By T.K. Wilson
Word Count: 15261
Rating: PG for depictions of PTSD panic attacks and violence
Summary: When Lady Goewyn of House Meridian meets the long missing treeman of roses, Lord Rhodon of the Western March, her eyes are opened to a new world of danger, magic, and healing.
Epilogue: The Rose Seller
In the heart of New York City’s Central Park, live many dryads of all kinds. Around a standing stone, a portal to Avalon itself, the Dryads of the city have a market where they sell the good things they grow and make to citizens of New York who are trusted with the knowledge of Avalon.
Among these dryads and their bustling market sat one modest little stand selling beautiful white roses, occupied by a lone dryad. She was one of the fairest of her kind, with long vines and tendrils for hair, a soft, round, face and delicate features. Most arresting of all were her large, amber eyes. Her eyes held the attention of everyone who passed her by, haunted with sadness and longing. She was dressed in a simple white gown, patched from many wearings, but she radiated the dignity of a queen.
As this dryad sat behind her booth, she sang a song to an old tune known as “The Ash Grove”.
The finest in Avalon,
Here to be found.
So humble, so lowly,
But say I am worthy,
Innocent, guileless, honest, and sweet.
This Queen of the Flowers
Put all in her power
To tell of a love that’s far stronger than death!
My Roses, white roses,
Finest white roses,
Have this as their story and it’s yours to tell.”
Her high, clear voice rang out over the marketplace, calling romantic spirits to purchase her flowers and hear about them from this dryad.
“White roses have no guile, they speak only what is true, they are most appropriate for a female friend.” she informed one young man who had come to buy.
“Thank you, Rosealba.”
Rosealba sat back down on her stool to put away the money the young man had given her. Pushing her hair back, she studied the people gathered in the market. Each of them had loved ones to go home to, but Rosealba did not. It wasn’t as though she didn’t want them, but it was that she couldn’t remember who they were. She didn’t remember much, actually, not even her own true name. She had awoken at the foot of a rosebush, many Earth years before, and had struggled to remember anything at all about her past afterward. Everything felt… wrong, and without her memories, Rosealba couldn’t make peace within herself. One day, she hoped she could.
“How are sales, Rose? Find your Knight this evening?” called a woman with a slight Irish brogue.
“No, not tonight, Shannen.”
Shannen, a Canadian woman originally from Newfoundland, walked up to Rosealba’s stand. Shannen’s hair was still a brilliant red, belying her age of sixty some odd years, and was still a beautiful woman. Every night the market was open, she was there, buying fruits and vegetables, and visiting with Rosealba. Even though she knew that Rosealba was older than herself and her husband combined, she wanted to protect the dryad from whatever haunted her waking hours.
“He’ll come someday, I can feel it in me toes!” exclaimed Shannen.
“I hope so.”
“Hope’s what keeps love alive, Rose. You have to keep up your spirits, and if this lad loves you, he’ll find you.”
Shannen fell silent again, before pulling out a camp chair and sitting beside Rosealba.
“Tell me about him again, your Knight in Red.”
Rosealba brushed her hair back from her face and shut her eyes.
“I don’t remember much, you know, Shannen. But he’s handsome, his eyes are like deep green pools. He loves me, he loves me so much.”
“How d’ya know?” asked Shannen, as she always did.
“I don’t know how, but I know it’s true.”
“Go on, tell me more.”
“He’s kind, and gentle, and good. But he can be fearsome. His voice is deep and warm when he talks to me, it makes me feel safe. I wish I could remember more than eyes and voice but I can’t.”
Shannen put her arms around Rosealba’s shoulders.
“Don’t worry lass, he’ll come. And when he does, I’ll be there to smack him upside his stupid wooden head and ask him what in the blue blazes took him so long.”
“We dryads are patient. I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.”
Rosealba would wait… And she would wait until the change of the world, and longer, until he came for her.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)