Moth is an archer of the Shee. He is known to some as the Nightwanderer. His companion is the raven Morrigan. She has the ability to speak in a guttural language of croaks, squawks and tongue-clicks that only Moth can understand.
Moth and Morrigan have not always been shadowy wanderers. Long ago, before the Great Unweaving, they lived with their people, the Tain Shee, in the city of Eleel off the coast of the Western Sea. Their names then were Arthan and Seelah.
Their father, Lirr, was a shipbuilder and mariner of the Shee. Their mother was Lysse, a weaver. After his children were born, Lirr gave up his seafaring, but he soon grew restless and tired of home life. Eventually he built a new ship and sailed away in it. Neither he nor his his crew of the Shee’s finest mariners were ever seen again.
Arthan and Seelah grew up with their mother. It was from Lysse that Seelah learned the craft of weaving, though she quickly surpassed her mother in skill. As a boy Arthan was wild and reckless. Like his father he was given to long journeys by himself, though he shunned the sea and always turned his steps inland, to explore other places within the Realm itself. He had many adventures during his travels, but his curiosity and impulsiveness got him into trouble often.
It's said that Arthan found paths that brought him into our world, and even more dangerous places. Once he was trapped by a vain and vindictive sorcerer-queen who bound him with a powerful spell and kept him as a servant. He was forced to do her bidding, stealing treasures and trinkets she fancied, and working mischief and mayhem on those she disliked (it is possible that something of this time in Moth’s life has reached our world in garbled fashion, in the stories of mischievous sprites and elves, as in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.) Once Arthan finally escaped the queen’s clutches, he forever after had a loathing for sorcery of any kind, and an even stronger desire to remain free and unbound by anyone or anything, even the laws and customs of his own people.
Lysse was troubled by her son’s long absences, fearing he might leave one day and never return, as her husband had. She persuaded Thur, the Shee’s greatest metalsmith, to take Arthan as an apprentice. The boy chafed against the smith’s stern, demanding authority and master and apprentice quarreled often. But Arthan did learn the metalworking trade. Perhaps from a desire to outdo his master, Arthan applied himself to the craft with such diligence that in time the Shee were asking for his handiwork, not Thur’s.
For her part, Seelah remained at home with their mother, learning and growing in skill as a weaver. She missed her brother when he left on his long solitary wanderings, and wished to go with him, but the craft she was dedicated to demanded almost all of her time. Her woven cloths and tapestries became widely known and praised among the Shee, and once a young prince of the Shee named Lotan came to her house, to request the cloth for a fine traveling cloak. He visited her every day while she worked on the cloak, and by the time it was ready, Seelah and Lotan had fallen in love. Arthan heard of this and made a rare visit to his mother’s house to meet Lotan. The meeting did not go well. Arthan learned that Lotan dabbled in spellcraft, and he took a dislike to the prince that was quickly reciprocated. Seelah was saddened that her beloved and her brother, both so proud and headstrong, could not overcome their mutual dislike for her sake, and their own.
At that time, rumor came to the lands of the Shee that distant lands were falling under a terrible shadow. Entire worlds of the Realm were fading and disappearing. And then the Steward Oreyn came to Eleel.
The Stewards (or the Innathi, as the Shee called them) visited Eleel from time to time and their visits were always times of great joy and celebration, but on this occasion Oreyn brought grave news. The troubling rumors were true. A dark power known as the Night King had risen and was devouring storylands, turning all he conquered into a bleak and nightmarish shadow version of the Realm. The Stewards were gathering all of their friends and allies to meet and stop this threat.
The Shee joined the alliance, and Lotan rode to battle, promising Seelah he would return in victory and they would be married. Arthan wished to go, too, but his skills as a smith were needed for the forging of armor and weapons, which the Shee had had little use for until this time.
The war was long, and from time to time messengers would return to Eleel with news of the battles and how the alliance fared. There were many tales of heroic deeds and sacrifice from the war, and Seelah began to weave these stories into a great tapestry.
And what happened then, and how Arthan and Seelah became Moth the Nightwanderer and the raven Morrigan, is told in The Shadow of Malabron.
Illustration by T Wharton