Wind Flutes

"I guess you haven't heard it, but where I come from there's this legend...

"Once there was a young lady – she wasn't remarkable in any way: no impressing family relations, no astounding beauty, no special skills, no ridiculous amounts of wealth. She lived in a village in a house of an average size and had enough money to cover all her basic needs.

"What makes her significant, however, is that she was in love. Her beloved was a boy from a family a bit richer than her own but not so much it would be inconvenient. They had met several times and exchanged a few words. She hoped to learn to know him better though and to make him fall madly in love with her.

"To do this she decided after deep thinking to give him the most beautiful thing she could find as a token of her undying love. She didn't see anything truly beautiful in her village so she took what money she had and traveled to a nearby town. It was bigger than her village and she hoped to find something for her love in the many shops in the famous market district.

"She walked around, visited countless shops and stores and even asked private people what was the most beautiful thing they knew. Never did anything make her heart skip or bring tears of bliss to her eyes. Nothing was beautiful enough to be given to her love.

"Eventually she leaved the town and went to another. And another. And another. She searched everywhere.

"She found nothing.

"In the end she was on her knees on the snowy plains of Qantion and cried silent tears in the white snow. She knew neither how to continue nor how to stop.

"Then she heard a voice and saw a seven-year-old child a few feet in front of her. The child said, 'What do you cry and curse?' and she answered, 'I'm in love and want to give him a gift. The most beautiful thing imaginable to convince him of my undying love.'

"'That's easy,' replied the child, 'Give him a wind flute.' She looked at him surprised and asked what a wind flute was. She had never heard of such and half-suspected the child was pulling her leg. Still, hope flared in her chest. 'When a person dies, we can make their last breaths into a wind flute,' the child explained.

"'You, who?' the she asked, suddenly suspicious. 'What do I need to give you in return? Money?' The child shook his head and said they would do nothing with money. 'What then?' she wanted to know.

"'Nothing,' the child claimed, 'We only want you to stop crying.' She looked at him and frowned. Something was off in the child but she couldn't for the life of her say what it was. He just seemed older than his years. 'Deal,' she breathed at last. 'Tell me what to do.'

"'We will make the wind flute. You don't need to do anything but bring us a death,' the child told her. She gasped and gazed at him with widened eyes. 'I told you of this already,' the child reminded her gently.

"'To kill?' she whispered, quietly as if afraid that raising her voice would make someone die. 'You want me to kill? I cannot – will not – kill.'

"'You don't need to kill anyone else,' the child pointed out. 'Wind flutes are so beautiful they make even death worth it. The more terrible the life that leaves the more beautiful the flute,' he then added.

"She swallowed and lowered her shaking hands on her thighs. 'Can I... Can I kill myself? Can you make a wind flute out of that and give it to him?' The child only nodded. 'Will it be more beautiful if my last thoughts are of him?' she asked shyly. The child nodded again.

"'Will you bring it to him when I'm dead? And tell him it's from me?'

"'Yes, we'll take the wind flute you produce to your beloved and let him know it's a gift from you,' she was promised. 'Just remember that the more terrible the life the more beautiful the wind flute.' A wind rose and raised feather-light snow and she had to blink a few times in order to see something. Despite how many times she blinked, she couldn't see the child anywhere.

"With a renewed determination she got up from snow and walked back to the town she had left. From there she continued to the small village she was from. She wanted to be as close to her love as possible at her moment of death. For a moment she even thought of thrusting a dagger through her heart in front of him, but then she realized that no one was beautiful while dying. She decided to commit her deed in secret.

"Still, the words of the child haunted her. If there was a way to make the wind flute even more beautiful, she would use it. The last thing she wanted was to learn that someone else had given him a wind flute more beautiful.

"Terrible life, she thought. She wondered if it meant she would need to suffer. Then she realized that a terrible life could also mean a life during which many terrible deeds were done. She didn't relish the thought of causing trouble to others, but if it was the only way... And even a small nuance of beauty would definitely be more than none at all.

"First she lied to people and stole small trinkets no one really needed or missed. She took one valuable ring from one of her friends and hid it. She meant for her friend to find it. It wasn't exactly a theft, but she couldn't bring herself to take it away for good. Unfortunately her friend never found it and she didn't dare to tell her where it was for her friend might realize she had taken it.

"After committing one theft there was no reason not to make her wind flute even more beautiful. She took items she saw and could get her hands on. Diamonds, rings, weapons, gems, gold and silver – she found herself hiding a myriad of valuables. Every item made her smile a bit wider and set her sights on the next item. Her wind flute would be the most beautiful to ever exist.

"One day she slapped a man who tried to force his advances upon her. She ran blindly from the man and the more exhausted she became the clearer she saw that her wind flute had gained a new level of beauty. After that she was quick to took any chance to slap, hit, or kick someone. Once she punched a baby for crying and disrupting her conversation with the mother, people began to avoid her and she could hear them whispering behind her back. It only gave her more chances to polish her wind flute.

"Soon she decided it was time to send the wind flute to her beloved. She couldn't go further. With shaking hands, she grabbed the dagger she had stolen from her uncle and slowly placed it against her throat. She tried to breath deeply to lessen her trembling and reasoned that there was nothing to be nervous over. It would end soon and her love would welcome her pure feelings.

"The blade hurt and it occurred to her that causing pain was terrible. How terrible would it make her life if she caused pain to someone else? She pondered that for a moment and then lowered the dagger.

"Finding a bad, evil man was easy enough. She lured him into a underground basement and knocked him out with a bottle. She tied him to a chair she had dragged into the basement and gagged him. With a nervous chuckle, she took a selection of knives and clubs to a rickety table and waited for the man to regain consciousness.

"When the man's screams had become so faint she hardly heard them anymore, she became aware of thumping sound from the house. She raised her head surprised, as if to look through the ceiling, and realized that someone was trying to come in by force. She hurried to the ground floor and tied a cloak around herself to hide the blood stains.

"Feeling slightly nervous, she opened the door and asked the crowd what it was they wanted. They looked at her oddly and selfconsciously she glanced down at her own clothes to see if there was blood. The cloak hid everything she could see.

"'What's that on your neck?' asked one of the men holding a large hammer. She glanced around but her own chin came in the way. Raising her hand hesitantly, she touched her neck and faked a gasp when it came back bloody. Droplets of red were running down her wrist and being absorbed by her sleeve. Distantly she heard someone screaming.

"In an almost off-hand gesture, she took the knife still in her other hand and cut the throat of the man who tried to push past her. More screaming followed and this time it was of rage.

"It's said she fought like possessed. It must have been terrifying sight: to see a slender, untrained woman kill with more skill and determination than most warriors. The screams and shouts of the first victims, that bunch of villagers who had heard the tortured man's howls of pain and come to investigate, made many more come running to see what was happening. Some version's of the legend say she left no one alive whereas some claim that a few young children were able to hide from her and survived. It's difficult to say which is true or if neither is.

"At some point during the massacre she saw a tall woman with short-cropped hair standing in the middle of dead bodies. She threw a blade taken from one of the dead men at her, but it never hit the woman. 'Don't forget why you are doing this,' the woman said almost gently, drawing her gaze from the dagger stilled in air.

"'My wind flute?' she asked. 'Is it ready now? If I take one more life...'

"'No,' the woman said sternly. 'You have cultivated it enough already. Give it to us to deliver to your beloved now.' The dagger flowed slowly back to the hand that had originally thrown it.

"She hesitated. She glanced down at the gleaming blade before raising her eyes at the woman. However, she wasn't there anymore. She glanced at the dagger again. It was still in her hand.

"Closing her eyes, she gripped the blade and in one swift motion, forced it through her neck still covered in the man's dried blood.

"Some versions say that her beloved was among the people she slaughtered, that in her madness she never recognized him or realized that she was back in her home village. According to some, one day her beloved found a crystal like flute on his window sill and heard the wind whisper the young woman's name. He kept the shockingly beautiful flute until he heard that she had murdered dozens of people before killing herself.

"Disgusted he didn't want to see the flute anymore and threw it out. The next morning, however, it was back on his window sill and the wind whispered her name again. It's said he tried everything from burying the wind flute to smashing it to pieces. Every single time it appeared on his window sill and in the end he didn't have any other choice than to keep it. For generations, it was passed down in the family.

"Some foreigners think it weird that that particular wind flute is considered to protect its carrier from madness and glamours. It's not that odd that a thing created in madness and deception knows how to counter them, too."