Location: On the road to Monthaven
Timeline: Sixth Age, Year 52, Early Spring
While Alyssa and Pan continued their escapades in Arkady Isle, back in Emcorae’s camp near the village of Monthaven, the young man woke up in a grumpy mood. “What in Kra was that damn noise?”
With a knot in his back and a crook in his neck from having slept against a log all night, Emcorae continued grumbling as he stretched, shielding his eyes from a sun that was already high in the sky, even as the unwanted noise continued.
Birds would have been bad enough, Emcorae’s mind grated, but who’s having a party at this hour?
The sounds of splashing and giggling continued and the would-be Azora warrior remembered that Rock Run was nearby – with its sparkling array of miniature waterfalls that fell into a crystal clear pool about fifty feet in diameter, it was an almost idyllic spot that was formed by a small creek-like tributary of the Suskil River that ended with the formation of Rock Run.
But, it’s not even summer yet – why are a bunch of dim-witted country folk carrying on like buffoons at this hour of a perfectly good morning just made for sleeping in?!?
Truth to tell, it was already well into the morning and the noise Emcorae complained about was not all that much – just a few splashes here and there, along with a tinkly giggle or two that could but barely be heard above the soft yet ever present sounds of the relaxing falls. Yet, for all his training, Emcorae’s ears had become attuned to the slightest noise that was not a part of the natural forest ambience. As a result, he’d been awakened, and he wasn’t happy about it.
“Arg, Joanne, even Baal himself couldn’t make so much racket!”
For her part, Joanne ignored Emcorae’s complaints, for she had a more important mission to attend to.
Little thistles are around here. The horse whinnied.
Thistles, where are you, little friends?
<sniff, sniff> Here they are…mmmm.
As for Emcorae, now fully awake, the sounds from Rock Run peaked his curiosity and he felt a strangely burning desire to see who or what was playing around at Rock Run. After six years of training, he didn’t allow himself to just go crashing through the woods to announce his presence, but instead quickly put on his gear and exercised the caution of a tracker that had become ingrained in him from walking along the Way of the Azora. This coupled with his elvish boots of softest leather made him virtually silent as he swiftly spanned the distance.
Behind an oak tree. Emcorae’s mind guided him forward.
Peer out slowly from knee level; just a hair’s breadth.
Good, nothing there.
Quickly, move to that bush.
Yuck, what’s that wet spot…oh, I don’t even want to know.
Hurry under that tall pine.
Yes, closer now.
Hah! I can definitely hear people over the sound of the falls. But what in Yahway’s name are they doing?
Ok, just a little farther….
Ha, these bumpkins can’t even hear me coming. I could practically sit in their laps before they would notice me!
Ok, Em, don’t get carried away here. Over-confidence is the second worst enemy of a tracker.
And with a silent curse, Em ruefully reminded himself of the first:
Oh well, I’m almost there. I’m certainly not gonna turn back now, so let’s see what’s going on.
The trees grew sparser as Emcorae neared his destination. Still crouching low, he moved lightning fast from one location to the next. Even the elves, renowned for their deadly speed, were oft amazed at the effortless quickness with which Emcorae was blessed – truly a gift from the gods.
In almost no time, Emcorae reached Rock Run.
Choosing a vantage point that would afford him the greatest view of the water below, he knelt behind a clump of leafy bushes. Still proud of himself for this small accomplishment, Emcorae was completely unprepared for the sight that met his eyes. He would have been less surprised had he seen Baal and Sindra having a picnic with Yahway and Maree than what he spied instead – for there on the shores of Rock Run were a group of teenage girls laying in various positions sunning themselves or talking with one another or combing each others’ hair or delicately nibbling on some fruit. Not a one had any clothes on and each of them was a beauty in her own right, yet Emcorae saw none of them, for just as he parted the leaves, on his initial view, there emerged from the crystal pool the most attractive woman he had ever seen!
Now Emcorae had lived among elves now for the past six years and they were perhaps the most purely beautiful race on Terra, yet none of their fair females had ever really struck a cord in his heart. However the first woman Emcorae saw on this day at Rock Run – the young lady rising up from the waters with her tan body glistening – why, this lovely creature nearly pulled the young man’s heart from his chest!
As the girl waded to the shoreline towards her friends, Emcorae young heart salivated at the sight of her shoulder length curls and the luscious curves of her youthful body. The young man’s heart raced and yet he still hadn’t seen her face.
C’mon, turn around, turn around…
The waters continued to splash over the falls, the birds continued to sing to the sun of the glory of the day, and the forest continued to share in the lives of all the creatures who called Monthaven their home, yet for an instant the world stopped as slowly, oh so slowly, the object of Emcorae Azop’s desire turned to face in his direction while a couple of the other girls hurriedly got to their feet to dry her off. Gasping, Emcorae caught his breath, as even from over thirty feet away, he now beheld more beauty in the face of one person than he ever could have imagined was possible in the entire world put together.
Quite simply Emcorae Azop was immediately and irrevocably love struck!
Now whether this happening was solely the result of the magical spell Alyssa had cast upon his heart during the night, or whether Emcorae was instead just destined to fall in love with this woman on his own, who can say? Perhaps it was a little of both. I’ve heared it said that no magic in the world – not even that of the gods’ – is powerful enough to create or stop true love. (Although I would argue that we gods can surely enhance love’s effects). Mayhap this was the case with Emcorae? For the emotions he felt upon this morn were most genuine indeed – or so they did seem to him.
As woman of his desire held her arms above her head while the other girls dried her legs and waist and chest, Emcorae drank in the sight of her face. Her beautiful strawberry blonde hair framed a face that featured a cute little nose above a pair of full red lips, high cheekbones, and dark eyebrows that accentuated somewhat mysterious eyes. What emotions those eyes possessed the boy turned man couldn’t even begin to imagine, but he knew that were this woman ever to cast her gaze into his own eyes, he would be a willing slave to her every whim.
Emcorae imagined looking into those dark eyes, gently kissing those pouty lips and tracing his finger across the softness of her cheeks and his eyes slowly lost their focus as his fantasies became more real…
Now the other girls were gone and it was just he and his lover alone on the shores of Rock Run, enjoying the day together. After bathing in the cool waters of the morn, they relaxed on blankets Emcorae had spread beside the water.
Her skin felt like silk as he caressed her, and after staring into her eyes, Emcorae gently kissed her forehead, brushing back her soft hair to do so. She smiled at him – a smile that outshone even the sun as her lips curled up to show perfect white teeth. His blood raced as he then closed his own eyes and let his mouth seek out her lips, tasting sweet berries from her kiss. Passion mounted as Emcorae’s hand played with the girl’s still wet curls and then stroked the back of her neck. Then, as she sighed her contentment, he moved his lips slowly down her neck, then her shoulder, then her….
“Tiffania dear, let’s say we try one more time – let me see the book again?”
The silver sound of Emcorae’s would-be lover’s sweet voice brought him back to reality – the soft airy accent making him even more drawn to her.
One of the girls who had been toweling her off before, was now sitting behind Emcorae’s angel combing her hair. “Oh, sorry, Lynsy, I can’t seem to find our book anywhere. Do you see it, Kelli?”
There followed a quick search around the picnic area – one that was broken when Tiffania gasped. “Girls, there it is! There’s the Song of Pan floating down the river! What should we do, Lynsy?”
Emcorae followed the girl named Tiffania’s pointing hand to see a small book slipping away in the current of the Suskil River – soon beyond sight in the distance downstream.
Although the other girls were flummoxed, it was Emcorae’s Lynsy who maintained her composure. “The book is gone. But don’t worry, I’m sure my father can get another in Primcitta. Yet, consider this: where is Pan?”
“Hey, that’s right!” Piped up a plump redhead. “Pan never answered our call.”
“Well, I’m glad.” Said Tiffania. “I was a afraid he might show up after all.”
“Me too,” bespoke a black-haired lass, “Can you imagine if he really was real – with a goat body and hooves? I’ll bet he smells too!”
At that crack all the girls shared a laugh, and even Emcorae smiled from his perch. Yet, for the girls, those laughs came in relief — for although none of them would admit it, they’d all been a little scared when they’d joined together to summon the God of the Primal Forests earlier that morn – just before the rising of the sun – while Lynsy had read aloud from the old tome, calling to Pan across the distances of time and space.
“It seems the spells in the book didn’t work anyway,” Lynsy sighed, “for our invited guest has failed to show. But no matter, let’s talk about other things.” And she smiled as she continued. “Say, Tiffania, tell us, what did you and Darril do last night?”
Tiffania blushed “Shhh, Lynsy, don’t talk about that. You never know who’s around.”
“Oh, Tiff, stop worrying, I brought us here today so that we could get away from everyone at the estate and just relax.” Then Lynsy laughed, “and also because we all want to hear what why you’ve been sneaking out of the house at night!”
The other girls giggled as well and Tiffania again blushed before she too laughed.
“Well, you know….Darril is just soooo sweet and he makes me feel soooo good.”
“I’ll bet he does,” The redhead called Kelli poked at her friend.
The girls giggled as they moved into a semi-circle on the shore around Tiffania and Lynsy.
“But what does he do?” the black haired girl asked.
“And how do you sneak past the gate guards to get out at night?” Asked the red head Kelli, obviously interested in the answer on a more personal level.
“Do you really like him?” piped up another.
“Of course she likes him,” Lynsy answered on behalf of her maid. “Look, girls, we all know Tiff could be with my brother Dugan – we’ve seen how he looks at her, always trying to get her attention. Dugan is the heir to my father’s fortune, yet Tiff chooses to go sneaking off in the middle of the night to see some mysterious guy that none of us have ever even met! If that’s not true love I don’t know what is.”
“Personally I’d take the money?” Kelli laughed
“Tiffania, tell us more…pleeeaaasssse!” the black-haired girl begged.
“I need details!” Kelli barked. “Now!”
“Girls, girls,” Lynsy held up her hands to silence the crowd. “This Darril must be something special indeed, if Tiffania will risk going to those lengths because, although I hate to say it, she knows if my father or Pastor Kastelli ever found out about these late night trysts, there would be a terrible price to pay.” But with another wink in Tiffania’s direction, she added, “Of course, we all know I wouldn’t let my Da ever get rid of my best maiden!” Then, looking at the other girls, Lynsy continued. “That’s another reason why I brought us here today. We all have it so good at my house due to my father’s hard work. Tiffania is my best friend. I don’t want anything to ever happen to her. I know you girls have seen her coming and going and you’ve have heard things, but I’m warning you all – don’t spread rumors. I don’t want Tiff to get into trouble.”
Then, Lynsy picked up a brush and began to comb her hair. With a far off look she sighed. “Let’s be happy for Tiff – she’s found a man who’s made her feel special in the way we all so desperately want. Maybe it’s forbidden because he’s just a farm hand on the other side of town and Tiff is committed to my father’s house, but who are we to spoil it all? Maybe love will find a way to conquer these problems.” Brushing slower and slower, as if lost in her own thoughts, Lynsy added. “I can’t think of anything more exciting than to have a love like that – to be willing to risk it all for just the chance to hold someone, even if only for a moment….”
Lynsy let the thought drift into the winds as no one, not even the quick-witted red head, said a word. Emcorae too was lost in her words, not realizing he’d been holding his breath while the girl spoke her song.
But then, in the distance behind, a horse whinnied, and that sound was immediately followed by a loud thunderclap!
<Rrrrrumble – CRACK!! >
Startled, girls below looked up, some in the direction of Emcorae’s perch, for the sky behind him was now black. For his part, Emcorae was too quick to be noticed, having already let the leaves fall back into place to conceal himself.
From out of nowhere then, a once lovely day that started out so full of promises, now turned dusky as clouds covered the sunshine and large droplets of rain began to pelt the ground. Taken by surprise, the girls hurried to get dressed and gather up their things, crowding under a tree to escape the rains, as their outing was unexpectedly cut short by the weather.
Emcorae watched as the young women ran to their horses and soon rode off to the north. Then he walked back in a daze to his campsite, knowing that his life after this day would be somehow changed forever.
But someone else had also been watching – Alyssa, the now angry Goddess of Love.
Earlier, Alyssa had given in to the urges of Pan on Arkady Island – for there was no way to resist him. (1) Given his inopportune timing, Pan had interrupted Alyssa’s best laid plans concerning Emcorae Azop, yet still the Goddess of Love had no choice but give in to the urges of Pan (2).
Those animal fires now satisfied, Alyssa quickly remembered her ritual concerning Emcorae and the young man’s soon to be hopeless devotion to the first woman he laid eyes on that morn.
Thus verily did the goddess hurry back to these small woods outside Monthaven.
Only to arrive in time to see Emcorae now utterly infatuated with another woman!
Alyssa screamed in vain — and the thunder rolled as her voice!
The Goddess of Lost Love then cursed her fortunes, for she realized, now all too late, that it had been her very own plans that had robbed her of the lifelong companionship of yet another member of the Azop family! For it was her unbreakable spell that had now contributed to Emcorae’s new lifelong love of the girl named Lynsy.
Feeling crushed and defeated, the goddess sank to her knees and cried – once again she had come so close to true love, and yet once again, she was denied.
For she knew there was nothing she could do to reverse the magic. Yet worst of all was this: because she had never before revealed herself to the young man, never would Alyssa know if Emcorae Azop would have fallen in love with her, sans magic. Never would the goddess know if the man would have liked her for the woman that she was, regardless of her powers as a goddess.
And with Alyssa’s tears came the unexpected rains of the day – spoiling the party for everyone.
Neither Emcorae nor the elvish horse Joanne knew about the covert actions of Alyssa.
Instead, when she saw her friend approaching with a glassy look in his eyes, Joanne snorted. It was now raining heavily and the horse didn’t like getting wet unnecessarily. And so she stood under a tall pine, Joanne watched her companion pack his belongings – along with an assortment of twigs, leaves and branches. What is that boy doing? Joanne hmmfph’d to herself.
Emcorae paid little attention as he loaded his saddlebags, and in spite of the whines of Joanne, he picked up everything in sight, for his mind was elsewhere — upon his visions of Lynsy, his very own goddess of love!
Thoroughly soaked, Emcorae climbed upon Joanne’s back and set off in the direction of his parent’s house. He never did get to enjoy that long sleep he’d hoped for, but he realized that was just as well. For suddenly, despite the pouring rain and the dark clouds overhead, suddenly his future seemed so very bright: for Emcorae Azop was in love for the first time in his young life, and by some strange twist of luck, the woman of his dreams had lived in his own hometown all along!
Oh, thank you, thank you, Alyssa. You always were my favorite goddess!! Emcorae offered a silent prayer to a divinity whom he had never met, but whom he had always felt certain was watching over him. (3)
In the nearby trees a goddess cried in heart-wrenching hopelessness while she watched her now lost lover ride away.
And further down in the valley, near one of the many twists in the Suskil River, there did a mysterious woodland creature pick out of the stream a waterlogged book, its pages soaking wet yet still intact. Stepping back from the waters edge, the wild creature smiled as he danced in the rain and held the book over his head. After a primal roar <YAAAAWWWP!> that shook the forest, the God of Pan then vanished – his victory over Love complete – again.
- None could resist the guiles of alluring Pan – save perhaps myself alone. Although the God of Fertility almost always appeared on your world in the form of a grotesque wild creature – with the upper torso of an unshaven man and the legs and hind quarters of an untamed goat – still something about that form must have been inherently seductive to all beings on your world – mortal or divine – for none besides me had ever been able to turn down the seductive advances of the god Pan. Gross!
- Recall that the goddess herself was at the time in a state of heightened sexual tension from her own magic spells.
- Ouch. That ones gotta hurt, Alyssa.