|The Man Who Loved the Sea|
|Summary:||A retelling of the Banefort story of The Man Who Loved the Sea.|
|Date:||06 May 2012|
|Related Logs:||On the Waterfront|
Once, long ago, there was a man. He, like his father and his father's father, had ruled over a small parcel of land that overlooked the sea. The lands had long been in disrepair — sad and starved by famine and now slowly dying. The man was dispassionate for his people, uncaring as the villages around the keep thinned out and died. The ground withered up around the keep until there was nothing but dead forests and naked, weathered stone.
Soon, only the man was left. He had grown much older now, thinner and gaunt like the lands themselves. It was then that a woman and her small retinue happened upon the seaside keep that now looked more like the rocks that surrounded it. From his terrace high above, he watched their approach. His attention fell upon the woman, pale of hair and skin. She was beautiful here amongst the desolation, and in his heart he felt a sudden surge of desire. He must have her.
As the visitors approached, the man set himself to accept them into his halls if only so he could look closer upon the beauty they escorted. His kitchens were bare, his halls unclean. All he could muster was a single loaf of bread and curdled cream. He greeted them at the doors, bowing and flourishing. He could see in their eyes that they knew ghosts haunted these lands, that things were unsettling. But still, they accepted his invitation to come in and rest, for they must have been journeying far.
It was now that he could look upon the woman. Indeed, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her hair was so blonde, it was nearly white, and her skin as pale as moonlight. It was her eyes that sealed his heart to her — the color of the deepest sea. He became so enthralled, he knew nothing but the want to possess her.
At his urging — near begging — they proclaimed they would stay the night and rest under the grace of his hospitality. It was only when they thought the man was out of earshot did they reveal their unease about the happenstance of their fate. They resolved to insist on an early departure, and a guard was posted to stay outside their lady's bedchamber all night should the man prove to be foul of heart.
But, what the heart wants, the heart will take — foul or not. In the dead of night, while the lady's men slept, the man crept about them like a ghost himself. Each one was swiftly dispatched, even the guard who watched the woman's door. It was then he took her, made her his.
"My betrothed will come for me!" She cried.
"Then I will put you where he will never find you!" The man replied.
He bound her up, and carried her out from his keep to the rocky beach and then out further still into the sea. He trapped her there, beneath the waves; he made her sink deep down until only he could see her, her lovely face framed by the blue waters that matched her eyes. He returned to his keep, and every day he would sit out on his terrace and watch the sea, watch her face.
As she had warned him, some weeks later, her betrothed did come searching for her. He came to the keep, came to ask the old lord if he had seen his beautiful wife-to-be and the entourage escorting her to his lands. Little did her betrothed know that their bodies rot far below in the dungeons of the keep. The man said he had seen not a soul pass by his keep in many years. The woman's betrothed, tired after days of stressful travel, asked if he could stay a little while in the man's keep before he continued on.
"Of course," the man said. "Here, let me show you my home. Let me show you what I love best."
And he took the woman's betrothed out to the terrace, and they both looked out over the sea.
"It is beautiful, my lord," her betrothed said. "The color of the sea reminds me of my love's eyes."
"Quite blue," the man replied.
"Yes," her betrothed said. "And the caps of the waves, as pale and soft as my love's skin."
"Quite pale, quite soft," the man replied.
"Yes," her betrothed said. "And see how the waves do curl? Just as the hair on my love's head."
"Yes, just as, just as."
"I see now," said her betrothed, "why you love this place best."
"Yes," said the man, "there is nothing I love so much as the sea."
Soon after, her betrothed left and to never return again to rescue his trapped love. The man returned to the terrace to look down into the sea, to look upon the beautiful face of the woman. She was his now, and forever would be.
Yes, there was nothing he loved so much as the sea.