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The Tale of Orual Jenkins

The Tale of Orual Jenkins

An allegory by Jacqueline Dotzenrod

Chapter One

Orual Jenkins is the first-born daughter of Leroy and Maria Jenkins. After briefly pursuing a career in adventuring, Leroy was forced into retirement by his adventuring comrades who were sick of his antics, often leading them all into situations leading to certain death.

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Orual Jenkins

Upon retirement from adventuring, he returned Beregost, his village of origin, and settled down with a dairy farmer’s daughter. He became a hard-working family man. Orual, the oldest, possessed a bold ferocity and curiosity for life. He liked to think she got it from him. However, she was always the child that gave him the most concern – he also saw his own sense of recklessness in her. His middle child, Istra, was a lithe and lovely, though cautious, child. She continued to be so into adulthood. His youngest was a boy – Bardia – who, grew into a tall and mighty man. He would have made a great fighter, but with his gentle nature, he chose to stay on the family farm to tend the land and livestock.

His children grew up just as an adventurer’s children should – imagining their own adventures. Sometimes they would prepare to battle in defense of their home against the destructive intrusion of a great bear. Other times the imagined threat would come from nature herself, as they would strategize survival plans should she rage mercilessly against them. On occasion, Leroy would join in the game, wrestling with the three of them all at once. When they were small, he could pin all three helplessly to the ground. They would giggle and squeal in delight as he tickled them into fits of unstoppable laughter. Though barely able to breathe in spite of themselves, they would gasp to their mother for aid.

Maria, his beloved wife and mother to his children, possessed an in-born skill in both healing and magic. Though never formally trained, she developed her talents as best she could of her own volition and self-education. In those moments when her children called for her aid in their hopeless battles against Leroy, with a wave of her hands and the proper intonation in her voice she had the power to force her target to release any hold.

In watching their play, Leroy often noticed Orual taking leadership of the game. While certainly not the strongest of the three, her strength lied in her calculatingly strategic mind. And though she had no innate healing ability, when one of her comrades was wounded in battle, Leroy had never seen a more attentive caretaker. Upon returning to safety, she stood vigilant at the side of her injured cohort ready to provide comfort – physical or otherwise – until their health was fully restored.

Though, her expression of affection did no solely seek in a single direction. Orual also harbored an innate craving for it. At the end of long days in the field as the quiet of evening settled in, her father would gather his children and read to them– sometimes he even sharing stories of his own adventures. Oral, especially, enjoyed these intimate, tender moments and would seek to be seated right at his side with his arm protectively wrapped around her.

Chapter Two

As she grew into womanhood, Leroy slowly lost the ability to relate to his daughter. It seemed to him in his memory she blossomed overnight from a lanky, toothy-grinned girl into a dazzling specimen of the feminine form. It no longer felt fitting for him to hold her close to him out of respect to her gender. However, she did not see the change so much in herself as she was part of it. She failed to grasp why her father was becoming increasingly distant with her and instead was left with the implication that something within herself was ugly and needed to be distanced from.

Both of her parents observed more and more frequently young men taking notice of her. Out at the market one morning, her mother noted a pair of boys a little older than Orual, stealing a second glance at her as they passed. Maria asked her daughter if she noticed it. She didn’t – and was surprised and somewhat embarrassed at her mother’s observation. With her innocence still intact, she didn’t see herself as a lust-worthy creature, capable of wielding the ability to bring warriors to their needs with a single glance. She still only saw herself as simply Orual – daughter to Leroy and Roase; older sister and protector to little Istra and Bardia.

But with time, she learned to embrace brandish that carnal power. She didn’t need to meet their eyes to know men were looking on her, she could feel them undressing her with their eyes. At first she felt an overwhelming sense of shame – as if her beauty were a curse. She did not ask for this power and she had no training in how to properly exercise it. So she learned through trial and error.

At sixteen, she had her first kiss at the lips of a farm boy with thick, strong shoulders and a swarthy grin. That first blush of love was cut short when he was called to the battlefields, and understanding he must follow the path he felt compelled to lead, she let him go without resistance. A handful of other men came in and out of her life, attempting to win her heart, but failing miserably.

The first time she fell in love, she did not expect it – one rarely does. A little bit older and able to take on quests of her own, it was there under a blanket of stars on a late-summer night love’s arrow struck her. While crouched in a field trying to avoid capture, she felt her comrade’s warm breath on her neck and felt his presence all around her. Without a conscious thought, she instinctively melted into it as she melted into his embrace.

Like a pair of young pups, they would wrestle and toss each other about. He was strong, but she was fast, agile and stealthy. Together, they spent many autumn nights chasing one another through the trees and fields. Orual reveled in the thrill of the chase – always a bit uncertain of who was the hunter and who was the hunted. Sprinting down a tree row, gaining distance between herself and her assailant, she would veer into the brush and lie in wait for him to pass so she could surprise him from behind. Though, on occasion, she would intentionally snap a twig beneath her feet, revealing her position and thus granting him the opportunity to pin her where she lay in wait. Though the world around them was fading into winter, they didn’t take notice as their attention was firmly placed upon one another.

Then winter came. As the formalities of their relationship fell into place, he began to feel stifled by it. One fateful evening as he kissed her upon departing, she looked into his eyes and the light of love she once saw shining through them was completely gone. From the look of sadness on her face, he could see she saw right through him. In an attempt to mask his lack of feeling, he lifted her up and playfully tossed her into a pile of snow – just as he once would playfully toss her into a pile of crisp autumn leaves. But instead of getting up and pouncing back at him, she laid there in the snow, feeling its cold creep through her coat and into her skin. As she watched her breath float up into the silent sky, she took in the light of the stars in their infinite vastness. All at once, she felt both comforted and melancholic by their perpetual ability to shine. Even knowing the light she perceived from those stars took light years to reflect upon her retinas and that in all reality the actual star may have gone out long ago, the light from it would radiate into eternity.

As so it would be for that first love. He was called to places she could not follow. Orual mourned for weeks. Weeks turned to months. Her family found her to be inconsolable. Her entire reality had shifted and she was left dizzyingly weightless in a heavy world. What she once thought was to be the love of a lifetime turned out to be a supernova. It was bright, brilliant and beautiful. But in a flash, it was gone.

Chapter Three

She came out of it slowly as new suitors came to call. A bard charmed her with his instrumental expertise and beguiling voice. A monk attracted her with his sense of piety and appreciation for the beauty of life. She fell quite hard for a cleric with whom she could share intimate discussions on the nature of life.   Orual wanted to keep him with her, but she could see his path lay not with her. Though she scarcely could acknowledge it in her youth, she possessed the gift of insight – a trait passed on from her mother.

So she turned him away – and he despised her for it.
To be continued…

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