Once upon a time, beyond the maroon mountains and the seven seas, in the land of the plains, lived a young man by the name of Axel. He was in love with a young woman by the name of Cybil. But their love was star-crossed for the people declared Cybil a witch, as they had once seen her talking to the animals and being kind to them.
Now the people of the country believed the animals were lowly and had no souls. They were troubled that Cybil would tell their ways of thinking to the birds and the beasts. So the elders of the country decided to burn her at the stake.
But before they could take her prisoner, the sparrows came to Cybil. Every morning she fed them in her garden with grains. They told her of the evil plans of the elders. Axel was playing the lyre by her side welcoming the new day.
“Let us go away, dear lady, from this wicked place,” said Axel. “There must be lands beyond the maroon mountains where my Cybil will not come to harm.”
Though Cybil was sad at the thought of leaving her animal friends, she agreed. For she feared the wrath of the elders. They fled together before the first light of dawn. The fading moon and a few twinkling stars were their only witnesses.
When it was morning, the news that Cybil had escaped with Axel reached the elders, driving them mad with fury. They sent their finest horsemen after the two runaways determined to get Cybil back and also burn Axel at the stake with her.
Unfortunately, for the star-crossed lovers, the feet of horses were quicker than the feet of men. And since blinkers covered their eyes, the horses were unaware that they were in pursuit of their good friend Lady Cybil. Otherwise, they would have definitely slowed down. Soon the riders were in sight of the fleeing couple.
At the same time, an ogre emerged from the tall thick bushes by the roadside. And all of a sudden, he confronted Cybil and Axel. The lovers found themselves stranded between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The ogre, who was taller than the tallest tree and bigger than the biggest rock, glared down at them.
“Wherefore do thou two fleest, dearies? Though thou art small, I shall have thee for my dinner with delight. I have not eaten for three long nights,” said the ogre.
“O mighty giant, do you not know the flesh of lovers tastes not good?” said Axel, who was quick with words.
“Why so?” asked the ogre, scratching his head.
“It is because the lovers have already drained each other’s flesh of their sweetness,” said Axel, while Cybil suppressed a laugh.
“Ah yes! Thou sayest the fact of the matter. Lovers’ meat in truth tastes bland,” said the ogre, a big smile on his face as though he had found great wisdom.
“O mighty giant, it must be your lucky day. Look yonder there and rejoice. You are in for a good feast,” said Axel, pointing his right hand towards the men in pursuit who were drawing near.
“I thank thee, folks. Be gone now and have a good day!”
So saying, the ogre rushed down the road towards the approaching riders, drooling at the prospect of the banquet of men before him.
Thus it was the star-crossed lovers escaped the vile plans of the elders and made their way far from the country. By and by, they climbed the maroon mountains that were forever blooming with maroon, moist and massive flowers. And among these fabulous blossoms lived a dwarf who had lived so long that he had grown wonderful and wise.
“Wherefore art thou fleeing, my dearies?” asked the dwarf.
“In truth, we know not where we go. We go where our love guides us,” said Axel, holding Cybil close to him.
“Do not worry, my dearies. I know much of the miseries and the struggles of Love. A thousand centuries have passed by, and men still make war on Love and do their evil best to slay her. I know of a place where Love has a chance to flourish. Go down these maroon mountains and sail beyond the seven seas. There at the end of the world, they say is a place so advanced that even the things can talk and move. There in that faraway land, I hope that thy Love will find a corner to blossom without coming to harm.”
“We thank you much for your guidance,” said Axel and Cybil in one voice, and bade the dwarf goodbye.
And when they came down the maroon mountains, they stood by the shores of the seven seas. By and by, they found a ship that was ready to launch forth into the mighty waters. But their journey was to be ill-fated as a stygian storm descended on them, and covered their ship in pitch-black darkness. The wind was feral and savage. It broke the masts and tore the sails, wrecking the ship, and drowning everyone in the bottomless abyss of the seven seas.
When the ghastly storm had passed by, Axel found himself on a little island with Cybil nowhere in sight. All around him were the blue waters of the endless ocean. The waves were playing with each other as they raced to the shore. Axel sat facing the boundless horizon with his eyes so full of tears that he could not see the serene vastness before him. For three days and three nights, Axel sat on the shore, his eyes filled with tears, unable to see anything.
On the fourth day, a turtle came by. He was limping from the festering wound on his foot. When he saw Axel, he said, “Thou needest not thy feet anymore, for thou hath nowhere to walk. If thou givest me thy feet, I shall give thee my word that thy feetless legs will take thee where thy soul wants to go.”
When Axel heard the turtle speak such words, he was greatly happy and he gave his feet to the limping turtle.
After the turtle was gone, a raven came by and sat before him. The raven was starving and had nothing to eat for many days.
“Thou hath no need for eyes no more. For what good is thy sight when thou canst no longer gaze on thy beloved?” said the raven.
When Axel heard the raven’s words, he was enraged. “Thou liest, blackest of all black ravens!”
“Thou knowest the truth more than me. Thy hope seemeth blacker than mine wings.”
At that, Axel was sad and wept again.
“If thou givest thine eyes to appease my hunger, I give thee my word that thy blindness shall lead thee to thy soul’s desire,” said the raven.
When he heard that, Axel was greatly happy and he offered his eyes to the raven so that the hungry bird could feast on them.
After the raven flew away, a dolphin appeared in the waters. He was crying for a vicious net encircled his body. And it held him in a grip from which there was no escape.
“Thy heart is full of love, but thou needest it no more. If thou givest thy heart to me, I would no longer be captive. For in truth, as the saying goes, love hast the power to set us free,” said the dolphin.
“What thou sayest is true, but thou liest!” said Axel, his voice trembling with sorrow.
“If thou givest thy heart to set me free, I give thee my word that I shall take thee to the place so advanced that even the things can talk and move,” said the dolphin.
When he heard that, Axel was greatly happy. A flicker of hope rose in his soul that Cybil might have somehow survived. That she had made her way to the land where they were headed before the fateful storm drove them apart. So he gave his heart that was full of love to the captive dolphin, and at once the dolphin was set free. As free as on the day he was born. And true to his word, the dolphin carried Axel on his back across the seven seas to the faraway land he had promised to take him.
So it was that Axel landed on the other side of the seven seas but without Cybil beside him, and without feet, without eyes, and without heart. As he limped along in his blindness, the turtle and the raven led him on as they had promised. Before long, he was standing by the roadside where even the things were moving and talking. But what he did not know yet, but was soon to know, was that the moving and talking things were taxis with the power to take him wherever he wanted to go.
The absence of Cybil had made Axel dejected. A taxi stopped by and bade him get in. The driver asked, “Where to, sir?”
“To the cemetery, dear friend, to the cemetery! I have heard there is great peace in the grave,” said Axel, tears streaming down his pale cheeks.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when the place they want to go is not the place they need to go. That moment had come in Axel’s life. The taxi took him not to a cemetery, but to a sanctuary. To a garden that was newly built by the people of the land for a goddess who had appeared in their realms. It so happened that the people found Cybil lying on the shores of the seven seas, her body frozen stiff and cold as ice. When they saw her delicate form, the translucent beauty of her face and the radiance that emanated from her rigid frost-like figure, they declared her a goddess who had come down from the heavens. They built her a temple and placed her in the middle of a grove where the birds and the beasts sang her praises night and day.
The taxi took Abel to this very sanctuary where Cybil lay. When Axel entered the garden, he became aware of a familiar presence. Though he could not yet make out who it was, the turtle and the raven who had given him their word, led Axel to the place where Cybil lay still and lifeless as a statue in her frosty splendor.
Though Axel was without heart, he recognized his beloved Cybil when he came before her, and he lay down and wept to realize that she was no more. And though he had no eyes, there were more tears in them than in the eyes of those that can see. And though he had no feet, the desire to meet his beloved was more in them than in the feet of those that can walk. And though he had no heart, there was more love in him than a human heart could ever hold. Such was Axel’s mighty yearning for his beloved Cybil.
When the birds and the beasts that sang Cybil’s praises night and day saw the man without feet, eyes or heart, so full of anguish, they gathered for a council and resolved the two lovers shall be together once more. And so the turtle walked in and gave back his feet to Axel, and the raven flew in and gave back his eyes to Axel, and the dolphin swam in and gave back his heart to Axel.
And lo! As soon as Axel was whole again, the frosty figure of Cybil became soft and warm. And in her translucent face were the colors of dusk and dawn, and the smile of life kissed her body once more.
Thus it was the star-crossed lovers crossed the maroon mountains, and after a stormy separation, were united once more, in a faraway land on the other side of the seven seas, where they lived happily ever after.
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