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Old 10-25-2015, 10:43 AM   #189
Blossom of Dwimordene
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: The realm of forgotten words
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Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Galadriel55 is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.

They walked a long time in silence. After a while, the lad spoke. "Might you be willing to tell a story? It would make the road go faster, I think, and the rain seem less dreary."

“Then I shall tell you a tale of a land as dry and hot as ours is filled with rain and chill of late,” Balan responded smoothly. He did not yet know how the story would end; he only had a seed, and he would let it grow.

And so he told his companion of the Wraith of the Desert, cursed to live in endless thirst. Once the guardian of a bounteous land, he was charged to stand watch over its people and treasures, and for that he was honoured. He was the warden of the land’s tall towers, and of its lush shady trees, and its round silver pearls, and of its colourful blossoms. Yet, as the time went by, he forgot his duty, and disobeyed his task. With little thought for his people, he cared mostly for his own affairs. He tried to gain new treasures and new power, and sought them where one ought not go. He was hopelessly lost in broken promises and trickery, until finally, when hoodwinked by a black wizard, he traded him all of the land’s treasures for the greatest knowledge that there was. But the wizard deceived him, and escaped with the riches, and hid them in the four corners of the world.

Gone were the pools filled with glittering pearls. Without the shade of the trees, the sun scorched the land. Its towers crumbled to dust, and its blossoming fields were replaced by colourless mounds. And a great wrath rose from the people of the land, and they cursed the wayward guardian with a curse of great power, for so great was their grief and rage; never shall he part from this land, and suffer always the loss that he brought on it. Any towers that he builds shall scatter like sand on the wind; any colour that he paints shall starve and fade beneath the blazing sun; no roof shall shield him from the burning rays; no wealth shall he have to trade for the meanest harvest. The spirit of the land, he shall be what the earth is, and feel what the earth feels, until a child of this land entrusts him once again with the treasures that he so irreverently relinquished. Cursing him thus, the people left, homeless, hopeless, and bitter, to seek a place where they could live. Some went east, to the far mountains; others went west, to the restless sea; yet others went south, where the wetlands rule; and some went north, to the hard hills and gnarled pines; and none of them came back to their land, and it became truly desolate. Men shunned the place, for only thing that awaited them there was death.

For many years the desert grew, ever drinking up any moisture, ever thirsting for more. No amount of water that rare travelers brought with them could quench its thirst. The desert swallowed them all – the travelers with the water. Thus this land became known as the Thirsty Desert.

And Balan told the boy of the fate of the exiles, how their numbers dwindled, and their rage abated, and their hate was replaced by sorrow. He spoke how the last of the descendants of these people came together, men and women, old and young, to find the lost treasures that the black wizard hid on the edges of the world. Long was their search, and many died along the way. Balan gave each a name and a fate, and spoke long of their toils and adventures. By the end, only five of them remained, sailing eastward on a ship with the lost treasures. But the wind was treacherous and the shore was hostile; a storm seized the ship, carrying it away from safe havens, and broke it against the rocky cliffs, and drowned the gathered treasures. Only a young lad survived the storm, carried onto the shore by a wooden splinter. For a day he searched up and down the coast, calling the names of his companions, but all he heard was the dull roar of the diminishing waves and the mocking cackles of the gulls. Yet, when he was about to lose hope, he heard the sound of a human voice. He ran towards it and found the eldest of their crew, washed up ashore. The boy was glad, but the old man stopped him: he did not drown, but he was the last to live, and his bones were smashed against the rocks on the coast, and he would not live until sunset. He bid the boy to remember their quest, and find the wasteland that was once their home without delay, and give it all that he has yet to give, for the treasures were lost and this boy was the last of their people. But the boy stayed until the old man passed beyond this life, and wept for him, and built a cairn over him as best as he could. And with a mad despair in his heart, he set out to the Thirsty Desert. Onwards he went, though his food pouch emptied and his water flask dried. He did not stop at the edge of the desert, but toiled onwards to the heart of the desert, sinking in its colourless sand and choking on its hot dust.

Balan watched his companion during the telling. Now, the lad was looking straight ahead, but his eyes were clearly seeing sand dunes instead of puddles.

“And when the boy could walk no more..." Suddenly, a new path for the story occurred to Balan. "...he took off the hat that shielded him from sun and rain alike, and long locks spilled onto her shoulders, for this was not a boy but a young maiden.”

Balan looked at his companion with a hint of a smile and a mischievous spark in his eyes, waiting to confirm his suspicions or put them to rest and continue on with the story.
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