A/N: How is it that I am only the second story in this fandom? I love Dawn Cook's stories. This is set at the beginning of Forgotten Truth, then flashes back to Lodesh growing up in Ese' Nawoer. Keep writing everyone! Maybe I'll look at the Princess series next.

Lodesh bowed as flamboyantly as usual when he met Alissa walking with Strell, but on this particular morning it failed to make her blush. The fact that she was lacking shoes however, did make her uncomfortable. Every day she's becoming more the woman I knew. Anxious to please, he crafted a pair of grey slippers in her size. He refused to admit to the fit being for her, knowing the flattery would be too much because of her feelings for Strell. But someday soon, she'll direct that look at me.

Yes, sit-and-wait was the plan; for a younger Lodesh, one free of the burden of his city, would charm her as surely as a tune played on a mirth wood pipe.

That wonderful autumn when the mirth trees bloomed. When the Keeper closed his eyes, he could still see the white blossoms that were the symbol of his city and the foundation of its culture. It had been years before Alissa stepped into his life that he first heard the tale. It might be worth the trouble of telling it to her Piper, that that the story might live again… Then he was swept away in memory.

No one quite knows where the first of the mirth trees came from. When humankind first came up that hill, they discovered three strong trees resting there. Though not even ten feet high at the time, the people could tell they would one day be mighty, for the roots stretched far and deep and the area had water aplenty.

Ese' Nawoer sprung up over the decades as a little village near the strong trees. A young couple from the Coast was forbidden to marry, and so ran away. They left heading east, not knowing what they might encounter in their travels. They left in high summer, yet autumn was in full force when they stumbled upon the village. While they were delighted at the prospect of meeting people and civilization once more, there remained a lingering fear that these people would be as disapproving of the match as their families had been. And so they paused beneath the mirth trees. There they reaffirmed their love for one another and their pledge to get married, no matter the cost. Then they went into the village where they gratefully found accommodations for the night.

When the village awoke the next morning, they were shocked to discover blossoms on their trees, which now stood eleven feet high. The sweet scent of them overpowered everything and they were certain the trees had never done this before. It seemed the trees were heralding the strangers' arrival. Ese' Nawoer gave a celebration in their honor, where the couple's tale spread. The village would now do anything for the brave people who awoke their trees, and a wedding was planned for the following day.

During the ceremony, the first of the mirth flowers fell. The groom presented it to his bride as a token of their pledge. That spring, a new tree sprouted where the couple had made their vows. Their mirth flower was still as fresh as the day it fell, though all others had wilted.

The man was chosen as the next village leader, and his undying bloom became the sign of his office. The flower never waned until both the man and his wife had passed on to the next life. For you see, a mirth flower given in love will not die.

Lodesh smiled at the remembered tale. He firmly believed that the unnamed couple was the beginnings of the Stryska line, though others tried to dispute it. One thing, however, was certain. Alissa's flower would have died by now if she didn't love me. She just must not have realized it yet… It seemed that time alone was needed for Lodesh to hold her heart, though possibly not his time.

Hope you enjoyed it, please don't hate me for not using dialogue. If you want to know what they were talking about, reread Forgotten Truth. I didn't want to copy directly from the original, and I didn't have the book nearby when writing this. On that note, if I spelled Stryska wrong, please tell me so I can correct it. Thanks for reading!