Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Little Sea-Maiden (A Legend of the Lìon-Aos*, or Leonie)

^^This is the closest I could find to what I envision a Leonie to look like,
maybe a little more salamander-like in the head--but the coloring is
pretty near perfect!

*Lìon-Aos: (Irish Gaelic) "The Tide[flow]-folk"
Deep in the ocean, magical creatures abound, thriving in myth and legend. Not the least of these is the Leonie. Leonie-folk like to swim close to the surface, and they may often be mistaken for large eels or even giant jellyfish, because of their shape. The body is large and round, with a long tail, like an eel, and the head has the rounded shape, as that of a salamander, and its arms are two thick tentacles, like those of an octopus. It is said that the Leonie can take the form of anything it touches, from that of another creature, to the sand upon the seashore.

One day, a young Leonie-maid drifted under the surface of the water as a storm raged on the sea. Suddenly, there appeared a boat in the water above her, which soon capsized under a wave, and a young man fell into the water and began to drown. The Leonie-maid took pity on the man, and saved him, carrying him to the shore. She departed while he was still unconscious, so when he awoke, he wondered how it was possible that he was still alive.
His friends, also, were astonished at the miracle.
“When we heard that the boat sank, we had given you up for dead!” they cried.
“How then did I end up laying upon the beach?” queried the young man.
“Perhaps it was the tide,” said his friends, shrugging their shoulders.

Deep in the water, the Leonie-maid confessed to her sisters what she had done.
“Oh sisters, come and hear of the man who has won my heart!” she said, and told them of the rescue she had made. “Tell me what I should do, for I am so filled with longing that I will gladly take the form of a human to seek him, to see if he will share my affections.”
“Dear little sister,” said the eldest, “let me save you the heartache and struggle, for I know the human of whom you speak. He is the son and heir of a very rich man, and he would very likely have nothing to do with a simple stranger such as yourself.”
But the Leonie-maid would not be discouraged, and said, “Yet I am still intent on finding him, and if he will not have me, I will give myself to be a servant in his house, that I might have the pleasure of merely being near to him.”

So the Leonie-maid took on the form of a human and applied herself to be a servant in the house of the young man whose life she had saved. And she performed her duties so faithfully that the family began to take notice of her. The young man, himself, was so struck by her beauty that one day he called her into his presence. She came and curtseyed, as befitted her station.
“You there, do I not know you?” he asked.
The Leonie-maid smiled and said, “Your eyes may not know my face, but methinks it is your heart that knows me.”
The young man nodded, “Indeed, it is true; for I have never looked twice at any of the other maids, and yet somehow your presence draws me. Why should my heart know you, then?”
The Leonie-maid stepped forward and gazed into the young man’s eyes. “First, my master, I must know: do you admit that you love me?”
The young man held her gaze. “Truly, I confess it is so, though I know not how this comes to pass, for surely we are strangers to one another.”
The Leonie-maid shook her head, and said, “Nay, we are not strangers, for in that storm which overturned your boat not long ago, I was there, and I saved you, bringing you up out of the water and onto the shore.”
The man was astonished, and he said, “But how is it that you came to be in the water with me? Why did you not come forward and tell me of this sooner? Verily, I must owe you my life, since you were the one to save it when no one else could!”

“Indeed, it is so,” said the Leonie-maid, “and I can tell you how it came to be: I am a Leonie, a creature of the water, and I took on this form you see before you, that of a human maid, in order to find you and seek if you will return my affections. For I love you, dear master, and if you would but love me in return, I may remain at your side as a human for as long as we both shall live!”

And the young man was so overcome by this tale that he said, “As surely as I live, I love you with all my heart!” And he took her into his arms and kissed her, and her Leonie form left her, and she remained human to the end of her days.

Author's Note: Okay, so I don't have a new excerpt from the "Writer's Tale" series because this new idea sort of exploded over my brain this week. I literally dreamed it up, the story of a father and daughter who discover a stranger washed up on the beach who ends up being a Leonie, and the Leonie is secretly in love with the daughter of a rich family who takes their vacations in this small coastal town "right on the border between England and Scotland"... There's theft, murder, shape-shifting, and a chance at true love involved in the tale, which I will most likely start posting on Wattpad under the title "The Water-Man" so stay tuned!

The name "Lìon-Aos" might actually be a stretched-out translation of what I wanted, and very likely anti-grammatical... but it had the right sound, similar to "Selkie" or "Kelpie"--both of which I considered briefly, but neither of which quite fit the creature swimming around in my head! So for those diametrically opposed to this gross misuse of language, I am very sorry. But I hope you enjoyed the tale anyway (it will feature within the narrative of The Water-Man as well!) and I hope you will follow the story as it develops!