The Lady in the Lake
The village of Fog, named so because of nightly fog, in the land of Castina was known to be rather unfortunate. The people of the village were always ill and starving. There was no clean water and it was hard to grow food and raise animals in the swamp-like land that they live in. Why didn't they simply move to a better place to live? They would if they had the strength… The villagers would drink from the filthy water of the swamp which made them ill, it was the only water they had. The people said that it was their only source of water nearby, but that wasn't true.
There was another source of water nearby that was more clean and pure as ice crystals. A large, beautiful lake that would shimmer in the sunlight during the day, reflect the moon and starlight during the night. Life seemed to thrive happily near the lake. But nobody ever dared to go near that freshwater pool. It was forbidden. It was said to be dangerous. A creature, the legend had said, lives in that lake—a creature that should not be trusted.
A spirit lives in that lake—a spirit that was described to be mischievous, sly, and evil. A lady lives in that lake! A creature with no true form, but took the image as a reflection of the person who looks into the lake. This creature was discovered by a woman, who went to the lake to gather some water, but was soon tricked by the evil spirit and became forever lost in the lake. This legend was stitched into every heart and mind of the villagers through generations. The lake was forbidden to the villagers and nobody dared go near.
Because of this rule, the people continued to grow more sick and ill as time went by. Leaders of the village began to try to find ways to purify the water so it would be safe to drink, but it was taking some time. It was difficult trying to find ways of cleaning water with little resources they had to do so. But, still, the villagers had to wait patiently until the leaders had discovered a way.
A young boy, Ghordo, was one of the poor villagers of Fog. He lived with his grandmother in their small house with only one room. Ghordo had no siblings and no one to watch over and take care of him but his grandmother who grows sicker as the sun rises and sets. He worried for her; he knew that continuing to have his grandmother to drink the swampy water wasn't going to help her get any better. He was impatient with waiting.
"Grandma, you need to get better soon!" Ghordo told to her.
"I will, I will. The leaders are finding a way to make the water clean. I shall be better when that time comes." His grandmother replied.
"It could be too late by then!" the boy mumbled sadly.
"It won't, Ghordo. I'll be fine. We must be patient if we want good to come." His grandmother replied. "Be patient, Ghordo. Have hope and everything will be fine."
"Why can't we just drink from the lake?" Ghordo asked.
"You know why we mustn't!" his grandma grew stern. "You better not go near the lake! Don't you disobey or else you'll get yourself hurt! It is dangerous to go near that lake! You must promise to stay away from that lake! Ghordo…be patient, good things come to those who wait."
"Yes, Grandma…" he replied obediently.
But he didn't want to be patient. He felt that something should be done immediately. How can someone be patient with something important? Well, if his grandmother wanted him to be patient, he planned to do something to help her until the leaders figured out a way to clean the water. So, when his grandmother asked for some water to drink and cook with one day as usual, Ghordo grabbed his strong, wooden bucket to fetch some water, but instead of getting water from the swamp he went to get water from the forbidden lake. Ghordo was sure no harm would come.
The boy walked over to the beautiful scenery and knelt before the lake with the bucket in his hands. He was sure no harm would come—if he was careful enough. Ghordo, like the other villagers, feared the Lady that said to live in the lake; but that wasn't going to stop him from getting the water he needed. After filling the bucket, he cupped his hands and dumped them into the water to collect some water to get a taste. It wasn't like the swamp water he was used to at all. The water wasn't gritty, mossy, or mucky. Instead, the water tasted fresh and wonderfully pure. Ghordo smiled as he took a couple more handfuls of water before sitting back to watch the water glimmer in the sunlight.
The rippling rings in the lake began to slow into calm until a crystal reflection of a boy can be seen. Ghordo began to worry, remembering about how the Lady in the Lake would take on the form of the reflection of a human being. But…he also grew curious. He moved closer to the lake to take a closer look at the image in the water. He waved his hand and his reflection copied him. When he would smile and frown, so would the reflection. Ghordo began to play fun with the boy that looked exactly like him who would copy whatever Ghordo did. He had fun until the reflection started doing strange things.
The boy in the reflection began to move all on its own. It would smile and wave to Ghordo when he wouldn't wave or smile at all. The boy began giggling and making tapping motions to the surface, as if trapped in glass. Ghordo began to worry, thinking it was about time to leave. But the spirit in the lake, controlling the reflection, began to plead for him not to go. Even though there was no voice, Ghordo could tell because the spirit began to look sad and it had quickly clasped its hands together, begging.
"I'm not even allowed to be here…it's forbidden…" Ghordo whispered to the spirit, not even sure if he was even allowed to speak to her.
But the spirit continued to plead and even looked like it was crying. It mouthed the words, "Lonely. I'm lonely."
"You're lonely? Is that true?" Ghordo asked.
The spirit quickly nodded his head. Then it mouthed the words, "Friend?"
"You want me to be your friend?" Ghordo became unsure. "I don't know if that's a good idea… I heard you try to trick people into giving up their body and have them live under the lake…"
The reflection then looked as though their feelings were hurt, shaking its head as it stated those were lies.
"…Well…if that's true…and you really are a nice spirit…I guess I can be your friend…" Ghordo said.
The spirit smiled, clapping its hands together. Then the reflection began motioning Ghordo to come near, reaching out its hand for him to hold as a hand shake as a sign of friendship.
"Can I even shake your hand when you're under water?" Ghordo asked?
The boy in the reflection shrugged, still having its hand reaching for Ghordo to shake.
Ghordo gave a shrug as he decided to reach into the water to grab onto his hand, but in the pit of his stomach, he knew it wasn't a good idea. He should have listen to what his grandma had said; he should have listened to his conscious. He got himself into big trouble.
To his surprise, when his hand went underwater, he felt another hand grab on. Soon, he was being dragged into the water. The spirit had lied to him—just like the village said the spirit does. Ghordo quickly tried to fight his way to stay on land, but the boy was too strong. He was pulled under water.
The grandmother came running over as fast as she could, quickly reaching into the water and pulling the boy out from the lake and onto land. Ghordo's grandmother helped him stand and gave him support. She looked at the boy straight in the eyes as her heart raced from the scare.
"Ghordo, are you okay?!" she asked.
The boy threw his arms around his grandmother and cried, "Grandma, I'm so sorry! I should have listened! The spirit is an evil thing—I should have listened to everyone!"
"I said the lake was dangerous and not to go near!" his grandma said sternly.
"I just wanted to get you water for you to drink and get better—clean water!" the boy responded.
"There there…it's alright… But I was scared for you! Do you know what could have happened if I didn't come to save you?"
"I rather not think about it…" the boy murmured.
"Come on, let's go home to dry you off." The grandma kept her arms around him as they walked the path home. "And what do you know! The leaders of our village had finally found a way to clean the water. It may not be as clean and pure as the Forbidden Lake, but it will do until they find a better way."
"I guess I should have been patient all along." The boy admitted as he followed Ghordo's grandmother.
Ghordo, now a spirit that lives under the beautiful, crystal lake, wept as he saw how the spirit had taken his place in life. He wondered how many times had the spirit tricked people—was it even the spirit that was in the lake, or was it some person who was tricked by the spirit before? He didn't know. But at least now he was surrounded by the clean, pure water that had tempted him.