Monday, July 1, 2013

"Laurel of Andar" Excerpt--"Beginnings and Endings"

300 years later
The lithe young elf-maid, dressed in the livery of the royal family, raced among the streets of the town. Though she ran with utmost haste, her steps sounded on the stone streets no louder than a touch. The girl with cheeks much paler than most of those around her, did not hesitate at the milling crowds, but flowed through them effortlessly until she reached her destination: the Lureshanta apothecary shop.

The young elf entered the establishment and immediately dropped in a curtsy. An Elf-matron, one of the most famed healers, stood behind the counter of the apothecary, weighing pungent spices into glass vials. She looked up at the maid, "Yes?" she inquired calmly, "What is your need?"

The maid stood and replied, "Please, ma'am, the house of Sir Nareandor requests your presence, as my mistress is prepared to give a child!"

The matron curled her lip in obvious disgust, "The Half-elf, the Binoyarda?"  she raised her voice rudely. She would have continued, refusing the summons, but the Elvish maid produced a thick, gold signet ring, saying, "I am instructed to give you this as proof of the summons, and to assist you in whatever you need."

The apothecary dared at worst to roll her eyes at the sight of the ring. "Well, I suppose I cannot ignore that," she grumbled as she gathered the necessary medicines and cloths for a birth. "Here, young one," she handed the maid a large basket full of blankets and bottles. "Carry this one, if you please, and lead me to the house."

"Very well, ma'am," said the girl, and both women left the shop.

The front door of the great mansion was guarded by three Elvish soldiers. Evidenced by their demeanor, they were ordered to prevent any unauthorized entry. The apothecary, however, produced the ring, and one of the guards immediately escorted her and the maid into the house.

The instant the large doors opened, a most appalling scream rent the air. The poor young maid had never heard such an awful sound before in her life. She cringed and covered her ears. The apothecary only shook her head. "That's a human noise, right there! Most undignified! A pure Andara giving a child—in the ancient tongue, we say, ‘in woddathyarde’ is silent, respecting the sacredness of the event."

They entered the bedroom, where poor Mithiel writhed in pain, crying out with every contraction. Her husband, Nareandor, and his uncle Golon waited anxiously in the corner of the room, powerless to alleviate the soul-wrenching pain. The apothecary curtsied low before the two elves.

"I thank you for coming so swiftly, Lyberedd," Golon said to the apothecary, "Now aid the woman!"

Mithiel screamed again as Lyberedd approached her bedside. The apothecary rolled up her sleeves. "Hand me that towel, girl," she told the maid in a quiet tone, "The child is nearly here, and we must help its progress!"

The maid complied with every command as Lyberedd set about bringing a child into the world. She grimaced at each horrible cry. "Why is the giving of a child so sacred?" she asked the apothecary as she passed her herbs when bidden.

"It is sacred because it is a time when the body of the woman cleanses itself. The Andarian name for it means ‘that which makes one pure.’ We believe that all  the impurities leave with the child--not in it, mind you, but covering the outside of it-- and then we may cleanse the child, and both will be pure."

The maid glanced warily at the poor mother, who was not in such constant pain now, with the administration of medicine, but every so often it grew too great to bear, and she would cry out again.

"It… It sounds very--painful," she remarked, tenderly wiping the sweating brow with cool water.
"Aye," Lyberedd harumphed, "it is painful when you have such impurities as this one," Lyberedd dropped her voice lower still, "And such as she has cannot be cleansed by a birth."

Just when the nerves of both women were strained to the limit at the distress of their patient, a small head appeared, followed by the rest of a small body. The child had arrived, squalling as loudly as its mother, and verily looking all covered in "impurities." Lyberedd gave the tiny newborn to the maid to wash as she tended to the mother.

The maid placed the baby in a basin of cool water, and as she tenderly stroked the pink flesh with soft cloths, the baby quieted, and stared up at the maid with large solemn, blue-grey eyes.

"Quickly," Lyberedd's voice was gentle and urgent, "Give the child to her mother so it will form the proper bond!"

The maid brought the little girl over to the bed. Mithiel was so weak from the birthing, she almost could not reach for her little daughter.

With a nod, Lyberedd welcomed the two men to the bedside. Nareandor immediately kissed his wife and new baby daughter. Golon stroked the chubby, rosy cheeks of the gurgling newborn.
"What will you call her?"

Mithiel gazed down upon the little girl. Only one name suited this tiny elfin maiden. "Laurelindolonorina," Mithiel pronounced.

Golon quickly looked at the young mother. “You would give her your mother’s name?”

Mithiel nodded, fighting the tears behind her eyes. She stroked the smooth, dimpled cheek as she murmured, “My mother made a choice, and people said it was a mistake. I hope that one day my daughter will have the chance to redeem her family!”

Golon saw the earnestness in her face, but he also saw the discomfort of those present; Mithiel’s mother Laurelindolonorina had fallen into infamy only a century after her people's arrival on the mainland, when she fell in love with a Glastorian man and married him. The two lovers were outcasts in all but name, until Golon’s nephew Nareandor spied Mithiel and fell in love. Golon recalled trying to reason with the young Elf, but Nareandor would not hear it. Now Mithiel had borne a child. 

Golon smiled and tried to lighten the mood. "Quite a prodigious epithet for such a small child!" he cried with a laugh.

Mithiel chuckled softly, watching her daughter as the infant vainly endeavored to thrust her entire fist into her mouth. "We would not use the whole name all the time, of course; she will be called Laurel."

The tiny child looked up at her mother. Reaching with the hand not occupying her mouth, she touched the cheek of the loving face above her.

"Laurel," murmured Mithiel. Secretly, the Half-Elf hoped and prayed that somehow this child would redeem her in the eyes of her community, as her namesake had caused her degradation.

[The last Song of Mithiel, Daughter of Laurelindolonorina, Sung Over Her Newborn Infant, Upon Dying of a Strange Illness Shortly after Childbirth, Recorded and Translated by Eurilla,  Apothecary's Maid]

Arterriungor at Calaithe,
[I am going to Calaithe,]

Arvenataf et calatren,
[For you, eternity I’ll wait;]

Wechden o laithe afuadwoddor atoyanda
[There’s a place prepared for you,]

Oy Raenna-laerynn anoy Andaru;
[Dear Heart of the Andaru]

Aftendra thandirath oyness poshbaetha,
[Listen for this lullaby,]

Afthandiraf orr oy laurde
[Hear it ‘mongst the stars on high;]

Jyrn af poshandra xe et oy raenna’anaf,
[When you dream, and in your heart,]

De’naru xe aruen fusande at calatren.”
[The two of us will never part.]