Stars Over Llorleya- Chapter 12

Fiction By Anna // 5/12/2008

Chapter the Twelfth

The ballroom was decked out in bright golds and reds. The people were decked out in their fanciest clothing, especially the ladies. They spared no luxury or decoration; so very many of them turned out looking gaudy and silly in their frills and laces and petticoats. The men, sad to say, weren’t much better.
Torlith wasn’t dancing. Anyone he would have asked would’ve complied, out of fear if nothing else, but he seemed to have no desire to dance. Knowing him, I’m not at all surprised.

Aria pressed against the wall, just outside of the door. She was late, and the first dance had already started. She could hear the music inside, and the quick steps of the dance. She smoothed out her dress, simpler than most of the ladies’ choices. It was a blue-white color, like starlight, with sky blue and navy blue embroidered swirls curling down from the dress’s shoulders and up from the hem of the long white sweep of frothy skirt. Taking a deep breath, she rounded the corner, stopping in the doorway with a deep blush at all the stares suddenly turned to her.
"She’s breathtaking," said someone in the crowd.
Aria smiled shyly at all the stares bestowed on her. She seemed gather light from the candles all around the room so that she seemed to glow and sparkle from a fire inside, out-blazing the candles and the other dancers. She slowly descended the stairs, looking at the floor and trying to escape notice.
Where was Gilligan? She searched among the dancers whirling gaily about in a frenzy of color and noise, but no vision came to show them clearly.
In her nervousness, she began to panic. Her thoughts ran along lines they should never have found.
It was true that Gilligan could probably have gone to the ball with any girl he chose, so it should have been a compliment to Aria that she was asked, but instead of feeling flattered, she now wondered if maybe he had decided not to go with her. After all, who would dance with a blind Singer who was known for being odd and holding herself aloof, especially if he could dance with anyone he wanted? she thought. (Of course this was all nonsense brought up by panic, but it made perfect sense to Aria at the time.) She turned to slip back out the door.
Then she felt the slight pressure a hand on her shoulder, staying her. It was Gilligan, evidently relieved. Aria turned around and smiled as he greeted her, all her doubts evaporating. She felt humiliated. Had she become so untrusting of everyone and everything that she had doubted even Gilligan?
Gill knew nothing of her thoughts, so he began to speak, his hand still on her shoulder. "Arianna! I found you, thank goodness. For a moment I thought maybe you had decided not to dance with me." He looked down. "I felt like a fool… but I was more of a fool for not trusting your word," he apologized. "Will you forgive me?"
Aria gave a very slight shrug, feeling embarrassed. "There is nothing to forgive. Really. It is no great loss if my honor is slighted, but when yours is-" she stopped in dismay as Gilligan caught on.
"You thought I wouldn’t come?" he asked, looking astonished.
She bit her lip. "I’m sorry… I- I’m not used to trusting people." She blushed. "I beg forgiveness. As I said, when the honor of a knight is slighted-" She looked down. "Maybe I should go."
"No!" Gilligan was surprised by the volume of his voice. "No. Please don’t. I don’t blame you for what you thought- after all, I thought the same things."
Aria smiled, looking up. She knew he was being kinder than most men would have when doubted that way. "Thank you," she whispered.
Then Gilligan laughed. It released some tension. "My lady," he said with a grand bow.
She took his offered hand, joy lifting her spirits.
"Come," he said, "if you will honor me with the second dance."
What do you mean, if I will? Aria thought, smiling.
The second dance began.
It was fast-paced. They were sailing around the room, their feet hardly seeming to touch the ground. In and out, in and out, weaving between dancers, twirling under their arms, revisiting the old steps they had known as children.
Night fell. Some couples left the ball, but some stayed, Gill and Aria among them. The next dances were slower, as though the music knew the hour was growing older. Around them the candles were dimming with the hour- Was it that near midnight already? Aria thought.
Aria found herself blushing in her awareness of his nearness. She found herself wondering if he was thinking about her the same way she was thinking of him, and hoping he was. She paused. When did I become so self-conscious? she thought. I didn’t care a bit if anyone at home- I mean in the village- liked me or didn’t like me. I didn’t care if they gave me a glance.
Aria wasn’t realizing that she didn’t care what the people at the castle thought of her either… only what Gill thought of her.
Their eyes met, and suddenly they found that they were no longer dancing, just standing there, looking at each other.
And over Gilligan’s shoulder, Aria saw Torlith. Looking at them. Looking at her.
And suddenly their gazes locked.
She was off, running, fleeing. She had to get away. Was it something in Torlith’s wicked eyes or something in Gilligan’s gentle touch that frightened her?
She told herself it was Torlith- after all, how could just dancing with someone scare her? But it had, at least in part, she owned, caused her to run.
After all, whenever she began to love someone, they were taken away; they disappeared, were killed, were far away. It’s like a sentence from The Princess Bride: "Her heart was a secret garden, and the walls were very high." Was it worth it to not let anyone in, just to make sure that there could be no pain if they should leave?
**
Gilligan stood alone at the center of the dance floor, staring at his empty hands. Couples still danced around him. Gilligan looked up slowly and met Torlith’s eyes. They both knew that he was at least part of what had sent Aria away. A spark ignited in Gill’s eyes; then it was gone. And so was Gilligan.

Aria didn’t get a glimpse of Gilligan for two days after the ball. This time it wasn’t her fault. She had searched for him, but to no avail. It was ironic, that when she finally wanted to find him, he was the one missing.
She wanted desperately to apologize. She felt terrible about fleeing from the ball. Had she embarrassed Gilligan when she left? Had she made him look foolish? She didn’t even have a very good excuse for leaving as abruptly as she had. She could only pray the God and Gilligan would forgive her.
When she finally did find him, he had his back turned to her.
Her courage faltered a bit. She stood there uncertainly, praying that God would give her words to say, until he turned around and saw her.
His eyes registered some surprise, but his expression was otherwise unreadable. Before he had a chance to speak, Aria blurted, "Gill, I’m sorry I… I ran… I just… I was overwhelmed. I was scared."
"It’s fine," said Gilligan. But his voice was icier than usual.
"You’re angry at me!" she said miserably. She bit her lip.
Gilligan was startled by the emotion in her voice. He shook his head. "Not at you," he said, the frost disappearing from his tone.
"Are you sure?" she asked. The look of pleading in her eyes grew.
"I was angry at first," admitted Gilligan gently, "but more at Torlith than you. I’ve forgiven you. It’s all right." He smiled. "So…" he began, "where have you been?"
Aria laughed. "Where have I been? Where have you been! I looked for you, but I couldn’t find you."
That’s a change, his eyes seemed to say, but he stayed silent, only grinning.
"Well, why not?" said Aria defensively.
"Oh, nothing, it’s just…" His grin grew. "I’ve waited awhile for it. It’s a little satisfactory that you trust me enough now to want to find me."
"I’m sorry I waited so long," said Aria softly.
Gilligan smiled. "Here, let me show you something." He began to walk, and motioned for Aria to come with him.
"So, where have you been?" Aria repeated, half-skipping to keep up with his long, determined stride.
"Just here and there," he said distractedly. "Guarding the castle, practicing, helping a few of the knights-in-training. Nothing important. Ah, here we are," he said.
As a vision came, Aria recognized the room at once. It was the castle library. It was very different from the library at Wynd’s castle, where the shelves had seemed to grow out of the ground, holding a mysterious quality. This library was a clean-and-polished library, very organized, and also commonplace. But welcoming all the same.
Now, Aria had been here since coming back to the castle, but Gilligan couldn’t be expected to know that, and even if he had, why shouldn’t he go there with her?
He pulled a book off a shelf. It was a little worn on the edges, but overall in good condition. On the cover was an illumination of a forest, with tiny pixies peeking through the trees. He handed it to her. "I thought you might like to read it. It’s a fairytale."
She looked at him gratefully, though he seemed to have forgotten she was blind. "Thank you. I’m sure I’d love it…" (actually she had read it many times before, as a girl, but of course Gilligan wouldn’t know that either,) "…if I weren’t blind."
This wasn’t strictly true, considering her visions, but Gilligan also didn’t know about those.
Gilligan looked slightly embarrassed.
"It’s fine," she said with a laugh. "Sometimes I forget, too."
"Maybe I’ll read it aloud to you," he said with a sort of laugh of his own. "Well, I have to go."
"Already?" she said, surprised and disappointed.
"I’m a knight. Sometimes I’ve got work to do. But I’ll try to find you when I’m done," he promised.
"I’m not hard to find if I want to be found," said Aria. "See you soon?" she asked hopefully.
"Soon," he said with a nod. With a wave goodbye, he walked out the door.
Suddenly feeling lonely, Aria took the book, sat at the bottom of a flight of stairs and began to read…
It was awhile later when she heard laughter and voices. Footsteps clicked from down the hall. Aria’s head shot up, startled.
It was a company of young lords and ladies coming her way. They were the rude, snotty kind, and Aria didn’t particularly care to meet them. She silently closed her book and prepared to slip away up the flight of stairs, but hastily changed her mind when a quick vision warned her of Torlith pacing around at the top. She sat back down and opened the book again, willing herself to be invisible as she crouched against he stairs, trying to make herself as small as she could be. She wished hard with her eyes shut tightly that the group of unpleasant nobles would pass her by without noticing her.
Unfortunately, wishes aren’t always granted.
Aria might have gotten off with only a few rude remarks if it weren’t for one thing. The young ladies were jealous of Aria, who was a great Singer, pretty, and had Gilligan’s obvious attentions. The young men were jealous of Gilligan, who was brilliant, noble, and courageous. But Gilligan, in more than one way, was untouchable, whereas Aria was vulnerable. So who would be the perfect target? And who knew? Perhaps here was a way to reach Gilligan that had never before been available.
The footsteps drew closer. They were practically on top of Aria before they realized she was there. But as soon as they did, she knew there was no escape. Closing her eyes, she braced herself. She didn’t really care about what they could say, but she was afraid about what they could do.
"Why, who’s this? Arianna the Singer, alone and unprotected," said a mocking girl’s voice.
"Please go," she muttered, staring deeper into the book.
"A cowardly answer befitting a cowardly girl," said a different voice, this time a man.
Aria’s hands trembled with anger. Eyes flashing, she stood up. Maybe I do care what they say, she thought angrily.
What fun! She’s angry! the face of the young man seemed to say.
"Why don’t you just leave me alone!" she cried. "What have I done to you?"
They circled her like wolves bringing down their prey. The taunts grew louder. Aria tried to break through and run, but they pushed her back. It began to grow violent, and before Aria could make sense of things she was on the floor, sides heaving. She shielded herself with her arms as another blow started to fall. But someone caught it.
Suddenly Gilligan broke through the circle, eyes shooting daggers, voice rising, drowning out insults. "Get away from her!" he shouted. "Leave her be!"
At first they stood there as though they would have liked to strike him down too. With looks of pure venom, they scattered. One spat near Aria as he left.
Aria began to stand. Gilligan bent on one knee and offered her his hand. "Are you all right?" he asked gently.
"I’m fine," she said. "My pride is wounded, but I needed a humbling anyway." She looked up at him. "Thank you. For defending me."
"I’d do it again if you needed it," he said.
"You’ve shown me a few things today," said Aria thoughtfully. "Some were about you. But one was a place. So now, I’m going to show you a place. A secret place. And perhaps I may show you some things about me as well. Will you come?"
"Did you think I’d say no?" asked Gilligan in reply. Aria took his hand, and together they slipped out of the castle. Aria led him to the overgrown wood. As they stood at the edge, Aria hesitated.
"Do you mind going in?"
"No, not the going in part," said Gilligan. "But I don’t know my way around once we’re inside."
"That’s not a problem," said Aria, "I do."
"Then what are we waiting for?"
"The perfect moment," said Aria, with her usual child-like excitement. She looked around. "Now!" she called, darting into the trees and pulling Gilligan in behind her.
Aria kept going long after they were in the wood’s quiet, mysterious shelter.
"What was that all about?" asked Gilligan with a laugh.
"One of the things you must know about me is that I’ve never completely grown up," said Aria, still pushing bushes out of her way as though finding a trail. "Some part of me always wants to be aware of the magic in Llorleya, and these trees are one of the more magical properties it has."
Gilligan looked around him at the trees, as though seeing them in a knew light. "I haven’t though about trees like that for a long time," he said, as though regretting it.
"Then I must teach you to imagine again," said Aria with a gentle smile.
"I’d like that," he said with a smile.
"We’re almost to the clearing."
"Clearing?"
"There’s a little pool- a lily pond. It’s one of the places I’ve been coming since I came here."
Aria pushed away a wall of tree boughs and hopped over a rotting log. And that’s where the woods just stopped, as though they daren’t come near lest they block the lilies’ sunlight.
"It’s pretty," said Gilligan.
Aria, throwing off her sandals with carefree abandon, sat down on the bank and dangled her feet in the lily pond, gently stirring it with her small foot.
Gilligan sat next to her casually. (He, however, refrained from dipping his feet in the water.)
"Do you mind hearing my thoughts?" asked Aria. "I tend to think aloud."
"Not at all," said Gilligan. "But I warn you, this means you may have to put up with mine as well."
"Naturally," said Aria, pulling one knee up to her chin. "Yesterday," she began, "I loved the trees and the sky and the sun. I loved seeds and the smell of the earth and all manner of growing things. I was a dryad. Yet it wasn’t quite right. Oh bother!" (This interjection was made because she had noticed the end of her waist ribbon floating in the water.)
She continued, fishing it out. "But today I love the fish and the sea and the waves crashing along the shore. I love the glimmer of light on the surface and the flicker on the bottom and the feeling of the water running over my hands." She tickled the surface of the water with her finger as though to show him. "I feel I must be a naiad. But somehow… I don’t belong there either." She turned to face him. "What do you think?"
Gilligan looked at her. "I think you are very fickle, young nymph," he said.
"Fickle?" She turned again to stare out over the water. She tossed a stone in. "No. I pray that in whatever I do, I am never fickle." She picked up another stone.
Gilligan put her hand in his. "Like this," he said, and moved their hands in such a way that the stone flew over the water, skipping at least seven times.
She looked back at him, mildly astonished. Deja vu, she thought, smiling. "When did you learn to do that?" Probably she should have asked how he did it instead of when, but she was more interested in the fact that he certainly hadn’t known how to skip stones when she had been at the castle as a teen.
He grinned, pleased. "After Princess Aria left for her training at the other castle, I had to find something to amuse me."
He stopped talking, and Aria wondered if his thoughtless words had caused him pain.
Gilligan finally spoke. "The place where you came from… did you belong there?"
Aria remained silent for a time, staring over the lilies, and Gilligan feared his question had hurt her in some way. She sighed. "No."
He looked at her sadly. "Where did you come from?"
"Mideast Llor."
"I didn’t mean geographically, and you know it."
She sighed again. "A small country village. I was adopted by an old woman, her son, and his wife. Eventually they had a son, too.
"I’m an orphan. I never knew my parents. For all my knowledge, the could have been dryads or naiads." With much frustration, she forcefully threw another stone in the water. The splash sprinkled her and Gill. "Sorry," she said, flinching a little from the flying water droplets.
"No… I understand," he said in a voice strangely distant.
At first Aria thought he was talking about some sort of pain about herself dying. But then she knew that wasn’t it.
A painful pang hit her chest. She realized she didn’t know anything about Gilligan’s family, even when she was princess. He had simply always been there- and, she realized, he had been alone. "Where is your family, Gilligan?" she asked softly. "If- if it’s not too personal."
It was his turn to stare over the lilies. "They’re probably out there, somewhere." He managed a grin. "You can’t tell, but I’m a noble’s son. I was only seven when I was sent here to train to be a knight. I don’t remember much about my home or parents. Except-" he hesitated. "Anne. She’s my sister." He smiled fondly. "She’s older than me. She used to boss me around. But once, I remember crying about something- really crying hard, I don’t remember why." His cheeks colored (it isn’t easy for a knight to admit to crying). "And I had climbed into her wardrobe. She found me, and I thought she would yell at me for being in her closet, but she just climbed in at sat next to me until I had stopped crying." He paused and went on, more to himself than Aria, "I wonder where she is now. Probably married to a rich noble." He shook his head as though shaking away the thought. "And then I came here, and met the Princess- quite by accident." He grinned. "Would you like to hear about it?"
Aria smiled and nodded. She still remembered, but it would be nice to hear Gill tell it.
"Here’s how it happened.
"I was exploring the castle- well, the kitchen. I was full of pranks then, so I decided to hide in a cupboard and leap out and scare passerby. Then Aria came in. She was sneaking a cookie. I surprised her by jumping out of the cupboard and yelling, ‘Hi!’ at the top of my voice.
Aria laughed. And did he ever startle me! she thought.
"I didn’t know she was the princess, and she didn’t know I didn’t know she was the princess, so we became friends right there. But I found out later that day.
"The next day I walked up to her, bowed, and said very gravely, ‘Hello, your majesty.’
"She just stared. ‘Why in Llorleya would you call me that?’ she asked.
"I said, ‘Well, you’re the Princess, aren’t you?’
" ‘Of course I am!’ she said crossly. ‘Didn’t you know? Everyone else knows as soon as they see me!’
" ‘Well,’ I declared angrily, ‘I never thought I’d see the princess of Llorleya snitching cookies!’ " He laughed, and Aria smiled at the recollection. "Oh, we had a grand argument! The bards could have sung of it for ages and ages! She was awfully angry with me, and I’m afraid I didn’t act much better." He grinned. "I’m a bit embarrassed to say she whipped me. The moral of this story: I learned never to be formal to her after that."
"Gilligan, look," she said suddenly, relaxing, laying down on the grass with her feet still stirring the lilies.
"What am I looking at?" asked Gilligan, copying her action so far as laying down. (He still did not put his feet in the water.)
"The sunset. It’s as though God is smiling." She sighed. "It’s beautiful."
Aria shot up. "Oh, no!"
"What?" asked Gilligan sitting up.
She leapt to her feet, grabbing her shoes off the bank and hastily putting them on her wet feet. She began running back to the castle.
"Where are you going?" called Gilligan, standing up, bewildered. "Arianna?"
"No time!" she called back. "Sunset- Got to sing! See you soon!" Then she stopped abruptly and turned around. "Pray for me," she said. "About whatever God leads you to."
"I will," promised Gilligan, a bit surprised by this spontaneous request but not at all unwilling. "Will you pray for me?"
"Of course," said Aria before taking off again. "I’ve been praying for you all along."

Comments

=D

I must say I'm really liking the way this story is turning out =D

Tamerah | Tue, 05/13/2008

Well thank you

Well thank you and I hope you like the rest :)

I have more action coming though; it's not all love story... this is after all fantasy fiction.

Anna | Tue, 05/13/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Good Job

One thing that's slightly confusing is how Aria is blind and yet is reading a book...

But other than that, I'm on the edge of my seat.

Ezra | Tue, 05/13/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]

Horray!

I've been waiting to read this chapter for ages...
...well done! I love it!
(Don't take too long to write chapter 13, now.)

James | Wed, 05/14/2008

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Oh, oh, oh...I can't wait

Oh, oh, oh...I can't wait for chapter 13! This is so cool! I love this story, and it's really sweet between Gill and Aria. But I can't wait to see what action is coming up!

Heather | Wed, 05/14/2008

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Ezra: Hmm, good point. I

Ezra: Hmm, good point. I will have to fix that. Thanks! Just don't expect to fall off because of something extraordinary...

James and Heather: Sorry I took so long, had some trouble... My editor was a big help but I fear there's more work to be done before Chapter 13 comes out. Sorry for the wait on this one and the potential wait for the next chapter.
Oh, and after the action comes you may not feel so friendly toward me...

Anna | Wed, 05/14/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

:D

I love your story so much! Keep on writing good chapters.

Clare Marie | Sun, 05/18/2008

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Thanks! I will definitely

Thanks! I will definitely try. :)

Anna | Mon, 05/19/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

The comming action...

"Oh, and after the action comes you may not feel so friendly toward me..."

What? Surely you don't mean to kill Giligan or Ariana? That would be horrible! They're supposed to get married at the end! (Killing them is the only thing I can think of action-wise that would upset me.)

James | Thu, 06/05/2008

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

...

...i'm not saying anything- nope notta word.

Anna | Thu, 06/05/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Still not much to say

Gill and Aria are so cute <3

Oh geez the King has to spoil everything doesn't he. >(

Aww it's fun to imagine Aria and Gilligan as little kids.

Anonymous | Wed, 07/09/2008

i love...

I love how this story is going!! :D good chapter!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Men of Gondor, of Rohan!" Aragorn, LOTR.

Bernadette | Tue, 11/25/2008

Awww....Gill's so sweet =)

Awww....Gill's so sweet =) Nice chapter.

This comment was made by Erin!

"Never, never give up. Unless you get really tired." -Ellen Degenres

Erin | Sat, 03/28/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Oohh, I like this one! It's

Oohh, I like this one! It's really good! I don't know how you manage romance. I suck at that. Awesome chapter!

"The meek tyrannosaurus, victim of an innocent misunderstanding, tears like heck across the prehistoric valley." - Calvin and Hobbes

Bridget | Sun, 03/29/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

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