A Fairy Tale
In a time, not long ago, there lived the fairest maiden in all the land; her name was Asilo. Her parents had locked her in the highest tower so that no one could take her away; her only companions were the ravens that guarded the grounds from outside her barred window and the sentinels that came to her bastille every night to force her to drink a poison every night so her soul would remain bound within her prison.
One lonesome day, Asilo sat upon her ledge and gazed across the lands that she knew she would never walk across. A figure appeared in the distance and trotted to right beneath her window. It was a knight on a black mare.
"I come in search of riches and adventure; might you know where I may find either?" the knight called up. Even at her height, Asilo saw he had the most beautiful, dark eyes she'd ever seen. They glimmered with deviance and kindness in tandem.
"I know of neither, as I've set not a foot outside these walls for many years to experience such fortuity. I've only these walls to greet me in the morning and kindle me to sleep at night, with these bars keeping me from anything more. Would you be so gracious as to share a story of a quest with me, if you wish to?"
Without comment, he told her his tales of brawls with dragons, riddles of wizards, sleeping under the stars after dreary nights spent in caves, an oasis in the starving desert only to wander the mountains with his horse beyond, and the beauty of a single flower amidst a field of a lost battle. The maiden was filled with awe, but imbrued with envy.
"How I long so dearly to go on such an adventures as you do."
"Then shall you may," the knight raised his hand and a bird flew to it, to which he tied a small mirror to its foot. The bird flew the small treasure up to her.
"Where ever I may be, if you gaze within the looking glass, you shall see what I see. My eyes will be yours," with those words, he smiled up at her one last time, and rode away.
With the nameless knight now departed, Asilo found comfort within his gift. With her eyes to the speculum, she met kings, traded treasures for treasures, stowed away upon sailing ships, and saw creatures she thought only existed in legend. The poison she had to drink every morning may have trapped her soul, but it could not dampen it any longer.
Weeks went by and finally the knight returned to her. She told him how magnificent his charity was to her.
"Though I see all you do, I desire to feel what you touch... the silks, the furs, the grass, the dirt. If even unorthodox, they would all be things my hands will never again grace," the maiden explained.
"Then I've another gift for you," he tied a pair of gloves to another bird this time. "Put these on and you shall feel what I feel."
Asilo swiftly put the gloves on, but before every one of her fingers was within the embrace, the knight was riding off into the distance again. Like before, the next few weeks possessed Asilo with the knight's vision and embrace. She beheld all of his escapades and felt every rock he climbed, every creature he stroked, the exotic silks and furs from the east, the fuzz from foreign fruits, and even the rough and unshaven skin upon his chin... and just as before, he returned.
Over and over, Asilo thanked the mysterious knight with more than her heart could offer. He smiled kindly in return. Without her even making another request, the knight sent a seashell upon the bird this time. It was speckled blue and green, and spiraled perfectly to a crowned peak. Asilo looked down at him quizzically.
"Hold the shell up to your ear, and my will be yours," and he was off again, just like that. Their meetings became shorter and shorter, though Asilo felt the time was made up greatly, as she was, in some sense, with him the whole time.
With her gifts, the girl now saw, felt, and heard all that he did. The sounds she heard within the conch were glorious beyond her comprehensible reasoning. She heard the wind through the trees, the crunch of leaves in the season's turn, haunting siren's melodies that her knight did not sway to be lost to. She heard the sorrow heard in a whale's surfacing, cries of the dying, cries of the born, the laughter of children, the battle cries, and the most beautiful reveries imaginable echoing through a hollow church. The sounds made her smile and made her sad with this beauty she now knew.
The knight came back. The joy Asilo had on her face was more than enough to tell him how grateful she was.
"I've another gift for you, if you wish," the knight offered.
"I would be overjoyed, but I am burdened with the guilt of having nothing for you in return."
"You have given me more than you could know," he tied a crimson rose to the small bird's leg this time. "Breathe this in, and the scents that I follow, so shall you," and she did.
The airs of foods of the world filled Asilo's nostrils as she buried her face into the cool, satin petals; the aromas of perfumes and spices of trade markets were spectacular. She smelled the air before a rainstorm and the sweet and entrancing air of lilacs, and even the stench of the knight's unwashed horse, which she doted all the same.
Everything she'd never experienced had been given to her. She saw the world that she longed so dearly to be a part of. She felt it; heard it; breathed it in. The knight did not return for a long while after that. But she needn't wonder where he was, for she always knew, even if she hadn't a name for the land.
Months had passed before she saw him again, this time right below her window.
"I am sorry that I've nothing else to give you," he said apologetically.
"But you have. Take me away from this place," Asilo begged. "I am all of your senses upon your quests; let me be a part of them in my own flesh."
"Only you can release your soul from this place; I can only wait for you," he told her cryptically. "I will be here for you by tomorrow's sunset if you should find your freedom."
"Wait, I don't understand..." but the knight was gone. Asilo sat there feeling forsaken, bewildered at how she was suppose to escape from this wretched tomb. As dusk settled on the horizon, logic began to formulate, and she thought she found a way. Her liberation could come from further imprisoning herself.