The Lady Ys, although she was not always called so, had come from a distant land, crossing the seas to land in Kusheth, where her company established themselves and built the castle that overlooks the straits to this day. Her father had been cursed by a Tsingani woman, her eyes distant with the dromonde, that the waters that had brought his daughter to Kusheth would bear her away again one day. Fearing her fate was to be captured by corsairs or stolen by marriage, he forbid the Lady from venturing outside the castle walls. But the sea was in her blood, and it called to her.
It was common sport amongst the nobility to keep birds of prey for the hunt. As the Lady was not a true noble of the land, she would have been restricted to the use of a smaller bird, such as a kestrel. But there was an osprey, with a beak like a knife and bright hungry eyes, that paid no mind to things such as lineage or social rank. He had greeted the Lady the first time she ventured out to the ramparts overlooking the sea with a sharp whistle, perched on one of the railings surrounding the low wall. She had laughed and called back to it with a passable imitation of a sea hawk, with the same fierceness and yearning for flight in her clear voice.
The osprey was ungainly on land, with his odd-shaped bills and awkward carriage, but as soon as he took flight, one could only marvel at the grace of his passage, the iridescent sheen on his feathers that reflected the sun, the keen light in his eyes. So too was it with the Lady Ys. She was not beautiful in repose, but lovely in motion, her bearing – so unremarkable at first glance –transformed into a glimmering flame, a bird taking flight as she danced and twirled. Every day this odd pair would patrol the ramparts of the castle, the osprey circling her as she paced or occasionally perching on her shoulder. He took notice of none but her, and would squawk angrily if any other – bird or human alike – came too close to his Lady.
She had been friends with one of the young nobles native to the land, a Lord Murain. And while he was not a malicious sort, he was content to while away his days in dissipation, breathing in the vapors of the valerian leaf so that dreams and reality would blend together seamlessly. Sometimes the Lady would join him and imagine herself able to soar amongst the clouds, then dip low to skim across the surface of the water. She would remain so for hours, until her laughter filled with despair and a handmaiden with downcast eyes would whisk her back to her room so that she might recover herself.
Until one day, her loneliness and her curiosity became unbearable, and she breathed in far more of the drug laced with poppy than she knew, feeling the world fall away from her so that her dreams could rush in. She felt herself the bird she so envied, and cast herself off the parapet of the castle that had been her prison for so long, to see how high she could fly, her long dark hair streaming out behind her.
Her body was never found. Her father, the only person to know of the terrible fortune he had brought upon his child, grieved in perfect solitude, locking her room to remain untouched by any and all.
Still the osprey, who had chosen her above all others, flew about the castle, never perching as he once had on the railings but soaring and dipping along the length of the castle as if searching for his dark lady. And if his cries were occasionally met by a mirroring call, no one knew what to make of it.
Inspired by the following story, told by Phedre prior to Quincel de Morhban's Masque:
There is a Kusheline legend of the Isle of Ys and its dark Lady, who commanded the birds of the air and kept a tame osprey about her. Ys drowned, they say; I do not know the legend well enough to remember why, only that there was a Lady, and her cormorants may still be seen fishing the waters above the sunken isle and crying out for their lost mistress.