The following is an original work, edited to fit the word limit of the Rebirth Blog Fest.
A fairy, and a witch, Amer knew the legend: the hand that united the Gifts of the Wind would unite the world under his rule. A hunter, he had the eyes to track the Seasons across the earth. Determined to claim the Gifts, Amer brewed a potion to cause love upon sight, and dipped every arrow tip into it. Then he sharpened his knife, and set off upon his quest.
The earth was barren, its waters unstirring, its rocks infertile, until a Wind blew down from the stars. It sang a gift, and there sprang up the Fount of Life, its waters spreading until all the world gave birth. The Wind set a guardian about the Fount, that none might steal it for its power, and called her name Spring.
Spring danced with great glee and little care. Her skin was the deep brown of richest earth, her hair was as a tangle of flowering vines, and her laughter pealed like thunder. Dew welled up where her feet fell, beaded brightly on her skin.
Hidden, Amer lifted and loosed his bow. Crying out, Spring stumbled, the arrow lodged in one slim, strong thigh, then made as if to bolt.
Amer cried out as with shock, and her face turned towards him. “Lady Spring!” He ran forward from his hiding place. “I mistook you for a beast!”
Her wide eyes roiled the grey-black of rainstorms. The moment they met his, they softened, and began to glow warmly, flickering to the ghostly green of newborn leaves. It didn’t matter now what he said, for the potion had caught her blood.
“Are you much hurt?” He knelt, drew his arrow from her leg.
“Not much. I heal swiftly. What is your name, hunter?”
He smiled. “I am Amer.”
“Catch me again, Amer,” she said, and set off through the land. He chased her through glade and glen, and caught her time and again. A fairy, he knew such dances well, and sported with Spring until she told him, almost in passing, that she kept the Fount of Life inside her heart.
In that moment, Amer drew his knife and pressed it up under her ribs, and cut the Fountain out of her, locking the waters inside his own heart. He felt dew bead upon his skin, and his laugh pealed like thunder.
In time Spring grew tired, and fell to sleep beneath the earth, her body curled around the Fount. A Wind blew down from the stars, and wrought a Golden Grail to catch up a part of the Life while Spring slept. The Wind polished the Grail until it shone brightly upon the whole earth, and the light drew the life into fullness. The Wind set a guardian about the Grail, that none might steal it for its power, and called his name Summer.
He spotted Summer climbing high in a tree. A large man, and strong, with skin the white-gold of sunshine’s sparkle in the air, and hair like curling sunshine. Amer sighted, and loosed, and Summer fell from the tree with a startled cry.
“Lord Summer!” Amer cried, bounding forward with his face all seeming-horror. “I thought you were a bird!”
Summer’s eyes, the blanched blue of a noonday sky, lifted to him, and a boyish grin spread across his face, despite the arrow stuck in his shoulder. “Don’t mind it,” he said, his voice at once deep and light, and plucked the arrow out. “It’s a common mistake.”
He winked, leapt to his feet. “Run with me!” he said, taking hold of Amer’s arm. So caught up, the fey sported with the Summer long before catching his breath enough to ask, “Do you hold the Grail in your heart?”
“Of course,” Summer answered. In that moment, Amer plunged the knife up under Summer’s ribs, and cut out the chalice. Locking it inside his chest, he felt warmth and boundless energy spread from his wingtips to his toe-tips, and he grinned like a child.
In time Summer grew tired, and fell to sleep beneath the earth, his body curled around the Grail. A Wind blew down from the stars, and wove a great basket to catch up a part of the Grail’s light, and turn it back to the world. The Wind poured such bounty into the weaving that the Cornucopia poured out tenfold what life and light it caught. The Wind set a guardian about the Cornucopia, that none might steal it for its power, and called her name Autumn.
Autumn walked through the falling leaves with a serene smile. Her breast and belly round and full, her skin the golden brown of harvest, her hair dancing with every color of flame, she moved with a swaying grace.
She sang in a rich-rolling voice, and a smoky fog rose up from her footfalls. She faltered only a moment when the arrow struck her middle. She drew it out and threw it to the leaves, beginning her singing again with wrathful darkness, clearly ready to seek vengeance.
Amer cried out, and leapt down from his hiding place. “Lady Autumn! I took you for a…”
His protests faltered under her glower, eyes the same purple-blue-gold-yellow-red of her hair, but the moment she saw his face, the glower softened into a smile.
“No matter. Brave creature, not to flee. Come to me.” She moved through the woods. He followed, and her strides were such that even with Spring’s light step and Summer’s energy, he never could catch up until she wished him to.
They sported until Amer had the courage to make sure, “Does your heart holds the Cornucopia?”
“It does,” she answered. And so the fairy plunged the knife up under her ribs, and cut out the bounty. Pressing it into his own heart, he felt the serenity of abundance settle over him, and a warm fire lit behind his eyes.
In time Autumn grew tired, and fell to sleep beneath the earth, her body curled around the Cornucopia. A Wind blew down from the stars, and saw that life could grow no fuller. It was time to begin again. The Wind went to wake Spring again, but saw that she still slept fast. And so the Wind whispered a Sleeping Stone, and all the world fell into a slumber. The Wind set a guardian about the Stone, that none might steal it and use its power, and called his name Winter.
Amer found Winter sitting perfectly still before a frozen lake. The youngest Season had long and slender snow-white limbs, rime spreading over his skin, hair standing up in frosted tufts. His eyes glittered like ice, and his breath turned to snow in the air. His face was young, his eyes were weary.
He did not even flinch when the arrow struck him. He did not turn his head when Amer called out. The fairy ran through the snow to stand before him.
Amer began to worry as he gabled out his apology, for there was no change in Winter’s face.
“I see,” Winter said, “that you have brewed a potion to capture the Hearts of the Seasons. You have taken the Fount of Life, the Golden Grail, and the Cornucopia. Now you’re come for the Sleeping Stone, to make your victory complete.”
Amer gaped, but Winter spoke on. “No matter. Your arrow struck me, and I feel love’s poison in my blood. I am yours.”
Well. Amer paused only a moment before saying, “Give me the Stone!”
“Take it,” Winter said, and Amer sank his knife up under Winter’s ribs, and drew out a cold, black stone. Shivering, he reluctantly pressed it into his heart.
He gasped, fell to his knees. Frost cloaked his skin as it faded from the skin of the boy before him. The Gifts in his heart pounded, beating as if to escape the Stone. And they did. With a lurch, the Fount of Life was gone, then the Grail, then the Cornucopia. His blood stilled, froze in his veins. He stared, with muted horror, at the figure before him.
The lad’s teeth chattered, and he shook with mortal cold, but his hair and eyes were brown, and there was life in his smile. “So you, too, heard the myths amiss. And so the Wind spake a Stone of Death, and all the world died. The Wind set a guardian about the Stone, that none might find it and fall slain, and called his name Winter. A heart of stone knows no love, whatever poisons the blood,” the boy told him. “And life cannot lie in the same heart as death. The Gifts have flown, each to its proper guardians. The Seasons will live again—all but you.”
“All but me? What about me?”
The boy smiled. “You took Death into your heart—now your heart is dead, until another follows in the footsteps of our folly. Guard your heart well,” the boy laughed, the laugh sounding mortal, alive. “And a long Winter to you.”
Blogfest Entry Links:
Blogfest Sponsor Link: