tides, and that it always shall.
Today the kithain scholars may tell you that when that lady sang her life away she gave a gift to the Dreaming. Others will tell you that it is all nonsense - that no such thing ever happened. But whatever, it is known to Kithain who can remember that they can reach into the dreaming and bring forth a power to sing, or dance, or tell stories that is greater than any known to mortals. With this power they can sing songs that will melt the hardest heart.