Thanks to all who read, commented and kindly shared the first part of Madeleine Shrewsday’s story. Here is part 2 (of 13) …..
Every day, Lara went to the edge of the world and looked down at the mountains. No other citizen went there, and she loved to sit alone there, nursing her solitude.
One day, the citizens gathered as the senate, and there was something different. It made them feel…uncomfortable. The difference made their shoulder pull in and their fingers lock with their hands.
Lara felt the change like a pulse of electricity. While the other citizens chattered anxiously and waited for the Govenor to arrive, she sat in silence in her seat, and watched the guilded door that he always entered through.
At last, he came. He sat down in his seat at the head of The Very Long Table and regarded the senate, pointedly. ‘I know you are all probably feeling a little discomfort this morning,” he said, “and that is because last night, and went to talk to Prince Midgard.”
“You spoke with him?” said Damariel.
“Not only did I speak with him, I reasoned with him,” said the Govenor. “We met by the mountains on the Lower plane yesterday. And we reached an agreement; I have taken a share in some of his darkness, which lessens the burden on him and upon his plane. This makes existence easier for them, and harder for us. Thus, the darker Plane does not resent us so much for our glory, and will not act against us quite so vehemently.”
“My Lord,” Damariel was dismayed, “I don’t understand. Aren’t we meant to vanquish darkness?”
“In theory. But the rule of our cosmos is that Darkness can never be created or destroyed; but it can be shared. By taking a little more darkness for us, I have lessened the burden on Midgard and the Darker plane.”
“To see his reason, Damariel,” Lara looked up. Govenor smiled and winked at her, secretively. “You will all feel a little anxious and unhappy for a while. But in time, you will adjust to the new state of the Plane and you will feel better.”
“What words are these?” Asked Gabriella.
“Words that describe your current feeling, Gabriella. You may not understand me at first but in time you will. Hitherto only Senator Lara has known darkness, but now it is time to share that suffering.”
Does that mean that Govenor knows about the candles-Lara looked down and saw that she was shaking.
When council dissolved, Lara turned straight towards the mountains, but before she left the gates of the city she heard Damariel calling after her.
“Lara? Senator Lara, What is it that has changed, what is it like to be dark?”
Lara felt her heart beat with the new electricity of the air. “I do not know, Senator,” said she. ‘We will find out together, I expect.”
“But Lara,” said Gabriella, coming to the fore- quite a crowd was gathering now- “What is ‘darkness?’ Govenor said that you were dark so you must know what it is!”
“It is what you are too afraid to acknowledge. It’s…I suppose it is the bit of you that feels dread, or shame, or-“
“Lara, strange one, what words are these?” said Damariel. “Why do you say these things? It puzzles me. It makes me feel…I believe the term is ‘anxious?’”
“Yes!” cried Gabriella, and she turned to address the crowd, “Lara is strange, but has she not always been like this? When we sing songs of Praise to the Govenor, she slinks off and cannot be found for ages. And then when she does return she is all quiet and sad.”
“She is always quiet and sad,” said Damariel. “Lara, you must be dark. That is logical.”
“And now I look at you,” said another, “I see that you look wrong. Your hair is dark, and your skin is too pale, and your eyes…they move. The colour inside them is too bright, and it moves.”
“Lara is dark, everyone!” cried Gabriella, and Lara could feel their little hearts turn away from her in fear and disgust. The candles inside her welled up and up and up until she could not keep the gorging inferno from wretching forth into her mind.
“My poor innocents,” she laughed bitterly, “Do you wish to punish me with your disdain? You have punished me since my birth with your ignorance.” And with that, she fled to the end of the world once more.
The wind that came up from the lower plane lifted her as she came. The mountains were there; black rock, trickling streams, white gold sunlight reflected off the snow-littered summits. Fly to us, said the mountains. Fly to us. Away from this place of perfection. You soil your countrymen, but we are no stranger to unhappiness. Live with us and in us and we shall hold you away from this.
Lara’s wings braced as if to beat. I am coming.
But what if I fall-?
If she fell, what then? Oblivion. Better to die, thought Lara. Better to die than to spread darkness to such innocent beings as the citizens. Better to die than for Govenor to-.
Better to die anyway.
Lara extended her fair foot over the edge of the world, and the cold mountain air brushed against it like a passing stranger. She spread her arms out and shut her eyes. Better to die anyway-
She stopped as she heard her name spoken aloud. It was not a citizen’s voice.
“Lara, come away from there.”
She placed her foot back on the edge of the world and turned around. There was Govenor. He wrapped cloak of silver around him tightly as he could not thrive in the cold as Lara could. Lara turned to dust at the sight of him.
“Lara, why have you come here?” he asked.
“To reflect,” replied Lara warily, “To think on today’s council-“
“You’re telling me a lie,” said Govenor quietly, “Please, dear one, come away from there, I am worried that you will fall.”
Dear one…? Lara came not away. “I only wanted to look upon the mountains, I come here a great deal.”
“I know you do. Lara, for pity’s sake, come away from there.” He came towards her. Lara flinched, but instead of throwing her off, Govenor pulled her into an embrace. In his arms, Lara felt sheltered from the eyes of the world around her. She had never felt such warmth and safety as then. So pleasing was it that her eyes started to leak water onto her face, in a rather disgusting manner. When Govenor saw he looked sad and said, “Hush now, my Lara, there is no need for that.”
Lara couldn’t stop. She looked up at Govenor and asked, ‘I presume you here to banish me?”
How and why could I ever bring myself to do that?” he asked, “My sweetest one, you have done nothing wrong.”
“But I am dark, you said, you-said-“
“No. Your candles are not a dark thing by any means,” he said. “I know, Lara. I have always known about your candles and it is not a fault, but a glory. For into you, I have sewn a soul.”