Legend of the Loreley

Chapter1: Lore and the Seabound Poet

I saw three ships a-sailin' in from across the sea
Strangers never were welcome but for curiosity
But come they did and when they did, ready they did stand
And things would never be the same in our village on the sand

He told me of the years he'd spent on the stormy seas
But then he spoke a poet's words of philosophy
And when he had to leave again, he asked me for my hand
And I knew I'd never see again my village on the sand

-Village on the Sand-


The wind howled across the beach, chasing the water as it retreated and giving lift to the wings of the sea birds. It caught hold of a stray strand of Lore's hair and she quickly tucked it back into her braid. Ships were appearing on the horizon and she eagerly tried to identify them. The smaller fishing boats had already docked, taking shelter from the coming weather. 
Her eyes suddenly found the ship she was looking for. It's form was sleek, it's cannon slots closed and it's black sails raised to make as much speed as possible as it raced toward the shore. 
The times when strangers came were few and far between. The men would try to keep the newcomers from coming to town, the women would hide in their homes. And the children would sneak peeks. Lore was a young woman now, she should be hiding in her mother's home, but she longed to hear stories of strange places. Surely, observing from a little closer wouldn't hurt anyone. 
She hugged the walls and kept to the shadows, crouched behind barrels and crates and moved ever closer to the only store in the village. Inside she heard the loud voices of men arguing. Things seemed heated for a while, but suddenly there was raucous laughter. Lore wondered what happened but couldn't risk getting closer. Frustrated she looked around and found a pair of dark eyes watching her. 
"So there are women here." the young man said, "The name is Brandt. What's your name fair maiden?"
He was tanned and slim, not yet grown into his full size nor muscled from doing hard labour. He made a little flourish and smiled, trying to charm her and quite succeeding.
"Lore." she confessed and curtsied, or tried to do something that could pass for a curtsy.
"Your eyes are as blue as the summer sky, your hair was made from the sun's gold. Oh won't you be the apple of my eye? Our love is destined and foretold." he declared.
Lore smiled. The poetry was horrible at best but she had to give him points for flattery. 
"You must be a pirate to try and sway me so." she mock-lamented.
"And if I was? Would I be able to steal your heart?" Brandt played along. 
"Perhaps, do you know what's happening inside?" she asked.
"The captain's reaffirming his ties to the village. I believe his father was born here and he's looking for relatives."
"And other things." Lore observed.
"Safe haven, supplies, the usual things." Brandt nodded, "We won't bring you any harm."
"So you'll be staying." Lore deducted.


Chapter2: The Parting

Kind friends and companions, come join me in rhyme
Come lift up your voices in chorus with mine
Let us drink and be merry all grief to refrain
For we may or might never meet here again

-Health to the Company-

The autumn storms lasted for longer than the crew had anticipated. Brandt hadn't minded much as he'd gotten much closer to Lore during their extended stay. Days had knitted together into weeks and then into months. They'd talked, walked and fallen into young love. They often met in the village between the buildings, sheltered from the winds or hugged as they walked toward the treeline or through the dunes, clasping hands and whispering. 
But their time together would end tomorrow. Tonight the village gathered in the only pub and made merry with some ale and fried foods. Since the captain was paying, the entire village was present. Or at least all the men were. Some of the braver women had taken hold of a table and had joined into the merrymaking. They were as loud as the men and in all the commotion and back and forth arguing, Lore had managed to sneak into the back where Brandt was already waiting for her.
"So this is goodbye." he said, feeling a bit sad to leave.
"It can't be helped." she shrugged, putting up a strong front.
"I wish I could stay." he told her, half meaning it too.
"No you don't. You want to see the world, you told me so."
"You want it too. I could ask..."
"No captain would allow a woman on board. Not in the way I would want to join anyway." she said.
"We'll be back by next winter." Brandt promised.
"I know, I'll pray for bad weather." Lore smiled.
"Better not start too early with that." he replied.
"I think I'd prefer some dancing to words." Lore added and pulled Brandt closer to sway to the folk music. 
The melody was bittersweet, a song of parting and leaving it up to luck to meet again. Brandt felt he could sympathise with the lyrics but he had to disagree with the feeling of ever wandering. Someday he would like to come home and settle down. Maybe in this very village with Lore. Or maybe he'd grant her wish and take her on a journey to see the world. But he didn't dare promise it to her when he didn't even really know he'd meet her again.


Chapter3: Longing

And so I come most every day 
To watch the waves rise and fall 
And as I sit here on the sand 
This ocean makes me feel so small 

But I feel my lover by my side 
And he makes me follow my own heart 
We'll be together some sweet day 
When that day comes we'll never part

-Spirit of the Sea-

Spring faded into a hot summer. The weather remained clear and Lore wondered why she even bothered to wish for the autumn storms to come early. It's not like she could influence the weather anyway. But still she went out to the dunes each day and stood upon the highest one, looking at the horizon and wishing for anything to change. Dark clouds to gather, a ship to appear. Anything. 
When autumn came, Lore got her hopes up. It wouldn't be long now. For all she cared, once the storms came they could keep coming. As long as the winds brought Brandt back to her. Maybe he would stay with her, maybe they'd get married and live in a little house of their own, have some babies and grow old together. She sighed, she'd never dreamed of those things but the stuffy life she'd vowed she never wanted, started to look very appealing now. 
More time passed. Still there was no sign of the ship Brandt was on. Some other ships passed through but none had heard from them. Lore was getting worried. What if something had happened to them? What if he had forgotten all about her and was in some other village spending the winter months and getting close to another girl? What if he'd played her? No, she couldn't give in to the despair that was trying to take hold of her heart. She could wait longer. Just a little longer.


Chapter4: Stormswept

Wild were the winds that came
In the thunder and the rain
Nothing ever could contain
The rising of the storm

In the wings of ebony
Darkened waves fill the trees
Wild winds warning
Echo through the air


"Lower the sails! Heavy weather!" someone shouted from the crow's nest.
Just a few minutes later the dark clouds were upon them. The sails had been folded and tied. After years on the sea the crew was very efficient and every newcomer was assigned a task for emergencies. Brandt's was to secure the cargo on the lower deck, more specifically any crates they might be transporting. 
"Ready sir!" he called, to let the others know he was finished and would be securing himself to the railing with a long rope. 
And then he could only wait as the men around him finished their jobs and took their stations. The winds tugged at his growing hair and blew water into his face. The waves came crashing and the ship rolled and jumped on the waves. Creaking when she hit the waters and causing his heart to tense. The loud noises of howling wind and screaming men registered only as muffled sounds. 
Brandt could only hear the beating of his own heart as it's tempo increased until he could swear it was beating in his throat. Fearing he would have a heart attack he tried breathing as deep as he could but somehow the world had upended itself and he ingested a gulp of water.
Coughing he tried to get some air in, but realisation dawned that the ship was sinking. The rope that kept him from being washed overboard was useless now. With cramped fingers he felt for the clasp and after what seemed like long minutes but was only seconds, he detached himself. 
But where to go? He'd been told to swim for land. But there was nothing in sight. Just trying to get to the surface seemed to be impossible. Brandt kept pulling with his arms and kicking with his legs but he could hardly tell up from down, left from right. He started to panic as his brain reached critical oxygen deprivation. He wouldn't make it...


Chapter5: Despair

Still I have to believe
You will return to me
Oh, the snow was falling
Colder than winters I've known

Oh, the stars have stopped glowing
As my heart turned into stone
Somewhere over the sea
You will return to me

-Somewhere Over the Sea-

Winter had come and brought with it the icy northern winds that could chill someone to the bone. Lore's breath froze as it left her mouth, forming white clouds that wrapped her in fog. She was making her daily trip to the dunes where she would watch and wait and wish for Brandt's ship to appear as the day faded into darkness. Then she would make her way back to her family home and cry herself to sleep. 
Because wishing was all she had left. News had come that the storms had claimed many ships and one of the merchants had brought word of which crews were thought to have perished. One name on the list was the Santa Raina and that had brought tears to Lore's eyes. The ship Brandt had been on had ferried cargo as usual, being reliable on time until the end of summer. After that no-one had heard from her. There had been heavy storms and some ships had managed to take shelter in bays. But when the ship and her crew had been late for more than two months most had agreed that she must have sank. 
"Come back to me. If you're out there, come back." she whispered and put all her feeling, longing and love in that sentence.
How much longer would she be able to keep this up? How much longer would she be allowed to grieve? Even if she felt that this sadness would never fade, Lore knew that her parents thought her silly to hold on to a lover from a single summer. But her heart wouldn't let go of the dream she hadn't even dared to share with him. Maybe things would have been different if he'd promised her actual things, instead she'd felt the promise in his kiss. If he was alive he'd make his way back to her. She'd hold out for as long as she could. She could wait a little longer. 


Chapter6: A Godess' Whim

I feel the waves begin to rise
Far across the ocean deep within your eyes
Silently watching as they fall
I can see the future locked within the crystal ball

Strike up the lightening, hear my prayer
Feel the light electric dancing through the air
They live for the moment, lost in time,
Can you see the future locked within the crystal ball?

-Locked Within the Crystal Ball-

First there was nothing, then slowly a light started flickering in the distance. Foggy and tired, Brandt's mind didn't want to cooperate. But the light kept getting closer until it enveloped him and filled all his senses. It smelled of ozone, tasted of rain, sounded like thunder and felt like being pricked by needles everywhere at once. 
"What have we here?" he would later remember a distinctly feminine voice asking.
Of course Brandt wasn't in any state to answer though somewhere his mind registered that the hurt was slowly receding and his burning lungs seemed to have stopped their protesting. He tried to open his eyes but immediately closed them again as the light the creature in front of him exuded was blindingly bright. An afterimage remained in his mind of a wild-haired, fishtailed being. 
A mermaid?
"Not quite." the being answered and with a giggle the creature started chanting about waves and lightning, about the future and the ocean. That's right, he'd fallen in the ocean and was drowning. Maybe this was all just some dream before he finally died. At least he wasn't hurting anymore. 
But as the giggling turned into cackling with a decidedly malicious edge, an excruciating pain rang through his system and he blacked out, swallowed by the darkness once more...


Chapter7: Leaving the Light Behind

Neither myth nor faerie tale
Could keep me from the path to the maze
But eyes upon me I could feel
Hidden in the shadows watching always

Something in the darkness pulled me deeper
Something in the madness eased my mind
Was I awake or was I dreaming?
Cut the strings that bind me to mankind


One evening when Lore'd been praying on the dunes, she'd suddenly felt strangely calm. With an icy cold clarity she'd realised that though she could keep waiting it would change nothing. There was nothing tying her to the village and it's people. Not so long ago she'd wanted to live her life here but before she'd always intended to leave. 
Without a clear plan or taking the time to return home to pack what she might need, Lore got up and headed toward the forest. 
At first she just wanted to get as far away from the village but after a couple of hours of wandering through bushes, getting scratched and often stumbling in the darkness, she'd lost all sense of direction. She wandered aimlessly until dawn came. 
Tired, she sank down onto a patch of mossy grass, hugged herself and slept. 
Truthfully she should have died there from exposure but by some kind of miracle, maybe fortitude built up from spending long hours on the dunes, Lore survived. She didn't question being alive and started wandering again as dusk approached and then night came. She could see no stars, didn't recognise anything around her that might guide her journey. 
As the hours and days passed, she stopped thinking at all. All she did was walk, eating what appeared in her path: insects, leftover fruit that was either unripe or rotting, leaves... All she could see was green and brown. All she could hear was the sound of her feet walking and the cries of the animals around her. All she could smell was herself as her hair tangled and her clothes tore from being snagged. And she didn't feel anything at all, she wouldn't allow herself to feel anything. 
Somewhere during her walking she'd picked up a pitch-black stone. She clutched it without knowing she was even carrying it. But it felt right to hold it close. The pitch-black stone pulsed as it fed of her warmth and stole away her humanity. She was so close to teetering off that edge that it wouldn't take long for the stone to fulfil the task it was made for. And then it'd have to wait again for the next unsuspecting human to cross it's path.


Chapter8: Embracing the Heart of Darkness

See the last leaf shivering
As the winds did blow
Holding tight to what he knew
For fear of the unknown

So the last leaf took to flight
As the winds did blow
Holding tight to what could be
Finally letting go

-The Last Leaf-

Brandt returned to consciousness and kept completely still. He didn't dare open his eyes should the blinding light still be there. He took his time to gather his thoughts. Something was different. He listened. The place was eerily quiet, just the wind rustling the trees. He felt cold but that probably wasn't unusual laying on the stone ground. The floor was rough and grainy when he moved his fingers along the surface. Carefully he opened his eyes to slits and was greeted with darkness. Not complete darkness, regular night darkness. 
He opened his eyes fully and tried to get up, surprised that he wasn't overcome by pain, nausea or any other debilitating status. Looking up he saw no moon but light was coming from somewhere. Looking around he noticed stones, masonry and potted plants. And headstones. Some of the graves around him were topped with crosses, others were marked by square or rectangle slabs. As he looked around more he noticed lanterns with candles hanging from stone arches and crypts. 
Brandt had never been anywhere similar but he'd heard stories. Legends and rumours about vast crypts that had been dug in the depths of the earth to house the undead army that would overrun the world at the end of times. Dread spread through his mind but his heart did not speed up.
Looking down, Brandt noticed his hands, sickly pale with chipped nails. His clothes were in tatters and bruises were all over his skin. On his ankle was a gash where he'd cut his skin on something. The edges of the wound looked fresh but there was not a hint of blood. Brandt didn't feel pain either. He could move around without problem even though the gash opened and closed noticeably. 
In the back of his mind a small voice of reason started to voice a very disturbing thought: What if he actually was in the city of the undead? What would become of him? And was he still alive? That last thought would have frozen his heart if it was still beating. But it wasn't. The strange feeling of wrongness came into focus. He wasn't breathing either. All the small sounds his body had made as it grew and aged were gone. 


Chapter9: Calling Destruction

Oh, the stories we were told
Quite a vision to behold
Mysteries of the seas
In her eyes of gold

In a shade of mossy green
Seashell in her hand
She was born the river queen
Ne'er to grace the land

And the winds would cry
And many men would die
And all the waves would bow down
To the Loreley


How much time did she spend wandering? Lore wasn't certain. Her hair had grown considerably and had curled and tangled. Still, there was a wild beauty in the fragile pallor of her skin, the cool blue of her eyes and the directness of her gaze. When she laid her eyes on creatures, they invariably came to her and were devoured now. She wanted for food nor drink, the empty ache in her chest was for something she thought lost forever. When she felt that ache, she sang, her voice temporarily giving voice to her pain. People in those parts talked about a female ghost wandering the forest and people urged their children to stay close to home lest they be led astray. Lore did not notice any of this. 
At one point, the forest lightened and Lore found herself at the top of cliffs, a river dozens of feet below, winding it's way to the waiting ocean just a few miles down. On the other side of the bank was a large port. Somewhere in her mind a memory threatened to surface, a memory of a young man on a ship. 
Lore slammed the memory down and sang, a sad melody while she looked at the ships, not knowing why she found them so frightening. And whatever power she'd gained in her journey manifested once more. A powerful call that wanted only to be found but not be touched. She brought destruction as ship after ship crashed into the cliffs and sank. 


Chapter10: Climb to the Surface

None of us will ever know
What lies around the bend
All the world becomes your home
On a road that never ends

-Journeyman (Vandraren)-

Brandt struggled through a narrow opening in the wall. He didn't know how long he'd been wandering the maze but it felt like forever and a day. Luckily his now undead body didn't require food nor drink. He didn't feel pain nor got sleepy. But he did need to be careful not to injure himself despite the lack of sensory pain. The wound on his ankle was showing no signs of healing and he'd had to reposition his wrist once after falling.  
There was hardly any light to go by but his eyes seemed to pick up on the most minimal of reflection. Still he'd no doubt missed branches in the path or cracks like this one. He'd tried to keep heading up, hoping to find a way back to the normal world. He'd think about what he'd do there after he'd gotten out. He didn't dare stray on the thoughts that tld him he'd be a monster, an abomination that should rightfully be hunted and killed. All his life he'd believed in that basic truth. Though he was no longer alive, his mind had pretty much stayed the same. He wouldn't be able to harm others. He had no desire to kill or destroy. Just a yearning to feel warm again. 
Just thinking about the sun warmed his heart. Looking closely, he felt that there actually might be more light up ahead. He picked up the pace and hurried, suddenly seeing a bright opening appear. His unbeating heart couldn't hasten, nor could his unpresent breath deepen. But a tightness in his body anticipated what was to come.
Without heeding rational worries about what might be behind that last bend, Brandt almost ran through the exit and felt the sun. She scorched his pale skin but he enjoyed her light either way. He'd  believed he'd be lost in that cavernous crypt until the end of time, doomed to wander until all things ceased. But someone somewhere had taken pity on him.
Having moved back into the safety of the shady cave, Brandt quickly found a new objective. Return to Lore. He didn't know how long he'd been gone. But if she was still waiting for him he'd go to her. If she'd moved on he would stay away and find a way to survive. He'd died once, he was not looking forward to experiencing it again.


Chapter11: A Horrid Realization

Softly Ocean Gypsy calls
Silence holds the stars a while
They smile sadly for her where she falls
Just the time before the dawn
The sea is hushed the ocean calls her
Day has taken her and now she's gone

-Ocean Gypsy-

Lore awoke to singing. A bone-chilling melody that tore her heart apart. Fog left her mind and she realised that she was the one singing. Grief filled her mind as her hands gripped what was left of her clothes, a curiously glowing black stone laying beside her, forgotten. She had no idea where she was and shivered as she suddenly became very aware of the absence of clothes that were appropriate for the season, whatever season that was. It seemed far colder than the last memories of fall that she could recall. A loud crash below her interrupted her thoughts and as she looked down she noticed a ship that had sailed straight into the cliff. 
"What were they thinking?" she wondered.
More shipwrecks dotted the shore so maybe this was just a dangerous spot to navigate. It seemed the captain had been able to turn the ship at the last possible moment and it looked like nobody was too hurt. Small boats from the city across the river were already sailing to come and rescue the crew. 
Lore got up and promptly forgot about the strange accident below. Her mind returned to her loss but for the first time in who knows how long thoughts about Brandt didn't throw her in a well of despair. An internal dam broke and she cried, truly cried for the loss of her young love. 
When her tears had dried, her stomach demanded food. It felt like she hadn't had a decent meal in days. She felt weak and stood on trembling legs. Where could she go? Anger bubbled up, anger about her helplessness, about the lack of people to care for her, about her loss and suddenly rocks were flying and a nearby tree fell down, it's roots broken as if it had been torn from the earth. 
Lore ducked, to fatigued to even cry out. The sounds stopped and she looked up. Nothing but rubble suggested anything had just happened. Lore went to investigate, too tired to be afraid. When she reached the tree she saw that a few leftover pears still clung to the branches and she hungrily devoured them. 
When she looked up again, she noticed a tunnel where the tree's roots had been. How odd. But a tunnel below ground seemed more appealing then the cold air outside. Lore felt so tired, she just wanted to sleep for a week. So she crawled inside and found a spot that was cushioned by earth and leaves. 
Right before she fell asleep she wondered if she should have checked for bugs and poisonous insects but somewhere in her mind she was lulled to indifference as she thought: "I'm the most dangerous one here."


Chapter12: Of Fire and Magic

And on the hills
The fires burned at midnight
Superstition plagued the air
Sparks fly as the fires burn at midnight
Stars are out and magic is here

-Fires at Midnight-

Brandt waited for the sun to set. Lovely as her light was, he couldn't risk burning to a crisp. But even the light of the moon and stars would be an improvement to feeling his way through the dark caverns. The air felt fresh even if he didn't need to breathe and he longed to step outside. 
So when dusk had settled into twilight, Brandt took the leap of faith and gingerly tested if he could withstand the reflective light of the sun. Nothing felt off so he extended his arm, and then stuck out his head. He let out a laugh and didn't look back as he set off into the night. 
But which direction should he take? Where had he even surfaced? Disoriented and high on his newfound freedom, Brandt wandered aimlessly for a while. Finally the dark made room for a prick of light that was neither star nor moon. A flame... and as he approached, it became a bonfire. People danced around it. The air seemed heavier here and the chanting sounded urgent and seductive. 
As he looked up the stars seemed to whirl in the sky though that couldn't be. Although, he himself was now a being that couldn't be so he should probably re-evaluate some of his earlier beliefs. 
A young woman, hardly covered, danced in front of him and looked at him without seeing. She giggled and something in that sound made his blood turn cold and the hair on his body stand up. All he was wanted to flee. 
"Yes go my pet." the young girl said, "That way. She awaits." and she pointed toward the forest.
Brandt didn't hesitate and ran away as fast as his legs could carry him, for once not even worrying about potentially breaking them and risking permanent invalidity.


Chapter13: Journey to the Stars

Once written in the stars
A pathway set in stone
A candle in the night
To guide your way back home
Then somewhere in your memory
Calling from afar It's daring you to see
What it is that's written in the stars...

Still written in the stars
And written in your eyes
The prophecy fulfils
The dream that never dies
A shooting star lights up the night
While the earth stands still
And somehow we lose sight
While following what's written in the stars...

-Written in the Stars-

Something woke Lore from her slumber. Night had fallen and the stars were out. Somehow they looked prettier than ever before and seemed to be almost dancing in the sky. A wild circle like the fast folk music she'd danced to as a child. At the end someone always fell down, unable to keep up the pace. 
Languid, she stretched and waited, content to lounge a bit longer even if something inside of her urged her to move, to look. Whatever did she need to look for? An image of a dark stone, shining, came to mind but she had no recollection ever having had such a thing. But oddly she found it laying just a few paces away. Absentminded, she put the stone in her bra and then forgot about it. 
The sound of running feet caught her attention and she pushed herself into her little burrow, afraid to be seen. Hiding like that, she waited and saw a young man approach. Something about him felt so familiar. Something that made her heart ache and her throat yearn to sing. She wanted him closer...
But before she could utter a sound, he noticed her.
"Lore?" he asked in wonder.
"Brandt." she replied equally amazed, "You're alive!"
Brandt wondered if he should set her right but the moment was too perfect to spoil so he just hugged her. Neither of them noticed that the other wasn't quite right. Neither of them wanted to face reality and were content to stay in that dream. But the stars above them had other plans. As they danced and whirled and played with the fates of the mortals below they shot a single ray of light down toward the young lovers and connected them to a place. Was it another whim? Had some god decided he would put the injustice to right? Or had this all been written in the stars from the moment of creation? And would the answer actually be needed?
Brandt opened his eyes and saw that he and Lore were now on a beach. Quiet waves rolled onto the sand and retreated. Stars were overhead but there were two moons in the sky and somehow his body just knew they were not home anymore.
"What happened?" Lore asked.
"I don't really know." Brandt said, keeping all options open since the world had changed and he didn't know how they fit in all this.
Luckily someone was nearby who could shed light on the situation.
"Excuse me, " the elf necromancer said, "my name is Philippe. Who might you be?"



Lantessama Isle
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Lyric Credits: All songs by Blackmore's Night