Arno had been accused. He knew in his heart he was not guilty, but how would he go explain it to a Vilnen judge. How would he explain that no, he did not hurt society, and that he just performed some harmless love magic. How to explain that to someone who’s firmly convinced magic doesn’t exist? And even worse, that people believing in magic are delusional. And so heavy-hearted, Arno walks toward his fate. He could turn around and go back home, flee to Falnë. But there he would smother in his anguishes, in his sense of unfairness, in his anger, in his despair, in his hopelessness. And worse of all, he would have to confront his entire family who thinks him a delusional liar who’s ridiculing their name abroad. No, returning is not an option, not before clearing himself, or being convicted. Accused of being a wizard. Accusing of trying to perform magic that disrupted others. Another. And so, Arno walks toward his fate.
Will Syrtanyelle meet him in front of Verdan’s temple, or will armed men arrest him? Arno wants to have faith in his love, in his magic. Arno has faith today.
But the night before, his anguishes had turned red as he watched the bleeding sunset that he took as an ill-omen of strife. He imagined the scene of his arrest, his trial and his conviction. And worst of all, the confrontation with his beloved turned his worst enemy. In a foreign land of which he doesn’t speak the language. Arno then cursed in his heart the day he had decided to listen to the advice of the mayor of his village turned city, Qiroko, who over the years had also become his stepfather. Why in the hell had he travelled to Vilnen? Why did he ever decide to move to such an inhospitable land where people are treated harshly, especially foreigners who dabble with magic. But, had he not gone to Vilnen, Arno would not have met Syrtanyelle. And that thought alone makes all sufferings worth. Without Syrtanyelle, in Falnë, his life would be entirely meaningless, in a heaven slowly turned into a hell. With no one to sing the songs of his heart, or perhaps a few people who appreciate them without truly understanding them. In Syrtanyelle’s eyes Arno had seen an understanding for his songs and his soul like he never hoped to get from anyone. And he had heard her sing a few times even, the most beautiful songs Arno had ever heard. Songs blending the wisdom of Melroel and Falnë that Syrtanyelle had made up. Songs that stirred the innermost feelings of Arno. But, why, why must this love become such a hell, such a nightmare, when it could be so sweet and so beautiful. Why must he now be in the position of an accused man in a foreign country. Why had Syrtanyelle denounced him for his illegal use of magic. Her, so sensitive to his words, to his songs, how could she do that to him. And even worse, why did she inform all his family and his friends about it, making him pass for a crazy delusional people. Everyone knows magic doesn’t exist, even in Falnë. Of course in Arno’s homeland these things are better tolerated, especially if you are old and original – but not in a promising young man destined to a brilliant career. Arno’s family had sent him to Vilnen to become an engineer and a city planner, not to grow into a wizard that ends up in a Vilnen jail. Mayor Qiroko had been the first to call Arno and tell him to immediately return to Falnë, and jump in the first airplane. His mother Mounyë had talked to him and cried over the phone and prayed and begged him to listen to his stepfather and leave. His father, Bilbo had called him too, speaking with him more quietly but praying him not to do anything crazy, and return home the soonest. In their voices Arno had felt the panic, a panic even worse than the one he felt in his heart. He had felt disappointment, sadness, fear. He was not the one his stepfather wished him to be, but still, they loved him and were so, so afraid to lose him. Arno suddenly felt the anguish in his heart never to see his homeland and his loved ones again. Never to speak to Syrtanyelle again. And he felt his heart shattering under the pain.
But his inner voice told him to go forward, to meet his destiny open-armed, to trust Syrtanyelle, and so Arno does as he walks toward the temple. He arrives there, and there is no one for him. For a while, he waits, and in his heart he feels Syrtanyelle closer than ever. For a moment, he feels she could almost come. But she doesn’t. As soon as Arno starts walking away, a police car pass him and two police men go down for him asking his name. Arno Tinë. You are under arrest, accused of illegal use of love magic. The time to pack his little notebook where he was scribbling something, and the shock of the cold steel on his wrists as the manacles clap. And Arno is already in the police car. The police men do not understand Falnë, and Arno only speaks a limited Vilnent, and that is just enough to make him guess at what the policemen ask from him. The policemen look at him with diffidence, as if he could potentially constitute a great threat, and Arno would laugh in his heart of their attitude if he were not in pain. In what nightmarish situation have I placed myself, he wonders. The threats of Syrtanyelle were all too real, even more real than he had thought. He had hoped she would come back to her heart at the end, seeing his courage, his loyalty to his love, but she didn’t. At the same time, Arno felt relieved to be arrested, because after all he had come to have this explanation. He couldn’t accept unfair accusations without defending himself. He could not turn his back to his love, even if she seemed to do so herself.
The police casern. They take all Arno’s belongings, even his jacket and his scarf, ask him dozens of questions about his origins, his precedents, without giving him much information about what will happen. Once he only has his clothes on him, they send him in a tiny cold cell, with a hard bed, a privy and a water fountain to drink or wash his hand right above the privy. Two in one. Practical. There’s a tiny table that is fixed on a wall, but everything is so cold Arno soon sits in the bed, covering himself with the blanket he has been given, shivering there of cold and fear. He’s waiting for something, but he doesn’t know what exactly. Why, why, why is all this happening. And yet, it is somehow necessary he feels. There must be an explanation, a confrontation, a reconciliation. But it’s so painful and scary. And his family, his poor family that will learn that he’s been arrested. Will mayor Qiroko jump in an airplane and come to Verdan, Arno wonders. He has asked the police to call Anaheriyë, his stepsister, who’s also one of his best friends, one of the only one who knows all the story with Syrtanyelle. But now even Anaheriyë is telling Arno he is going too far. How dare he announce he would travel to Verdan again to bring back his beloved home, and instead of bringing her back being arrested there for a shameful accusation. What need did he have to announce it to his entire family, and hurt them in this way? Make them feel betrayed. Indeed, what need, Arno wonders, his thoughts in shamble, his feelings entirely upset. Couldn’t he just remain in his village admiring the ocean and listening to the whisper of the river, dreaming of beautiful stories, singing them even, without living them. How to make the police understand him, a poet, a storyteller, a love wizard, when they have no sensitivity at all for his arts, and apply the same square angle rules to every supposed crime. Is it a crime to love and believe in it? Why is Syrtanyelle doing all that to me, Arno wonders, feeling the deepest betrayal coming from his beloved. And yet he can’t be angry with her. He knows she has her reasons. This emotional blockage she has that makes her so scared to embrace her depths, to embrace entirely her love for him.
They come to interrogate him the next morning. Arno has the right to a lawyer and a translator. They ask him hundreds of questions. He tries to explain the story from his point of view. Yes, Syrtanyelle has declared many times her love for him. She has told him she could love no other like she loves him. She has told him that one day they would be reunited. She has sang of how Arno helped her retrieve her emotions and her colours, of how after looking into Arno’s eyes she had wept and felt the walls around her heart breaking. She had promised Arno all sorts of wonders, and she was now making him be very miserable. True, she had pushed him away, even called the police one year before. But she had done it without any explanation, in a very cruel way. Arno had slept outside, in the cold, and in fear. But he still preferred to sleep outside than sleep trapped in a cell. And since then he had written her a lot, shared his stories and his songs with her, and she has never told him to stop, and even shared two songs with him, asking him to find her in the emptiness she left behind, and to become the second her. Her songs had guided him all along, and now she was accusing him again, and doing it much more harshly. She had asked him to try perform magic on her. She had asked him to continue this quest no matter what, and trust it. And now she had sent a complain file to the police. True, she could have incriminated him much more. She had shared some stories that were completely innocuous, a few ones that were a bit more compromising, but she barely mentioned all the magical experiments he did, and all the things the police would not understand at all. Arno also saw some relatives and friends of Syrtanyelle he had tried writing to had also added her accusations to hers, and he felt bit in his heart. Why couldn’t they understand he loved her so dearly, and wasn’t her enemy? And how could he make understand that to the police? He tried to, with some success, but the final decision was to be taken by someone in a higher hierarchical position.
Arno returned in his cell, and there he spent many, many hours. He started to feel a suffocating despair, after the police informed him he could be held many days, the time for the investigation to unravel, and he prayed to the almighty to deliver him from this place of madness, or put an end to his days, put an end to his sufferings. He prayed for his family and for Syrtanyelle, to get him out from this place of broken minds where the time doesn’t pass, and where the only entertainment comes from the rattle of the large key opening his door when the gaoler came to ask him more questions, or gave him some warm or freezing bread with cheese, and a tea or a coffee from the window cut in the door. He tried to ask for chalks to draw on the door, but they replied they didn’t have any. And so he remained motionless in his bed, trying to warm himself under the blanket. He imagined what would happen if there were a trial, seeing Syrtanyelle again after so long and talking to her.
No that’s not entirely true, as he had seen Syrtanyelle one day before as she biked along the streets of Verdan with one of her boy friend. Arno had seen her at the last second as she passed him, not recognizing her at first, as he walked with his gaze on the floor. He had not dared to make a sign or call her, out of fear she would call the police, and also out of fear of her. It was a suffering for him to see her pretending everything was alright chatting and laughing merrily, when he was in such a great pain. Why did she behave suchlike. And being with a boy added to the feeling of betrayal Arno felt. As if not only she didn’t care about him, but perhaps even went out with someone else.
She did it exactly because she knew you were in town, she knew you risked to meet one another, and she was scared, a part of Arno thought. The fear you feel in your heart is also hers. But that’s not alright, Arno thought. I should be capable of calling her name, of speaking up my heart, of smiling to her, of kissing her. But at that thought, a fear gripped him tightly.
Arno’s thoughts returned to the trial, the confrontation with Syrtanyelle’s lawyer, with her father, with her friends. How everyone would accuse him in a cold or hateful manner. Ignoring the truth of things. How unfair and cruel it all is. And his poor parents, Bilbo and Mounyë in such pain, and probably his grandmother too, and his stepfather and his stepsister. Despaired, thinking they have lost him forever. Ashamed perhaps.
But suddenly, Syrtanyelle’s true memory returned to Arno. Her beautiful face. Her deep words of wisdom and love. And he started feeling the love magic in his body. He started feeling her heart calling him. Warmth in his chest, in his arms. And he started to feel her tears. Was she shedding them, or was Arno living her sadness again. He couldn’t tell for sure. But he felt the Syrtanyelle in him cried for him, and wanted to deliver him from the prison, wished to say the truth. Arno started becoming expectant.
But nothing happened, and a few hours later they told him he was strictly forbidden to write or contact Syrtanyelle and all her closed ones, and would have to leave Verdan and not return, until his trial. They told him what he had done was grave, and they made him feel very bad about himself.
Then, boredom returned. One part of Arno still trusted, while the other despaired. He still didn’t know when he would get out. Another night in prison would be such a torture. Fortunately, late in the evening they told him he was free to go, but absolutely needed to stop it with his love magic, otherwise he’d be accused of much more serious crimes.
Many months pass, until the trial. Each time, Arno has some expectations Syrtanyelle is going to reveal the truth, save him, come to him, but she never does. He continues to write and sing, especially when he is hopeful, and he knows that somehow, somewhere Syrtanyelle’s heart hears each of his words, each of his silences, and rejoices of each colour he shares with her. But she is absent from the world, invisible, and at other times it is her cold face Arno remembers, and he falls into hopelessness wondering how many months, years, it will take before he is reunited with her. And he feels trapped in a situation that is very painful for him, accused of crimes he has not committed, as he only acted out of the deepest love, with a trial to block his vision, and the perspective of further a condemnation.
Arno knows deep down he must trust life, he must trust Syrtanyelle, and when his trust will be whole things will go toward the best. But when will that happen? He already trusted and trusted Syrtanyelle, and each time she has betrayed him, with grave consequences this time. Can he trust her again? Can he risk even more to lose his peace of heart? And yet, does he have the option really? His undying love burns him, and when he has no hopes he would prefer one hundred times to be dead than live this suffering. It is so, so, so painful and hopeless. He feels his heart empty, freezing.
Arno arrives at his trial. Syrtanyelle is there too. He doesn’t dare to look into her eyes out of fear of being accused to continue with his love magic and being convicted to prison. Prison would be a nightmare. He silently sits close to his lawyer who’s kind-hearted and looks at the room as it fills with relatives and friends of Syrtanyelle. Arno has decided not to defend himself. He has asked his lawyer to let the accusers speak, and then simply state he did everything out of love and Syrtanyelle encouraged him, and her behaviour never made it clear she didn’t want to receive songs from him any longer. At the contrary she had written him to find her in the emptiness she had left, a very intimate text where she told him she had shown him the entire world except herself.
And then, Arno would ask at the end the permission to kiss Syrtanyelle. Would the judge be shocked and condemn him for that? Or would Syrtanyelle say yes and kiss him, as Arno showed himself entirely vulnerable and naked in his love. After all, she still hid her emotions because Arno was still afraid of his body, his physical love for her, especially when she is surrounded with people and her face harsh and cold.
And thus the trial begins, the lawyer of Syrtanyelle making a long discourse of how badly Arno has disturbed her, and her not saying anything. Arno tries to look in her direction but she doesn’t look at him. Then her father and one of her friends add a few words of accusation, and Arno’s lawyer explains the story from her point of view.
Arno tried to focus on his emotions, on his love. He tries to find peace inside of him. And now it is his turn. Can I kiss you Syrtanyelle, a farewell kiss, as we will never speak to one another again. Syrtanyelle looks in her direction, and Arno can see the tears in her eyes. They are hidden from others but he can see them. He slowly rises. Stop this immediately! the judge shouts.
Arno continues to look at Syrtanyelle’s face, and he sees the struggle between her emotions and her fears. He slowly walks toward her. And, at the moment when someone is about to stop Arno, she rises from her seat too. Arno comes closer, as silence and surprise hush the room. He comes closer and kiss Syrtanyelle on her cheek, then even closer and he takes her head between his hands and kiss her on her lips. He feels her cheeks moistening, and he feels she kisses him back and she hugs him with her arms. For a moment, he is completely elsewhere, in Syrtanyelle, in the realm of their dreams. He feels their soul and their heart merging, her face becomes the true blazing mirror of his. They kiss and kiss and kiss and cannot part. Someone comes and pulls Arno away. I love him, Syrtanyelle says very quietly. As no one hears, she repeats it more firmly. I love him. Everyone looks with surprise and shock at her. I love him. Why did you lie to us cries her father. I was afraid of this love, but now I’m not any longer, I’m not. Arno is the love of my life. And Arno and Syrtanyelle embrace again before the stupefied court. They had come to condemn someone, to see some blood spilled, and they didn’t at all expect anything like that. The mother of Syrtanyelle comes closer. Why, why, did you lie to us my sweetheart? Why did you accuse him? Syrtanyelle bursts into tears. It scared me a lot, this love, this intensity. It hurt me. I was afraid he would betray me… like you did.