19th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 3:23pm, the Porcelain Cup Teahouse, Lockland.
Shaheed sipped his tea, bemused by his brother’s manic foot tapping. Taaj knew the look but was not yet ready to speak more. Instead he reached forward to the three tiered tray and grabbed another of the tiny avocado sandwiches and stuffed it into his mouth; he had to admit they were delicious what with their crustless white fluffy bread and creamy green fillings. His brother tsk at his behavior, carefully replacing his cup on the fine porcelain saucer before speaking.
“You saw a pretty girl, and she likes you, so what of it brother there is rarely a port where you don’t find a women to warm your bed”
“You don’t understand Shaheed… this is different, I think… I think… I think I am in love” as Taaj said the words his face split in an ear to ear smile as he knew what he said to be true. Shaheed couldn’t help but grin at his usually sombre brother. Taaj continued “She is breathing incarnation of beautiful, she stills my heart and lifts me up on wings of joy” the half elf said jumping from his seat and taking up an actors pose to proclaim his joy for all in the Tea House to hear. Shaheed held his seat with an eyebrow raised in amusement
“You don’t love a woman because she is beautiful; she is beautiful because you love her… so says the great prophet. How can she be truly beautiful if you do not yet know her brother?” Taaj was not to be outdone as he raised one hand above him and began to recite the words of the playwrites of old
“Colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as the elves call it. When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it cannot be denied. It is beautiful and messy, cracking a chest open and spilling their soul forth for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt strikes, your life is irrevocably changed” there was a spattering of applause from the few other patrons of the tea house. Shaheed sighed and rose to his feet taking the proper drama stance to respond in kind
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that she is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident” he paused as he was given a louder applause from the patrons once more, some had turned their chairs with great interest in the impromptu show that had araisen. Shaheed looked sternly at his brother “Perhaps there is something with this girl, something you have not felt before, but take caution my brother, do not confuse love and lust. Father will arrange a marriage that is right for you, enjoy your time flirting and lusting, but do not confuse it for love, that is entirely something else” Taaj looked hard at his brother, he took a short sip of water and then proclaimed loudly
“You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it; I’ve seen centuries and centuries of it. It’s the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All the wars, pain, lies, and hate, made me want to turn away and never look down again. But to see the way that Argyle loves! I mean you could search the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So, yes I know that love is unconditional, but I also know it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable, and strangely easy to mistake for loathing. And, well, what I’m trying to say, is… I think I am in love. My heart it feels like my chest can barely contain it, like it doesn’t belong to me anymore; it belongs to her, and if she wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange: no gifts, no goods, no demonstrations of devotion, nothing, but knowing she loves me, too. Just her heart in exchange for mine.” An older women sniffled taking a hanky to her eyes before calling out
“The silique of Selwyn always makes me cry… bravo young man, bravo” Shaheed looked around the room, the crowd had developed to a bit of a larger one now. He cleared his voice searching his knowledge of the ancient texts and plays to better make his point to his brother, he had to admit, his brother had the advantage, few revered plays were based on one being prudent in love.
“You are not in love with me, you are in love with the idea of me, and the pain you bring on our houses for such an idea is the pain of a thousand lashes. Travel on young sailor and know not what pain in turmoil you leave in your wake” the applause began but Taaj cut it off
“O happy hours when I may once more encircle within these arms the dearest object of my love- when I shall again feel the pressure of that ‘aching head’ which will delight to recline upon my bosom, when I may again press to my heart which palpitates with the purest affection that loved one who has so long shared its undivided devotion” when he finished he shared a long look with Shaheed, who at last shrugged and raised his hands in defeat. The two turned and nodded their heads to the impromptu audience before finding their seats once more.
“So… you claim to love her, and forgetting that greater obstacles that she lives in a River City and you in the great Deserts… or that we are on a quest of some importance… or that you don’t even know her name…”
“Ah but I do know her name dear brother, and what an elegant name it is… a name worthy of angles…” Shaheed rolled his eyes, this must be the elven half of his brother talking, as never had any of his other brothers acted as such fools as Taaj was now
“and what is this oh so angelic name? if I may ask?”
“Mandy” he replied
“Mandy? What is that short for Miranda? Amanda? Armandia? Mirnanditha?”
“ummm…” there was a brief silence as Shaheed leaned in
“You don’t know… you don’t even know her full name” he said accusingly
“well I didn’t have time to get all the information, we just met and…”
“Here you are standing on the tables proclaiming this girl as your one true love, and you don’t even know her name…”
“…I had to meet you back here, and that cut my time short, I’m planning on asking…”
“… oh the great love stories to the dear and true Mandy…” Shaheed put his hands forward in a mocking dramatic gesture “Oh Mandy, how the sun doth shine and wind doth carry your name…”
“knock it off” Taaj grumbled, but Shaheed was still having his fun, trying to cut off the snickers
“It sounds like the name of a twelve year girl… little Mandy”
“ENOUGH” Taaj said, louder than he had meant… the room went quiet for a minute but Taaj waved his hands apologetically and turned back to his brother. “Can you not just be excited for me? I am happy, I am meeting her tonight, what is the harm?” at last Shaheed gave his brother a grin and a laugh
“Oh to be young and foolish… so be it, we are here for a few more days anyway, at least until the Dumatheon crew arrive in port, you might as well have your fun until then” at these words Taaj’s heart dropped a little, it hurt him not to tell his brother that he had seen Fargazer, and knew the ship they were hunting was in port. But he needed to see Mandy again, to find out why she was on this ship, and secure her safety before he told his brother anything.
“thank you brother” he managed to say as he lifted his tea cup in a small toast and reached for another little triangle sandwich.