I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here, in celebration is the fourth of seven ELS ¤ Gems ¤
This is the longest of my ballads and includes the text from my performance at the Sylvanfair Turnleaf Festival in 1996. This was a text-based roleplaying event in the lands of Elanthia. This song and the emote scripts were written the night before the festival. I learned I had been accepted to perform with only one day’s notice, and the material had to be new.
Painting “Muse” by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Shadowscapes.com.
This, below, was the performance log of Tizz’s first and only appearance at the Sylvanfair Turnleaf Festival in Wehnimer’s Landing, day 21 of the month of Imaerasta, 5102.
Look at Tizzrah.
You see Tizzrah Labandita.
She appears to be a Half-Sylvan.
She appears to be young and very tall. She has sparkling dark eyes and fair skin. She has waist length, upswept golden blonde hair. She has a delicate face, a freckled nose and small pointy ears.
She is in good shape.
She is holding a rosewood mandolin in her left hand.
She is wearing a sprig of jasmine, a graceful nutmeg satin gown trimmed with glossy tiger-eye stones along the daring neckline and some delicate crystal-heeled boots.
Tizzrah turns to face the audience, and then sits down gracefully.
Tizzrah gently cradles the little mandolin she is holding in her lap. She lightly brushes her fingers against the strings and gazes down at the instrument fondly, then looks up and smiles.
“Good eve’n everyone.
It is an honor to perform in this lovely house
and among such talented folk.
I wrote this song very recently in honor of my mother, whom I never knew.
‘Tis the tale of my family, a tale that, until this night, I have told no other.
P’raps it is here, in Sylvanfair, it was meant to be told.
I have named it, ‘Little Mandolin.'”
Tizzrah begins to dance her fingers across the strings of her mandolin, and a lilting melody fills the room.
“When I was a child in my grandmother’s home
In the deep Sylvan woods of her daughter,
When evening sifted softly from the stars
Through the canopy that sheltered my bed
she would say…”
“Your mother was an only child
Like you in many ways.
When I look at you, I remember her.
She was the joy of my days.”
“Her eyes were lit with happiness,
Her merry laughter filled our wood;
But more than anything,
She loved to sing.
I’d give my life for hers, if I only could.”
Tizzrah gently increases the pace of the tune, her fingers dancing and skipping on the strings.
“Your mother was a lovely girl.
She became a beautiful woman
The lads would come a’courtin’
and her father had to shoo’em.”
“She never seemed to notice.
She was a million miles away.
All day long, her heart was in her songs
and that little mandolin she would play.”
“When Grandmother spoke of my mother’s mandolin
She would bend down and draw it out from under my bed.
She kept it in a velvet sack, and it looked almost new,
Then she would whisper, ‘Some day, love
You may want to play this, too.”
“Your mother loved this instrument.
She always carried it with her.
When she played her little mandolin,
her eyes would shine like the stars glitter.”
“All our people loved to listen
For she played all the day long.
They called her “Little Mandolin,”
and they’d say ‘Mandy, let’s have a song.'”
Tizzrah looks down at her mandolin, and though the music she coaxes from the little instrument speaks of sadness and longing, the melody is beautiful.
“Grandmother’s hands would stroke the old wood,
and her fingers brush softly at the strings.
As I waited once more for her thoughts to return
I could almost hear my dead mother sing.
“Soon people came from everywhere
Just to listen to her sing.
She was magical, and a joy to all
like the first bud of Spring.”
“Then little Mandolin would play.
Oh, how her fingers flew!
She loved her mandolin
More than anything
and she believed it loved her too.”
“When Grandmother came to this part of the story,
I held my breath and waited — often she would say no more.
Sometimes she would grow thoughtful, and in a soft, distant voice,
She would tell me what had happened
to the daughter she adored…”
“We were filling the water jars
by the lake on that day.
When the evening came, as she often did
She slipped quietly away.”
“I could hear her singing softly
And I hummed along to the lovely tune,
There was silence
underneath the silver moon.”
“My heart flooded with dread
As I slipped through the darkness.
The woods were strangely hushed
as though an enemy were upon us.”
“I came to the clearing where
She sang ‘most every night,
And what I saw there
In the quiet glade
nearly killed me from fright.”
Tizzrah’s fingers fly down the neck of the little mandolin and across the strings. Deep notes ring out beneath the melody as though warning of terrible danger.
“There on the rock
Where she would sit and play her tunes
Was nothing but her mandolin
glinting softly in the moon.”
“She was dead or had been taken,
‘Twas no question in my mind.
Her little mandolin
Was her dearest friend —
she would never leave it behind.”
“Our people searched for many days.
They were desperate with sorrow,
And every night, in the firelight
we’d always say, ‘We’ll find her tomorrow…'”
“But the days slipped into years,
And we never saw her again
Our forest was too quiet
without our little Mandolin.”
Tizzrah increases the pace even more, her fingers a blur across the strings. Her eyes close, and as she plays, it is as though she and the mandolin keen their mourning as one.
“For many years my Grandmother said nothing more
Of the night when she lost her only daughter.
Then on the eve of my first century,
After my people had feasted me,
She took me aside and told me how
I came to be born.”
“Though Mandolin had been gone
For more than twenty-nine long years,
I never gave up hoping
though I shed countless tears.”
“Then one mid-summer’s eve’n
As we danced in the starlight,
As is the custom of our people
on every fair summer’s night,”
“Everyone stopped suddenly.
All had heard the same sound
As someone stumbled
Into the clearing
and crumpled to the ground.”
“It was our little Mandolin.
We stood, shocked and unbelieving.
She was heavy with child,
very pale and barely breathing.”
“Everyone began to talk at once.
We all rushed to her side.
I couldn’t see for my tears,
for it looked as though she had died.”
“Her eyes fluttered open.
She looked up at me and smiled.
Then her face tensed with pain,
for she was about to have her child.”
“We lifted her very gently.
She moaned loudly and shivered.
All night long she was wracked with pain.
Finally her babe was delivered.”
Tizzrah bows her head and sighs deeply as she once again concentrates on her playing. Each note rings out purely, and sadness pours from the little mandolin as she plays.
“I remember my grandmother smiled and held me tight,
And I knew she was telling me she was glad I was with her.
My heart beat uncontrollably, for this was all so strange to me,
Yet nothing would have stopped me from hearing everything that night.”
“For many days your mother
Tarried close to Lorminstra’s door.
I begged the gods for my daughter’s life —
there was nothing I wanted more.”
“I rocked her gently in my arms.
At last she opened her eyes.
She was as fragile as a snowflake
in our warm summer skies.”
“She asked to see her daughter.
I brought you to her right away.
She gazed down at you with tenderness
and told me what became of her that day.”
“On the night we last saw her
She was singing in the glade
When her voice failed completely
and she dropped the mandolin she played.”
“The last thing she saw
Coming toward her in moonlight
Was a human man
Gesturing his hands
then everything faded from sight.”
“When she awoke, he was with her,
And she feared for her very life,
But he said that he would never harm her —
he only wanted her for his wife.”
“She was horrified and refused.
He merely shook his head and smiled.
‘I would prefer,’ he said, ‘that you submit willingly’
‘for you shall carry our child.'”
“Again she denied him.
Still he treated her well.
When she asked him why he had chosen her
he’d only smile secretly, but never tell.”
“She was given every luxury
In his dark, forbidding tower.
For many years, she was his prisoner
held by his obsession and his power.”
Tizzrah closes her eyes for a moment, and though she continues to play, a brief flicker of pain crosses her face.
“Every evening when he came to her,
He would beg for her to sing.
He purchased many costly instruments
but she wouldn’t touch a string.”
“She yearned for her little mandolin
Like she yearned for a lover.
She refused to play,
And every single day
she told him she would never hold another.”
“He was endlessly patient,
And she could see in his eyes
That he loved her deeply, so one day
she offered him a compromise.”
“She told him, “Yes, I will sing for you
‘But you must give me something in return.’
He knew right away what she wanted —
for what she so desperately yearned.”
“‘That is something I can never do’
He told her with dismay,
‘Unless you promise you will be my wife —
‘then I will send you home some day.'”
“With a sinking heart, she agreed.
It was the only way she knew
To see her mandolin and her home again,
but she was brokenhearted, too.”
“They were married the next day
Before a servile, old cleric.
That night she submitted to him with dignity
though it left her trembling and heartsick.”
“Every night she sang for him
As she faithfully had promised
But as she would sing,
As her fingers plucked the strings
Her soul grew more wounded
Tizzrah’s fingers race across the strings, and her eyes shine with unshed tears. She trembles slightly, but when she continues to sing, her voice does not falter.
“For more than twenty years
She lived thus, inwardly crying
Then one day he called her to him
and he told her he was dying.”
“He said ‘I saw you sing one day.
‘I was one of many others.
‘I fell in love with you instantly
‘and knew I could never love another.'”
“He said ‘I have worked magic all my life,
‘But until that fateful day
‘I never knew love
‘Nor understood joy,
‘not until I heard you play.'”
“She leaned down to touched his cheek,
For he was endlessly kind.
She was sorry he was dying
but there was something on her mind.”
“As he looked at her with love,
He thought he knew what she wanted
‘Stay with me until I die,’ he begged
His eyes were sunken, his face haunted.”
“She was moved by his love for her,
but she had something else to say.
‘I will stay with you,
‘and I hope you tarry
‘long enough to see our babe.'”
“His eyes lit with happiness.
He fell asleep holding her hand.
But it was not to be
For you see
the wizard never woke again.”
Tizzrah brushes her fingers gently across the strings and slows the pace of the melody, her expression distant and thoughtful.
“She left for home that very morn’.
It took her months to find her way.
Though I questioned her
About this human wizard,
that was all she would say.”
“You fell asleep in your mother’s arms
She kissed you gently and held you close.
‘Now I have another love,’ she said,
‘though once I loved my mandolin the most.”
“Her face lit up with joy
As I placed her mandolin by her side.
She gently placed you in my arms
then held her little mandolin and cried.”
“Lovingly, she touched the strings —
I had kept them oiled and well-tuned,
Then she began to sing
And play her mandolin,
and her music filled the room.”
Tizzrah launches into the lilting melody that began her song, and the mandolin rings out as though suffused with sudden happiness.
“Our people ran to listen.
There was cheering in the air.
It had been many years since we heard her
and her song was just as fair.”
“And then our little Mandolin played,
Oh how her fingers flew.
She loved her baby daughter
More than anything,
and her beloved mandolin, too.”
Tizzrah slows her fingers and gently bridges from the happy melody into a soft, mournful whisper.
“But those long years of grieving
Had weakened her badly,
And I knew she was exhausted
by her long, arduous journey.”
“She fell asleep still smiling,
Her little mandolin tightly clasped.
Then as the silver moonlight
lit her lovely face
I watched my daughter breathe her last.”
Tizzrah bows her head. Her long golden hair completely covers her face. A shiver passes through her slight frame, yet the haunting, beautiful melody continues to pour from the little mandolin. The melody soars ever louder, each shining note ringing out. It is almost as though the instrument sings with many voices of love and loss.
Tizzrah brings the mandolin to a ringing crescendo and then stops suddenly. She brushes the hair from her face and looks up as though startled back to the present.
Tizzrah clutches the mandolin close and starts to play again. Her fingers pick out one note, then another, one by one, letting each note ring out to silence before beginning the next. She increases the pace and launches into the melody again.
“My grandmother’s eyes filled with tears as she told me.
We held each other close and we cried.
My heart broke to think of her life cut short cruelly,
Yet, at last, I knew my history
and why my mother had died.”
“Though he had claimed to be in love
When he forced my mother to be his wife,
I knew my father had killed her
and that he had paid with his own life.”
“Two centuries passed, and when
My loving grandparents died
I left my home and my people,
my mother’s mandolin by my side.”
“When I play her mandolin
Oh how my fingers fly.
I’ll never be as good
As Mandy was,
but I know I have to try.”
Tizzrah gazes down at the little mandolin on her lap and, for the first time in many long minutes smiles again. Her fingers give one final sweep across the strings, and then the notes fade to silence.
Tizzrah stands and curtsies gracefully. Still cradling the little mandolin close, she walks to rejoin the audience.-SARA MICHELE O’SULLIVAN (NKA NIKI FLOW)
Elanthian Love Songs: A Bard’s Tale by Sara Michele O’Sullivan (Niki Flow) was published on February 14, 2016. All profits go to the support of under1000skies.org.