Gems 9.29

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,

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.

Tizzrah recites:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

     “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…”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “Your mother was a lovely girl.

      She became a beautiful woman

       The lads would come a’courtin’

        and her father had to shoo’em.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

          Grandmother said,

Tizzrah sings:

   “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

     “Then little Mandolin would play.

       Oh, how her fingers flew!

       She loved her mandolin

       More than anything

        and she believed it loved her too.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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…”

Tizzrah sings:

    “We were filling the water jars

        by the lake on that day.

    When the evening came, as she often did

       She slipped quietly away.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “I could hear her singing softly

      And I hummed along to the lovely tune,

      Then suddenly

      There was silence

         underneath the silver moon.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “My heart flooded with dread

      As I slipped through the darkness.

      The woods were strangely hushed

       as though an enemy were upon us.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “There on the rock

      Where she would sit and play her tunes

      Was nothing but her mandolin

        glinting softly in the moon.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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…'”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “Though Mandolin had been gone

       For more than twenty-nine long years,

       I never gave up hoping

        though I shed countless tears.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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,”

Tizzrah sings:

    “Everyone stopped suddenly.

       All had heard the same sound

      As someone stumbled

       Into the clearing

          and crumpled to the ground.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “It was our little Mandolin.

       We stood, shocked and unbelieving.

       She was heavy with child,

           very pale and barely breathing.”

Tizzrah sings:

   “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “The last thing she saw

       Coming toward her in moonlight

       Was a human man

       Gesturing his hands

        then everything faded from sight.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.'”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

   “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “He was endlessly patient,

       And she could see in his eyes

       That he loved her deeply, so one day

         she offered him a compromise.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

 Tizzrah sings:

     “‘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.'”

 Tizzrah sings:

     “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

   “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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

        and lost.”

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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.'”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.'”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.'”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “But those long years of grieving

     Had weakened her badly,

     And I knew she was exhausted

        by her long, arduous journey.”

Tizzrah sings:

   “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.

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

   “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.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “Two centuries passed, and when

      My loving grandparents died

       I left my home and my people,

        my mother’s mandolin by my side.”

Tizzrah sings:

    “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.


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

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