A Drunkard's Tale (III)
One of the popular, many tales told by the drinkers of Mondstadt. This drunkard is the one who told the lone wolf of an ancient story.
Legend tells of a lone wolf that roamed a barren wasteland far, far away.
Once, he had been king of his pack, leading them in the hunt, in battle, and in the search for a home... Now, the sole remaining legacy of those days were the scars that covered his body.
He had led the way as they ran across open plains, navigated through abandoned ruins, and passed through the domains of monsters and the Seelie.
The wasteland was a cruel place. The wolf-king grew older with each passing day, and the other wolves gradually dispersed. As time went by, the wolf pack's history faded into distant memory, until finally only the aged wolf-king remained, the sole survivor of its pack.
This wasteland is said to be a land beyond the dominion of deities, inhabited only by the grotesque ghostly remains of fallen gods, where the former palaces of the Seelie now stand empty. So when the solitary old wolf passed by a gray palace and heard the sound of music coming from within, it caught its attention.
"Never before have I heard a sound so pleasing to the ears, whether it be a song of bird or insect, that it stays the pangs of hunger in my starved stomach as this tune does."
Intrigued. the wolf stepped inside the gray hall, trod across the overgrown weeds, and passed by a broken sarcophagus, on which a portrait of the deceased ruler was still clearly visible.
Finally, he came to an inner room. where he saw a fair maiden strumming at her instrument.
Her skin was ashen white and her head was bowed down, her slender fingers gently stroking the fragile strings of the lute as she played a long—forgotten and mournful melody.
The wolf sat down in front of the pale young maiden and forgot all about the pain of hunger, thirst, and loneliness for a short while, as it listened in silence to her song.
"The chirping of insects on a long-gone autumn night is the chorus of exiles, singing mankind's most ancient song as they live out their plight..."
"Stripped of all that the body once held close and the soul once held dear, songs and memories are all that now remain of yesteryear."
"The last singers, the first Seelie, they played their final tune in the hall of angels."
The tiny Seelie playing in the forest were also drawn to the young maiden's tune, and flocked to her to pay their respects.
"What is this song that you play?"
The wolf asked, puzzled, for it understood every line, every word, every syllable she spoke — and yet, hers was a language that it had never heard before, quite unlike that of any other living being.
”A song of the Seelie,"
Replied the pale young maiden in a soft voice.
"Long, long ago, we wrote this song for the human savages. Yet now, we sing it to mourn our own fate."
The wolf began to sing along, albeit clumsily, to the maiden's tune. The wolf's voice was husky and broken, filled with a lifetime of sorrow.
"What are you singing?"
The maiden asked of the wolf.
"This is our song,"
Responded the wolf.
"It sounds ghastly."
The maiden made no attempt to soften her criticism as she continued to caress the lute strings.
"But, you are welcome to sing along with me all the same."
And so, a shared chorus sung by fair young maiden and weary old wolf filled the chambers of the long-abandoned palace. It is said that to this day, adventurers who pass by this place still hear a strange yet harmonious melody sounding from within.
"And then? ...The story ends here?"
The wolf licked its lips, somewhat ruefully, and then said:
"I suppose I shall tell you a story now."
And with that, the wolf cleared its throat and began to tell its tale.
"A Drunkard's Tale (III)" can be collected in Diluc's mansion.