The Two Sisters
by Nofret Hrist
May - July 2000
Nofret recites, "This is a tale they tell in the Rest...a tale of love and passion, of two women who were loved in very different ways by the same man. It is also the tale of Oleani, showing how she seeks to guide mortals toward love and protect the innocent, and the terrible consequences when her warnings are ignored."
Nofret smiles poignantly as she plays a wistful strain upon her ebonwood lysard, the nostalgic tune whispering of times long past.
"Along the banks of River's Rest there did two sisters dwell;
Vavara stole men's silvers, Sanann cast healing spells.
One day young Huw the warrior did to the Rest return,
Did gaze at both, and then his heart with passion began to burn."
(Nofret plays on, the notes from her lysard twisting about each other in a kind of dance.)
"He courted Sanann with flowers to weave in her thick brown hair,
But a teasing glance from Vavara's eyes did drive him to despair.
He loved Sanann for her kindly ways and her care of the healing art.;
Aye, with his mind he loved her fine, but Vavara snared his heart."
Nofret alters the tempo a bit, playing the passionate, intense rhythm rubato, accelerating the tune and then slowing it.
"When Sanann talked, it was just talk in a quiet calming voice;
When Vavara talked in silvery tones, Huw listened--he had no choice.
When Sanann walked, she only walked, more like a man than a belle.
When Vavara walked, she danced in fire, and was the fire as well."
Nofret smiles reverently as she plays an exultant strain on her lysard, reminiscent of a paean to Oleani.
"Huw to Oleani's temple went, saying, "Goddess, lend me grace;
I love a kind girl's mind and soul, but adore her sister's face.
So tell me, Oleani, which lass am I meant to wed?"
A voice said, "Gaze at My altar where lie the roses red."
"First see Sanann's future." And fair indeed it seemed,
In a rosewood house of matchless wealth he saw all he had dreamed.
Of children playing on the floor, a husband's shadow at the door, Sanann sorting simples the hearth before, happy now forevermore".
Nofret continues to play, the exultant tune transforming into a morose dirge pierced by sharp staccato notes that sound like keening wails.
"Then see her sister's destiny!" And Vavara before him stood,
A mocking sneer on her lovely face, and both hands red with blood.
A dark form of a man embraced her, kissing her with wild desire,
Then the vision from Oleani ceased with a flash of blue-white fire."
Nofret smiles joyously as she segues from the dirge into a glorious medley of traditional Elanthian wedding songs.
"So Huw was wed to Sanann, and their friends were full of praise,
And happily the two did live for nigh a thousand days.
Vavara soon to Icemule moved, but loathed the frigid place;
"Ah, husband, let her bide with us, for I miss my sister's face."
Nofret continues to play, the wedding song slowly giving way to a darker, ominous motif.
"So Vavara returned unto the Rest on a cheerful springtime day.;
Fire kindled in Huw at the sight of her, and that night with her he lay.;
Though the tale of the faithless two was town-talk in the Rest,
Sanann would not believe such things of those whom she loved best."
Nofret smiles briefly. Her expression growns graver as she plays a glissando, transforming the ominous motif into an intense song which projects a highly suspenseful mood.
"Soon Vavara said to Sanann, "Let's lunch by the river bank,
And dress in our finest frippery, like ladies of highest rank,
As we did when we were children. Oh sister, please say yes!";
And Sanann agreed, and then she donned a pearl-encrusted dress."
Nofret smiles tragically as the suspenseful piece of mood music becomes a ghostly, sepulchral tune in a minor key.
"By the Tempest River they ate and drank, till Sanann fell asleep.;
Vavar' did grab her sister's hair and tied it to willow roots deep.
When Sanann awoke, the water was rising nigh unto her chin,;
Her sodden dress and root-tied hair kept her the water within."
Nofret plays a few octaves of a raucous, discordant song. The very notes seem to stab at the air.
"Save me, Vavara, save me! Yours is all that I possess!";
"All that's yours has long been mine, you fool! Did you ne'er guess?"; "Save me, Vavara, save me, for I am like to drown!"
She got naught save a sneering laugh as Vavara strolled back to town."
Nofret continues playing her lysard, the quiet melody wafting through the area, a whispering, comforting tune.
"So Sanann the gentle was cruelly drowned by means of her own hair, And scarce three weeks after her death, Huw married the cruel Vavar'. All those in town berated him for wedding his wife's own killer,
But he paid no heed, and his neighbours grew colder to him and chiller."
Nofret smiles ironically as resounding notes burst from her lysard.
"Yet all their luck did vanish upon their ill-fated wedding day,
Their gems were all imploded, their silver stolen away,
Their weaponry all shattered, all their armor gone to rust,
Till all they had in common were hatred, poverty and lust."
Nofret builds her tune to a wild, passionate crescendo.
"A year did pass, and soon it was the day that Sanann had died.
The two had quarreled all the day and now abed did lie.
A torrential downpour started, lightning ripped the midnight air,
A flash of flame, a dreadful shriek of unutterable despair."
Nofret plays the sound of the storm on her lysard for four octaves, then begins playing the tune slower and softer, transforming into a gentle and loving serenade.
"So Huw and wild Vavara were never heard of more,
Yet in the Rest, all of the bards swear to this piece of lore:
Half the house was burned to ash, but in the other part,
Sanann's sons were found asleep within a red rose heart."
Nofret holds the final note of her melody, allowing it to decline into silence.
[Note: This is a slightly rewritten version of the song I performed at Blaeston Bardic Contest at the Feast of Oleani in May 2000.]
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