THE CHOICE BETWEEN HEART AND SOUL
by SILFER DARKFLARE


This is a legend as recounted by the wandering mage Silfer Darkflare, telling us about the Gods in the distant lands of the desert continent of Aeruillin: It deals with the God Har'wyn, who has a difficult decision to make between two Goddesses who both admire him, a decision between the heart and the soul. - You want to know what he actually chose? Well, read for yourself, and learn...

 

n my travels, I happened to stay in Caelum, one of the bigger villages near the bay of the Sky. The stop was planned – rumor had it that Bard Judith happened to stay there, travelling north – which would mean she had news from the Library. I had not been there in a long time... yet, I am digressing from my story.

In Caelum, I earned my bed by storytelling, like in most places. Taverns are fond of storytellers... The tale of Katya Dragonseeker was recounted, and greatly liked. After I finished, and the cheers were settled, the small crowd demanded more. "Fine," I said. "I shall tell you of how a God not known in these lands had to choose between heart and soul, and what He eventually chose." A mug of ale was offered to keep my mouth from going dry, which I gratefully accepted. Taking a deep sip from it, I began:
 

"In a land far, far from here, they worship Gods that differ from ours. One of these gods was called Har'wyn. He was the God of Health and Well-Being, as well as the sacred Guardian of Marriage. And in the early time, before the world was fully shaped, He was wed with Jenevére, the Goddess of Spirit. They lived happily together, and their love was fit for the Gods: strong and kind. The other Gods approved of their relationship, yet there was one who looked to the side when they were wed: Kashmina, the Goddess of Heart. She was the Goddess of all things fiery and passionate, among them love. And yet, she could not bear to look upon the two.

Kashmina was in love with Har'wyn herself, you see. Har'wyn himself did not know of it, and she chose not to tell him. Yet, all patience has an end, and one day Kashmina decided to seduce Har'wyn. How, you ask? She had the power to grant wishes – after all, her element was desire and love. And she knew one thing – Har'wyn and Jenevére had never been together like a man with a woman.

The story tells not how, yet, Kashmina seduced Har'wyn. She was a beautiful woman, like a Goddess should be. Jenevére was beautiful as well, yet, her beauty was less... visible. And while Har'wyn loved her, he missed the passion. Kashmina, on the other hand, granted him what he desired – the passion of being with a woman. And so strong was that passion, that he chose to stay with Kashmina, forgetting about his bride. Some say that magic was mixed into a drink she served him, others tell it differently. Whatever happened, he chose to stay with Kashmina."


I paused, taking another sip of the ale, keeping my audience at the brink of interest.

"Kashmina was happy – after all, she had attained what she had most desired. And as for Har'wyn... he was caught by the spell of bliss, coming from fulfilled desire. At this time, Jenevére did not know where her husband was – she thought that he was walking the world, tending to his duties as a God. And so she waited for him, tending her own duties. Time passed, seasons turned... For the Gods, who are immortal, do not feel the weight of time as we do – a year is but an hour for them. Yet, time passed... and Jenevére began to feel something she had never felt before.

She began to wonder where her husband was... and slowly, jealousy overtook her. She could not find herself rest at any task, or any place. After a time, she did the only thing she could think of: She went to the Goddess of Wisdom, Léarin, to ask her a question. She knew, that Léarin knew all that there was to know, but never spoke of it. Still, she went to her, and asked where her husband was. Léarin watched her with saddened eyes, then spoke: 'I never tell anyone save Nakaishi of what I know, but for you, my dear, I shall make an exception. For jealousy is eating you... and such a fate I wish upon no one. Your husband is with Kashmina, the Goddess of Love.' And before Jenevére tried to ask the next question, she continued: 'Do not ask of me how you can get him back, child, for that even I do not know. The ways of heart and soul are not governed by wisdom. Go now... I have told you more than I myself would like.' Jenevére went away crying, for she understood that Har'wyn had betrayed her. And for three days and nights, she cried..."


At this moment, the only sound that could be heard was the wood in the fireplace, cracking. I took another sip of my ale, and inhaled a puff of smoke from a pipe I had lit sometime while speaking. Then, I continued:

"Har'wyn was still with Kashmina at this time, hiding somewhere in our world. The first days of his life with her were bliss – yet, now a feeling gnawed at the back of his mind, whispering of Jenevére and of his own treachery. The life he now lived was at once not so intense, nor so beautiful: It was... boring. He was granted his own wishes and desires, yet, he was demanding more... something he could not find in Kashmina.

Meanwhile, Jenevére abandoned her duties as a Goddess, and chose to walk the earth as a simple woman, to find her husband. For if she could not find him, then what use was immortality to her? An eternity of torment, nothing else. And so, the seasons changed once again. Jenevére searched for her husband far and wide... without finding him, but for every day without him, her love grew and blossomed. She would find him, even if she would spend all eternity on that task.

And while Jenevére wandered the world searching for her husband, Har'wyn liked his life less and less. Even the beauty of Kashmina seemed false to him. More and more often he wandered the earth... to escape his feelings and his thoughts. It was on such a journey, that he stopped by a lake to bathe and rest. While bathing, a woman came upon him. He quickly hid himself from her sight, for he was naked. She also looked away, being embarrassed by the situation.

After dressing, Har'wyn greeted the woman. They spoke about this and that... however, a feeling kept nagging on Har'wyn's mind, telling him that somehow, he knew this woman. The feeling grew as they talked, until suddenly, he remembered everything. It was like his eyes suddenly could see. 'Jenevére, my love,' he exclaimed, seeing her as who she really was. He cast his arms around her. 'By the Void, what have I done? Jenevére, can you ever forgive me?' he said, tears running down his face. Jenevére, who had just found her lost husband, was overjoyed... and she forgave him.

Thus, they returned to the Void. However, when Kashmina saw that Har'wyn was gone, she also returned to the Void. Storming into their dwelling, she questioned why Har'wyn had left, and whether he did love her. On that, Har'wyn replied: 'I was bound by your spell, Kashmina, and because of that, forgot my true love. For while I loved you in Heart, I love Jenevére in Soul. It was what ate me while I was with you: The absence of true love. Wishes and desire mean nothing in comparison to this.'

What was Kashmina to say? Exactly: Nothing. And since that day, she speaks no word to Har'wyn. Jenevére, on the other hand, lived together with Har'wyn for ever after... and nothing was able to break their bond. For they were bound not in Heart, but in Soul."


Finishing the last line, I let my gaze sweep the crowd. They were all silent for a moment, before the spell of the story left them. Seizing the moment, I bowed and escaped them – for there is a limit on how much a man can talk.
 

Story written by Silfer Darkflare View Profile