In a certain village few have heard of, upon a landscape unlike any we have here, lived a woman whom the villagers still refuse to speak of to this day. Even to say her name is thought to bring ill luck. So, for the purposes of this story, I will only refer to her as the Woman.
Once upon a time there lived a young man and his lovely wife.
Amerigo was an honest and hardworking country gentleman. His servants were fond of their master and followed his orders with peace in their hearts, knowing that he cared as much for them as they did for him.
Amerigo was a rare sort of man.
He had made his fortune through hard-work and intelligence, and everything he owned he had earned with his own two hands. In those times, prosperity was almost always inherited or snatched away by the greedy and conniving. So for a young man to gain the respect of his village and live a fortunate life was truly an extraordinary achievement.
Amerigo and his wife had only one daughter.
She was a strange girl, but lively enough. The most curious things about her were her bright golden eyes, and her ravenous appetite for reading.
Each night, before he retired to bed, Amerigo would watch his daughter reading a new book. She was the most beautiful, splendid little creature and his fondest memories were of her.
Each summer he would take her with him into the fields and she would dance over the daisies, with her long brown hair flying out behind her. Her pale feet would bounce up from the grass in little bounds as she chased a butterfly from flower to flower. Then, without warning, she would stop and her golden eyes would flash. Sitting down where she was, her eyes would grow distant and fix on some invisible point on the horizon.
How magical she looked then.
With each year that passed she grew more beautiful, and yet she remained a strange sort of girl. There was always a distance to those golden eyes, and the more she saw of the world, the further she retreated into her beloved books.
Perhaps it was disappointment which conceived this coldness.
Or maybe she was just born strange.
As she grew into womanhood she gained command over the local language, as well as Greek, Latin, Arabic and French. She did not like to study with her tutor. Yet she devoured one book after another, reading Homer’s tales in their original tongue and Trovatori in the Occitan of northwest Italy.
Her intellect grew, and so did her beauty.
Rumour of her lovely golden eyes spread throughout the precinct. But still the young woman refused to venture off into the social scene and take an interest in those things which pious women should take an interest in.
She sat at home and read one book after another, after another.
Once her mother started voicing her concerns for her daughter, she’d pack up her books and disappear for entire nights without a word as to where she was going.
‘Amerigo, you must protect her. Tell her she must stay here – it’s not proper for her to stay out late in the evenings!’ she pleaded. ‘She will mar her reputation, and bring shame upon us. Please do something, husband. I’m begging you.’
But the moment he looked into his daughter’s golden eyes, he found himself powerless, and unable to refuse her anything.
Such was the power of her eyes.
Night after night she disappeared and didn’t return until dawn.
When her mother went through her bag as her daughter slept through the day, she only ever found books, and nothing else. No-one dared follow her when she left. And only one man eventually found her.