Strange Tales of Aeran: The Sorrowful Reaper
The night was darker than normal. The sky blanketed in clouds, a sliver of a moon days from new cut in moments through the thick gloom. The threat of rain on the horizon, the scent of the air damp and earthy, yet clean and new. A dull rumble of thunder caused a bassy din as it rolled over the countryside.
It wouldn’t be long until the cool refreshing spring rain would shower the land, bringing with it new life to the world it touched. But unfortunately it would also bring with it tragedy. Though that was the way things had to be. For something to live, something must die. A close circle, where a creature whose life has reached its end becomes food for the earth, and what grows from the earth food for another and so on and so on Ad infinitum.
The bellow of thunder threatened a night of downpour. Storms like this were always bad. Though They brought life, They also made a mess of things. Washing away life and all indications it was ever there in the first place. It was heartbreaking seeing the aftermath of the worst storms. It was strange battlefields always had so much more loss of life but the sight after a particularly bad thunderstorm always left a more melancholy feeling. Creatures that didn’t choose this, and had nowhere to run, go or hide. It just left such a cold feeling in the heart.
Through the gloom flickered a pair of close pale blue lights. Tall above the ground moving, floating like apparitions, leaving tracers in the pitch black. The strange pinpoints of light almost danced with the grace in which They moved. Despite the grace the pace was one of a lethargic pace. Lacking any haste.
Slipping through the trees, vanishing a moment before illuminating the area again, casting a hauntingly beautiful glow. A break in the cover of clouds above let a beam of silver moonlight cut the dark, though only dimly shown just enough. A pale spectre of a figure, skin as pale as newly fallen snow, hair the colour of ash. Draped in a strange dress the evoked a visage of many different types of fungi though all white and nearly translucent but somehow still dry despite the downpour.
One with this occupation was not allowed to intervene, only make sure the ones passing felt safe and unalone after the traumatic events. But that did little to change the situation. It never did get any easier, hearing Them afraid, unready to go, angry, but the ones that hurt the worst were always the sad ones, the ones sad for Themselves or the ones sad for the ones They are leaving behind. Those were enough to make the heart feel like it was being torn out each and every time.
All the stories the humans told of Them were ones that seemed to hold intention to fear death, to fear life coming to an end, though the end was often scary and often too soon or unjust, neither was it the end or should death be feared. They would admit dying could and usually was scary and not without reason or justification but Death itself was nothing to be afraid of. All They wanted to do was help and make one unafraid after the inevitable happened. They felt for each and every soul They carried the weight of showing to the otherside. To meet those that came before, and to wait for those that will come later.
As the rain picked up They watched the river rise. Rushing under the force of the extra water, crashing and breaking against the bank, spilling out like an over boiling pot. Flooding the already oversaturated dirt. They floated just above the water, close enough to feel the cool rushing past Their feet but not being touched. All around just beyond the occasional crash of thunder and the roar of the water They could hear the animals of the forest around Them. Skittering and clomping away, getting to safety. The shouts of a few humans nearby though much too far to pick up what the words were. But despite all this They remained nearly stone faced as They glided along now following the water as it washed over the land. Picking up speed, crashing against trees causing groans, and creeks of Their trunks. Many would hold some would not. If They did fall They would help start, new life.
They closed Their eyes and listened as Their face slowly shifted from its stony visage to one of sadness. Opening Their eyes the expression was blank as though pushing down that mournful feeling. Hearing the terrified weeping of a poor soul caught in the undertow, trashing and scrambling for dear life. But it wouldn’t be enough, They knew soon it would tire and be swept away, crashed against the current and swept under. They followed at a distance, keeping up with the frothing waves that rushed down the river banks. But They no longer heard the cries of dread and dismay, when They noticed, Their lips twisted as They forced Themselves to not frown.
They landed Their bare feet touching the cold wet ground as water danced past Their ankles, and looked around to find the poor lost soul. Eventually They found it. The sodden wight desperately dragged itself free of the torrent of water and onto terra firma. Its chest heaved rapidly, They slowly approached the poor thing and knelt down.
Speaking softly They touched the creature laying painfully exhausted in the They washed over silt and muck. “Shhhh….” They whispered calmingly “You don’t have to fight anymore. I can take you somewhere safe, somewhere dry and warm far away from here.” They spoke softly.
“I’m…s-so tired….” The thing struggled to communicate with Them and They were comforted.
“I know…I know.” They said sadly. “But its time we go.” They smiled softly, as the spirit rose from the body They held the ethereal form of the creature. “Let’s go home.” They said holding the poor rabbits spirit close as They both faded to the lands beyond the veil, where only departed souls may travel.