I apologize for an unexpected and premature return. This posting was inspired recently so I thought I would write it down. I still don’t have any plans to revive posting regular blog entries right now. But, somehow, this short story resonated with me as the inspiration for it came about unexpectedly. Thanks for letting me type it up so I could try to do something with it.
Hope everyone is well. G’night
Her curiosity came with her noble birth. It always pushed her forward, never allowing her to rest in idle stature. The trait was as synonymous with her as were here long raven tresses that were always alternately worn either up or down. There was not just spirit that resided within her, but rather she gave fabric to the essence of spirit itself.
It was this constitution of hers that presently led to her emerging adventure. She had been aware of the interest inducing door throughout her life, but for the very first time, she found it slightly left opened in a barely noticeable state. Instinctually, her heart beckoned her to approach the door and press it into sway upon its hinges so that it immediately granted passage. With as much vigor as she had moved the door, she unhesitatingly entered and began descent down its accompanying stairwell.
The passage that the steps led to was rather dark, with only ensconced torches providing the available light at very sparse intervals. She merely followed the torches to see where they might come to an end. Fortunately, the hallway was straightly linear in its geometry, so even with poor visibility, if she maintained herself centered in the lines of torches, she could navigate without having concern for her safety. Eventually, she began to see the makings of an ending to this trail of fire created light. At the end of the corridor on the left, she could make out the existence of another door.
As she converged on this new and inviting door, her application of pressure was not as forgiving this time. A simple push did not budge the obstacle. As she looked down, she noticed that this door also had a latch, which upon trying, she also met with solid resistance and failure at making the door reveal its contents. It was at that moment that this maiden of the moor looked straight ahead to notice that in sight of her face, the door revealed a small wooden panel with a knob that appeared that it might lend itself to being opened. She decided to grasp the knob, and with decided exhilaration fueled by the desire to see what might be discovered, reserve also simultaneously set in as she pondered the fact over whether what was to be revealed may not be of an accommodating nature.
She slowly began to pull on the knob and the panel forgivingly swung in her direction. Her hand remained on the knob until she had rotated the small door an entire half-circle. What filled in the rectangular opening behind the swung open panel was a set of iron bars. Her eyes first took focus upon their presence. But, it was after that discovery that she quickly came into awe as she began to peer through the bars and into the room that they betrayed.
On the other side of the door was an immaculate, yet unfrilled room. Darkened woods lined the top and walls of the room. There were wonderfully crafted bookcases that turned the room into more library than living quarters. Books of all subjects and royal colors adorned the dwelling and gave it an identity that could not be duplicated. At the center of the room was a table with a single lit candle, that in its solitude, seemed to radiate a light that should have been far beyond its capacity to illuminate a room in the way that its characteristics were being revealed. On the far back right wall was a bed, large enough only to sleep a single individual. Although modest in its wooden frame, the bed’s linens seemed to have a stitching and selection of colors fit enough for that of a prince’s point of nightly rest. But, it was our maiden’s discovery of what was in the chair of the left corner that suddenly startled her and made her realize that she had just, in a manner of speaking, invaded someone’s home.
“Greetings there,” said the charming figure finding comfort in the chair while hosting a large book in his supporting hands. “I take it you’ll be delivering my meals from here onward?”
“What?,” our exploring princess said in reply, while being startled and becoming aware that she had just been brought into a conversation with someone who was not only being housed in arrest, but also underground, at that.
“You’re not, Ermatha, so I can only assume that you are the meal bearer of the day?
Our princess continued to try and bring herself sensibly into the moment.
“Nuh, uh, no, I am not here to bring a meal. Who are you? What are you doing…”
“Ah, here go the logically sequential and relevant questions,” retorted our newly met reader of books. “Do you also need my home of birth, my family crest, and my best recipe for root stew?” He also attached a friendly grin to his comments so his new visitor could see it via the aid of the little candle that could as it burned from the middle of the table.
“What, no, I mean, who in the world are you? Why are you here? Are you being held prisoner? Why…what about your fashioned abode? What…”
“Ah, I’ll try and save you some of your trouble. My dearest lady, I am indeed, somewhat of a prisoner. Someone you may know has put me here for a reason. And, beg pardon, but my name is Nilrem. Based on the attire I see at your shoulders, based on the care given to your hair, the condition of your hands and nails that now wrap around the iron bars that I live behind, and simply based on the fact that you have access to my door would suggest that you do know who put me here. May I ask also, what is that of your name?”
“Wait, wait, why would someone imprison you in the House of…Are you a man of government? Did an enemy place you here for tyranny, for disloyalty, or for treason? Why…”
“Much more simple than that, my dear. Let me spare you added questioning. If it is questions you are looking to have answered, then let us get to them more quickly for your own sake. I was put here for telling the truth.”
Our lovely interrogator stared through the bars of the door for a moment. Her mind was processing the information that she was being given at such a rate that was quickly sending her into mental overload. Then, a thought quickly came to her.
“The truth. You say your name is Nilrem? Are you Nilrem, of the wizards? I have heard…”
“Indeed, I am, your lady.” As opposed to earlier, the reply came with humility instead of a rehearsed panache.
“But, what did you say? Who can hold you here for speaking your peace? I’ve never known of the wizards to be enemies of the king.”
“It is not always what one says. For some, it is simply saying anything. If the anything is the truth, and if it is the truth at all times, then some prefer that the speaker of the truth be banished.”
“How can this be?” she replied. “To whom must I speak in order to learn of your situation? If there is injustice occurring here beneath my feet, then I must do something. If I am…”
“Am what? Pure of heart? A lady of virtue? A practitioner of justice? A warrior for truth and its emancipation? Be cautioned about self-assurance. Sometimes, we speak of who we are, only to find out we are someone else.”
“Maybe I’m beginning to see why the someone who put you here did so,” said our lady of impassioned exculpation in pointed humor.
“Haha, Haha, Haha, I always did love a princess with an irreverent soul. It’s nice to make pleasantries with you, if I may say so, my dear lady. You’re a welcomed sight, even without a provided bowl of porridge for the evening.”
The banter between this newly acquainted duo continued for a bit, all the while revealing that the wizard’s plight was not one that could be solved overnight. A bit of a friendship had been spawned that evening, and it would carry over into many subsequent visits as the princess learned when she could more safely and secretly initiate her visits with the wizard. While talking to him about everything from his rather unfortunate situation, to how he became illegally incarcerated, as well as to all matters about life, the two became the most unlikely practitioners of philosophical jousting and parrying.
The fair lady’s wedding day was soon approaching, and it came to dominate her thoughts, even above that of the predicament encountered by her solitarily confined wizard. Also, as time passed, although she failed to become aware of it, she began to relish having a confidant at the level of a wizard’s wisdom. Her concern became growingly less about his liberation, and extensively more about his consultation. Subconsciously, she also came to believe that his oddity demanded that he best serve his role in life hidden away. Nilrem was to be regarded as a commodity, and not as a mortal. As her day of matrimony encroached, she became increasingly philosophical, and one night made way to Nilrem’s cell in order to gain counseling about her impending nuptials. Just as she stood gripping the iron bars of the locked door on the afternoon of her first meeting with Nilrem, she assumed the exact same stance, but this time with a much more determined grip. The two exchanged preliminary greetings of affection, as always, but she did not waste any time beyond their developed social protocol so she could straightway discuss her matrimony with her wizardly confidant.
“Tell me of my happiness. Is it wrong to want a man to be of a strengthened constitution, bold, and unwavering, while at the same time wondering of his own treatment of me? I am in admiration of his power, his outward proclamation, and swift dealings with anyone who dares cross him. And, yet, I sometimes question my value to him ultimately.”
The wizard was quick in his response as he rebutted,
“You have had to raise the question? But, you already have the answer within you. The choice of which you speak has already been made.”
“Nilrem, you have riddled me before, but what do you now mean? I am asking of you because I do not have the answer.”
“Remember, my dearest lady, I always tell the truth. I tell the truth again. Your answer already resides within you as to where your true nature lies.”
“What is this truth that you speak of? True nature? If already I had the answer, I would not be speaking with you of this matter!” exclaimed the frustrated bride.
“When we first met, you asked me who was responsible? Who did this to me?”
“When did you last ask me this question?”
“I cannot remember? I have asked many times. I…”
“When was the last time you asked? It was when you last had so much less to lose.”
“To lose? What do you mean?”
“WHEN you last asked, you asked who did this to me? The someone who did this to me is of power, of outward proclamations, and who is swift in his dealings with anyone who dares to cross him.”
Silence overcame the cell and the hallway as the princess looked at her wizard with a visionless stare.
“But, there is more. The other half who complements him believes that some are only of value if they are tucked away from sight. Any open presence on their part is not welcomed, even when they have brought light to a heart that has been darkened by short sighting.”
In anger, the princess responded,
“What? How dare you accuse my love to have done this to you? And, how dare you accuse me, a woman of goodwill and beneficence, of contributing to such an injustice? I’d have to say that I’m coming to understand that I never really knew you, wizard.”
Nilrem then paused. He then also disappeared from the field of view of the barred opening of the door to where his friend could not see him. Momentarily, she heard a noise at the bottom of the door. It was the sound of metal rubbing across wooden planking. From beneath the bottom of the secured door emerged a key at the feet of the princess. She then heard the wizard say,
“You are a marvel of justice and rightness. This key is the key to the lock of my cell. It only opens from the outside. The power is now in your hands. Do what is in your heart.”
Her mind began to race at the madness of the situation. Why did the wizard have the key to his own cell? Of course, he is a wizard, so why would he not have made the key appear? But, if he had the magic to obtain the key, couldn’t he work some magic to open the cell? Or, if nothing else, couldn’t he simply use that wizard super intelligence to engineer some apparatus to get the key to the lock from the inside? Nothing was making sense, at least not practically.
In a moment of vexation, the princess of matrimony came back to her original thought and queried,
“How do you have the key to your own cell and, yet, you are still without your freedom?”
The jocular inmate replied, “Even wizards have ethics.”
The wizard said again, “Do what is in your heart.”
The auguror heard nothing for a moment as he crouched and sat by his cell door. There was no spoken response. However, he then heard wood making contact with wood. The small panel through which he and the princess always carried out communication had just been shut. But, then, he heard a more distressing sound. The sound of metal sliding along wooden planking made itself known. He watched as the key returned to him underneath the bottom of the door and back into his cell. Finally, there was the sound of footsteps in the distance as they faded in the direction of the stairway that would transport the princess back to her world above the ground.
The small candle on the table in the center of the wizard’s cell began to flicker. It then extinguished itself as the room became submerged in the candleless darkness. Had one been able to see in the dark with the naked eye, they would have seen the silhouette of a form making its way from its crouch by the door to the bed on the back right wall of the cell. The figure was shrouded in a dark coat that began in large collars, and ended where it dragged the floor in its flowing length. The wizard laid down on the bed in a listless way, as if all of the life in him had been drained in mere seconds. A short expulsion of breath exited his lungs as he quickly drifted into a deeply comatose slumber. Just before he entered the sleep, the magician thought about the next step in the repeating cycle. He knew that the small wooden panel with the knob covering the iron bars would open again someday.
But, he also fell asleep knowing, that the larger door itself would never be unlocked at all.