THE LOVE REVOLUTION
Beware! Reading this may be dangerous for you. There are those who would kill to get rid of this missive. But my message must get through. This voice, crying in the wilderness of blindness and deliberate ignorance, must be heard! For I write of things that must not be spoken of. Things that will change everything, if accepted. It is with quivering hand that I pen these words.
My name is Arnold, son of Heimich the lumberjack. Our town of Dutchinson in the hill country of the Scots is famous for its iron stand on law and order. Everyone knows their place. The young defer to the elders. Our wives respect their husbands as the head. Even our beasts have learnt who is boss. Everyone knows their place. There has been peace for as long as we all can remember. Everyone knows that disobedience to the Church and the Council will be punished.
Especially if the Forbidden Word is uttered.
Like any village, we have our own criminal elements. There are drunks, molesters, thugs – the worst of the underworld. But our soldiers have been worthy protectors. I know because I am one of them.
The man whom this script concerns is one of controversial record in our village. His very name is deemed a curse. I may be fearful of many things, but the loyalty of friendship is one thing from which I shall never recoil.
He is my friend and brother-at-arms, Marcus. Son of Gaulea.
(I have warned you. You have my blessing to rip this paper now, while you have the chance)
A truly great man he is, if there ever was one. We have fought back-to-back in battle, slain many beasts, and vanquished many foes in the name of the king. I know he is a great man of valour, but not as others know him to be. For I know that there was never an enemy that could take him down, never a foe to weaken his resolve, never a cause to bring him to his knees…
Until he told me the very words that will forever shake my world.
“I’m in ____,” he said. I hesitate to pen the exact word he said. For it is forbidden.
I gasped. I could not believe my ears. I pulled him away from the thoroughfare and dragged him into my house.
“What did you just say?!” I yelled in his face as soon as the door was slammed shut.
The usual smart expression on his face was gone. He was as sober as could be. “I said that I am in –“
“I heard what you said!” I whispered hoarsely. “Have you lost your mind? Have you no sense of the danger lurking behind those words? What do you think you’re doing?”
“I cannot pretend any longer, brother,” he said, a hint of a sob in his voice. “I ____ Agnes.” May the Lord have mercy on me for even thinking that word.
It was all clearer to me then. Marcus’ eye for the beautiful, but pompous, daughter of Lord Morrison had not been lost on me. No man in the village, however, gave her a second thought for she was legendary for her sharp tongue. The barracks rang with distorted tales of her pride and arrogance. No man considered her for a wife. But my friend saw something none of us could see. I just thought it was madness.
I knew my friend was of strong countenance, but also gentle at heart. He would not give himself to a dream (and that is what I considered this to be; nothing more) were not his heart pulled by it. If it were not worthy of consideration, he would not yield to its pull. He did not deserve to be crushed so.
“‘No one shall speak the Forbidden Word’,” I reminded him of the law.
“That is irrelevant,” he said. “I can’t pretend anymore. I can’t hide this—“
“Longing, yes I know.”
“It’s more than that,” he whispered. I sat, trying to stare him in the eye. His eyes were glistening with tears. Oh, Marcus.
“I know. You’ve told me for so long. I know you want Agnes –“
“I ____ her, Arnold!”
I stood to check the windows as I tried to tell him to be calm. “You can’t go around using that word, Marcus! It’s Forbidden!”
He was shaking his head vigorously. “No. No! I will lie no longer. What I have for her goes beyond wanting, or longing. What has overtaken me is different. The words you speak of are superficial. Carnal. It’s not her body I’m after. It’s her heart…”
He was losing himself. I had good reason to be worried. And worried I was.
“Have you seen this woman you speak of? She has no heart! She spites the poor, ridicules our fellow men-at-arms, curses all that is right and true! You’ve heard about her! It is only a matter of luck that God saw it fit to bring her forth into wealth.”
“We all have things we need to change—“
“No, I will listen to you no longer. You listen to me! She’s a devil in woman’s skin, however comely and delicate to the eye she may be. You have a good heart, Marcus. At best, you pity this woman. You cannot … desire her!”
Marcus was shaking his head. “I’ve gone beyond desire. It has stripped me of all I have held on to, of all I regard as honour, until there is nothing left but this. I –“
I held up a hand, but he said the word anyway. I sighed. “You are in great need of help, my friend. I can help you no further. You’re sick.”
“Sick with –“
“BAH! Do I look to be in a gaming mood? If you deteriorate any further, I’d soon have you writing…” I lowered my voice to a hush. “____ letters!”
It was meant to be a joke. But then I saw it in his eye. That distant twinkle as he tried to avoid my gaze.
I held his gaze. “You didn’t…”
He winced. “I couldn’t hold back—“
“WHAT?!” I was too late. He had written a letter to her describing his … madness! He had just sealed his fate. I couldn’t help it as tears flowed from my eyes. “What kind of spell has this … witch placed on you?”
“She’s not a witch!” he retorted.
“Why did it have to be you, Marcus? Why? You’re done for!”
He was also crying. “I brought this upon myself, brother.”
I had a mind to draw my sword right then and strike the heartless woman that had done this to my friend. But there was nothing we could do. He had delivered the letter to her already. I paid him no heed then. I resolved to hide him in my house for the night. We would escape together. I would never leave my friend. Never.
But I was wrong. This thing, whatever it was that had grabbed my friend, was stronger than friendship itself. For that very night, he was gone. He had escaped, hoping to see her that night. Such was his insanity.
He had taken the old-fashioned ways, of calling her out by throwing pebbles at her window. His mind was already made up, for his heart was already gone after this … woman. What would make a good man, of whom the world was not worthy, to go after his enemy?
She drew her curtain and opened the window. “Who calls for me?”
Marcus stood from behind the bushes. “It is I, Marcus of Gaulea.”
She stared him down. “So you did come?”
“I came to see you,” he said. “Even in the moonlight, you truly are beautiful.”
She held up a hand. “You think your words move me? Have you no idea who I am? If I did seek a man – and I definitely have found none that suit me – why would he be you? What makes you think you have anything to offer me?”
“I know full well who you are,” he called out. “And I may look to be of poor estate, but I have something more that no other man could ever offer you.”
“Oh, really?” She said in her bewitching playful tone. “And whatever may that be?”
“I truly ____ you.” He said it there again, right by her window. Oh, Marcus…
I can imagine the horror on her face as she looked around. “You dared speak the Forbidden Word?! Are you mad?!”
“If giving you all I have and all I am is mad, then yes. I am mad. But my heart goes out for you, Agnes. I want to get you out of your prison —”
She humphed. It pains me to imagine that she did not know what this man had lost to come to see her. “Sad that you should waste such words on a dame like me. Go to one of the servant girls. They are practically dying to hear such.”
“You like my words?” he actually was hopeful.
“They are the words of a fool!” she snapped. “One foolish enough to break the law, just to prove his folly.”
He squinted. “You wouldn’t call the guards, will you?”
She smiled and shrugged. “I already did.”
And out of the bushes leapt the guards, spears in hand as they surrounded him. They had all heard his words. They beat him with their spears till he was on his knees. All this while, Agnes stood in her window chortling like the witch she was. My friend and brother, Marcus, was taken away in chains.
It is here that I must drop my pen for the night. For the words that follow in this account are of the highest treason. They can kill. I have warned you.
If your heart yearns for more, then you may dare to open the second volume of my message. You alone know where to find it, for I must not be seen with it. And neither must you. The message it conveys must remain in your heart.
For LOVE’S sake.