I`m going to take a wee li`l break arguing for a school of magic for Nature

and post a new ersheghlien description. Comments welcome [except regarding

how bad the poetry is.... ;) ]

It looks like this one will be too long for a single post, so I`m going to

split it up a bit.

*** *** ***

Aurora`s Song

What shall I sing?

What shall you see?

Something secret I

A shimmering

I wind the winds and stir the sky

And dance upon the Winter`s wing

A long and lonesome song I sing

As sweet as simple Summer`s sigh

Am I dreaming?

Am I empty?

Something silver I

A whispering

I soar through sky and hallowed height

And float on misty Autumn`s dew

The heavens fall so soft and blue

A dance; a singing, silver sight

What shall you sing?

What shall I be?

Something silent I

A whispering

I sing along the air stream

And ride Fall`s thin and fingered lights

The soaring sea, and freedom`s flights

A brilliant glow, a blush, a gleam

Art thou seeking?

Art thou for me?

Something precious I

A glimmering

-- by Elian Radash, Bard of the Lammorria College

*** *** ***

Aurora Wilsh was born the eldest daughter of Ethra and Skee Wilsh, cousin

to the Meister of Rheulgard. Throughout her childhood she was fascinated

by creatures of the air, their seeming weightlessness and their

freedom. An adventurous child fascinated by the sky and flight, she was

always climbing trees and dangling dangerously from the parapets of

fortifications of Poden to waft her arms in the wind as if she were a bird

herself--a trait that troubled her parents and nurses no end and earned her

many admonishments. Her love of heights and the wind was something that

her family and governesses were never able to discipline out of her,

however, and as she grew to adulthood her fascination grew to a

passion. She spent all her free hours high in the battlements amongst the

flapping banners of the city. There she would watch the birds, study their

habits and yearn for the freedom of the sky itself.

A good marriage was arranged for Aurora with Karltin Liebshul, young

brother of the Mater of Unbrau. This union was expected to unite two

competing families, bring prosperity to a troubled region and greatly

increase the influence of her family. Aurora`s destiny, however, was not

to be a blushing bride. She was not opposed to the young man himself. He

was typical of his kind... strongly built, rugged, handsome in an earthy

way. He was well schooled in the courtly arts and seemed amenable--even

reasonably enthusiastic for the groom in an arranged marriage. But Aurora

had no interest in him, nor in any man. Aurora longed only for the kisses

of the clouds and the embrace of the horizon.

Surrounded by bridesmaids on her wedding day she asked for a moment alone

in order to compose herself and pray. Though it was a bit of an unusual

request, no one could refuse her, and all acceded to this minor

eccentricity. A nurse sent to collect her when the ceremony was about to

begin found only the curtains of her open window blowing gently in the

breeze. The nurse recognized a strip of cloth caught in a crack of the

sill as part of Aurora`s veil. It seemed clear to all who came running at

the nurse`s screams that the girl had taken her own life by leaping from

the tower and plunging into the icy waters of the Bannalach below.

Aurora`s "suicide" was, of course, a terrific scandal. Her family`s

carefully arranged union was ruined. The wedding feast was instead served

as the wake. Because no body was ever found an empty casket was laid to

rest in a solemn ceremony, and a beacon was lit atop her castle as the

Rheulgard custom when mourning the death of a family member. When this

beacon blew out at dusk it was taken as a sign that the girl`s restless

spirit was unappeased by the proceedings, so they built a small shrine and

held a vigil. The wailing of mourners about the castle could be heard for

the next several weeks.

The first song celebrating Aurora as a beautiful maid trapped by her family

into a loveless marriage was sung at her funeral by bards who had been

hired to play for the wedding. Touched by the circumstances of her

betrothal and "death" bards of the Lamorria College (known for their

emphasis on romantic ballads) composed mournful tunes that brought tears

to the most jaded and graying eyes. The tale of the young girl`s despair

caught the imagination of the populace and spread rapidly through the

domain and beyond--much to the chagrin of her own family and embarrassment

of the Mater of Unbrau. They could do little, however, to halt the

proliferation of these stories.

Aurora became a folk hero within days of her "demise" and as it happens,

the bards have not stopped singing of her since. There is something so

poignant and beautiful about the being who became the Zephyr that it has

caught the hearts and minds of people all over Cerilia. The revelation

that she had not died, but had been reborn in the form of a beauteous

ershegh coincided with a ballad by Rikard Pemator that contained the lyrics:

Sweet Aurora`s sacrifice

Shall take her home, her heart, her life

Sojourn on sweet wholesome maid

Your somber spirit will never fade

Your soul shall burn; a shining light

Like dawn`s first breaking soft and bright

We know the sorrow of your death

Your life spent like a zephyr`s breath

This is the first known reference (loose as it may be) to Aurora Wilsh as

the Zephyr.

When Aurora reappeared in her ershegh form it did not dampen the enthusiasm

of the bards for her as a tragic figure. If anything, it increased her

celebrity. She remains a symbol of hope and purity in Cerilian culture and

literature. Commonly referred to as the Zephyr she is also sometimes

referred to as the Wind Maid, Heaven`s Bride and the Sky Childe at various

times and places. Stories about the Zephyr have spread throughout the

continent, transcended the barriers of culture. Some of the myths and

legends that have been told about her are fantastic, others are more likely

based on truth, but the tales are so popular and have been so oft repeated

that few now know which are fact and which are fiction.

The first reliable story of an appearance by the Zephyr was several weeks

after Aurora`s disappearance. Her betrothed, the young Karltin Liebshul,

was out hawking in his family`s preserve when his bird suddenly veered into

a nearby wood. It did not stray far. Karltin found it only a bowshot in

the forest, perched on the arm of a beautiful maid. The young woman

floated amongst the branches of the trees a dozen yards from the

ground. Her hair and clothes flowed about her with the movement of reeds

in water and her entire form seemed luminescent in the deep shade of the

forest. She and the hawk were deep in conversation. Was this a ghost? A

walkare* sent to gather him up? It was not until she turned and gestured

toward him that Karltin recognized Aurora. At her command the hawk flew

down and lit upon his wrist, and the creature that had been his bride

vanished quickly from sight amongst the foliage of the trees. Karltin

never saw her again, but from that day forward the birds in his family`s

mews seemed to obey his commands with a nearly preternatural understanding

and loyalty. He has become known as Karltin Austringer and his heraldic

device features several birds of prey.

* Walkare are creatures that will be covered in an upcoming post.

*** *** ***

Zealous Zaffer Zenith

Escape; elated egress

Purple perfect palace

Heaven`s hallowed handmaid

Yes, oh yearning youth

Roam, ranged and rarified


Ghostly, lonely

Soaring, shining, aching

Her soul flies high

and free

-- Poetic forms from "Words of the Zephyr"

by Crostina Quinn Kane, Bard Laureate of the Lammorria College

*** *** ***

Since that first appearance the being that became known as the Zephyr has

been sighted on dozens of occasions. Rumors abound that her ershegh form

has taken on weird and fantastic proportions, but the more reliable reports

indicate that her transformation has been relatively mild. She still

retains the basic human form, though she appears to have gained a soft glow

and she has become translucent. Some say that her face has grown thin and

elf-like, provoking nasty speculation that a changeling appears somewhere

in her family`s lineage, or that Aurora herself was such a beast. The

resemblance to the sidhe is disputed by others who say her face has simply

changed, her features softer and more delicate, but decidedly not elven in

shape or appearance.

Fables are told of any ersheghlien, and fame is a byproduct of

transformation. The Zephyr`s story and the proliferation of ballads sung

by the Lammorrian bards, however, have given her a notoriety that rivals

some of the most famous and long-lived beings of Cerilia. Legends and

rumors about the Zephyr abound. It is believed, for instance, that the she

has not touched the earth since the day she leaped from the castle window

(probably true) that she has become a ghost who haunts her family and that

of her former fiance (false) or that her visage can entrance mortals and

cause them to leap from great heights in an attempt to reach her

(false.) Some believe that any man who can catch and wed her will inherit

a kingdom (false) or that she will grant a wish to anyone who captures her

in exchange for her freedom (false.) Her powers are sometimes wildly

exaggerated. Some say she can wring diamonds from the clouds (false) and

that her tears can cause crops to grow (false.) Others believe that she

has been appointed by the gods to act as guardian to the creatures of the

sky and will wreak a horrible vengeance upon those who harm them (mostly

true.) Still more have said that the Zephyr is not Aurora Whilsh at all,

that she truly is a changeling and that Aurora languishes in the Shadow

World, and only in capturing this simulacra can the true Aurora Wilsh be

set free (false.)

Sighting the Zephyr is believed to be a positive omen by many, and some

believe that her appearance can heal the sick, bestow blessings upon crops

or improve fertility. Others point out that since Aurora`s manifestation

as the Zephyr the Apocolypse has not struck, nor has that creature even

been seen. Could she and that creature be waging a secret war? Some

believe that she has countered that being`s power or that she is sent by

forces of good to combat this agent of evil.

Whatever the truth of these matters the Zephyr`s fame has led many to seek

her out. Some of those who hunt her do so in expectation of a treasure or

reward, others have joined the chase simply by the lure of tales of her

beauty. On occasion these hapless pursuers have been maimed by the

outlandish schemes they have concocted to trap the Zephyr or gain her

attention. A makeshift catapult figures prominently in one tale of

youthful exuberance, while another more serious tale is that of the knight

who rode his steed off a cliff while chasing her. None have come close to

capturing the Zephyr. The casualties and the stories of their

misadventures, however, only seem to increase her fame.

Several groups and associations have sprung up around her image, some

reaching a cult-like status. The Society of the Sky is a sect of Haelyn

worshippers who believe Aurora was touched directly by the hand of their

patron and is a living avatar of that god. Aurora`s Handmaids are an

association of young girls who see in the Zephyr as a symbol of purity and

chastity. They have sworn themselves to live by her example, disdaining

marriage for a life of abstinence. Several bards of the Lammorrian College

have dedicated themselves to her service. These Vassals of the Windmaid

claim to have be in communication with the Zephyr, and proselytize on her

behalf. It remains unknown if the Zephyr encourages or is even aware of

such efforts.