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The Mist of the Magnificent
I remember the night, though ‘twas many a year ago, like ‘twas only yesterday. Every sound, smell, and the mystical sights I saw would become what has shaped the man I am today. I knew, from that moment, that my life had been completely and eternally altered. Guinevere had made sure of that.
I was just a boy then, eleven years young. My father, Valesius, was a distinguished blacksmith in the small village Caerleon, where my family and I called home. My mother, Amelia, was a weaver, and was said to weave the most beautiful cloth in all of Britain. My father and mother were very different in character; my father being a large, honest man, never afraid to speak his mind. My mother, on the other hand, was a very quiet and beautifully petite woman, who spent most of her time behind her loom. Both of my parents were very kind people and they loved me, their only son, with everything they had.
Ever since I can remember, I was interested in science, nature, and philosophy. I read many books, by very distinguished authors, but my father’s mind was closed to the idea of me being educated as a scientist. He believed that I was better off learning a trade in the same family as his own, and having a sure way to earn a living, rather than wasting my time and money on a godless education. We argued often on the subject, but on this night ‘twas much different.
He came home just as the sun was setting. Mother was cooking supper, but I was still at play outside, enjoying the last few minutes of sunshine. He called me inside, and the three of us supped peacefully. After this, I went to my seat in the common room and picked up, in my readings, where I had left off earlier in the day. My father came to his place by the fire, kindled it a bit, then took notice to me. “Vladimir,” he said, “I do not understand why you continue to learn these things, they are of no use to you. ‘Tis nonsense for you to believe you will ever be able to pursue these aspirations. Come to the foundry with me next week and I shall introduce you to trades that would suit you well.”
I ignored him at first. My father was really a gentle man, and I knew he didn’t want to put me in pain by crushing my dreams. For awhile, I figured if I continued to be adamant about my love for science and nature, he would begin to allow me to study it more freely. At the time I was not aware that my family was beginning to struggle, and my father was planning to have me begin work with him as a blacksmith. He got very irritable and soon lost his temper. This time he yelled when he addressed me, “Vladimir Tomas Brougham, you are my son and I, in the end, am the one to decide what is to become of you. If you do not willingly set aside your love of science for a more practical career, I will be forced to take it from you.”
I was shocked, appalled, and blatantly hurt by what my father had said. He had just threatened to throw away all my hopes, what I was most passionate about. Did he not understand what twas like to have a dream? He had never spoken to me this way before, so I spoke to him in a tone that would normally not have come from me, “My father, who I thought to be one of the most kind and gracious beings on Earth; who reared me with gentleness and will one day teach me to be a man… How can you do this to me? How can you strip away my dreams when they’ve barely just begun to develop? I’m sure you will, one day, regret not letting your only son live to his highest potential.” With that being said, I threw my book into the fire and ran, as fast as I could, from my home and into the night.
I ran and ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I had no idea where I was going, I just needed to flee from the disappointment I had just faced. I walked for awhile along a path that was not far from the main road, then I began to notice the path winding farther into the forest. I decided to follow the path as long as ‘twas clear, to assure I would make it safely back home. I walked for what seemed like an eternity; my feet moving mechanically while my mind raced with thoughts of what had happened between my father and I. Looking back now, those events seem so trivial compared to what was yet to come.
I began to pay attention to my surroundings once more when I noticed the path I was on clearing and widening. This path soon led me to a sight I was not familiar with: a lake, situated in, what seemed like, the dead center of the forest, with vast waters glittering in the moonlight and a small island in the middle, populated by a single, large oak tree. Everything about this lake captivated me, so I sat by the edge of the water and tossed rocks, still trying to comprehend all of the thoughts racing through my head. That was when, like an angel, the lady of the lake came to me to clear my thoughts and cleanse me of my disappointment.
The first thing I noticed was the mist. The night was beautiful and clear of humidity, but a faint mist began to rise from the waters of the lake. ‘Twas odd, but I didn’t think much of it until the mist began to collect at the center of the lake and take form. I honestly thought I had fallen asleep and was dreaming these things when the mass of mist, human-like in form, began to drift towards me. Slowly, the figure came nearer to the shore and myself, all the while taking the shape of a woman. Twas the most mystical sight I’d ever seen; she gingerly walked to the edge of the water, and when she stepped onto the shore, her misty shape became whole and human.
She was the most beautiful maiden I had ever laid my eyes on. Her hair was long, wavy, and golden brown: the color of caramel. She was dressed very lightly, without shoes, and the small, sheer dress she wore looked as if ‘twas as thin as the mist she appeared from. Her skin was pale, but it glittered like the surface of the lake did when the moonlight reflected off of it. Her eyes, the most captivating thing about her, were the same dark blue, almost black, as the water she came from.
She stood for a moment, taking in her surroundings, then looked down at me and smiled with what seemed like her whole body. She sat beside me on the bank, and when she spoke, the words floated out of her perfectly shaped mouth like fresh, sweet honey flowing from its jar, “Vladimir, my sweet child, how wonderful ‘tis to see you. I have been expecting you for some time now. I am Guinevere, the lady of this lake and all its creatures.”
I was dumbfounded. It took me a moment to gain the sense to speak, but I tried to speak with manners, as to not upset her, “My lady Guinevere, I do not understand. How do you know me and, why have you been expecting my presence?”
“My dear, innocent child, ‘tis only fate that our paths have crossed tonight. You are meant to be here with me, Vladimir, what other reasons could justify our meeting? You will understand soon enough.”
“I am meant to be with you, my lady? Please explain this to me, I do not understand.”
I will not lie, I was quite afraid. The things Guinevere was saying to me were unbelievable. How was I to know she was speaking the truth? She must have taken notice to the fear shown on my countenance, because she smiled sweetly at me and spoke again, to explain and comfort my agitation, “Vlad, look around you. Isn’t it beautiful? I live in a realm, separate from but the same as this place, and ‘tis even more beautiful than this. This is where you are meant to be, Vladimir, if only you would let me show you my world, you would understand. Will you come with me?”
We both stood and she held her hand out to me. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, and it seemed the whole forest whispered with her. I took her hand, for the sake of my own curiosity, and she led me into the water. When she stepped out onto the surface, she began to turn back into the mist she was when she first appeared. I then noticed that I was, miraculously, standing on the surface of the water without sinking. Guinevere’s misty figure dissipated into a dense mist that enveloped me. “Don’t be afraid,” she said again, and I began to feel very exhausted and couldn’t help but to obey her. The mist continued to swirl around me into a perfect sphere, until I was floating along with it, not touching the water at all. I felt myself fall sharply for a moment, just before I fell into a deep slumber.
When I awoke, I was in what seemed to be the same place I was before, and for a moment I thought all the events of the night had been just a dream. When I fully came to, I realized that I was in a place different from before. ‘Twas the same lake, same forest, but I could tell I was in a different realm. The sun was rising now, and I could see all of the changes in scenery: everything was just more beautiful than before. The large trees in the forest that surrounded me were the most vivid color of green I had ever seen, and they seemed to almost breathe with life. The lake stretched farther here, all the way to the horizon and out of view, and the water was more clear than it had been before. The island in the lake had grown, and there was a circle of oaks framing the largest in the center. I got to my feet to explore more into this other world, but just then Guinevere practically bounded from a cottage at the edge of the forest, something I had not noticed before, with a basket filled with luscious looking fruit.
“Good morning, my dear Vladimir, are you hungry?” She seem so delighted to see me; she was even more beautiful in the sunlight than she was under the moon.
“Yes, my lady, I am famished,” I said. So she set her basket between us, and we sat at the edge of the lake, under the rising sun, and ate our breakfast. Soon I noticed the forest beginning to stir; creatures were waking from their slumbers. At first there were only a few animals awake: birds, insects, fish, and small mammals. Then I noticed larger animals, all sorts of game, coming to the lake to hydrate themselves. Small families of deer were standing not five feet away from us, one small fawn even came to Guinevere to have a bite of fruit. This amazed me, but not nearly as much as what I saw next.
People began to appear, some coming from the forest and some seeming to just materialize out of thin air into the clearing by the lake. I saw an archer, poised with his bow, ready to shoot down a fowl for his next meal. Two women had dove into the lake and were now playing and bathing near the water’s edge. There was a small girl chasing her brother, weaving in and out of the forest. All these people, all so lively and beautiful, living in this other world; it completely astounded me. My emotions must have shown on my face, because my lady Guinevere laughed delightfully at my surprise and brought me to my feet.
“Vladimir,” she began, “this is my world. In this place, people are not bound by material life. We live in peace and harmony with nature and its creatures. Here, you can be anything you want to be, and more! Do you see now, why you are here? ‘Tis what is best Vlad, ‘tis destiny! Here is where you will learn and grow, one day become a man, and carry out your life as ‘tis meant to be.”
I let what she has said sink in for a moment, as I realized I was no longer afraid. I can’t explain how, but I knew her words were true and this was meant to be. I now only thought of my parents, who had loved me tenderly and were surely looking for me. So I asked her, “Guinevere, will I ever see my parents again?”
When I said this, she seemed to stiffen a little with seriousness. ‘Twas not a long pause, but I noticed. She became cheery again and said, “Why, of course you will! You will be here for awhile, but tis only a temporary setting,” she became more serious as she continued, “ Vlad, everyone has a purpose in life, a destiny to fulfill. Yours happens to be of great importance. You presence in this world in only preparation for what is to come; you, Vladimir Tomas Brougham, are destined for greatness. One day, when I’ve done my part in your story, you will return to your world as fate has planned. You will fulfill your destiny, Vladimir, and you will become a hero in doing so.”
I could barely comprehend what she had said to me, but she spoke so gently and smiled so sweetly I had no choice but to accept what she had prophesied. I, Vladimir Tomas Brougham, would one day grow to be a man of greatness and fulfill a destiny of worldly importance, and this was just the beginning. This is where the real story begins, as I tell my tale of life in this magical realm and how I fulfilled a destiny of heroic proportions.