Isolde: Blood-Rose Guardians (a supplementary novella)

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Isolde, exiled in a strange land, endures centuries alone, trapped at the will of an enemy she has no means to defeat until the Guardians enter her life. Has she found the path back to the Light?

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I always knew that love was the answer. The need and desire to be loved welled up from a place deep within my core; the love that I had to offer was bright and free and would willingly be given to the right man. As I left my childhood behind me, I wasn’t quite prepared for the journey of love, but I knew that a life without love was not a life at all, and so, perhaps blinded by the sweet promise of what could be, I leapt into the idea of love a long time before I understood the consequences of such blind faith.

My journey toward appreciating the intricacies and evolution of love would begin with William…I had thought my journey would end with him too, but that, like so many other things, was just not meant to be. A young Tristan had seemed a worthy replacement when William disappeared and, had he stayed the man I met, perhaps, even now, centuries later I would be by his side. Alas, he did not, or could not, and so I was compelled to leave by the man I, at that time, loved more than the idea of love itself.

In my youth, when I was innocent and sweet, I believed fully in the idea of love…and more so, the idea of true love; a connecting of souls and bodies that would transcend time. My heart ached to be filled with that kind of love. I daydreamed of it as I wandered on the beach, alone with my thoughts and an ocean of possibilities before me. Somewhere, out there in the vastness, across the ocean, there was a man whose heart would long for the same connection with my heart; a man, strong and kind, who would sweep me up in a loving embrace and adore me until the end of time. Love, it turned out, was a bit more treacherous than I had anticipated; it could be fickle and unkind…and worse, it could break your heart! As a young, free woman, I could not even imagine the pain of a broken heart; an impossible connection between emotion and body; a pain so severe that the chest ached, tears formed and cascaded from red eyes and the ability to rise up and face the day was completely compromised. It was as foreign to me as the hoards coming in from the North and taking our lands. I had no idea that something so wonderful could become a weapon, so toxic and volatile in nature that it could render someone useless; it could incapacitate even the greatest warriors…of course, that was until I had my own heart broken, and then I fully comprehended the power of love!

William broke my heart, through no fault of his own, but others…well, they did it on purpose. I understand that it may not have initially been their intention, to use love as a weapon; to ensnare and enthrall me, to derail and debilitate me, but that was the end result nevertheless. I was so young and easily beguiled; easily broken, by the effects of love.

I was sixteen when my journey with love began – the perfect age, my father felt, to be married off; to make me his responsibility no longer, but the responsibility of another man. The events that followed were mere coincidence, the ides had not been heeded but I don’t think, that even if they had, that that would have changed anything. I think a decision made in a far off land, by a man who had no knowledge or care of my life – a man who had asked his soldiers to perform a simple duty, changed my world forever. For a while, I blamed my father, but it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t William’s fault either and yet he was the cause of my pain. Some level of responsibility lies with Tristan, some lies on my own head - for my actions too, had consequences, but the bulk of it, the one who has the most blood on his hands was Marcus! He alone is responsible for the majority of the pain and heartache that I have ever endured in my life time.

That I am still here to tell my tale, millennia later, is Tristan’s doing…for it was he who transformed me. He challenged my faith, he challenged my simplistic ideals and he converted me from a weakling princess, to a vampire queen! There have been three significant men in my life; one of them my husband and two of them named Tristan. William took me from servitude with my father king to the highest honours in a new home; to this day I miss him and his gentle hands, but he is merely a memory of a far distant time and place when things were simple and love was enough. Then there was the first Tristan, he stole my heart at a time when it was not my right to give it to another man. His jealousies were fuelled by his indiscretions against my rightful husband and his own loving partner. He tortured my mind, body and soul. I was a prisoner for his demented idea of love; trapped in subjugation, a slave to his desires and quest for power. I am thankful for the gift he gave me – immortality, and the lessons I learned to protect my heart under his insidious tutelage, but I was not sad when his time ended.

The second Tristan loved me body and soul for a time – and it was a wonderful time, but then he took me and locked me away from the world too. For a long while, being the object of the second Tristan’s affections was enough to sustain me, but eventually all good things must come to an end and the remaining goodness and purity of my heart was lost in the void of despair that occupied his complicated world. I no longer became his carefully guarded treasure, but more so his prisoner and prostitute. He went from a man who had loved me with such sweet surrender, to a beast who would follow the orders of a madman with no concern for how those orders would impact others. He broke my spirit and I eventually succumbed to the burden of a half-life; one where I was imprisoned without any hope for happiness. My life, it seemed, was not to be one filled with romance as love had promised, but rather one filled with sorrow and regret for the people I had hurt on my journey to love; for the husband I had betrayed, for the children never born, for the friends who had aged and died in my immortal presence.

It was a fitting punishment that I found myself lost in the darkness. My barren heart and tortured soul had ensured that I was not fit to walk in the Light, and so when the opportunity presented itself, that I might leave the prison Tristan had kept me in, I was afraid to do so. I had been exiled and left alone to survive in a strange world...afraid and forgotten by friends and family, lost and disoriented in an environment filled with strange creatures, but I did survive and even, at times, I thrived.

The night he finally died, stars lit the sky and they burned so brightly I had to shield my eyes from their dazzling light. The magic veil that had kept me imprisoned in the inky black of an eternal night these centuries past was lifted, and I knew he was gone forever. Ribbons of coloured light, green and pink, danced across the night sky and my heart celebrated their dance; the awakening of an ancient magic and the tug of destiny pulling me back into the game.

I felt the loss of him deep within my blood, and rejoiced in the freedom offered by that feeling. I had loved him; regrettably, I always would for he had bound me to him with magic in the dark ages when it was powerful and right to do so, and I had accordingly loved him with my whole heart as was my place at that time in history. Then one night, the oppressive power of that bond lifted and I knew that I did not have to love him any longer; that I was no longer trapped in my tower; that I could leave and hope to live again…except that I was too scared to do any such thing!

Time has not been my friend. An immortal life in a mortal realm has its disadvantages. I have lost more friends than I ever thought I might have given where my life began. I have watched the world change and I have been invisible within that changing world. Time has allowed the world to overlook me and pass me by; it has ensured that I repeatedly find myself alone needing to start again and again; reinventing myself every generation…but, in this time, something new dawns on the horizon. Their coming is inevitable, for the wilds hold the secrets of another realm and they are the guardians of those secrets and that other realm. I might not yet be able to leave this island at the bottom of the world, but I don’t think I will need to - because there is so much about to happen here in my Tasmanian home. My name is Isölde, once loved wife, twice betrayed lover, apothecary, explorer and exile. This, small rocky outcrop just above the Southern Ocean, is my island home and now begins my journey towards freedom and the Light. I have much to offer and many gifts to give. I could be a valuable asset or thorn in one’s side. I will offer my services to them when they arrive, for they are my ticket on the train that leads back to brightness of day and the most sacred Light!

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