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A Cup to Catch the Moonlight

This comes from Amon, by way of Verruchio's Study.

In a time long before a lost prince became a found King, before a Queen of Darkness was redeemed and died a Queen of Light, before a severed court became whole again, a cup was crafted that would catch the moonlight. It was not forged by the hands of the Fair Folk, but rather by a mortal elf-lord, at the whims of the Fates, deep in the heart of Lethriel, as a betrothal gift for his heart's desire. This is the story of its making, its loss, the quest to find it again, and of it's magic.

An elf-lord, young and fair, did love a maiden so beautiful that she outshone the stars and moon in the heavens, and this maiden loved the elf-lord in return. Long were the years he spent wooing her, and the time came that the elf-lord wished to ask the girl's mother for the maiden's hand. The mother agreed, should the elf-lord bring a betrothal gift fitting the beauty of her daughter, so the lord set out at once to make such a thing.

During the longest night of the year, when the moon shone large and brilliant in the sky over Lethriel1, the elf-lord sat with a bag of purest silver ore to forge a goblet fit to grace his lady's lips. Over and over did he form a cup, but over and over did he melt it back down again, for its perfection could not rival hers. The goblets were fine enough, the gems in them of the highest quality, but it was not enough for her. Finally, in his frustration, he threw the cup back into the melting pot gems and all. He cried out to the heavens.

"Fates most kind and fickle! Help me make a cup so fine that it could catch the very moonlight in its bowl! Give me a cup that will capture the spirit of her beauty!"

And with that, the elf-lord watched in amazement as his hands began to work the silver of their own accord, forging a cup so fine and beautiful, with silver os thin and transparent, that it appeared to be made out of glass! Doubting that his pleas had been so easily answered, the lord held the goblet up towards the moon, and saw with wonder that the beams of moonlight were drawn into the glass and held there is [in] a swirling radiance! This was a gift worthy of his love.

The elf-lord brought the goblet to the mother of his sweetheart the next day, and she approved. The elf maiden excitedly took up the cup, and looked into the bowl, admiring its beauty and splendor. Suddenly, the fates made their true work known, as the silver glow of the maiden's eyes began to fade, as did the luster of her skin and hair. As the goblet filled with the very light of the girl's smile, she crumpled to the ground in a lifeless heap. The cup had indeed caught the moonlight... the moonlight that was the living radiance of the elf-lord's love.

In anguish, the lord sought to smash the goblet, but it did not break, nor did the light spill from it. Rather, the glow sunk into the silver of the cup, causing it to shine all the more. Finally, the elf-lord called for a loyal courier to carry the cup to the ends of the world, and bury it there, so it would drink the light of light no more.

And so did the Cup to Catch the Moonlight blink out of existence, or so it would seem.

Many years later, a Knight of the Unseelie court mistakenly slew his true love, and sought desperately to bring her to life again. It was long past the time when a mortal's spirit would flee, but the spirit of a Fair one can linger long past, for their spirit is made of the stuff of dreams. With her body magically forged into a golden medallion, the knight sought throughout the realm for the power to restore the woman's true form, and call her spirit back into it. It was then he heard of a rumour of a cup that could catch the very essence of life, and hold it in its bowl, and he knew that this may be the thing to restore his love.

The legends said it was buried deep in the heart of a deadly mountain range, where no mortal would dream to pass. This knight was no mortal, but an immortal man with a heart filled with rage and pain, so he did not fear the peaks before him. Long did he search, until he found a cave where light danced among the shadows as if it played upon a pool of water somewhere deep within. When he hurried into the cave, he saw it there, a goblet of silver so fine it seemed glass or crystal instead. He picked it up and gazed into it, but there was no light left in the knight for the goblet to steal, and he carried it from the mountain range without harm.

Once he had returned to the Unseelie realm with the cup, the knight was unsure what to do with it. He knew, almost instinctively, that there must be a way for this miraculous magic relic to catch the spirit of his love, but how to return it to her body? His wandered to a name: Bellesque the Caller, she would one day call the Child Knight back to life. This woman would surely know how to best make use of the cup. So the knight mounted his steed, and charged headlong to the high peaks beyond the Mountain that Touched Stars, standing regal among her fellows.

There atop the mountain was a woman clothes [clothed] in glamour and stardust. The night sky made the fabric of her raiment, the starts the jewels in her hair. In the starry brilliance of evening, her pale face glowed moonlike with wisdom.

"What do you bring me, Niall?" asked the woman, both hand outstretched... and the knight shuddered that she knew his name. He handed the goblet into her left hand, the medallion that was his love into her right. The knight stepped back, and knelt before Bellesque.

"My lady," said the knight, "I bring you the Cup that Catches the Moonlight, and a medallion that was once my love, so that you may call her back from beyond the grave."

Bellesque leveled her astral gaze upon him, and in that instance looked ancient as the sky above her, yet new as the tears sprung fresh upon the knight's cheeks.

"You are sure this is your desire, Niall?" she asked, and when he could only nod his head in desperation, Bellesque held the medallion in the air, crying aloud, "Let true form, reform. Let old form, be form!"

A bolt of light came from the cloudless heavens, striking the medallion, which suddenly became the lifeless body of a beautiful woman, prone on the cold stone at his feet. Bellesque then held the goblet before the knight.

"If this woman be your love, fill this cup to the brim with your life-blood! Do not fear what you hear, but force her to drink, or the result of my calling will be more dire than you could reason! She warned him, and he swiftly slice his wrist open with his sword, spilling the rich garnet blood into the crystalline goblet. A faint light passed through the cup, then dispersed.

Bellesque then began a chant, with words the knight could no [not] understand in his anticipation, fear, and swoon from loss of blood. She placed the cup that catches the moonlight upon the dead woman's breast, shouted for an assistant to light a candle, a strange small man with golden skin, and as the light flickered, she waved flowers, cloth, paper over it, many things. A glow like moonstone surrounded her, and began to flow into the cup, until suddenly, at the knight's feet, the body of the woman heaved a deep sigh of breath, and erupted into a shrieking, piercing scream.

Eyes wide with panic and horror at what he say, the knight scrambled to the woman. Glassy-eyed and screaming, she flailed with obvious pain. "Witch!" cried the knight, "What have you done to her? What foul magic is this?"

Bellesque rushed to him, yelling, "The cup, Niall! The cup! Make her drink!" but he struck her aside, and, unbreakable, the cup rolled over the edge of the cliff and down into the shadowed valley below.

The knight watched in horror as his love began to age before his eyes, hair graying, flesh withering.

"What is happening to her?!" he bellowed, and you could hear his heart break in his voice.

"Fool!" Bellesque shouted, "He spirit was called into that cup! It caught it like moonlight. It was held in your life-blood, that flows through your heart, that carries you love. Unless she drank from that cup, of her spirit and your love, no power of mine could give her that which she requires to live... her immortality!" And true this dire pronouncement was, for the knight could now see what ailed his lady love. She was mortal, and unenchanted, dying from a body that could not withstand the ravages of the Fair Realms time. The knight wept, and for the second time, picked up the body of his drying love. Clasping her frail hand to his lips, he walked off down the mountain, and into the mists.

Somewhere, far below Bellesque's mountain, lies a cup that can catch moonlight, the last drops of red, red blood sinking into the stone beneath it, a faint flow, like the laughter of love, slowly fading to darkness.

1 Verruchio: If this astronomical event is to be taken literally it provides us with an important clue as to when these events may have taken place. The full moon in the month of the long days of winter or Winter Solstice is called the Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon. An odd time for a creative act celebrating love, but perhaps that oddity loaned itself to the twisted nature of the item. However, conjunctions of the longest night AND a full moon are a bit more unusual. This particular conjunction took place last in 399 and recurs roughly every 19 years. Other Full Cold Moon years featured the reforming of the Order of Darkness (380).