For my 100th post on this blog, I’ve decided to share the story (slightly edited) that I wrote fifteen (or so) years ago that marks my beginning as a serious writer.
Is it possible for the mortal mind to comprehend the actions of a Dancer? I believe not, for understanding (true understanding) is born of experience and, unlike a Dancer, no mortal has experience of death. And if we mortals cannot understand, dare we judge the actions of a Dancer? Certainly Dancers frequently perform acts that no mortal could justify; but, whether or not their acts may be justified, it is certain the Dancers do pay: a Dancer stands with one foot in Love and one foot in Pain, and yet the Dancer finds the strength to continue enchanting and confounding all who come in contact.
The first and foremost of all Dancers is surely Bas’Lillene – ‘Bas’ is an honorific meaning ‘Dancer’ – though I confess I am prejudiced in this matter. Lillene’s origins are unknown, but her impact on human history is elusive and pervasive. The earliest definite reference to her that I have found is the sad tale of Kelsi D’Ivima…
In the mountain village of Kelsi D’Ivima, two leading families, the Ghenta and the Trenta, had existed in a state of bitter enmity for generations beyond memory. Inevitably, a pairing – a mating – occurred between a son of one family and a daughter of the other. Events came to a head when the couple gave birth to a daughter. Her name was Luca. Before Luca reached her second summer, the father was killed by his own family and the mother escaped with Luca into the forest.
Luca, that poor innocent child had become the centre of the feud between the Ghenta and the Trenta. One family wished her disinherited, and the other wished to use her as a tool of power. The mother’s family captured the runaways within a week and negotiations started between the families.
At this time a rider arrived at the village. Although female, and of diminutive stature, the rider moved with the casual grace and confidence of a trained warrior and observed all around her with black, penetrating eyes. This rider was, of course, Bas’Lillene and she was in great haste. Her presence was urgently required in the North, but her horse was weary and she elected to stay the night in Kelsi D’Ivima.
The Dancer rapidly perceived that the village was on the verge of a catastrophe centuries in the making, and that no easy solution existed in the time available to her. Early the following morning she appeared, her clothes and sword all bloody, in the room in which Luca and her mother were imprisoned. Without hesitation she slew Luca. Luca’s mother started to cry out but found herself caught in the calm gaze of Lillene’s eyes. What she saw in those eyes she never understood, but the memory of that moment remained with her for the rest of her life, and in times of need the remembrance helped to balance her.
Lillene spoke, ‘Forgive yourself. Always forgive yourself!’ And then she was gone. Long before the village awoke, she was gone.
The villagers were filled with wonder, for the heads of the Ghenta and the Trenta families were found murdered in their rooms, but no guards had seen the Dancer enter or exit the houses. The death of the child, Luca, before her mother’s eyes shocked the village, and in their fear they spoke of the strange rider as a witch. (Lillene herself would have laughed at this description.) Luca’s mother, to the amazement of all, emerged strengthened by the ordeal and, although grief-stricken at the loss of her child, was responsible for bringing peace between the two families, and thus to the village.
Many years later, Lillene returned to Kelsi D’Ivima. Few recognised her, and of those only Luca’s mother dared acknowledge her. They sat together beside the river and discussed the events pertaining to Luca’s death. Finally, as evening drew in and moonlight danced off the water’s edges, the mother turned to Lillene.
‘You say you had no other choice, and things do seem to have turned out for the best (except for my Luca, of course), so I cannot question the wisdom of your decision, but…’ She paused for a moment and then asked, her voice tinged with anger and pain, ‘What gives you the right, the right to make that decision?’
The Dancer Lillene gazed gently at Luca’s mother and answered, ‘Everything I do, I do for love.’ She leaned forward and kissed Luca’s mother, stood, turned, and disappeared into the night.
I asked Lillene once myself, ‘What gives you the right?’
I can’t recall exactly what she said but it went something like this:
What gives me the Right?
I have Wisdom sufficient to the Cause,
Strength to match the Knowledge –
The Ultimate Burden of Consequence.
I am not a leader,
For few indeed can follow my lead;
I am a teacher,
But few will learn my lesson!
My Duty is ever to challenge
What others Accept or Deny,
And where I alone see the Ends
I alone may pursue the Means.
I am One with the Now;
The mysteries of the Other
(Pasts, Futures, Alternate Presents)
Form my Concern, my Ward.
I am the Dancer, Bas’Lillene;
My feet tread any path;
No Power Commands me;
That gives me the Right!
In conclusion, I must say that I fear Lillene. It is that same instinctive fear I have for lightning storms: on the one hand there is that fear-for-my-life, and on the other an exhilaration, or euphoria, caused by the proximity to great, natural power. But also, I love her with every fibre of my being; she haunts my dreams, both waking and sleeping.
She has left me, before I might be consumed, as once Icarus was, by the sun-fire of her passion.