Notes for “The Story of Jasmine” continue:
Vallenwain* was a village not distant from the Blue Mountains and the Crystal Hollows. It was well known for its hospitality towards weary travelers. And it chanced that on one autumn day, a man and his companion entered Vallenwain to pass the night. The innkeeper, being a talkative affable soul, entered into ready conversation. Then he asked if the man’s female companion had hair of a blonde color.
Dumbfounded by such an unusual query, the stranger looked at his companion, who pulled the hood of her cloak from her head. Unruly coal-black tresses fell about her shoulders. “Tell me, innkeeper,” she said coldly, “must I be blonde to pass the night under your roof?”
“No, no, no, indeed, lady,” the inn keeper replied quickly, “everyone is welcomed here. And it is a blessing ye are dark of hair.”
“And why would this be?” the red-haired stranger asked.
“Woe to any man who hath a daughter or a beloved who is blonde of hair. They are taken from their homes and families by soldiers from down south. They were only here this morning and now three village maidens are lost to us, sisters… Will you be staying one night?”
After all arrangements for their stay had been completed and after dinner was served, the stranger, who gave his name as Rogan, asked who the soldiers belonged to. To that, the bartender exclaimed, “Why Bardulf, of course!”
“Ye must have traveled far indeed not to know about the treachery of Bardulf. They call him ‘the dark prince’ and two seasons past, he’s defeated the great Kingdom of UR. His treachery stretches far.”
The dark-haired maiden interrupted, “What news of King Aranbrod?”
After a moment’s hesitation, the man answered, “Some say his heart broke when he heard his daughter was bedded to this man against her will. Some say he escaped from his own dungeon in Aer and hopes to raise an army against his usurper. There are many rumors. But no one knows the truth for sure save the King himself.”
The woman closed her eyes and sighed. Rogan shook his head, “Sad news, indeed.” He said, then asked, “Tell me, friend, are Bardulf’s men still in this village?”
The bartender answered, “Not any more. Most traveled back south with our village maids in tow. The rest remained to investigate what’s happening at The Great White Throne, a mountain not far from here. There’s an ancient temple that rests in the seat of that mountain. Everyone here knows well enough to stay away from that place.”
The bartender then told them of the strange rumors floating about regarding a maiden in white who showed up several days ago at the temple shrine. This coincided with an eerie glow coming from the mountain. He told them that some in the village believed that a wondrous maiden rekindled the magic of that forbidden place. The man added, “None in Vallenwain would betray her presence, but for a few pieces of gold, an old warrior-dwarf agreed to guide them to her.”**
Rogan thanked him for his time and his news and retired to his appointed chamber.***
*elsewhere called Oxted
**This last sentence makes no sense to me. It must refer to Glynn. I wonder what I was thinking back then.
*** In another bit of writing, I have Thorne informing Rogan of this news, but don’t have the actual conversation.
This seems to be a slightly alternate version from the posting yesterday.
© 2018 DARLENE