The Key (A Fairytale) – Chapter 3 – Broken Wings (Part 1)
Several weeks after the meeting with Ariya, we were making our way across a meadow when we unexpectedly ran across the most charming yellow cottage one could imagine. Nestled in the wood line behind a gorgeous flower garden with carefully tended vegetable patches on both sides, the cottage couldn’t have been more enchanting. It was even surrounded by a white picket fence with a red barn behind teaming with livestock. Everything was neat and orderly; including the lovely tropical flowers in full bloom bursting out of their pots on the windowsills . . . and attending to some laundry in the yard was a most beautiful young maiden with long, silky hair, and a flowing red dress.
She looked up from her laundry basket for a moment just as Conqueror and I crested the ridge, and as soon as she saw us she ran for the cottage as fast as she could. I looked down at my ragged robe and dirty feet and realized what a fearful sight I must be, with my matted hair and unkempt beard, and held up my hand, signaling that I meant no harm. But it was too late; she had already dashed inside and bolted the door tight.
I certainly had no interest in frightening the poor maiden further, but as I turned to leave, I noticed her curiously peeking through a window. I waived and called out, “I’m sorry! I meant no harm. I must look awful. It was just by chance that we happened by your cottage. But we will be on our way now. Don’t worry; you have nothing to fear from us.”
The face quickly disappeared from the window, and I turned to walk away again.
A few steps later, I heard a faint, “Wait a minute!”
Conqueror and stopped in our tracks. This was an unexpected surprise! Could she really sense that I was harmless? Or was she just lonely? I didn’t know what to think.
“Are you friendly?” she shouted from the partially opened door.
“Yes,” I laughed, “Yes I am, very friendly! And so is my horse!”
She cautiously walked to where we were standing and looked us over. “You seem nice,” she said, as if trying to measure us and convince herself of what she was saying at the same time. Then she said, “Okay, I’m sorry to be so suspicious. What kind of a good neighbor would refuse to help travelers? You and your horse must be hungry?”
I was captivated by her nerve; I could see already that she was a lot like me. But then that small, still voice in my heart, for some mysterious reason, began pleading with me to leave this maiden alone; to turn around immediately and get out of here. Another part of me, however, with a more persuasive voice, tried to convince me not to be foolish. Why pass up some real food, especially for Conqueror? There could be grain in the barn for my loyal friend who has remained by my side these many years. Wouldn’t some good food give both of us added strength to continue my search for the key? I could be on my way again in no time, and besides, it would be impolite to refuse this very kind invitation. What harm could possibly come of it?”
My heart softly countered, “You have done fine by yourself so far . . . there is danger here.”
The louder voice rudely overruled the still, quiet voice of intuition, and responded convincingly, “You are being disrespectful! Accept this gracious invitation! Don’t be stupid!”
The heart and mind quarrel quickly, and this entire altercation between my intuition and logic took just the smallest part of a moment, as I found myself graciously accepting the maiden’s offer, with my poor heart whispering, “No, no, no.”
Unfortunately, I did not understand, yet, the serious consequences of not following the soft murmurings of a subtle heart.
The maiden’s name was Maradin, and while I rested in the barn after feeding and brushing Conqueror, she was busy preparing a feast fit for a “king.” Simmering on the fire was a thick stew of vegetables, just picked, along with a plump chicken from her barnyard. There was a loaf of warm, baked bread and a plate of rolls topped with tasty goat butter and cheeses. For desert she prepared two bowls of sweet rice topped with mangos and cream, and just for good measure, a freshly baked wild berry pie. She laid out some clean clothes; a new york mets philadelphia phillies sweatshirt (lưới an toàn ban công)and trousers, and heated water for a bath. Next to the tub was a pair of scissors, and a razor . . . and a few lit candles to create a cozy atmosphere for her special visitor.
I heard her call out from the cottage, “Come on in and eat.,” and I noticed that her voice was so different. I had never quite heard a voice as melodic . . . it was beautiful. I walked up to the cottage and suddenly found myself in heaven, completely overwhelmed by indescribable odors that, after five years, I had almost forgot existed! Maradin motioned toward the bathroom. “Get in there and give me that filthy robe so I can launder it for you,” she ordered with a big smile.
I hurried into the bathroom, obediently handed my robe out from behind the door, as instructed, and eased into a tub of warm, soft water that cast its magic spell in only a few minutes, as I fell fast asleep.
I woke up to find Maradin sitting beside me, smiling. She had not only shaved my beard, but trimmed my hair while I was stark naked in the tub! With an amused expression, she coyly said, “You must be exhausted! You didn’t even wake up!” She then assured me not to worry, that she had been raised with four brothers so there was nothing that she hasn’t seen before. “But I couldn’t help notice all the scars,” she said. “You most certainly must have been a warrior. May I ask how you lost your eye? Was it in battle?”
I was strangely impressed by this enigmatic maiden and her straightforward approach. I could see that she had good judgment; easily recognizing a trustworthy person such as myself, and even more endearing were her wonderful heart and pretty smile.
“I will tell you about my eye after dinner,” I promised.
We made delicious small talk during the meal, with both the meal and the conversation turning out to be absolutely wonderful. I helped with the dishes, and after we had put away the last dish in the spotless cupboards, she suggested we sit out on the porch for a while and take advantage of a delightful evening complete with serenades of frogs and crickets. I opened the door for her, and as she walked past, I couldn’t help notice how gracefully she moved; it was almost as if she were floating.
Sitting on the swing, sipping strawberry wine, we discovered that we could make each other laugh easily, and found ourselves talking about this and that far into the night. And eventually, the conversation drifted to Maradin’s past.
“Please forgive me if this question is too personal,” I apologized, “but I’m curious as to why you are living out here all by yourself in this dangerous forest.”
She looked away for a moment. “I’m really not alone, she replied, “my fianc looks in on me whenever he can between hunting trips. He lives not too far away.”
Fianc? For some reason I didn’t want to hear that she had a fianc. But I could sense something was wrong; something was not quite right because her eyes tightened when she mentioned her fianc, as if she was hiding something; or afraid of something. I was not about to pry, however, and did not pursue it further that night.
Her mood remained sullen, however, her long hair falling gently across her face as she looked down at the porch, “You see; my parents who lived here with me were recently killed as they were walking to the village by the pair of man eating tigers that had long terrorized this part of the forest. A great hunter finally tracked and killed the tigers, and befriended me. He talked me into remaining here instead of moving away to live with my brothers, promising that he would protect me.”
She then brightened and said, “If I may ask, what are you doing so far away from civilization?”
I decided not to complicate things, or expose her to any danger by revealing my real past just in case any of my pursuers happened by after I departed, so I merely replied that I lost my eye in the wars many years ago, and that I was now a key seeker following my heart.
“I’m so sorry,” she blushed, “I knew there was something different about you . . . I sensed it immediately . . . I’m not even sure what the feeling was. At any rate, I would never have walked into your bath had I known that you are a key seeker.”
I told her not to be concerned, and we talked a while longer, until she finally suggested that we turn in, “It’s a dark night, and a good rest certainly would be nice before you continue on your journey tomorrow. You are welcome to sleep in the barn”
“Are you sure it wouldn’t be a problem?”
“No problem at all,” she smiled sweetly.
“Well, I suppose one night would be okay,” I agreed, “and I really am tired . . . too much great food!”
So I accepted her kind invitation, not wanting to seem disrespectful of her hospitality. But all the while my silent heart was protesting, “No-No-No.” (To be continued)
write by Dalziel