Story of Tandrik and Estamil of the Bridges
Story of Tandrik and Estamil of the Bridges is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
The Story of Tandrik and Estamil of the Bridges
Tanscribed by Ceisya Lerenit,
Priestess of Aeia and Keeper of the Tomes in River's Rest's Cleric Guild
Originally told by a Rester by the name of Prata Aghaidh, this tale has survived many long years of being passed down, storyteller to storyteller. The first time I heard the story, it was told by Thaumatous Balklavar on the sandy point of River's Rest. I later heard it told again by Karly D'Lorieal, who originally heard it told by Prata himself. I, and many like myself, have dropped many a green tourmaline on that sandy shore, hoping for a glimpse of the tragic lovers of River's Rest. So, without further ado, I give you the tale of Tandrik and Estamil of the Bridges (as told by many skilled storytellers before me).
Many, many years ago, there was a soldier named Tandrik from a small village outside of Tamzyrr. A fair distance south and east of River's Rest, Tamzyrr is the capital of the Empire, and there Tandrik grew to manhood. Once he was of age, he joined the Empress's forces, not because he was particularly interested in becoming a soldier or because he possessed any sort of martial prowress, but rather to help his family, as they were of meager means. Being in the service of the Empress, his training included Her theories on other races and how humans held a superior position to them all. It was no particular passion of Tandrik's, but rather it seemed to him the way of the world. The sun rose, the rains fell, crops grew, and humans were superior.
Being that Tandrik had no particular acuity for warfare, he found himself in a squadron of engineers, as he did have some measure of proficiency in that area. He never was in a position to raise a sword against an enemy. His detachment's duty was to maintain the north road out of Tamzyrr, and during one routine inspection of this route, he and his squadron found themselves camped along the banks of the Tempest River. This is the same river that cradles our fair town of River's Rest.
Unbeknownst to the squad leader, heavy rains had fallen earlier in the day to the north and east of Tamzyrr, swelling the river and causing severe flooding. During the night, the overflow of the river reached the small camp, and the entire squad was swept into the river! Many were killed, pulled to a watery grave beneath the currents or dashed upon the sharp rocks as they were thrown down river. None but a single man survived, and that was Tandrik.
The river carried him far and deposited him eventually on the small sandspit known now as the Point in River's Rest. One of his legs was broken, his body weak, and his spirit sapped. It is very likely he would have died upon the sands had he not been found by a local, an elven lass named Estamil. She was tall and strong, attractive, though no great beauty, and she was called by locals "Estamil of the Bridges" as she had a passion and a talent for designing and building bridges. An odd occupation for an elf, some thought, however Estamil was very skilled.
Having found the battered human on the sand, Estamil took him to her parents' home, and there, she helped him back to health. Though, truth be told, she had little skill in nursing nor any interest in the discipline . . . until she found Tandrik. Regardless of her ability or lack thereof in the healing arts, she had little time for such things, as she was in the middle of her biggest project to date: the drawbridge into River's Rest. It was a tremendous undertaking, one that was essential to the safety of the village, and Estamil was very aware of that fact.
Nonetheless, every morning she rose early to see to Tandrik's needs, and then she was off to the bridge. At midday, they would take lunch together and talk, then Estamil was off to the bridge again until the sun had set. In the evenings after her work was completed, she would sit with Tandrik and tell him of the bridge -- any difficulties she might be having and how important it was to the town's safety. Always, Tandrik listened with rapt attention, taken in by Estamil's enthusiasm. He, however, spoke little of himself. Though the injuries to his body were unmistakable, he was harboring damage to his spirit as well.
Having been raised to believe that all races were inferior to humans, Tandrik was torn between his training and his certain knowledge that there was nothing at all inferior about Estamil. By and by, he became ashamed of his former beliefs, and he realized that he had been a fool, which is difficult for a male (of any race) to admit. He wanted to repay her kindness, but injured as he was, he had only one thing to offer: his knowledge of engineering. So, he offered to advise her on the construction of her bridge. Estamil was pleased by his interest, and she recognized it as a sign of his spirit beginning to heal, and so arranged to have him carried in a chair down to the bridge site.
Upon seeing the bridge however, Tandrik had to admit that what Estamil had constructed was far more sophisticated than anything he could have designed himself. And so, he asked her to teach him of bridge building. Gladly, she agreed. Now, as you might imagine, things began to happen (as things tend to) as the pair carried on together. Eventually, Tandrik's feelings of gratitude and respect changed to love. Being male and human and therefore singularly foolish, Tandrik tried to hide his feelings. Estamil, being female and elven and therefore singularly foolish, openly declared hers.
In the fullness of time, the pair became lovers and were eventually engaged. Their marriage date was set two weeks after the completion of the drawbridge. In a small place such as River's Rest is, and always has been, rumors of the injured soldier and the builder of bridges soon swept throughout the area. Shopkeepers smiled at them, children teased them, and parents approved.
At this point in the story, I should remark that this took place a very long time ago, and though the time of the Council of Mages had passed, their legacy was not forgotten. Powerful magic was still at play in and around the Citadel. A necromancer, whose name has been forgotten in the folds of time, still studied his craft in the area. His area of interest was in the extension of life, longevity, of matching strong hearts with strong bodies in the hopes of finding the secret of long life. He believed that a superior heart could keep an inferior body alive far beyond the normal span of years. He had toyed with transplanting the hearts of orcs in the bodies of roltons and the hearts of krolvin in the bodies of kobolds. While the roltons and kobolds did tend to live longer than expected, they perished eventually along with the orcs and krolvin who "donated" their hearts.
Such ugly magics, but the necromancer was convinced that he needed to broaden his scope. There must be stronger hearts to be found. After all, was his aim not beneficent? Longer life? Surely it was so. On a turn of chance, one evening he overheard his scullery maid and housekeeper discussing the story of the two unlikely souls whose love had overcome injury and prejudice. These hearts, he mused, must be strong indeed, stronger than anything he could scavenge from the wilds. As his maid proclaimed, "Nothing can keep two such great hearts apart," his plan was sealed.
Meanwhile, the drawbridge was completed, Tandrik's leg had begun to knit, and he had regained a measure of his strength. Being River's Rest, a massive party was thrown to commemorate the opening of the drawbridge. Some things, after all, never change. At the celebration, Tandrik was able to dance long into the night with Estamil on his arm. It was only in the wee hours of the morning that the pair made their way back to Estamil's parents' house, and it was there on the doorstep that he presented her with a gift.
As Estamil had toiled away on the bridge, Tandrik had forged of silver a pair of matching rings, each set with a green tourmaline. It is true that green tourmaline is no expensive gem, but it was the color of Estamil's eyes, and thus was perfect. As he presented the gift to his love, the pair were overtaken by a group of the necromancer's minions. Well, all but one of the minions. I'm told a singular fellow was making quite a spectacle of himself at the party, with a small keg under one arm and an empty pickle pot on his head as a helm. But, I digress.
As the necromancer's minions attacked, the lovers were easily overcome and nothing was left of them but a pair of silver rings on Estamil's parents' doorstep. Spirited away to a dark keep, Tandrik and Estamil were kept under sedation for the remainder of the night, and in the morning, the necromancer began his heinous work. He surgically removed their hearts and deposited them in crystalline chest filled with magical fluid to keep the hearts alive. The chest was secured with eight locks to ensure the fluid did not evaporate and put in safekeeping until suitable hosts could be found. Now, it could not be said that the necromancer was without a heart of his own. He didn't think of himself as cruel and was, in reality, a bit of a romantic. After all, his endeavors were intended to extend the course of life, and Tandrik and Estamil were merely . . . collateral damage.
Being such a bleeding heart for the story of the lovers, the necromancer stayed long into the night, working to retrieve the hearts of a troll (which he placed into Estamil's chest) and a krolvin (which he placed into Tandrik's chest). At least this way, he reasoned, the pair would have a chance to live a short time yet together, provided they were given proper care. Satisfied with his work, the necromancer retired to his bed chamber and slept the sleep of the righteous. Meanwhile, however, his servants had become aware of his machinations and though they knew the man for which they worked was no saint, this sin was far too grave to let stand. Under the cover of night, with weapons so crude as garden spades and knitting needles, the servants set upon their master, stabbing his sleeping form until he lay dead at their hands.
Now, the lowly minion that had become distracted by the festivities earlier in the night finally returned to his employer's keep, utterly besotted and boasting a new goat tattoo on his right calf. His merriment was quickly sobered as a great commotion arose within the keep, and he was caught in a stampede of the household staff fleeing. Some of them carried bits of silver and pieces of china, while others shouldered past him with armloads of magical tomes and sundries. The maid nearly knocked him over as she fled with her prize, a crystalline chest that she hugged close as she ran. Baffled and unable to take his cue from the servants, the man stumbled into the keep, only to find his employer slain in the most violent of ways. As he turned himself to flee, he scooped up a ring of keys that lay on a bedside table -- one of the few things left to salvage. Once things had calmed, perhaps he could return and find out what they opened.
The following morning, in the laboratories below the keep, the sedation spell was beginning to wear off of Tandrik and Estamil, and with the staff all fled, there was naught left to care for them. Pain wracked their bodies and confusion clouded their minds as they tried to make sense of what was going on. Finally, their eyes met, and it was only as they tried to rise that they realized they were shackled. Chains only stretch so far, but Tandrik lifted his hand from the slab upon which he lay and reached for Estamil, as she did for him. But their hearts, those borrowed hearts from troll and krolvin, could not withstand the stress and burst! As the light faded from Estamil's green eyes, the last thing she saw was her hand reaching for Tandrik's, their fingers inches away, so close, yet never touching.
They say that somewhere, the crystalline chest containing their hearts still exists, as do the keys that will open its eight locks. However, it has never been found. Until their souls are laid to rest, I imagine they will forever be tied to the sandy Point, the place where they first laid eyes on each other, called by gifts of green tourmalines, and forever bound to reach for each other, but never touch.
And such is the tale of Tandrik and Estamil of the Bridges.
Published October 16, 2014.