A Tale of Pesclanor
As told by Alcor
An hour passes, with the children engaged in an elaborate game involving a collection of colourful stones and a small circle drawn into the wooden floor of the temple. As the sun passes zenith, the priest returns to the crowd looking very weary.
"Ahh.. All still here, are you? Or perhaps more of you, I can't quite tell. No rest for me today, I suppose; well, what would you like to hear?"
The children gather around as the thaumaturge seats himself again on his small chair, and clamor for tales of bravery and heroism, death and defeat, dragons and drakes and dastardly deeds. The priest smiles and chuckles softly.
"I see you want to hear it all, then; the history of the lands in one fell swoop. Well, we'll start with a bit of Oakvael's lore. This tale is to do with a woman and a man, who met ages ago, when the trees were young. Below us now, in the bowels of the earth, there is a large underground sea where dwell vile creatures of the chaotic path; among them is a strange creature, a nymph who bestrode the world when the Ebon Wood was a single sapling, and our folk were unknown in this land. After her, I call this story 'The Sea Nymph.'"
"Pesclanor was a gorgeous creature, an incomparable beauty in those days. She walked among the trees alone, long before other folk came. She had great powers of creation, and it was this lady who tended the trees that would eventually become the lush forest that surrounds us, and that we call our home. She was all of this, but woefully alone for so long; the land was her only companion, and could not truly provide for her."
"And so when it came to pass that the portals were first used to bring folk to live here, Pesclanor watched with interest; hidden among her trees, she watched the men and women as they built homes and a life for themselves in the Ebon Wood. Not daring to show herself, she watched for many years as the town of Oakvael grew and thrived."
"One day, a young man known as Areon was hunting in the wood and strayed farther than anyone had before; he was an adventurous soul and preferred the solitude of the wilderness to life in the town. With a brace of boars slung across his back, he turned to begin the trek back several hours later; only to find that he was farther than he had thought. South through the wood Areon had moved on the hunt, and found himself amongst strange trees, taller and thicker than any he had seen before. Yes, the young man had found himself in Pesclanor's private garden where grew the mightiest of the oaks.. And he has also found Pesclanor."
"The lady stepped out from the trees and faced Areon, and the young man gazed into her eyes."
"What passed between them over the next few weeks need not be mentioned, but throughout it they fell very much in love. They shared a passion for the wilds, the forest that Pesclanor had grown. The lady of the forest lost her heart to Areon in her garden, and he loved her in turn."
"Unfortunately, however strong that love was he could not forget his old life. In the garden one day, Areon spoke to Pesclanor, speaking of the town, of his parents and siblings who would likely starve without his hunting."
Purian sighs slowly, gazing down at his hands.
"When he told her that he must return, she reacted.. Violently. Following thousands upon thousands of years alone and lonely, she had lost her heart only to have it broken; but she would never allow Areon to leave."
The stocky priest fidgets for a few moments with the ankh around his neck before continuing.
"I have seen the glade, Pesclanor's garden, where Areon lives to this day. I have seen Pesclanor's dearest love, and the rents she clawed into his bark when she realized what she had done. The lady of the forest used her ancient magic to grow a tree around the man she loved, covering him with thick bark, growing branches and leaves, so that he would never leave her garden."
"It is said that she spent days, perhaps weeks, at the base of that oak after the deed; sometimes weeping softly, at others clawing into the bark and at times only saying his name over and over. When finally she stood, she gazed around at the beauty of the forest she had grown and tended since the world was young, walked among the trees and realized she was not worthy of all she had. Her creation was far too beautiful for a creature who had committed such a horrible deed, and she left it behind."
"Yes, the lady of the forest walked away and left the Ebon Wood which was her own to find a home more suitable to what she now saw herself as. She went down, down into the ground through large caves and narrow passages and found an immense cavern dominated by a huge underground sea. There the Sea Nymph would dwell for years upon years, turning inward with guilt and finally losing all sense of reality."
"Now she blames Areon and his folk for invading this land and causing her to become the creature she is now. Dwelling in the Sea, she has spawned hate for all of the Lawful path and will attack any she lays eyes on. Sad.. Sad.. Pesclanor dies though, or appears to, as she has grown much weaker being seperated from the forest which was the source of her power. She never truly dies though, as none of us do; she only returns to life, to the torture supplied by her memories."
"If ever you see the lady of the forest; the Sea Nymph; Pesclanor, the oldest creature in this land, I give you this command: Pity her."
The priest shakes his head slowly and sighs; gazing at the ankh around his neck, he slowly traces a simple pattern in the air.
"Enough for today.. There will be more time for stories tomorrow."
A young acolyte dressed in a simple robe rushes up to the priest and whispers a few words. Purian stands up quickly and walks off towards the upper level of the temple, leaving the children to discuss the day's two tales.