Stars Over Llorleya- Chapter Seven

Fiction By Anna // 1/7/2008

Chapter the Seventh

Aria was taken ill with fever soon after that- before she had sufficient time to really react drastically to her new-found tragedy. As the girl shivered and burned by turns, her cheeks flushed and eyes too brilliant, the village doctor was sent for.
"Not that I can’t handle it myself," the Goodwife explained to him, "but she’s a stranger, and she seems to have it real bad. Poor thing- I don’t think she’s been sick very often in the past. She’s not used to it."
The doctor inspected Aria gravely. "I think she’ll recover," he said finally, rising from where he had knelt beside the sick girl’s bed. "But she’ll be weak."
"Nothing worse?" Abigail glanced at the sleeping Aria with relief on her face and in her voice.
"Well…" the doctor hesitated. "She may lose her sight."
The Goodwife, her son, and his wife were all taken aback.
"Lord, no!" the Goodwife whispered pleadingly to God, wrenched out with a half-sob, choked back.
"Oh, poor Arianna!" Abigail cried tearfully.
"Completely?" her husband gasped.
"No, I doubt it," said the doctor, causing little sighs of slight relief, but not much. "But it’s all too possible that she’ll be at least semi-blind. Maybe permanently. Maybe temporarily. Only God knows that."
The doctor proved correct. Aria healed, but she was weakened, as predicted- and partially blind.
****
The doctor recommended that they let Aria spend a lot of time outdoors to regain health and strength. The occupants of the little cottage called "Goodwife’s" were only too willingly to comply.
Roaming hills and meadows with faltering footfalls, she seemed grey and faded- not to Goodwife and her family, as they didn’t know what she had been like before, but to herself. Yet she did not care. She was better, but much changed. Blindness (the realization the she would never see the sky or flowers of trees again almost crushed her) and death had hurt her deeply, cruelly. She walked around the house like one sleeping and dreaming, only half-conscious of her surroundings. Before, she had laughed easily and often; now, very rarely. She barely even spoke.
She let her hair fall over her eyes as it grew, not caring for anything, even though she knew that she would have been able to see a little if her hair was out of her eyes. And in her despair, at night when she would cry desperate, despairing sobs that proved she wasn’t quite numb and death-like as she seemed, she forgot to run to her Comforter, as she had always done in the past, albeit slightly belated at times.
In the meantime, her other senses were sharpened and she began to know the country around her. But she could take no pleasure in it.

I am glad to say she did not carry on this way forever.

It was sometime in early spring, and she was walking through Goodwife’s house in a daze, silent as death. Suddenly she was knocked to the ground from the force of a vision- the first since the tower room. In a flash of white, pure light, she saw her surroundings. Then in a whirl of motion, the scene adjusted its direction- she was looking at herself- ragged and unkempt, hair tangled and snarled, eyes flashing and brilliant underneath, alight with visions, no longer dull; yet she was dead in soul. A dancing moonbeam turned cold and dead. Then herself at the castle, crying, praying, pouring out her heart to God. Then she was back in a fuzzy cloud-land, with only a vague sense of color and shape around her. And her eyes burned.
She bolted out of the house, hands over her face. Throwing herself down onto a secluded, long-grassed hillock, she sobbed uncontrollably, her shoulders and slight frame heaving and wrenching with every sob. Between gulps of air and torrents of tears, she poured out her heart to Jesus- her unchanging, all-beautiful Savior, the Son of Consolation and Prince of Peace, El Roi (the God who sees), and Jehovah-Rophe (the Lord who heals), until all her burden was shed at His feet. Mourning was over; morning had risen. She went back to the cottage tear-stained and slightly shaken, but overall, calm. Clouded eyes coming to life with light, she brushed her hair back, our of her eyes, cleaned herself up, and helped pregnant Abigail (much astonished and delighted with the change in Aria) fetch some water from the pump, laughing and chatting lightheartedly as they did so. Aria had remembered Love. And she would never forget.
****
Aria was almost back to normal- but not quite. She would never be exactly the same, for Death had touched her.
I know now how spoiled I was, she thought. To be so upset over such a trivial thing as moving. Moving! Nothing- nothing at all- to this. They are all gone… whereupon she shed a few tears. But even though her last goodbye had not been with this in mind, it hadn’t been a casual, lighthearted thing, either. (Except perhaps on the part of Gilligan, who had done it with a sort of half-forced carefree outlook. "Come on, old gel, buck up," he had said, trying to sound cheerful but sounding more like a boy with a cold being forced to take nasty medicine. She could still see him now, standing next to the king and queen on the drawbridge, waving as she left.) She only wished she could have spent her fourteenth birthday with them- the last birthday they would have been alive to witness.
She had, of course, realized at once she could no longer be Aria. In a sense, she was banished form Llorleya. The new king, Torlith, was not searching for the princess, as far as she knew, which puzzled her. She wondered if he had set up the ambush himself, and, if he had and she had been his chief target, if her servants who had gone ahead of her had gone safely. But, anyway, she had decided from the beginning she would throw suspicion away and change her name. She only wished that she hadn’t told Goodwife that she was from the castle. But it can’t be helped now, she thought.
Goodwife and her family also seemed to link the castle with danger for "Arianna," because of the slaughter of the castle’s occupants. For this reason, they told no one where she was from, and this Aria was thankful for.
In the meantime, Aria, the Princess, became Arianna, the peasant girl, the commoner, lying draped over a dew-coated hillside, a voice drifting down from the treetops. Not beautiful but somehow attractive, aloof but friendly, blind but somehow seeing with her bright silver eyes, with no connections to speak of. She fascinated the simple country folk with her wild imagination, refined manners, and smooth, clear speech.
She could tell the brightness or darkness of the sky, light, color, shape, and movement. She could see landscapes- or at least she could tell the colors, shapes, and outlines. Her sight had improved, and the doctor was pleased. He didn’t want to raise her hopes when nothing was certain, but he rejoiced inwardly, cherishing high expectations, realistic ones, that she might someday see clearly and perfectly again, wholly as she had once seen. But she no longer depended on sight. She actually seemed to get on very well without it.
Around the town she gained a reputation as a odd sort of girl. She wasn’t often seen, but occasionally she would accompany Goodwife, Peter, or Abigail to town. Then people hushed and watched.
Most people just took the few facts they knew and spread them or elaborated and speculated. Farmers claimed to have seen her roaming around, talking and singing to herself and her surroundings. Everyone was a bit suspicious of her fancy speech and air of mystery. Some whispered that she came from a faraway land; others, fanciful children mostly, asked if she was "a Princess put under a witch’s spell." Though they were laughed at, had they known it, they were closer than anyone else.
As for Aria herself, she let the few rumors she overheard circulate undisturbed. Goodwife and her family, likewise, tried to follow Aria’s example and ignore them, but sometimes what they were told was so outrageous or even cruel that it took all of their beings not to hotly defend her wounded pride, for they were growing to love her.
But no one ever guessed she was the Princess. Especially when news came that Princess Aria was murdered. Aria mourned with the rest, half-amused, half-bewildered. So the new king really did believe her to be dead. How very strange. How very absolutely strange.
But for the commoners it was devastating. The Princess had been their last hope. Now even she was gone. How would they react if they could know that this girl, this outcast, who they half-shunned and avoided, half-sought, was really… she longed to tell them, stop their mourning, give them joy.
It pained her to hear them. "The last of the Old Royalty is dead," they cried, "and so is our hope."
"The last of the Old Royalty." That phrase, especially "the last", held something terrible for Aria, as though "the Old Royalty" part had not been horrible enough.
The only one left. The last. The last. The last, she thought.
At night she dreamed that Torlith was non-existent and she was Princess again, with her guardians reigning peacefully and all her friends around her. But in the morning she would wake and cry for what was past and dead and would never be again.

At first, Aria had planned not to burden the Goodwife’s family with her presence, but they had refused to let her go, in a way.
"We don’t want you to leave. We’ve become fond of you, Arianna- besides, we need your help, especially since Abby’s with child." Indeed, the doctor expected it to be less than a month before her delivery. Peter was as nervous as a soon-to-be-father could be.
To this reasoning, Aria’s protests fell away as leaves from a tree in autumn. So, she decided to stay- "But I’ll earn my keep, no mistake about it. Just show me what to do."
***********
Heather let her light headscarf fall back from her head. Her rippling ivory hair fell loose over her shoulders, letting the headscarf flit out long behind her in the wind. The headscarf was supposed to keep the glaring sun off her face, but she didn’t really care, preferring the feel of the warmth on her face and the breeze in her shining hair. But before entering her home, a little farm cottage, she put it back up, lest her mother should scold her. Her mother was very particular about those sorts of things.
"I’ve sold the eggs, Mama," the girl of maybe sixteen said, setting a few clattering coins on the table. "You should hear the news at the market today!"
Rhode, the mother, looked up from kneading dough. "Come here and help me prepare the bread for our supper," she said, smiling at the eagerness of her young daughter.
Heather wound the headscarf-of-all-purposes around her hair to tie it back, rolling her eyes. "Really, Mama, everyone’s talking about her!"
"Everyone? That’s a whole lot of people. Who are the talking of?"
"The strange girl at Goodwife’s. They say her son found the girl in the middle of the woods, half frozen, encrusted with snow, and set upon by fierce wolves who were tearing her to pieces!" she said, kneading the dough with floury hands.
"I didn’t hear about a girl at Goodwife’s. And there are no wolves in our forest anyway- and I doubt they would eat people even if there were." Rhode was not the skeptical type, but she felt the need to teach her daughter these things. Besides, she didn’t hold to all the gossip at the market.
"There is a girl, Mama; there must be! Doctor saw her. She was taken with the fever lately- real bad. She lived, but he says she’s blind as a frog!"
"Frogs aren’t blind, dear," she said, a smile of amusement playing on her lips. "Not as a general rule."
"Well, she’s blind, anyway," the girl retorted, wrinkling her nose with a hint of annoyance. "But they say she’s mighty queer- talks funny-like, sorta high-flown, and she says strange things. No one knows where she’s come from, either. I think she’s prob’ly stuck-up and snotty-like. She must be." Heather tried to wipe a smudge of flour off her nose but only succeeded in making in worse.
"She’s just different- nothing to assume about. Probably she’s had high upbringing." Rhode herself and come from a rather well-educated family, and was inclined to sympathize with this girl, whoever she may be. After all, she thought, haven’t I myself had a good amount of "book learning"?
"Maybe she’s a robber-girl, and she’ll steal Goodwife’s things and take off," Heather said, eager at the prospect. She craved the excitement of such an interesting resident in their small, commonplace village.
"Don’t say such things, Heather! It’s not polite!" Rhode reprimanded.
Just then a younger girl, maybe twelve, or younger, came leaping over stiles. Her legs and feet were bare and tanned, her sunburned face was lightly freckled, and her soft, light-brown hair was bound into two short French braids. "Mama, Mama," she called, racing toward the house and flinging the door open. "I saw her! I saw her!" she called breathlessly, her plain face radiant.
"You did?" The older girl sounded excited.
"Yep. True as daylight I did! She’s mighty strange!"
"Get that pig out of here!" called the mother, turning to see a pink piglet scuttling in with her daughter.
"Yes, Mum," the little farm girl said, rather subdued. Obediently she scooped up the piglet and dropped him out the door after ruffling his ears playfully a moment.
"I really did see her, Mama," she said, walking back in.
"Whom?"
"Why, the odd girl from Goodwife’s, of course!" said the girl, Taylee, astonished, as though there was only one girl in all of Llorleya she could have been speaking of.
"Ah, her," said Rhode disinterestedly, turning again to the dough.
Taylee’s sister was more receptive. "What was she like?" she asked coaxingly.
"Well, it went like this," her little sister began. "I was over by the meadow, you know, pickin’ flowers for no real reason. And I’m goin’ along, an’ all sudden-like I see a girl on the hillside, makin’ a daisy chain and singin’ very softly.
"She’s not pretty, exactly, but she’s somethin’ of the sort. Her hair is dark an’ she’s real small.
"Well, I was kinda startled, but I buck up and I says, ‘I’m Taylee,’ all bold-like, though I was real scared.
" ‘I am Arianna,’ she says, real prettyish, like she was still singin’.
"So I says, ‘How did you know I was comin’?’
"She says, ‘I heard you and felt you and saw you,’ like she’s dreaming.
"I was kinda taken-off by her words, but I said, ‘I thought you were blind.’ "
"You really shouldn’t have; it’s impolite," put in Rhode, who, it appeared, was listening.
"I know, but it sorta jus’ flew outa my mouth ‘fore a could stop myself.
"Anyhow, she didn’t seem to be offended. She just looks at me and says, ‘I can see a little, it’s just cloudy. You’re feet are bare and you’ve got a bandanna in your hair. And your dress in blue.’
"Well, she got it right. So I asked what color my eyes were, but she said she couldn’t tell, so I told her. She told me she’d love eyes like mine, but I don’t see why. Her eyes are lovely, silver-grey- and- well-" the farm girl struggled for a word to describe them, "kinda starlike, despite all she’s blind. Real strange. They were a little sad, too.
"Well, I sat next to her cross-legged and asked what it was like to be blind. She looks at me, real sorrowful-like and says with the faraway voice, ‘I just wish I could see the sky and trees and flowers and colors better.’ And for a moment, I though she did see- this kind of stillness stole over her, and something flashed in her eyes- I know it sounds strange, but her eyes looked somethin’ like the pretty stained-glass windows in the chapel- and she caught her breath. Then she just whispers, ‘My eyes burn.’ And she gets up and starts looking around. I told her I would take her to the well if she wanted to cool her eyes. She said, ‘Yes, please.’
"When we got to the well- the one on Pen’s hill- she looks down and says, ‘What makes the water glimmer?’
" ‘It’s little shiny things we throw in the well that won’t poison it. This is our wishing-well,’ I answered, all proud-like.
" ‘May I try?’ she asked. I nodded and gave her a real pretty pebble that shined, and she threw it in and murmured something I didn’t catch. Then she says, out of nowhere, ‘Do you have a little willow tree, just big enough for us?’ So I showed her my- um, my play-fort. I won’t tell you where it is. It’s our secret. She sang to me and told me some stories. She’s got a real pretty voice- You should hear it. So I decided I should say something too, and I told her about the time I fell in the pigsty. That made her laugh, though she was trying to hide it. Her laugh is pretty, too. It felt good to hear it, and know I caused it. Then she looks up, startled-like, and says, ‘I need to leave. I still need to find the herbs Goodwife asked for.’ And then I knew who she was."
"I would have known all along," boasted Heather.
"I bet not!" flared Taylee.
"Would so!"
Rhode looked thoughtful. "I should visit the Goodwife. I’d like to meet this girl. Abby’s pregnancy will be a good excuse." Then she returned to making bread.
I do not know if she ever visited, but I can guess in good conscience that she did.
**********

Comments

*yea*

This is my favorite chapter yet!
Keep up the good work!

Sarah | Tue, 01/08/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

It may be a little while

It may be a little while before I get a new chapter out. I've come to black hole in the plot.

Anna | Wed, 01/09/2008

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

ahhhhhhhhhhh! Nooooooooooo! a

ahhhhhhhhhhh!
Nooooooooooo!
anything but that!!!!!!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
um, Anna, I lost your email address,
could you email it to me again?
~Sarah H

Sarah | Wed, 01/09/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

:D

This was a really good chapter i really enjoyed it!
I know how you feel on the 'black hole' thing, i have hit a wall with my story too. I have all the main things planned out, but i have to fill it in and that is where i get stuck :\

Tamerah | Thu, 01/10/2008

Exactly!

Exactly!

Anna | Thu, 01/10/2008

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

Did I ever give it to you in

Did I ever give it to you in the first place? I don't remember.

Anna | Thu, 01/10/2008

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

Oh, I like

Oh, I like it!!!
-----------------
|Live,Laugh,Love|

Megan | Mon, 01/21/2008

-----------------
|Live,Laugh,Love|

Ooohh

Oooh blindness. Poor Aria.

So like how much time has passed exactly in this chapter? A few weeks? A few months?

A new king, eh? Hmmm

Anonymous | Wed, 07/09/2008

Completely and totally

Completely and totally frawesome!

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

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