The Gosper and the Nymn (part 1)
The Gosper and the Nymn
On an average day in the world of Rhíad, a very curious event took place. Although unprecedented, this event carried itself out in silence behind the lofty chronicles of wars and kings and Star children. It was the birth of a nymn named Rysta.
Like all nymnali, she came into being by the will of the nature that birthed her, emerging from a newly-opened blossom of a kitakil plant– that is, a “muck thistle.” She did not know the lowly perception of her flower-mother, nor had she learned to find the swamp’s scent displeasing. All she knew was the thick, humid air, the rich scent of earth, the light breeze of early autumn, and the various dulled greens, browns, and scatters of thistle-pink in the evening light. Tall straight trees scattered themselves about, but even with decent distance between their trunks, they formed a great canopy overhead with widely-spread branches and large leaves. The newborn nymn felt them smiling down at her, welcoming her to their world. A wind wound its way through the swamp and carried her name to her: Rysta of Reflection and Laughter.
Rysta took a look at herself. She was very thin – a bit bony –with two legs and two arms, tiny toes and long fingers. Her skin blended the beige colors of sand with the light blue of a clear sky. Strands of wavy yellow hair fell from the top of her head to her shoulders, with hints of pink from her flower-mother’s petals.
Stretching, Rysta realized a light weight at her back and reached up behind her.
As soon as her fingers brushed the top edge, a tingle shot through her and made her laugh. Whatever these were for, they shimmered like patterned crystal, and they felt funny. She could move them back and forth, and even clap them together – which evoked another shot of amusement. The sensation of air being pulled between them as they parted delighted her, so she flapped them open and closed a few times, kicking her feet as she giggled.
Just then, a pair of bugs flew past her, then came to a hovering halt just above a nearby murky pool. They had long bodies, with rear ends that hooked up in a prideful manner, and their wings were similar to Rysta’s. Fascinated, the nymn tried to mimic them, flapping her wings with increasing speed. Before she knew it, she’d lifted herself from the kitakil blossom. A wide grin spread across her face– she could fly! This revelation fueled her to explore, so off she went.
She learned the feel of mud between her toes, the splash of water and how it effected her hair, the roughness of bark on her palms. There were tiny scaly fish, and strange lumpy frogs, and long crafty snakes that all interacted around or within the water. Peeking under fallen leaves, she discovered little slimy critters and bugs with tough shells. She felt the weight of rocks and found how fun they were to throw…
Soon her desire drifted skywards.
Staying close to a particularly tall tree’s trunk, she flew straight up until she passed its high branches, broke through its wide leaves, and emerged… into the most breathtaking moment. As far as her large eyes could see, in all directions, the world spread out before her. The swampland she came from went on for miles, but eventually ended into a field that gradually blended into rocky land off to its left, which then turned into a mountain range that wrapped around the left side of the swamp. Rysta followed it with her eyes until it trailed off into the distance behind her. The trees of the swampland went on for a good ways in this direction as well, but ended not far from where lights of a city stretched out and on into the horizon. Of course, Rysta didn’t know the concept of “cities,” so the illumination perplexed and captivated her. She let her eyes continue around to see that the swamp trees changed into other types of trees, bushier and more twisted, with varying heights. Beyond them, more lights of a civilization she didn’t know.
Having made a full circle, she stopped where she’d started and stared into the setting sun and the brilliant reds and oranges that played about a scatter of thin clouds. A new sensation arose within her… something in her core. It came out in vibrations at her throat, softly at first… but it felt so great that she filled her lungs and let it out again, with more vigor this time. The vibrations made her laugh, and the laughter made more vibrations. She squealed with glee – yet another fun sensation in her throat – and spun around in the air. Discovering she could make a beat with them, she let out squeals in sequences and clapped her hands and shook the leaves with her feet and created something of a dance. The trees and wind seemed to enjoy it too, and a radiance filled her wings as she jumped and skipped about, from one leaf to another, twirling and laughing and leaving tiny muddy prints from her feet and whatever flung off of her hair-
Something hard and painful struck the side of her head.
She stopped and blinked, confused. She hadn’t felt pain before…What had happened?
Movement caught the corner of her eye and she quickly looked toward it. There, coming from the direction of the mountains, were three beings that looked a lot like her, flying over the canopy. They had different colored skin – one was a reddish hue, another green, and the third was a light brown –with styled hair decorated by petals or shiny stones. They wore other accessories as well, like necklaces, bracelets, and anklets, and cloth wraps around their busts or waists. The cloth was less about covering anything for “decency” and more for purposes one might wear a shoulder sash – decoration and status.
Two of them held pebbles in their hands, while the red one flew out ahead of them and glared at Rysta. The presumed leader of their group pointed at the newborn nymn with disgust, and her mouth opening and closing in a wide and vigorous manner. Not knowing how to react, Rysta attempted mimicking the same gestures with her own mouth, but apparently this did not please her nymn cousins. Another object struck her shoulder and the pain heightened Rysta’s senses as she glanced around wildly trying to understand where it had come from. One of the nymnali no longer held a pebble. They… had thrown them? Were they throwing pebbles at her? Why?
The leading nymn made large gestures and repeated actions with her mouth.
Angry. They were angry.
Rysta felt a deep desire to communicate with them – to know why they were angry, or what she’d done to make them throw things at her. She did the only thing she knew to be soothing, and let the vibrations rumble in her throat as she gestured to the remaining pebble and declared her confusion with a tilting of her head, placing her hand on her shoulder, then head, where they’d hit her.
Why had they done that?
But her attempts to communicate served only to incite them further. The third nymnali flung the remaining pebble, but Rysta managed to dodge it this time. Furious, the three rushed her, surrounding her quickly and pulling on her, pointing at the muck on her body, laughing but in a way that didn’t look joyful. One of them slapped her face, which forced out a sharp sensation similar to Rysta’s squeals but not delighted. Scared, she tried to lash back in kind, but they grabbed the base of her wings. Unable to fly, the weight of her body pulled against the wings at her back and a new pain shot through her entire being.
Her wings were very sensitive.
To be gripped like that, and be pulled on so harshly, made it nearly impossible to breathe. They laughed as she gasped for air, then all at once they pulled her straight down, letting gravity speed their descent back into the canopy, all the way to the muck of the swamp below.
Once they made it near enough, they released her wings, flinging her face-first into a puddle. Her head got stuck in the muck underwater and she panicked, flailing and wriggling until she managed to pull herself out and raise her head out of the water.
Sputtering and coughing, she wiped at the grime on her face.
The figures of her three assailants laughed and pointed at her as she dragged herself to the puddle’s edge. The leader drifted over to her, arms folded, hair still beautiful and decorated. Rysta flinched, which seemed to appease the other nymn. Grabbing the top of Rysta’s hair, she pulled her head back, then smacked the scared nymn’s throat with the back of her hand and a purposeful scowl. Her lips moved angrily, breath hitting Rysta’s face, as she pointed at the newborn. Then she gruffly released her, scoffed, and flew off – the other two nymnali following after her.
Nothing made sense.
Why had they assaulted her? Why hadn’t they understood her? What had she done to deserve any of the way they had treated her? Weren’t they the same kind of being she was? Was she actually a different being from them?
Something wet fell from her eyes.
Tears were new to her. She didn’t understand them, but the more she realized their presence, the more they came out. Her shoulder hurt. Her head hurt. Her wings hurt – quite badly, in fact, as though they might be torn. She stood there, trembling, waist-deep in the dirty water, and for the first time she wondered if the dirt was bad. The other nymnali didn’t have muck on them. And they had shiny things in their hair, and colorful cloth on their bodies. Were they mad at her because she wasn’t shiny and colorful? Were they mad at her because she was dirty?
She looked at her muddy hands.
Tears fell into her palms.
They hated her because she wasn’t beautiful, she thought. She should try to find a way to get the mud off and out of her hair.
Deep in the rocklands, in fallow fields, or abandoned deserts, a gosper may be born.
Named for the way wind constantly drifts about their lightly-hued fur in wisps, they appear almost to be ghosts. They wander about the forgotten lands where little-to-no life can be maintained, and call out in wordless voices that channel the energy of the grieved and the lost. Their height is near to an average man’s waist, though they can choose to walk on two or four appendages depending on their mood. When closed, their mouths are hidden under their long fur, but when calling out, their mouths can stretch to be nearly the full height and width of their heads, dubbing them beings of terror to any human who accidentally stumbles into their territory.
Most gosper are used to having people and creatures flee from their presence. After all, their voices are loud, and their wailing is frightening. But they wail from a depth that only the earth can understand. So they remain compassionate loners until their time to return to the Hearts.
It so happened that, near the time of Rysta’s birth, a certain gosper became particularly lonely and wandered away from the rocklands of his birth, through the grasslands, toward the swamp. His idea was to reach the edge of a human city where he might watch their lights and listen to their music. He’d heard their loud excitable interactions from time to time. Of course, getting too close could cost him, so he’d stay at a distance. But just a bit, he though. Just for a little bit, he’d like to watch them. He’d return to his rocklands afterward and tell the stones all about it.
As he entered the into the warm dampness beneath the canopy, sun lowering quickly at his back, he caught the glints from a group of nymnali-wings as they rushed off –to a party in the deepwood no doubt. He grimaced beneath his fur. Nymnali. Stuck up little blighters. They thought they were so fancy with their parties and their pretty ribbons and their little powers and their sparkly wings… They never would have known music if not for the humans. They wouldn’t have known parties either. But they acted as though they invented it all, and loved how humans passed on lore that credited them for it.
As per usual, the wind swirling around him warned creatures of his presence so that they gave him a wide berth. The silence surrounding him felt deafening. Much too deafening. He was still a good ways from the humans, he thought. It should be fine. So he opened his mouth wide and let out a long wail. The circle of silence spread out even further. He smiled within himself, knowing that the nymnali – preparing for their party – would likely be forced to move everything they’d set up, since they were so sensitive to his sound. They hated his wails. It pleased him to be their inconvenience; but only in this. Otherwise, he would have loved to party. All that life and energy and fun! He could only ever experience such things from a distance.
A very great distance.
He proceeded very slowly, as per his nature, so that night fell before he’d gone a quarter of the way through the swamp. Now very dark, the soft glow from his light-gray fur stood out like moonlight. He rose to his back legs and walked atop a shallow pool, wind swirling fiercely about the bottoms of his feet, keeping him aloft. But something else glowed too and, as he crossed, it caught his attention– a soft pinkish glow at the edge of the water to his right, near a rock and some fallen leaves. He stared at it, confused, before he realized its form.
What in the worlds was a nymn doing here?
Nymnali stayed in the deepwood or around vibrant colors or pristine pools. He frowned, thinking perhaps this one was taunting him for his presence. Spreading his mouth as wide as he could, he lifted his headback and let out a much more forceful cry. They would definitely hear it in the city if they were listening, but he didn’t care. Everything in his bubble of silence was his turf. This nymn would learn not to cross him.
But the little glowing creature did not appear to flinch, let alone try to leave.
This perplexed the gosper. Why didn’t it move?
Shutting his mouth, he decided to confront this. As his amble brought him closer, he realized that the nymn… was asleep? It hadn’t heard him? If it hadn’t heard him, then it should be dead – but it glowed. Glowing meant it lived, right?
The wind whipped around him and rustled the nymn’s hair and wings with increased intensity the closer he came. At last, he was close enough that the nymn finally stirred, rubbing her eyes and blinking at the perplexing glowing figure standing over her. She never noticed her own glow, however, as it diminished when she awoke.
The gosper opened his mouth a bit and let out a small cry – small to him, anyway.
But the nymn did not react to its sound. She only stared at his mouth and tilted her head.
Suddenly the nymn straightened, as though just realizing something, and her eyes widened. She stiffened and trembled, holding her breath,eyes darting wildly across every part of him as though rapidly trying to analyze him.
The gosper smelled her fear. She was absolutely terrified.
Normally nymnali were obstinate, taunting, haughty… The only reason they didn’t stick around to taunt him in close quarters was their overly-sensitive ears. But any magical creature knew that gosper – being among the most mellow of the mystics – posed no real danger or threat beyond their sound.
He decided to address her properly then, using his limited human vocabulary. He dropped all sound from his voice, choosing instead to whisper so as to prove no threat. “Nymn,” he breathed. “Why stay here?”
The nymn saw his mouth moving, and felt the wind from his breath and words, but didn’t know what he said. She remained stiff and scared and very confused.
“Nymn… You understand me?”
The nymn made no effort to confirm nor deny, she only stared.
A strange thought came to him, and the gosper asked, “Nymn… You hear me?” He slowly raised his left fur-covered hand up to the side of his head where his ears were hidden.
The nymn flinched, but followed his gesture with her eyes. Slowly, she mimicked the gesture with her right hand, touching the side of her head. She questioned him with her eyes.
The gosper slowly lowered his hand and straightened, shocked by this new revelation. “Can not hear me...?” he asked once more, just to verify, but the nymn made no response except to lower her own hand and continue to watch him.
Never in all his time had he heard of a nymn that could not hear. But now, here she was. It didn’t appear to be a trick or a prank. In fact, the more he looked at her, the more out-of-place she appeared from other nymnali. Her pink-and-blond hair was dirty, and her feet had crusts of mud caked onto them. She wore no clothing nor accessories. And something seemed off about her left wing. Was she hurt?
His eyes widened. She was hurt! The side of her head and a place on her shoulder were both discolored and appeared to have even bled a little recently. Why was she hurt? No creature of nature would ever harm a nymn. Nymnali carried the essence of nature itself.
A mystic, then?
But what mystic living nearby would bear malice toward a nymn? Sure he had his own issues with them, but nothing to go so far as to strike one or cause any real harm. Most knew to respect nymnali as extensions of the Heart of Nature herself.
He had to test it. Just once more.
Opening his mouth wide, he let out a decent wail, then closed his mouth and stared at the nymn.
After the whole ordeal with her cousins, Rysta had tried to wipe herself off on the leaves or moss but she hurt too badly, and her emotions were all over the place. It is hard for a nymn to comprehend more than one emotion at a time, so she found herself in a very difficult position. Her body suddenly became overwhelmed, so she climbed up onto a stone and curled up, deciding to focus on stopping her shivering. At some point during this time, she’d fallen asleep from exhaustion.
Not too long after, however, a heavy wind roused her, and she awoke face-to-face with a large glowing stalk of light fur. It just stood there. She had no idea what it wanted. But as it started interacting with her, she became scared – it made movements with its mouth, similar to how the other nymnali had done. It could be mad at her too. She hadn’t cleaned herself off properly yet.
But it seemed to be trying to communicate with her, and its movements were slow and purposeful. She tried to copy its movements. When nothing bad happened, her trembling eased away and curiosity took over. It seemed the creature was connecting with her, and coming to understand her. Moreover, it was very beautiful to look at – glowing and wispy and… standing on the water? Did it have wings? Maybe invisible wings?
Suddenly the creature opened its mouth and let out a breath that vibrated the air around her and even the water. Then it just stared at her.
Rysta grinned. It knew the fun vibrations!
The nymn laughed, then opened her mouth and let out a loud cry of her own, much to the surprise of the gosper. He’d never heard any nymn make that sound. It had no particular tone, but it felt joyful. And certainly, the nymn was smiling.
This warmed the gosper, who let out another wail, then waited.
The nymn giggled and did the same.
And just like that, the two became inseparable friends from that moment on.
(Thank you for reading. I'll be posting their adventures on my patreon page ^__^ You can join and support for $3 a month, and get access to exclusive wallpapers, art, stories, and world lore. May you have a wondrous day!)