Hey guys, here I am with this bizarre story that just seemed to spill out of my head and has now been begging to be posted up. I've taken a lot of inspiration from different stories and songs (which I like to do, because Gaelic/folk songs sound amazing and since writing my great-grandmothers memoirs, I've been doing lots of research around this). So to start off with, I own neither Lord of the Rings, any of Philippa Gregory's work (she inspires a lot of my own writing, love her books) or Heather Dale's music (youtube it). There are a few characters that I have invented (Melusida, Hamnet and Dòmhnall to name a small few!). Please read and review, because this just might be one of my rare stories where I don't make it M-rated :O!
The Lady of the Lilies
Melusida is my name. I was named after a goddess, a water goddess they said, Melusine. To the water I would return. It always fascinated me, even as a young child. I loved putting my head down among the cool depths, hearing the cool rush against my ears, the shouts of my brothers far away and how the bubbles made small gurgling sounds. My father would always angrily pull me out of the water, by my hair and scold me for scaring him. He was a tall, broad shouldered man, who could prevent you from doing something just with his eyes. My mother would stand watching on the bank, tall and fair like a lily, while I cried salty tears into the river water and my underskirt drifted around my legs like water weeds. She understood, she knew the gifts I had from the very beginning, but she would never say anything. My brothers and father ignored this entirely, but I knew with her careful, guarded grey eyes that she was dying. A lily is not one to be battered and childbirth proved exhausting for her. My brothers and I were all strong, lively children and my father was a man who knew every detail about the household, so he was not to be denied. I watched her fade away, the assured passing of time when her leaves and petals grew pale and simply fell. But I still found a mother's comfort and love within her arms, she would tell me how she knew of my gifts and the gifts our Mother-Goddess had. The gift of foresight, of magick. She taught me to read her cards, told me to keep them close and to only use them when I had need.
"Will you read the cards for me today?" she asked, pale as smoke, lying on her bed. I nodded and pulled up a stool by her bed. I took the cards from the small chest nearby and shuffled them, they warmed in my hands. I asked my mother and my Mother-Goddess for their blessing, my mother placed her hand on my dark brown head and softly murmured her blessing for me. I shuffled the cards once more and found the place in the pack where a strange sensation filled my fingers and I knew it was right to reveal the card. I placed it face down on the bed and my mother picked it up. I was surprised when she did this; she normally waited for any other cards I placed. But she gave a soft sigh and smiled,
"Hello, old friend." she put it down on the bed. Death's eyes seemed to pierce me from under his helmet, his long cloak swishing around his skeleton shoulders. In one hand he held a scythe, in the other his red banner with a white rose upon it. I looked up, my expression one of horror. My mother cupped her hand under my chin.
"Now, now love. These things happen. As with Life there is Death, as with Death there is Life. Remember in life there are only two things we can be certain of, one of them being Death, the other being hope."
"But how can there be any hope in this?" I near wailed.
"Hush. I have no need for it, but I have seen you grow and my hope for your future is bright."
"Has Melusine come to you?" I asked.
My mother gave me a mysterious smile, "In a way She has; promise me that you will remain fair and wise, that you will not forget what I have taught you and that you will not give up on horse riding, archery and swordplay."
I nodded, not understanding, but just accepting my mother's requests.
"And now, will you sing to me the song of our history?" she asked.
I wiped away the tears forming in my eyes and cleared my throat.
He was young, And power laid upon him, In the lapping of the land; But he was wiser than years,
and he rode along the river,
The fairest thing to grace those steady banks,
In ages come and lost forever.
Like a thousand secrets she would never know,
and so she spoke.
her whispers fickle jewels among the sands,
ephemeral and softly spoken.
and shed his hooves to meet her there,
among the reeds,
where earth recedes…
And power laid upon him,
In the lapping of the land;
But he was wiser than years,
I hadn't finished the song, but looked up at my mother. Her eyes were already closed, sleep upon her. Death would arrive soon. I got up carefully, put back the cards and kissed her forehead. Whispered to her that I loved her and left the room. That night I didn't touch my food, father told me off for wasting good meat, but our maid Siliuth said she could easily use it tomorrow and I went to bed early. I lay awake for what felt like hours, waiting for the time, waiting and waiting. But as the night grew on, still my mother lived. I wept, feeling her own pain and laboured breaths in my chest. Slowly sleep overtook all my senses and I fell away into the darkness.
I knew before my father came into the dining hall, before his grim expression and the maids' worried faces. I had heard the sweet, sad song of the river, of my mother and Mother-Goddess, Melusine singing for the death of her child in the night, just before the creeping light of dawn. My father needed to say no words, he only had to confirm my fears and I ran down to the river. I screamed with anger and pain, screamed at Death and Melusine for taking my mother, screamed at my mother for leaving me. Then I heard her soft whispers tumbling over the stones and pushing past reeds, her voice calling to me. I stayed silent then, hearing her voice, not words, but just her voice. Till my father roughly gripped my shoulder and pulled me back up to the house. I expected his angry words, but he said nothing, just touched my head. I stood up on tiptoe and kissed his rough, warm cheek feeling his tears there. I was ten years old, but he picked me up in his arms and carried me back through the doorway. He sat me in front of my egg, next to my older brother Hamnet and opposite my younger Dòmhnall. Hamnet squeezed my hand under the table, his face pale with shock. Dòmhnall hid his tears as best he could, until he excused himself and ran to his room.
The maids took to comforting my eight year old brother. Hamnet and I went on a walk when father left the dining hall. Down pass the river, through the dark green, coolness of the forest. We didn't say anything to each other, just held one another's hand, which Hamnet had not done for a while, fourteen year old pride stopping him. We walked further than we normally did and came across a party of Elves, we stood back respectfully as they passed, most of them nodded their heads politely but Lord Elrond approached us. My mother knew him a little and I believed she had liked him, though he often scorned the story of our history and the gifts we had. He did not believe they were true, otherwise he would have known of them.
"We heard tell of the death of your mother, my regrets to you all." I couldn't look up at him; I knew those grey-blue eyes, so uncannily like my mother's they would make me weep. I was relieved when Hamnet answered for us both,
"We thank you sir, the departing of our mother has wounded us all." Hamnet kept his voice measured and sure, but I could sense a gentle waver within his tone and I gripped on tighter to his hand.
"Will you need help finding your way back?" a female Elven voice asked and this time I did look up. It was the Lady Arwen, daughter of Lord Elrond, she smiled sadly at us both and her eyes were very kind.
"Nay, thank you, my lady. We know the woods well."
Lord Elrond smiled and clasped my brother's shoulder gently. "Hamnet and Melusida have Elven blood in their veins, though whether a goddess exists in them is another matter, they know these woods almost better than any ranger."
"We should go back now." I said to Hamnet, who nodded. We both bowed to Elves and then made our way back through the forest; I turned my head to see Lord Elrond watching us. He gave me a short bow and as the Elves left, I hurried beside my brother.
"What did Lord Elrond mean?"
"When he said we had Elven blood in our veins, father never mentioned this."
"Lord Elrond knew mother had some in her's, but I forget how he knew, we don't have pointy ears."
I frowned, "Then is the goddess story true or not?"
Hamnet gave a tight laugh, "It hardly matters if it is or it isn't, now hurry up."
We got back, as soon as we entered the dining hall I saw all of mother's possessions littered across the table. The books she had, her reading cards, her clothes, her jewellery. It hurt, seeing all those things without the person that made them real. Father stood at the end of the hall, with an unknown man, quietly talking. He looked over at me and my brother, but paid us no heed. I buried my face in the sweet smelling clothes, longing for her gentle hands to give me a blessing once more. Siliuth touched my shoulder and pulled me away; while the unknown man walked pass the table, reeling off a list of my mother's possessions, the majority of them were to be given to my brother's and I. Hamnet received most of her books, except one on herblore and ancient magick, which I received and one on fairytales and legends gifted to Dòmhnall. I received her reading cards to and was to get most of her gowns and the few pieces of jewellery she had owned, but I found myself repulsed at the idea of wearing the clothes she had worn. Siliuth placed my mother's dark green cloak around my shoulders and it was like my mother had stood behind me and embraced me, I breathed in the scent of the woodland paths and the sweetness of the river.
Later, in the evening they brought out a small, white boat. She was to be buried in our ways, set down the river in the smoothly carved, pale boat. Her fair hair spread out over the pillow, littered with lily flowers. She wore her finest light grey gown and a dark blue, velvet blanket was spread over her lap reaching down to her feet, she was surrounded by the long stemmed lilies. Hamnet, Dòmhnall and I kissed her cold forehead; afterwards my father knelt beside her and gave a long, loving kiss on her lips. I buried my arms in the folds of the cloak, it pooled around my feet, far too long for me.
When my father turned back to us, he looked over our heads and his eyes widened with fear and anger. I turned. The Elves were there again, paying their respects, many of them still mounted on their horses. I saw my father almost grow angry, he begun to walk towards them, but Lord Elrond held up his hand and I grabbed my father's sleeve. Father looked down at me and then turned his back on them. I gazed over at them, hoping they would read my expression of apology. Lord Elrond gave a short, sad smile and bowed his head.
"She cannot sing it, she is only ten." argued Siliuth.
"It is hardly fitting." said another maid. My father frowned, while several of his men stood patiently holding the boat in the river, waiting for his order. My father had sung his lament, but as daughter I was expected to sing my own for my mother.
"Why not ask me?" I said, "I want to sing it for her, even though my voice is not strong." My father gazed down at me, then nodded his head.
Baile Is é taobh thiar de,
An domhan atá romhainn,
Agus tá go leor bealaí a tread.
Chun an imeall oíche,
Go dtí go mbeidh na réaltaí go léir trí thine.
Mist agus scáth,
Scamall agus scáth,
Déanfar gach céimnithe,
My voice shook as they pushed the boat out into the river and I dug my nails tightly into my hand, to ensure I didn't cry while I sang. But when I had finished the song and the women's wails made the air cold with their cries, I found tears pouring down my face. Siliuth tried to pull me to her, but I found the weight oppressive and I pulled away, desperately gasping at air that did not seem to reach my lungs. I ran along the river watching the boat sail away, until an archer released his arrow alit with fire and it hit the boat, the flames engulfing her figure. The Lady Arwen came over to me. She said nothing, simply stood by my side. I looked up to her when the boat had passed from view.
"Why did your father believe my mother to be Elven?" I asked.
"Because the gifts she possessed where not of this world and they frightened him."
"Frightened him?" I could scarcely believe anyone would be scared of my mother.
"Very few have such clear Sight and knowledge of things to come." I gazed over to Lord Elrond who was watching mine and Arwen's exchange, I could not really tell with the wise Elf, but perhaps there was a glimmer of fear in his eyes.
"Does he fear me?"
Arwen placed a gentle hand on my shoulder, "Perhaps, but it is hard to tell, your gifts have not established themselves yet. But perhaps with the passing of your mother they will."
I shivered, "She knew she was to die."
Arwen nodded and then turned back to the rest of the Elves and alighted on her horse once more.
"Friend, if you wish for some moments of rest and peace you are welcome to Imladris." called Lord Elrond to my father.
"I have no need of your help, friend." my father sneered. I expected Hamnet to speak up at that point, but he did not and as Lord Elrond bowed his head with acceptance I turned around.
"We thank you kindly for attending my mother's funeral and your offer of sanctuary." I said, Lord Elrond smiled evenly at me and then bought his horse around before continuing his journey.
"What were you thinking? Shaming me like that." shouted my father.
"I am sorry, father, but the Elves do not mean us harm and I just thought…"
"Well you'd do well enough not to think and not to make judgements upon me. How dare you speak out." My father grabbed my arms and pushed me against the wooden walls, till tears shone in my eyes.
"I'm sorry, father."
"I will not be disgraced like that, not when your mother…" he stopped himself and let me go, "Go to your room, if the dinner did not suit you yesterday, you can have none tonight."
I ran up the stairs, into my room and dived straight on my bed. I pulled the covers around me, till I was wrapped up in a small nest of blankets and sheets. I must have fallen asleep, because Siliuth woke me up with a plate of food and a small cup of ale.
"Do not tell your father," she whispered and gave me a small kiss on my forehead. I ate hungrily and then she took away the plate, but left the cup. I drifted back to sleep, only waking when Hamnet and Dòmhnall slipped into my bed during the night and we all slept, curled up like fox cubs.
Anyone recognise the Gaelic song? Brownie points for those that do!