|"Aslan shook his golden mane and sounded out one long, loud Note..."|
The Lord Steward glared at the crouched, hooded figure at his feet. "Stand up! Are you inciting a revolution, stranger?"
The figure obediently stood. "It is not a revolution, your Lordship, it is revival."
The hooded stranger tipped her head back slightly, but did not uncover. The Lord Steward heard her gasp.
"You are not Sir Taurin, nor are you like him enough to be his son!"
He answered, "Nay; I am Martan, son of Melonni, son of Taurin, the first Lord Steward of Nast." He looked sharply down at the stranger, "I am ill-used to being so free toward an accused rioter. Who are you?"
The stranger threw back her hood. Her dark hair draped loosely over her shoulders, and her dark-blue eyes blazed. With a loud voice she cried out,
"I am Lady Melanie, heir of Lord Fausberg and rightful Regent of Nast! Now, Steward, I demand a full account of your dealings with my land!"
[Excerpt from Chapter 6] At this startling announcement, the nobles and advisors of Martan's court leapt to their feet. The captain of the guard blanched with fear at the realization that he called the true heir of Nast (and the person who legally held his life in her hands) a heretic.
Martan reeled in shock. So this was Lady Melanie! She was the one Grandfather Taurin wanted his son and grandson to always remember! She was the young girl in the old legends of Nast who supposedly called down terrible judgments on the old merchant clans that once plagued the city. She was also the one Taurin waited forty long years for, because he loved her and none else.
When Lord Steward Taurin began to grow very old, still waiting for her return, it took every one of his advisors and nobles to convince him that if he did not marry, his line would end, and the Lordship would pass to another. Taurin was heartbroken at Melanie's absence, but at long last he came to terms with the low probability of seeing Melanie in his lifetime.
He sent searchers out forthwith, scouring the land for one as near resembling Melanie as they could find. A girl named Pollah, with sparkling blue eyes and brown curls, arrived at the castle, and she became Taurin's wife. Their marriage was a happy one, and produced Taurin's heir, whom he named Melonni in memory of the woman now standing in his grandson Martan's court.
Lord Steward Martan immediately leapt from his throne and knelt before his lady. A simple wave of his hand, and all the nobles in the room followed his example. Melanie blushed modestly at the respect shown her.
"Rise and report," she said, fighting to recover the composure more befitting her as the one in charge.
Martan stood instantly and gave the history of Nast since Melanie's strange disappearance.
"My father was seventy-two when he suddenly collapsed on a hunting expedition in Beren Wood. He died soon afterwards, and I became Lord Steward of Nast," Martan finished. "Nast remains in debt as she ever was, and not much else is worth reporting, Your Ladyship."
He took her hand with a suddenness that surprised her. "There is something I would like to know, though," he said. "You have led the people of Nast in a revival," he looked her straight in the eye, "now lead their lord."
At this invitation, Melanie willingly told Lord Steward Martan the message of the True Naslan.
[Excerpt from Chapter 7] The guards at the door to Martan's court started and trembled in fear at the sight of the enormous Lion, but when they saw the smile on Melanie's face, they relaxed and opened the door for them.
Martan and his court were no less astounded than the guards were when Melanie and Aslan entered, but Martan recognized the Lion and immediately knelt before him.
"Lord Aslan," he said, "I am your servant; what would you have me do?"
Aslan bent down and licked the top of Martan's head in a Lion's kiss.
"It is good that you call me Lord in faith, not having seen any sign, my son," Aslan said. "Rise now and assemble the people in the Square. Tonight, all shall witness my power."
Stunned, Martan immediately called a public gathering. There was some confusion as the night-market had just begun, and soon the market was too full for selling or buying, and people wondered what on earth the Lord Steward meant by calling a gathering so late at night. Martan silenced them all with a wave of his hand.
"People of Nast!" he cried, "This lady now standing next to me was among you yesterday. She has led you all in exposing the grave error we have made concerning the Great Lion, whose name is Aslan.
"I hereby decree that the worship of the Naslan shall cease, and there shall be no more models of Aslan made, but we shall worship him for what he is: himself! The Temple shall hereafter be used as a meeting-place to learn of Aslan, the True Lion, not only in the evenings, but also at any time during the day!
"Finally, my people," he continued, silencing the cheers that erupted at the last statement, "it is with great pleasure that I present to you the true leader of Nast. I, as you know, am only the steward of Nast. People of Nast, we have waited one hundred years for this return, and now bear ye witness! I present the Lady Melanie!"
Melanie stepped up to the balustrade where everyone could see her. The whole crowd cheered, and Melanie distinctly heard a familiar voice cry,
"Lion alive! It's Mella! Daen't she look fine now, Brion?"
Melanie smiled at the people and waved her hand.
"People of Nast!" she cried, "You recall how I told you of Aslan, and beseeched you to follow his ways and his example. Now, behold, Aslan himself has come among us, and he desires to redeem the oppressed, to free those in bondage, and to heal the sick!"
Aslan moved forward and the whole assembly cried out at the sight of him, some in joy and some in fear.
"Bear ye witness of his power!" Melanie said.
Aslan shook his golden mane and sounded out one long, loud Note.
To those who believed and were faithful, that Note seemed to seep with a delicious warmth into the very center of their being. The lame felt new life in their limbs, the eyes of the blind were opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, and the tongues of the dumb loosed.
To those who had set their hearts against Aslan, however, this Note cut through their hardness life a beam of light in the dark. They covered their ears, they ran to the inmost places of their sumptuous apartments, but still the Note persisted, penetrating, cutting, and exposing. There was no help for these people but to leave the country altogether, and they did. Every cruel man, dishonest merchant, and arrogant noble scrambled for the nearest border. The throng of faithful ones moved to the center of the Square as Aslan's enemies poured out from their buildings, holes, and booths; running, running, desperate to escape that awful, ringing, deadly Note.
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