Chapter #21 – Songs of Sorrow and Tears of Amber

As the years passed, Rocatis grew old, but not nearly as quickly as other humans. She retained much of her youthful beauty as she aged. Many of her visitors said it was a gift from the fae. She always smiled when she heard this but would never tell them they were right. Though it was not in Gordon's power to make her immortal, he could keep her looking young and fit for some time. He could not, though, slow her growing older with each passing year. This greatly sorrowed him and he tried not to think about the time that would come all too soon when the day would come that he would no longer have her.

"Stop being such a depressing lump," she told him playfully on her sixtieth birthday. She hardly looked older than forty. Though her hair had gone grey, there were few lines on her face.

"I'm just afraid," he whispered, watching her still nimble fingers writing a letter to her niece Boriage. Her sister had passed away a few years before…which had only made him fear for her life more.

"You should be grateful for every day you still have with me, not continually being depressed for what might come one day." She smiled at him, her eyes still as bright as ever. "I am still well. I probably have another ten or fifteen years in me yet. So buck up and be happy. I hate seeing fae sad. I've penned enough of sad faerie tales to not want to see one for myself."

"I'm still afraid." His voice was still quiet. He had spoken in whispers for a while now, as though every day she were on her deathbed. "I don't want to lose you."

"And I don't want you to have to lose me, but there's nothing we can do about that, now is there?" She set her pen in the inkwell and took his hand. She was still smiling. "I am mortal, and all things mortal die." She leaned to him and kissed his cheek. "You have made my life wonderful, my sweet knight. You have helped make my life full. You helped make my life better than I could have ever imagined it could be. And I thank you for everything you've given me. So, please, don't be sad while I still live."

Reluctantly, he nodded.

"Good." She kissed his cheek again. "Now smile. I love your smile so much."

And he did so, though she knew he did not truly feel the smile. She would not push him more, though. She knew how he felt. She secretly felt sad at times, too. She often dreamed of being made immortal, of being allowed entry into the secret other world that the fae actually lived in that she had not been allowed to enter since she was an adult member of their world. But she was still happy. If it had not been for the fae she probably would not have run away in the first place and this wonderful life in Oakglade would have not been known to her.

The winter this year was harsh. It had been very cold since not long after autumn started. It had snowed a lot as well. Indeed, it had been snowing for the past two days. She stared out the window for a moment at the still falling snow before she returned to penning the letter to her niece. Though Gordon's faerie magic kept her young, she could feel age creeping up around her. But she was sure she would have time left to write at least one more book, hopefully more. Her hands had slowly become arthritic over the years and her writing had become slower, but the love people had for her new faerie stories seemed to only grow faster.

She still had visitors to her glen every year. Most came in the spring when all the flowers bloomed. Her niece had moved closer to her and so visited at least once a week with her children. Rocatis had lived vicariously through her niece, loving her great-nieces and -nephews like they were her own. Her pleasure at seeing the children and playing with them had made Gordon very happy. They were some of Rocatis' favorite times as well, at least when it came to mortals.

Twice a year the fae would hold celebration in her glen – one on the first full moon after the spring equinox and the other on the first full moon after the autumn equinox. The sounds of music and song and laughter filled the woods those nights. She would be made to sing songs and dance, for her beloved had finally taught her. They were wonderful times. And she was told that many mortals tried to come to her glen to see the source of the sounds, none were allowed to get close enough to see. That always made her smile happily, knowing that she could share this secret with her faerie friends.

As the next few years passed, though, Rocatis could feel her age taking her over. Her hands started cramping more when she wrote or weeded. She began dozing off even as she worked in the garden. She had a feeling those ten or fifteen years she was hoping to have past her sixtieth birthday may not happen and Gordon saw her start to fall into her own depression. She said nothing about it, though, not wanting to make her beloved more worried.

Then came that long dreaded day… Rocatis felt too weak to get out of bed one day early in the autumn during her sixty-seventh year. Gordon stayed beside her, curled up with her, holding her tightly. She reveled in the touch of her still youthful love. They talked about the old glen that day. Both of them cried…

That night she died. Gordon was the one that started the lament that all faeries sung when one of their own left the world. All the forests in the kingdom echoed his lament in mysterious voices that woke many mortals. Faerie lanterns were seen when people went to see the source of this mournful sound, all traveling in the direction that Rocatis' home was in. The lanterns of the fae had not been seen in generations. And in no other place in the kingdom were these sightings more prominent than in the woods around Valyid. This made the rumors start the next morning that Rocatis had died, for they doubted nothing else would move the long silent fae to journey from their secret homes.

Boriage went to her aunt's home the next day with several other people that knew her well. They found all manner of creature around her home, watching the house like statues. They also noted that the forest seemed thicker around the edges of her glen. When they approached the cottage they spotted her fresh grave surrounded by the white and red flowers that were the symbol of faerie grief – trayls. It was among the roots of her beloved oak and a stone was placed upon the mound of earth that read: "The greatest friend of the fae lies here, immortalized still though they denied her eternal life. Remember her always, Lady Rocatis Wyllonia of Oakglade."

The deceased woman's niece looked up when something hit her on the head. She realized the tree was crying, but not in tears… She picked up the thing that had hit her on the head and saw it was a tear-shaped piece of amber that dissolved in her hand as she looked in awe at it. She went to the tree and hugged it, letting it know that she, too, grieved for the loss of her aunt.

Then the group of friends heard an unusual song coming from the trees. As they looked, they saw little birds all around that had often been seen in the glen. They were the red and blue rocatis birds that she had long ago told them she had taken her name from. But their song was not the usual lovely tune they sung but one of sadness that echoed the laments heard in the forests the night before. They were grieving their namesake as well.

Over the next days, mortal mourners gathered in Oakglade during the day to mourn the loss of the kingdom's greatest faerie tale writer. At night the immortal ones would congregate and sing their mournful songs in honor of their lost mortal member. And for a fortnight, the fabled length of time for outward mourning for the fae, the forests all throughout the kingdom felt empty and no animals appeared for the hunters.

Yet, even years after her death, Rocatis' glen held a magic that none could deny. It soon became a gathering place of dreamers and writers and children. Wild creatures would come up to the visitors at times and act as though they were raised by hand. And those very few whose hearts were true enough would come back with stories that they had met a faerie there. Most of those stories were of a young blonde haired young man bedecked in blue and fuchsia who lingered by the grave of the author.

But, what seemed to surprise the people of the kingdom the most was that, even after some time had passed, the song of the rocatis birds did not cease its mournful tune. So moved, in fact, were these creatures over the loss of the songstress and friend of the fae that bore their name, that over time their colorful feathers began to fade. Within a decade after the passing of the storyteller their feathers had turned to black and grey. And, every year on the anniversary of her death, they seemed to congregate in Oakglade to lament her in the grand oak tree that would weep its tears of amber.

Bards began to tell the tale that the faerie that was seen in the glen was her beloved who awaited her return. They believed that she would be reborn to continue her storytelling in another life. For they knew that the tales of the faeries have no end…

…and neither does a faerie's love.