There’s something about Nysaris that invites folk in. And I don’t mean the usual Faire, ‘Welcome! Everything is for sale’! invitation. No; there is something far deeper inside Nysaris, a city built around a goddess of hope.
The Realm had such a Classical Greek atmosphere that I was surprised to find myself in the company of a white raven. Since Apollo began the practice of shooting the messenger when the (white) raven who brought him the news of a lover’s infidelity had the audacity not to peck out the lady’s eyes, the god cursed all ravens to be black from that moment on. I’d hesitate to venture into a place like Nysaris if I were a kvitravn. For now, I’m calling him Sciathán Bán, because it’s a silly play on the Irish poem Pangur Bán. “Pangur” just means “cat”, and “bán” is “white”, so I checked with Brán for the word for “raven”— which I failed to pronounce after half a dozen attempts. He suggested “sciathán”, which means “wing”, instead— and that, it turns out, I can pronounce, with practice. I’ve made it clear to him that we are avoiding Apollo at all costs.
∴ Days have passed since I began my journey through the Fairelands. I have meet numerous peoples of all cultures, mingled with the crowds and listened to the stories of the outcasts. Everywhere I stop, if even for a moment, the glistening lights of hope seem to bloom from the people and the lands itself.
∴ As the biting breath of winter meanders through the lands, the spirits of nature sleep, ruminating in the Dream World of their experiences the year prior. They all share the same dream, and so they use this time to impart their wisdom among their brethren, and absorb all that they have seen to their core.
Once a year, together with the world that readies to rise forth from its slumber under the heavy white coat of winter, some spirits of nature awaken, too. Not all of them do, for some experience such contradicting, heavy events, they require additional time.
It has been what humans would describe as ages since I last walked the soft, springy bedding of earth and grass. Last my eyes were open, suffering and pain had clouded my vision, and I required rest to process it all. But that, to us spirits, is okay. My hooves moved as they had never stopped moving – and yet, there was a weight to their motions I was not familiar with. My arms reached up, fingers clinging to the trunk of a tree, and I tried to pull myself together. I looked down; I did not look as I knew I looked.
A first glance whispered that the world around me was foreign. Surely, last I had been awake I had treaded this same earth, yet everything looked remarkably different. Uniquely, I ached. The air in my vicinity burst with the pain; some black smoke circled my being, as if choking my attempt at living.