Sunday, February 1, 2015

[Belated] Character Encounter—Surprise Date ~Ciaran~

For February 2014, Kendra decided our CE for the month would be one of our characters taking us authors on a surprise date. And who better to take myself on a date than my “imaginary beau”? ;-)
Unfortunately, I had pretty much decided to take an extended hiatus from blogging by then, so I wasn’t able to get it written in time for the link-up. 

*EDIT* Kendra said I could link-up with this year's CE, even though it's a year late. Thank you, Dahling!!! /EDIT
However, Ciaran has been gently prodding me to “write the Birthday Story” off and on, and since this story—which came into my head on my birthday—was absolutely perfect for the CE, by God’s grace I’ve finally gotten it ready to share with my Gentle Readers. Since it was written over the course of a year after my birthday, it has changed a little in some of its details, but the essentials are still there. I do hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it (although I’ve had to cut it way short, as it was turning into a long-winded novel-wannabe)!
* * *

     In the wee hours of my birthday morning, I opened my eyes and was immediately wide awake. It happens now and then, and it’s usually very annoying because it steals my energy for the day ahead. However, this time I wasn’t worried about it, since we were planning to spend a laid-back day at home after church anyway. I lay there, just resting, thinking over the fun things Mom and I had planned to do, looking forward to my special day.
     My bedroom door opened a crack, and a soothing white light—with just the faintest hint of silvery blue—shone through, illuminating the room. The door opened a little further, and I was able to distinguish the shape of a beautifully wrought lantern as the source of the light, held by a tall man with a familiar freckled face framed in neatly-kept fiery curls. His grass-green eyes twinkled merrily as he beamed an infectious Donald O’Connor smile at me.
     “Ciaran,” I whispered, smiling back at him.
     “Hullo, lass,” he replied. “Many Happy Returns.”
      “Thanks,” I answered, propping myself up on one elbow.
     Ciaran entered the room and, laying the lantern on my bureau, closed the door softly behind him. The soft glow emanating from the graceful silver lantern reflected off the gold buckles on his brown leather shoes and the gold buttons on his long, goldenrod-yellow waistcoat and pea-green jacket, both of which had a scaled-down Georgian feel. He had even donned a pair of creamy ivory stockings and buff-colored knee-breeches. His ivory shirt boasted several tiny covered buttons down the front, disappearing into his waistcoat—but no stock or wrist-frills—and I saw now that he carried a wide-brimmed brown felt hat in his other hand.
     “And what are you all dressed up for, laddie buck?” I quipped.
     Ciaran smiled mysteriously and held out his free hand. “Come wi’ me, lass,” he said, “an’ ye’ll be findin’ out.”
     “Come where?” I asked.
     “I’ve a surprise for ye.”
     “But—but I’m in my pajamas!” I protested, pulling the covers around myself.
     “Never ye mind, lass,” he beamed. “That’s been provided for. Ye see, I’ve got ye a wee gift.” He walked over to my closet, pulled out a dress and brought it over to me. A dress the color of amethyst, overlaid with chiffon embroidered with airy, self-colored rose-vines. For trim, it boasted strips of purple fabric embroidered with green vines bearing clusters of roses and violets, adorning the Empire waist, the sides of the bodice—framing the gathered neckline of the chiffon layer—and at the seam between the long fitted lower sleeves and the small puffed upper sleeves.
     “My—my birthday dress!” I gasped. “But…I had to leave it plain; there wasn’t time to embroider the chiffon layer. Shoot, I didn’t have time even to cut out the chiffon layer!
     “No’ in the Real World, lass,” he explained, “but in your Imagination, your gown is as ye intended it to be.”
     He opened the room-door again, and a tall and beautiful lady entered. The lantern’s light glistened in her shining white hair, which reached her slender waist in soft ripples and had the faintest hint of blue. She wore a flowing white robe with a sky-blue undergown, and the gown’s long angel-sleeves were slit up the center, the slit bridged with strings of sparkling beads to match those sprinkled here and there on her gown. Her fair skin had a sort of moonlight glow to it—a glow that seemed to come from within—and her eyes were the color of cobalt blue glass. The silver filigree circlet adorning her brow sported little poppy-shaped flowers wrought of the same white-silver metal, enameled with blue in the centers, and tiny gemstones in varying shades of blue.
     “Lady Muriel!” I gasped.
     The Elven lady approached and, rather than saluting me in Elf-fashion, she curtsied deeply and gracefully. “Many Happy Returns of the day, Anka,” she said in a voice like silver bells. “I am come to help you prepare for the celebration.”
     “Celebration?” I echoed.
     “Ye’ll be findin’ that out soon enow’, lass,” Ciaran chuckled. “Now if ye ladies’ll excuse me….” He slipped back out the door again.
     “Always the gentleman,” I smiled, throwing off the covers.
     Lady Müriel helped me to dress, handing me a pair of purple stockings and matching cotton-velvet slippers—again, products of my Imagination, since I haven’t been able to secure their Real World counterparts. A line from the Anne Books flashed through my head as I surveyed my appearance critically in the full-length mirror: “You look almost pretty in that gown!”
     “Oh, but you are pretty, Anka,” Lady Müriel assured me. She smiled sheepishly as I shot her a bit of a frown. “Forgive me; I did not intend to invade your privacy, but the thought was so…loud, one might say…I could not help but perceive it.”
     I lifted one corner of my mouth. “Forgiven. And thanks. I guess I can be”—I shrugged—“pretty enough, with a little effort.” I lowered my brows and pursed my lips at the reflection of my plastic- and-foam-encased hair. “But I daresay I’ll look a lot better once I lose these curlers, wot?”
     “Allow me, Anka,” Lady Müriel offered. She began carefully sliding my hair off the objects in question, and they slipped out easily and smoothly, leaving my hair in perfect ringlets. Next, she gently combed her fingers through the ringlets, separating them into softer, more natural-looking curls, and lace-braided the hair in front of my ears, joining the two braids at the back of my head into one. The finishing touch was to remove the curlers from the hair at my temples. I couldn’t hide my astonishment when they, too, slid off the rollers as smoothly as the rest of my hair and formed perfect, airy little corkscrews.
     “Wow, you’re good,” I remarked.
     “Your hair is beautiful to work with, Anka,” Lady Müriel replied.
     “Er—thanks, but I think you deserve some of the credit. Usually, when I do my own hair like this, it sticks to the curlers—the little tendrils especially—and the ends come out a bit frizzy.”
     “But they are not ‘frizzy’ now,” she pointed out.
     “Must be that Elf-magic of yours.”
     Lady Müriel looked confused. “It could not be, Anka; I do not have my wand.”
     I smiled patiently at her. “You’re more skilled with magic arts than you give yourself credit for, my lady. One day, you’ll find out you don’t need your wand to focus your powers.”
     She nodded, but didn’t reply to my statement. “I believe you are ready for the festivities, Anka,” she said. “I shall leave you with your faithful escort.” Then she raised her left hand, palm outwards, with the middle finger leaning forward slightly and the thumb at an acute angle from the hand—the salute that Elven ladies give each other. “Elyon be with you, Anka.”
     I mirrored her salute. “And also with you, my lady,” I replied.
     Lady Müriel left via the door, and Ciaran re-entered at nearly the same time, smiling approvingly at my attire.
     “Och, but here’s a bonny lass,” he beamed. “Purple suits ye, an’ that ye may tie to—but don’t be forgettin’ your Ankúlen, lass.”
     I lifted one corner of my mouth. “Which one? I seem to have multiple Ankúlens, you know.”
     “The one best suited to your character, lass.”
     I smiled, knowing exactly which one he meant—the one I called “Woodland Faerie.” In the days preceding my birthday, I had put together a dainty chain with silver leafy vines flanked by amethyst beads, a pewter rose-shaped Y-connector in the center, and an amethyst teardrop hanging from it. I had intended to put oval cabochons on either side of the vines, instead of the beads. But the settings I’d bought for the cabochons hadnt worked out like I’d hoped, and there wasn’t time to order anything else before my birthday. As it was, there had been just barely time to get my basic dress and the necklace just wearable by the end of January.
     I wasn’t too surprised, then, when I opened my jewelry case and found “Woodland Faerie” set with the four-stone-flanked vine-chain, all ready to wear with my beautiful embroidered gown. Again, that was how I imagined it. Smiling with satisfaction, I held my hair out of the way while Ciaran fastened the necklace about my neck, and looped my arm through his when he offered it. He retrieved the Faerie-lantern and opened the door once more, and together we stepped through it and left my bedroom behind.
     Imagine my surprise, my utter amazement, when, instead of finding the tiny hallway and the bathroom doorway before us, I saw a vast room with an arched vaulted ceiling, supported with beautifully carved ashwood beams, gleaming like solid moonlight in the light of three immense chandeliers. These were wrought of shining silver filigree with an almost pearlescent sheen, shaped like what appeared to be tulip-blossoms, with leafy branches spread out from the base, hung with glittering crystals and sporting what looked like candle holders at the ends, except that the light in them was not that of candles. The floor and the walls were of white marble inlaid with green in narrow bands, bordered with thin lines of gold, and a magnificent marble staircase led to a gallery where musicians played. The music that floated down through the room had a soothing—almost otherworldly—quality to it, yet at the same time refreshing and exciting. Then it registered in my brain that a great crowd filled the room—people and animals and mythical Creatures of all descriptions—folk I recognized more or less instantly.
     I shot Ciaran an open-mouthed smile as I realized where we were. “We’re in Ýdära!” I whispered excitedly, squeezing his arm. “This has to be the Palace of the Faerie-king in Arboria, and all those folk out there”—waving my free hand in their direction—“are my Characters. That’s why you told me to wear my Ankúlen—so we could go In!”
     Just then, an Elven servant took Ciaran’s hat and the lantern, curtsying to me and calling me “Anka,” as had Lady Müriel, before hurrying away.
     “Come, lass,” Ciaran whispered, giving my hand a pat, “’tis time ye were meetin’ your party guests.”
     The first to approach us was Nácil Vítuódhrán, son of Othniel King of the Faeire-folk of Arboira—none other than the Elven-king himself. He placed his right fist on the left side of his chest and bowed from the waist, saying, “Many Happy Returns of the Day, Anka. Welcome to my humble Palace. It is the hope of all who gather here that you will be pleased with the celebration we have prepared for you.”
     I felt I ought to curtsy and attempted to do so…and while I daresay even an Elven-child of three or four would probably have been more graceful, at least I kept my balance.
     “Your Majesty—and all of you—I am…well, I’m quite overwhelmed—and honored! Thank you all so much.”
     “On behalf of all the folk of Ýdära, the Mirach System, the Land Behind the Door, the World of Men and Onória, I say, ‘You are most welcome.’ And now—to the banquet!”
     A cheer arose from the crowd—particularly among my teenagers and Brynikins.*
     In the center of the room, in line with the elegantly-carved thrones of the Faerie-king and –queen, stood several long tables put end-to-end and covered with snowy linen cloths embroidered with more tulip-flower motifs in gold and silver thread. The tables were laden with steaming serving dishes of manacotti, chicken piccata, and tortellini in pesto. There was a huge green salad tossed in a simple vinaigrette, baskets of toasty, cheesy garlic bread; ruby-red cranberry juice and blood-orange Italian soda in cut-glass pitchers frosty from being chilled. There were cut-glass bowls of olives and pickled vegetables, platters of thinly-sliced salami, a variety of cheeses, as well as the most beautiful filled chocolates I’d ever seen. All foods I enjoy—some of my absolute favorite dishes, in fact.
     “You’ve been busy, laddie buck,” I quipped to Ciaran as we filled our plates.
     He assumed an innocent expression. “Oh, I have, have I? Be ye certain-sure ’twas meself arranged all this, then?”
     “Of course, you,” I countered, ruffling his hair as he leaned over to spear some pickled wax-beans. “Of all my Characters, you’re the one who knows me best. How else could Victor—I mean King Nácil—have my favorite foods at his banquet?”
     Ciaran’s only response was a sly grin and a wink.
     We mingled with the crowd, greeting and being greeted by various and sundry folk whose stories I have yet to write, but that are already more or less formed in my head—and growing all the time! But it would take far too long to describe them or recount all the wonderful conversations we had together. Suffice it to say, it was a time I’ll never forget.

* * *

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,


* Brynikins = My term for Halflings or Hobbits in Ýdära. My mother’s suggestion, based on the Welsh word bryn (“hill”) and the Old English manikin (“little man”).


  1. Oh this is beautiful and ... a bit similar to the Encounter I'm planning to endure myself later this week (hopefully I'll get my post up!).

    A note on the Ankulens (and I like the way you put a line over the u, it amuses me), yes, some Anka and Anku (or collectively Ank' as my sister is calling them) can change their appearance (myself included). They're usually Ank' that were originally given necklaces. So I liked that touch where you picked out your Ankulen.

    Happy Birthday to you (belated if that may be the case), and many happy returns of the day!

    1. Aw, thanks! Looking forward to your post. :-)

      Re: Ankúlens: Erm, yes, I never have been able to decide what my Ankúlen actually is--several pieces in my jewelry-box are quite inspiring, but I can't seem to settle on just one Ankúlen. I have a little story in the works explaining my theory as to why...if you'll pardon me for running with your idea (for which I will give you due credit when/if I ever get around to posting it). *Halo*


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