Emerald House

I was eleven when I entered its sculptured gardens and manicured lawns; beyond the cold iron filigree bars of the gate that separated the dirty city beyond. Little did I know that this seemingly heaven would become a hell. I greeted the Master of Emerald House on my knees and with my eyes on the floor as I had been taught so many years ago. Even the floors here were immaculate. Not a speck of dust or grime could be seen or felt beneath my forehead that was pressed against the hard and frigid marble. He bid me rise and thus I did so to look upon his cold and perfectly beautiful face. "Look around you, my child", he said. "Do you see anything here that is not the epitome of exquisite perfection?" He laughed as I struggled to know whether to answer or not. "There is only one correct answer, my dear. And, that is you. You are the only thing here that is not perfect." My eyes began that submissive downward glance before his words stopped me. "But, don't you worry. We will make you perfect in Emerald House. Perhaps even so perfect that the Emperor himself will weep." The irony of those words would haunt my dreams in later years to come but at that one moment, I could wish for nothing more. He turned on his heels to go leaving me with my thoughts and curiosities. I heard his voice echoing down the hallway, "And, Aspasia, the moment you show you are less than perfect, you will disappoint me and I shall be forced to send you away." It is no small thing for a child of that age to come to realize that love and hate could co-exist and embody a single soul. For it was that moment, that I both loved and hated the Master of Emerald House. And, just as sure was I that I would die before I disappointed him.

So how does one learn perfection? The answer lies in the most small and menial of ways. I was given a multitude of tasks to perform. With each, I was shown the way to complete it but once. After that, I was expected to duplicate the result and the format without deviation. The making of a bed with its bed clothing. The scrubbing of a floor until it gleamed. The recitation of an epic poem including inflection and emphasis of rhythm. The brushing and coif styling of a lady's hair. The body movements during a particular dance. A thousand tasks performed and then repeated when expected without a moment's notice. Perhaps the most strange of these tasks was when I was woken by an instructor in the morning and told that I was to be perfectly sad all day long throughout all of the tasks I was to complete that day. I was shown the nuances of sad behavior and given word phrases and images to think on to inspire sadness. And so through the day, no matter what occurred, I would show no emotion other than sadness. Days passed, more emotions I was given and tested on and more procedures each progressing in difficulty and complexity. But, I would not fail my Master. This year of torment passed slowly. But, at the end of it all I had become accustomed to the final test and wondered about it as the days dwindled till my birthday.

It came in the form of a package sent to my room. A note on the outside read: You will spend the day with me and you will make me believe that everything I do makes you happy.

And, I knew that nothing he did that day would make me happy. I would be hurt, degraded and humiliated. I also knew that I would not displease him and that I would make him believe that he was my world and his slightest whim would be the breath that I breathed. So, I put on the ridiculous dress he sent within the package and became his perfection. No, not just his perfection. That day, I became everyone and anyone's perfection.

Day 28 of Summer, 567

As the dawn broke, something has changed.
Wonderful and new.
The resonance in my music reaches.
I hear it spreading out.
Straining to reach other's ears.
And it does, farther and farther.
Perhaps I shall fit into this community.
Not as The Rose but as Aspasia, bard.
I will find purpose yet.
Even if I must change all of the minds that surround me.

Day 9 of Summer, 567

And so these pages grow thick with dust.
As does my own complacency.
Will alone does not drive me forward.
I linger in this quiet and still place, watching.
But, for what?
I suppose my own inaction is in a way action.
Regardless, it is good to be, dare I say, home.
So many curious people to explore.
Perhaps, I too, may yet be explored.
I certainly hope so.

Day 50 in Winter, 567

I have been working hard on the play I am writing for The Puddleby Players. I hadn't realized how the time had passed and how I kept myself shut away for so long. I suppose this is the way of things with me. I throw myself into things wholeheartedly, sometimes foolishly. Perhaps it is my training. I return to find something changed in Largo. A shadow creeps through his mind. A shadow of the past that leaves a darkness draped over the both of us, connecting us to those long ago days of Court. Dark days and dark nights, no matter how brightly the jewels sparkled. That past weighs on us both heavily. We've decided to make an escape to Peaceton again to find happiness there before the past comes to find us again. Royal Courtesan and Palace Slave. The world is a very small and curious place indeed. I lay awake now, pleasures spent but unable to sleep. My mind drifts in and out thinking of the Imperial Court and the Facet Court. What if I returned? What could I possibly have to offer to allow Him to let me stay? These thoughts are futile.

Day 54 of Autumn, 566

The days are unraveling.
Forward and back.
Back and forward.
All my life is on me now.
I see the pages turning.
The future is so far away.
And what a thing, to know what could have been.
Fortune curse me for letting me see.
But I have trouble now, even remembering.
That would be my undoing.
Lay your head on me one last time.
Tell me you belong to me.
But then again, no.
I'd miss that stupid ache.
What's happened has happened.
What's coming is already on its way.
There's little left to say.
Why waste unconditional love.
On somebody, who doesn't believe in it at all.
All the signs were there.
From the first to all the last times.
But, no, it wasn't love.
I am not in love.
In fact, I can't stop falling out.
I don't know what to believe in anymore.
I'm a stranger to myself.
And you don't know who I am.
My heart is cold and decaying in front of me.
What's gone is gone.
And never coming back.
It was a fantasy reaching for reality.
Without a bridge in between.
There is no end to satisfy this story.
Only the harsh deniability of the truth.
And there's nothing left to say.
All I want is the will to forget.
And the strength to walk away.

Day 62 of Summer, 566

Happiness is fleeting.
But, I don't care.
I want to revel in it.
Let it wash over me.
Penetrate me to my core.

My bard audition is but a few days away.
I feel ready. I hope I am not being overconfident.
The play goes well. How easy acting comes to me.
Though I should not be surprised.
I find myself daydreaming.
Thoughts and images propelling me to welcome each day.
The secrets that I keep, fall down and lay in shadow.
They will have their time again, just not now.

I feel alive. With wants and desires of my own again.
Knowing, that I control their reality.

Happiness. Laughter.
I find myself not thinking before I speak, for once.
This will probably be my ultimate downfall.
For now, I don't care.

The Puddleby Players had an enjoyable time with limericks
after our rehearsals. I wanted to remember these, so I write them here:

Measle: "There once was a girl called Aspasia
Who worked as an object of plaisure
She wears skimpy threads
And always turns heads
Even Stora, and he's hard to phase, yeah"

Pun'isher: "There once was a fen named Largo
Who liked to tote around cargo
But the cargo alas
Was his big round ass
That it was bigger than the city of fargo"

Largo: "There once was an elf named Pun'isher
She thought she was very funny, sure
But her pink hair,
And her very dull stare,
Made people yell "run-its-her" (edited by Measle)

Aspasia: "There once was a gent named Measle
Some lasses thought him a weasle
Though his smile, he did flash
And with a wiggle of his ass-ets
He gave them all a tease 'le."

Punisher: "Measle was a block from the seas
Who had is way with the npcs
To the lady with clay
She would mold him all day
I guess you could say he was easy"

Measle: "There was a girl called Illora
Who was a terrible snorer
So she put in a plug
Called it Miug
And did a Largo type ending ignorer"

Measle: "There once was a sylvan called Andy
Who was feeling decidedly randy
He wouldn't betray us
The Puddleby Playas
Because actresses always are handy"

Aspasia: "The Human nicknamed Andy
Had a reputation for being quite randy
With a tip of his flask
And a Sylvan bottom to grasp
Oh, isn't life dandy"

"Measle, the most handsome bard
All the males were always on guard
But the girls he would sway
To the Tor, they were away
Too bad he could never get hard"

"Largo, a fashionable Fen
Was quite the gentle among men
Proven smarter than dirt
When he wore his orange shirt
Now Thoomcare has a story again"

I seemed to be on a roll at the end. Look for the latter in Thoomcare, perhaps.

Day 19 of Summer, 566

We are defined by so many things in this life
Hopes, dreams, fears and desires
Some are fleeting
A whisper on the wind
So soon forgotten
As if it never really touched our skin
Most are buried
Deep within our souls
Horded like a pirate's treasure
Never to see the light of day
Others still, creep in shadow
Emerging from time to time
Haunting our conscious state
An incorporeal need
Lacking the ability to touch
More so, others are a flower
Blossoming in the dead of winter
An impossible sweetness
Longing for a well placed pruning
Captured and caged within a crystalline vase
Beauty to gaze at, from afar
Inhaled rapture, teasing along the tongue
Yearning to touch but denied that decadence
Frightened away by the reality of thorns
So, we hide these away
We deny ourselves all of our
Hopes, dreams, fears and desires
For the illusion of safety and control
And for this, I weep
Weep for us all

Day 58 of Spring, 566

It is enough
The words you say
In the quiet hours of night
Warm with desire
Full of intent

It is enough
To watch your form
Strength and grace of motion
Outlined in shadow and light
Art to my eyes

It is enough
To taste your lips
Pressed fully to mine
Stealing my breath
A savoring sweetness

It is enough
To lay here on the floor
Watching you walk away
Witness to the unsteady resolve
Lingering desires

It is enough
To know you will return
Wanton at my threshold
Bidding me open my door
Sinking to my knees

It is enough
Because I know
All of these things and more
Despite unspoken words
It is enough to know

Day 29 of Spring, 566

I am the blank canvas
on which to paint your love
Slow careful brush strokes
coloring over pale shoulders
Feathered bristles
outlining contours
blending shadows
I blossom in the colors
you choose for your palette
Creamy milk with sunwarmed honey
The whites and yellows of my skin
Midnight streaked skies
The black of my hair
Deep amethyst
The purple jewels of my eyes
Salty tang of blood, wet with shine
The color of my lips and cheeks
Paint me with your love
Paint me with pleasure and pain
Make of me, your masterpiece