The Forbidden Love of Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala
Pronunciation Key: [th] = th as in there; [th] = th as in thin; [r]d = roll the "r"); ä as in father; [I] = as in eye; [a] = as in cat
As King Ru'Athari (roo-A[TH]-ah-[R]dEE) made his way to the Royal Library to confront his late father's sister, Lanďany (LAH-n[i]-AH-nee), he considered her punishment for so boldly ushering the human female to Birmagast (BEER-mah-gast). It would be folly to condemn her to the same fate as his father...that is, until all other possibilities had been exhausted.
'Perhaps,' he thought, 'I should exile her to the same land as the House of Rilynn D'Urthallín (ree-LEN-du[r]d-thah-LEEN) to keep company with Hathar'Krym (HÄ-[th]är-KREM), as they seem to be of the same ilk.' He also thought of designating that land as a penal colony for evil doers, of which there were many, even in Birmagast.
He would have to administer rough justice in his aunt's case, for there was no law against transporting humans to Na'Raiza (nah-R[I]-zah). With a strong sense of ethics amongst its inhabitants, there was no need for such a law. Laws in Birmagast were based on the need for organization and safety, not a lack of ethics. What form of punishment could be meted out for an act against which there was no law? He reasoned that he could, within his rights, punish Lanďany for breaking an unspoken law, for she knew in her heart the deed would be a wicked one. But, a crime against ethics must be met with an ethical punishment; a conundrum the King had not considered before.
Baxter Pierce's crime was simply that she was human. The King carefully considered the death of the bounty hunter. He wondered at the pleasure he had felt in taking her life. Killing had always been a duty, in defense of his people and his person. The pleasure of the kill had never been his motive, for he was not a butcher. He prided himself on being a righteous warrior with fine, upstanding qualities. But, had this bright, bold pillar of elf society, without noticing, become nothing more than a common criminal? Had the thirst for blood overcome his hunger for freedom and justice? Have eons of righteous indignation come to nothing, after all? The words of his friend, Noys (no-EES), crept into his mind with annoying regularity.
"I am sorry for you, for you will always be Silver Lance, whether you go to battle or no. Your title and your lance will grow heavy with time. They are burdens of your own creation."
Ru'Athari wondered if he would ever allow himself to know peace. Would it be fair to subject his Princess to a life of constant violence and upheaval? He had never contemplated such worrying questions before. He was not in the habit of questioning himself or his actions. In the past, it had been a simple matter of kill or be killed. Perhaps being Supreme Sovereign was not his calling. Or, perhaps this new position would save him by forcing him to see who he had become.
It was clear to him that a troubled mind, such as his had suddenly become, would need help to heal. But, to whom could he turn without anticipation of reprisal and scorn? He had exuded such strength and confidence in the past, that he would look ridiculous if he were to admit defeat now. He knew he could trust his sweet sister to comfort him, but she had been so sheltered most of her life, that he had little confidence in her ability to grapple with such complex issues. And, he did not yet trust the Queen, regardless of all her loving declarations.
In the midst of his ponderings, Ru'Athari approached and opened the heavy, ornate library door. His footsteps reverberated throughout the great hall. On the ground floor of the building, ancient books, maps, scrolls, and stone tablets were arranged on massive floor-to-ceiling shelves according to their subjects. On the upper floor, were encased specimens of insects, fowl, sea creatures, minerals and various other natural resources collected from other worlds outside Na'Raiza. For most of their youth, the King and his sister were required to spend many hours there in rigorous study. Both their parents stood firm on that point, though they found enforcing their rule rather heavy going at times, especially with the young Prince.
Not finding any sign of his aunt on the ground floor, the King climbed the wide, winding marble stairs to the glass-domed top floor. There he found her, supporting herself on the elaborately turned iron newel post at the top of the banister while awaiting his arrival. She had marked his approach from one of the grand leaded-glass windows. The Queen had ordered all the library exits guarded, and had set a patrol around the grounds of the Majestic City, restricting Lanďany's movements until a decision could be made regarding her indiscretion.
Observing the high velocity blood spatter on his garments, Lanďany divined that her human guest had met with a violent end. She showed no fear, for she knew her nephew would not dare kill yet another relative...so soon, at any rate. No word passed immediately between them as they staunchly regarded each other.
"Kill humans all you want," she finally began, "you will never kill them all, and they will continue to come."
"Not without your help," the King returned, while calmly perusing a newly installed case of butterfly specimens. "You may have shown your human the road here, but she did not live to find her way back..." adding over his shoulder, "...in one piece."
Understanding his crude meaning, she said, "I suppose you now desire to kill me as you killed my poor dear brother?"
"Oh spare me, madam," he snapped, whirling around to face her. "You cared little for my father. Your care was for the throne only, just as it is now. If it meant securing the crown of Birmagast, you would easily sacrifice the blood of your kin."
"No matter. Killing me, which you cannot do, is the only way to stop me from showing all the humans the road to this world," she warned.
"But yes, aunt, I can kill you," he smiled ominously, "but I shall not kill you. And you are wrong again; I can stop you, and I shall stop you, for now I see I have no alternative but to do so."
"And what is the meaning of this riddle?"
"No riddle, aunt; nothing as frivolous as that," he said as he pulled out a chair and sat down, crossing his long muscular legs. "No, this business does not warrant riddles. It would be madness to riddle with one such as you, aunt." The King suddenly jettisoned from his chair, and in a nanosecond was standing so close to his aunt, he could hear her heart beating. "You have been a menace and a curse to the peace of my world," he growled, "but your treachery and greed have delivered your own downfall at last."
"What vile plan are you hatching?" she asked, refusing to be intimidated.
"The kindest plan that is within my power to hatch." He folded his hands behind his back, thoughtfully tilting his head to the side, and moved a short distance away from her. With piercing golden eyes, he regarded his hapless victim mercilessly as he tersely pronounced her sentence. "You will be removed to a land where you will spend the remainder of your life. It is rather lonely at present, but the population will undoubtedly increase over time. You will be surrounded by the beauty of nature and its bounty. And, so that you are not tempted, you will find no path by which to return from that place, for there are no portals to transport you. You may take whatever servants you deem necessary. I will see to it that you live in as much luxury as befits your station. Being of royal lineage, aunt, you will no doubt rejoice in your new queenly position."
"So nephew, you condemn me to a beautiful prison, do you?" she smirked sarcastically. "I am to become Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lanďany of... What shall this kingdom of mine be called?"
With the sentence having been pronounced, Ru'Athari grew anxious to end their conversation. He gave a great sigh of relief as he hurried past her, heading for the stairs.
"As it will be your...kingdom, you shall have the honor of naming it."
After a brief moment of thought, she turned to face him and answered, "It shall be called, Eyllis'Amaran (eye-LEES-AH-mah-rahn), the Land of Beautiful Shackles."
"Oh, come aunt, such a dismal moniker? Since all inhabitants will be free to move about, there will be no need for shackles. After all," he continued sarcastically, "you and your subjects will undoubtedly be innocent of all wrongdoing."
She answered as he slowly began to descend the stairs, "Nevertheless, my choice stands, since I alone shall dwell there for a time."
"Not alone, aunt," he said, slowing his descent further. "Citizens await you. The Orodhuin (o[r]do-[th]ween) ,Hathar'Krym, deposed steward of Aretairn (ah-[r]deh-TI[R]E-n) and his kin, of the house of Rilynn D'Urthallín will be your first fair and noble constituents.
"Orodhuin?" she inquired, genuinely perplexed. "Why does that race dwell in a nameless land? I take it this...kingdom...is your version of a penal colony to impound noble enemies?"
He lingered on a stair for a moment, then turned slowly and looked up at her. "It became necessary to relocate that House for their own safety and that of Birmagast," he slyly explained.
"Yes, I see. Fancy words for a penal colony after all. Well, I know you will do as you like in the end, however, I leave you with the understanding that I am indeed being imprisoned wrongfully, as I have committed no crime."
"Quite the opposite, madam," the King answered. "You have committed the crime of conspiracy with the intent to cause bodily and political harm."
An angry Lanďany countered with raised voice and clenched fists. "You can neither know nor prove my intent. The only witness to my true intent, I see you have characteristically put to death."
With equal anger and eyes like glowing embers set in snow, His Majesty retorted, "I do not need to know or prove it. This is not a democracy, it is a monarchy."
"You should say rather, a dictatorship," she shouted.
"Call it what you wish," he growled threateningly, causing his lance to inadvertently extend, "in the end, you have no other choice but to bow to my conviction. I am King here, madam."
They stood glaring hotly at one another, brows furrowed, teeth gnashing. Lanďany's cheeks burned, Ru'Athari's countenance was as stone. At last, he turned and continued to descend the stairs. As he departed in rage, he spat instructions over his shoulder to her. "Messengers will be sent for your servants, who will bring whatever belongings you require. Until your departure from Amaira'Dethor (ah-MYRA-DEH-thor), you shall be under constant guard, but in no danger."
He stormed across the marble floor to the exit, slammed the heavy library door and was gone.
"You may dispatch me now, Your Royal Majesty," Lanďany muttered to herself, "but our business is not over...not by a long way."
With the unpleasant business of Lanďany out of the way, the King focused on the profound questions which had begun to plague him. He needed help accepting and understanding concepts he had never entertained before. In the past, he had answered questions on his own terms, and did what he believed to be right. But, the questions were different then, and so was the King. The first and most obvious difference was the responsibility of ruling a kingdom. That consideration required the wisdom and foresight of a higher intelligence than his own.
Since the coronation, he had visited the holy temple, Na'Dethestivain (Nah-deth-ESTEE-vine) in the Tchulands (CHOO-lenz) often for guided meditations. He decided to go there for an audience with the High Mage. This priest of the highest and oldest order, had presided over the coronation of the long ago abdicated King Firam (FEER-räm), father of the late King Balor. His name and age had long been forgotten even then.
As Ru'Athari sat before the holy one in the sacred temple, he felt confusion and stress fall away from his tormented heart. The priest did not speak, but sat with his head bowed, waiting patiently for His Majesty to reveal his burdens. The King customarily thanked the priest for allowing the meeting.
"I have been expecting thee, Your Majesty," was his smiling answer. "Thee has been greatly troubled since we last met." The Holy Mage seemed to know the answers before the questions were asked. "The death of the alien was unavoidable. Do not reproach thyself."
"I do not reproach myself for killing her, your honor, "the King began. "I recognize that it was self defense. It is my reaction to the killing I question. How long has it been since my purpose was lost? Does my purpose even matter any longer, and if so, to whom does it matter?"
"Your Majesty's purpose is still a righteous one, although I do not condone bloodshed. How thee would pursue that purpose from this point, will be a profound, soul-altering decision. It will bring a cataclysmic change in Your Majesty's life. This has already begun to happen."
"Sire," he continued, "did thee understand all the rituals performed at thy coronation – the prayers, the meditations, the incantations? They were not pageantry only, not mere words. The process is meant to become a part of the sovereign's spiritual growth. The unknowable greatness and omnipotence of Na'Amavain (nah-AH-MAH-vine) has been seated in thy heart. Through that connection, Your Royal Majesty has become holy. This is why thee now questions thy motives. The hatred, violence, and lustful killing thee once carried with such pride and conviction, can no longer find refuge in thy heart. Peace, wisdom, and true strength are beginning to take shape there."
"That life is unknown to me. How shall I live such a life? Will Na'Amavain..."
Suddenly, the words of the Mages' prayer from the coronation ceremony echoed through his mind like the peal of a distant, clear and melodious bell.
Brace your courage, if sorrow bear.
Cleave to Na'Amavain's mighty hand.
Its message enveloped him so completely that he could have sworn he had seen the living face of the Great Spirit. In the ensuing swoon, he saw and felt wisdoms he had never imagined before. The vision held him in a loving embrace that seemed to carry him through countless multi-verses where he witnessed all that was and ever shall be. He saw the creation and demise of every place, of every being and of every creature. He heard their thoughts, and observed their every action, in infinitesimal detail, as though they were his own.
This state of divine possession is known as "A Journey Through the Mind of Na'Amavain", - a kind of 1Akashic records for elves. The state lasted for moments only, but to the King, it went on for eons. The Mage, realizing what had transpired, once again patiently bowed his head, awaiting Ru'Athari's recovery. He had witnessed this near-possession state when the retired King Firam relinquished the crown to his son and heir, Balor.
When Ru'Athari regained his composure, he was surprised to find that he, the High Mage and the temple had not changed after his long journey. The High Mage chuckled softly, understanding the King's confusion.
"Have no fear, all is well, my King." He then slowly arose, bowed low to his sovereign, turned and crossed to the door.
"But you are leaving?" Ru'Athari anxiously inquired.
"I am of no more use here. All questions have been answered. All that is left for Your Majesty now is to remember that thee knows the answers."
With that, he turned and departed, and the King was left to wonder.
The Queen Mother, Baelath'Mar (BY-el-ATH-mar) rejoiced with the knowledge that her sister-in-law was being banished from the realm. Although, she genuinely wished there could have been peace between them. She did not like the royal family being so fragmented. Royalty was a difficult status to maintain without the added burden of infighting.
In an effort to project the illusion of good family relations, the Queen approached her son with the hope that he too would seek to preserve the family's reputation. She knew of his resentment of his aunt, and his lack of concern for her predicament. She thought to convince him to join her in, at least, a pretense of civility.
"These things must be done with a delicate hand," she said to the King as she paced to and fro. "We cannot be seen discarding a member of the royal family like so much trash. After all, your subjects are not privy to your trials and would not look kindly on what they perceive to be ill treatment."
"What then, surely you do not suggest some type of pageantry?" he asked.
"Well, a small farewell ceremony seems in order."
Ru'Athari sat by a window buffing his lance, paying as little attention to the conversation as possible.
"It sounds more like a hail and farewell ceremony to me," he mumbled. "I prefer to send her off under cover of darkness and be done with it."
The Queen felt her attempt to convince him slipping away.
"Punishment for a crime," the King continued, "serves as a deterrent to others who might be contemplating evil. How can one govern a nation otherwise?"
"I agree, but we should not ignore propriety in this case."
"In the name of propriety?" he rose and returned his lance to its wall mount. "I have been more lenient than is wise, for one in my position. Besides, I do not recall this pattern of propriety when Father ordered my death."
"You are not your father. Your destiny is to restore this world to its true greatness and splendor. If you are to accomplish your goals, your reign must demonstrate more wisdom, courage and forbearance. It is not for you, now, to dwell on the weakness of a once great king. Deign to see, my son, "she warned.
"I will deign to trust your judgment, mother."
Preparing for the send off of their aunt, the twins kept each other company while her entourage was being gathered. They enjoyed a cup of tea and conversation as they sat by a gently burning fire in the hearth.
"Poor aunt," began the Princess, "it would have been so good to have her here."
"I suppose you sympathize with her plight?"
"Well, of course I do, brother. No one wants to be shipped off to some lonely, barren world to live forever. And no feeling person would wish it on another."
"Yes, little Princess, I know you think I am unfeeling. You should be accustomed to it by now. I know I am, for I am reminded of it constantly."
"Do not be defensive, brother. I know you have no alternative but to punish aunt, but that does not mean I must like it."
"What would you do, sister, if you were in my place?"
"I would probably have to do the same as you...and I still would not like it. No matter what she has done, she is still our aunt."
"Uh huh, our aunt who wants us dead, and wants to over run Birmagast with humans."
"Still it is a far away place, this Land of Shackles. So far and lonely."
"Not lonely, sister. Her entire household will accompany her there. Besides, the Orodhuinesse (o[r]do-[th]wee-NESS) are there." Something about the sudden look on his sister's face alerted him to another of her possible obstacles.
"But still..." the Princess muttered into her cup.
"...No, no, no, no, no. I know what you are thinking, sister, and I will not allow it."
"But perhaps I should go along...only for a little while."
"GO ALONG FOR WHAT REASON?" shouted the Ru'Athari setting down his cup. "I should have known this would happen. Any adversary of mine is sure to become a friend of yours. Can you be on my side for once?"
"I am on your side, brother. I do not fault you for this decision. Aunt brought it on herself. That bounty hunter could have killed you, or worse, dragged you back to earth where they certainly would have killed or imprisoned you. I merely suggest going along with aunt to maintain a modicum of civility...a small gesture, if you will, just until she settles in."
"And, what of us? Why does everyone else deserve your attention? Why do you torment me so. Why do you torment yourself so, for I know your mind, and I can see that you want us to be mated. I also know it frightens you, but you will not reveal the reason. Why do you resist your heart's desire."
The Princess set down her cup, rose and crossed to the window. The time had come to confess the source of her reluctance to fulfill the spirit bonding with the King.
"While you were away," she began cautiously, "I had an unfortunate occasion to communicate certain feelings to Father. He had long known of your tender feelings for me, but did not know that your absence was causing similar feelings to grow in my heart as well. There was nothing neither he nor I could do to quell my desire for you. He knew you would return someday, and that I would confess my love. Though you had intimidated me for most of our lives, our closeness revealed powers of recuperative understanding that Father was unable to comprehend. No matter how far away you were, he guessed that we were still connected. Because of this connection, he felt that I was being bewitched from afar, and that my tender feelings for you were not my own."
"In his effort to protect me," she continued, "Father employed certain evil powers imbued in his portion of the crown piece, to become active if you endeavored to lead me astray upon your return. Though you have now acquired this device, and it is under your protection, it is capable of other perilous powers besides reviving the Golden Army; powers that could very well mean your end. Exactly what evil enchantment Father coaxed from it, I was never able to discover. He would not confide in me, for surely the particulars would have been passed on to you."
"That will not DO, sister," a frustrated King remarked. "Why did you not tell me this from the start? Something could have been done by now."
"What difference does it make? We do not know how to access the enchantment and Father cannot tell us. He tried to kill you once, what if this device ..."
Suddenly, they became aware of a commotion outside interrupting her. Indignant orders and loud commands were being shouted, with numerous horses neighing, and clip-clopping wildly about. Suddenly, an identical pair of boggarts appeared at the opened door of the Ru'Athari's suite and nervously requested his presence in the courtyard. As the King and the Princess jogged hurriedly down the corridor toward the stairs, they were met by a breathless Veranis, coming to fetch them.
"Your Majesty, Your Highness," she bowed to them, "Her Royal Highness, Lanďany is preparing to leave. Her Royal Majesty, the Queen awaits below."
The three elves descended the stairs, while the two boggarts slid down the grand banister, much to the King's annoyance. Had they waited at the bottom of the stairs, he would have punted them out the door off the toe of his great boot. But, having finished their business, they scurried along, leaving Veranis to manage her master's affairs.
The King and his sister approached their frowning mother, looking disapprovingly on the chaos. She turned to her son and discretely motioned for him to intervene. As he hesitated, the Princess dashed out amidst the melee to where her aunt was waiting impatiently.
"Oh, aunt," she cried, "I am so sorry to see you go. I do wish things had worked out better. We hardly spent any time together." She leaned in and kissed Lanďany farewell, saying "Do take care of yourself, dear, dear aunt. Perhaps I can visit you sometime. Would you like that?"
"No, she would not," her brother interrupted.
"Ah, come to gloat me off, Your Majesty?" spat Lanďany.
"Of course not," answered the Princess quickly, "we are all sad to see you go."
"Very well," said the King, acquiescing to his sister's attempts to be civil, "we wish you a safe and hasty voyage. May you be happy and prosperous in your new home," he offered. "Good-bye," he added as he turned and disappeared inside the palace.
Meanwhile, Lanďany climbed aboard the carriage that would whisk her away southwest to Aear'Zarath (ah-AIR-ZAH-räth), where a ship waited to bear her and her company to the far side of Na'Raiza. As she comfortably installed herself in the vehicle, she spoke kindly to her niece, saying, "Thank you for standing with me. No one has ever willingly done me such a kindness before. You have made me feel valued and cherished today." She scanned her niece's smiling, upturned face for a moment, then added with a smile, "I have always thought of you as weak and dull. I think now, perhaps your loving heart makes you the strongest and brightest of us all. And to answer your question, yes, I would indeed be honored to have you visit me."
"Farewell, aunt," the Princess said, stepping away from the carriage. "Good journey."
Lanďany, peering from the window of the carriage, turned and bowed her head curtly to the Queen, who returned the gesture with equal disdain. They all watched as the carriage lumbered its way out of the Majestic City.
The King waited at the door of his suite for the Queen's appearance in the corridor. He had in mind to question her regarding the strange tale his sister had confided in him. Veranis, seeing her master standing idly in the doorway, came forward to offer assistance. He politely assured her that he was not in need of her attention. They conversed there quietly for awhile until the Queen was heard slowly climbing the stairs. He thanked Veranis for her service and dismissed her.
"Mother," he called out.
Seeing him standing there, she answered, "Something?"
"Yes. Speak with me for a moment, if you please."
As they entered his suite, he quietly closed the door and eagerly began to speak.
"I had a conversation with the Princess today. She told me a curious tale about Father. I know now that he truly hated me. I have suspected it from time to time, but now I am quite sure of it. It is true that we had seldom been in agreement regarding political issues. But, I have learned that his bitter feelings extended beyond that subject. Have I truly deserved his hatred all this time?"
She turned to face him, tilting her head to one side with a look of sadness and sympathy. "This seems to be a time of confessions." She paused thoughtfully, then slowly approached him. "Well, my poor son," she sighed, "I am afraid my confession will not make your day brighter."
Their golden eyes locked in anticipation as she continued. "It was not hatred for you, but jealousy and a secret desire for the Princess. He dared not express it, especially not to her. He did not even speak of it to me, but I remembered well his look of love from long ago. The same eyes that I thought had ceased to behold the light of love, looked upon her as they had once looked upon me. He had grown treacherous in his old age, for all his fair seeming, and his frustration over the Princess would move him to crush all competition, including his son."
She paused again, awaiting his reaction. His eyes, with a mixture of sadness and bewilderment, wandered down to the cold stone floor as he crossed and sat in his favorite chair by the fire. He remembered that she had alluded to the lecherousness of the Balor recently. But, he had passed it off as a misinterpretation on his part.
The Queen broke the silence. "And so, now you see, it was neither the Golden Army nor the crown piece that prompted him to order your death."
"Then this evil enchantment he put upon the crown is real. If the Butcher Guards did not finish me, the crown would, and now the details have indeed died with him."
"I know nothing of an enchantment, but if you are right about it, the crown's creator yet lives. Perhaps he will know the details."
"Could Father have confided in the goblin?"
"Indeed. He probably needed the goblin's assistance. And the goblin is no fool. He would have made some provision for his own safety, if nothing else. Your father was King, but he was not so trusted as you might think. It is a strong possibility that the goblin installed a secret enchantment of his own while assisting Balor."
"Perhaps," the King speculated, "it would be safer to keep the crown pieces separate for now. It is well I have kept that goblin close to Birmagast. I will have him found and brought before me."
1. The Akashic (ah-K[A]-shick) records (in the human belief system) -is a term used to describe a compendium of mystical knowledge supposedly encoded in a non-physical plane of existence, and further described as containing all knowledge of human experience and the history of the cosmos.