Lake of Tears

Anya SadozaiJune 26, 2023CourageFiction

Artwork by Aditya Rao, age 17

Based on a Pakistani folktale

The stars twinkled in the sky, the wind whispered through the trees. I sat under the shelter of a cave, hiding from the rest of the fae.

I had waited all morning for the sun to go down and give way to the full moon, waiting for the fae to emerge. Slowly, their soft glow had begun to creep out from behind the mountain tops, lighting up the trees, as I waited for my friend to find me at our usual spot. I saw her in the distance, and waved to catch her attention.

A loud bang echoed through the woods, bringing the fae to a halt. The knights had found them. Nets were launched, catching a bunch of fae. I ran out of the cave, trying to catch as many nets as I could, protecting my friend. I roared as loud as I could and started thumping my feet, shaking the ground. I ran at them. Some shot their nets at me but they weren’t big enough for a giant. I led them away from her, but I could see more of them were starting to arrive, so I started to leave. I dove to hide behind a boulder, satisfied that she had managed to escape.

The knights had been determined to enslave the fae for decades now, capturing as many of them as they could. It was wrong and brutal, but I couldn’t bring myself to fight. They had these weapons that could hunt giants. The humans posed a threat regardless of their small size. I was one of the last ones left of my kind. We had been friends with the fae for centuries, and had protected them from the humans, but the humans began making bigger, more dangerous weapons. As we started to die out, we began to hide from the humans, and stopped protecting the fae. But I had enough. For years I lived in fear and shame, and I had enough.

A week had passed since then. At the last full moon, I told my friend of my plan to help her release all the fae captured already. She was the princess, so the humans wanted to capture her the most, as it would give them full control of the fae.

I saw the full moon peek out from behind a few clouds, followed by a soft glow floating towards the window, and launching towards me in a hug. She was smaller than my chin, but held on as tightly as she could.

“I’m so glad you’re helping us.”

“I’m sorry, I should have done this much sooner.”

She smiled warmly at me and shook her head.

“It’s alright, this isn’t an easy step to take, I understand.”

A group of her best soldiers followed after her, and I handed them the keys to the cages.

We left for the village of the humans. I watched them mount their horses, light their torches, gather their weapons, and set off.

As they left, we went towards the metal cages they had built, holding thousands of fairies inside. The princess flew to their doors, but they were locked. The fae could hear their princess from inside as she told them to stay away from the sides. I smashed my hands into them, breaking apart the metal, yet careful not to hurt the fae.

A blinding light burst out from beneath my hands, followed by a huge gust of wind from the fae’s wings as they all flew out into the air, rejoicing in their freedom. The princess led them into the trees, through the thick forest.

“Where do you need to go?” I asked.

“Just past the mountain peaks should be enough, as long as the humans don’t find us.”

Before I left, I found every weapon they had lying around. I grabbed a large rock and smashed them to pieces, destroying each and every one. Satisfied, I followed after the fae.

Clearing the way for them, we reached the foothills of the snow-capped mountains, and the fae started flying upwards trying to cross over. Grabbing on to the rocks, I began to ascend the mountain, climbing as fast as I could. I sat atop the peak, having climbed the fastest, and looked down, waiting for the fae to reach me. But then a loud roar echoed through the air.

“They’ve found us! We need to hurry!”

The humans were heading towards us. They must have heard the sound of the destruction and headed back. The princess urged the fae to fly faster up the mountains, but the fae were losing their strength. They were getting slower, and some were stopping to rest. The humans were slow, but the fae were slower than them. I stood up, trying to push down as much snow and rocks as I could, hoping to stop the humans, but I was only stopping the fae instead.

“You have to hurry, they’re getting closer,” I shouted to the Princess.

I could see them bringing out their weapons. My heart thumped with fear. But if they weren’t stopped they would hunt all of us. Taking a few deep breaths, I steadied myself, bent over, and I began to cry.

I cried for everyone I had lost, for all I had suffered, and how disloyal I had been to the fae. Big gallons of tears began falling down the mountain. The humans were very slow to climb, giving me enough time to cry. As I cried and cried, the fae were able to fly around my tears, and they started to pool around the foothills, gathering around the humans. For hours I kept crying, and the water kept gathering around them, getting deeper and deeper, until it had begun to reach their necks. The fae neared the top, and flew past me to their freedom. But I kept crying, determined to end this for good.

All the human troops had joined to help the soldiers, but without their weapons, they were helpless. A lake began to form, filling the trench at the bottom of the mountain and drowning the humans. The sun rose behind me, shining its light on the glistening lake, and I stopped. I turned towards the sun, sat down, and grabbed my knees. Breathing a sigh of relief, I watched the other giants slowly wake up and come out of their caves, shocked at the soft glow of the fairies returning to the trees, and the bushes, and the plants. Peace had finally returned to our land.

Anya Sadozai is 17 years old and attends Lahore Grammar School Defence in Pakistan. She enjoys creative and intellectual outlets such as arts, dance, music, creative writing, and essays.