A Fear of Fate
People say that no one can outrun fate, but in truth no one has run far enough.
My feet fled over the grass, the delicate petals of hundreds of crimson flowers scattering across the earth like blood in my wake. I was afraid to look behind me, lest I see my pursuer bursting from the dark forest I had left, so I looked ahead to the Grey Mountains that rose before me. They were the pinnacle of the world, where the sun met the peaks of the earth, and burst upon them with a thousand shades of crimson and gold. The forest that I ran from was forest Crüix where the Fey dwell in halls of oak, and great manors
floating in the bows of the elder-birch.
I had already passed through their realm of green twilights, but had not stopped, for I was not yet safe even there. The memory of my fathers cold eyes and hard voice sliced through my mind, bringing with it the image of a leering man with hard eyes. I shook my head violently, refusing to let him into my mind.
I took a gasp of the fragrant air, my lungs and legs burning from running. Always running. There was no rest for me yet, I must reach the Grey Mountains before I was found. I had to find the ancient paths that cut through the peaks, in the days of the Sun-kings, made for quick travel to the forgotten lands nearly a thousand years ago.
When I reached the mountain I stood in its looming shadow and felt shivers run across my skin. For the first time in weeks I stopped running, and just stood and gazed upon the crumbling ruins of the forgotten passes.
I took a shaky breath, reverently running my fingers across the giant corroding carvings that were hewn into the very stone of the mountain. They were twin sentinels, their worn faces turned sternly to the east, and long stone swords of a strange make were clasped in their armored hands, as they stood guarding the entrance to the old path of the kings.
This place was referred to in ancient texts as Arumouŕŕe, the Kings Pass. It cut directly through the mountain, a feat of engineering whispered to be that of the great magic wielders that had fled the mortal world hundreds of years ago.
As I stood in the entrance I found I could believe such a thing, for as I entered, a stillness surrounded me pervading into my very soul and encompassing me with a sense of great power. A strange feeling both ancient yet timeless filled me, as if the passing of time was not a concept here, yet it still felt the nameless years that it lingered in a world where it had been forgotten.
Time passed queerly for me in the passes. I wandered for a long time always moving forward, conscious of what pursued me, yet distant in mind and body for I never rested nor ate. Many days passed, how many I could never tell you exactly, but one day the cold grey of the mountain pass cut off to become a small green vale with blue sky above dotted with fleecy clouds, and wildflowers bending and swaying in the crisp breeze that blew from the mountains all around.
I blinked and took in the silver waterfall that streamed from the mountain face into the valley below, and the sheep and other domestic animals that wandered around the peaceful valley. I was the most surprised however, by the small neat cottage that I was approaching. It had a thickly thatched roof, and a solid oak door with tiny pink roses climbing all over the stone walls. Lavender waved its purple stalks
around the door and a thriving garden spread out around the house.
I cautiously stepped up the cobbled path and hesitated before knocking on the door.
I only waited a moment before it opened to reveal the kindly face of an old man, who peered back at me without a hint of surprise.
“I’ve been waiting for you princess Aloïsia, Peregrina, of Wëstorie,” he said quietly.
I tensed, both from his use of my title and the sound of another human voice after so long. “Wont you please come in?” he offered, stepping to the side so I could pass . I hesitated at the threshold, and he smiled sympathetically at me. “You have nothing to fear princess.” I flinched slightly. “Please call me Aloïse” I murmured as I warily passed him and entered the cottage. He nodded respectfully and closed the door behind me.
“Come” he said, beckoning me to a table where some simple food was laid out as if he had been expecting a guest.
I frowned at the warm bread and newly cut slices of cheese and turned to the old man. “How did you know I would come to this place?” I asked slowly.
He smiled and gestured for me to sit. I obeyed to tired to resist the allure of a comfortable chair.“I know when anyone enters my mountains” he told me as he handed a bowl of potatoes across the table. I frowned, my brow wrinkling in confusion. “Your mountains?”
He nodded and motioned for me to eat. “Who are you?” I asked ignoring him and leaning forwards with curiosity. He only smiled and shook his grey head. “You are young and inpatient. Eat so you may regain the strength you lost on your journey.”
I sighed but obeyed, finding that I was so hungry that the simple food he placed before me was better than anything I had ever eaten in my father courts.
The sunset found me sitting before a fire, well fed and drowsy. I stared into the flickering coals, and vaguely heard the old man come up behind me.
“Are you ready for your questions to be answered little Aloïse?”
I looked up from my broken trance and simply nodded.
He settled himself in a big chair, his timeless blue eyes turning towards mine with a kind light in them.
“I shall start with my name; I am Zephyros the west wind, and I hold dominion over the mountains of the west.”
“The west wind?” I gasped my lips parted in astonishment. He nodded solemnly.
I have watched over the west since before man roamed the earth, and the Feÿri were but children taking there first steps through the wild untamed stretches of the world.
I stood in aw of the being who sat before me in the guise of a quiet old man.
Zephyros continued, saying “its getting late if you wish to make it to the Shores you must leave at dawn.”
“where do I go?”
“You must go to the old man of the sea.”
And so it was. I was awakened at the crack of dawn, given provisions and instruction, and then once more, I ran.
There were long nights and cold ones. Days where I trekked trough abandoned marshland without ever seeing the sun. Some days it rained without end and others were filled with heat so scorching I nearly fainted. But no matter the condition the threat that lay behind me stayed in the back of my mind spurring me forward, causing me to push harder and keep running, until one day I reached the Shores.
I gasped in wonder as I gazed upon the fabled Shores for the first time. I had never seen so much water in any one place. It stretched off far to the horizon where it met and melded with the clear blue heavens. The water glittered and surged with a shushing roaring sound that enveloped me as I walked, then ran down onto the warm white sands of the shore. A breathy laugh burst from my lips and I danced across the sand feeling lighter than I had since I began my journey.
“You have traveled far little one” said a voice that swelled like the tides. I turned to meet the stormy grey eyes of a tall man with long white hair who wore a robe made of the sea.
“Are you the Man of the Sea?” I asked looking upon him in aw.
He lowered his regal head, “I am he.”
I went down on my knees in the soft sand and pleadingly extended my arms. “Zephyros told me to find you to ask your aid.”
“You have run far little one, tell me what you would ask of me.”
“I have been running for such a long time I need somewhere safe where I don’t need to hide.”
“What do you run from little one?”
“Fate,” I replied.
“You have traveled far” said the Man of the Sea, stooping so he could look me in the eyes.
“You have come further than any other mortal has in thousands of years.
You have run to the very brink of your world where the sky meets the waves, but still it is not far enough to outrun fate.”
Tears of defeat gathered in my eyes. “But I’ve come so far…”
“What fate do you run from little princess?”
“I would live my life free of the man my father wishes me to wed, but I was told by a faÿri seer that it was my fate to spend my existance forever under his wicked hand.
I swore then that I would outrun my cruel fate”
The man of the seas eyes softened at the sight of my silent weeping and he drew me to my feet.
“Hush little princess, mourn no more.”
I will take you to a place where fate dose not rule, and you shall be as my daughter.”
I gasped and choked on my sobs of relief and gratefulness.
The Man looked suddenly behind me, then lifted me into the ocean.
“Hurry little daughter fate comes swiftly.”
He carried me carefully sinking deeper and deeper into the blue waters. The last thing I saw before the brine closed over me was a dark figure standing on the white shore watching me as I vanished beneath the waves.
I was safe, fate could not follow me here.
No more fear or hopelessness. No more running.