The Rise of the Night Huntress

Carl Babcock

Tal Alud. His name is known, and his exploits are that of legend. But he was and is known as a great leader of our people, the Forested. He brought us together in the times against those of the Landed. Tal Alud the Uniter, the Bold….

But this is not our tale that we speak of this night. Nay, tonight we speak of his life mate. Stellalune. For she was also great and worthy of tale. She who taught those to slay our forest brethren so that we may put meat on our table. She who tamed the Sklarks so that we may traverse the forest we call home.

This is her tale of how she came to be mother of the heavens, and the wind amongst the hunters.

Father Azune was high in the sky that day, his light glinting amongst the branches. Stellalune had crouched high in the tree awaiting her prey. Coming into view a great skarj that she had tracked two days prior. She readied the first of her javelins, her knees coiled to leap about the branches. She lets it fly as she jumps to another branch to confuse the skarj, who roared and reared onto its hind legs. Stellalune followed her pattern: jumping to a new tree branch after each weapon hit its unfortunate mark. The mighty skarj slumped to its belly defeated as the fourth javelin impales the poor beast. Stellalune leapt down and met the beast’s eyes sword drawn, ‘I thank you this day brother of the forest for this bout and appreciate your death putting food on our table’ she exclaimed raising her blade and ending the beast’s suffering.

She bent down to start cleaning her kill and recoiled as her soon-child kicked her stomach. She called for her hand maiden so the kill would not be left to rot…. but the wind changed. Stellalune, sensing a presence on the breeze, she became alert, blade at the ready.

‘Stay thy blade huntress for I just bear a message’ came a voice on the wind as cold as a winter gale.

‘Show thyself then, let your presence be known!’ she barked back.

From the very air itself the figure of the voice obliged the huntress, it’s gaunt face materialized followed by the rest, the fabric of a dark cloak about its skeletal like body, ‘Hear me, for my words bear weight of the old. Thy life-mate, Alud’s time draws near a close.’

‘How can this be so? For he is strong and in his youth. Why are you here with portent of his death?’

‘He is locked in battle with that that is older than us both. I have means that can tip the scales in his favor, or his doom…it matters not to me. No, what matters to me is your decision to what I proclaim next’ the shade continue.

‘And what choice must I make to you that comes on an icy wind?’ was the huntresses reply.

The shade produced a wide wicked smile at her words, ‘For me to save a life, a sacrifice of four lives must be made for one of such renown. Four lives. And a great elf lives.’

The shade’s cloak opened and in the blackness an image appeared, that of her life mate trading blow for blow with some monstrous sea beast.

His eyes were ragged, his arms heavy with the blows. This was an elf that seemed to be barely holding on to life. Stellalune’s face dropped. She was now with the knowledge that the shade spoke true.

Her head dropped for she now also knew what the shade now meant, ‘four lives you want, and four lives you shall have….’

The shade’s smile widened to impossible lengths, ‘know that I have all I should need right before you.’

Stellalune looked about confused, ‘I count only two, shade, for if you have the powers to save a life then you must also have powers over death as well?’

‘Correct,’ the shade nodded, ‘I can indeed use the beast’s spirit…’

‘Then I assume my own shall be the second, but where of the others?’

‘You have soon-childs yes?’

Stellalune’s face grew shocked, ‘you take that that is not even born yet? But that is only three.’

‘I said soon-childs, young elf maiden, for you are to bare two.’ The shade cackled.

‘Only those of the gods would know of such things shade……what name are you hailed by?’

The shade’s cloak closed, tearing the image of a potential death away from Stellalune’s eyes, ‘Is our deal struck?’ the shade exclaimed producing a wisp of a hand with small scythe, offering it to her.

She took the blade, putting away her own, ‘must it be by my hand then?’

‘First the skarj’ The shade continues gesturing to the beast’s body.

With a sigh, Stellalune moved towards the beast and sliced it with the scythe. The spiritual form of the skarj arose from its body and walked over to the shade only to be absorbed into its cloak.

Rising from the corpse of the beast, Stellalune faced the shade once more, and brought the now bloodied scythe blade to her own throat, ‘I shall know my life mate’s savior shade!’

‘Our deal is struck young elf.’ The shade waves his hand, and the scythe slid across Stellalune’s throat, ‘I am hailed as Giemor. Know it well’!

Her body falls, and the spirits rise, compelled to move towards the shade.

Azune’s light casts upon the spirits and roots ensnare their ankles. Giemor flinches in the sun beam, ‘The deal may be struck, Giemor, but we will be claiming these ones for they have a higher purpose.’ Spoke the sun beam.

‘My brother cannot light the mortal world on his own and these are to be the new emissaries of light while he proceeds to other matters.’ Spoke the roots.

‘This is not to be Azune! Gytha’s words cannot be found true!’ Giemor bellowed.

‘They are! Alud’s life must still be saved for he has a part to play in the future of mortals. We have formed you once or needs I remind you?!’ The sunbeams grew stronger heating the words.

‘No no, I yield to thy words Lord Azune…as always, I must…I will go turn the tides in the great battle then. I must away…’ Giemor vanished as quickly as he appeared.

Gytha’s roots raised the spirits to the sky and sculpted them into what is now known to we mortals as the moon and the stars. The night huntress now to sit amongst those of the old gods.