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TitleStar-crossed
UserIllyria
RankingRunner-Up
Post Date (Visible)April 2021
Content
                                                     Star-crossed
                                              ------------------------
Far away, there is a land where stars fly down each night to dance upon
the surface of the lakes, leaving the sky so dark as to make the heart
weep for the beauty of it. Each twilight the grand masquerade begins, as
they wake and stretch and twinkle, sparkling defiantly against the last
glances of the sun over his shoulder as he departs. When the night
falls, they dress up in glorious gowns of shadow and step a stately path
to the waters below, dimmed in radiance until they seem but a breath of
pale flame within a shroud of smoke.
In one valley, an ancient caldera, was the most beautiful lake of all.
The clear waters were a jewel admired every passing night by the stars
above, and they clustered there upon its surface so thickly as to
obscure and bar it completely until they flew away once more in the
morning to their home in the firmament. The creatures that dwelled
beneath the surface and those who dwelled above each viewed the dusky
caperings with awe, each from their own perspective but all with the
same joy and delight.
In the grand shadows of an ancient, blackened willow tree, just near the
lake, lived a particularly beautiful dryad. Dark as the aphotic boughs
of her monochrome forest monarch, she walked with grace and emanated the
beauty of the void to all who laid eyes upon her. So great was her
loveliness, this quiet ruler of the valley, that even the very stars
themselves paid homage as they alit upon her lake. The intricacies of
the tribute they danced each night were astonishing, mesmerizing. Every
twilight performance, all the creatures of the valley and those of the
lake gathered near the surface of the waters to watch in awe as they
wove their muted, glittering geometries. The dryad stood at the edge of
the shore, each and every time, as close as she could come without
falling in.
Many creatures lived in the beautiful waters, from the simplest fish to
the glorious undine bonded to the lake itself. He, along with the others
that dwelled in his demesne, assembled faithfully each night to witness
the dancing of the shadowed stars above the waves in the brutal dry air.
The undine was palest blue with scales of diamond, with silk-lace fins
and dorsals of surpassing elegance, a jewel as bright as his lake and
equally fair. His greatest pleasure was the arrival of the stars each night,
but not for their own magnificence. No, he delighted that they brought
the dryad into view upon his shore. Her visitations were the focal
point of his existence, the thing he anticipated more than all else.
While others gazed upon the celestial entities, his eyes were only ever
for her.
Above all else, he desired to meet her. She was a creature of the night,
however, retreating back into her tree when morning broke and entering a
deep sleep until twilight returned. No matter how hard he tried, he
could not manage to make his way through the throng of stars that danced
atop the water. Over and over, he was repelled and swept back under the
surface, unable to move fast enough or make sense of the flow. The
undine was patient, though, and observant, and noticed one day that the
bits of shadow that trailed from the umbral attire of the celestial beacons
followed them in their intricate maneuvers even beneath the waves,
where the hems dipped beneath. Slowly, over the course of many years,
he gathered these tiny scraps of gauzy shade and sewed them into a
resplended cloak.
The night finally came that the last piece of shadow fell free from the
tenebrous star shrouds above the waves. Collecting it carefully, he
attached it to the hood with a needle wrought from meteorite and thread
crafted from the precious few sable hairs that blew into the lake from
dryad's head. Swirling the garment around himself, he found his body
pulled and moved in patterns of unimaginable complexity. He gave himself
over to the rhythm of the stars, and rose to the surface, melding easily
into the press of shade-veiled dancers and making his way to the shore.
She stood there, slender and lovely, enraptured by the dance with eyes
that shone as bright as any fire might. When one of the figures detached
themself from the press and stepped upon the shore, her heart leaped in
astonished joy, which quickly became surprise as the undine lowered his
hood. The two sat by the shore all night, watching the barrier of stars
between their worlds and speaking of everything and nothing, falling
farther and farther in love all the while. As the stars drifted back up
into the sky, chased by the first beams of the morning sun, the dryad
began to droop and fade despite herself, and hurriedly fled back to her willow.
The undine left the cloak upon the shore, in hopes that she would take
it up and visit him beneath the lake.
And so she did. Back and forth, they would cross through the dancing
stars to delight in the company of the other. Soon, they begin to dance
along with the celestial visitors along the shore and beneath the lake.
As their love grew, so too did their radiance in the presence of the
other, until it rivaled the magnificence of the luminous lake
performance. The stars slowly began to notice that the attention of the
valley shifted increasingly toward the lovers and grew jealous,
discontent to share the admiration of the mortal beings with any others.
They plotted amongst themselves during the days when they hid above in
the brightened firmament, and finally hit upon a plan to steal the cloak
from the couple.
When the undine left the umbral garment upon the shore the next morning,
a last lingering star snatched it up and fled to the skies, tearing it
to shreds and scattering them across the earth as it went. The dryad
awoke at twilight and ran eagerly down to the shore to take up the
cloak, crying out in confusion when it was not to be found, save for a
few bare scraps caught in nearby bushes. The sound of her distress
summoned the undine, but it was too late for him to reach her- the stars
were already far too thick upon the water. All night, they stayed there,
hungrily and despairingly savoring every small glimpse of the other
through the celestial barrier as it swirled over the lake. Days past,
then months, then years. Having grown wise to his method, the hems of
the atramentous shrouds never again were allowed to trail into the
waters to be collected.
Casting out her misery to all her sisters of the trees, all the dryads
of the world determined to watch and search for the pieces of the torn
cloak, sending a bird with each piece to drop into the lake for the
undine. The dryad still waits there, her tears of glittering jet
tumbling into the lake and providing the cruelest irony of all: as they
gradually coated the lake's bottom, it became more beautiful than ever
before, drawing so many stars that now they scarcely dance at all. To
this day, though, the undine waits, never giving up hope. Each day he
sews his cloak back together, bit by minuscule bit, ever watching for a
glimpse of his love upon the shore.