Glen’s Tale: Erigo

Illustration by Wil Meade

Some decades before our Forest Daughter walked our wood, there ruled a King named Temarius. Temarius generally ruled well, though oft with heated temper not easily quenched, at times getting the kingdom into silly squabbles that it ought to have avoided. Yet, Temarius generally kept his duties well, and held a goodly kingship.

Now his squire, the pure-hearted Erigo, was beloved by all. Nothing in life did Erigo enjoy more than encouraging others. All around the kingdom he could be found offering a kind word, both to the noblest lord and the lowliest pauper. As the years went on, he increased in popularity with the people and the King, until he was considered second in all the land.

When it was seen that the King would produce no heir, this once lowly squire was declared Prince. At the closing of the pronouncement, it is recorded that Temarius said, “Though my line is fated to end here, yet I feel no shame or regret. Such is my love for the heart of Erigo that the ending of my line seems to me but a small grief. And such is my trust in his valor that I eagerly await the line of his descendants. May all lore-masters and wisdom-sayers remember these words declared by the King: There is no enmity between this Ruling Family and the next!” And those words have indeed been remembered.

Soon Temarius passed the crown to the new King Erigo. The whole land celebrated with much gladness, for though their hearts did give fidelity to Temarius, they were eager to witness the reign of a new King, filled with goodness and encouragement.

The first four years were blissful indeed. Erigo met and married the new Queen of the land, Nara. She was truly wise, for her political shrewdness was matched only by her loving grace. Without her counsel, many subtleties of governing would have not gone so well as they did.

Erigo, Nara, the Captain of the guard, and the Captain’s wife became close friends in this time. Quick mirth had they, and they spent many evenings together, laughing and singing in the gardens. In the third year of the reign, Erigo and Nara had a son named Lendid. His eyes were such a bright and profound green that all the midwives wondered among themselves, talking of what might come of this Green Light.

But the Blessed Years did not remain, and not all were delighted at the reign of Erigo. In the fourth year of his rule, there rose up an evil wizard who loathed the thought of the King’s encouragements, thinking them pathetic and insincere. He crept his way into the courts, past the guards, and into the throne room. On spying Erigo, he threw off his disguising garments and shouted a wicked spell in thunderous words sounding like the crack of metal! With a satisfaction, he sneered, “Now you shall see the results of your beloved encouragements, my king, if they were truly believed!” And just as suddenly as the sorcerer had appeared, he was gone.

All were astonished and perplexed. A council was quickly held, and it was determined that Erigo must temporarily cease giving his comforting words, at least until the sages could be consulted on the meaning of the curse. Though Erigo agreed with this decision, he also knew that it would not be simple for him to stop encouraging, for it had been become to him a thing like breathing.

Erigo restrained himself mightily in the first weeks of the Curse; still, a reassuring word often escaped here and there. His dearest friend in the world, the Captain of the guard, blamed himself for allowing the wizard to steal his way into the court. The Captain was often encouraged by Erigo in the past, and had grown accustomed to hearing kindnesses from his King. This made Erigo’s silence all the more difficult for him, and often the guilt of his error could be seen in his eyes, bringing the Captain almost to a timidity. Eventually Erigo could not bear the sight of this any more, and reassured him, saying, “Be not troubled, friend. This was a mighty spell-caster, who could have evaded even the most cautious of us. You see how even the sages are vexed by his sorcery. Do not fear—none of us doubt your ability.” Thus began the Rebellion Years of King Erigo’s reign.

The Captain was relieved, and went back to his duties with new strength and command. Yet the doubt like an indwelling spirit did not perish but instead reversed sufferers, and Erigo rightly sensed that all was not well. The following day, there awoke an anger in the Captain against one of his guards who had suggested that they increase the watch, in case the wizard returned. He shouted that he was the authority of the Guard, and did not need suggestions from the likes of him to run the Guard that he was given charge of, and that it was insubordinate of him to imply that he knew better than the Captain of the Guard. All the nearby soldiers were shocked, for the Captain had always welcomed the opinions of his men. Yet the Captain did not apologize.

Later that week, the Captain’s wife came to Nara with a shame and hurt Nara had never sensed around her, and they wept in a closed room for some time. She spoke of a fear around the Captain, of a distance, of a lurking something growing within him. The King was summoned and informed that all was not well in his court.

He went to the Captain, asking, “Friend, what trouble is in your heart? You have not been well.” The Captain was insulted, and responded, “What do you mean, my King? My heart is set within me, and no trouble lies there. You do not see clearly. Did my wife come to you? She does not know what it is to face pressures of the guardianship. She is only a woman, after all, and is not exposed to the world. No, there is no trouble with me, my King.”

Erigo did not know what to make of this talk. Never had he known any dissension in his friend’s marriage. He replied, “You deny there is trouble, brother, and yet still I sense all is not well. This no longer comes from Nara only, but from seeing you here, now. Come, tell me, what is it that I see?” And with this the Captain swelled into a rage, shouting, “What! Did I not say to you once already that you know not of what you speak? I, the greatest Guardian since the ancient days, full of subtle insight and might, and you ask me the thing twice?” And he pushed the King to the ground and ran into the city night.

The Captain’s wrath had utterly overtaken him, and he gathered to himself the many others that Erigo had recently encouraged. They withdrew to outside the city, and the Captain and Erigo held a parley. Erigo approached the meeting tent with broken heart and entreated the Captain to see that the Curse must be the cause of this madness. The Captain did not listen, but instead felt betrayed. He said to the King, “So, first you give comforting words to me, friend, and then soon change to lecturing! Which is it to be?” And he drew his sword and came upon the King, even in the midst of the truce. The King’s party fled, and war broke between the two.

The next eleven years were filled with strife and rebellions within the Kingdom, many caused by a single careless encouragement of Erigo that would quickly change the one who received it. The Captain was caught and imprisoned, but his former lightness and joy were nowhere to be found. He spent his days seething and tugging at his chains, with the Curse’s pride spurning him on, until he looked little more than an animal.

With time, Erigo learned to withhold his encouragement, but with dire consequence. He grew withdrawn and heavy in heart for many years, though his Kingdom regained some of its former stability. Those around him understood his woe, yet many resented him still for his sadness and lack of kind words. Even his faithful Nara began to become bitter at the distance the Curse had created between them.

From the first moments of the curse, Erigo resolved deep within himself that he would never encourage his son, for he loved Lendid even unto this agony. Thus the new prince grew, and often was wounded by his father’s silence. In childhood, he would run to his father’s side to show him a drawing he had made, and always the King would merely say, “I see it, yes.” And always Lendid would leave disheartened. In adolescence Lendid proved to be a skilled swordsman indeed, and the King attended many of his spars. But never did the King congratulate his son for a job well done.

Lendid knew the reason for it and could see his father’s sorrow, yet his own hurt at the Curse clouded his mind, and he fell into a dislike of his father’s presence. Lendid loved his father but found himself getting angry around him, wishing for just a single encouragement from him, and wishing that his father was normal like the fathers of his friends.

One day Erigo was at his ease, studying a political text, when he remarked to a servant on the loveliness of his library. The servant politely agreed, and happened to pass the King’s Architect in the hallway. Without thinking, the servant passed on the compliment to the architect, who was suddenly filled with a passion, and quickly began devising plans to build a magnificent Tower full of golden, airy spirits and leaves of green. With this thought came a swift resentment towards the King for years of not recognizing his greatness and failing to give him the freedom to create the Master Buildings of which he had just dreamt. Thus a new rebellion began, as many others had.

Nara heard of this, and in her heart she loathed the King’s mistake without mercy. She thought to herself, “How could he have failed us yet again? Did he not know that Mendu would be thoughtless? He is a good, lovable servant, to be sure, but with Erigo’s curse only a fool would have been at ease around him. Does he not realize that this will pull him from us once again, caught up in councils and meetings of war? Did he not think?”

Lendid came into her room in the midst of her frustrations and said to her, “Did you hear the new unrest father has brought upon the Kingdom? I almost do not blame the architect for his discontent.” For the King had told Lendid that he would give him lessons in swordsmanship that week, but with this new trouble, that would be impossible.

Nara looked at her son in his bitterness, and when she did, it was as if she had gazed into a mirror for the first time in many years. She had hardly noticed the deepening darkness that was gathering inside her until she had glimpsed the same darkness in her son. In an instant her heart has bared before her, and in an instant the darkness vanished. Immediately, she went to her King and asked his forgiveness for her long grudge, which he gave with tears in his eyes and a strong embrace, and they were united in heart once again. But Lendid’s hurt remained.

Over much time, Nara and the other teachers taught Lendid of politics and war and diplomacy, and begrudgingly, he realized that Erigo was a greater man than he had previously seen. He learned of the great difficulties and responsibilities of virtuous statecraft. With the ever-constant reminders of his mother, he learned to see his father not only as his son, but also through the eyes of advisers, war generals, tradesmen, tinkers, and farmers. He saw that Erigo was indeed a great king.

Now the custom was that a boy became a man at age fifteen. When this age was reached a great celebration would be held, a feast with merry dance and song. At the end of the feast, the father of the boy would rise, and declare unto the crowd the worth of his son. And at the end of those words, the boy would be welcomed as a man.

The time for Lendid’s Arrival drew near, and he often wondered what his father would say. He dreamt continually of the words he had craved since infancy. But, in his heart he knew that the day would not be what he wished it could be. And so, when his mother asked to speak with him a week before the celebration, he already knew the words she planned.

“Lendid, you must know how much your father loves you. You must know how he bursts with pride when he sees you. But you must also know that he cannot give the Arrival speech, though I have seen this grieve him to tears. So, your uncle will give the speech. The people will understand, and will welcome you just the same.” Lendid said nothing, but merely nodded and looked down.

The day came and went with much joy in the guests but little in the royal family. At the end of the feast, Erigo’s brother delivered hearty words of encouragement. Lendid stood to receive the words, and looked at his father. In these eyes he witnessed Erigo’s profound love and grief, mixed together like warm and cool air that erupts into maelstrom. He saw the enormity of Erigo’s desire to say the words of Arrival to Lendid, and for the first time, he felt the sorrow of his father. Indeed, he realized in this one glance that his own pain at the Curse was far less than his father’s. He saw that his Father wanted nothing more than to freely shower words of grace upon him, but was stopped because of love, not because of hate. And he began to understand compassion.

Several years later, when the time came for Lendid to take the throne, he had truly grown to be a man, and all the people anticipated the ceremony. The morning of the crowning, Lendid and Erigo were alone, talking about all that had happened in their kingdom the past years. Then the Prince said to his father, “Father, I understand now your curse, and I love you despite it. With all my heart, I do desire to receive your praise, for you are my father. Yet even more, I desire to be a blessing to you, for I am your son.”

And lo! there was a great blast of wind and two cloudless strikes of lightning! And the Curse was lifted, and the King said, “Oh my son, my son! The Curse is destroyed with your words! Truly, let the world see the glory of a son such as this! He is a marvel and a wonder to behold! My son, and my trust! Come, we must make you King!”

And the day was overflowing with jubilance beyond compare, with food and song and wine! Everywhere you looked, the Old King was going from person to person in his court, lavishing praises and thanksgivings upon all his staff, telling them all the compliments of decades of service together. Never before had such mirth and laughter filled any courts before or since, such was the joy of the thing.

The New King Lendid dwelt in those courts his whole life, with no evil wizards or cursed Guards to trouble him, and enjoyed a good, peaceful reign. The Old King spent his retired days walking among the nobility and the peasants as he loved to do, throwing forth encouragement, and his light lifted the whole realm. He especially delighted in the encouragement of children, for before it was the worst of all to restrain his lips with them.

And Nara and Erigo and Lendid all lived happily ever after, to the end of their days.

Yet even in this happy time, not every wrong could be undone. Years prior, the Captain of the guard had died in his cell, as his madness spurned him to scream to his loved ones that “bread and water are devices towards weakness,” as he refused nourishment.

And so, in remembrance of the Captain’s service and friendship to his father, Lendid instituted a memorial to be built to him. Marmo the Sculptor constructed a nine feet tall sculpture of a laughing Captain in joyous garb, and on it was an inscription: “May kind words bring us to joy.” And the Captain’s wife was glad.

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