THE LADY OF THE LILIES
BY GEAN FIREFEET


This story is often told to the desert-dwelling Shendar children the evening before full moon. Itís little more than a fairy tale, but like all fairy tales, it has a core of reality. The origin of the story can be followed back to the time of the Lost People, those who lived in the south even before the Shendar traveled there. It explains how these people saw the beginning of night and day, and why the sand lilies only blossom at night, and grow in the desert, instead of their water lily sisters.

Therefore the story contradicts the general Shendar beliefs concerning sun and moon, but the Shendar don't mind telling foreign stories as long as they are good to hear... well, judge for yourself. Listen to the story of the Lady of the Lilies.


long time ago, when the world was young, before the Shendar traveled to the RŠhaz-DŠth, before they were bound to the Aj, yes even before the sands covered the earth here in the south, there lived another people here in the desert. We call them "The Lost People", because we know very little about them. But we do know that they had dark skins and liked to tell stories to their children. Some of those survived up till today... You're about to hear how they thought that night and day came into being.

Once upon a time, there was a garden. The garden was full of life, of beauty, and Lord Sun, Lady Moon and their Younglings, the Stars, lived in the grounds as they had done ever since the dawn of time. The garden was as green as emeraud, with spots of other hues in every colour imaginable where flowers dotted the landscape. There were roses, as red as your blood, blue like the skies, or yellow as the beach. Arysa wasn't born yet - no flowers grew from her tears - still there were thousands of other flowers that populated the fertile grounds of the garden.
 

But, the fairest of all were the water lilies, which grew in the central pond of the garden. They were white as snow, with four crowns of petals that made the water of the pond sparkle like a diamant when the Lord of the Garden visited them. But it wasnít Lord Sun who liked them above all, no, it was the Lady who favoured the water lilies best, and when Lady Moon visited their waters, the water lilies tried to look their loveliest. They would shake their petals and fold them in neat patterns to delight the Lady with their show, they would rise above the water as much as they could to demonstrate their beauty, just to please their Lady. They would sing to her about the everlasting life and love in the garden, and the Lady would clap her in hands in joy, dance in the water and hug each flower tightly, and every time the lilies prided themselves what lucky flowers they were, that they could please their Lady so much.

One day, the Lady visited the lake again, but she wasnít happy this time. The flowers stretched their petals as much as they could, they made images of the animals in the garden, of the youngling Stars playing with the deer, they sang every song they knew, but no picture would make her smile, no music would brighten her face. They were astonished and didnít know what to do. A little forlorn, they gathered in the center of the pool and all looked at their Lady, sitting in the grass. Then, all of sudden, the Lady rose to her feet and stepped into the pond, but she didnít dance, no, she hesitantly moved towards the lilies, and all the flowers held their breath. When she finally reached them, she told the lilies what had happened.

ĎDear flowers, I donít know what to do. My Lord left me alone for hours and I was sick with worry. He hadnít said a word to me about it, so at first I just waited for him. But after a while my anxiety grew and grew. I searched the whole garden, I asked all the Stars and all the flowers, but no one had seen him, no one knew. Then, hours later, when I was asleep beneath a birch tree, my Lord came back and quietly laid his hand on my shoulder. As soon as I was fully awake, I started to cry and he held me tight in his warm arms. When I finally was able to ask where he had been, he simply said ďoutsideĒ. Can you imagine, my dear lilies, his Lordship went outside. As if weíre not good enough for him. When I asked him why, he said: ďI saw so much out there that I had never thought of before. I saw illness and I saw betrayal. You donít know what illness is, do you?Ē He dared to ask me! Of course I didnít know, and I donít want to know. My dear lilies, what shall I do with him?í

As soon as she finished speaking to them, the Maiden of the Moon started to cry. At first, the lilies had only listened, they had reached out to her words with every petal they could muster, but now that the Lady cried, they folded round cups of their leaves and received her tears and drank them, like they drank the rain of spring. And when she finally finished crying, they started to sing to her for a second time and made the most beautiful images imaginable; they imitated the roses in the garden and the big yellow flowers his Lordship liked so much and when they sang and pictured and danced for her the Lady finally forgot her sorrow. They danced through the pond for hours and in the end, when the Lady fell asleep on the grass beside the pond, the lilies prided themselves what lucky flowers they were, that they could please their Lady so much.

It was a week later, when the Lady visited the lake again. The lilies had been waiting for her every day, for they wanted to comfort her with their art and beauty and had prepared a special show for her, but her face told them enough when she descended to the water surface and they kept their peace, awaiting her story. The lilies gathered in the center of the pond and the Lady advanced on them immediately and spoke:

ĎDear flowers, I still donít know what to do. My Lord left me alone for hours again and I was sick with worry. He hadnít warned me in advance, so at first I just waited for him. But after a while my anxiety grew and grew. I searched the whole garden, I asked all the Stars and all the flowers, I even went to the edge of the garden to look for him, but no one had seen him, no one knew. Then, hours later, when I was fast asleep beneath an oak tree, my Lord came back and quietly put a hand on my shoulder. As soon as I was fully awake, I started to cry and he held me tight in his hot arms. When I finally was able to ask where he had been, he again said ďoutsideĒ. Can you imagine, my dear lilies, his Lordship went OUTSIDE AGAIN. As if weíre not good enough for him. When I asked him why, he said: ďI saw so much out there that I had never thought of before. I saw poverty and hunger. You donít know what hunger is, do you?Ē He dared to ask me! Of course I didnít know, and I donít want to know. My dear lilies, what shall I do with him?í

As soon as she finished speaking to them, the Maiden of the Moon started to cry. At first, the lilies had only listened, they had reached out to her sentences with every petal they could muster, but now that the Lady cried, they folded tiny goblets of their leaves and received her tears and drank them, like they drank the summer rain. And when she finally finished crying, they started to sing to her, even more beautifully than they had done before. They made the most wonderful images imaginable, they imitated the roses in the garden and the big yellow flowers his Lordship liked so much and when they sang and danced for her the Lady finally forgot her sorrow. They danced through the pond for hours and hours and in the end when the Lady fell asleep on the grass beside the pond, the lilies prided themselves what lucky flowers they were, that they could please their Lady so much.

For weeks the lilies awaited another of the visits of their Lady, and they grew more anxious every hour. They thought the Lady had found another favourite flower or that she had left the garden for good but after a month the Lady finally showed up at the waterís edge, her face dark and icy. The lilies huddled together as much as they could in the center of the pond, but they were barely gathered when the Lady spoke to them again:

ĎMy dear flowers, I think I know what I must do. My Lord left me alone for days and days and I was sick with worry. He hadnít spoken to me for a while, but I didnít wait for him. I went to the edge of the garden to look for him, even a little beyond into the Wilderness, and there I saw him, flying through the skies looking down at the lands beyond our garden. But he never saw me, not once did he look back at the beauty of the garden, the place we loved together. Then, hours later, when I still lay awake, my Lord came back and quietly tried to put a hand on my shoulder. He was startled to find me fully awake, but this time I didnít cry: I furiously swept his arms away. I shouted to him why he had to go outside again and again, but he remained silent and never spoke. Then, when I finally stopped shouting, he said: ďI saw so much out there that I had never thought of before. I saw war and death. You donít know what death is, do you?Ē He dared to ask me! ďOf course I donít know,Ē I yelled at him, and I left in anger. My dear lilies, I must expel him from the garden. Let him go outside, forever, but donít expect me to wait for him.í

As soon as she finished speaking to them, the Maiden of the Moon started to cry. At first, the lilies had only listened, they had reached out to her story with every petal they could muster, but now that the Lady cried, they folded vases of their leaves and received her tears and drank them, like they drank the autumn rain. And when she finally finished crying, they wanted to sing and dance for her, and weave intricate patterns like they used to do all the time, but they stopped before they could start. Behind the Lady, the bright image of the Lord of the Garden appeared. He had heard all the Lady had said to them. A smiled played along his lips as he addressed his Ladyís favourite flowers with the following words:

ĎMy dear flowers, why do you tell her Lady of everlasting love, when thereís so much more beyond this garden? Why do you only tell of life, if death is just as everlasting? You should come outside and see for yourself, you are blinded by your tales of everlasting love and life, while outside thereís illness and betrayal, poverty and hunger, war and death.í

Then he turned to his Lady, his smile now menacing as he spoke:

ĎAnd you, woman, you want me to leave this place? Iím happy to, but I'll take you, you and your darling children with me. Like me, you will fly the skies and look down upon all there is to see beyond this garden...'

What happened then, no one knows. Yet the lilies found themselves bound in their green leaves, forming little green buds on little green stems, captives in a little green cell. Then, when the Lady of the Lilies first cried from her new high seat and her tears rained down upon the flowers, the lilies opened up and sang their song to comfort her, but not from a sparkling pond - instead, from an ocean of sand. And every night, when the moon rises above the Rahaz Dath Desert and the Lady longs for her Garden and cries in desperation, the lilies will sing their song. And if their song pleases the Lady, she might come down to them, forgetting her sorrow, descending from her high home upon an Aj white as snow, and sheíll dance the whole night with them, till Lord Sun scares them all away at dawn.

 

Story written by Gean Firefeet View Profile