Orpheus and the Nymph

Melia wound her way through the woods.

The forest floor was soft beneath her bare feet, the moss somewhat damp, and where she trod, the flowers bent their heads away in bashful admiration, sighing in her wake. Her skin was fragrant, the scent of dewy nectar on her lips, of honey sweetness in the folds of her hair. She glowed with the light of morning sun upon silken petals, and her skin was softer than the youngest blossom.

She could hear the sound of the lyre, and it raised a flush of joy to her cheeks. It was this sound that had woken her, as it did each morning, the soft notes, the gentle voice of Orpheus.

But today, the song was so sad. It pierced her heart with cold mourning, it was not a sweet song but a bitter lament. What could have struck the heart of noble Orpheus, so that his beautiful music could become so tainted and fraught with longing?

Melia ran, her feet barely touched the ground as she leapt, doe-like, over the mossy roots and banks of grass and bramble. Her silken gown, made of the cloth of spider’s silk and spring frost, fluttered behind her as she flew through the trees. Orpheus, Orpheus, she must bring him comfort, she must join in his song of sorrow…

She found him at the stream. He was bent over his lyre, his black hair cascading, wet with tears, his head bowed, his spirit shattered. Yet, his voice, and the unwavering fingers upon the strings, they did not waver.

“Orpheus!” Cried Melia, and here came the Dryades, weeping and wailing, peeping from behind the trees. Here were the Alseides, and the Aurae whispering, here came Nephele, watching from above, here were the Naiades, drowning in sadness…all the woodland wept, the mountains mourned. “Orpheus!” She cried again. “Why do you play this sorrowful song, why do you strike our hearts with sadness, why pluck your lyre to the tune of death and discord?”

“Because Euridice is dead.” He wept, his tuneful voice breaking like an over-tightened string. “Hades has her now, and music is gone from the world. This song is all that I can sing, the tune of tragedy.”

Melia was struck silent. Her hand flew to her mouth.

She had envied Euridice, as had every Nymph and half the gods…but she could not live without the music of Orpheus. It was her only joy.

“You must go to hades, Orpheus, and steal back the song of your life. For if your misery goes on, all joy will depart, and the Nymphs shall weep forever. Winter will fall upon the woods, and ice shall freeze our hearts as grief has frozen yours. Go, Orpheus! Bring back your beloved from the underworld, and we shall wait with voices ready to sing in praise of your triumphant return!”

Orpheus dried his tears. He swallowed his sadness, and slung his lyre over his shoulders.

“You are right, creature of beauty.” He declared. “I must go. Hades shall not have her.”

“But Orpheus, you must not look back, once you have found her. Look on to me, to all those who love you in this world. The land of the dead is not the place for you – it is here that you belong, in this grove, your sanctuary of music. Remember, Orpheus. Remember my face, remember to go forward…”
(Prompts: beam, enough, [nymphs painting])

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