In the town of Kaladon there lived a sculptor renowned throughout the land for the beauty of his statues. Vergan, for as he was known, made statues of dogs, lions, owls, fish, and bears that were used to decorate all the great buildings of the nation. Vergan was rightly proud of his work, and the crown prince himself had come to thank him for his services on more than one occasion. He believed in excellence above all else and worked long hours perfecting his skills.
However, the sculptor was now old and had no wife, and the loneliness of his days weighed heavily upon him. In the basement of his home he had built a large underground workshop where he put all his passion into a statue of a woman. The proportions and features of this woman were perfect in every way. The stone woman was young, fit, and sublimely beautiful. There was no living woman as outstanding as this statue which he kept hidden away from the eyes of the locals.
Vergan was feeling deeply sad one day as he gazed upon his work, and so he prayed to the god Archen.
“Lord Archen, god of excellence, your servant Vergan has laboured hard in your name to create works of beauty, come here now to gaze upon the most wonderful work of art that I have ever created!”
High in the heavens the god Archen heard Vergan and made himself manifest in his secret workshop. The god marvelled at the beauty of the stone woman and praised Vergan’s devotion to excellence. Vergan then knelt down on his knees before the god and pleaded with him.
“Please lord Archen, your devoted servant is old and lonely; please bring this statue to life for me so that I no longer must live alone!”
Archen considered this request, “great artist Vergan, were I to place a divine spark in this sculpture, she would indeed breathe and move like any other woman, but she would belong only to herself, whereas now she is yours. I can see your sorrow, but no woman alone can ease your pain.”
Vergan was overcome with desire to see his statue live and went on pleading despite Archen’s warnings.
Archen eventually agreed, for he too adored the statue and wanted to see what a woman with such beauty might make of herself. He reached out to touch the stone and a spark leaped from his fingers and energised the marble woman with his divine power. What was marble was made flesh, and what was stone was made blood. The smooth polished lips parted and the woman drew her first breath. Archen dematerialised leaving Vergan alone with his now living creation.
The woman was mute at first, but under Vergan’s tutelage quickly learned to speak. Afraid of what might happen if she left the house, he made sure to keep her locked up inside his underground workshop. Lest that anyone would ask questions about who she was and where she had come from.
The workshop was her entire world, she knew of no other, although she questioned Vergan about what was on the other side of the door. Vergan told her of trees, flowers, and wild animals, but took care not to tell her about of Kaladon and its many buildings and people. Instead he impressed upon her how dark and dangerous the woods were and how lucky she was to have him to keep her safe.
Vergan taught her to sweep, clean, and prepare him meals, and the woman so grateful for her life gladly served him. One day the prince came by to visit Vergan to thank him for a beautiful stone eagle he made for the new senate house.
Vergan was busy in his workshop when the prince arrived and so the prince walked into his secret workshop looking for him. There he found the beautiful woman who had once been a statue.
The woman, who had never yet seen another person; and certainly not one as impressive as the prince, was in awe at the beautiful nature of this noble young man. While despite his many travels the prince had never seen a beauty as great as this woman’s. The prince asked her for her name, but the woman didn’t have one to tell. Vergan embarrassed quickly announced her name to be Sedina.
The prince ordered gifts and dresses to be brought for Sedina, which she accepted gratefully although it puzzled her how such fine things could be found in the woods Vergan had told her so much about. Then before the prince left he told her that if she ever wanted to see the world, she would be welcome to come with him. He handed her a ring and hold her to show it to any soldier in the land and they would guide her to him, where he could take care of her.
Once the prince was gone, Sedina was once more sealed inside the workshop, but her mind was now too big to fit inside such a small room. She understood that the woods could not produce such gifts and dresses, and from this she understood that there must be other people in the world besides Vergan, the prince, and his servants. There might even be other women like herself.
She asked Vergan why he had never told her about the prince, about dresses, and especially why he had never told her her name before. Vergan was angry with her for asking and told her that these things were not important, he had created her, raised her, and protected her. She was his and should never ask for more because that is the mark of a greedy child.
Sedina discovered feelings she had not experienced before: sadness, pain, and longing. She didn’t want to spend the rest of days shut up alone in the workshop. She wanted to meet other people, wear her dresses in public, and visit the great buildings that Vergan’s statues adorned. But especially, she wanted to meet that noble prince who had been so kind to her again.
One day when Vergan was out she used the tools from the workshop to escape. When she stepped outside the doorway into the streets of Kaladon she was in shock at how big the world was and how many people there were. When she walked down the street she noticed the eyes of everyone was upon her. Most people looked at her beauty in awe, but she also noticed that some women looked at her with envy, and some of the men followed her wherever she went licking their lips hungrily.
She found a group of young women who looked her age and introduced herself. The women touched her rich dress, admired her hair and perfect features. She had many questions, questions that seemed so childish to the women that they often laughed at her for asking them: what is a flower? Where do houses come from? What is the big bright light in the sky called?
The women were gentle and kind-hearted; they answered all her questions and helped her to keep away from the hungry men who trailed her. Sedina pointed out something she thought peculiar and asked what was that little person?
“That’s a child,” explained the women, “don’t you remember being that small?”
Sedina explained that she had never been a child and had no childhood to remember. The confused women explained to her about children and where they came from much to the shock and surprised of the beautiful young woman. The women wanted to know more about Sedina and why she had had no childhood, but at that moment Vergan arrived. He was furious and dragged Sedina through the streets all the way back home and threw her down into the workshop.
Vergan told her that she was not allowed to go outside ever again. That she must stay in his house, serve him, and keep him company for the rest of his days. Sedina wept saying that she wanted to live with the other people. She wanted to have friends, adventures, and that she had discovered that she could also have children and this idea fascinated her.
But Vergan berated her, telling her that she owed him everything. He was her creator and she would serve him. He would be her friend, he would tell her about his adventures, and if she wanted children she would need to make them out of stone like he had made her.
That night Sedina lay awake on the floor her head and heart spinning in turmoil. What Vergan had said was true: she did owe him everything. He had created her. She was his property. However, her heart ached for it felt so wrong. Her heartache and pain awoke the goddess Klara who was sleeping in the Earth. The goddess made herself appear before the startled Sedina in the workshop.
“Young beautiful woman, why is your heart in so much turmoil?” asked the goddess.
“I am a horrible person; I want things for myself that my master does not want for me!”
The goddess listened to Sedina explain how Vergan had made her and that Archen had made her into living flesh and blood.
“So you see; it’s wrong of me to want to leave, to want to find the prince, and to want to find someone else to marry. I am a horrible selfish woman.”
“That would be true, if you were still a statue. But you are no longer a statue. You are a woman. You may do as you please. Vergan has no right to claim ownership over you like this, even if you owe him your life.”
Sedina did not understand.
“See this tool. I can pick it up, I can use it as I please, but the tool has no choice, and no opinions about how it should be treated. Because the tool is dead, while you Sedina have the power to make choices, you have feelings and opinions about how you would like to be treated. You are not a tool, you are something else. You are alive and you are valuable because of that.”
“But I must do what I am told!”
“Must you? Can you decide not to do something you are told to do?”
Sedina conceded that she could act differently; she merely believed that she had to obey.
“Then do what you wish to, you’re a person, you control your own body, your own life. Nobody else does. Certainly, you can make promises to people, and you must keep those promises, but no one can bind you to a promise without your permission.”
“But if I don’t do what my master wants he will hurt me and force me to do what he wants.”
“Then why don’t you just poison him or stab him in his back while he sleeps?”
Sedina was appalled, “That’s truly horrible! To take away a person’s life and liberty like that is truly monstrous!!”
“Indeed it is. It is monstrous to take away another person’s life and liberty.”
Sedina realised then what Klara was telling her, if it was monstrous for her to do such things, it was monstrous of Vergan to do it to her, even if he had created her.
She took a file and cut through the lock and then disappeared into the night. In the morning she found a soldier and revealed the ring the prince had given her. She was taken to the prince who greeted her with joy.
Sedina lived with the prince for many months learning about reading, books, and the gods. One day the prince asked her if she would be interested in marrying him. Sedina thought it exciting that he should want to marry her, but kept in mind that so did all the other men of the land. She could choose from among all the men available on account the sublime beauty Vergan had endowed her with. Remembering the counsel of Klara she was careful to negotiate with the prince about what their marriage would look like. The prince listened to her for he was understanding and patient, and because of these qualities of his she felt certain that marrying him was the best decision.
On the day of the wedding Vergan appeared with a sword and demanded that his property, the lady Sedina, be returned to him. “She is mine! You have no idea how much I laboured for her, she is an ungrateful whore, give her to me so that she may serve the purpose of created her for as my companion and helper for life. Do this now, act with justice O prince or I will destroy her more easily than I created her.”
Witnessing this injustice, the goddess Verina sent her spirit into the heart of the prince filling him with the virtue of justice. At once the prince drew his sword and with his hands guided by righteousness he skilfully struck the sword from the hands of the mad sculptor. Once disarmed, Vergan was quickly apprehended by the prince’s men.
“You sought to take liberty away from this woman, so in turn your liberty will be taken from you until such time as you see the cruelty of your ways!”
Vergan was imprisoned until he realised the injustice of his treatment of Sedina.
While Sedina and the prince went on to live happily ever after.
One thought on “The Marble Beauty”
Great story and narration.