The Fisher King's Daughter
Dedicated to: Heather and Alisa, the fire and water to my wind.
I'll tell you a story. It's a tale I have never told anyone in my life, but now, as I feel the dark wave of peace approaching, I shall tell it.
I was only perhaps eight at the time when we lived in the big house by the sea. It was a grand house, all hobbled and cobbled together consisting of many parts that had been added on later than the original construction. The effect was something of a homemade doll house. As if the wind had brought all the pieces together and simply dumped them onto the cliff overlooking the sea. But we loved the house all the same. It was only my father and I and a few servants with their children. My father was ancient even then and I remember thinking he must have been alive since the sea was poured onto the earth. He had one destroyed leg, gnarled, stubby fingers and hands, thick black hair that was quickly graying, and unearthly green eyes that could see straight into your soul, but I loved him all the same. He was my father and I knew that he would give the world to me if he could. Together we lived in the house by the sea.
Now, I loved the water more than anything save my father and every morning I went to the natural stone pier and let the waves crash over me. Sometimes father joined me, although he sat some distance back, away from where the waves hit so he could fish. "You look half mermaid!" he would tell me when I turned to back to grin at him after a particularly huge wave had crashed over me.
I would laugh as I pulled the seaweeds from my raven hair and spit out the salt on my tongue. "No sir!" I would crow. "You are no King Triton! And I am your daughter."
"No, indeed I am not." he would concede. "Perhaps I stole you from him?"
"Never, I am your daughter through and through!"
He would laugh, but the laughter would not quite reach his eyes. "So you are." he would reply. "So you are."
One night I found myself unable to sleep. It was a beautiful night, so I snuck out of the house and decided to go for a walk down the beach. I threw on my pale blue robe and stole down to the shore. As I walked down my sandy path I saw a figure up ahead. It was a girl a bit older than myself wearing all white and weeping silently. "Girl!" I called out above the dull crash of the waves. "Girl are you alright?"
The girl looked up at me then. Her pale hair blowing into her tear-stained face that was illuminated in a silver glow not unlike the moon. "Are you the daughter of the man who fishes?" she asked.
"Yes, I am." I replied proudly. "My father and I live in the house atop the cliff."
"No." the girl replied sadly. "You are very wrong. You don't not live there. It lives where you are."
"What are you talking about?" I begged.
"The waves." the girl replied. "I'm speaking of the waves."
She stepped into the surf. Sea water caught the edge of her white gown and the water stained traveled up it like a wild fire. "You and I are not very different." she cried. "You are more than the salt in the sea and the bit of skin on your bones."
With a great cry she was consumed by the next wave. I neither moved nor spoke for I thought the girl to be only a dream. I stared at the rolling water for some time, but saw no white-clad body; no floating bit of pale hair. I returned to my room and slept the entire night.
For the next week I awoke during the night at the same time and went down to the shore. The girl in white was always there. Always she told me to remember, always she claimed I was not my father's daughter. And always, she referred to the entire world as being there because I was. As if I were the great night sky and the world was built on top of me. Every night she would vanish into the waves and every night, only after speaking with her, would I finally be able to sleep. It went on for a week. One night I woke later than usual. It was nearly dawn and I feared I had missed my conversation with the girl in white. Quickly, without grabbing my robe, I flew down the stairs and out into the night wearing only my thin, white night clothes. I arrived at the top of the hill that overlooked the entire length of shore and saw the girl in white. I breathed a sigh of relief. I had not missed conversing with her just yet. But the relief quickly turned to confusion when I saw my father hobbling toward her. "What have you told her?" I could hear him yell even over the pounding waves.
"Nothing more than she already knows."
"Why have you left your tower? Why do you subject yourself to this nightly horror? I know your curse, girl."
"Because the one I love seeks her and is not worthy of her. However, a worthy man will soon arrive. You will not live to see him because for so long you cheated your fate."
"You gave up your life so the one you love will stay with you? You've damned yourself. You cannot have him!"
The girl in white nodded. "I have damned myself, true. I will never see the one I love again. But I have done this to protect your mistake; your misuse of the ancient powers that so few of us yet believe in. You turned your greed into human form, you've wasted your body through anxiousness and deceit. I protect what the Water protects. I protect what you have stolen from her and what she yearns to care for. You, King of Old Ways, King of Damned Powers that have been long Silenced, King of Wounds, King of Age, King of our most Precious and Ancient Secret…you Fisher King, have come to the end of your life and with Her will, I have come to take it."
I watched in silent horror as the girl in white took my father's hand and with a great tug, pulled him into the sea. A great wave rose from nowhere and with a hoarse cry, my father was swallowed by the sea. Only then did I react. I screamed as I ran down the sandy path. My feet had wings that rose above the dunes and carried me swiftly to the water's edge. "Why have you taken him? What has my father done?"
A pale head turned to regard me. "You are the Fisher King's prize. The thing he has guarded for many ages of mortals. Once your hands were innocently stained with blood more precious than any in living things in any lifetime. In Ireland you brought defeated armies to their feet. Men have fought and died for you; been driven mad by you. You have made ordinary men into kings so great to behold and likewise have brought the same kings to utter ruin. The man you know as father grew greedy. He longed to keep you for himself and knew that many still search for you. So he disguised you and brought you here."
"What are you going on about?" I demanded.
But the girl in white seemed not to hear me. "With water and sand he crafted you and with Arts that have long been Forgotten he drew you spirit and breath. And then he hid you here. Long have we searched for you and finally we have found you. The Lady demanded his death."
"Who are you?"
The girl inclined her head regally. "I am the seer in the tower. I see all but have never left. Not even to touch the one I love. But I leave now for you and have damned myself for it. Having completed my task, I must now die."
"Who is this lady you speak of? I don't understand any of what you have told me."
"The Lady is dark and we are but her servants. I have served her my entire life as has the woman following you through the waves. The woman who is cursed to the water."
"Why are you cursed?"
"Because we serve Her."
"I still don't understand." I pleaded.
The girl smiled and my heart broke. "What are you? Holder of Blood? Re-Animator of life? Bringer of War and Death? Promise of Life?"
She shook her head lightly as if not even she really knew. "I have seen all and yet I have seen so very little." the girl sounded both confused and resigned.
Out of the waves came a small boat just big enough for the girl in white to lie in. The boat was old, but lined in brocades and silks. On the bow were red letters that read, "Mirrors".
The girl in white laid down upon the blankets and sighed. "Tell him that I only wished to see him once."
"Who?" I asked.
But the boat was gone.
I sat on the shore for some time. I was convinced I was dreaming, but the sun was coming up and it was always, always night in my dreams. The servants found me, motionless and nearly frozen through. "What are you doing out here in your night clothes, my lady? You have a guest waiting for you and you're hardly fit to be seen! Where is your father?"
But I could not respond. "Lady? Lady Sangreal?"
"My father is dead. Drowned. He caught a large fish that dragged him out to sea." I finally replied.
And it was the truth.
For many ages of this world I have walked. I have been possessed by many and sought by all. I have seen the rise and fall of power and the immense temptations of sin. And I have been the cause of it all. But I feel it all fading now. After so many endless nights of watching the sea and wishing it would take me as well, I am finally struck with the desire to sleep. Somewhere far, far away. Somewhere I will never awaken. Somewhere I shall never be found.
But I find I must tell my story. I have been idolized as an object for so very long; worshiped as Sangreal and no one ever seems to remember the thing that has always been most important to me. I am still the Fisher King's daughter through and through.