Legends of Belariath

Morrigan Steel

From the Stuff of Legends

Crystalline water droplets fell into a pool of water from the tip of a long slender finger. The droplet sent strong ripples outward that crashed and dissipated against a silvery side of a deep bowl. A whispering sigh filled with sadness flowed through the chamber as another droplet fell into the bowl and shattered the stillness of its mirrored surface.

“She will come.” A soft, melodic voice sounded near the gently curved ear of the watcher of the Divine Pool of Sight. A hand of strength and power restrained rested easily upon the watcher’s shoulder. Diaphanous swirling of the creamy white gown as the watcher turned her gaze to rest upon her eternal mate, Tulik Leassa noted the concern in his eyes, the soothing caress of his melodic voice that touched cords within the Goddess that no other immortal ever had.

“So much suffering while she tarries. So much and so few in a lifetime of even our chosen people have the tender heart and skill to wield such a gift. So few worthy.” The beautiful sylvan Goddess Leassa rested soft chestnut curls upon her mate’s shoulder as he held her.

Tulik raised his hand to brush back a curl from her face. “She is human and has much to learn before she could use this gift, let alone learn of it. Is she still not rather green, given to an occasional lust for combat?” he softly inquired, his silvery gaze sweeping to the image depicted within the mirrored surface of the bowl. A golden hair human of raw statuesque beauty wrapped around a disciplined inner core of stubborn steel will, yet deeper still an inner softness. This is what his gaze rested on.

“Sadly, yes..” whispered Leassa against the fine raiment that adorned his broad chest. “Few though, have come close..” the two having began watching this woman when she had first been cut down by a cruel man, Ravenchild, and became enslaved to him for a time. Yet after all the cruelty he had inflicted upon the paladin, she still yet healed him when the plagues reigned within the town of Nanthalion. Interest in her had grown as time after time she healed to the limits of human endurance and beyond at times, nearly to the expense of her own life if she had not been stopped.

And then she found a way to restore a torian’s wing after being removed by Hellguardin, the cursed blade Shaka carried. That achievement made her worthy to be tested. She was young, but human and had not the time of the sylvan to fully temper the occasional lust of the song of a blade in combat. “And there is the child…” her embrace tightened around his waist.

“Ah yes. The child. She is no better?” Tulik asked, though he knew the answer. All gods knew such things yet he knew how it pleased his mate to speak of her, the child of one her most devoted followers. “No. The mother prays nearly unceasingly for healing of her child. She has until the next moon.” “Then let’s hurry up the paladin. Lord Abracus has given his leave for us to test her and bestow the gift, if she proves fitting.”

A softness of breath like a pleasing summer breeze slipped from her lips, “Yes, my beloved.. Yes.” Both pair of eyes turned towards the bowl. A hand passed over the bowl as luminous eddies and swirls of magic’s danced over its surface….and the image changed as droplets fell from slim fingers…

* * * * *

Silverish colored droplets of water sprayed over the paladin’s back from Ehleannur’s muzzle as he snorted and lifted his head beside the paladin where he had been greedily drinking from the clear cold pool before the trio.. The paladin was kneeling beside him, splashing handfuls of the water over her face. Vesper, her large white wolf gave a soft growl as his soaked muzzle turned towards the forest at the edge of the idyllic grove they had just crossed to reach the pool. The golden blond looked over her shoulder and turned as she raised, her emerald green eyes sweeping the edge of the forest line as her hand reached for Ehleannur’s reigns. She gave a soft click of her tongue and Vesper melted into the few shrubs dotting the pool’s bank like a mist on a summer morn as the sun kissed it.

A soft worn boot slipped into the large grayish stallion’s stirrup as the paladin sought to mount up and be on her way when they appeared. Like angry ants fighting off an invasion of their nest a dozen or so elves dashed from the forest with of them being on lighter, faster steeds. She was virtually surrounded in moments with the pond at her back. She dropped her hand to her side to let it rest on the hilt of her sword, preferring to hopefully talk her way out it rather than fight, if such was possible. “Filthy human!” an elf spat at the ground before her,, his sword raised. angrily. “You have come to desecrate our lands again!” was another angry shout. “No, I haven’t!” Morrigan said with eerie battle prepared calmness. “I simply want passage to travel to the Northern lands to study forging..” she began, her sword slowly slipping from its sheath while she tightened her grip upon Ehleannur`s reigns.. “Leave us be or I will have to defend myself.”

Raucous laughter filled the air about her and she took in the semi-circle of weapons facing her; swords, a staff and bows and arrows. “I have no desire to harm any of you, let me pass.” She again spoke, her voice strong, absolute. Before the lead elf spoke again the sound of broken wood, grinding wheels and grit of metal reached all their ears.

From the depths of the forest, it was coming. A rather large war band with siege machines and axes to chop up and lay to waste the land of the elves could be glimpsed. Ehleannur shifted beneath her as his large body tensed, prepared for any signal the paladin would give. As she pondered what to do a soft sweet breeze brushed over her form and a firm voice whispered into her ear that reminded her of a lover within the still of the night speaking lowly into the shell of her ear. “My paladin, go forth and seek..” the voice sweetly sighed.

That was all it took and the paladin pressed with her thighs and Ehleannur obeyed her signal and lurched forward, parting the line of elves before her. His large hooves thundered as they crashed upon the soft ground and raced to the small hillock before them. The elves gave a startled cry as they were split apart by the charging horse and a few managed haphazard shots of arrows at the pair. “No, let them go. She is probably going to lead them to us! We need more men to fight them off!” the commander shouted to his small band and as they began to meld into the high brush to withdraw the air began to take on an eerie feel. The elves froze, spellbound as they watched the shining armor clad paladin and her steed race for the top of the hillock.

A patch of bright sunlight cut through the black clouds that had begun to form and followed the paladin as if it were a magical beam of illumination. Her sultry voice split the thick air as she banged the hilt of her now drawn crystal sword against her shield. “Lord Abracus, hear my plea. Call the gods that protect this land, alert them to its peril!”, the elves watched, spell bound. The thunder of hooves came to a screeching halt at the top but the rolling thunder continued to build in the skies above. The war band stopped and focused on the illuminated paladin, not seeing the elves spellbound in the field below her. Lightning began to tear through clouds like a dagger renting soft flesh.

“Go now, while you still can!” she shouted to the war band below. “The gods come to defend that which is their own!” her warning clear, certain, despite it sounding insane, fanatical to those watching her. Ehleannur reared about a foot off his hooves, ground them into the solid ground and did a turn about, then again, causing her to face the elves then the startled war band below. The leader of the war band laughed. A grisly man, somewhat rotund dark haired human with squinting eyes and lust for the riches of the land he was about to ravage and the lone foolish beauty that dared to challenge them.

“I do be thinking, yea foolish wench that the gods be coming to give yea to us!” the human leader roared while his men echoed the battle cry. “Come, yea louts, there be yea entertainment, for as long as she be lasting!” the war band lurched forward and like a stream racing over rocks they came, swirling dangerous and dark beneath the paladin.

A jagged bolt of lightning rent the air just before the war band and the paladin lifted her sword again, held its shining brilliant blade high. “Gods, save your land as I offer my life’s blood for its protection!” she shouted and leveled the point of her sword at the war band. “Leave NOW!” she shouted as her thighs pressed inwards again to command Ehleannur to charge forward towards the band. Yet, he didn’t obey. Instead, lightning shot again and split a huge oak tree about twenty paces to her left and from its smoking ruined trunk a vision appeared. Two large beings stepped forth from a shimmering oak shrine that overlaid the smoking shell of the burnt, twisted oak.

To this day it is said, by human and elf alike, that a shimmering army with thunderbolts for weapons stretched to either side of the paladin as the two tall beings of incredible beauty beyond mortal comprehension stood to either side of her. As thunderbolts began to rain down upon the war band, those that survived scattered in terror, never to return to harm that sector of elven lands again.

The paladin sheathed her sword and dismounted as she went to her knees before the two beings. A hushed silence washed over the elves and the paladin then the void was filled by the most lovely, melodic voices one could ever imagine. ‘No more blood shall be spilled this day, faithful servant of Abracus for by your faith and calling the land is preserved. A greater destiny now beckons, if you have the courage to claim it. Even so come.”

The elves lowered their heads in awe and when they dared to look again all they saw was the paladin’s steed and wolf awaiting near the twisted, smoldering oak in the field atop the hillock. “They have taken her..” they murmur. “Her beasts shall starve or fall to prey.” Silently they seemed to agree that the creatures need cared for and so the awed filled elves began to hedge towards the horse and wolf….

* * * * *

Morrigan moved as if in a dream as she walked between the two nearly luminescent beings of immense beauty beyond mortal comprehension as they entered the glimmering oaken shrine. Soft voices, or was it now thoughts, that flowed about the paladin as they were now alone, enclosed within the beauty of the magical shrine. Gentle hands rested on the paladin’s shoulders as Tulik stood behind the paladin and pushed her towards the heavy wooden altar within the depthless interior of the shrine. “A gift is slated to be yours for your valor coupled with your heartfelt desire to heal your fellow beings, even to the point of your own death…” chimed within her ear. Her emerald gaze lifted to rest on Leassa as she moved behind the altar and extended her hand to the paladin, the most gentlest of smiles the paladin could ever remember seeing but was in vast paradox to the deep sadness within her eyes and features that were framed by soft chestnut curls.

“A year and a day, a day and a year of service to us is required from your life essence for each portion of the gift you seek to learn of. Do you have the courage to wield this gift and make use of it as we decree?” Tulik asked as the paladin felt the soft silk of her white silk tunic began to slip from her shoulders as they were bared beneath his strong hands.

A reddish crystal now drifted into her vision as it hang suspended above the altar between her and Leassa as her hips were now pressed against the altar. “Yes.” She simply said for whom of such faith could turn down a calling from a god, even if not directly their own?

“What of Ehleannur and Vesper during the time I serve?” sultry inquiry passed from the paladin’s lips. Warm fingertips traced down her upper arms before they were gripped, held within Tulick’s grasp. “Time is not the same for gods and mortals….” filled her mind. “The biggest danger is lack of faith. If you lack faith, you will not survive. Tell me paladin, do you have the faith it requires?”

She peered deeply within Leassa’s gaze as her naked shoulders relaxed as clothing faded away. “I have faith. I will answer the call.” Was that relief she saw within the Goddess’ eyes, but then surely the Goddess knew the paladin would accept?. Leassa leaned over the slim altar and pressed her lips to the paladin’s forehead as she softly spoke,”There is a child beyond the current mortal scope of healing that you must seek and heal...” whispered against the paladin’s skin, magical knowledge flooded her brain..

Warmth wrapped in lifetime of pleasure tore through the paladin’s form as the kiss connected and leaving behind a strand of silver hair entwined in her golden mane from her forehead and sweeping back through her hair. The crystal dropped upon her partially bared chest above her cleavage as it felt burning hot. For an eternity and a minute she writhed as human capacities that registered pleasure, pain, emotion twisted, her memories of that moment faded as quickly as they were made.

* * * * * *

Purifying droplets of warm rain fell upon the naked paladin as she emerged from the darkened shrine to see the elves trying to capture Ehleannur and Vesper at the base of the hillock in the small field. First one, then another spotted her and pointed and stepped back from her horse and companion wolf as she approached. With each droplet her clothes and armor began to cover her form and completed as she reached the party of elves, the strand of silver contrasting against the gold of her hair and appearing about nine years older than when she vanished. A brilliant scarlet crystal hung upon a silvery colored chain about her neck. She could scent fear, awe, maybe even respect as she stood before them and found it a vast change from their first encounter. A whisper caught her attention before it rippled through the group. “She bears the Tears! Praise be to the Goddess!” the elves exclaimed.

The paladin lifted her hand to keep them from praises or kneeling or other such displays. “Thank you for watching over my possessions. Take me to your shire for I am to seek the child of Nesta and bestow the Goddess’ healing touch upon her.” The elves reverently moved to comply as they welcomed the paladin amidst their group and assured the paladin that they had intended in the beginning to use and slay now was welcomed. She wanted for nothing. H er needs meager, yet the elves extended hospitality to the now respected healer as she restored all the ones the Goddess Leassa required of her as she bonded more with the crystal every day.

“And so it was, a seed of a legend was again found and planted within the realm of mortal man.” A small now healthy child with soft chestnut locks and wide eyes of the purest silver wiggled within the comfort of her mother’s arms. The fall cold rain softly beat against the window pane within the small hovel mixing with the pop and crackle of the fire burning within its hearth. “Tell me again, mother…”