Stars Over Llorleya- Chapter 10

Fiction By Anna // 3/3/2008

Chapter the Tenth

Late autumn, just after Aria’s nineteenth birthday

The castle loomed up through the early-coming winter-dark, dark and menacing. Torlith’s presence had changed it. It seemed to seethe with his evil and cruelty.
So thought the knight at the gate of the moat as he guarded it. Though young, he knew and remembered the castle from the time of the Old Royalty. Others did, as well, but they were few, for most had been slaughtered that fateful mid-winter’s day. The knight shuddered to remember it. He had escaped only by God’s mercy. Torlith had taken a fancy to him, liking his spirit. The knight hated Torlith, however.
Torlith didn’t scare the knight, but he knew how dangerous he was. He knew all too well.

A small figure appeared suddenly on the other side of the moat. She was clad in a swirling emerald green cloak, designed in evergreen Celtic knots. "I request entrance!" a musical voice commanded from under the hood of the slim green shadow.
"In the king’s name, state your name and business! Where are you from? What is your nationality?" called the guard automatically from the castle gate. (It was his customary greeting to those who would beg entrance to the castle.)
"In the king’s name?" The girl gave a queer, bitter laugh. "I shall not. In the name of the Old Royalty I command you to let me enter!"
"You could get killed for such a speech," the knight said. He wondered at her courage… or folly.
"I know," she said, with a note of indifference that caused the knight to wonder if she’d lost her head. She went on, more softly. "Has hospitality changed so much since the Old Royalty ruled? When they were sovereign, lone travelers were allowed to cross, and afterwards questioned, not interrogated before they even showed their face."
"Then, I bid you, cross, and show your face," said the knight quietly, and lowered the bridge.
The green shadowed girl, like a colored beam of light, strode slowly across the moat, her cloak and dress swirling around her like a great rose. Suddenly she stood beside him.
"Now I have crossed," she said. "And here, O knight, is my face." She flung back her hood, and her long dark hair spilled down over her white shoulders. The creature’s sparkling silver eyes were a spellbinding net of woven stars caught in her long lashes, their unfathomable starry depths drawing the knight to believe that such grace and loveliness, such an unearthly, aerial beauty, he had never before seen.
"Who are you? What are you?" he whispered.
He caught a mysterious little sparkle in her silver eyes. "I am of fire and water, wind and rain, sun and moon, earth and sky, clouds and vast expanse, stars and soil, seeds and growing things, song and silence, thought and spoken word, stillness and resounding jubilation, dancing and sleeping, dreaming and awakening, watchfulness and carefree gaiety, strength and weakness, caution and wild abandon, whispers and shouts of joy, triumphant cheers and battle-cries, tears and laughter, calm and storm. I am teardrops and raindrops and dewdrops; above the clouds, beyond the trees, a shadow on the horizon, a footprint in the sand, a reflection in a mirror, the voice of the willow over water; I am an echo of things past. I take the wings of the morning; I rise on the wings of the dawn; I fly with the moon on my wings. I am a song on the wind, a butterfly caught in a gale, the sound of the waves and the feel of the sun. I am a whisper that the wind left behind, an echo through the forest and the trees, a cry on the wind that rises up from silence. I am the stillness that came before. You may know me one thousand nights and never figure me out. The one thing I am not is dead- because Christ has brought me to life!"
At first the knight couldn’t decide whether she was crazy, serious, joking, dreaming, avoiding his question, trying to distract him, or was just the most outrageous liar he had ever seen.
She caught his eyes and smiled. "It’s make-believe. I enjoy the flow of the words. Sir- ?" she stopped, awaiting his name.
"I am Sir Gilligan." He stuck out his hand to her companionably, flashing the same boyish, winning grin she knew so well.
Aria’s eyes lit with recognition as a vision revealed his familiar face, now more mature: He had the same long sweep of faintly-reddish brown hair, the same roguish, dancing hazel eyes, the same lopsided grin. He was the same reckless, dashing Gill she had known from childhood and had longed to see for so long. He wasn’t dead!
She hardly noticed the burning in her eyes as her sight faded into vague shapes and colors. Her hand covered her mouth automatically as though to stop her heart flying out it. She longed to throw her arms around him- was about to- her voice was going to repeat what he couldn’t hear from her heart- The words, "Gilligan, don’t you know me?" were going to fly over her lips- she was about to speak them, shout them- about to reveal herself-
"Gilligan," barked a gruff voice. Another soldier had approached. Aria choked back the words before they could leave her lips.
"Hello, Thomas." Aria gathered from Gilligan’s voice that he wasn’t glad to see him.
"I-" The man’s tone changed suddenly as he noticed Aria. "Hullo." He nudged Gilligan with his elbow. "Gilligan, you didn’t tell me a pretty girl was here. And who are you?"
Aria shrank back, finding her voice with difficulty. The man frightened her with his rough manner. "I am Arianna, the Singer. I am here to see Torlith about a- a job."
"A Singer! Give us a song then, lass! A pretty slip of a thing like you must have a fine voice," he said, as though being pretty had anything to do with it.
"No, I’d rather not," whispered Aria quietly.
Thomas looked put out, as though he had expected rather a different answer. "Oh," he said, stammering. "Oh, of course. Of course, you’ll be wanting to see him right away." Then, gathering his scattered wits, he said, "Then- then I suppose I’ll take you to King Torlith. If he’s not busy, that is. Come along, pretty one. If I’m lucky, he’ll let you stay as Court Singer."
Aria cast a glance that was something like pleading to Gill, as though to say, "Please help! Will you take me instead?" But Thomas already had her by the wrist and was showing her the way.
Aria entered the room uncertainly as Thomas stepped aside. She shivered once- a chill air was in the room, cold as snow, as though Torlith’s evil could be felt physically in the air.
"Your Majesty," she said politely with a respectful curtsy, but her voice was colder than the night when he had first broken into her tranquil, sheltered life.
The vision came suddenly, but it didn’t hurt her. She wondered at the picture it formed.
Could this be the man?
Aria wasn’t sure how she had imagined Torlith, but certainly not like this. Villains were ugly and grotesque, but Torlith was tall and handsome, with a thoughtful face, a calm, kind expression, and a diagonal sweep of shaggy, glossless black hair. He looked almost comical and boyish, even silly, as he blew upward to move his curling forelock out of his face. His arms were muscular and strong, but not as King Marcus’s had been- it was a different strength, a cruel, cold strength, instead of a trustworthy, hard-working strength.
Aria had pictured Torlith so differently- after all, he was the man who had ruthlessly cut down Marcus and Eirae, and had hunted her down as well. He had twisted her kingdom and she had believed him to have slain Gilligan. But she could imagine this Torlith tenderly caressing a child, or laughing at something silly, even making a good ruler.
But even though his face was- well- amiable, for lack of a better word, the atmosphere around him was formidable, like a chill, poisonous wind. Everything about it was wicked, despite his gentle appearance. Aria shuddered.
Then the vision faded. She tried to ignore the burning in her eyes.
Torlith looked up. "Hmm? What is it?" He glanced over with surprise at the small, frightened-looking girl before him. She was in his eyes, ethereal, elf-like, and fragile, a creature with a beauty that shone through her rags. It half-scared him, for he was in the darkness, and he hated the Light that he saw in her. But at the same time he felt drawn to her, as everyone did. "Who are you?" he asked, sounding genuinely likable and interested. Aria hated him for it.
Thomas was quick to introduce her. "My lord, this is Arianna, a Singer from…" He realized he hadn’t found out where she was from.
"Mideast-Llor, Sire," she interrupted, naming the general region of her village. (Sections of Llorleya are divided into Llores, such as West-Llor, Southeast-Llor, Mid-Llor, and so on. Llores are in size somewhere between counties, states, and provinces.)
"A Singer? We don’t have a Court Singer… Very well," he said, "Tonight after dinner you can sing for me. If I am pleased, you may stay."
Aria forced a smile and a thank you. As she left, she thought grimly, Well, I’ve accomplished my first purpose. With considerably more pleasure, she blushed. And I’ve found Gilligan! Alive! She could have flown for joy.
Aria was shown to her quarters by a pretty, appealing-faced cinnamon-skinned girl whom Aria assumed was a servant. The room was medium-sized, less grand than her bedroom as the Princess had been, but far more magnificent than her little cottage-room.
Dinner was not far off. Aria had planned to sing as she was, but decided a bath might be a good idea. She was tired and filthy, and probably a nice warm bath would be encouraging, and if nothing else it would be healthy. She might as well present herself clean. She told the cinnamon-skinned girl, who began to heat the water. Aria sighed and looked around. I’m home, came a startling thought. Home? She felt out of place. She was so close to her old life… but so, so far.
The warm bath-water descended over Aria’s head, washing away filth and grime from her hair and body like winter giving way to spring. She ran her hands over her clean white skin, soft from soap. She savored the feeling of cleanliness and smoothness. Refreshed, she finished bathing and stood, wrapping up a sweet-smelling towel that the cinnamon-skinned girl held out to her. "That was perhaps my first proper bath for years," she said gaily.
The cinnamon-skinned girl smiled and set down the pitcher she had been using to pour water over Aria.
What had she said? Aria thought. "I’m Mary Lou, but don’t mind me; I’m only here to help." "You don’t have to do all this is you don’t want to- Mary Lou," she said, wringing her long wet hair out. She picked up a bone-handled brush and applied it to her head.
"Yes I do, Miss," Mary Lou said. "What’s more, I want to."
Aria smiled. "Will you hand me my clothes, please?"
The maid seemed horrified. "You aren’t wearing that rag to sing before the king, are you?"
"But- Miss! He’ll take it as a direct insult!"
"I don’t care." But behind the perfect unconcern in Aria’s voice, Mary saw a quiet defiance in her eyes. (As it was, it wasn’t just that Aria didn’t care; she wanted to insult him.)
Mary did not think it admirable. "Bravery is just foolish here. I know it’s now my place as a slave to say such things, but-"
"You’re a slave?" Aria halted mid-tangle, astonished.
Mary Lou nodded. "You’ve seen all of the dark-skins like me in the halls? We’re all slaves. Lord Torlith captured some of us, and bought the rest of us."
Aria was shocked. Oh my, she thought. This kingdom got really messed up since I left. One day it’s just going to fall apart. Oh my.
"It’s not that bad, Miss- there are worst owners to have," Mary assured her, noting the look of horror on Aria’ face.
Aria doubted it, but desired no examples. She turned to "that rag" again.
"No, Miss!" Mary Lou jumped forward again. "You may not care what happens to you, but I do. At least-" -she searched for an idea desperately- "at least let me- let me wash it- and patch it- make it look more acceptable-"
Aria gave it a glance. It was shabby, of course… and dirty… and torn… She didn’t really fancy wearing it, now that she gave it thought. A little repair would do well. "Oh, fine," she said.
Mary Lou left, dress over her arm, looking less pleased than if Aria had agreed to get rid of it.
Mary returned later, empty handed.
Aria eyed her suspiciously. Had she hidden the dress?
"Where are my clothes, Mary?" she asked.
"I burned them," she said simply.
Aria glared at her.
"There are some dresses in the wardrobe. None are too fancy." Mary Lou looked vastly satisfied with herself, which only served to anger Aria more.
Aria strode angrily to the wardrobe and flung open the double-doors crossly, head held high like a queen’s, and for a moment, a bit of the old Aria, the arrogant, headstrong Princess Aria, broke through the quiet, sad Arianna.
She finally chose a dress she could almost enjoy, despite her indignant anger at her foiled ideas.
The dress was white, falling to her ankles. From the wide, crimson sash at her waist, the skirt showered down around her, rustling and swaying with her movement. The dress had scarlet ribbons at the shoulders, and elbow sleeves. Small golden shoes (almost like ballet shoes), dotted with tiny, winking red jewels, slipped onto her feet.
She dismissed Mary Lou, took a deep breath, and walked out her door.
All was still as Aria strode into the hall. That is not to say all was quiet or calm- in fact, it was rather noisy and rowdy. But somehow, to Aria, it seemed still and tense, as though waiting for something. Only Torlith turned his head to her in recognition when he saw her enter.
His throne sat elevated on stone, at the head of the long tables. Dinner had been over long before.
Aria shuddered, for though she couldn’t see it clearly, she could feel that the hall was changed. She had remembered it quite differently. Was the whole castle to be this way, a string of unpleasant surprises? What of the throne room, Eirae’s chamber, the Great Lawn, the archery range, Marcus’s study, or her own old bedroom with the soft, silky white canopy and wide glass window? What was changed with them?
Torlith held up a hand for silence, but though the room quieted, no one was really paying attention to Aria. She felt very lonely and wondered for the thousandth time if she should have come. Then she remembered everything Torlith had done to her and her people and her family, and her hatred bubbled up. She gritted her teeth angrily and her slender hands clenched into two tight, furious fists.
She was here for a very good reason.
But she still felt out of place and rejected. She longed for the comfort of Abby’s smile or Peter’s strong arms around her; Aiden’s small, insistent tug or Goodwife’s wise words; even Dominic’s hand on her shoulder would have been welcome to her. She wasn’t thinking of Gilligan, unfortunately, who was watching from his new post (they rotated every hour) at the door.
She stood before the king with the intention of singing a lullaby, but it died on her lips. She could never sing for him! Never! But something came out unexpectedly, even to her, yet it was as natural as breathing.
The song cast a spell over the room. It was a strange, intricate melody, sung by a beautiful voice that was high, sweet, and clear. The song was like no other, drawing you in with sweet, haunting strains. It was a tune you may have heard once-upon-a-time, in a forgotten dream; a song you would never tire of hearing. She may have been a "song on the wind", but she was also drifting and gliding on the wings of her song. No, it was more than that. She was the song, and the song her; she described it, and it her. They were not just a pair, but one.
Courtiers glanced up to her with surprise. To Torlith it seemed as though he had always known the song now hanging over the people, but it had been buried in the back of his mind, waiting to flow out.
And Aria? For a moment she forgot everything- hatred, sorrow. There was nothing in the world but the joyous strains of her voice, rising over everything. They left no room for hopeless pain as they swept over her lips; they drowned it all out. It was so natural, so simple, but so intricate, like a fairytale. For her- it was exultant, lifting her upward like wings, soaring, flying. She lifted her arms, entwined and clasped, to the sky, swaying and singing, and it seemed to her that she would begin to rise up, to fly- perhaps she did. Her face was rapt and bright, and very beautiful. For a moment the crowd around her was distracted from the song by the radiant, glowing creature before them. While she was singing, she seemed ethereal, almost unearthly. Not human, like a… like a…
But before they could name what she reminded them of, the spell was broken, the enchantment her voice had spun lifted from the floor as swiftly as it had been cast.
Torlith had risen. "Stop!" he had shouted. Everyone whirled around to face him as Aria broke off. He paused, looking half-angry, half-pleased. Perhaps he hadn’t wanted the beautiful song from the back of his mind. But at the same time that he hated it, he desired it, as he hated and was drawn to Aria. "You may stay as Court Singer. You are dismissed," he said. And that was all there was to it. Aria never found out why he had cut her performance short.


Note: This may be the last

Note: This may be the last chapter for awhile, even if I decide to keep posting The Stargazer on AP.

Anna | Mon, 03/03/2008

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


this is the best chapter yet!
As least in my opinion.
Nice job Anna.

Sarah | Mon, 03/03/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Blogging away!

=] =]

Yay for Gilligan! I knew you never killed him off! Best chapter indeed =]

Tamerah | Mon, 03/03/2008


If you stop posting
The Stargazers on APRICOTPIE,
can you send the chapters to me?
*Pleadingly begging*
I love it too much!

Yea for Gilligan!

Sarah | Mon, 03/03/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Blogging away!

What's your email address?

What's your email address?

Anna | Tue, 03/04/2008

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

Can't live with 'im, can't

Can't live with 'im, can't live without 'im...
Somehow I find trememdous trouble writing about him now... *sigh* Don't worry, he's prob'ly here to stay.

Anna | Tue, 03/04/2008

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


Sarah H
[email protected]

I keep losing yours, Anna.
Stuuuupid me.

Sarah | Tue, 03/04/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Blogging away!

I don't remember giving you

I don't remember giving you my email. Did I?

Anna | Wed, 03/05/2008

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

I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I knew you'd bring Gill back! Yay! This is an incredible, moving story--please keep posting it!
Whatever you are, be a good one-Abe Lincoln

Heather | Thu, 03/06/2008

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"


when you asked my for advice on your writing.
you gave me your email.
~Sarah H

Anonymous | Thu, 03/06/2008

No, I think that was

No, I think that was Emily-Smiley-girl... all I remember was telling you I had yahoo.

Thanks Heather! I'm really enojoying writing this and I'd hate to stop posting... but if it'll ever be published... :\

Anna | Fri, 03/07/2008

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


By the time YOU consider it ready to be published you'll probably have changed a lot of the story, if i can take any of my own past experiances in writing as an example.

Tamerah | Fri, 03/07/2008


i'm very sure I had your email once-apon-a-time,i remember sending you at least one reply, too, so.

Sarah | Sat, 03/08/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Blogging away!

Yet I don't see Galraith out

Yet I don't see Galraith out under "Fiction".

Anna | Mon, 03/10/2008

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

My mind must have been

My mind must have been checked out during that particular period of time. I'm just not remembering any of this!

Anna | Mon, 03/10/2008

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

If you publish this story,

If you publish this story, tell me so that I can order a copy!

Ezra | Sun, 03/16/2008

"There are no great men of God. There are only pitiful, sorry men whose God is great beyond measure." - Paul Washer [originally Jonathan Edwards]


Ezra: ....that was a very unexpected but pleasant surprise. Thanks! (i will be sure to if it gets published)

ps- All: still not sure if I will keep posting but leaning toward not. May even delete all but first few chapters.
i'm going to talk to my mom about emailing the chapters out. I don't give out my email lightly.

Anna | Mon, 03/17/2008

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


Hey, I looked up my records, and it wasn't you.
It was Emily.
I was wrong, as usual.

And if you're protective of your email,
make a "dummy" email. Use it for stuff you're not sure if it's spam or not, and use a fake name.
A free email such as yahoo, hotmail, or gmail is usually best.
That's what I do a lot. :D

Sarah | Mon, 03/17/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

Blogging away!

Not much to say.

Gilligan! I knew you would come back to me! :D

Aaah Aria dontcha' know, handsome villians are always the most evil.

Sing on Aria, sing on.

Anonymous | Wed, 07/09/2008


great chapter! i almost laughed when Aria thought villains are always ugly (thinking of Saruman)

"Men of Gondor, of Rohan!" Aragorn, LOTR.

Bernadette | Tue, 11/25/2008

I hope you know you make my

I hope you know you make my life very diffucult. I need to go read for school, but I can't get away from this. *sigh*

"This is most inconvenient, as I have swarn to loath him for all eterinty". Elizabeth Pride and Prejugdice

Alecia | Sat, 03/14/2009

It awoke with a shrill shreak that can be trnaslated "How dare you leave me in this bed, when I am asleep and helpless?" My sister

I really liked this story.

I really liked this story. The dress that Aria was wearing to the castle sounded pretty, and so did the dress that she wore to sing in front of Torlith. I wish I had a dress like the one she wore after Mary burned her other one! (;Poor old dress!;)

Kendra | Tue, 03/17/2009

"Are you sure this water is sanitary? It looks questionable to me! But what about bacteria?"--Tantor the elephant from Tarzan.

Amazing! I knew as soon as

Amazing! I knew as soon as you mentioned a knight it was Gill!!! I'm going to go put my pitchfork away now.....

This comment was made by Erin!

"Never, never give up. Unless you get really tired." -Ellen Degenres

E | Sat, 03/28/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

Ha! You brought Gilligan

Ha! You brought Gilligan back!!! I am indebted to you for life! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

"The meek tyrannosaurus, victim of an innocent misunderstanding, tears like heck across the prehistoric valley." - Calvin and Hobbes

Bridget | Sat, 03/28/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya


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