chapter 13.2

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Slide 1

The Lords of the Isle: A (Very Late) Valentines Day Special, Part IIHearts to make, hearts to break.

As opposed to the first installment, Part II extends and explores the idea of love. In part I everything is (relatively) clearer and more straightforward. But now things get a little murkier as we step slightly out of the focused center that is the Heirship and branch out into other stories, stories that again may or may not have repercussions in the future events. To be honest, even the compiler of these stories is not sure whether his project makes sense. So, if you find that everything is illuminated, then you may pat yourself on the back for a job well done. And with that, let us move forward.

The Story of Mariana

Mother, can you tell me another story?

Well, Mariana... this old bag of bones is tired. And you have forgotten the magic word.

...Please?

Oh, all right.

...So Teddy the Bear climbed the mountains of Chocolate with his paddy, furry feet, and then poof! the mountains melted, because the sun was too hot!

Ugh! But Mother, you know that I never really liked Teddy the Bear.

So what do you want me to tell you, sweet child?

Hmm... The child called Mariana stopped for a moment, as if considering a tale that her adoptive mother (or actually, one of the mothers, for it was the entire Arkyari tribe of gypsies that adopted her some time ago) could not turn into another adventure of Teddy the Bear. It was quite funny, actually, now that she thought about it. But she was no longer a little child.

I have never heard of a story about our own people before, Mother, Mariana spoke again at length. It is always the Kings, the Elves, the Xianxi, and the Sea-peoples. But how about us Gypsies? Do we not have a story to tell?...Yes, Trisha replied, but somewhat evasively, her eyes lingering sideways for a little while. We... do have our own stories.

There! Can we not start there, Mother?

...I suppose there is the first story where we Gypsies first figured.

So how does it go, Mother? Are there pirates and evil Uncles involved? Or is it lots of magic and romance and high towers and shining swords? Or is it

So are you going to tell me the story, Mariana?

...Sorry.

There, now. Settled? Well-seated? Then we begin. Once upon a time...

Dad, Mom! Dad! Wake up!

Trent Traveller, with a groan, pushed himself up.

Sand. There was sand everyone. That was odd. Last he checked, airplane seats were not made out of sand. (And had he further reflected, it was strange for him to be lying down when plane seats were supposed to be upright and closely clumped in tight rows.) Nor were they this hot. Nor wet.

Heck, even he himself, judging by his heavy, drenched, clingy clothes, was wet.

Crash. Ssssh.

He rubbed his eyes. But before he had opened them, Trent concluded that his ear had already gone crazy. Airplanes dont make crashing, sssh-ing sounds. Thats the sound of waves, and waves are sea-sounds. And he had not enough money for a cruise ship.

Crash. Ssssh.

But, of course, the Travellers were no longer in an airplane.

Trisha? Trisha? Honey, wake up!

Dad? Where are we? What happened? Dad?

Im not yet sure, Tina. but can you help me wake your Mom? Trisha, love, wake up!

...Ngh.

Thank goodness! Trisha, are you alright?

Mom? Where are we?

Theres jungles and strange stone ruins...

...and rice fields with big red walls and neat rows of houses with strange curving roofs...

...and lonely white cities with lots of gold and green trees and giant stone towers.

Where are we, Mom?

Trent... Unable to answer, Trisha turned to her husband, a mix of apprehension and a dawning dread causing her tone to tremble as she asked, Where are we> What on earth happened?

Trent said, I think our plane crashed, honey.

And were lost.

What do you mean, were lost, Trent?

I mean that this place isnt Twikkii Island, nor Takemizu Village, nor Three Lakes its nothing like the vacation spots we planned to visit! And then, with an enthusiastic smile that seemed out of place, he added in wonderment, Isnt it amazing?

Amazing? Had all those years of practicing Law finally warped your mind, Trent? This is certainly not amazing! Were stuck in an island with strange big ruins, and look, our cellphones have no coverage!

Easy, honey! Surely things cant be so bad

Things cant be so bad! Trent, were in boony-land! And its your goddamn fault!

What? Just how did our plane crashing suddenly become my fault!?

Well, if you havent quit your job so that we could go to stupid vacation and, hey, look, were not even in Takemizu! Were lost!

Oh, sure, look at things that way. The thing with you, Trisha: youre always afraid of adventures!

Adventure! You call quitting Law to crash-land into this crazy place an adventure?M-mom...?Yes! Now thats something your obsessive cellphone lifestyle wouldnt understand!D-d-dad?Well, then, Mr. Adventure, just how do you propose to get us out of here? huh?

S-stop it! Tina exclaimed between sobs. This vacation was supposed to be fun.

At that the couple stopped quarreling, though they still did not meet each others eyes. Im sorry, dearie, Trisha said, her tone now motherly and soft.

Yeah, sweetie. We really are, Trent added. But dont worry, well get through with this.

And so the Travellers decided that they might as well stop bickering and make the best out of the situation.

Hey, Trisha, Trent remarked as he passed by his wife. Havent I told you how gorgeous you are when setting up camp?

Hmph. I still hate you, you know. But Trisha was already smiling a little bit.

Sure, sure, Trent chuckled as night fell and he walked past the tents. I love you too, honey. Shall I get the fire going?

You better, Trisha called out from her tent in response. Im just going to take a nap.

Well, Tina, sweetie, I think its just you and me here... lighting the fire.

Tina looked on as her dad drew out a lighter, poised to set afire the logs the two of them have collected earlier. is that safe, Dad?

Of of course it is! And its something we er, you would have to learn someday. For camping and such.

There. Phew. That was easy.

Isnt camping fun? Now we can get to cook marshmallows and tell campfire stories!

D-d-dad? Is the fire s-supposed to spread like... t-t-that?

FIRE!

MOM! MOM! HELP! DAD!

TINA GET AWAY FROM THE FIRE! RUN!

But what about Mom!? And you!?

Well be alright! GO!

But it was too late.It took a long time before one of them said anything again. That... that is not a very entertaining story, Mother, commented Mariana, at last.

The elder gave the smallest of sighs as she said, You did ask for the story, my dear.

So... where do we Gypsies figure, again?

The next morning Trisha found herself awakening to the scent of burnt wood, soot, and synthetic materials. And everywhere she looked at, there were feet. Murmuring feet.

Is she coming to, now?

I rather think that she is. Lo, she is getting up!

...Such a strange array of apparel.

I say, what is wrong with her eyes? Why does she cover them so?

Trisha spoke at last. Who... who are you people?

And the leader, the female with short, haphazardly cut hair answered, We are the Arkyari, the Gypsies of this Isle. But the question is: Who are you?

She never was able to answer the question. For the meantime, however, the gypsies brought her back to their refuge in the jungles. After learning of her story, they attempted to use all their resources to find both Trent and Tina... but to no avail.

So when they failed to find her family, they welcomed the Traveller into theirs, and they endeavored to heal her of her wounds, which were not limited to the burns of the fire.

They took cared of her, cleaned her off the grime of soot and guilt and haunting memories, and dressed her in their own fashion.

The Gypsies even introduced her into their strange lore and rituals, teaching her how to feel the earth, interpret the fire, brew potent potions, and see beyond the reaches of mortal eyes.

And, given time, the Traveller adapted to their world. She soon came to know of the Arkyaris plight: of their long suffering, caught between the war of Elves and Men and Sea-peoples, persecuted and feared for their great knowledge, and driven to hiding into the heart of the Isla. And soon, as she came to identify with the Gypsies, their traditions became hers, too.

Indeed many of the Gypsies were glad when she fell in love again, this time to one of their own kind. With their union the Traveller indeed became one of the Arkyari, and the latter welcomed her into their world with open arms.

So it is just like the case of Sister Jasmin! Mariana concluded.

Yes. The Traveller and Jasmin are like and yet unlike. But if I may say so, there is a lot more to happen, and Jasmins story has only but scarcely begun.

But... did the Traveller ever find her old family? Were they able to meet again?

She tried searching for them, but no. She never was able to find her old husband and daughter. But among us Gypsies the word is still spread that until now, and in spite of the new life she had with us, she still goes on searching in vain.

There! Now, Mariana, I think it is time for you to sleep.

Awww, Mother...

Mariana.

...You could have at least told me a cheerier story.

Good night, my sweet child....

Where is Tina?

The Story of