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The Hermit and the Stream (The Stream)

Legends of the lands
By: Glow (2009 Legend Contest Winner)

Long ago, in times of which we have long forgotten, this world knew magic. The air pulsed with energy that gave creatures of all kinds extraordinary powers. Some were merely enhanced by the magic; others were born from it, and more were transformed by it. It was the life spirit of the world.
     
      Mankind was not impervious to magic, but they had substantially more resistance to it than other living beings. Very few among them could wield the powerful energy, and the majority was left unsatisfied and jealous. Still, they could not deny magic’s uses, and the lucky humans who wielded it were sought out as living treasures. These special people were called magi.
     
      The magi were each affected differently by the power they possessed. Some lived in service to others. Many turned to darker ways, convinced in their superiority over the mundane populace. No matter their course, all possessed not only great strength and potential, but a long life. They saw their human loved ones die before their eyes, and they were left behind by almost everyone they knew by the time they had reached a hundred years of age. This kind of life was an incredibly lonely one, and it drew some magi into solitude to live as hermits.
     
      One such hermit sought peace in a dense, dark forest, located in the valley of a huge mountain range that upon sight humbled even the most arrogant of beings. While the mountains were fierce and unforgiving, the forest was dark, mysterious, and deadly. Power emanated from the very leaves on the trees, and the forest was ancient, seemingly untouched and unchanged since its earliest days. It was a sanctuary to all types of monsters and creatures and was known as one of the wildest places in the world, where none of mankind dared to step foot. Depending on the perspective, one could call it the last “paradise” of the world. The old mage defied the unspoken law and entered the forest. He had become very old and lonely, but he had also become powerful. His magic enabled him to stay there and live his days changelessly, separated from the world and its sorrows and joys that all inevitably resulted in pain.
     
      On a bright spring day, the old mage went for a walk in order to stretch out his joints, which had stiffened with age. It was then he happened upon the most magnificent stream he had ever seen. The water shimmered with rainbows and sparkles that seemed to appear both above and below the surface. Despite the color, it was astonishingly clear; he could see the smooth rocks on the bottom. The mage sat there in simple wonder, taking in the sight, when something shined in the corner of his eye. Upon turning, he saw a small egg just under the water’s surface, carried along by the current. It was a beautiful magenta color, with bright blue and purple scales on the shell. He had never seen such a thing in his long life. He took the egg back with him and cared for it as well as he could. Presently, it hatched into a gorgeous, tiny fish, which glowed as it swam.
     
      When the creature had grown to adulthood, he brought it back to the water of its birth and set it free. He had been happy to have had a companion again after such a long time, but he knew that creature existed in magic, and the magic of the wild must be free to do as it pleases.
     
      Still, he walked to the stream from his cave every day, revisiting his fond memories and enjoying the stream's beauty. To his great surprise, his fish returned, bearing another egg. This one was different, however, with two small wings breaching the shell. Thinking it injured, the mage took it back to his cave and cared for it; this time, the creature hatched into a majestic beast with the head and wings of an eagle but the torso of a lion. When it had grown, he brought it back to the river. Before the creature flew away, it looked him in the eye, its own pupils brimming with intelligence and power. We will not forget this, it said into his mind. Then, it swept open its wings and soared into the sky.
     
      After that time, more and more eggs appeared in the river. They were all shapes and colors, and the creatures that hatched were all as different as can be, belonging to land, sea, and air. However, they were all blessed with magic, and they all treated the mage as one of their own. Some even chose to stay with the old, lonely man, and he was happy. Finally, his life came to an end. Upon that time, one of his wild companions brought the old mage’s journal to his descendents. When they learned of the magnificent stream, they all sought to grab eggs for their own. However, only magi deemed worthy by strength of power and heart could approach. Presently, the word spread, and magi from all over the world began to quest for the stream so that they could hunt for creatures of their own. As only the most powerful could enter the forest and survive the journey, the creatures they collected from the stream became symbols of power, authority, and nobility of heart as well. The people eventually called for this important place to be named, believing a name was the prime symbol of existence and importance. Thus, the Stream was truly born, and another refuge of the wild was taken by man.