LEGENDS OF DARKSHOM: Elven Legend of the Haunting Bird

One of the sacred spirits of the Elven peoples

copyright January 29, 2007 Christine H. Rietsch

Minnesota Loon painted on a river rock

It was long before the human person set foot on the soil of our world. Only those of us with the true pure blood of the ancient dragons--us elves--walked the lands and the forest. Back then the world was too young to have even a memory. It was a world that had just been born.

The nights were always quiet. The stars hung in the skies and the moons lighted woodland paths. However, everything feared to tread at nightfall.

A creature walked the land. It was a spirit borne from the despair and torment that the Dark God Cohen caused by poisoning the world on the inside. This spirit was made of pain and anger. It was full of loathing for all life--even it's own. This was C'chorlokatan. He roamed only at night to keep all beings in fear. Any that would make the mistake of being out in the dark would find their life snuffed. It would fade away into shadow if the Dark Spirit called C'chorlokatan touched it.

Dusk was there as the sun began to set in the east. A rabbit and a song bird played by the river of Mesla. Both were very young and did not understand the danger that would soon come. Their parents had warned them not to stay out when the sun was gone, but these were only children and they did not hear. Their minds thought of play and happiness and how interesting the world around them was.

Both played and laughed. As the light vanished from the sky the other animals became hushed with fear. Rabbit and songbird did not notice. The fear was so powerful that the other animals did not even try to warn them. You do not make sound after the sun falls. If you do the Dark Spirit will find you.

Rabbit chased Songbird down forest paths. They hopped on logs and Rabbit would thump with his foot. Little Songbird would fluff her feathers, flap her wings, and chirrup as if in mock battle with her friend.

Suddenly they both felt a powerful presence. All animals who were hiding became more hushed--as if they had all forgotten how to breathe. They became as silent as possible. Still Little Rabbit and Little Songbird did not pay attention. Then it was too late and the Dark Spirit was looming above them. He was vaste and blocked out the stars and moons. The air became thick and chill with his presence. Breathing was difficult.

Rabbit looked up and saw eyes in this darkness that were as red flames. His heart raced and he cowered in terror--the things his mother told him were true! C'chorlokatan looked down at the pair of friends. Rabbit was the closest to the Dark Spirit and would be the first to fall.

Something unusual happened. Little Songbirds are timid. They will run away from a nest of chicks instead of guarding it. This Little Songbird was different. Her best friend was in danger and she was too young to know that she should be a timid little bird. She dashed in front of Rabbit, fluffed up her feathers, and chirrupped loudly at the Dark Spirit. She could not sing a song yet--for she was too little.

The Dark Spirit peered down at her. He was stunned. None, not elf or animal or even dragon stood before him. All had feared him and hid. This tiny little thing in front of him was trying to be big and brave. He had not expected this.

"HOW DARE YOU!" his great voice boomed. It made the leaves in the trees shake.

"You leave my friend be!" Songbird snapped.

The Dark Spirit halted. The sight of this tiny creature pretending to be great and big to scare HIM AWAY was far too much. He started to laugh. This time the ground shook.

"What will you do to make me stop? There is nothing that pleases me. No pleasure can you offer! All fear me and die in my presence! Foolish Little Songbird! You are even too young to know a song!"

The little bird was in a panic. No, she could not sing. She did not know of a single song, so she responded,"If I learned of a song, would you listen to me sing it?"

He growled and she trembled. "No bird sings at night. I am all there is. Any noise causes their deaths! None please me."

"What if I found a song? Would you let me try?"

"If you can find a song Little Songbird, and you can sing it--then I will listen. I will even wait here for your return." He pressed his darkness close to her where she felt like she was not going to be able to breathe.

She puffed up her feathers more and tried to be brave. "Will you leave Rabbit be while I am gone?"

He nodded.

"If you like the song will you spare the creatures of the forest? Will they be safe from you forever so they can hunt and live at night without fear?"

"If I like the song, I will make you my slave and Rabbit will live. That is all I will promise," he answered through his anger.

"All life--not just Rabbit."

He was made curious by her bravado and said,"If you do, then you will be my slave. You will be as dark as I and I will control you. I give you one night and I will wait. If you fail to return--I will destroy all life here. Rabbit will watch. Rabbit will be blinded forever and his memories will be of the torture he will witness. I do promise that all of the animals will be safe if you can appease me."

This frightened the little bird for rabbit was her friend and he was a very happy rabbit. She agreed to C'chorlokatan's demands because it was all she could do. She had no choice. So she fluttered off into the night air to find her song.

First she found Fox who was most cunning. Songbird told fox of what happened. He berated her for all life would be killed because of her foolishness!

Songbird then found Badger who was fierce. Her berated her over her silliness to protect a tasty rabbit.

Third she found Racoon who was skilled with tools. He told her he did not have music and berated her for pretending to be bigger than she was.

Little Songbird flew on until she found doe with her babies. The spotted fawns hid behind their mother as Songbird told her story. Doe berated her for not listening to her parents and hiding at night like she is supposed to! Then doe and her fawns ran away in fear.

She then followed a soft sound in the breeze and found Dragonfly who was the silent one on the winds. She asked what she should do. "Fly up!" he told her. "Fly straight to the moon and ask the spirits of the sky what to do."

This was very helpful, so Songbird listened. She thanked Dragonfly and then flew. Songbird flew so far that her wings hurt and she ran out of breath. The clouds were beneath her. The sky was brighter here for the clouds did not cover the stars. To her suprise what she thought was the moon was a great eye of a dragon. She stopped before the eye but her wings were so tired she felt like she was falling. Suddenly a great paw reached out and caught her so she wouldn't fall. The eye blinked. In the light of it she was able to see outlines of scales along a body that seemed to go on forever.

"What brings you here My Child?" came a gentle yet booming voice that rippled in thunder across the skies. She was sore-afraid for this was the creator of the world--the Sky Father.

"Sky Father...I need a song! I need one to appease C'chorlokatan,"she spoke to him rapidly. Her feathers were fluffed and she looked like a ball of fluff in his hand. She told the tale and he listened without interrupting her.

He nodded and smiled. "I can grant you this, but wishes always come with a price Little Songbird. There is even a price when wishes are as noble as yours."

He cupped his other paw and a cloud formed. It gathered in the scaley and clawed paw and pooled to form a silver puddle of water. "Drink of this and you shall have a song greater and far different than any other. It will capture C'chorlokatan and his heart. The price is two-fold. Some who hear your song will fear it, and as the Dark Spirit has stated--you will be bound to him. Your new song will appease him. If you drink of this you will be a dark bird as he said to you, but you will be marked by me. If you drink of this, you will only be able to sing at night or as the sun rises in the sky. If you ever stop your song, C'chorlokatan will once more be loosed on the world. He will be your master to the end of time, as you will be his. Forever mated you will become."

She thought hard. Songbird was little and young. This was a big decision for her. The Sky-Father's nose nuzzled her soft feathers and he gently asked,"What do you chose Little Songbird?"

She fluffed her feathers once more and dipped her delicate beak into the silver water to drink deeply. In so doing she became a large bird like the ducks she had seen. Her feathers grew as black as the nightfall. Her eyes became red beads so she could see in the darkness of the night. Sky Father reached up with his now empty free paw and reached out to some star-light. He then flicked his claws over the changed Songbird so the light spattered across her feathers to make white spots all over her wings.

"You are now the Haunting Bird--the Lokatan. You are named for the one who will be your mate. Go now and sing for him."

She flew as the Sky-Father commanded. Her wings were tired and there were tears in her red eyes for she flew so hard. This dark bird had not even heard her new song yet. She put all her trust in what the Sky-Father had told her and believed her voice would appease the Dark Spirit. So tired...yet she continued until she landed before the Dark Spirit named C'chorlokatan.

"What is this! Who are you?" the Dark Spirit raged. He did not recognize the Little Songbird with her new body and feathers. He backed away from the strange bird a step or two.

"I have your song Dark Spirit. The Sky-Father has granted me this after I visited the Fox, the Badger, the Racoon, the Doe, and the Dragonfly. They guided me to where I had to go, and now I have returned," she answered with bravado that was much more than ruffled feathers. It had become courage.

"He has marked your feathers with the stars of the sky. Why?"

This is who I become. I am no longer the little bird. I have a song and I would sing it as promised."

"You know our bargain if you succeed or fail."

"Your power to change my feathers is not greater than the dragon who created the world. He also has words...that I will not be your slave without you being mine. If my song pleases you...we will become mates in this life. You will keep your promise and the life of the world will be free to do as they please at night. They can do so without fearing you. Even Rabbit."

"You make demands of me?"

She nodded once then steeled herself. Her eyes now red glanced to rabbit who sat near the Dark Spirit. His eyes were wide and round with fear--and would forever remain so. She tried to sing for Rabbit...but her throat was still dry from her journey.

"I need drink. I have travelled far and my throat is dry."

"No tricks Songbird," C'chorlokatan spoke. The bird agreed and bade him to follow her to the nearby lake. He did so out of curiosity. Neither noticed that the sun was just beginning to rise.

The mists were heavy over the water. The bird jumped in and became hidden in the thick fog on the lake. C'chorlokatan followed close so as not to lose her. He could still see the stars on her feathers through the mist. Curiosity was great and frightened Rabbit was forgotten.

Lokatan--the Haunting Bird--dipped her head all the way under the water. She drank long and deep. The Dark Spirit waited and was coming close to impatience. Just as suddenly as she dove, she came to the surface again. The water ran off her oily feathers like rain. She raised her chin proudly and her red eyes looked around her like she was queen of the lake. She opened her mouth and sang.

The first sound came as the wail of a ghost crying over a forgotten love. C'chorlokatan leaned forward for he was intrigued. He did not notice how the morning mists seemed to move in about he and the Haunting Bird tighter.

The second sound was a warble--much like the laugh of a man driven insane. It echoed across the water--riding the surface and cutting through the mist. Every animal heard it and cowered. This second sound caused the mists to thicken and trap the Dark Spirit C'chorlokatan. He watched the Haunting Bird and slowly fell asleep while cradled in the thick cloud of mist while Haunting Bird continued to sing. First she sang the wail then she sang the laugh. Over and over she did so until the sun rose enough to burn the mist off of the water. Both the bird and the Dark Spirit were gone.

Night came again. C'chorlokatan stirred once more. Haunting Bird had been nestled beside him in a bed of grasses and cat-tails on the edge of the lake. She rubbed him with her beak. He tried at first to get free of the nest. His anger was great. Then she sang for him again adn it appeased him.

The animals watched and waited. Every night C'chorlokatan and the Haunting Bird named Lokatan had the same ritual. Every night he became entranced by her song. Every morning after the sun burned away the mists over the lake the pair was gone.

One dusk the moon started to hang early in the sky. It was the eye of the Sky Father watching the events in the lake. There was to come a moment of great significance. The moment came and suprised Haunting Bird.

"I am not your slave or your master. Who am I to you Haunting Bird?" came C'chorlokatan's voice soft and gentle this time.

"You are as Sky Father stated. You are my mate."

"I would be like you...so we can be mates. I do not like this form I have become. Your song shows me the darkness and I must face the evil that created me. I do not wish to be this thing any more. It hurts."

"What is it you wish of me, C'chorlokatan?"

"Little Songbird who is now Haunting Bird, I would become as you. I would sing as you do."

When those words were admitted, the great dragon who created the world reached down from the skies. A massive claw touched on the surface of the cold dark spirit that was C'chorlokatan. Such were Sky Father's words,"Drink of the lake Dark Spirit," and C'chorlokatan did as he was told. The dark cloud that was his body shifted and changed. He became a bird only slightly larger than Haunting Bird. His eye was red like her. His beak was long like her. Sky-Father reached up to the stars and grasped the starlight. He then sprinkled it on C'chorlokatan's back like he had once done to a Little Songbird.

"Sing" the great dragon commanded. The newly formed bird opened his mouth and so did Haunting Bird. Both sang first the wail and then the laugh. The wolves nearby in the trees joined in the song with thier howls. Then came the roar of the cougar. Other night birds began to sing. The spirit of C'chorlokatan was no more. There was only the Lokatan--the Haunting Birds male and female. To this day their song is only heard as the moon falls and the mist is over the water.

If the first Haunting Bird will die, then the Dark Spirit will once more be released from the bird that houses it. His anger will once more be released on the world. For now, however, the song lets Rabbit know he is safe.

copyright: 1/10/2005 Christine H. Rietsch

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