Journal Entry #6
Little Izolda could run faster than all her seven sisters. She could leap and turn and soar through sun-it valleys, leaving them far behind. The creatures of the land loved her dearly. They raced with her to please her and joined in her childish games. But her sisters were jealous and hated her.
Each morning Izolda shrunk to a fingers breadth above the water’s surface and gazed at the world below. “When I am grown and allowed to enter the world of the water,” she told her sisters, “I will swim with the Sea, and the fish will race with me!” “Silly little know-nothing!” a sister mocked her. “Humans drop below the surface only when the Sea is far away! For the Lord of the Sea is a terrible rogue and our father’s enemy.” The cared no a bit for her safety, but feared that the fish would admire her.
One day the sisters devised a plan. They would take their beloved shells to the Great Beast and ask for a spell to lock Izolda on the land. No creature of the sea would admire her! But the sisters were greedy and mean, and among the shells that the brought the Beast, five of the largest were false. Trembling before the Beasts ugliness, they made their strange request. His answer was a warning “What you ask for is powerful magic. To undo such a spell would take half the shells of all the beaches in all the land.” Yet he took the shells set before him, not noticing those that were false, and so the spell was laid.
To their father, King of the Wild, the sisters said, “Izolda, dear Father, is not as a daughter of yours should be. She is wild beyond measure and boasts she will swim with the Sea, your enemy…” “The Sea?” roared the King, the light of battle in his eye. He reached for his spear and sword. “But all is well,” they soothed, and told him what they had done. For a time he sat in thought. “A terrible spell,” he said at last. “Yet she must be kept from the Sea- that rogue, that lawless rascal!” His thought filled with schemes for battle, and the plight of his youngest daughter was already half-forgotten.
The day came when Izolda was of age to enter the world of water. But the water’s surface was of glass that sealed her out of the sea. She appealed to her sisters to help her. They told her of the Beast’s spell. “Our father thought is wise to protect you.” Said a cunning, elder sister. In dismay, Izolda hurled herself against the surface of the sea until, to her delight, a finger broke through! For a moment she felt the moving threads of water below, and triumph filled her. With all her skills, and practice, she could dive clean through the surface! But when she drew back her hand, the finger had gone!
She hurried to the Beast’s cave and confronted him. He must right a terrible wrong and undo the spell he had laid on her! “And what have you brought me to outshine these?” He held up her sisters shells. She bit her lip and frowned. The Beast eyed her coolly. This small maid showed no fear of him. Her boldness might amuse him if he could keep her here. “Serve me for half a year, and I will see what magic might be done to free you,” was his offer. Izolda had little choice, and with a heavy heart, she stayed to serve him.
Each day, Izolda cleaned and tidied the cave. Then she would set on the Beast himself. Scolding, she scrubbed him without mercy until his prickly skin was a soft as a newborn baby’s. By the end of the fourth week his heart ached with love for her; by the end of the tenth, he would have given all his powers to win her. But his ugliness made love a mockery and he spoke no word of it. Near the end of Izolda’s stay, a messenger brought them news. “The King of the Wild and the Lord of the Sea were joined in battle.” Without pause for thought, Izolda left the cave and ran to the turbulent water, for nothing enthralled her more than a storm-tossed sea.
The waves leapt and snatched at the land and the great gusts hammered the sea. Izolda leapt and dashed along the walls of glass. She hoped to glimpse the Lord of the Sea himself- he who could take any form that he chose, an electrifying eel, a diving dolphin. Then the Lord of the Sea caught sight of the maid, and in that moment loved her. Where he had swam as a great dolphin, there now floated a handsome young man. He filled Izolda’s vision and, with just a look, he won her heart.
From his whales the Lord of the Sea learnt all he could of Izolda, for they knew all the gossip of the land. Spell or not, he would meet her, and he instructed his whales how to help. In the morning when the sea was calm, Izolda heard a sweet and haunting call. A large whale was beckoning her. In the hope that the Lord of the Sea himself was calling, Izolda followed the whale, all thought of the Beast vanished from her mind. She was led to a pool in a cave by the shore. The Sea came as a wave and knelt, now as the handsome young man, beside the pool to gaze at her. For seven days they came to the pool to gaze at each other in love and wonder.
On the eighth day the Sea said to Izolda, “As you cannot enter my kingdom, tonight when the land is sleeping, I will lay aside my powers and slip into your Father’s kingdom”. That night only the moon saw the Sea rise into the world of his enemy. Izolda took him to the highest mountain and they ran through the forests and valleys. But the alien kingdom stole his strength and he lay on her arm like a man stuck in the driest desert. It was clear if he lingered here, the Lord of the Sea would die, yet he had not the strength nor the will to go.
Izolda hurried with him to the waves of the shore, who laid him in the ocean as the sea lightened. The water brought to him his strength, and the Lord of the Sea swam into his kingdom. Until dusk he searched for her; but, far away, Izolda wept. For the love for the Sea was a hopeless love. Then she remembered the Beast.
Again she went to his cave, and asked him to remove the spell once she had served the days she owed him. He answered with the offer of his wealth and powers if she would be his wife. Promptly she refused him. The Beast swelled with anger. “Do you think I have not heard of your madness- your foolish love? Very well! I have raised the price of your freedom! Give me half the shells of all the beaches of the land and the spell will be undone.” Izolda answered sadly, “I would be old or dead before I could pay your price. No, when the Sea stirs in the morning I will break through the it’s surface. Then, if just for an instant, I will be with all I love.” “Go then! Let love be your saving magic!” the Beast thundered after her.
Left alone, the Beast lost his anger, and his heart ached. Izolda’s love for the Sea was no more foolish that his love for a small maid. And with skill and determination she might break through the sea’s surface, and then she would die. Yet to reverse the spell he must use half the shells of the land- all in his store- and work throughout the night. He called for his helpers and the task began. Half the shells of the land went into the brew, and five of the largest shells were false. And along with the true and the false, the Beast poured all the love of his heart.
At sunrise the undoing spell was done. Exhausted, the Beast rose through the waters he had never known. He must see if the spell would work for, strangely, its pearly sheen had turned as dull as pebbles. Yet it was hardly possible that some of his shells were false. Izolda surged to and fro above the seas surface to prepare for her dive and to alert the fish. For they would bring the Sea. The Beast watched her jumped to make the downward surge. Fear took hold of him. He sensed the spell would fail. She fell, swift and straight, and broke clean into the water and into the reach of the Sea. Then Izolda melted into the waves. The undoing spell had failed-she was gone! The sea and the land were still.
But then the space where the maid had been, glimmered and shone. It bloomed a pinkish-silver with scales. And in the instant, the Sea changed form. Now, where the Sea and the maid had met, two salmon’s circled. “Swim with me Izolda,” one called to the other. “I will show you the spread of your kingdom and the depths where we live below the land.” The two fish darted off and then were gone.
There had indeed been magic done that worked! The Great Beast laughed and wept as he ran away through the warm, bright air. Small animals that had feared him, now nuzzled at his side. His body moved with a dancer’s grace that filled him with surprised delight. The hair along his arms now were as soft as a feather. He saw that he was beautiful. His laughter grew until the sea rocked and bloomed. A Beast’s spell may change the waves to glass, but love is a stranger and more powerful magic!