The Mortality of the Fae

      The Isles of Britain are, more often than not, a place where magic dwells.  The why of it is sometimes quite confusing.  There are textbooks about ley lines and books of ancient lore.  Commentaries on the magical nature of the soil, and oral druidic practices that wax and wane with the moon.  Suffice it to say, however, all of it is the merest conjecture.  But where certainty lies, that is with the Fae.

          The Fae are often confused with pixies; fairy sprites that float around with gossamer wings and gentle touches as they flit from tree to tree.  In truth, the Fae are something quite different.  They represent the ancient lore that fills the Isles.  The explanation for good and bad omens.  The representation of all that was heathen before the Romans brought Christianity to Britain.  Tied to the earth, but in a world adjacent, the Fae live their long lives free from mortality, and as such free from the concept that true Christianity explains so well: love.
And yet, there is a story, so it goes, that tells of a great love learned by one of the Fae.  And this is her story:
            Day rolled into day, year into year, and still Aine lived.  She was tired of living, for there were no more tales to learn, no more thoughts to unfold.  A millennia is too long to live in any world, and thus she was drawn to the world of mortals.  For Aine was fascinated by mortals; their loves, their works, their deaths.  Especially their deaths.  Death seemed so poignant, filled with all intensities of meaning for the mortals who lived.  How they wept and mourned, keened, and wailed following a mortal's ceasing.  Yet, it never took much time for these mortals to recover the loss of life, for it seemed they worked, and ate, slept and loved all the same in the days after.  A conundrum, and one she thought to never know.
            Aine walked the mortal land, and peaked from between the leaves of trees at these mortals’ lives, until the day came where that was no longer enough.  Seeing a mortal infant left alone in its basket, Aine stole her away in the night.  She would raise this mortal child and discover all the secrets of a mortal life.
            The child, a girl, blossomed under Aine’s care.  Aine called her Airmid and watched her grow.  Soon Airmid was a beautiful woman, who fell in love with a chance hunter who roamed the wood Aine had made their home.  Though the hunter knew nothing of her love, Airmid would watch him through the leaves of the trees.  Until one day the hunter mistook the rustling in the trees for the sound of a deer.  Airmid was pierced through the heart with his arrow.  When he realized his error, his wail brought Aine to the side of her stolen daughter. 
            The wrench that tore through Aine’s being was nothing akin to any feeling she'd ever had.
            As Aine felt Armid grow lifeless in her arms, she recalled a deep magic, older than the sands of time.  Opening herself to the earth and all the forces above it, she reached for that magic.  At once, their places were exchanged.
            And as Aine’s life withdrew, she knew what it was to love.

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