Story of tilula, p.1
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       Story of Tilula, p.1

           Angelaine Espinosa
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Story of Tilula
lula

  Story of Love Series Selection

  By Angelaine Espinosa

  Copyright 2017 Angelaine Espinosa

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are the products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, places and events is purely coincidental. Furthermore, this short story was selected from a longer anthology entitled "Story of Love Series" by the same author.

  Dedication

  For my niece/nephew. I pray that you grow up to show the beauty that I know will blossom inside you.

  Story of Tilula

  Once upon a time, there was a beautiful forest in the middle of a vast kingdom. This forest was surrounded by villages in all directions, but was untouched by neither poachers nor woodcutters, for it was guarded by magical woodland sprites. The sprites, taking on the form of little boys and girls, took care of the plants and animals within the forest. They showered many a tiny sparkles here and there, and spoke not words but notes that chimed in the wind. And they used to serve the frog king, whose wife was an older sprite that took on the form of a young woman.

  But the frog king had died, leaving the management of the forest to his son named Indri. What the lad inherited was all the forest, from North to South and East to West. And he also inherited a magical spring, with water that could heal any sickness and that could preserve youth and life. Because his father was dead, Indri also had control of the sprites, which he treated fairly.

  Now this seemed to be an ideal life for a prince of frogs, for Indri was always waited upon, and had all that he needed to live comfortably. But for Indri, the forest in which he lived was a prison, a shield that kept the outside world at bay. For Indri feared the way that people looked upon him.

  Indri was not handsome by any means. In fact, he was quite the ugliest creature one would ever behold. He had the webbed hands and feet of a frog, thick greenish skin and slit eyes that resembled very much that of a frog's. He also had a scratchy voice and a tongue long enough to snap at another person. But what Indri despised most about himself was his black heart that beat in his chest and would not allow him to see himself as beautiful.

  "'Tis useless!" he said one night. "I will not stand here to be the ridicule of the whole forest. Remove this blasted robe from me!"

  He removed the thick robe that the sprites laid over his shoulders, and marched from the mirror he was looking into. Indri lived in a large mansion in the middle of the forest. It had white walls inlaid with ivory. It was surrounded by lush gardens and orchards that bloomed year round. At the very back of the mansion was a balcony, where every full moon Indri's mother would stand after descending from the sky.

  At that moment, Indri's mother appeared on the balcony and beckoned her son come forward. The sprites left as she did so, carrying with them the robe that had been their latest attempt to aid their master. It was made of a beautiful purple silk, but had done nothing to improve the frog prince's appearance.

  "My son," she asked upon beholding Indri's sullen expression, "what ails you?"

  "Everything." Indri shot a look behind his shoulder at the sprites. The latter, peeking from behind the door frame leading onto the balcony, dispersed upon seeing his thunderous expression. Indri sighed and turned back to his mother. "I could have been born in your image, with your hair of spun gold and evergreen eyes. With beautiful teeth, gorgeous hands and flawless skin. Instead I had to look the spitting image of my father."

  The lovely sprite took her son's face into her hands and smiled gently. "Even your father could not have controlled the hands of fate."

  "But he was a god. Surely he had something up his sleeve."

  The sprite laughed, and put her hands on her hips. "The only thing he had up his sleeve was the ability to command the sprites."

  "Why did you wed him? Out of all the many gods and creatures of the forest, why him?" Indri asked. He could not understand why such a lovely creature as his mother would want to stay by the side of an abominable-looking creature until the end of time. There must have been many suitors for his mother's hand to choose from.

  "Because he favored me among the other sprites. I've already told you this before. He flattered me and loved me and gave me all I desired, and when he died I mourned his loss." Indri's mother took his hands into hers. "Indri, you are my only memory of him. Someone to remember him by. Please do not shun yourself, for you are beautiful."

  "I have the face and limbs of a frog, and a heart of black. How can I be beautiful?" Indri lamented. "Even the people who come to buy my healing water are in fear of me."

  "They do not see you as I do."

  "But I want them to. I'll do anything, just so I can get rid of my hideousness." And this was true. Indri was fed up with being the laughingstock of the men from the villages. He was fed up with being used as a child's horror story. Come home early, the mothers of the village would say, or the black-hearted Indri might catch you and eat you.

  Indri did not eat children. He didn't even like eating lots of meat.

  The lovely sprite saw the forlorn expression on her son's face. Her heart broke with sadness over his fate. "Oh my son, you know I cannot deny you anything."

  She turned to look at the garden behind her, and carefully retold what she'd heard from the other sky-dwellers. "There is an ancient ritual to change one's form, though I am not sure if it truly works. The elder sprites say that if you live in the presence of virtue, even the most hideous of forms will disappear? to be replaced by the beauty of virtue itself."

  The cure intrigued Indri. Could it really be possible to lose his ugliness after doing such a task? The task itself didn't even make sense. "Virtue? How can you live in the presence of virtue? 'Tis but an abstract trait."

  "That I do not know," the sprite replied.

  Indri folded his arms and thought deeply. He wanted, needed to be beautiful. He wanted to be loved by most of the creatures of the world, if not all. He wanted to have friends, to be surrounded by people that were not afraid of him. But the cure seemed truly impossible to do. "Nevertheless, I will try. And when I succeed, I will be so handsome that many people will come to see me. And not just for healing water."

  "Then I wish you luck. But remember, Indri. Sometimes beauty is not all as it seems. There are many beautiful things other than the physical."

  Indri scoffed. "I don't believe it, Mother. I'll believe it only if I myself prove it real. For now, I need to find virtue. And as soon as possible."

  "Very well." The sprite bent down to kiss her son on the cheek, and afterwards raised herself from the balcony. "Goodbye, my son. I will visit again on the next full moon."

  She floated upwards to the sky, until she was but a little sparkling dot among the stars that spread across it.

  And Indri was, once again, alone.

  --

  In another village, in a small but richly decorated house, there lived a man and his family. This man was a merchant who sold goods in the village market. He had a beautiful and loving wife that adored him with every fiber of her being, a pretty daughter that was fonder of him than anything else in the world, and a son whom he cherished with all of his heart. But the son was a sickly little thing, and would become ill at the slightest exposure.

  At the same time that Indri was despairing over his cursed figure, the merchant man
was also despairing over his son, who had grown sick in the past week he was absent from the house. The little child was but a limp vegetable on his bed, and the healers feared that he would not make it another weak if his sickness would progress.

  The merchant, who went by the name of Taruk, had been wasting in his house's parlor, accompanied only by his close friend and his daughter. His friend was also a partner in trade and had accompanied Taruk to many of his travels. Anif was also the godfather of Taruk's son.

  The daughter, a spirited child whose love for her brother surpassed her other emotions, was deeply disturbed by the tragedy that had befallen them.

  "Father, he's getting worse. We must do something. There must be another kind of medicine, something we haven't tried yet." she said as she paced back and forth in front of her father.

  Taruk rubbed his temples worriedly. "We've tried almost all there is. There is nothing we can do."

  "But Father-" the daughter argued, her beautiful black eyes pleading for her father to listen.

  "Silence!" Taruk ordered.

  His daughter's pale skin became even paler in the face of his pent up anger.

  The daughter promptly nodded, and with sorrow on her face, proceeded to sit upon a cushion laid on the floor. She waited patiently for either her father or Anif to say anything. It was a long time before the friend spoke up. What he had to say caught her attention.

  "Perhaps the healing
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