Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Story Time: Pyramond & Theleste - for Bear




Pyramond and Theleste: A Tragedy in Three Acts
A Webtale Spun by Mataoka

The surprise of a spring snow left her angry. Plans going awry, and uncooperative nature displeased her. The raindrops held inner cores of frozen slush, making a statement every time one hit her skin, bare, taunted by the sun a few hours earlier. She would not miss their time together. She had waited too long, past the point of anticipation. They had an unbreakable appointment.

Act I

Their love started when they were children. Forced to live in a sanctuary that housed all kinds: enemies, drifters, thieves, nobility, farmers, and broken families, trying to escape the haunting tragedies of multiple wars, all races all sought the refuge of this place. Miles to the south lay waste of barren stadiums of former glorious battles, and to the north enclaves of factions and fanatics. And, in between, those survivors clawing at one another.
They were tiny children, with only a heavy stone-made wall between them, but worlds apart. She was of Highborn Elf ancestry, and his roots were far more simplistic. There were rumors of her uncles becoming demons and Naga amongst the neighbors, whispering and judgments against her family of which she had no control. Her grandfather maintained a shrine to Queen Azshara, which had never been darkened until they slit his treacherous throat, dousing the holy light with his blood. The Queen would have expected nothing less than this sacrifice.
Shrines to Azshara were not the sole paternal domain for Theleste’s family, although Theleste was named for her mother’s mother, who had lived as gentle soul, with druidic tendencies and natural healing abilities. Theleste’s mother Ingrainia regretted this choice enormously, but once a babe is named, so it stays. Ingrainia imagined herself to be of true nobility and stature, and any reminder that her line had fallen she took as insult from the gods, and sought to seek reclamation. Her daughter was her primary endeavor in this. Ingrainia herself wore dresses and robes in the Azsharian fashion, though most were ill fitting. She wanted a second life for Theleste, a chance at another Azsharian age…
She kept Theleste isolated from the other children in the sanctuary. This filthy refugee camp hosted the most notorious warlords and minor criminals, socialites and blackguards, including her unscrupulous husband. She had no other choice until she saved enough to move her sons and daughter back to Ashenvale, or better, Darnassus. Her husband was one of the most ruthless souls in the area, taking advantage of those less fortunate than himself at every turn. He kept his own council, and spent his time training his sons, Thalgor and Thilmus, in the arts of counterfeit and con artistry.
He was not quite as interested in leaving the area as his wife, but agreed with Ingrainia that Darnassus would be better suited to his image. He had heard someone say, ‘do not to soil your own bedding,’ and this made sense to him. Though he was very much alive, he felt as bitter and soulless as the legions of roaming spirits and banshees his ancestors had become, wandering lost amongst ruins, weaving through dark pines, and in pitiful halls of former grandeur. When he spoke to Theleste, which was rare, he would tell her tales of these Highborn Elves who had disobeyed their fathers and mothers, betrayed their Queen, and forever floated and screamed across the hills and woods. He meant to inspire a sense of revenge in her, but all these tales accomplished was fear.
As a tiny girl, in the nights, Theleste’s fears took hold. Cloaks on a chair become a volatile mutation, slithering over the latticework, crawling toward her in the shadows. She had never heard of a mutation monster before some of the orphaned Draenei children told her, about their scraping, humping way across green fields, spreading their diseases and filth. She would squeeze her eyes shut, counting to three before opening them again, hoping her small magic would make the monster disappear. Sometimes her spells worked, but sometimes they did not. Her magic never dispelled the fear of the banshees in her nightmares, bubbling out of moon shadows, reaching with their long, bony fingers grasping for her neck. She would wake up in tears, not daring to step foot on the floorboards.
This one night, she counted one, two, three, and when she opened her eyes, the monster was gone, and in its place a small kitten-soft golden light. At first she thought it might be moonlight from the small window toward the top of her bedroom. She cocooned and spun in her covers, searching its source. The light came from an opening made by a missing stone, a cat-and-mouse sized shaft, in the stone-mason wall in her room.
She slipper-footed out of bed, and whispered to the wall, “Are you awake, too?” so softly, so quietly, that only someone with ears her same size could have heard her. Pyramond, another elf child, heard her with his ears, the same size, also awake in a fearful night.
Pyramond lived with his older brother, a distracted youth, made angry and bitter by the death of their parents in one of the many battles. Their home had been burned to the ground, the smell of pine and felfire still clung to their cloaks, the few things besides the shirts on their backs, and lives, they escaped with. Each cloak had an antler-insignia cloak pin; it was the symbol for their family, a reminder of Malfurion’s grace and strength against Queen Azshara’s treachery. He had also managed to grab his mother’s silver and malachite hairpin, in the shape of Tyrande’s bow, and a few other items, but other than that, the two brothers were busy trying to survive in the hostile sanctuary. His brother often found himself scrambling to get out of one debt or another, and was familiar with the shady dealings of Thalgor and Thilmus.
When that little voice asked him, “Are you awake?” her words cast a spell of safety, like he had been cold all his life, and someone put a warm blanket around him. “It’s me, Pyramond. Who are you? Are you like me? An elf? Are you a girl?  Why are you awake?” Then Theleste sweetly giggled, relieved this was no screaming banshee or a cruel adult, telling her to be quiet, mind her own business, and leave him alone. This was a friend! For the next hour or so, they spoke in whispers to one another, afraid of being caught, and afraid of it ending too soon.
“I’m sleepy now, Pyramond,” she whispered.
“Wait, take this, and I’ll know you if I see you outside.” He slipped the hairpin in the missing stone in the wall, wanting her to have it. She could not tell him the chances of them meeting were impossibly small because her mother forbade her from talking with anyone outside of the family. She slipped the hairpin under her pillow, and later clipped it in the inside of her dresses from that night on, and kept it near her heart every day.
They spoke almost every night, but it was odd—they knew if they missed a night, it was because the other one was sleeping peacefully, and this gave them both comfort. If the singular torch was lit, the light would wake one of them up, a touch on the neck, a gentle nudge. A dream’s kiss.
Theleste’s sheltered world did not provide her with much to add to their conversations, and Pyramond’s daily escapades provided almost too much. But this made Theleste the perfect audience for Pyramond; she loved to listen to his stories of the streets outside her walls, beyond the marketplace and temples, to the forests and groves, the barren wastelands, filling the spaces between the wall. Pyramond had so much more freedom than she did. Time did not stop for them, and they grew, their love grew deeper. There was no time that they were not together or in each other’s thoughts, waking or dreaming. But time did not stop, indeed, and their bodies began to call for one another, too, in that secret, silent language that needs no human voice.
“What do you look like, Theleste?” he asked one night, a natural question.
“Oh, I am the usual elf girl, Pyry. Nothing special. There are other elf girls out there in the sanctuary, aren’t there? We all look the same.”
“Well, Thel, I don’t know about that. (He felt suddenly shy, and wanted to change the subject. Thinking about how Theleste might look had become a recent obsession for him. He imagined her constantly, what she looked like, how it would feel to hold her. If she was anything like her voice…“Yes, there are a few elf girls around, and there were many back at home, but I’ll tell you what they do have a lot of around here…ewes! I mean, where are the rams? The boy sheep, I mean? How are the girl sheep ever going to be happy and have babies if there are no boy sheep?” Theleste blushed and laughed.
The next week, Pyry found a gnomish artisan, a glassblower by trade. The gnome, Chukhili, was completely out of place in this area, having his own issues of exile. Those with greater engineering and technological skills replaced his talents, and he couldn’t find satisfactory work with his own kind. His genius lie in his technique to create the most delicate and realistic glass sculptures, and artists were not welcome among gnomes, at least not artists that created objects that made no beep or bang, or served no purpose. But Chukhili also had a gambling problem, and Pyry’s brother was more than happy to separate the gnome from his gold in games of cards and dice. The poor little soul had no luck at all, and the gnome owed them some gold. He had already pawned most of his old engineering tools, but still had his other business for the professional vendors in town, making crystal vases for the alchemists. Pyry knew his brother would be furious with him, but he asked Chukhili to create a miniature glass ram for Theleste. The ram was no bigger than a goblin’s thumb, and Chukhili added his signature to it, a bee-kiss sized daisy imprint. “Why the daisy, Chukhili?” Chukhili shrugged. “Reminds me of a girl I knew,” and left it at that.
When they met, in the night, light through the chinks, Pyry slid the tiny glass figure through the wall, in a space the mason forgot to measure well. (The rooms were made for the poor, after all, not a king’s palace, so why not cut a corner or two? Whom would it hurt?) “Here’s a boy sheep for you, Theleste. I should say, ewe, e-w-e! I hope you like it.”
The ram was perfection—masculine, tough, strong, and made a tad gentler with the daisy on its neck, tucked under its horns. Theleste loved it, and dug out a small chest her grandmother had left for her to keep it safe.
Over the weeks and months, he proceeded to give her glass replicas of every critter of Azeroth: squirrels, rabbits, crabs, penguins, hares, ewes, skunks, toads, turkeys, frogs, and her favorite, a frisky marmot. He started a tradition that every time he gave her one, he made up a sweet story about it. The ram was still her favorite, but the story about the squirrel and his nuts made her giggle, but she wasn’t totally sure why. Over the months and moons, seasons and circles, she had a menagerie of animals, her own personal glass zoo, kept in her secret chest.
But some nights, there was no light, but she knew he was there. One object his brother had managed to save from the fires was a delicate music box of their mother’s. If Theleste heard its mournful tune she knew to not disturb Pyry. The first time she heard it, one moonless night, she heard him crying, and he asked her to please leave him alone. Just for that night. And she learned if she heard that music, he was in his sad, broken-hearted place, before the fires burned, when a cool hand swiped hair from a fevered forehead, when the only comfort he wanted was a mother’s hug, and a mother’s smile. It was for a life that was past and gone, and tears for a life and a future he could not master. Fate was in control.

Act II—

She had come of age. Theleste’s mother arranged, at no small cost, between her husband’s business associate and a matchmaker, an appointment for a suitor, a quite suitable suitor. He was from one of the local Highborn families from a distant second sanctuary. (To call it a sanctuary was a misnomer, for this area was far too posh and elegant to be considered a refugee camp. (Although, not all would be as it would seem. Though there were ordinances trying to prevent these things, gnomes still hung wash out to dry on exposed laundry lines, and if one was to gaze outward from the exiled nobilities’ fortresses, one could spot striped undergarments blowing in the lavender breezes. There was an extensive underground cache, too, for the more unsavory types to conduct their business. In every place, it would seem, vice and greed find a home.)
The suitor sat in the drawing room, stiff and uncomfortable; prepared to marry whatever horse-faced elf girl his father commanded him to. The dowry price was fair, and he could still have all the consorts and mistresses he desired. Gold and sex, all a man could want. The mother’s small talk was insufferable: when they married, he would keep the girl far away from this place, and that horrible mother.
And then Theleste entered the room.
She was as pale and deep as milky moonlight. Her long hair translucent, thick, and almost iridescent. Her pale robin’s egg blue eyes were as clear as a morning. She did not smile. He did not notice.
Theleste knew the purpose of this meeting. She was to be married and moved, a stepping-stone for her family, with their heels on her head. If she took a misstep, or maneuvered incorrectly, their entire social future would be shattered. This was the son of a very dangerous man, and she was to be his wife, kept and carried. Forever and ever.
Her brothers joined them, laughing and comfortably joking with the potential groom. Some of their jests were insulting to their sister, crude, but their mother ignored them and did not publicly scold them. If anything, she seemed included in the jokes about wedding night conquests and popping of blossoms. Vain Ingrainia savored the attention.
He seemed pleased with her, from what she could tell. She didn’t really care. His smug arrogance was familiar to her, for it was her father and brothers’ manner, too. But as she sat there, she squelched the inner voice, the welling of a scene in her mind, of the shadows in the night, the cloaks turning to monsters, and crawling toward her, hands to her throat, choking and trapping her. She remained poised and calm, and mentally counted the tiny glass animals. The little daisies each one had made them so unique, and she began to rotate the thought, “he loves me, he loves me not,” over and again.
She began to question her friendship with Pyry: was it real? It was hidden in front of everyone’s eyes, like a shooting star that goes across the entire, magnificent night sky, the whole half a world could witness if it would just look up, but yet, only has one earthly witness to its glory. She felt that way about her friendship, and love, for Pyry. Enough. The time had come to see him, and to hold him.
She wasn’t going to allow the monster to eat her.
Over the ticking minutes her thoughts ceased to float of curiosity. She demanded, and her young woman’s body, demanded physical contact. No more words. Theleste gave less attention to the imaginings of what happened behind the wall. She wanted to see him, and when she thought about him, there was no more room for vacuous feelings, the longings she dismissed as part of growing into a young lady: these questions that had answers, and she knew where to ask.
She heard the music that night, but ignored it.
“Pyry, I know you’re there. I know you’re sad. Talk to me, please, please.” She spoke the last word between notes.
“I saw him go to your house today, and I know why he was there, Theleste. When were you going to tell me?”
“When I knew it was real. But Pyry, enough. Let’s run away, I want to see you, and spend at least one perfect night with you. Let’s just…meet. Please.”
So they did. That simple. He gave her a vial of potion of illusions, and she snuck near her brothers’ room, when they were snoring off a drunk, and drank it. She immediately mimicked Thalgor, down to his unshaven face and carefully coiffed hair. She ran out of the house to meet Pyramond at their pre-chosen location, under the third tree to the right of the blacksmith’s.
It had been almost snowing earlier, but the weather had changed to warm. The threat of cold snow angered her; she had waited too long for the gods to spoil it now.
As soon as she saw him her disguise melted away in an effluvium cloud. Pyramond could not breathe when he saw her. She was truly beautiful. Untouched, pure joy radiated from her smile, all for him. She had played out this moment so many nights, and her heart was not disappointed. It beat in her breasts to the music of the moment.
His hand went to her face.
He bent down.
He pulled her face to his.
He kissed her.
And he was speechless.
When they regained some of their senses, he pulled out a pomegranate his brother had brought back with him from one of his trade journeys. He thought this would be a perfect treat to share with her.
He tore open the pomegranate, handing her half. She bit in the thick nectar seeds causing a burgundy delta of juicy rivers flowing toward her elbows; she licked them before they dripped onto her dress while laughing, behaving like an embarrassed flirt. The fruit juices would indelibly stain her robes. But the flavor—tart, sweet, unforgettable, was worth it. The spring night changed its mind again, and when the snowflakes that had angered her earlier, now she did not notice the cold.
The dawn began to fight the night for power, and was winning. They slipped home, going separate routes, unseen mostly, back to their homes. She went in the servants’ entrance, and he through his front door.
They met the next night, with her disguised as her second brother, Thilmus.
But the third day met with the delivery of a slender silver scroll case, no bigger than a bat-wing bone, but its strength was unnatural to its alchemy and content. It was a message from the suitor, naming a date and place for their wedding. It was more of a command than request. Theleste sucked in her breath, and it took all of her inner strength to stay calm. She wore a mask of resignation. She knew she would never marry the Highborn, for she and Pyry had made plans to escape, to marry and run away to one of the new colonies. He had saved for the transport out, through one of his brother’s dealings, including a roundabout deal with Theleste’s brothers and one of their bodyguards, an ogre named Gobjobbe. Thilmus and Thalgor caught wind that their next-door neighbor, Pyramond’s brother, had cheated them. They would take care of this through Gobjobbe. Nothing personal. They just had a message to deliver.

Act III—

Her mother set right to work: Theleste’s wedding was planned the next morning. When the household was asleep, finally, after the preparations had been made and the servants harried to exhaustion in the packing and care of Theleste’s trousseau, she knocked on the wall, three times. He tried to slip the potion of illusions vial through the hole in the wall, but the crystal vial slightly cracked. She drank the potion, and by her proximity to him, appeared just as Pyramond did, every detail, from his face, to his cloak with the antler-insignia cloak pin, recognized around the area as one of the “ Night Brothers,” but not Theleste’s brothers. Pyramond and his brother were considered more honorable, at least as thieves go. But there were unkind eyes looking for Pyramond.
He slipped out and waited at their usual spot. Their transport, a washed-up mage who slept in the abandoned tunnels would take them wherever they had the gold to go. He had a good heart, and was a soft one for young lovers, rousing himself out of his drunken stupor just long enough to help them. On his way to the meeting location for portal magic, one of his former mage colleagues spotted him and offered to buy him a pint on his way, for old time’s sake. He couldn’t refuse. He was feeling a bit parched.
Theleste felt disoriented meeting Pyramond, and frightened a little. She knew it was the right thing to do, the only thing she could do, to be with him. In their futures, never would come a day when they could stop running, or stop looking around corners, though, for she knew, and he knew, her family would not rest until they got her back. They were both forsaken.
She spun around a dark corner, and there swayed Gobjobbe. His gelatinous belly shook, his stained and oily loincloth barely covering his shriveled genitals, and he just stood there laughing. “Hey, little brother, your big brother owes us. How about you pay his debt for old Gob?” and he quickly grabbed Theleste’s arm, and with a stolen dagger, sliced open her veins the long way, with streams of red blood lacing her hands. The potion of illusion faded, she looked at Gob with her last sight, and folded to her knees. The tiny chest of glass animals fell out of her bags, crashing to the dirt, ground to splintery shards.
Gobjobbe realized this was no cutpurse who owed his bosses gold, but someone of high birth, and for killing her; there would be no mercy. In his panic, he dragged her body near the blacksmith shop by the pub, and ran, leaving a trail of blood. A witness, a young elf male, went unnoticed by Gobjobbe. Pyramond wondered why an ogre was running so fast in the darkened paths, looking like a ghost was chasing him.
The mage remembered he had a promise to keep, for young lovers and all, and stumbled out of the pub. He went to the tree by the blacksmith shop, and found a young Pyramond alone, nervous. “I, I am not sure why she’s not here, she’s late, she, please help me look for her…” The mage and Pyry took a few steps, went round the corner, and found her, where the ogre had dragged her, hidden behind a small outcropping of rocks.
Pyramond scooped her up, and held her as if she was one with him. He didn’t cry, or scream. He asked the mage to port them to Ashenvale. The mage wasn’t sure if he should get involved with this sad, deadly business, and he wasn’t sure if he could port a dead body. Something in the mage’s intelligent, curious mind sparked, however, and he thought of it as an experiment, and created the portal.
Pyramond and Theleste never arrived in Ashenvale. The act of porting with a corpse did indeed work, but not as imagined. It took Pyramond’s life, too, and their bodies were found in Desolace months later, mere bones by this point, intertwined and together. Sand and dust blew over the layers of the lovers, and all was lost. Forever and ever.



Writer’s Note: A few weeks ago, when I started to get into archeology, the Pyramond & Theleste story intrigued me. I knew immediately it was an allusion to Pyramus and Thisbe, an ancient Greek tale I am/was very familiar with, and the inspiration for Romeo & Juliet. I looked up this website months ago, to see what else I could discover, and realized, I could write my own version.

I have renewed my creative license, and didn’t stick to the lore provided or clues, but created my own. (In fact, I just pulled everything out of my head.) I didn’t do any more research before drafting this story, I only attempted three goals: 1. Use all of Bear’s words; 2. Incorporate all of the objects from the achievement and 3. Keep true to the nature of tragedy and good-old fashioned star-crossed lovers.

Thisbe by John Waterhouse
But—has my writing buddies say, “Writing is never finished. It’s only due.”*I would like to offer this challenge, to myself, I guess, and take the inscriptions on the items of Pyramond and Theleste and weave a story based on those. And as Guarf suggested...forsaken? Is there more to the story? 

Hmmm..perhaps. 

*I even own a T-shirt that says this. Word.
















Words:
juicy
slender
vain
shaft
torch
star
hidden

Artifacts:
Delicate Music Box
Hairpin of Silver and Malachite
Cracked Crystal Vial
Cloak Clasp with Antlers
Chest of Tiny Glass Animals
Silver Scroll Case

11 comments:

  1. You know...some times all a guy can say is wow. I'm totally blown away. /trustori

    Z

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  2. I only realised halfway through the story you were writing about an Archaeology thing! That was a great story Matty. Gosh, so clever too with the artifacts. Big applause from me!

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  3. That, frankly, is beyond awesome :D

    Thank you for taking the time to put something from one of my Fave professions into a very interesting context. I always wondered about those items :D

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  4. Very well done!

    Where are they meant to be living? At first I thought it was in Lower City in Shattrath, and then in the Underbelly of Dalaran, or is it somewhere else entirely?

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  5. Thank you all, so much.

    Kamalia - yes, it's Shattrath, but I didn't name it because I wanted to make it more vague. Young lore-master druid cub called me out on that, but I call "Rule 10--" because I wanted to write it that way. :)

    Thank you all. When I write something and it makes me cry, well - I can hit the publish button.

    Thank you, most of all to Bear for two things: inspiration and a deadline.

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  6. Oh Matty ... just wow. You made me cry. You wove many wonderful things together in such a sad beautiful story but then I'm not surprised.

    I just wish some of my favorite blog writers could publish their stories and poems through Kindle in a WoW bloggers collection, so they'd always be easy to find to reread.

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  7. You know, Tome, I've been wondering the same thing--I'm going to look into that.

    and...


    ....thank you.

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  8. So beautiful...

    Sigh. Voted the #1 favorite use of the word juic(y) by all peoples commenting in this comment. :)

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    1. (...I kind of like that line, too...glad you noticed!, so says the #1 Responder in this Response!)

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  9. Guarf21.3.12

    As always, beautiful. I did get a chuckle out of "hold out on publishing until Wednesday 3/21" Posted at 12:01 a.m. Visions of Matty, looking at the clock, mouse hovering over the 'submit' button.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Guarf, and especially for your read-through and laser-focused editing. And you know me too well!

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