Continued from this post…
Alone in her turret, Carrena looked around at the cold, dark room. There was a straw mat on the floor with a worn blanket thrown across it. Beneath the slit of a window, there was a wooden table and chair and nothing else of comfort.
Carrena walked over to the slit of a window and looked out.
All around she saw dark gloomy lands. The trees were bare. The fields were covered in dried out stubble. There were no birds singing. No flowers growing. There was no sign of life. No voices laughing and talking and sharing stories of the day.
Looking at the lands, Carrena felt sadness embrace her.
“Stop it,” she told herself. “Feeling sorry for yourself will not change anything. It will only make you feel worse.”
And so, she began to sing.
“I walk in beauty now. Beauty lies before me. Beauty lies above me, behind and below me.”
The knight, only half way down the turret stairs heard her song.
He stopped and listened. It was the same song he had heard throughout their journey back to the kingdom.
In her voice, he felt it again. That thing he’d never felt before. The feeling of his heart beating. Of his blood flowing warmly throughout his body.
He was confused.
What would he tell the king?
He did not want to lose the sound of her song. He did not want to reveal to the king that he had found the girl with the heart of gold and carried her to the castle. He did not want her to lose her heart.
Slowly he kept descending the staircase towards the king’s throne room.
What could he do to protect Carrena’s heart?
It was a foreign feeling to him this need to care for another. It felt good, different, warm, and he did not want to let the feeling go.
Just as he reached the entranceway to the king’s throne room, a page came racing out. “The king has fallen! The king has fallen!” he cried for everyone to hear.
The knight raced towards the king’s throne and found his liege lying on the floor, gasping for air.
“That song! That song!” the king cried. “Stop it. Stop it.”
The knight, not wanting to reveal the truth of where the song came from, lied.
“I don’t hear anything, your Highness,” he said.
“It’s her song,” the king wailed. “The song she sang everyday to our child. I cannot bear to hear it. I order you to make it stop.”
And as he spoke, tears rolled down the king’s face.
The knight, never having seen his king cry before, did not know what to do and so he asked the only question he could think to ask.
“What song Your highness?”
“That song that I hear right now,” the king cried. Tears rolled in glistening streams down his cheeks. “She was my world and all the beat of my heart and then one day while I was out, she was kidnapped and disappeared.” And his shoulders shook as he told the story and his words came out in violent gasps. “She sang it always to our child and they took our child too. A girl. A beautiful little girl. I searched the world wide and far and could never find them… I could never find them.” And he cried louder and louder.
The knight had heard stories of the king’s loss. The entire palace whispered of those sad days long ago when the king, burdened by grief and unable to find his love, had locked away his heart and never let it be known again.
The knight had always believed the stories were just a tale. A myth to explain away the coldness of the king’s heart. No one ever dared question the king and so, he’d simply ignored the story and continued to do his master’s bidding.
“Tell me you can hear her song,” the king demanded of his knight. “Tell me you can hear it too.”
The knight was scared.
Tell his master that he had lied, that he had brought the girl with the heart of gold to the castle and she was the one causing his pain? He knew his very life, and hers, were at stake and he did not know what to do.
And then, a strange thing happened.
The king took a breath and grabbed the knight’s hands and looked deeply into his eyes. “It is so beautiful,” he cried through his tears. “Listen. Can you not hear it?”
To lie or not to lie? And he knew the answer as he listened to Carrena’s song.
“I hear it,” said the knight. “It is the girl. The girl with the heart of gold.”
“What?” cried the king, releasing the knight’s hands and getting quickly up from where he had fallen. Thoughts of limitless riches and gold beyond his imagination filled his mind. “You have brought the girl with the heart of gold to my castle and not told me? You shall die for you insubordination!”
“I did not have time,” the knight told the king. “I only just returned when you heard her song. I was on my way to tell you when she began to sing. I did not have time.”
The king did not want to listen to his vassal’s excused and demanded he bring the girl to him immediately. “We will deal with you later,” he added for good measure just to scare the knight.
Fearing what would happen, the knight climbed back up to the turret room. When he entered, he was shocked by the transformation of its bleak surroundings. Boughs of flowers draped the walls, a beautiful blanket of moss covered the drab straw mat. The table was covered in a lacy cloth and the floor in a woven rug of multi-hued fibres. At the window slit, birds clung to the rock walls, their songs filling the room. And in the midst of all the beauty, Carrena sat quietly singing.
The knight could not believe his eyes and wanted to rest awhile amidst all the colour and beauty. But he knew he had no choice but to fulfill on his master’s orders. Quickly.
“You must run,” he told Carrena. “The king demands your presence and I cannot let you go near him.”
Carrena stopped her song and walked towards the knight. She took his hands in both of hers and gazed deeply into his eyes. “It’s okay,” she said. “I want to meet this king of yours whom you fear so deeply. I can feel your heart and it is pure. I will ask the king to set you free.”
“No!” screamed the knight. “You must do no such thing. I cannot be free until I die and if you demand anything of the king, he will kill me.”
“Don’t be silly,” Carrena replied. “No one is that powerful. No one can hold the reins on someone else’s life. I will insist he set you free.”
The knight was beyond words. Her song had touched his heart deeply and he knew he could not let the king take her life and remove her heart.
“Listen carefully,” said the knight to Carrena. “I will let you run away if you promise not to confront the king. You must go.”
“But you brought me here to meet your king,” said Carrena. “I must meet him.”
“No! You do not understand. The king wants to steal your heart of gold because he believes it will give him wealth beyond his greatest imaginings. You must run away.”
….. To be continued……