There was once a young woman named Lamia, who dwelt in the world of humans, and who longed for someone to love her. While she was lying in her bed one night, and wondering what it would be like for someone to hold her, and tell her that she was dear to them, something amazing happened. She saw a bright light shining through her closed eyelids: and she looked to see a pure white doorway standing open in the wall of her bedroom.
She got out of bed, and walked to the doorway, just past which there was a very small elf standing. “Come into Kildún,” he said, “and find the one you love.”
So Lamia followed him through the doorway. Beyond, there opened up a beautiful world of green grasses, blue skies, and sparkling waters. Lamia had never seen anything like it.
“Come,” the little elf repeated. “Come and find the one you love.”
He waved for her to go on; and then he disappeared. So Lamia went, moving on through the land of Kildún. It wasn’t long before she met another elf: very young, very beautiful, and very playful.
“My name is Caina,” she said. “If you will love me, I will give you wings to fly — and we can soar together for the rest of our days.”
“No,” Lamia said. “Though I should like very much to fly — I’m afraid I don’t love you.”
Caina shrugged, and giggled. “All right,” she said. “Goodbye, then!”
And off she flew. So Lamia went on, until she came into a darker place, and found there a very eerie elf, who walked upon the water of a vast black lake, and who held a dark wooden wand in her hand.
“My name is Medruga,” the elf said. “If you will love me, I will use my magic to make it so that you can walk with me upon the water. We will live here on this lake forever.”
“Only God in heaven can make it so that I can walk upon the water,” Lamia answered. “So I must tell you no.”
Medruga was more hurt by Lamia’s refusal than Caina had been; but still, she simply nodded, and watched sadly as Lamia began to walk away.
A while later, Lamia came to a great tree that stood in the midst of a flowing river. On a throne before this tree, there sat an elf with hair the color of blood.
“My name is Sylphona,” she said. “If you will love me, I will let you drink from this river, and together we will be forever young.”
But Lamia shook her head. “I have always imagined someone that I can grow old with,” she said. “Then, when one day we die, we will be in heaven together. That’s the life I dream of.”
“Very well,” Sylphona replied, waving her hand in a very stately manner to show that Lamia was dismissed.
So Lamia set off again, until she came to a vast hall of stone, in which there sat a pale, horned elf upon a throne carved of marble.
“My name is Borrigan,” the horned elf said. “These two elves beneath me have held up my throne for centuries — but if you will love me, I will call them out, and make them your servants.”
Lamia was horrified. “You remind me of the devil,” she said. “You are cruel to keep those elves beneath your throne. You have no heart; and I cannot love you.”
This was the first of the elves to become angry when Lamia refused her. With a face full of rage, Borrigan leapt up from her throne, and made to strike a blow towards Lamia. But Lamia ran away, and went around the hall of stone before Borrigan could catch her.
Though she was very shaken, Lamia went on. Soon, she came to a shadowy wood, from out of the depths of which many voices cried out in pain. She went into the wood, and soon came across an elf who was covered from head to foot in a dark cloth. She held a wand as Medruga had done, and she knelt upon a stone block, at the foot of which there was tied a very frightened prisoner.
“My name is Malina,” the elf said to Lamia. “I have many prisoners such as this one. Can you hear their voices crying? If you will love me, I will slay them all, and offer you their blood as a wedding present.”
“You disgust me,” Lamia said. “You think you are powerful, because you hold these people captive — but you are only evil. I could never love you.”
“Oh, well,” Malina said. “Perhaps someone else will come. It wasn’t long ago that another girl came by — perhaps only fifty years ago.”
And she settled herself down upon the stone block, to stare off into the trees, awaiting the arrival of another young woman who might like her offer better than Lamia had.
With a terrible shiver, Lamia turned away from Malina, and hurried off. After a time, it grew dark, and it became hard to find her way. But suddenly she made out the light of a candle, which was burning above an elf who hovered in midair.
The elf was holding a box in her hands, and was staring down at it, so that she didn’t notice right away when Lamia arrived. But then Lamia cleared her throat, and the elf looked up.
“Hello,” she said. “My name is Corella. This box holds the ashes of my lost love; and I always hold it, to make me feel that she is near.”
“I’m sorry,” Lamia said.
“Don’t be sorry,” Corella said. “But if you will love me, I will put this box away, and never look at it again.”
Even as she said this, though, she was still staring at the box. It was clear that she could never part with it.
“No,” Lamia said. “I’m sorry for you — but I’m afraid I can’t love you. I hope that someday you find happiness.”
She walked away from Corella, but the elf didn’t even notice her departure. Lamia hung her head as she walked, and wept, because she was beginning to think that she would never find her true love.
But suddenly, she came into an open field, where there was a shining sword lying upon a table. She came closer to inspect the sword; and out of nowhere, a lovely elf appeared. She wore a green cloak, and she smiled kindly.
“I have been waiting for you for many years,” she said to Lamia. “My name is Panya. If you will let me love you — I will use this sword to vanquish anyone who would harm you. I have never had to use it before now, but I would use it every day from now on, if only to protect you.”
She took up the sword, then, and lifted it in a solemn oath.
Lamia looked wonderingly into Panya’s face, and then began to smile. Panya was the first of the elves to say, not “If you will love me,” but “If you will let me love you.” And though it was obvious that she didn’t want to have to use the sword, she was willing to do it for Lamia.
“I will let you love me,” Lamia told her. “And I will love you in return. I will not go back to the world of humans; but I will stay here with you in Kildún.”
So Panya took Lamia’s hand; and they went away together, to live out the rest of their days in the magical land of Kildún.
(This is an original story crafted with images from Brian Froud & Ari Berk’s book, The Runes of Elfland.)