An Earthdawn Legend
Oh yes, my large friend, we Windlings have our sad tales. They are not the same as those that your people have, but something that shows how foolish we Windlings can sometimes be, especially in the name of love. So, listen and hear about the origin of the winged flowers of the jungle…
Long ago in the Land of Barsaive, before the time of the Scourge, there lived a windling tribe in the depths of the Liaj Jungle. They were a prosperous and happy people that dwelled peacefully in their jungle home, with little contact from outsiders. They lived on the plentiful bounty of nature and never went unstatisfied for it.
The rulers of the tribe were a wise and happy couple, revered for their wisdom and kindness. They had a son named Kaile, who was their pride and joy and that of everyone else in the tribe. Kaile was a fine child, smart and happy and fair of face and form. Kaile was especially well known for his wings, which were perfectly and delicately formed and always tinted with the shades of the most beautiful blossoms of the jungle. As he grew older he became a very handsome young man.
His parents looked forward to the day when he would find a mate and settle down, but Kaile showed no interest in the heartfelt sighs of the windlings maidens and youths who found him so attractive. He was satisfied with his own company and did not feel a need for companionship. He was never cruel to his suitors, but broke many a heart nonetheless with his polite refusals of their company.
One day, the young prince happened to be hunting in the jungle alone, as was his habit from time to time. He wandered a distance from his home following the trail of the brightly colored jungle birds that provided fresh meat for the windling village. Landing on a branch to rest for a short while, Kaile heard a terrible sound and rushed to investigate. As he peered through the thick foliage from the treetops, he beheld an amazing sight. A stranger, the first that the young price had ever seen, was locked in combat with a fierce sabre-cat. She was a human, clad in strange armor and wielding a flashing sword that she used to fend off the great cat. But her armor and clothing were torn and stained with blood from the great hunter’s attacks and Kaile wasn’t sure if she would hold out against it.
Suddenly, the two were locked in fierce combat, rolling upon the ground. Kaile quickly nocked an arrow to his hunting bow, took careful aim and let fly into the flank of the great beast. The tiny arrow was of no concern to a creature such as a sabre-cat, but the poison coating the arrow worked its way quickly into the cat’s veins, slowing it with its paralyzing effects. The warriors used the last of her strength to drive her blade into the cat and slay it before herself falling to the ground.
Kaile rushed back to his village to get help for the fallen warrior and it took the work of several windling magicians to bring her back to the village. The windlings treated her injuries, which were not fatal. Kaile stood nearby and watched the whole time as the windling healers and magicians worked to aid the fallen warrior and for the first time he felt the stirrings of love in his heart, for the warrior woman was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.
When the healers had done their work, Kaile still remained and kept watch over the fallen warrior, so that he was the first person she saw upon awakening. As the warrior recovered, she and the prince spoke often. He learned that her name was Shara and that she was a warrior an adventurer who traveled the land. As the weeks passed and Shara continued to heal from her injuries, the two became inseparable and Kaile’s love for the human woman deepened. He dreaded the day when she would be well enough to leave his village and never return.
Kaile wished to take Shara as his, but he knew that he could not be a proper mate to her, so different were they, Windling and Human. A dark cloud seemed to hang over him and the people of Kaile’s village grew concerned for him. Days passed and Shara healed quickly until Kaile knew that it would soon be time for her to leave. He thought that he would surely die if Shara were to leave him and so came upon a plan.
Kaile sought out Nazor the Mad, an powerful Ork wizard who dwelled deep in darkest part of the jungle. He left the village late one night and set out without a word to any for the place where the solitary wizard lived. He travelled through the darkened woods with only the light of the pale moon to guide him, carefully avoiding dangerous beasts and twisting undergrowth until he reached the deepest and darkest area of the jungle, where the moss-hung trees blocked out all view of the sky and the world beneath the jungle canopy was always night. Nazor’s hut was decorated with skulls of many name-givers and painted with strange rune and symbols and pictures that seemed to writhe underneath one’s gaze.
Kaile was afraid, but his love of Shara was his passion and he called upon Astendar to strengthen him. He made his way to the hut and was confronted by the wizard Nazor himself, a twisted old Ork, bent and gnarled like an ancient tree. He asked the Windling why he had come so far from his home and Kaile told the sorcerer his tale, of how he loved Shara, but could not take her for his mate. The Ork wizard told Kaile that he could use his magic to make the Windling a proper mate for the beautiful Shara, but that there would be a price: in return the wizard wanted the gifts that were unique to the Windlings, Kaile’s astral-sensitive sight and his beautiful wings. Kaile agreed to Nazor’s terms and the wizard cast a powder made from dried roses and lover’s tears over him, while chanting a powerful spell.
The young Windling grew and grew to the size of a human, like becoming a great giant, but gone were his gossamer wings and dimmed was his windling sight of the magical world. Kaile was saddened by this loss, but Astendar still filled his heart and soul and he did not think twice about what he had lost before he rushed to be at Shara’s side.
What Kaile did not know was that Shara had many enemies that she had made in her adventuring career. When the human-sized Windling prince burst into her tent, eager to declare his love, the warrior reacted with all of her training and struck him a blow with a dagger she kept hidden with her. It is said that the young prince died of heartbreak before his wound could prove fatal. Realizing her mistake, the warrior woman wept bitter tears over Kaile’s fallen form and where her tears and the prince’s blood mingled there sprung up a flower with petals like Kaile’s lost gossamer wings. The Windlings call these flowers kailes after the lost prince and belive that they are symbols of love.
The village was lost during the Scourge, the Liaj Jungle forever changed by the ravages of the Horrors, but it is said that in some isolated patches of the jungle kailes still grow. Legend says that they contain the essence of what the windling price sacrificed for his love and that the flowers are special blooms blessed by Astendar as gifts of true love.
If the tale of Kaile and Shara is true, then the flowers known as kailes may indeed possess magical powers. If the flowers are blessed by Astendar, one might serve as an Enchanted Gift that inspires love as if it were created by the Questor ability of the same name (see The Earthdawn Compaion for more on Questor abilities). The adepts, in the role of matchmakers for some destined couple, might seek out the blooms in the depths of the jungle or be send to find a hapless, lovestruck youth who has traveled into the jungle seeking them. A questor of Astendar might also seek out the legendary blossoms as an act of devotion to the Passion.
The tales of the love-inspiring blooms might also attract the attention of less scrupulous merchants, profiteers and wizards, any of whom would be interested in acquiring some of the flowers for experimentation and possible resale as a valuable love potion or spell component.