The Faun is Dieing

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The faeries who had, once upon a time, fluttered amongst dusky, gold leaves with silk spun wings of vibration in the air as they danced and played in the evening's final shafts of sunlight now lie dead or dying amongst dank, brown foliage, leaving little broken bodies, nothing but empty husks of dull green, red, and blue. Now, the evenings are dark and shadowy, and no golden light has filtered through the spreading boughs of the trees above for many a year.

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Forest floors are now littered not in patches of bright tones of red and amber but in dark, soggy leaf mould that smothers even the faerie-cases in its choking grasp. It poisons the sprays of flowers that used to spring up from the old, velvety green of the now long-forgotten grass, and over this damp, clogged floor staggers flaky, cloven hooves, their once-dark sheen now pale, faded, and sickly. Connecting to spindly legs quivering with untold effort of supporting the emaciated body above them, the hooves pick their unsteady way along, clicking against stones and pebbles and every now and then stumbling in the mush and nearly sending their long-suffering owner pitching headfirst to the ground.

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The Faun is dying. Lifting the broken shells of the faeries with skeletal hands and raising them to eyes misty with cataracts, he tries his utmost to breathe life back into them. Even then, the dead stay dead, and the Faun can only weep from eyes that, once so bright, have not seen for generations. Breaths ghosts over pale lips and a silent, silvery wind stir the wisps of grey locks that fall from beneath curving, flaking horns.

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He used to play. He and the princess. He remembers.
Together, they ran and tumbled in the golden halls of the Underland, his hooves clicking loudly on the marble floors and her pretty laughter ringing high in the twilit caverns, and her smiles would draw smiles out of him and everyone who saw her, too. The Faun is a creature of two worlds, however, and now and then, he inevitably must visit the Topland, and, this time, what he finds there makes him weep. His faeries lie dead, gold is turned to brass, brass is turned to ash, and all the colours of the world seep from his eyes in the wake of what the Great Mother, in all Her infinite wisdom, called Man.

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Once upon a time, he would spend a little while on the Topland and feel himself dying, but on his return to the Underland, his youth would return in a flash of color and joy and life and love, and his hooves would click on the marble floors. But now... now, not even the joys of the princess can reignite the spark or undo the dousing that has left Him so devoid of all that once made him who he was.

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He steps. He stumbles. He falls.
The Faun is dying, and there will be no comfort for him. He cannot move. He bleats for his faeries to come and help him, but they lie as husks in the mush. He is alone. Not even the princess dares to venture onto the Topland to find him, for fears she will once again be stolen away by its empty promises.

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He is dying. He is alone...

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...but as he lies there...

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...he can see the sun once more.

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The winds whisper through the branches...

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...and he knows...

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...he would not change this moment...

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...for the world.

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