THE MAGIC ROBE OF LEENA TÉKAAN
BY TALIA STURMWIND


The tales about this magical robe are numerous. They are told very often and there exist different versions of it, depending on the region in which they are told. Here we we have the story that might have been the first and to which the name "Térquan robe" could be traced back. It is contained in the book Lucirina Télor Veván brought from the Northern bardic school of Féarn’teloría called "Tales about Fá'áv'cál'âr". - Take out your tears-cloth, if you read this story of the ancient Fá'áv'cál'ár. It tells you about a woman caught between love and chagrin, freedom and the chains of love, joy and temptation...
 


his night I want to tell you the story of a beautiful elven maiden and her handsome lover. They lived long, long ago before King Santhros ascended the throne, before Thar united the Northern Santharian kingdoms, even before the War of the Chosen. But I warn you, it is a sad story and you will all need your tear-cloths when I‘m finished.

The gods must have been jealous when seeing the bliss of the young lovers. What else could have been the reason this love ended so tragically? Some say it was their destiny, others are convinced that tragedy could have been avoided with a little good will from all sides - who knows? But let you tell me the story from the beginning and then you may decide for yourselves:

The Magic Robe of Leena Tékaan

View picture in full size Picture description. Leena Tékaan putting on her magical robe in order to fly over the lands like the avásh'veván. Image drawn by Eratin.

Long ago, when the magnificent elven empire Fá'áv'cál'âr far up in the north beyond the high and savage Tandalas was at its height, when its land and people blossomed and the races lived in peace together, when lovely scents were burned every night to worship the gods, an elven girl was born with the name of Leena Tékaan.

Her parents were closely related to the rulers of Fá'áv'cál'âr and the people there held them in high esteem. She was their only child and they loved her dearly. As the years went by, she grew up to be a beautiful young woman. We don't know, what she looked like exactly. It is said, her golden locks were so long they touched the floor and her eyes blue like the cloudless sky above us and her skin like fresh cream. I could add a lot more to her praise, but let me just say, that everybody agreed, that she surpassed the beauty of an early summer morning, that the stars' brilliance faded when she admired the night and that the moon appeared dull compared to her. Well, in short, she was so lovely that your heart ached when you looked at her beauty.

When she came of an age where young elves suddenly find out that to mingle with the opposite gender has its enjoyable sides, a lot of handsome young elves came to make a marriage proposal. But nobody pleased her. She didn‘t even want to think about marrying yet until one day a young human warrior caught her eye. It was Junaid of Salmador.

He hadn‘t come to see her, but was part of a human group of diplomats who visited the elven rulers to negotiate with them about peaceful terms of living together in the realm of the great empire. He was tall for a human, of a dark, but splendid appearance with black long hair, mithril grey eyes and a tanned skin. He lived fully up to the meaning of his name, "young fighter". For a human he was a real vision, his appearance was compared with the fire of the Injčrá setting at dawn and his virility with the caracal of the northern tundra.

 

When the two met for the first time, they fell in love immediately. They spent every free minute together and nobody had seen a love so deep and true before. It is said the Injčrá stopped in her path and the Darkwinds ceased to blow, so that the time would stand still and this love would never end.

And probably they would have been the merriest couple Caelereth had ever seen, were it not for some rules and regulations which had to be followed. The young man had not only to return to his tribe first, but to spend a year or more away from his home to learn of the world, to broaden his ken before he settled down, as it was custom in his tribe. And Fá'áv'cál'âr was not considered to be far enough away to serve this goal. Leena on the other hand was seen as too young for an elven maid with a long lifespan to marry already, her education was not finished yet. It might have been a hidden objection to his being a human though, her parents foreseeing the difficulties a different lifespan or approach to life might cause. So the two had to part for some time. However, they swore each other eternal love but disaster was already lurking over them.

Junaid left to see his tribe and then moved on to encounter the world. Nothing is known today of where he went and what he saw. He returned after three years, more splendid looking than ever, with a sharpened spirit and the air of an experienced leader. He had suffered all those years from not seeing or even hearing about Leena, and though he was distracted quite a lot he didn‘t stop thinking of her every day. He didn‘t believe that she would break the vow they had given each other, but he nevertheless feared that he would lose her and envied all those who were able to live with her.

Leena missed him as much as he missed her, and despite her diving in all the lessons which an elven maid of high heritage had to attend and trying to learn them as quickly as possible, she never ceased thinking of him. She suffered as he did, but in her case she lost interest in all the things which had pleased her before. She got thinner and paler, though her beauty didn‘t suffer from this - it may even have intensified. Not seeing him, not be able to speak to him or to touch him sent her in a state of depression and deep melancholy. Her parents worried and so they asked healers to help her, but it was in vain. Finally an elven mage knocked at their door. They didn‘t know him, nor where he was from, but being desperate to help their daughter, they welcomed him in as he offered his help and promised them to cure Leena from her melancholy.

And Táemehán, as he called himself, was successful. He managed to revive her interest in worldly things, in her studies and in communication with other people. He showed her simple things and taught her again to see the beauty of a common flower as the lotann. It were his magical abilities that helped him to achieve this success. It might have been just illusions, if he sent a swarm of white little birds out of his hands to the blue sky or when he put a wreath of roses around her neck. He knew as well how to change one object into another, he gave a simple grey stone the form of a marblewhite sphere or formed a leaf picked from a nearby bush into a red rose with stunning scent. After some time Leena found her old self back. Of course she still longed to be with Junaid, but it didn‘t hurt as much as before and she found pleasure in studying again. His impressive personality and skill had brought her back to life. And this was the beginning of the end.

We don‘t know much about the wizard. He had the good-looking, age defying appearance of most elves, his manners were very polite and he was a friendly, wise man. But that did not prevent his falling in love with the beautiful Leena himself. He knew that she would never love him as she loved Junaid, that she could never be his, and this knowledge fuelled his desire and his longing for her so much that he began thinking of ways to get her for himself which would have frightened him, if he only had a clear mind and be able to see himself from a distance. Some say, he deceived her, some say, it was her own free will to do what he proposed, but who are we to judge?

It can‘t be said, when all started. Táemehán remained her teacher after she had found life again and after some time, their studies proceeded and they grew closer to each other. He showed her much of his magic abilities, she had no trace of it and could not learn any of it, but she loved seeing them. When did he get aware of his love for her? We don‘t know. But it was in the summer of their second year together, when he showed to her, that he was able to transform not only other objects - a grey dull stone to a white marble, a leaf into a flower, a little dog into a rabbit -, but he could also turn his own body into that of an animal. She had to promise not to tell other people, for this was his secret and he didn't wish to share it with others - except her. Did he plan already then what he carried out later? Nobody knows but him.

Leena was fascinated by it, especially the idea to change into a bird and to be able to fly she loved best. How must it be to roam the skies and to look down on all the little villages! How must it be to feel the air under your wings and to glide over the vast forests with the sun warming your feathers? How must it be to search for hot wind and to soar up into the sky till all the world under you vanishes in a mist?

As winter came and the lessons took place inside the palaces and houses, she fell back into a slight melancholy again, thinking of her love far away. But a sunny spring followed and the desire to fly came back to Leena and one day she asked Táemehán, if he didn‘t know a way to make it possible for her as well. He didn‘t say anything, but a few days later he had a birthday present for her. She unwrapped the parcel and found a velvet cape in it, with a lovely colour changing from Santhran violet to waterberry blue when the sun shone on it. It had a white rim and just inside the rim was a border of white flowers. On the back was a silvery pattern, matching the one which ran along the bottom of the cape. It was so intricate, that Leena could not make out a special form, but when she looked at it the next day, half dreaming, suddenly different animals appeared, one after the other.

She loved the cape as it was and only after several days she dared to ask her mentor about it. He stayed silent for quite some time, but when she thought he would never give her an answer, he simply said:

"It will enable you to fly."

Her eyes went wide and her voice was so low he could barely understand her when she asked: "How?"

He looked again at her for a time, till he answered: "It is easy. Just put it around your shoulders and close the brooch in front of your chest. Then close your eyes and think hard at the animal you want to be. Imagine it, its body, its limbs - and then fill your heart with the wish to be like it - and you will be it in a matter of seconds. But - you need to be naked when wearing the cape, otherwise it will not work, clothes will hinder your changing."

She blushed slightly at this thought, but went on asking:

"And how can I get elven again?"

"Just wish yourself back in your old body, but be sure to be in a safe place when it happens and on a firm ground when you have been a bird. Remove your cape then when back in your natural form, that‘s all. You will be tired afterwards though for quite some time, for changing into another form is exhausting."

"Thank you so much!" She clasped her present tight to her chest, she kissed him softly on his cheek and hurried away.

Maybe it was this kiss which send the elven mage over the border of reasonable thinking and considering what was respectable and decent to do. Perhaps this was the moment when his plan, to seduce her in a way no woman had been seduced before, was born?

We don‘t know, whether Leena tried out other animals she changed into before she found the one she loved most and which should become her second nature. It was of course a bird, an animal which was capable of flying high and far, and this bird was as beautiful a creature as Leena was in her elven form, it was an Avásh-Vévan.

You might not know, what an Avásh-Vévan looks like, for they are birds of the colder regions and are only found north of the Tandalas. No god created them, but Avá herself dreamed them into existence, myth tells us, for they have the grace of the elven kind, with long necks and long beaks. And with their even longer legs they surpass a man in height. Their body is slender and their wings can spread wide. Mostly white plumage , maybe with a hue of grey and silver here and there, is set into contrast to dark grey legs and a nearly black beak. Their eyes - nobody ever described them in the same way, some say that they are grey like a the sky after a storm, some claim they are clear like water running over the stones of a rivulet. But all confirm, that the bird looked at them as only a sentient being is able to - aware of themselves, but with a dreamy expression in them as well. Therefore they are often called "Avá‘s Dreamers".

Well, Leena had chosen the animal which suited her best. When sunrise was near she mounted the high tower which belonged to her parents‘ palace, locked the last room and climbed up to the platform above it. Injčrá had not yet sent her first rays over the rim of the world and so Leena did not fear that anybody discovered her secret. Up there she cast off all her clothes, put on the cape - and took to the skies. First she was a bit anxious, but soon she lost all fear and the world above the land was hers. Now she could look down on all the houses and palaces, tiny as children‘s toys, she saw the Luquador river lying beneath her like a silvery ribbon, the forests were tiny spots of dark green scattered amidst the emerald shining grasslands. In the distances the white tops of the Tandalas were greeting her on the one side and the Imlith Mountains on the other. And she soared higher and higher, and in this moment she was happy and her heartache about her absent lover was nearly, but not quite, forgotten.

It is no wonder, that she became addicted. As a bird she enjoyed a freedom she had not known before - and had not missed either. But now she had tasted what it was like to be independent from all human or elven limitations and sought to fly as often as possible. She was prudent enough though to avoid detection and nobody suspected anything.

One day, when she enjoyed the air rushing through her feathers and the hot air over the forests carried her high above the ground she found herself suddenly in the company of another bird of her kind. At first she was a little frightened, but soon she savoured its company. Or should I say ‚his‘ company? For it was Táemehán who had joined her and from this hour on she never flew alone, but they were always seen together. He showed her more of the world than she had dreamed of, not only did they visit far away skies, but also the vast Water Marshes searching for food or they rested in one of the many hidden clearances in the forests below. However, they never spoke about it when meeting as man and woman, in their own bodies.

You may ask now, if it is forbidden to change into an animal, is it evil to give up your natural form for a short time ? Why was this the beginning of tears and sorrow?

To understand this, you need to know that the Avásh-Vévan is not only one of the most royal birds, splendid in its appearance and gracious in its movements. It is known as the ‚Bird of Love‘ as well, for he mates for life and has one of the longest and most complicated mating rituals of all beasts, and one of the most beautiful on top, with bowing to each other and wrapping their necks around each other and so on. Once a pair has found each other, has spent a certain amount of time together, there is no choice - the pair is driven to it, mating is inevitable.

The summer went by and the two joined flocks of other Avásh-Vévans who came from the north to spend winter in the warmer south. Spring came again and with it another mating season. The other birds went north again, but two stayed. Life seemed to be easy and agreeable to both.

Time flew quickly by and the day came, when Leena got lore that Junaid was back from his travels. Her heart skipped a beat, for she knew, that her airy adventures had to come to an end now. For she still loved this human who had conquered her heart so quickly back then, and she had given a promise she would keep. But despite the thought of how many years of happiness might lie before her she felt the loss of her freedom to roam the skies and to meet a soulmate deeply and was sad beyond tears. But she stopped using the robe.

When Leena and Junaid met again, all sadness was soon forgotten, the old love was back strong and young as ever. The wedding was prepared and it took place soon under a blue sky and the green-golden roof of leaves in the middle of the great trees on the central place of Fá'áv'cál'âr. Before Leena left her parents home the last time as an unmarried young lady, she went to see Táemehán to say farewell. This was the first time she mentioned to him their flights.

"I will no longer fly or use the robe. Thank you ," was all she said. And then she took the robe which she had carried in her arms and laid it back in his. He looked sadly at her and his answer was as short as her announcement. "I understand."

But when she lowered her head, turned around and was about to leave the room, he called her back. "Leena!"

She looked amazed back at him.

"I have a present for you." He walked over to her, took her hand and put a ring in her palm. "If you ever need me, if you are sad or alone, if you wish my company, put on this ring and think of me, please. And keep the robe, I have no use for it."

Leena first hesitated, not being sure if she should take the robe back or if she should accept such a gift as the ring or not, but then she closed her fist around it and put it in her pocket.

"Thanks again!" she said to him, taking the time to look into his face for the last time. And then she kissed him, softly and tenderly, but without real passion and whispered a last "Good Bye" before she turned away and hurried out of the room. This was the first and only time she had been really close to the elven man.

As already said, the wedding took place and the young couple moved into a house of their own. Years went by, children were born and brought up and the marriage was a happy one. Both gained strength and wisdom which they needed dearly, for they had both to take responsibilities within the ruling class. It was not until many years later, when their happy fate changed and misunderstanding, jealousy and maybe the racial difference lead to a bitter end.

Junaid was now of an age, where he could look back on an eventful youth and a successful manhood. He was shortly after the height of his live, having had great times and done even greater deeds, age was not yet a subject to think about, but it knocked at the door. The first grey hairs lightened his once black strands and he couldn‘t compete any longer with the young heroes at the court. Leena however, with her elven heritage, looked as young and beautiful as ever. Her grace and friendly smile conquered so many of the hearts of the young men around who worshipped her, though she never gave them a second look. A first sting of jealousy entered Junaid's heart, despite his love for his wife. The years where it had been a matter of course that she was around him didn‘t prevent him from being angry with his destination of being a human and not an elf. Were it his responsibilities in the government that led him away from the court more often and on longer duties, or did he want to prove himself being able to carry out what others couldn‘t? But not only these voyages kept him from staying at home with his wife, but lengthy hunting parties and expeditions into the far North or the snowy Tandalas. Junaid needed to know, that he still was capable of doing all this and didn‘t realise, that these endeavours stole the time he could have spent with Leena.

Leena‘s three children were grown up and married apart from her youngest daughter, but even the nearly grownup girl went her own way. So Leena was lonely, more than ever in her life. No wonder, that her old melancholy which she thought was banished for all time was slowly sneaking back into her wounded heart, when Junaid was away and the weather was dull and unfriendly for weeks. She longed desperately for the company of her lover, but he was not here and it was nearly as worse as back then before their wedding when she had waited for his return. When she thought she couldn‘t bear it any longer relief came in the person of her youngest daughter Arilin visiting her. She swept in like a ray of sun and suddenly the fire in the hearth was burning hotter and the mists outside lifted.

But what seemed like the first light at the horizon at Firstflame was the last flash of light when Injčrá sets. For Arilin, when she was sitting with her mother in her room, noticed a chest, which she knew well from her childhood, for it contained old clothes of her mother which Leena had liked so much that she didn‘t want to give them away. Every dress carried a memory and with throwing them away she would have had the feeling to throw these loved memories away as well. It was not the first time Arilin looked at some of the dresses and she had put them on as soon as she was old enough to not vanish completely in them. But she had never dug so deep like this day. After much laughter and merriment she immersed herself again in these wonders of cloths and fabrics and nearly fell into the coffer. At the very bottom she had felt a soft touch of something special. Finally she was successful and pulled out a velvet cape. And as she unfolded it before the eyes of Leena something fell out of it and rolled with a silvery tone towards Leena. First she stared at it speechlessly, then slowly her hand moved forward to pick it up.

"What is it, mother? Let see me, it is a ring, how lovely!"

At first Leena held the ring on her open hand and showed it to her daughter, but then she closed her fist around it - like thirty years ago.

"May it have it mother?" asked Arilin, but Leena only shook her head.

"No, my dear, that is nothing to play with, and please put this robe back in the chest as well. No more dressing plays today. Come and let us have some cha‘a at the fireplace." And the cape in the colour of Winterberry blue mixed with Santhrian violet was stored away again.

Was it accident, that Arilin had found the robe and the ring of Táemehán just at a time when Leena was standing near an emotional abyss? Or was it destiny and what followed was written already in the movement of darkwinds who chase the stars ? Did Leena have the choice not to use the robe?

Arilin stayed for some weeks, but then Leena‘s days were as before, dull and uneventful and without love. On one evening she put on the ring and thought at Táemehán, thought of the times when he was her teacher and of this wonderful time together high up in the skies - and on the ground. Memories came back, and though deep in her heart was an insecureness about the rightfulness of their doings back then, she had never believed that what had happened when she had been a bird was of relevance for her live as an elven woman. After she had worn the ring for some days, she put it back, no Táemehán appeared at her door and so she nearly forgot about the ring and the cape.

Junaid came back for the Turning of the Year from one of his journeys and joy came back to Leena's life for a short time. Festivities lightened the dark time of the year up as if it were high summer and dances and great meals made many people happy. All the greater was her disappointment when her husband left shortly after these events to start a second time this winter to a new hunt somewhere south, something which he hadn‘t done before. She accompanied him on horse into town and a little beyond, but then returned to her home. And there it happened. On the short distance back to the town, unable to say a word to her attenders because she was not sure if her voice would not break, she saw the birds - a flock of Avásh-Vévan. And while the tracks of her husband‘s party were still fresh, she decided to fly again.

It was not as easy as it had been in her parents house, where the tower roof had been an ideal place to start and land again. Though her rooms were high up where she could enjoy the view best, it was not as secretive as back then. She had to use a balcony situated on one corner of the building. Probably nobody would ever look up there - but it was in full sight. It was still winter and freezing on this early morning and the cold gripped her when she put the robe around her naked body and stepped out on the balcony, but as soon as she had transformed in an Avásh-Vévan she could bear it and the skies were once again hers. Sometimes she joined the other birds staying for the winter in the Water Marches, but mostly she enjoyed flying. The higher she soared, the less her worldly sorrows did hurt her. But somehow she was still lonely, though she felt better already. So one evening sitting at the fire she put Taemehan‘s ring on her finger. She didn‘t intend in this moment to call him, but it was such a good feeling, to think back on those glorious times when they both felt the air brushing their wings.

She stopped flying, when Junaid came back from his expedition the next day and the ring went back into the chest, together with the robe. Life was agreeable, spring came and the world was green again. Time for Junaid to start his next voyage. Leena didn‘t even wait till he was some days away, but used her robe the very next morning, sad, but frustrated and angry as well. Avá‘s white birds were about to go back to their summer meadows in the north and Leena wished she could go with them. But suddenly she realised, that there was one bird that didn‘t stretch his wings to take to the air and fly northwards. She recognised him as all birds know their partners, even if they are parted for a long time. After a first shy approach, joy was great. A bright future seemed to lie ahead of her. Táemehán was back.

As long as Junaid was away, their time together was as great as if there hadn‘t been thirty years between the now and the then. But though Junaid wasn‘t very attentive it occurred to him after quite some time has passed, it may have been even a year, that his wife seemed as content as she hadn't been for a long time, that she didn‘t any longer mind him going away again and again. After the first suspicions he got more attentive and realised, that she often was away for more than a day, that he got always an evasive answer to where she was going and that she was very tired afterwards and slept the whole day. It didn‘t take long till he discovered her ability to change into a bird, for there had been rumours about her since she had started shape shifting again. One day, he even observed it himself and that very day he forced access to her rooms and took the robe away. From this day on he called her Leena Térquan instead of Tékaan. And this name stuck to her till today.

Leena was devastated and fell into a depression as she had never endured it till then. She couldn‘t enjoy her airy adventures and her heedful companion anymore, nor did she have a loving husband who really cared for her. Being so used to her current life she didn‘t see the options she could have - leaving her husband altogether or just wait till he would die and enjoy her long elven live afterwards. So she just stopped any activities, spent her days in her rooms only and refused to eat anything. It didn‘t take long and she was on the brink of death. Finally, Junaid, who still loved her in his way, brought back the robe and didn‘t object to her using it. However, he hadn‘t known about Táemehán.

Things went quite well from then on, Leena recovered quickly after she was sure that she was allowed to use the robe again, Junaid took care of her and didn‘t go on journeys as often as before. The rest of the summer went quickly and the winter as well. Then spring arrived and with it all Avásh-Vévan migrated into the north - except two, as it had always been. It was then that Junaid learned about the second bird and watched their pairing one day.

He was furious, he felt betrayed, though he didn‘t even know then, that this other bird was a person as well, until Leena mentioned it casually, for it hadn‘t occurred to her, that Junaid might not know it. Junaid went pale this moment, and he knew instantly, that he had to kill this other bird.

Some weeks passed. Junaid didn‘t want to talk to Leena, though she was ready to give up the robe. She longed to restore the love between her and Junaid, but to no avail. So she used the robe again and met Táemehán, secretly first, then with less care for not being seen. And Junaid watched them, trying to find out a their habits. He wanted to kill the other man while he was alone, but he only appeared when Leena took to the air. Finally he thought he had found a pattern, that he could distinct the similar looking birds sure enough and he couched behind a wall, his bow ready for the shot that should end his sorrows. His shot was an excellent one, it hit the bird in a vital part of a wing and the Avásh-Vévan plunged down not far from the place he was standing. He ran towards it and when he arrived his eyes went dark with horror. Leena, his Leena was lying on the ground, naked, for the robe didn‘t cover her nudity, his arrow in her shoulder. He carried her to her rooms, the eyes full of tears. The other bird still circled in the air, but left soon with a loud screech unheard till then.

Leena died that night, for though the arrow wouldn‘t have killed her, the fall from the height did. It is said, that Junaid held her in his arms all night and that when she entered Queprur‘s arms they didn‘t bear any grudge against each other any more. Now that he had lost his beloved wife, Junaid became aware of his faults, but his hate against Táemehán grew as well. As soon as Leena was buried he tried to find out where his rival stayed - and it was an easy task. Táemehán was still around - in his Avásh-Vévan form. We would expect, that he had fled the town after he had realised, that Leena was dead. But maybe he was full of desperation and sorrow as well and felt guilty for her death? Maybe he just wanted to stay near the place, where they had spent so much joyful days together? Maybe he just didn‘t care for his life and his animal form was as convenient to him as any other? We will never know.

Junaid, when he knew the place where he could find Táemehán, went to Leena‘s old rooms, undressed slowly and put the robe on. Then he went out to the balcony and started to change form. But he didn‘t transform to a slender white and lovely Avásh-Vévan, nor did he change to one of the mighty eagles which are said to have roamed the skies back then, no, a much more frightening animal appeared - a dragon as black as nor'sidian velvet, with a hint of dark red over the mighty wings. It was not a dragon as big or mighty as we know from other stories, but he was powerful enough to find and crush a friendly white bird.

It didn‘t take long till he had found the lonely Avásh-Vévan not far outside the town. He lunged at him as if he would be the incorporation of Kalkaroth, the demon lord himself. In his mind he saw the bloody carcass of a once white bird, feathers stained with blood lying around, a slender white neck broken. But it didn‘t happen as he had imagined it.

Just before he was near enough to tear it apart, the bird‘s form changed - into a dragon so huge and mighty that none of the witnesses from the city nearby had ever heard of. It had metallic scales which reflected Injčrá‘s rays so that it sparkled with all colours of the rainbow. He didn‘t breath fire as some expected, he only turned his horned head towards Junaid, and then the human man lay on the ground in his human form, unconscious, naked. The dragon however stretched his wide wings and lifted itself up in the sky. Junaid‘s men came and carried him home but though he didn‘t have obvious injuries he died soon after - many believe his heart just stopped beating because it was 'broken'.

Táemehán, the shape shifter dragon circled for some time over the town, causing fear and horror, but also admiration for his beauty. Then he flew south, and it is said, that he shed many tears which fell to the ground and formed the Crystal Lake.

 

Story written by Talia Sturmwind View Profile