The Birth of the Nymphs is a traditional folk-tale of the peoples whom lived in the Eastern Woods, a diverse group that were influenced by both the Duathe as well as the Eldir'thiirn. It recounts the 'creation myth' of nymphs, and to-day it is considered one of the most inscrutable tales by modern scholars, primarily due to its ambiguous language.
There was once a girl by the name of Alwynn, who dwelled in the woods of Siwan outside of the Blackwald. And when this woman reached her age, she was clad in a dark-green dress, and she went as all girls did at the time to the house of an older woman. And as the recent happenings were tumultuous and greatly uncertain, the girl held the hem of her skirt by her hands as to not dirty it upon the road to the crone.
Despite hearing strange cries in the distance she came across the crone safely, whose house was as all houses were, of dark wood and overlain planks. The crone was sitting by the fire, and there was a hood pulled over her face and small reeds over-running the place. The girl, to her astonishment, found the door open, and now all in a great surprise she spoke.
“Oh miss, it is truly best not to leave the doors open in these times!” And the crone looked back at the girl, whose eyes were black like all crones, and whose hair was gone, and in truth she looked most wicked. But the girl did not recoil at her but the opened door, and the crone spoke in a throaty voice like the seven-eyed goat. “No-no, it is the best in times like these to leave one’s door open.”
Then there was another strange cry. “Oh please, crone, let me close the door, because I do not wish to hear that thing any longer.” But the crone shook her head, and she repeated, with her hollow lips and empty gaze. “No, because the door is meant to be open in times of war.” The girl since had grown in her frustration, but she remembered patience. “Then please, grant me your wisdom, crone.”
And the crone rose upwards, tapping her fingers thrice on a nearby wall. “Because a closed cottage will have men who will always wish to tear it down nearby, but an open cottage will calm their passions, and instead they will be compelled to look upon the cottage, and steal from it, but no man will harm an opened cottage.” The girl had nodded, and the cottage-door was left open but all the walls were closed.
“Then what shall we do now, crone?” The girl inquired, her hands fastened behind her back where the flames laughed nearby. “We must of course undertake what you were meant to undertake.” And the girl’s voice grew suddenly quiet, as the crone half-smiled, the flames resting. “I wish for you to go to the stream where rocks sprout, and drink of it.”
The girl quickly set off now, to find the stream where rocks sprout. And she thought it to be a great riddle, so she was overcome with herself when she had gone to every stream that she knew, and seen that although there were many rocks, there were no rocks that sprouted from any of the streams. But then she remembered the strange cries, and knowing that her mother would be most disappointed if she went back to her, she instead went towards the cries.
But as they grew louder, she saw a creature on the path to the woods that was missing its legs and very read. The girl walked to the strange creature, which had the head of a man and the torso of a man, but the neck of a creature without a neck. “Sir, may you know where is the river where rocks sprout?” She asked quickly, and the man said that he only knew of two rivers, the rivers where faeries were born and the river where men passed.
The girl told the man that she sought a river where rocks were born, and the man said there was no such river unless one believed that men were rocks. “And how may I make a man a rock, then?” The flames now rejoiced once again, and there was the faint gleam of them from the witch’s house. “Men become rocks when they cease to be men.” And of course there was now a terrible confusion all about the girl, for if man were to become a rock of course he would cease to be a man any longer.
The girl left the leg-less man though, who receded to lying down upon the woods. And so the girl decided to go to the river where men passed, and the various echoes of cries grew as she treaded onwards. She came upon the river where men passed on a small island, and there the rivers were as dark as wine, and they were red like the man that had no legs.
But before she could move closer to the shrine, or river, or stream, or place where men were born and men died, there came a younger man. And it looked as if he once had the torso of a wolf, but it had been torn off, and now he had the torso of a boy but the head of a young man. He was carrying many tomes with lurid colors, and it looked as if he was misplaced on the land, so the girl asked. “Why are you here, and is this the river where men are born?”
The man shook his head. “No, this is the river where men are lost.” But the man’s tongue escaped his lips, and it gave the man’s words an odd quality. “No, this is the river where men pass.” But the man seemed to grow angry at this, and he dug his feet into the ground and stomped it viciously, and the girl fled from the man, who was now waving about his hands in frantic motions.
Then a crow spoke that was sitting on a nearby tree.
“This is the river where rocks are born, but it is not the river where rocks are born until it becomes the river where men pass.” The girl looked up towards the crow with incredulity. “Sir, do you know then, how I may make it the river where men may pass?” To which the crow responded. “It has always been the river where men pass, but it must become the river where men pass again.”
And then the girl saw the man waving his hands about, and decided that the man must nourish the river, for it was not right for the river to be such a colour, and she was most fearful to drink of such a river. “Sir, may you come o’er to me, and dip your head within this river.” The man waved his hands about in protest, and a light came upon the river, which made its color a boiling black.
The crow since screeched, and the girl saw the stagnant rocks about the river receding into the ground. The man since stopped, and he ran from the isle. “O crow, is this what I ought to have done?” The crow’s wings flapped indignantly, thus the girl’s head bowed downwards. But the crow, in its generosity, came down to smash his beating wings upon a remaining rock.
The blackness left the river, and becoming a more brilliant red than before, rocks sprouted along the river. The girl dipped her hands in the river and drank fully of the liquids, which bore a sweetness that had never before been granted unto her. And the crow’s wings rose from the waters, and the distant echoes of the cries subsided as the girl continued to drink of the wine river, where boulders began to rise amongst the remnants of the place.
The woman now placed her hand upon the beating crow, its lifeless eyes reeling about from its rebirth. “O crow, what hath I made you endure?” But the crow had been transfigured, its wings were all that were moving now, at rapid paces that stung the girl’s hands when she moved them over to the wings. “O crow, will you not speak?” And the crow in its act had not endowed its wisdom to the woman, but its distinctness of quality. “O crow! What may I do to atone for this, that the river now breaths its gales with such purpose, but you’ve now lost it all!”
The woman looked upon the river once again, where she remembered the river of faeries that the dying man had spoken of, and sinking into the reeds she came upon it. The entirety of the rocks grew and tended to their softened pools, and the girl felt her limbs stretch into that of a shadowy and intangible nymph, the blood gushing all about her.