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