Poppy and Pomegranate
A long time ago, when towns were small and cities a treasure, two families took part in perhaps one of the longest and bloodiest feuds ever to linger on the soil of Neritum, if not all of Alixandria. Rumor had it that it all began on the outskirts of Rema, Neritum, where Hyacinth Fabian and Vino Etson were found dead. There had been tension between the two men over Hyacinth’s daughter, Jacinta, had proclaimed her love for Vino. Hyacinth had refused to give the couple his blessing, and there was speculation that the had two fought and eventually killed each other. This thrust the two families into a feud that lasted for many years. That is, until fate brought Rimon Etson to Rhea Fabian’s sweet sixteen birthday party.
A couple of cousins of Rimon’s convinced him to help them infiltrate the Fabian mansion for a surprise attack. They claimed that it would be in retaliation for the death of Rimon’s brother in the last brawl that broke out between the families, but Rimon began to wonder they were simply looking for some fun, and a bit of trouble. The fact that it was a masquerade party only made it more convenient for such antics. Rimon wasn’t interested in either, and was the only one actually taking a look around for weak spots and strong points. To keep blend in with the other guests, he asked a young lady to dance. She was ecstatic at the invitation. As it turned out, she had not been asked to dance the whole night and was more than thrilled to get a chance on the dance floor.
They struck up a light conversation, and Rimon was able to get some information from her about the estate, for which he was grateful. But then both began to get to know each other better, and Rimon let some of his guard down around this girl. The two were tired of the feud and began to discuss possible ways to stop it. As a result they wound up spending much of the night in each other’s company.
When it came time for the birthday girl to reveal herself, the girl he had been dancing with excused herself, along with a few others, and the group made their way to the front of the room. Rimon’s throat began to tighten as the man who killed his brother, the head of the Fabian family himself, Narcissus, stood on a podium at the very front of the room with a bright smile on his face, ready to reveal which of the young girls was his daughter.
“Thank you so much for celebrating my daughter’s sixteenth birthday party with us!” A cheer went up at the words. “I, however, am a tad disappointed that very many men danced with my daughter this evening. Many thanks to those brave young men who did that made my daughter’s night, and mine, a very pleasant one. Thank you again. And now, the young lady in question.” A cheer went up as the group of girls stood in a line behind Narcissus.
“Hey, isn’t one of those girls the one you were getting information from?” whispered one of Rimon’s cousins. Rimon blinked but did not say a word, although a sneaking suspicion that the girl he had been getting information from might be Narcissus’ daughter did enter his mind. Narcissus walked around the six girls, pretending to have forgotten which one was his daughter, resulting in giggles from the girls. Finally, he took a girl from the line-up and removed her mask to reveal the dark eyes and red hair of Rhea Fabian. Much to Rimon’s surprise, and a bit of delight, it was indeed the same girl he had spent most of the night with.
He could sense her eyes scanning the crowd for him, perhaps hoping that he didn’t like her less now that her identity was revealed. Secretly, Rimon hoped that she wanted to see her again. She was unlike any other girl he had ever met, and those were few and far in between. What would their parents think of them if they ever found out that the two were friends? Rimon clenched his jaw, maybe now the feud would end. It had dragged on for far too long, and it had killed far too many people.
Rimon thought quickly, he had to get a message to her, figure out some way to tell her where to meet, but he couldn’t find a way, she was surrounded by too many people now, and it wasn’t long before she left, signaling the end of the party. Rimon let out a breath as he filed out with his cousins. It wasn’t until he was falling asleep that he remembered something she had said about taking walks in the early morning near the graveyard. He smiled. Maybe there was a chance after all…he just had to get up in time to meet her.
The next morning, Rimon got up extremely early and made his way to the graveyard. There she stood, the warm dawn’s light illuminating her face with a rosy glow. The sight of her beauty just about took his breath away.
“You remembered,” she brightened as she saw him approaching.
They talked until the sun was fully in the sky before they had to part. Then they continued to meet there every day, and if by chance they couldn’t meet, a letter was left in the bushes behind the cemetery fence. They found themselves slowly falling in love.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Rema decided to try and bring an end to the feud by ordering the two families to meet at his hous, without any weapons. The families agreed, supposedly, but the heads of each household, Narcissus Fabian and Oliver Etson, each had a gun upon arriving at the steps of the mayoral house.
“Do you want us to end this, Mayor? We’ll end it, right here, right now, in the only way we know best!” shouted Oliver as he aimed his gun at Narcissus, Narcissus aiming his gun at Oliver.
“Three, two, one!”
“No!” Two gunshots echoed through the streets, having missed their targets, and two other bodies fell to the ground.
“Rhea!” The two men cradled the bloody bodies of their children. The mayor stepped down the stairs as a brown-skinned figure appeared next to him. The two men glanced up with hope-filled eyes at the genie, silently begging him to save their children.
“Do you see now where hate takes you? Especially hate that has no reasoning for it, behind it?” The two men glanced between the genie, their children, and each other. “Maybe I can save them, but only if you truly end this, end it now, and mean it, from the bottom of your hearts.” The men glanced at everyone around, and nodded, tears falling from their eyes. The genie waited a few minutes, scrutinizing the two men before leaning over and touching the blood that spilled.
A year later, two plants grew from the spot where their blood had spilled, a flower from her blood and a fruit from his. The genie brought them to the houses and planted them in their gardens as a reminder to love instead of hate, and that love was stronger than death itself. And so the pomegranate and the poppy came to Alixandria, through love and death.
By Aurora Mandeville