The Red Dragonfly

Late into the night the moon rose high over the plains. The sweet smell of spring teased the deadened grasslands on a breeze with a whisper, brushing it's fingers through the withered stalks. The edge of the forest rose up like a black wave in the night, the tall trees reaching up into the heavens as if to touch the stars. There on the periphery of the dark forest stood a young woman bathed in the moonlight, her long dark hair blowing in the soft breeze.

Her name was Iselin. Daughter of the tribe leader, she was destined to be married to a man named Kiernan; the strongest warrior in the tribe. With Kiernan, Iselin would live a plentiful life with a good home, many healthy children, and a good strong husband to protect her. Having been chosen by her father, Iselin had no choice but to marry Kiernan. The course of her future was seemingly set in stone, and though it was a good life that she had ahead of her, it was anything but what she wanted.

For Iselin had fallen in love with another man, a man named Darian. Dairan was a simple man who owned very little. He was not a warrior, but instead he tended to the gardens and collected supplies for the tribe. He spent his days in the woods or out on the plains, tending to plants and collecting herbs. Iselin and Darian had grown up together, playing under the trees and laughing at the shapes in the clouds. Though they knew that someday Iselin would be given away to another man, they gradually fell into desperate love over the years. They knew it was against tribe custom and tradition, but it seemed to be such a trivial thing at the time. They hid their love from the eyes of the people they lived with, escaping into the cover of the trees and lying out on the river bank to let the sun warm their skin.

But though they tried to ignore it, they day for Iselin to be given away grew closer and closer. The lovers knew that it would not be Darian that Iselin's father would choose for her. The day before Iselin would be given away, Darian took her to their favorite place on the river. While lying on the riverbank, a brilliant red dragonfly landed on a blade of grass nearby. The lovers took it as a symbol of their love, and decided to use it as a means of communication. Whenever the lovers wanted to meet, they would leave a red dragonfly for the other to find, and then that night they would meet under the moonlight at the edge of the forest.

The days came and passed and Iselin was married to Kiernan. She wore a smile while she could, but inside her heart was crying. She spent every day waiting to find a red dragonfly so she could sneak out to meet her true love under the cover of the stars. However, Kiernan began to grow suspicious of his new wife. He had noticed her sneaking out when she had believed him to be asleep, and one night he decided to follow her. When he found his wife wrapped in the arms of the lowly gardener, he grew angry and attacked Darian. Kiernan easily overpowered him and left him fatally wounded at the edge of the forest. Kiernan struck his wife on the cheek and dragged her back to the village while she cried for the loss of her love.

As Darian lay dying in the soft grass, the moon looked down on him with pity and compassion, and before he slipped away into the darkness, turned him into a red dragonfly; the symbol of his and Iselin's love. Darian, grateful to the moon for another chance to live, swore to protect Iselin and her children from that day forward.

Iselin lived a good life, raising Kiernan's children and telling no one of what had happened to Darian. She hardly ever spoke or smiled, but everywhere she went she was followed by the red dragonfly. She did not know it, but she felt that the red dragonfly was there to watch over her. The red dragonfly was her constant companion throughout her years, living much longer than any simple dragonfly would. When Iselin grew old and Kiernan had passed on, Iselin felt it was her turn to go. Before she closed her eyes she saw the red dragonfly alight on her withered hand, and she slipped into the darkness where Darian stood waiting with his hand held out to lead her into the light.

From that day forward Iselin's children have been watched over by the red dragonfly.