See if you can guess the disorder.Author’s Note
Dorvon was born with a harelip, a wandering eye, and a curious disregard for the rules. As time went on and the boy aged, it became clear that his flaws were not from a lack of discipline or disregard for his fellow mer. Dorvon’s defects ran deeper.
I was a tollmer for the Indoril Ilvi at the time, and made my service to my lord by overseeing the flow of trade up and down the Thirr River. Dorvon’s esteemed parents, also of Indoril Ilvi’s retinue, were my direct superiors, and though they followed protocol and kept a careful separation between clan and community for most hours of the day, my relation to them was more familial than anything. I was often invited to their courts and retreats, even allowed to sample some of the blessed goya from their meticulously kept up stores whenever the other guests were seen out for the night. I brushed shoulders with mer many ranks higher than I was, and if not for their careful ignorance of my presence, I could almost believe myself to be one of them.
Dorvon was a part of this tapestry of life, though despite only being but the one thread, the zig-zagging bright colors of his walk outshone the more conscientious threads of his parents to consternation of all. I recall painfully the event in which he lost his privileged attendance of this family’s social calls, whereby he pummeled one of the visiting ladies for wearing a floral perfume deemed too offensive and unnatural to his sensitive nose. All such scents have been removed from Dorvon’s chambers, and Dorvon has been removed from all such events that may see them in attendance–which encompasses them all.
Instead, Dorvon was accorded the rights to roam the garden and the docks that were part of my duty. Though he often scuttled under the large packguars, tickling their chins with his mop of untidy red hair, and tripped over the toes of the slaves, making them bellow and quarrel, he was apart from this world. Some days I would find him spinning away, his mismatched eyes uplifted, harelipped face beaming with some light only he could see, and often in the direct path of a crane’s swing. He could also momentarily be amused by the coiling of rope, but if he were assigned to the same jetty as my other workers, my desk would invariably be filled with the complaints of the peculiar mer of Row Twelve who could not abide the coil to be an inch out of place, even if that meant to throw the line so that the Accorder’s ship could be made fast and secure.
He was less of a nuisance in the garden, though his fastidiousness, no doubt inherited from his mother, served him in ample stead there, as well. The borders to the flowerbeds were forever kept perfectly symmetrical, though at what times this feat was managed remained shrouded in mystery. Most days I’d find Dorvon drawing designs with his fingers in the fountain, preoccupied with the water’s chatter for hours on end, and he would pitch a screaming fit if anyone tried to drag him away to such sensible activities as dinner, chores, or prayer.
The boy could not speak, and I did not press him; I am loathe to say most of the time my hours were taken up with my duty, and conversation would have been a rare treat if it had been possible at all. We managed with a kind of language of signs and gestures between us, and though Dorvon was clearly deficient in the articulate department, his insights to the world were my treasure. It was he who brought me the crab shells washed up on the banks so I could marvel at their symmetry, and he who would bring me invasive plants he had found in the garden, until I could not distinguish between weed and flower and saw that they were all good. He had a particular predilection for the fire orchids, an obsession which will send his parents into fits to this day.
The Velothi would talk poorly of him, of course. Some made jest of the boy; others adopted a more agreeable and forgiving manner. The most blasphemous, which I believe bore Ashlander blood, suggested several times that he be given to Molag Bal as is right and proper for the deformed. Dorvon’s parents paid it little mind, sweeping the rumors, as well as most of the other fruits of Dorvon’s antics, under the rug or out into the garden.
This served them up until the Lay Elder and his council arrived for their tri-annual deliberations. Along with his other duties, it has always been the Lay Elder’s business to declare the future walks of all those Indoril born, and now it had come to be Dorvon’s time.
Though many will tell you that the Lay Elder makes his divinations through prayer and holy incantations, my experiences with the man were of a much more practical nature. He questioned me on the boy’s skills as well as his escapades in a most precise and business-like manner. I did not think he would think much of the boy, and the household was all frowns as he retired to his chambers to connect with the Tribunal and make his final pronouncement as to what would be the boy’s fate.
Being unable to bear the stuffy atmosphere, I went for a walk. I found Dorvon’s father sitting on the ornamental wall in the garden. This alone was a breach of the invisible code of an Indoril retainer’s proper behavior, and that his head remained in his hands even as he heard my footsteps was clue enough that something was deeply amiss. I broke faith myself to kneel beside him.
“I fear he is to be slain,” said he. “They do not call it by its name anymore, but all know the Schemer’s influence is still felt in the Temple. Little Dorvon is clearly impure, a threat to my bloodline.”
“I believe Molag Bal’s purpose is to test instead of to guide,” I admonished him. “We are given this life to improve upon ourselves, and those ways are not always clear until the crucible’s fires burn hot up to our eyes.”
Dorvon’s father did not speak, his eyes drawn instead to what had recently been a row of fire orchids, now a silent testament to the power of a strange little mer’s notions of proper flower arrangement. The tears brimmed over, but still the mer did not speak.
“He loves the fire orchids,” I said as a means of both explanation and distraction.
“He does.” My hopeful attempt went unrewarded. My lord’s hand drifted to the prayer beads at his throat, silently sliding them along their string as he wet his face.
“But he cannot abide the ones with an off scent,” I continued. “Perhaps that is the Daedroth’s lesson.”
I had no more honor to give him, and so I left the garden to return to my duties at the docks. Affairs there were much more orderly than was normal, and it took me a few hours’ absent thought to realize the cause lay in the absence of the whirling dancer and his insight into a world that is not our own.
I do not like to remember the next few days and their pain, and besides, I write in anonymity so that my lord’s name may be preserved in all honors throughout the ages. I will say that, whenever you visit his residence today, all manner of flowers decorate its insides. Of particular note are the fire orchids, and even if some of them are strewn across the floor with their roots and enclosing dirt attached, they are among the best tended in the Thirr Valley. The perfume derived from them brings many honors and riches to our House, and I oversee such shipments every Morndas with great pleasure.
Their secret lies in how the perfume’s orchids are allowed–or not allowed–to grow. For as the Daedra are our testers by pruning our hideous growths and nurturing our essence, so the young hands with the questing eye and fastidious nose are the best at earthly weeding.