My love hath returned!
“Just once — that’s all I ask for, just once — let the lass ride with me…”
It’s been a very rough few weeks, but my love has returned, and we are making progress in rebuilding our relationship. I did not realize how broken it was! I’m grateful that we have a second chance to make things work, though. We still have some significant issues to work out, but I have hope that we can work through them!
Unfortunately, because of the real-life issues that have come up, my WoW time has been reduced significantly and I’m now about a week behind in my Molten Front dailies. Not that this is a huge deal, but I’m looking forward to some more game time! I even dreamed about my guild the other night – I logged on after a long hiatus and they were excited to see me. It’s nice to be wanted. :)
To both celebrate the return of my love and explain to her my experiences during her absence I wrote an allegorical story. I’m proud of it, so I’ve included it in its entirety below. Enjoy!
Milady, I am so glad that you have returned to our humble abode, that you have deigned to grace me with your illustrious presence. Even though I am just a shepherdess – a mere commoner, it is a great delight to have you return.
I have had the most fantastic adventure this week, milady, and I simply must tell it to you if you will allow me. It was such an incredible journey! It all started last Saturday…
I was going about my shepherdessing duties as usual that day. It was a regular day – nothing strange except for that little runty black sheep, you know, the one that almost got killed by the wolf just a few months ago? Yes, Migeaux… he seemed to need more attention. Perhaps he saw trouble on the horizon – I’ve often wondered if sheep can sense the immediate future.
I came home for lunch to find a most horrific sight: my younger sister, milady, was wearing my most prized possession – my white bodice with embroidered flowers. Do you know it? The flowers interweave, curling up and around the bust… it’s simply the most beautiful item of clothing I own. Well, not only was she wearing it without my permission, but apparently she had just finished spilling tea all down the front of it as well!
I was aghast. I reacted immediately, asking her what she was doing and what had happened. As she stammered out a weak apology, I let my tongue fly in ways I never have before. I said terrible things out of the hurt and anger that I felt. I shocked myself, milady, hearing what I said, but I continued until she was in tears. Without a second thought I grabbed my cloak and crook and stormed out the door, heading into the forest.
Milady, I was furious. I was hurt. I had been legitimately wronged, and it was eating me alive. I stumbled along forest paths I did not know for hours, not even taking care for where I was going. I soon grew tired and began to take notice of my surroundings. I was in a very dark part of the forest, an area I did not recognize and hadn’t ever been before. As I tried to gain my bearings I soon became afraid. There were no familiar forest creatures, not even the friendly and cute evil ones like bats or moths. All was silent and still… and dark, oh so dark. One couldn’t even see the sky due to the thick canopy of trees, and there was no light on the horizon. I could not even find my path to retrace my steps back out.
As I was stopped, looking around, I suddenly noticed a small hut a few yards away. It seemed rather well-taken care of, despite its surroundings, and I decided to approach and see if the residents could be of assistance to me. After I quietly knocked on the door, it was answered by an old lady. She was gracious and kind, and welcomed me in. I briefly explained my predicament, that I had been hurt and ran into the forest to find solace and was now lost. In spite of her courtesies, I felt an even more unnerving, irrational fear… it seemed to me as if the dark taint that permeated the forest was centered on and emanating from this very house or figure herself. She was so flattering, though, and used such kind words that echoed my sentiments of hate and hurt that I accepted her invitation to enter against my better judgment.
She sat me down at her small table and busied herself preparing a salve which she said would help heal my wounds. I was surprised by this as the only would I felt was internal, but she then pointed out how my sister’s actions had caused me to have to run through the forest in such a rage that I had gotten numerous cuts, scratches, and small gashes on my arms, hands, legs, and feet. I hadn’t been aware of them before but noticed them, felt the increased pain, and then felt my anger towards my sister swell even greater for these additional wounds she caused.
I proceeded to tell the hag in more detail what had happened and how unfair this situation was to me. She eventually finished her concoction and came over and asked me to close my eyes while she applied the salve to my hands and arms first. I did as she requested. But as the salve touched the wounds, immediately the pain increased and I felt sick. I winced, yelped, and looked at the hag, dubiously. She was grinning evilly. I asked her what she thought she was doing. She replied that she was simply tending to my wounds. I looked down at where the salve had touched my hand and saw a dark grey tinge slowly extend through the wound, increasing its severity, size, and pain.
My eyes happened to catch a glance of my thin, needlework bracelet that my sister had given to me years before. It had a similar interweaving floral design to my bodice, and was also one of my prized possessions. I always wore it and generally never gave it a second thought. In fact, seeing it now I realized how I had let it fall into a little disrepair – it was dirty and a little tattered. Looking at it suddenly opened up a floodgate of pleasant memories with my sister. I remembered the occasion she gave it to me, and how excited she was. I thought of all the fun we had playing as children and talking to each other late into the night. I realized I still loved my sister, the very same who had so wrongly destroyed my prized bodice.
Another wave of pain from the salve jerked my attention back to the present: “This is not healing me!” I yelled. She responded that healing wasn’t what I appeared to be seeking. I was momentarily stunned. I had been poisoned and deceived by this evil old woman, trapped by her cunning.
“Leave me alone!” I screamed as I jumped to my feet and ran for the door, pushing the old hag down in the process. She put up no struggle to restrain me as I chose a random direction and ran from the house as fast as I could. It wasn’t until I couldn’t hear her laughter anymore that I finally slowed down to assess my situation. I had been poisoned. I was even angrier now, and though I realized that this was a result of my own stupidity I couldn’t admit it. Not only that, with the increased physical exertion of running I had only caused the poison to spread throughout my body quicker. My whole arm was grey and the sick, splotchy color was now approaching my mid-chest. I felt weak and my vision was clouded by a similar grey cloud. It must have already covered my face.
I kept stumbling along, cursing my fate and my sister who had been the ultimate cause of this misfortune. I wondered if the old lady was following me and started to feel an unnatural paranoia as my thoughts became increasingly clouded like my vision. It was becoming much more difficult to breathe and soon I could no longer stand without supporting myself on trees. I realized I was no longer able to move forward, and as I slowly sank to the ground I realized that I was dying. There was nothing more I could do. My thoughts were swallowed up in despair. Then, through the fog I heard nearby whistling and footsteps. She had found me at last, I thought. I forced myself to try and see through the swirling clouds. A short, hunched figure stood over me. It had a beard – it wasn’t the old hag. I heard him say “Grumpel buckets o’ worms, what have we here?” as he stooped over. Between gasping breaths I only managed to say “Please help me”, before blacking out.
The next thing I remember, I was sitting under a tree at home on a sunny afternoon, happily petting a tabby kitten. It was incredibly peaceful and idyllic. The sheep were all happily grazing and I had found a perfect spot overlooking the hillside and river below. I dreamed of you, milady – I had received word that you were returning from a long absence, and I was looking forward to seeing you greatly. The cat was so loving and I couldn’t resist its purr. How good it must feel to be stroked and loved so much. Somehow then I was that cat. It felt so nice to have warm hands on my fur, running down my back to the base of my tail. Stroke after stroke… stroke after stroke… my mind started to wake up… stroke, stroke… yes, I must have been dreaming – I’m not a cat! But the stroking continued… a rough surface, rubbing my leg and foot… stroke, stroke…
I woke up with a start. Simultaneously I sat up, saw the hunched, bearded figure’s leathery small hand on my leg, screamed, and hit my head on the low-lying ceiling. I blacked out immediately.
I don’t recall any dreams that time, which is probably just as well since they surely couldn’t have been very pleasant. I came to eventually, and slowly opened my eyes, trying to take stock of where I was. I remembered the stumpy figure, and I wanted to try and formulate a plan before I let on to him that I was conscious.
I was in some sort of small, cramped room. It was quite cluttered, and I had the distinct impression that I was underground as there were no windows and the beams supporting the ceiling were very thick. My vision was still cloudy and I still felt ill, though my breathing was coming easier now. I let my sight roam across what I could see of my surroundings without moving my head until my eyes locked with those of the stubby figure. He was grinning and staring at me.
I realized he was a dwarf. He had an unusual lump on one of his shoulders and his beard couldn’t hide a large wart on his chin. His smile seemed somewhat insane, and he was cradling and stroking something in his arms. It looked like… what? No that can’t be, my clouded vision must be playing tricks on me… it looked like a very large and very fat worm.
“Good day to ya, missus,” he said, “ how’re ya feelin’ this fine mornin’?”
Realizing that it would do me no good to try to pretend I was asleep, I weakly responded “Okay, I guess… I’ve felt better.”
“Ya sure were fortunate that I came across ya when I did. Ya were in a bad state, wot. Ya got to be more careful, wot.”
Fortunate? I scoffed in my head. Absolutely nothing fortunate had happened since my sister had trespassed against me. In fact, this had been the worst day of my life… or days… I had no idea how much time had even passed. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain, but a very different hurt from what I had been feeling since I yelled at my sister. It was a sudden longing for home – for my parents, my sheep, my sister, even. I looked at my bracelet and tears began to well up in my eyes. I wanted to go back home, I wanted things to be okay again. But how would that ever be possible after what had happened? Maybe if my sister were truly sorry for her wrongs… but then that old, by-now-familiar anger swelled up again. She wasn’t sorry. She didn’t even ask before she ruined my favorite bodice!
“Ol’ Mugworth is gonna have her some squirmies here pretty soon.”
My train of thought was interrupted by what to me sounded like pure dwarven gibberish. “Huh?” I asked.
“Squirmies. New little worm babies. I bet it happens today or tomorrow. Yessirree, I won’t be able to go out rescuin’ any other beautiful princesses now. Not with squirmies a-comin’. This is gonna be a special batch, it’s an experimental new breed, ya see. I have a hunch they’ll sell like hotcakes. An’ if they don’t? Well then we’ve got dinner planned for the next two weeks!”
I was simultaneously flattered and revolted. Worm babies, yuck. These nasty dwarves. I hadn’t had much contact with dwarves, but had heard plenty of rumors concerning their disgusting habits. In truth, the reality was much worse than the rumors.
I forced out a laugh, cautiously sitting up. “That’s… nice? Thanks for saving me,” I said, “but I’m no princess. My name’s Liyly, I’m a shepherdess, and I live near the village of Lothainn.”
I looked at my arms and saw that the grey pallor remained. I felt better, but knew that I wasn’t going to be leaving to go anywhere anytime soon.
“Don’t ya worry about that,” said the dwarf, noticing my self-examination, “I know exactly how to help ya. It’s gonna take some time, though. This poison is potentially deadly, dependin’ on the state of the victim. It seems like ya were pretty bad off to begin with. I’m Keersnotz, by the way. Pleased to meet ya.”
I felt a sudden influx of warmth, love, and sincere concern from this nasty little man. He cared and wanted to help me. Without a second thought I immediately related to him all that had transpired, from the tea-stained bodice to his finding me in the woods.
As I told the story I realized, too, that I hadn’t been completely honest with myself. I had run off on my own accord – I choose to hurt my sister with my cruel words. I had shut her out, I had gotten myself into the mess with the old hag. I was responsible for my current condition. But was I? I was so confused. None of this would have happened if she hadn’t used and then ruined my bodice without my consent. Was not her action wrong? Did she not start it? Wasn’t my anger justified?
“Not quite, lass.” Interrupted again… I didn’t realize that I had been pondering these questions out loud. Stroking the swollen worm he continued: “Ya’re right that she was wrong to use your property without askin’, but her guilt ends there. She’s only responsible fer her choices and actions, and not yours.”
“But I didn’t have a choice…” I retorted, stopping myself. I did have a choice, all along. True, the fact that she used and ruined my bodice was out of my control, but I chose to take offense. I chose to lash out in retaliation. I chose to shut myself out and be victimized by the circumstances.
This realization was hard to bear, milady, and I started crying. “It was all so complicated and difficult,” I said, “I never wanted to do anything wrong!”
“There, there,” said the dwarf, coming over and resting a hand on my arm – the same hand that had been stroking the worm. “It’s not beyond repair, and these realizations are a critical element of getting’ ya healed up!”
The dwarf and I talked much over the next few days and I saw my health steadily increase. The effects of the poison were stubbornly persistent, and it was difficult at first to keep a clear head about the whole situation. I would go back and forth from one extreme to another without control – it was still very painful, and the hurt was real.
But it got easier. Mugworth had her revolting squirmies. Fortunately I wasn’t expected to help as I was still unable to leave the bed at the time, but I’m not so certain that the revolting, slimy ‘plops’ followed by Keersnotz’s squeals of delight didn’t set my recovery back a day or two.
Soon I realized that I was healed, both inside and out. All lingering confusion and cloudiness from the grey poison were gone. I realized and admitted the mistakes I had made against myself and my loved sister. I felt new, refreshed, and though nothing in the situation had changed, I had. I saw that my sister’s choices were out of my control. I saw how I could and should choose happiness, no matter the situation. I had experienced a genuine transformation; I was committed to be better. I forgave my sister for her wrongs and I was excited to express to her my regret for how I treated her. I was very excited to be her friend again!
After thanking Keersnotz for all his help and direction, I set off for home. I was excited and scared. How badly had I hurt my sister? I feared that she may have fallen into a similar trap like I had. Not only that, but I knew there was no insightful, worm-breeding Keersnotz at our house (thank goodness!) to assist her like I was assisted. She had every right to be hurt by my cruel actions. But I had hope that she’d avoided the pitfalls I had succumbed to. She always was kinder and more forgiving. I tried to prepare myself for the worst, though, knowing that she might have also made mistakes and was still in need of help and healing. I felt prepared and able to help her should this be the case.
And how does the story end, milady? I do not yet know. Perhaps you can help me finish it. I would love it to have a happy ending, though. Do you think it can?
(Also, I do not own the rights to the header image in this post… I know nothing about it other than that it’s gorgeous and I’d love to live there!)