A LotRO role-player character blog. Yes, I know. Shut up.
Dear Maggie: Story Story More
September 15, 2013Posted by on
Do you know those times when you’re just waking up from a nap that you never meant to take? I feel like that right now, though it isn’t literal sleep I’m talking about. It’s a tantalizing thing, both deliciously drowsy with the sense that the world will be waiting and a little bit startling to know that it never really does.
I finished Esthyr’s story at last. More stories are in the making, though not all will be written down and not all of them are mine. But many of them do touch me in some direct way. Some won’t be very happy. Some will be downright frightening, I think. Some already are. As for my own tale, I have no idea what will happen. But you know what, doll? Neither happiness nor heartbreak ever waits until the end.
Ian the Stirring
♥ ♥ ♥
(If you missed Part 1, see it here.)
The Story That Has No Name
A tale by Ian Fairfield
For Esthyr Mossfoot
Part 2: “Forever remained in perpetual dawn”
Years came and went, as they always do, and both Lila and Ethan grew older and beautiful. They both gave their parents the duties of good children, and became young adults for the ease of their fathers’ pride. Their families were pleased that they had been made well with the passing time. The two families each forgot how deep their children’s longing had been, but they didn’t forget their own old suspicions. Remorse for the sundering seemed never to cross their minds.
In truth, both the boy and the girl never forgot a thing. Their hearts still yearned for each other. Ethan hid his love for Lila inside songs of fealty for his family, and Lila hid the tears of her sorrow behind cut onions and claims of dusty specks in her eyes.
Occasionally Lila would place a hand suddenly over her pristine breast, and then quickly claim that she’d been tickled by a feather. But in truth, it happened sometimes that Ethan bumped his knee or broke a new blister, and once he fell from a horse. She still felt his pain, even with the distance between them.
Those who believe in Fate say that the young man and the young woman were meant to meet again. Whether or not this is so, one day they did, though it seemed indeed quite by accident. They both came, each with a small company of each family’s servants, to trade for goods in a village neither Lila nor Ethan had visited before.
Lila stole away from her handmaiden, suddenly overcome with sadness while the women with her pawed over fine cloth and expensive scents. They were come to collect all that the girl would need for her marriage ceremony. Her father had arranged a suitable match, and the wedding was set to be done during the bright celebrations of harvest. The unhappy young woman’s tears were arrested when she caught the sound of a delicate tune played with nimble fingers on a newly made lute.
As the girl moved gracefully in silence around the stalls of the market to follow the young man who had played, she noticed how fine he was made, and something about him drew her closer. The way his eyes remained as downcast as his countenance moved her heart until it felt like an inner ache, and it was only then that she realized who he was. She slipped closer and whispered his name.
The young man’s eyes met Lila’s, and they widened after a moment. He somehow managed not to call out, but he reached for her hand and led her away until they came to a dark and overgrown path. Neither cared about the shimmering white webs that hung down and felt thicker and thicker the farther they walked. And neither noticed if any of the web-weavers crawled over them as they went.
They had found a small and ancient graveyard, abandoned, forgotten, uncared for inside what must have been someone’s secret garden once upon a time. The air was old and thick there, and it seemed like time stood still once it had run out and left nothing but bones in the ground. But their embrace was far more brief than the joy in it. They knew they had no luxury of time despite the way things looked. After hurried whispers and promises of future meetings, they parted and rejoined their families.
Lila and Ethan met a number of times, always in that same little desolate place, and always they brought their own light and joy with them. They brought also their own pain; their time was always brief, and they could do no more than share hurried, urgent whispers in each other’s arms. Lila was torn between her love for Ethan and duty to her parents, and the summer was passing quickly. Soon she would be wed to another young man if something didn’t change.
One day when Lila stole out to meet her beloved, her brother followed her. He entered into the secret place, and he felt private sympathy when he came to understand who was holding her, but he had to uphold his sister’s honor. Indeed, to his eyes it appeared that Ethan was grappling with her, perhaps to take more than was seemly for a maiden’s offer. He had no way to know that the two lovers had never even shared a true lovers’ kiss, and in anger he laid hands on the the other young man.
Ethan didn’t recognize the attacker for Lila’s brother, and his own rage was kindled. In one furious and confusing whirlwind moment, the dark little graveyard was alive with sound and movement such as it had likely never seen even when it was new. And it saw death for the first time in many, many years. Too late, Lila tried to stay her lover’s blows, and her brother lay as still as the bones beneath their feet.
Stricken deeply by remorse, Ethan wailed at the young woman’s feet and then lifted in his arms the young man who would have become his own brother if the world had been more kind and fair. He knew now that there was no hope; he knew he would be made to pay for what he had done. It wouldn’t matter that it happened as a mistake. The rift between the two families would only grow impossibly wider.
He was right. When Lila’s family learned what Ethan had done, they demanded his life as payment. According to the traditions of the land, that was their right. But in tears, and so full of sorrow that she could barely speak, Lila begged for mercy, swearing that she would wed and never see Ethan again if only her father would spare him. After a long debate, her father at last agreed.
But when he looked in on her chamber that night, Lila’s father couldn’t bear to see her in such pain. It was made all the worse because of Ethan’s pain, and it struck the older man that his daughter might be this way for as long as Ethan lived. So he reneged on his word and sent his guards to strike the young man down before the sun could rise on another day of his daughter’s suffering.
Lila’s father held his wife while death was dealt, and they both watched as the young man stood in silence and sorrow. He never tried to speak, not before the blade pierced him nor while his life ran out with the blood from his heart. Before dawn could break, his dead hand relaxed and his fingers uncurled like a flower blooming.
At the very same instant, Lila’s handmaiden screamed in the young woman’s bed chamber. Her mistress had clutched at her heart and then fell over dead when her lover’s life had stopped. It was said that these things caused enough tears from both families that they could have made rivers that ran all the way to the sea.
But even then, even in the grief of losing their children, both Ethan’s family and Lila’s thought that they had defeated magic and broken the spell. Some might agree.
Those who believe that death doesn’t stop love might beg to differ. It’s been said that always they meet in the dark places that sheltered them, ever as shades, forever young, forever in love, forever in pain, forever with joy, forever pure, forever untouched. They are said to be forever together and forever apart, and that new days never again began or ended. Maybe they were blessed. Maybe they were cursed.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Note: The story draws from some themes in a number of ancient tales, especially from variations on poems and legends about the pair of young lovers called Layla and Majnun. However, the characters and events here aren’t intended to represent any extant versions of such stories, nor is this piece meant to interpret the meanings of those.