Once there was a girl named Legend. Who was perfect in every way.
With hair long as the night, it curled in the most peculiar way as it wrapped itself, effortlessly about her limbs. Her skin, unlike any other, glistened like morning dew upon the tops of fresh cut grass. Her lips, pink as the pinkest rose. And her eyes, her eyes were like the sea, steady ripples of calm blue ocean that went on forever, certainly waiting for plenty a soul to get lost in. She was an unusually rare and special girl to say the least. Because of this her parents had agreed to keep her a secret, hidden from the light, afraid of what would happen if anyone laid eyes on such a rare form of beauty.
It was until one day everything that they had feared and tried so hard to protect came to an abrupt end. A King traveling the lands was in search of a new bride. But he would not just take any, he would take for himself the girl that stood out. Every man and woman in the town with young maidens was to bring them forward.
“Hear ye, hear ye” the councilman proclaimed.
“All available maidens are to attend the royal court this evening or face the stocks…. or even worse.” he said.
The message was loud and clear.
While Legend’s parents made such a fuss on what to do, Legend sat back and watched. Her mind raced as she tried to figure out the best way to help herself for she knew that above all the other maidens it would be her that would be chosen. And the King from what she gathered was not a very nice man.
In fact, everything Legend had heard about the king made him sound like a man to be feared. Stories of his wild gatherings in many a kingdom had made their way into her home.
“I heard he eats the eyes of black cats who cross his path to ward off evil spirits,” she overheard her mother say.
It was on the night before the melee. She had been whispering in a low tone while talking with her father. The thought made her quiver.
“Ick!,” who could do such a thing? Legend shrieked.
The thought of it all nauseated her and almost made her too afraid to go through with her plan. But as she lay down on her bed stuffed with wool and covered with coarse linen, her big blue eyes starring through the loose straw that had been barely thatched correctly, she thought of her parents fate and how she would not let a single harm come to them if she could stop it.
Her thoughts were soon broken as her mother appeared before her and at that moment, Legend knew what had to be done.
As Legend prepared herself with the help of her mother, who tried hard to make sure her young, beautiful daughter remained as modest as possible, they both sorrowfully glanced up at one another ever so often, knowing there was nothing they could do to suppress Legends beauty.
“No need in trying to impress,“ she said to herself in a slight chuckle. As she tried to lighten the mood. Legend’s sense of humor at a time like this was beyond her mother who could only look up into her daughters eyes and give a small smile in return.
As the sun began to set, and the last few birds has stopped their endless chirp, maidens from all about the land began their journey to the kings makeshift home for the weekend. There were young girls, older girls, girls in smocks and girls in gowns that cost a pretty penny as Legends father explained keeping them up to date with what he saw as he looked from their door into the streets as he waited for his wife and daughter to finally be ready.
When he laid eyes on her long hair that had been tied into a messy bun and noticed the light purple dress that hung vicariously below her knees, it took his breath away. His young Legend was the epitome of beauty. “Is she purposely trying to get his attention,” he wondered. And her father’s heart broke.
“I can’t do it,” he said as he knelt on one knee from guilt.
“But we must papa,” she cried as he dropped to her knees beside him. She caught his eye and gave him a reassuring nod.
There was something about her reassuring gesture that gave him a sense of comfort. But once he looked into her bulging blue eyes that sparkled like the twilight … angrily, he slammed his fist into the floor and raised himself.
Legend had never seen her father so upset, but in this moment he had good reason. Within just a few moments time the entire household was to leave and make way towards the Kings mandatory ball.
“Daughter, we have tried so hard to protect you from the moment you were born knowing your rare beauty could one day hold the key to this families wellbeing. Legend, my daughter, there is no more we can do. The rest is in your hands,” he said as he turned to glance at her mother who watched in utter shame. Their secret was out.
Had they only kept her hidden from the world for selfish reasons?
Legend didn’t have the time to worry or give a concern, she stood up kissed them both and headed for the door. “I will be fine, you’ll see!” she said as she left. The door closed quickly behind her.
Once outside, under the glow of a crescent moon, a slight breeze sweeping over her shoulders as she walked Legend couldn’t help but go over her entire life as it spun madly out of control throughout her mind. For years she stayed alone in her room, unable to play with other children, lost in her own thoughts, wondering why she had to be so different, am I really that different from everyone else? she wondered.
As she continued to walk she was unaware at all the onlookers and passerby who stopped and starred as she made her way through the crowd. Finally, she made it to the entrance of the Kings home and she joined the crowd of waiting ladies who were eagerly anticipating their their fates, wondering if they were going to spend their life with a mad man or return home to their life’s happenings. The crowd was growing loud with impatience as two little men standing guard tried to hold the peace.
“You will be escorted inside in just a moment. His majesty will give his word when he is ready! Hold your places!” One of them shouted. However no one paid him any mind.
Inside the Kings court … The King himself was absolutely beside himself.
“I don’t know how anyone will ever want to be with me!” the King said to his councilman as he quickly put on his best robes.
“I’ve been betrayed amongst the people as a mad man!”
“Sire, better yet, you will acquire the woman you want that way … it’s really that simple!” the councilman assured him.
“I don’t know? How can a woman fall in love with a man whom she fears?” he asked.
“Sire, you’re the King, you mustn’t worry over simple notions. Come let’s let in the young maidens and get the ball going,” the councilman gestured.
The king nodded in approval and out of the room they walked towards the great hall.
Outside, a small man wearing a bright slashed doublet, a pair of loose fitting breeches, and some tall narrow boots that appeared to be way over worn approached the waiting guards with a small note in his hand. It contained a word of the Kings apposition. As the guards read it, they moved to the side and slowly allowed the crowd to move one by one into the entrance.
Legend took a deep breath as she followed all the potential hopefuls inside. She had one thing on her mind. Getting out alive and remaining single.
Every footstep she took felt like her last as she felt herself being ushered in quickly amongst the thick crowd. There was so much to take in at once. As hard as she tried her nose caught the smell of something pungent which overtook the fresh air that filled her lungs like a thick gas, causing her to choke. She quietly continued to walk none the less, her eyes fixed along the walls of the dimly lit corridor made of stone which were covered in speckles of freshly sprouting mold. The atmosphere caused an odd anxiety that slowly began to take over her spirit.
Was this what her life was to come down to…? Guards guarding doors, ghastly smells, and light so dim she could barely see the girl in front of her? Would she simply go from one prison to the next?
Hmm, she softly sighed, her chin slightly touching at her collar bone.
In an instance however, honorably she lifted it once more and held her head high as she continued. But it wasn’t enough. She simply couldn’t play the part any longer! Immediately the pressure seized her. Her heart raced as she took in the many faces from the crowd, her head spun, it has to be the lack of fresh air, she thought. Legend felt a knot deep in her throat and it wouldn’t go down. Helplessly her eyes began to spin in the back of her lids and moments later without her consent, her legs gave out and she quickly fell onto the cold, stone ground.
As the crowd dispersed and looked on … not a single person rushing to her aid, the King walked in and noticed her lying on the floor.
“Stand back, move out of the way!” he shouted in a rather curious tone.
He had caught her from the corner of his eye as she began to stumble and had quickly rushed to her aide.
“Young lady … are you alright?” he asked as he held out his hand to help her up.
As if time stopped they looked into each other’s eyes and not one other person in the room mattered. Legend placed her hand in his and allowed him to help her up. Just as quickly as he did the Kings councilman grunted from behind them.
“Ehem, excuse me sire, may I begin to introduce you to all the maidens and their parents?”
The king quickly dropped Legends hand and turned to look around at him. Everyone in the room had been paying attention to his actions. Remembering his disposition, he quickly glanced over the room, not one woman in it held anything in comparison to the lovely young woman he had just had in his grasp.
“Yes, that will be fine,” the King replied.
He then quickly turned to walk away from Legend’s side but not before looking back into her big blue eyes and instantly he fell in love. However he knew he had to follow the rules of his engagement. “Okay, let’s do this then. Quickly. Bring them all forth!” he demanded as he went to join the royal table. Seated there were all the towns’ nobles and other high ranking officials.
The councilman that followed the King around asserting his demands and reading out statements, wasted no time as he started to call forth for the available maidens.
“Step forward Mr. and Mrs. Adams….and present your daughter Abigail Adams, please,” he said with a snare. Quickly, the family moved forward and did as they were told. The Adams family as well as many other all heard the same thing …“No good! Enjoy the ball.” As the list of girls seemed to be getting closer and closer to her name, Legend remembered what her parents needed from her, her bravery. So she prepared for the worst.
“Oh no this is it,” Legend thought. And then it happened ….
“You…” she heard someone call out.
Closing her eyes tight, slowly she started to turn around. Secretly she hoped that whoever it was, wasn’t addressing her. She wouldn’t be able to get out of this … and for the moment nothing had come to mind. Why didn’t they come here with me? she asked herself again and again within a seconds time. Sure enough as she opened her eyes, standing in front of her was a guard. It was the same guard from outside wearing the bright doublet.
“You seem to be the only young lady here that’s unattended. Do you belong to anyone here? …. Girl, answer me! he said. Legend’s head fell. She didn’t have an answer that could save her. Legends eyes immediately found the Kings … The guard grabbed Legend’s wrist with a twist and he started walking her toward the door. He was intent on making a mockery of her.
In the corner of the room were three men. One played the violin. The other played the harpsichord, and the other was making wonderful use of the lute. Baroque music at its best. As ladies waited to be viewed and ladies who had been deemed not good enough already waited about anxiously to go back home, found some comfort in the tune and tried to join in the festivities.
There was so much going on that not another person in the room noticed the discontent that the guard showed Legend and the relentless way he went about removing her so. Only one person was watching and realized her need for help. The King … the very same man who had set the rules and made them to be as they were.
As he sat in his royal chair amidst the other nobles his heart pounding through his chest as he tried to decide how he should react, he watched as the guard forcefully grabbed at her causing the messy bun sitting atop of her head to fall loose. Her beautiful-endless curls fell effortlessly causing strands of her hair to sweep across her face. The king’s heart fluttered, she appeared to be so delicate and yet the guard… his guard was treating her beyond roughly pulling her about in such a way … and the moment when he could no longer see the two of them in his view he had, had enough.
Quickly he raised himself up from his seat and started after them. A feeling unknown to him had crept over his entire body and it was out of control, he was unable to stop himself.
“You there!” … he shouted at the closest man who could do his bidding.
“Come with me…”
Everyone noticed his rise to action and the three men who were entertaining the crowd stopped. Nobody moved or said a word. All eyes were on the King. Immediately, he stormed toward the corridor leading toward the exit doors, everyone quickly tailing behind him. Everyone willing to do anything at his command, and yet no one had any idea what was going on.
As he made it outside, a thick crowd of onlookers behind him, he couldn’t see the two anywhere. A sickening feeling took over his insides as he tried to hold himself together.
“What is happening to me?” he questioned himself and suddenly it dawned on him….he’s taken her to the stocks!”
If there was anything he could do…he would not let this woman face such torment and humiliation, not even for a second. There was just something about her … that was unlike any other, he thought. She seemed … so pure of heart … she is who I want! he said to himself. He needed to get to them quickly before his own disgusting rule would tarnish her heart forever!
“This way,” he said. And everyone followed. The Kings heart, was beginning to look like a softer one instead of one to be as feared, amongst those who were following him.
“He’s looking for that girl!” someone said.
“You know that real pretty one that he helped from off the floor, earlier this evening,”
“Ooh …Our King?”
“Has he become a lover’s man now?” A few people snickered as they followed from behind him everyone full of excitement. No one aware that they were headed for the stocks.
The entire town was now outside wondering what was going on. A thick crowd had gathered at the center square, where all the people to be punished for crimes were taken. Quite a few passerby had seen the guard with a mysterious girl being marched through the streets just minutes before the King had gathered his crowd … However plenty a people were confused.
“Aren’t all the ladies supposed to be at a party tonight pa? …. You know at the castle?” A little boy asked his father as they stood in the doorway of their home and watched as all types of people gathered in front of a wooden stage nearly fifty feet from their door.
Moments later the guard approached the stage with Legend in tow. Her head had been covered by a twine sack and her ankles were shackled with tight rope, as she walked up onto the stage her cries of sorrow were the saddest tune anyone had ever heard, breaking the hearts of many at once.
“Who is this girl?” People wondered.
Even Legends parents were now in the crowd. They knew what would come of the evening’s events and had prepared for the worst. Legends mother looked up on the stage and cried uncontrollably at the sight of her precious daughter, tied up. Just as she began to weep as loudly as she did, the King arrived taking immediate notice to her wailing.
There was so much going on. He was unsure of what to do first. He knew that this family had broken the rules of the engagement, but why? He looked up at the girl… between the tune of her soft cries and the sack that covered her head, his heart almost broke into pieces.
“I cannot believe that this is because of me! How can I allow this to happen to anyone because they didn’t arrive to a ball without someone to present them?” he said to himself. He was beginning to realize that his rules needed to be looked at changed.
It was then that the guard began to speak.
“Hear ye, hear ye…..this young lady Legend….believed herself privy enough to come to the kings ball this evening without following the order of things…and how do we teach those who do not follow the kings rules a lesson?” he wasted no time in roughly strapping her into the device.
As the crowd of people watched it seemed to upset them when normally at a time like this they reveled in the subjugation to torture. There was just something to pure and innocent about Legend that made people feel horrified for her. They actually began to shout out “boo’s” toward the guard and a few even left. Those who remained had their eyes transfixed on the king. Legends mother noticed his watchful eye upon her daughter and she walked over to him. Two guards tried to stop her but the King allowed her to approach.
“You are the mother?”
“Yes,” she said putting her head down, as tears began to fall at a steady flow.
“Sire, please if there’s anything you can do to help my Legend… you must! It isn’t her fault…her father and I … we set her up because of our own selfishness.”
The king looked the woman in the eyes. He could tell she was speaking the truth.
“Where is your husband then Madam? I have a plan.”
And Legends mother looked up…
The guard was still bad mouthing Legend and trying to get the people to return to their senses regarding the laws. When the King, finally joined him on stage and interrupted him.
“That will be all!” he said to the guard with a stern and hard look. Without another word the guard lowered his head and left the stage.
At the sound of the Kings voice, immediately people began coming back to see what would happen next. Now on the stage were the King, Legend, and her mother and father. The king took the sack off of Legends face, removed the ropes that shackled her, and released her from the confinement of the stocks. No sooner than he did… he wiped the tears from her eyes and she wrapped her arms around him and gave him a hug. She looked up into his dark eyes and breathed a sigh of relief as she found him looking back into hers, once more. He was surprised, but he welcomed it. Their embrace was cut short when Legend caught herself and moved back.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“No Legend I’m sorry! I could’ve helped you all along but I was so worried about what the people would think of me, and I’m not worried about that … not anymore.”
The King turned around and faced her Parents, but as for them … he pointed.
“They have committed a great sin against you and I will place them in the stocks so you shall have your revenge!” he yelled into the crowd getting them fired up.
Legends big sea like eyes, looked over towards her parents. Surely they knew the consequences of their actions but she didn’t want them to suffer. No one should have to…not for being scared or for doing what they felt was right…
“No!” she said.
And the King looked at her.
“If they have to face it … then just tie me back down too!”
At this point … the crowd was intent on Legends parents paying for such an act of disloyalty towards their daughter and their king, so now something had to be done. Yet, as Legend spoke to the king in such a manner the crowd gasped!
“Okay Legend, as you wish…” The King replied. It made no sense in talking her out of it he could sense the passion she had for doing the right thing. And immediately he loved that about her.
However, almost everyone’s heart sank into the bottom of their chests as they tried to figure out what was about to happen.
Legend and her parents hugged each other and cried. They knew it would be at least a week of torment before they could return home to their normal lives. A guard came back on the stage and one by one began tying the family members down into the torture devices. When the King began to remove his robes, and then his crown, he looked over at Legend, catching the twilight in her eye and smiled as he too had a guard begin placing him in a torture device.
“Sire please you really must reconsider what people will think!” his councilman ushered at his side.
“Do as I say!” the King demanded. He was intent on showing Legend that he wasn’t such a bad man. The councilman quickly got out of the way and allowed the King to go through with his plan.
The watchful crowd around them cheered and cried helplessly as the entire scene unfolded before their eyes.
“He’s found love! The king has found love!” and surely enough he did.
For the entire week he stayed in the stocks with Legend and her family who refused by the day to be let free, and while accepting no special treatment from his court as the days passed. At last the last light that was to be day arrived and the four of them were released. Legend and the King immediately knew they wanted to live their lives together.
A corrupted heart had been seized by the love of a pure one and together they led the Kingdom in peace.