|The Cruelest Fate
Author: Mistress.Lady.Lin PM
Isolde is a free-spirited nymph who longed to know the ways of humans. But will the knowledge of humans be enough to keep her with her love or will there be consequences she isn't aware of?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy - Words: 2,276 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Published: 09-12-08 - id: 2570963
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Cruelest Fate
Scurrying through the overgrowth of trees, prancing along the tips of branches, the nymphs were free. Free to do as they pleased without consequences of morality or a developed conscience, they didn't understand the plight and tribulations of their mortal counterparts. The humans, always mourning the death of someone or continuously praying to a being that didn't exist, were simply insignificant bugs and eventual corpses according to the nymphs.
The laws of nymphs were simple enough. Do as you please and live forever. Nymphs couldn't be bothered with others. And though they always frolicked together, most, when asked, would never sacrifice a thing for another. But what was there to sacrifice? If they had everything, what could they be missing?
One knew, though. Or, at least she thought she knew. Deep within her chest she could feel a gnawing at her muscles and a driving force in her heart to find out the secret of the humans? Why, through all the tears, could they still smile? Why did she, a nymph, find some sort of solace when she was near them, yet always unseen?
There had to be an answer hidden within those special groupings she always saw them in. Yes, families, she had heard them called. What did they mean and why were they so important if they caused so much grief? Why would anyone subject themselves to that? It must be the families. It just had to be.
It wasn't until one evening when young Isolde was roaming the woods that she came upon a man sitting in a clearing. He held a bulky case and a bow in his right hand. Isolde remembered the carnage when human hunters would shred through her forest in search of game- greater and stronger than the last. Nymphs, though free, knew one thing. That humans were not like them and thus, should be avoided at all cost.
Isolde's fascination with the man peaked as she saw that he wasn't a hunter at all, but a musician of sorts. He sat down in the gently blowing grass, entirely encapsulated by the solitude of nature, as he produced from his case a stringed instrument in which he drew across softly with the bow. The low hum of the strings enchanted Isolde, more so than anything she had ever heard before. Not even the nymphs' music had been so pleasing to the ear and that's when she decided that she would learn what humanity was.
Every day the man would visit the meadow, enticing Isolde with the grandeur of his genius- or so she thought. He would speak so highly of nature and his physical beauty was nothing like she had ever seen. He had such a warmth to his skin, browned lightly by the evening sun, that she hadn't seen on one of her kind. They were always so white and cool, but this man- this human- was what she wanted. Everything she wanted to be.
Yet, the day came when the man did not appear. Isolde waited impatiently at the nearby tree, peering out as to stay hidden. She stood there well into the night and he never showed. Not once.
Downtrodden, she returned to her hollow tree to await the next day, yet he did not come back. Day after day, week after week, Isolde waited at the same tree, trying to decipher one stray note of his instrument that would signal he hadn't abandoned her.
A strange feeling tugged at her mid-section. Her heart dropped and she stared at her feet as she walked out into the open. The sun danced upon her skin like a beam of light directed at a mirror. Her knees made hard contact with the ground as she held her arms close to her body to keep the unfamiliar feeling from leaking out. What would the nymphs think if they knew her to be this dismally disappointed over a man?
She let out a dry sigh and moved to return home when out of the dark grove of trees her eyes met another's. They were deep brown, reflective so that she could see herself in them as he drew closer. His handsome face contorted to that of pure astonishment and his hands left the case, letting the bow slip through his fingers and onto the waving pasture.
Isolde backed away, knowing right then and there that she had broken her oath. The one law drilled into her head from birth had been shattered and now she had wittingly let the secret of her existence known to a human.
"Don't run," his mouth moved gently, his lips soft as they were brought together again. "I know you."
Isolde kept her steady pace as she backed up into the trees.
"Please! You're the one that has been watching me, aren't you? I can tell by your presence!"
Her hair moved gracefully in front of her when she finally stopped dead in her tracks. "You could tell? You knew of me?"
"How could I not tell? You're like nothing I've ever seen. I've heard of fairytales, unexplainable circumstances in these woods, but never would I believe to find you of all things."
The warmth of every word his tongue caressed made Isolde long for the conversation to go on indefinitely. They sat together for hours on end, exchanging knowledge of the outside world when Isolde asked her one true question. 'What is it like to be human?' She didn't know that answer or if he could really tell her, but that was a chance she had to take.
"If you really want to know what it's like to be human," he began, with a smile, "I'll show you, but you must promise me something in return."
"Anything," Isolde vowed with hands clasped to her breast.
"Let me know the wealth of your people. Show me your deepest magics and I will, in return, show you what humans are."
Isolde agreed, thinking to herself that the bit of nymph magic she could share in exchange for her curiosity to be quaffed was nothing if not reasonable. The night strode in as if on the backs of mighty horses when she finally left the meadow, her heart light as a feather and her mind dizzy with the thought of not only knowing the human secret, but the thought of seeing him, Ayden, again. Little did she know that her heart was no longer in her control, but the property of one man that could do no wrong in her eyes.
Weeks passed as they both met in secrecy, Isolde with the enchantments of her people and Ayden with his fruitful knowledge. She learned of families and friends. Love and relationships. Happiness and success. She gratefully munched on food he brought her that became the only thing to suppress her growing hunger. Even God was familiar to her by the week's end. With every lovely tale Ayden spun, Isolde grew more in love with him and his world. Humans were marvelous, knowing all that is great in the land and sharing it with others. Isolde wanted to be one. She reasoned that she would give up everything to know the eternal bliss of Ayden's people and live forever with a soul- a soul of her very own.
For what good was a soul to immortals, she thought. If humans could live forever on another plane, then why couldn't she?
"Ayden!" she cried excitedly for he had raised a great joy within her heart. "Help me be one of you! If I am acquainted with every detail, I should be able to be as you are. In my dizziest thoughts, I know this to be certain!"
Ayden considered this for a time. His eyes glanced over his bulging bags of nymph riches and back to Isolde, her reflection now barely visible in his irises. His face was solemn and his once warm skin was slightly chilled than it had been a fortnight ago. Had Isolde the mind to notice, she would have been astounded to find her once pearly hair fading in its brilliance and her once porcelain skin take on an appearance of tepid soil. Perhaps she didn't understand the changes taking place for her own heart had grown stronger, beating nothing more than Ayden's name from dawn to dusk.
"Isolde, my love." Her heart fluttered at his words no matter how wearily he spoke them. "Tomorrow will be the day you know everything there is to be told and then we will be together. Forever as the same and eternally happy."
His words were the only motivation through the next day. Even the taunts of the other nymphs as they saw her walking by, hair fainted and body tainted, wouldn't faze her for she knew something they didn't. Love! Yes, love was all she needed and all that would sustain her for the rest of her days.
What do they know? Isolde thought and she laughed to herself as she made her final journey to the meadow. To be forever joined with her dearest.
The meadow was empty except for a few flowers of late spring that were still scattered about. Isolde, remaining optimistic, began to pluck the buds one by one until in her hand was full by the time she heard footsteps behind her.
She spun around quickly to face Ayden, but couldn't help but notice a change in his appearance then. The warmth was gone, replaced by a frosty glare as he eyed poor Isolde and her bundle of flowers.
"I have come with the information I promised you, but I have saved the best for last." He hissed his words like a malignant serpent ready to strike.
Isolde risked a smile at him and stepped closer. "Yes, please tell me."
Then there was a low hum of his voice, rapidly and rabidly declaring horrid things about humans. He spoke of criminals and their deeds, of rapes and thievery among all humankind. He uttered unspeakable slanders against fellows and perverse thoughts of every young girl he had passed by. The imagery of war and decay and the lonely tomb were each body lay to rot wouldn't erase from her mind as she dropped the fragile flowers to the ground where the wind carried them away. Her nails clawed at her cheeks, trying to slash out all the foulness he had affirmed.
What was this? How had she ever wanted to be this? The blackened view of poverty, of grotesque acts of self debasement and ridicule of fellows tore at her insides. She knew the complete human to be nothing more than a monster, something she wanted to run from, but she couldn't leave Ayden to die. She still loved him.
But before she could bring his names to her lips she fell to her knees once again, only this time the pain was different. She saw her hair flutter brown, the strands breaking along their ends, and her skin became spotted with freckles as she stared at what she'd become. Try as she might to scratch those imperfections away, her blood now ran red down her arms and all at once her greatest fear was realized.
"Ayden!" She cried. She held her hands above her head for his gentle touch.
"My dear, you have given me all I wanted and now you are as worthless as any other I've met. Revel in the knowledge I have given you for now you know what humans are." He smiled once, but did not reach for her hands. Instead he slowly turned his back on her, leaving Isolde to the bitter realization that he had had never loved her.
She pounded her fists to the icy ground, caking her knuckles in mud as she felt the first sensations of pain. This was deeper than any disappointment or aggravation, but sheer, unadulterated slashes at her chest. Thousands upon millions of sharp slices with the dexterity of a knife clouded her mind. What had she done?
She could never return to the nymphs again for she gave away all her knowledge and replaced it with his. The nymph's identity lay with all their possessions and as she had willingly given them away, she had willingly sold away her self. Isolde understood now that kneeling amid the weeds was no longer a nymph but the very thing she had been warned against. Ayden, as she so foully thought his name, had indeed been a hunter, but an innocent melody was his trick and trap. How careless she had been when she had unwittingly been ensnared by his uniqueness and beguiled her with false wishes. How stupid she had been to think her own heritage was worth nothing at all- that she would trade it for one so despicable.
Maybe there is no fate crueler than realizing your own mortality except, perhaps, losing your life to become nothing more than a shadow of your former self. The only immorality now was to eventually die and leave everything she knew behind- the only way her spirit would once again be free.
A/N: Hey, if you made it to the end I commend you! This was a little drawn out, but I like it. I fashioned the story like a fairy tale that has a moral at the end...yeah. Well, I hope you liked it and please tell me what you think.