“The Ballad of Hugh and Lilia,” as recorded by Katarina Starsend, sourced from a hidden library near Vestige Lake.
Translator’s note: Countless versions of the tale of Hugh and Lilia have been retold, and reenacted, across the ages. The following emerged from one of the oldest and most detailed accounts this scholar has encountered.
You can read more of the Ballad of Hugh and Lilia in Song of Parting, a prequel novella in the Age of Azuria high fantasy series! The shortened passage below is from an earlier draft of Hugh and Lilia’s story, updated for the novella.
You can also listen to the beginning of Hugh and Lilia’s story in a special bonus episode of the World of Azuria podcast!
A twig snapped beneath Hugh’s errant boot-step. Any creature inside the nearest acre would know where he was. He’d promised to bring back game and yet here he was, distracted by a strange spirit in the woods.
The energy between the trees was restless, searching. Watching. He could feel them speaking with one another in the collected roots and fungi beneath his feet. They passed not only nutrients but information. Another of the lycan are here among us. Watch them.
He and his people never took more than their share, but the earth still seemed hesitant to welcome them, Fenrir’s second people. “Lead them, help them adapt,” the Great Wolf had said. Hugh was trying.
A flash of movement to his right, a blur of pale yellow sunlight. He turned to follow. He’d need to carefully backtrack and travel to a new section of the forest to have any hope of a deer or elk. But there was no harm in following this spirit’s summons.
Thin tendrils of light filtered through the canopy ahead, creating rays of their own and lighting the world in a warm green glow. He continued, deeper into the wood than he’d yet ventured.
The greens grew darker as the trees thickened, as though dusk had fallen early and he had entered a realm of twilight. Still he felt the spirit’s call.
“Why do you hunt in my wood?” The woman’s voice darted around the trees as though they spoke and not she. But he’d seen her golden lips move.
“I-forgive me, lady. I did not know this was your wood.”
“Did you not?” She tiled her head to the side and dark red curls cascaded over her shoulder. “Are you sure?”
Katarina recounts a shortened version of this tale to Iellieth before she transmigrates to Hadvar in chapter one of Buried Heroes, which you can read here.