Ľ Legend of Legaia ę
the Bride of Saryu
Author's Note: My attempts at angst never leave a very pleasant taste in my mouth. After all, some part of all of us has a desire to find our 'prince charming' or 'sleeping beauty'. We've been raised with fairytales and dreams, so why not? Because of that, I couldn't leave this story with 'The Unbride of Ratayu'.
Lord Van Saryu of Ratayu set aside the ledger, releasing a deep breath as he stared at the words and numbers with unseeing violet eyes. He looked away to the window and the fading light of the afternoon sun. A tree limb hung over the window, causing the light that filtered through to twist and turn into a cacophony of shapes and visions on the floor and the walls of his office.
They brought to life the misty visions of those things done while under the sim-seruís control. Women slowly ingested to give life to a monster. Lives broken. Families destroyed. Dreams shattered-- Lord Saryu shook his head of the memories and stood, striding from the window and the shades of a merciless past. He stepped out into one of the many side halls.
An apology. A dinner. A proposed intention. An unexplained refusal. They had plagued him for weeks, sapping his attention from his duties and robbing his appetite. Hopelessness fed him by day, and despair by night. Lord Saryu rubbed a hand thru his head of close-cropped blonde hair. He couldnít stop thinking of her and the possible reasons for her decision. Neither could he justify revisiting the question via letter or messenger. He had to respect her wishes.
Lord Saryu halted in the side hallway within Saryu castle and leaned hard against the wall. "Eliza..."
He closed his eyes, visualizing again her porcelain-like features, ruby lips, blue-gem eyes, and lush green hair... Lord Saryu pushed the image away and straightened, moving away from the library and back to the hallway that would lead outside. 'I decided that I would never be a bride,' she had said. '...I would never marry.'
Lord Saryu balled his hands into fists at his sides. Such a decision was a waste of a gentle creature formed to love and care for others. A lady of unimaginable depth he had so wanted to discover. Someone he had hoped to court and wed. 'I can't,' she had said.
No other explanation had been offered.
Lord Saryu entered the reception hall and made his way toward the main doors. The beautifully crafted sculptures of crystal were ignored. All he could see was the vision of Eliza in forest green velvet staring in entrancing awe and wonder at the scenery around her. Her blue eyes wide and bright...
He blinked the vision away and tightened his fists, halting at the main door to stare out at the city beyond the polished stone walk of the castle. Where she lived, so close yet distant. Beyond his reach.
The fists relaxed. "Eliza, my lady, what must I do?" he whispered. And again there was no answer.
Lord Saryu released a slow breath as he turned away, but he couldnít proceed into the castle. Instead, he stared at his feet. Then he faced the outside, staring down into the streets that had begun to clear of people. His eyes focused on a corner house, and he breathed in deeply.
He stepped out from the main doorway and traversed the long walkway to the streets below, nodding and slightly bowing to those few pedestrians whom greeted him. Conversation opportunities were ignored. Vocal greetings were brief. Lord Saryu only continued toward the one house holding the voice he wanted to hear.
Lord Saryu halted in front of the inn, smoothing the front of his crisp white suit coat. Remembering a similar hesitation when he had come to apologize for things done while under the sim-seruís control. Would she be as welcoming and accepting as before? Whether she was or not Lord Saryu knew he had to--
The door opened, revealing Eliza as she reached to her right to retrieve something from the wall beside the door. Just as lovely dressed in pale yellow as in forest green. Hair aglow in the dwindling light of the afternoon. Blue eyes as bright as he remembered.
Lord Saryu stepped backward, swallowing hard in an attempt to find his voice.
Eliza retrieved her dark green shawl and stepped forward, closing the door behind her as she stared at the path at her feet. Then she adjusted the shawl around her slim shoulders and raised her eyes- She gasped, and her hand clenched the shawl as her cheeks went first pale and then rosy.
"Lord Saryu," she greeted softly.
Lord Saryu forced a smile and bowed. "Miss Eliza," he greeted gently. "I hope you have been well."
Eliza curtseyed. "Yes, Lord. Thank you. And you?"
Lord Saryu felt hope grow at the tone of genuine interest as she stared up at him with those gem-like eyes of blue. "I have been well enough. Thank you."
Eliza seemed to scrutinize him, even though her expression didnít change. "Lord? Have you been ill?" she asked, a deeper concern evident. "You look thin and pale." She motioned behind her to the house. "Can I offer you something?"
Lord Saryuís smile wavered. "It is nothing, Miss Eliza. Donít trouble yourself." He motioned down the main street. "Might I walk with you?"
Eliza hesitated before answering, "Certainly, Lord."
Eliza fell into step beside him, and he matched her slow and easy pace. She breathed in deep and slow, releasing it through parted lips. Crickets and night-birds sang around them a supposed soothing melody. It matched the slow click of their shoes on the stone path, the swish of her skirt, and the steady beating of his heart. It was the first time in days his mind held no agitation.
"Have you heard anything from Noa or the others?" Eliza asked, moving her gaze to his profile. "Noa mentioned Sol and Octam. Do you know if they arrived safely?"
Lord Saryu met her gaze. "No, Miss Eliza. I have heard nothing, but I can certainly make inquiries."
"Only if it isnít a bother."
She offered him a soft smile before looking away and adjusting her hold on her shawl. Lord Saryu forced any questions away as he also looked to the path ahead of them.
Her hesitant tone drew his attention back again. "Yes, Miss Eliza?"
She raised her eyes to his. "Lord, Iím sorry for leaving dinner so abruptly the other day. It was rude of me."
"I hold myself to blame, Miss Eliza," he assured her. He looked away and briefly clenched his jaw. "Assuming my intent to seek your favor would be accepted was presumptuous."
Eliza halted, stopping him by way of her hand on his arm. He looked down at her. "No, it wasnít, Lord," she countered softly.
Lord Saryu faced her fully, his hand moving to cover hers on his arm. "Then why do you not give cause for your refusal?" he gently pressed, and desperation colored his tone.
"Lord, I gave you cause."
"Yes, that you had decided to never be a bride. To never marry. Yet you did not answer if that decision was a vow, and therefore irreversible." Lord Saryu looked deep into her gaze, attempting to find any reason or hope. "Eliza, you must tell me if there is no hope. The memory of your understanding and compassion make me even more certain that you alone should be my choice of bride." He drew her hand from his arm and pressed the palm against his lips, closing his eyes at the warmth and softness. "You continue to be my inspiration for Ratayuís future. Why can you not also be my Lady?"
A gentle touch on his cheek opened his eyes. Elizaís glistened as she looked up at him. She lowered her hand to her side, but she didnít pull her other from his. "Lord, please donít suffer for me. I canít bear it," she whispered.
He gathered her other hand into his. "Then tell me a vow was spoken. This and only this might quench my hope."
"I... I..." Eliza lowered her gaze to their clasped hands. She shook her head. "I canít, Lord. There was no vow."
"Then why can you not--" Lord Saryu pressed his lips together and then released a slow breath. "I apologize, Eliza. I do not mean to badger." He kissed each palm before releasing her hands and facing away from her. "I know so little of you, and yet your very presence imbues my spirit with peace. The fact overwhelms, causing me to behave badly." He shook his head and clasped his hands behind his back. "Please forgive me."
Lord Saryu turned his head to look at her. Her blue eyes were dark, and her cheeks wet. "By Remís goodness, I have made you cry." He faced her again, gathering a hand in his as he tenderly caressed the tears away. "Please, my lady, do not waste such on me."
"Crying for anyone in pain is never wasteful, Lord," she choked out. Eliza sniffed and lowered her gaze, drawing her hand from his to wipe the tears from her cheeks.
Lord Saryu offered her a kerchief with his monogram in the corner. She accepted it to dry her flushed cheeks and dab at the corners of her dark eyes. He watched her as she did so.
"My only consolation is that no one else will have you," he admitted softly.
Eliza carefully folded the kerchief, smoothing each corner before speaking. "Everyone will have me, Lord, for Iíve always done my best to serve the needs of others."
Lord Saryu looked away. "Except for my own."
Eliza watched him, ignoring a fresh tear that escaped. She rested a hand on his arm, but he didnít meet her gaze. "Lord, why are you so certain I am meant for your future? What of the other cities now freed of the mist? What if your Lady is there?"
Lord Saryu allowed his gaze to be drawn to hers. "My future is here. So is my Lady," he told her softly. "I have always known this."
He lowered his eyes to her small hand. Then he covered it with his, again drawing it from his arm. This time he caressed it between his hands as he stared down at it.
"I alone am to blame for your decision," he admitted in a low tone. "Had I not forced you to become feed for the monster juggernaut, you would not have been compelled to decide against what your soul was surely birthed for." Lord Saryuís face paled. "The bride of Saryu will never be..."
Eliza also stared at their clasped hands, silent.
Lord Saryu breathed deep. "Ah well. Such is life," he said tightly. He drew her hand toward his lips, but then he shook his head and released his hold. "No. I cannot withstand another." He bowed low. "Good evening, Miss Eliza," he whispered.
Then he turned away, each step wrenching his heart and spirit and soul into pieces and rubble. He balled one hand into a fist while the other rubbed at his scalp, pushing himself yet another collection of steps further from her.
But he ignored the soft voice, though it nearly burned his ears with the sweetness of its melody.
step - step "Van. Please."
Lord Saryu halted, chest tightening as his back went rigid.
step - step - step - step until she stood beside him. "Lord, I-- I donít know what to do," she confessed brokenly. "I owe you so much, as any subject does for her Lord and Protector, but I..."
Lord Saryu turned his face toward her. "íLord and Protectorí," he repeated softly, and he took in the paleness of her face and the grief in her expression. "What have I ever protected you from, my lady? I sought out your very essence for my sim-seru master."
Elizaís eyes filled afresh as she slightly shook her head. "No," she said brokenly. "No, you didnít."
He leaned slightly toward her, holding her gaze as his tone lowered. "You should kill me for what I planned for you and your future."
She shook her head again, the tears spilling over. "No." Her voice barely whispered.
Lord Saryu touched one of her tears away, and then he looked down at the wetness on his finger. "Again you shed tears..."
He focused on her pale face; her lips trembled as more grief cascaded down her cheeks. Lord Saryu cupped her face in his hands and kissed her face, his lips lingering in the wetness on each side.
"Shed no more for me, my lady," he whispered.
Eliza choked out a sob as her hands drew his from her face. She kissed each palm and then again before drawing him close and wrapping his arms tight around her.
Lord Saryu closed his eyes as he relaxed into her embrace and warmth. A farewell to hope. A last adieu to love. Her breathing a requiem to memories that could have been made together. The bride of Saryu whom would never be.
Lord Saryu pressed his lips softly against her hair, and then he gently pulled back. Her eyes didnít raise to meet his. "I will always remember your kindness and compassion, my lady. For it is this which never ceases to move me." He kissed her forehead. "Think well of me," he whispered. He kissed the soft skin again and then released her to turn and move away.
"I will always think well of my Lord and husband," came a hushed voice.
Lord Saryu halted and snapped around. One step and he was again holding her arms. "Speak again."
Eliza raised her eyes to meet his. They were nearly black. "I... I will..."
Lord Saryu shook his head. "Eliza, my lady, do not say it only to save me my grief. I will not allow you to compromise yourself." His grip increased slightly. "My grief is deserved. Yours is not."
Eliza choked back a sob. "I grieve because you grieve. Because I made you grieve." She stood on tiptoes to caress his cheek with hers. "I will always think well of my Lord and husband."
Lord Saryu closed his eyes and drew her into his arms. "My Lady..."
She pressed a caress of lips and tears against his neck. "I will be the bride of Saryu," she whispered.
He held her closer. "The first. The last. The only."