The Tale of Arian and Nivian
Once, when the world was but a sapling and time was not yet written on stone, there was a boy name Arian. The boy was a curious being, not mortal, but not yet immortal – the first Fae. He had skin as pale as snow, hair as red as a rose and eyes as dark as the night, yet his form was fluid and ever-changing. Arian could fly as the highest bird, or swim as the deepest fish; he could run as a mighty wolf, or flicker as the faintest butterfly, yet the one thing that never changed was his voice.
Arian’s voice was the sweetest and purest thing there ever was, as silver as his tongue yet as gold as the rolling sun. With it, he could make mountains soar and oceans weep, and his songs would move even the coldest of hearts, yet…
He was alone.
Mankind did not yet exist, and the gods of this age were fierce and formless. Arian wandered all over the worlds, searching far and wide for someone like him, yet he could find nobody. Eventually, he came to the gates of heaven where he pleaded with the gods, begging them for a companion, or if not, for death. The gods, stirred by his voice, reached out and touched the ground below, and there was made a lake, its surface as still as a mirror.
‘Go to the lake,’ the gods told Arian, ‘for there you shall find what you desire.’
Overjoyed, Arian began the treacherous journey, travelling for a hundred-and-twelve days and a hundred-and-twelve nights without rest. Eventually, the boy arrived at the mirrored lake with tears in his eyes. Fireflies danced across the waters, and the light of the moon pierced the very depths of the lake, and yet – there was nothing there.
Overcome with grief, Arian collapsed by the lakeside and wept, his bitter tears falling into the water.
‘Why are you crying?’ he heard a voice say.
‘I cry for I am alone,’ Arian replied, looking up.
Before him stood a girl, stepping across the surface of the lake with her bare feet. Her skin was as pale as dew and her hair was as dark as jet, her lips as red as an apple. Water ran off her naked body, and Arian was captivated by her beauty, unable to speak.
‘What is your name?’ the girl asked softly, sitting down beside him.
‘I am called Arian,’ he replied. ‘What is yours?’
‘I am called Nivian,’ the girl said.
‘That is a beautiful name.’
Nivian giggled. ‘You may have my name, if you would like. All I ask is that you give me three things in return.’
‘Anything,’ Arian replied immediately, for he was in love.
Nivian looked out across the lake fondly. ‘Firstly, I would like the light of the moon, so that I may see your face whenever I wish,’ she said.
Arian stood, and caught the light of the moon in his hands, working it with deft fingers. He kneaded it until it was hard like glass, breaking it apart and scattering it across the lake so that the surface was alight with white fire.
‘Secondly, I would like a house, so that I may live in it with you,’ said Nivian.
Arian grinned, his heart warming, and reached into the bowels of the earth, pulling out of it marble as clear as ice. He worked tirelessly, shaping it with his words until it was a splendid mansion, gossamer curtains billowing in the wind.
Nivian marvelled at his works, delighting in the moonstones and running through the house gaily, filling its halls with laughter.
‘My third wish is the most important,’ said Nivian, looking at Arian sternly. ‘Do this for me and I shall be yours for all eternity.’
‘That is all I could ever want,’ Arian said, and it was true.
‘Give me your voice,’ said Nivian, ‘so that I may hear it and be close to you wherever I go.’
Arian smiled, and he sang, pouring all his soul into his words. He sang for a hundred-and-twelve days and a hundred-and-twelve nights, and all the while Nivian listened and cried, for it was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard.
When his song finished, Arian’s voice spanned all corners across all worlds, each word a tree, dancing in the mists. He could no longer speak, yet his voice was all around them.
‘I love you, Arian,’ Nivian whispered, and she knew that Arian felt the same, for she had heard it in his song. They kissed, and as their lips touched they died, for they were neither mortal nor immortal, and even then all things must end.
Yet some say that Arian and Nivian live on, their souls entwined in the three gifts. A lake, bathed in moonlight, a house, filled with laughter, and a voice, flowing with love.