(Author’s note: This was an entry to a contest held by Rare Elements. It was a fantasy writing contest earlier this year. I didn’t win but I feel like this shouldn’t remain forgotten.
The set up was a Faun dying from wounds in a forest and is encountered. Random, D&D style. I took liberties on the premise. It is thus the half goat creature is found by someone she never thought would.)
“It is in these moments you do want life the most. There is no sun, no day, no breeze, no forest about of you. Just sudden Winter. It’s cold, painful, and most of all lonely. You may stay your hand for I’ve something for you.
“I’ve one last draught here in this bottle. I carried it from the depths of that starry ether you may never see once more. No grape or grain makes what’s in this bottle. It’s wine from warm nights, brightest wishes, and dreams yet to come. Drink, and stand under the midsummer’s moon once more.
“The taste is a bit sweet, I know. A slight bitter pang in what follows that flavor. I apologize for that. The aroma you’ll notice reminds you of some kind of fruit but you just can’t place the words for it. I’ve seen philosophers and yeoman alike spend days reminiscing about just that. Drink, and now rest.
“I see you’ve some color in your cheeks now. More serene. Pull back my hood? Perhaps as the shade in the forest grows deeper. It is hot today. Shall I tell you a story while you convalesce? It’ll be brief.
“Teyrnon had lost his prize mare one day. He had thought what clawed beast he slew was somehow culprit, alas not so. Tracks, set faintly in the morrow’s dew sent him east. He spent day and night but found nothing but his own frustration. His wife began to call for him, and he needed to return to his lands, for as broad as they are, the mare was nowhere within them.
“He hired a wayfarer who happened by. Strange man who had the look of the Celestials of the East, for he indeed was from them. That man could find anything for a price, but coin or jewels are not of it. A promise to hold a favor was all he required. It is thus Teyrnon gave the man his solemn oath to have a horse ready for him in two years time, one that could ride across any track of land without breaking it’s gallop.
“I see that you’re still a bit pale and speechless. Let me fold this cloak under your head, and you can rest easier. I shall continue.
“For Teyrnon’s oath, the wayfarer would retrieve the mare and bring the thief to punishment. Teyrnon has a softer heart in his older age, and would like the thief to be not as harmed as the mighty clawed beast that stole that same mare many moons ago.
“Pull back my hood? I see why not as there is a breeze now through these pines. Yes, I am that Celestial. I’ve tracked you for nearly a fortnight now. I did indeed steal back that mare when you were drinking heavily. I’ve not put these darts in you though. These are those of the daoine sìth looking for you as well, for stealing their wine from them. I simply told them where you were. I returned the horse and behold, I’ve found you once more.
“Ah poor creature. You’ve been ungracious in your visit to Queen Mab’s land. Now do sleep, never waken, but one last dream you’ll have. Not of days as a child, nights with friends. Not of dance, song, and revels no mortal would endure. It is a pity to have brought such beauty into this world only to exit so fast. To have it gone for a few acts of youthful idiocy. I did indeed give you the Elixir of the Stars, which was hard to trade for. You will not leave this realm so easily. You will dream of this dying moment, so long as the stars these came from burn brightly in the sky.
“I’ve kept my promises, as I always have done. Now I’ve a gift for Her Majesty Queen Mab in the years to come. I can free my betrothed from her and we can go home once more.
“What story is that you ask? Well, that would be for another time now dear faun. In another life perhaps.”