Chapter 3

The towns people had still much to finish up before the festival, but that would be saved for tomorrow. Tonight they will go into their homes, feast upon supper and sleep soundly as the wind still whispers untold secrets and stories to the silent ears of humans. The half moon held high in the sky, like a sleepy eye trying to keep open to view the ever changing ocean. Stars held in motion still yet burned as brightly as ever for the people to dream and wonder. Relaxation on the open waters was bliss for the sailors of the White Pearl, heading towards the distant land under the stars. So serene it all was on the waters, but something disturbed the midnight wind in town. A woman tip-toeing across the path, trying not to disturb the wake of others. Seeing the lighthouse shine down upon the black oceans always caught her imagination as a child, thinking that an angel was guiding all towards a safe haven. She had heard stories from many of a man with a gift of light, but all said that it would be best if he were to be locked up there forever. To that she asked why it would be so, and in return it was because of his kin that he must atone for them. What were his kin? Why must he be punished for their deeds? Those and other thoughts swirled in her head as she quietly made her way towards the lighthouse.

Knowing that this festival was going to be the best among others, the woman knew she had to find a greater partner than ever. The past ones were sailors and travelers that often gave her plain flowers and small gifts, but the man in the lighthouse could give her something more. Something sacred she dreamt most nights of, either is rare stone or object. Fiddling through the keys she stole from the mayor’s house during a church mass, the right key was found and slowly pushed into the lock on the lighthouse door. Being as silent as a falling leaf, the woman opened the door and crept inside, closing it behind her. What was before her was nothing that she expected from her dreams. Paintings of the outside from the view of the lighthouse, people that often rested under the trees nearby, and of the ships that sailed. She almost sneezed, but held it in. Not wanting to surprise the owner so soon, she did her best to be silent. Looking down at what would have caused a sneeze, she noticed wood chips on the floor. The chips seem to surround a small wooden figurine with a heart painted gold. The strings were cut, but the figurine looked as if it had life once.

Turning around towards the stairs, there was a chair with a letter on it. The wax that sealed the letter was crumbled, as was some of the letter itself. Did the man of the lighthouse know of great anger? Nay, she would not let such a thought enter her mind, for her partner had to be perfect. The woman saw the edge of the paper with the words

“May Mother and Father love us all,

Sebastian”

She never heard of this Sebastian before, a relative of the owner perhaps. Carefully placing each step, she made her way to the top. Upon the way there, she looked out from the small windows at the ocean. The tides caressed the surface of the calm beast, for it is known that the ocean had claimed many lives before the coming of the man of the lighthouse. And onwards she went, up and up to where another wooden door stood in her way. Seeing that there was no lock but just a handle, she slowly opened it. Creating enough space for her eyes to peek through first, she saw what could dazzle a queen of any land to give up her kingdom. Her mouth dropped open at the sight of the crystal, but it was only a small portion of it that she did realize to see. The door opened a bit as she pushed, and a clearer view of this Heavenly object shined all around the room.

Fixated on the crystal, the man did not take notice of anything else around him. His thoughts were on those of a past long ago, before the imprisonment within his home. His mother more so than his father, and his brothers. All seemed to disappear from the grip of reality and time, he had not heard from any of them since he became the owner of the lighthouse, except for one of his brothers. He had only received letters from him, telling stories of the outside world. Adventures, lost love, depression, and hope of a future for their kin. But it was not the right time to remember the past; he had his job to do. Letting go of the crystal, he turned around to view the ocean and stars. Resting his arms upon the empty window pane, his thoughts drifted off once more as if nothing else in the world mattered that moment.

The crystal still shined bright and strong, rotating magically in the air. Its wonder spelled the woman’s eyes as she moved around it, as silent as she could be. A tall manly figure came into her sights, with the crystal’s glow on his back. He was relaxed, enough for her to turn around and leave, but she could not. Not yet, for she was determined to find her perfect partner. Walking quietly towards the man, she tried to gather the right words to introduce herself but of all times she could not find them. Silence to hold her lips, and only the movement of her hand could reach him. So close she was to touching him, but he turned his head around in curiosity. This night, two different paths will intertwine and the man, a kin of chaos and wonder will know what love is.

His eyes widened in amazement and bewilderment as to find a woman in his home, his prison. Too startled to speak and give a normal greeting, he backed away. For so long it has been that anyone he met another human face to face, only from the view of the lighthouse has he seen them. Moving about from day to day, noises and silence from the towns’ people, but this was too different for him. He noticed that the woman is in the same state as well, in shock and awe of the confrontation. She stepped forward and in a soft voice said “Hello”, and placed her hand in front of her. Guessing that he had to do the same, the man tried his best to stand still and said “Hello”, but in a shy manner. He quickly turned his head towards the crystal, trying to straighten his thoughts and the situation. Still feeling that the man was shy of many words, the woman walked in front of him, trying to get herself in his view. Her smile made him feel a bit at ease, but worried of how she could have gotten inside.

“How did you-“the man was cut off by her response of “With a key. A very special key”. A special key? The man thought, but realized she meant the key to the lighthouse. Focusing his eyes to hers, he knew that this could lead somewhere dangerous, for she was an outsider. No one of his kin. The woman shifted her eyes towards the crystal with intent to question this marvel. “How is it that this shines like the stars above yet stays afloat?” As she placed her hands on the crystal, the man felt nervous. That question would lead to his gift and the background of his imprisonment. “It stays afloat because I say so, and shines because I do so” the man replied with one of his hands turned over so the woman can see his palms. First it was a normal hand, but gradually glowed. It got brighter and with an aura that mesmerized her, the woman placed her hand on his. Nothing happened at all, the glow did not transfer to her. Feeling a bit confused, she giggled at the moment.

“Why does my hand not shine as yours? Is this some sort of secret of all men who own lighthouses?” She said with a smile and questionable eyes. The man felt that she never knew of who he was, but she did know that he was the owner. The man had to be honest, there was not of any reason to fool her, “A secret? No, it’s a gift- from my parents.”

“Gift? Hmm. Men are good at keeping secrets, but we women know how to as well,” the girl amused, “Any proper gentleman would take to mind that he must treat a lady with all due courtesy and respect.”

Lost at the comment for a second, he smiled and said “A lady, I think, would be respectful of one’s home.” The woman blushed and eyes widened to realize of her fault. She turned her head towards the ocean view, pulling her arms together acting like she was cold. The noise of the ocean waves crashing against the cliff was distant, but sounded as if it called out to someone. It occurred to her imagination that the moon was watching over the two, awaiting the next page of her life. As she turned around to say something, she saw the man was next her, gazing out at the ocean.

“The black ocean is so beautiful under the moonlight. The stars dance around the moon, burning ever brightly with wonder,” the man said with calmness in his voice. He turned his head and fixed his gaze on her, trying to understand more of this mysterious woman, “What brings you here to my home?”

“Have you heard about the festival? Surely you must have seen the White Pearl from your view,” the woman replied with a smile. Every one in town have been preparing for about two months, getting the wood working done along with gifts the men had to either make or buy from the merchants that stop every so often in town. The towns’ men haggle over the deals and try to do some work for the merchants in order to earn a discount on the gifts. But was this common to someone who lives near the town but yet locked in a lighthouse? Truly the lighthouse man must have observed something! The woman thought.

Yet it was shown on the face of the man that he had no idea the customs that came with the festivals. He shrugged his shoulders saying “What of the festival? I only know of that there have been so many in the past years and that this White Pearl ship is of some importance.”

She stared at him with her mouth open, thinking, some importance? Those words were a sign that this man knew only of the lighthouse and not much else. It had a great deal of importance to her since she does not know of any other men that she would want during the festival. This was her chance to have this man, the only one that had some purity about him. So she relaxed herself and said “The one coming up is going to be the best since we are getting more guests and new types of wonders that will be aboard the White Pearl. And as you might not know, the women are to be greeted by either their husband or lover with gifts,” as she implied that the man was to be hers for that one night.

“But I am neither woman’s lover nor husband,” the man hesitated with curiosity, “and why would you be so interested in having me?” That question was answered with her finger pointing to his chest. “You are different from the rest. I can feel that you have something that no other man in the town has, but I don’t know what it is exactly. Maybe unlike other men, you are someone of purity and strong of heart?” She asked as she turned and walked towards the door. The woman expected him to say anything, but nothing came out of his mouth. She moved her head to see that he was looking out at the ocean, perhaps trying to think of what to say.

“Do you not know of purity? Are you not strong at heart?” She asked thinking that she might have offended him. “Nay my lady, I do know of purity and of the heart. Though it is the burden of my family that I must alone bear. I wish not to dwell on the past with others; it may bring back too much pain to me.” The man said with a heartfelt compassion in his voice, knowing that his kin were to remain unknown to the world. The woman simply stared at him and said “I do not know of your kin or what they have done to make you pay for their sin, but I do know I have found my perfect partner and wish for him to accompany me at the festival,” then she walked towards the door continuing “I will come back the night before, for your answer.” And left the man in silence once again.

Only the ocean could comfort him now, but the image of her still took hold of his heart and mind. Never has he seen her or any woman compared to her beauty from the view of his lighthouse. The smile and eyes gave him soothing thoughts, a fire was lit in his heart and it burned ever so brightly. New Years Eve came soon, and he had to be ready for her…

While this story is the property of Eric McVinney, the title and references from any Sonata Arctica song belongs to Sonata Arctica. Distribution to any unauthorized persons are prohibited.

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