One day the imps saw her there and, entranced by her silky black hair, grabbed her to take her away and make her their queen. She kicked and struggled bravely, but they were too numerous and she was overcome. The river imps looked after her very well, but they would not let her leave. So it was that she was miserable every day for many years.
The girl grew up into a beautiful young woman and a prince of the river heard tell of this mysterious queen of the imps and decided to visit her. As soon as she met him she fell in love with him. His perfect black skin and bright eyes would be pleasing to any eye, but what truly won her heart was that she saw that he too shared her great sadness. He longed to see the sunlit world, but could never leave the river. They married and had a child together.
When the their daughter came of age, the queen told the prince that although he could never see the sunlit world, maybe their child could. The imps would not permit it, but the prince called to a river spirit, which came in the form of a great turtle. They placed the child on its back and the turtle swam to the surface and far away from that place.
The turtle came to a village far downstream and told the princess that it was tired and must rest, but that she could make her home here. The turtle sleeps in that place still. The girl was taken in by kindly farmers and lived a long and happy life. I know this because she was my grandmother and told me the tale herself.
It is only human nature to imagine that every creature of the natural world and even the gods themselves are as they are. This does not make it so. There are beings walking the roads whose lives began not as children, but in stories. Of course, they do not truly belong alongside humans, but while they are there they may write poems, drink wine and gaze at the stars just as well as any other. These are the ones the philosophers of Monde called the Images.
Amongst the Images are gods and demons, phantoms, tricksters, beasts and puppets. Their forms are constrained only by the imaginations of mortals. Yet perhaps of greater interest are their progeny. When an Image and a mortal bring a child into the world it takes a little from each parent and the whole is in many ways greater than the sum of its parts. Beings with Image blood have a far more diverse appearance than mortals; often beautiful. Many wield strange, arcane powers or can shift between multiple forms.
The history of such people has often been a troubled one. Humans fear what they do not understand and since individuals with Image blood often appear human after a few generations they are sometimes seen as an insidious threat.
The Images have a strange relationship with the moon. They often draw power from it and the stronger amongst them can leap from the mortal world to the moon and back. The Images who live there are even stranger and in some cases more powerful than their terrestrial kin.
There are a number of other secrets wielded only by those with Image blood, some of which are incomprehensible to mortals to such a degree that not only can they not be learned, but their very impact on the world is itself impossible to understand. Broadly speaking these secrets blur the barrier between stories and reality, allowing a degree of manipulation of reality normally only possible in myth. However, the Images themselves are as much helpless puppets of these secrets as they are masters of them. Images are bound inescapably to their fate and Image blood brings with it some of that same predestination.