Tag Archives: The Story of Jasmine

Jasmine Snippet #53

New note for The Story of Jasmine:

Looking for the secret passage, Jasmine moved further up the stream, and headed for the waterfall. She stopped at the point the water had pooled. She knew the place the pool would be much deeper, where the water fell from above. She discarded her cloak on the bank and stepped into the pool. The chilly water immediately came up to her waist. She swam towards the falls. The only way to get to the secret passage was to locate it from below.

In Ermengarde’s stories, the passageway could not be accessed on land. She ducked under the surface of the cold water and, feeling her way with her hands, discovered an opening.

She did not have far to swim. The underwater passage contained a vortex and, once inside, it swallowed her. She made it there before she needed to replenish her breath. The end came out in a small, dully lit underground chamber. Her eyes became accustomed to the greenish caste.

According to Ermengarde, a special lichen with the ability to illuminate the walls and ceiling thrived there. Of course, she never really believed that part of the story, but it was true! Green Light without the sun did exist! This stuff was all over the walls and ceiling. She got herself out of the cold water. Her wet clothes dripped on the moss.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #50

The notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

“Heigh Ho! Friend or foe?” Ahearn looked in the direction of the call. His sword was still strapped to his horse and he would not be able to retrieve it in time.

He held up his weaponless hands and replied, “Friend!”

The moon had disappeared again. Ahearn heard some bustling within the chamber and then the slow advance of footsteps. “Nothing will happen to you if you are, indeed, a friend.” Ahearn noticed the stocky figure approaching him was a mature dwarf with a graying beard and piercingly clear eyes.

The dwarf had on his person several daggers and a great battle-axe hung at his side in the customary way mercenary dwarf warriors wore them. What’s more, still stained with fresh blood, this battle-axe had recently been used. Ahearn noted his proud bearing as he spoke. “Who are you and what is your business here?”

Noticing a second man off to his left, Ahearn answered, “I’m a mercenary soldier, much like yourself.” Ahearn immediately launched into the cover story he had prepared for himself earlier when he began his quest to find the lost princess.

When he had finished, the dwarf asked, “Who do you work for?”

“Unemployed at the moment. I am in service to none. I intend to inquire for some work, in Oxted but have not make it that far.”

“You say you are not coming from Oxted, but are traveling towards Oxed?”

“Yes, from the west,” Ahearn lied, “from the north-west, if you must know! Now may I ask what all his is about?” The dwarf had already backed down and signaled to the man who stood watching in the shadows.

With his hand on the hilt of his sword, the man approached them. As he got nearer, Ahearn saw he had fiery red hair and beard. There was no mistaking him. This was one of the Nôr-men of Roth. Ahearn was surprised to see him. The Nôr-men of Roth infrequently ventured beyond their own borders and, to his knowledge, never this far south.

The Velgrath Mountains stood between their two kingdoms in the north. Ahearn reasoned that if he could recognize one of the Nôr-men, he could just as easily be identified as a Dockalfarian.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #49

On-going notes for “The Story of Jasmine”:

Ahearn judged it to be well after midnight by the time he reached his destination, the temple the Guardians had talked about. All during his ride, the moon shone brightly and illuminated the landscape for far distances. But after his arrival to the white mountain, the clouds became shrouded in a thick bank of clouds.

The moon was still hidden when he finally arrived in the area of the temple. He dismounted. With reins in hand, he slowly lead the rest of the way to the buildings in ruin. Among the ruins, he passed many stone statues. It seemed to him they resembled soldiers, but not ancient ones. These statues became more numerous when he entered the temple grounds.

The moon came out as Ahearn was examining one such face. The sudden illumination accentuated the look of astonishment frozen upon the stone faces. The startling effect unnerved him. This had been a recent occurance.

He knew this because he recognized one of the statues to have been a particularly gruesome foe. “One of Bardulf’s men, from the look of it.” He thought grimly. Once before, he had encountered something like this, and recently. A stone statue of a woman stood in front of the cave opening in the grotto. Surely, this could not be coincidence.

To make more sense of the scene, Ahearn left his horse to walk around each figure and examined the the foot tracks that once belonged to them. The surprised gaze of each statue was turned upward to a place near the top of the building. He was about to approach what looked like the main temple, when a voice halted him.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #48

The on-going notes for the Story of Jasmine continue:

A pencil sketch of Jasmine created in 1980

Jasmine made a slow ascent to the ancient ruins of the temple on the mountain known as The Great White Throne. Although she was tired, with each step, she felt the weight of her past drop away. Mulling over all the confusing things the Guardians told her during their journey within the underground passage, she recognized one truth. She could never go back. She could not retrace her steps. There was no returning to life as a princess in her father’s castle.

There was no where to go but onward, into the unknown. The moment she realized this became the moment she took her life into her own hands. This is when the princess ceased to be a princess and became Jasmine. Even though her pampered life had never prepared her to make decisions for herself, she somehow felt wiser.

Her rumination was interrupted by something out of the ordinary Jasmine thought she heard. She stopped in her tracks and craned her ears. What in the wind was whispering a warning? She heard the gurgling of a small stream nearby and left the path to head for it. The Guardians told her water diminished the ring’s effect upon her. She dunked her hand in the stream’s cold water to dilute its potency. As the ring lost its gleam, Jasmine sensed danger.

For a long while, under cover, she stood perfectly still and quiet before the stream. As she waited, from between the trees, she studied the outlines of the walls that crowned the next rise not far from where she stood. As the last light of the setting sun receded into shadow, Jasmine watched the foliage sway in the gentle evening breeze. The rising moon illuminated the ruins of a once columned structure.

Though she had never been here before, everything seemed somehow familiar. Then it hit her. Could this be the place Ermengarde described in the stories she told? Ever since she was little, her foster guardian, Ermengarde, had captivated her with stories of the wondrous Order of the White Flower who lived in a White Temple on a White mountain. Her fantastic stories always had memorable descriptions, down to the smallest detail. If it truly was this place, then she knew everything there was to know about the Temple, even its secret passages. If real, those were happier days. Even though Ermengarde had always described it as a safe haven, what was left was in ruins.

And it wasn’t safe. There, in the cold light, she detected some movement and saw a figure of a man. But she was too far away to note any more detail. To move in for a closer look, she cautiously stepped in the shallow stream, which came up to her ankles and waded against the current. She knew the stream would led her somewhere above the temple. Taking this route did not pose a risk. Each step she took was sure-footed and confident, as if she had moved in procession in this very stream many, many times before, in unison with her beautiful story sisters under the light of the rising moon.

Eventually, her vantage point became such that she noted several men hiding among the broken pillars. Their complete attention was directed towards the pathway. She would never have seen them had she taken the trail. They appeared to be soldiers. At least they wore the clothing of Bardulf’s men. Had she arrived from the pathway, they definitely would have surprised her and taken her captive.

Truly amazed at how well Ermengarde prepared her for this moment, Jasmine mused to herself, “Well, Ermama, it must be time to find out if a usable secret passage actually does exist where you described it. And if it does, I will step into your tale.”

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #46

Notes from The Story of Jasmine continue:

Jasmine Faction card of Ahearn from the “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

With the gathering of the handful of survivors left, Ahearn mourned the loss of those Bardulf had struck down. Though he could never condone Bardulf’s actions, he could understand Bardulf’s anger. He did not like it either when he was told the princess was essentially unavailable. Ahearn realized Bardulf had the same stake in the matter as he: the Kingdom of UR. The Kingdom would belong to any man who succeeded in marrying this particular pawn. Take the princess out of the equation and, and … success would be much harder to achieve.

Jasmine was the name of the star-like white flowers that bloomed at the grotto at the entrance. The Guardian kept referring to her as “Jasmine.” The Guardian volunteered some important information. It was completely unnecessary for Ahearn to retrace “Jasmine’s” exact path underground. The Guardians freely told Ahearn precisely where they told her to go. All he needed to do was to head for The Great White Throne mountain to an old temple situated there. It was a ride a little past Oxted,

Bidding the Guardians farewell, he turned to leave. Then he paused. Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out some coins as a gesture of appreciation. Placing the coins in the elder Guardian’s wrinkled hands, he thanked them again for their trouble and for their information. “For candles,” he said. The Guardians of Wisdom graciously accepted the offering and bowed.

Returning back to the grotto above ground, Ahearn was grateful to see his well-rested horse. He found the animal undisturbed and still waiting on him. Ahearn could not discern for how long he had stayed underground. Within the cave, conversing with the remnant of the Guardians left, time seemed to pass at a slower rate — if it had passed at all. After a short but happy reunion with his equine companion, it did not take long before Ahearn was mounted. Soon, he and his horse were winding their way back to the main road.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #45

The notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

The “Crystal Caverns” Castle Card from Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm collector card game.

True to his word, the little old man was filled with information. Ahearn spent several hours conversing with him. For someone who did not get out to socialize very much, the little man was charming and affable. Ahearn came to understand that Bardulf was still somewhere within the cave system, lost. They monitored his progress. At first, he went in circles. Then he “discovered” a passage that took him well beyond what the Guardian considered their borders. The latest report had Bardulf nearing the dwarven mine settlement off to the northwest.

When Ahearn asked about the Great Book that had gone missing, he was told it was started by the wizard Erlkyng with the intent it be presented to the “lad” to learn everything about defeating his enemies. He chuckled. Erlkyng expected the result of his magic would produce a son. They all thought that. But as fate would have it, a daughter was born! So everything Erlkyng wrote in the book addressed a lad. Until recently, the Tome of Wisdom had been safely stored away in the Crystal Caverns.

“We had only brought the book out of the Crystal Caverns to show the lass. We were so excited for her to see the resources that were prepared for her success…”

Curious, Ahearn interrupted, “The Crystal Caverns?”

“The Crystal Caverns were a refuge to the wizard Erlkyng,” one of the Guardians told him. Ahearn bade him continue, “We were good company for each other. Our kind live a long life and we’ve seen a lot. We shared with him many secrets that he found of use. He urged us to record all we knew into a great volume of knowledge. He told us this practice would give our lives purpose. We accepted his challenge and have been expanding the knowledge within Erlkyng’s book ever since.

“The Tome of Wisdom contains all of the secrets of the Mid-Realm. Now that it’s out of our hands, we fear the worst for the Mid-Realm. If used in a selfish way, the information can easily be used to destroy. Now it’s in the hands of a man who loves gaining power through manipulation, dabbles with the power of magic, feels superior over others and who kills indiscriminately and without remorse. I’m now sorry we agreed to write anything at all.”

The Guardian of Wisdom became solemn and kept silent for a long time after he voiced those words. Indeed, the stealing of the Tome of Wisdom was something to ponder. If Bardulf was this powerful without the Tome, just imagine how much more powerful a book of secrets will make him. The Guardian was right. This news pointed to something much more devastating than a maiden forgetting she was a princess.

He did not fully understand what the Guardian meant when he spoke of “Jasmine” being an intricate part of a decades long plan to defeat the evil that has been creeping down from the west.

It further confused Ahearn when the Guardian spoke of her destiny as something beyond a princess. Didn’t her birthright matter? How could anything change the fact that she was the daughter of a King? As a prince, he himself knew very well he was subject to certain rules of tradition. He was subject to certain obligations expected of him by his father and those ruled by him How could this princess not be subject to the same rules?

Thinking about the princess was always troublesome. Although she was fair to look at, he did not really like her. He considered her to be the worst type of maiden — spoiled, head strong, ill-humored, manipulative, and rude. Yet, he did not recognize the same traits in himself. The princess’s worth to him and his country was political. Her only redeeming quality as a person was the fact of her blood. All she had to do was to exist. She did not have to be deserving. She did not have to be nice. It would not matter. She would still be Queen.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #43

“The Story of Jasmine” Notes Continue:

“I hate you,” Thorne said in a forced whisper, “I’ regret pledging my sword to your cause, as my bird lies dead because of you. Curse that lizard creature that follows you… curse you and your problems. Try to stay out of my way!”

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How interesting. Thorne now has a hawk! Where was that bird when she was at the Inn? I’ll have to account for it in the rewrite.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #42

“The Story of Jasmine” Notes Continue:

Suddenly, the princess Flavia of UR’s disappearance made complete sense. She could very well be a prisoner within this cave. Recalling the disturbed vines, it then occurred to Ahearn he was not the only one on the trail of the princess. Suddenly, a rash of questions bombarded his mind. Who had come before him? How long ago? What did they discover? Did they find her? What will he find? What will he encounter?

Although he yearned to rush ahead, he returned to the grotto above. He took special care to tend to his horse. He moved his horse to a small spring, so it would not thirst and also took this opportunity to feed the beast. There was no telling where the cave would lead him, or for how long he would be gone.

Ahearn cared well for his steed. They were good together. They had an understanding. This was partially why Ahearn was lauded  in his country as the Lord of Horses. The knot he tied was a special one, made in such a way the animal could free itself if it should become necessary. He removed the saddle, and placed it on a low branch off the ground. Holding the animal’s great head gently, Ahearn looked into its dark dewey eyes. He paused to rest his forehead against the front of it’s muzzle. The animal knew the significance of this action and acknowledged him with a whinny and a toss of the head.

Satisfied, Ahearn quickly packed some supplies to carry with him and disappeared into the mouth of the cavern.

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I should probably think of a name for Ahearn’s horse.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #41

Notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

In the glowing whiteness and silence of the mountaintop they found themselves whispering, as if in great reverence to nature’s accomplishment.

Standing on the outer precipice, they looked across the wide expanse of low hills and plains which they had just covered. It was then they realized they were between heaven and hell, between the sublime and the _____*

For a place known as the “Meeting Place of the Winds,” it was very still. It seemed to be a place of silence and secrets moved only by the wind.

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*These are merely notes to myself. Obviously, I had not yet figured out what word to use.

I recognize this snippet as being much further along in the story.

© 2018 DARLENE

Jasmine Snippet #40

Notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:

The northern trek eventually led Ahearn into an area within the forest where there was a small grotto. At the grotto, he saw a strange and unexpected sight. From the looming darkness, it looked like there were thousands of glistening stars. He paused for a moment to make sense of what he was seeing. Moving closer, the stars became flowers. Small, delicate white flowers blossoming everywhere in this space.

Moving into the grotto, he noticed a greater thickness of flowers. Upon closer inspection, he discovered these bloom clusters enveloped a stone statue of a woman. He thought perhaps she was the guardian of this grotto until he studied the face. The workmanship was too real for a statue to be hidden in the forest. He quickly concluded it was a work of witchery. A woman had been turned to stone.

The statue was a young woman, who looked remarkably like the Princess of UR. If he hadn’t made a habit of studying faces, he might have mistook the statue for the princess. He logically concluded this must be her mother. He mused. “No wonder the Queen was never seen again after the birth of her daughter. There’s something foul to this mystery. Why was the woman turned to stone?”

Ahearn regarded the stance of the figure. It looked almost as if she had been protecting something behind her. Moving past the figure, he noticed many flower blooms had been disturbed. Many plants had been torn away and stomped upon. Someone had been here before him. The damage seemed to be recent. Parting the plants, he noticed a tunnel made of the living roots of trees, which led him to the entrance of a subterranean cave.

© 2018 DARLENE