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Tale of Homecoming

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Moran was a handsome young Alatien man with strong wings and a hardy beak. He lived below the white cliffs, where the water was salty and the fish plentiful. Moran was betrothed to Anara, the loveliest girl there ever was. She was fair, and slender, and tall, and her eyes were the clearest shade of blue.

But Moran was hesitant to enter into union with Anara, to become her husband and to give her children. He would always come up with a new excuse for why they had to wait a little while longer. Now, Anara was skilled at pottery, but even more so with stories, and the Teller of the village had many times asked Anara to be her apprentice, to learn all the Tales so that some day she could take over as the Teller. But Anara refused, knowing that if she did accept the Teller's offer, she would never be able to marry Moran, because a Teller cannot have a husband nor children of her own. Her refusal to become the Teller's apprentice was unheard of, because who could refuse such an honor? But to Anara, love was more important. Her love for Moran was beyond honor, beyond reason. But despite Anara's love, Moran was still hesitant.

And then one day he told Anara, "I am traveling on a pilgrimage to the far shores. I will be gone for some time, and while I am traveling... and in accordance with our traditions, I will be freed from our betrothal. Not until I come back will the bond between us be renewed." It was not unusual for a young Alatien man at that time to go on a pilgrimage, and the bond between the betrothed would often be cut while he was away, to be formed again upon his return. But Anara was heartbroken, because she had thought that Moran would soon want to marry her. When Moran saw her tears, he said to her, "Do not weep. When I come back, I promise I will marry you. Just wait for me, and stay with your pots, to make the time pass quickly." And then Moran left on his pilgrimage to the far shores.

Many years went by, and Moran had exciting adventures on the far shores, but by and by, he began to long for home, and for Anara, and now he had finally realized that he loved her, and that he wanted to marry her. But when he returned, he could not find Anara amongst the pot makers. He went to visit her family, and they told him that, after waiting for many years, Anara accepted the Teller's offer of apprenticeship... and that when the Teller left on the last wind during the previous winter, Anara herself became the new Teller.

Angry, Moran made his way to the Teller's nest, and when he saw Anara he said to her, "You promised me you would wait!". But Anara did not say a single word in answer. She just turned around... and lifted something wrapped in leaves from the cot behind her, and gave it to Moran. Moran unwrapped the package, and inside, he found an old pot, cracked and broken in two.

"What is this pot?" he asked. "And why did you not wait for me like I asked you to?"

And finally, Anara spoke, and she said to Moran, "I made this pot for you, my dear Moran, when you left... because I wanted it to be my marriage gift to you. But when many, many years passed, I finally realized that you did not love me the way I loved you, and to live hoping otherwise would be death."

"But I want to marry you!" cried Moran. "I came back!"

But Anara just nodded at the broken pot in Moran's hands, and said, "Like an old pot that is left without care, a heart may break in two..."

And so Anara turned away, never to speak with Moran again. And Moran's heart, like the pot that was left untended, broke in two, because absence makes a heart brittle... and a broken heart can never be mended.

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