“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the the fire itself.” – Kvothe, The Name of the Wind.
She was swift – faster than light. Her hair whipped behind her like a wispy trail of fairy dust. Her face was plain and gentle and her eyes like a pair of moonstones sparkling in a sea of sapphires.
She knew what others did not – in her own special way of seeing the world. She hid in the night and walked the paths of shadows. And when the sun finally awakens, she retreats to her sanctuary- a maze of tunnels underneath the streets people walk on – away from the crashing reality and the glaring gaze of the ever burning sun. The Underthing, she callls it, is her home.
She was the daughter of the Moon – the song the stars sang to the moon, the name her mother had once bestowed upon her. A mother and a name,that, by now, she could vaguely remember.
She did not fit in. A wrong piece in the wrong puzzle. So she ran away from the University – away from the rest of the world and into her own. Her own beautiful, perfect world where the moon shone the brightest and that every time it rained, the stars would give away their white crystals and she would catch them every time they fell.
She sat on her perch, that night, on the highest rooftop of the age old city. She was waiting, waiting for a friend who taught her the song of the stars. A friend who had slowly guided her back into the person she once was.
She noticed him straight away. Her pale eyes caught sight of his striking red hair – like a flame that never extinguished. A flame that matched the spirit that burned inside of him. She almost shouted in glee as she noticed the box that was slung over his shoulder. He was going to sing for her! The song of the stars!
Her favourite. It reminded her of her mother. The only thing she barely recalled since she lost her past and her mind along with it.
He climbed up the roof stealthily and soon he was by her side, rummaging through his satchel.
“Good evening, Kvothe.”
He looked up at her and smiled gently, “Good evening,Auri.”
Auri smiled. The art of naming is a beautiful yet peculiar thing.
You have to master a name to own it.
He calls me the sun and yet he says that I am like his little moon fae. Peculiar and yet, perfectly fitting. He didn’t know my real name. And so he made it my real name.
Auri used to know the names of many things, she used to know more than that of the magnificent Kvothe. She was a master, until the strings that held her mind in place slowly unraveled and the power itself began to escape little by little until she remembered only one.
“I brought you some food,” he said as he handed her a piece of bread and watched her eat in silence. He was unusually passive today. It was normally him that would be doing most of the talking.
She wanted to ask him, but how? She had forgotten how. The question was at the back of her mind but she just couldn’t grasp it. Blast my memory!
“Are you going to sing for me today?” she said as she gestured towards his lute that lay neatly in the box next to him.
He grinned and touched the head of his lute gently, like a man caressing his lover.
“Why, of course, how could I have forgotten? The song of the stars…for my dear, Auri.”
And so Kvothe produced his lute and began strum. His voice echoing the song of the moon and the voice of the stars while his long fingers danced lithely on the strings.
The music was breathtaking. It was like painting. Like imagining a visual representation of a wonderful story. About the weeping moon and the radiant sun. About the glowing green and yellow stars and their pink and blue companions. From beginning until the end, the endless surge of music was weaving its way into the pieces of the most spectacular masterpiece.
Auri laughed and danced and sung to her heart’s content. The rest of the world disappeared around her…. Kvothe, the lute, the roof, everything. It was just the moon, the stars and the music, revolving magnificently into one.She was bursting with so much joy and passion, that the emotion attacked her like a tidal wave. And as the song ended and Kvothe’s fingers slowed, the happiness left along with it.
She sat beside her friend, studying his features carefully. She didn’t need to be a master namer to tell the difference. She whispered something to herself and looked away.
“You’re sad,” she said as she continued to look at the moon. “You have a stone in your heart, and some days it’s so heavy there is nothing to be done. But you don’t have to be alone for it. You should have come to me. I understand.”
“Well, we’ve discovered a new talent. Not only, have you the art of naming but also the art of knowing. It truly is a shame that the world cannot see you the way you let me to.”
It was Auri’s turn to smile – a sad smile.
“No one can see me as you do. I am different in every way. I am too hard to understand. And I fear that if the rest of the world does, than I shall not be different anymore. I shall not be Auri. I shall not be the same as I always was different…,” she paused in mid-sentence and sighed. She wasn’t used to speaking for very long.
There was silence until Kvothe broke it.
“Perhaps you are right. I wanted, no, I needed to tell you something. It needs to be done, only then will my heart and mind and every part of my being be at rest.”
Auri nodded weakly and turned to face her only friend – watching slowly as he placed a comforting hand against her thin one.
“I’m going on an adventure, Auri. I’m leaving the University. I have come to realize that it is not where I truly belong. I seek more. I want to learn more. I need to know the names. All of them! I want to master them and say them so they’ll know and come to me when I need them,” his voice raised after every syllable – shaking with sudden excitement and after a long pause to let his revelation sink in, he said his next words in a voice barely above a whisper,
“I’ll come back for you. Never worry. I’ll always come back…..Just wait for me. My friends, they’ll take care of you. I promise, they’ll send you food everyday once the moon is bright. And Master Elodin, he knows of you! He’ll make sure you are safe….” the rest of his words, however, trailed off into the very corners of her mind and disappeared.
She glanced at the sparkling sky above her. Like dozens of lights looking down upon her – just enough to light the path that lay in front of her. She will be alright.
“You once told me, you knew the name of the wind. Well then, I know the name of the moon,” she stated after a while.
Kvothe stopped and looked at her. His green eyes were wide and kind and reassuring but Auri could see the disbelieving look underneath that mask.
He thought she was insane. She could not blame him.
She gathered his hands in her small ones and squeezed them tight.
“And whenever and wherever the moon is alive and watching, I will be too.”
Kvothe listened and placed his words carefully,”Of course, and once I master it myself, we shall be singing to the stars together.”
“And I will be dancing to your lute, until…. the end of forever!”
“Forever is a long time.”
“The moon lives a long time and even if it ends, its light will still linger like a beautiful memory.”
Kvothe gave a silent affirmation as he gazed at the young woman in front of him. Her mind was that of a child’s – of beautiful, pure innocence and he thanked the heavens that he was here to protect her, like a guardian angel.
“Very well. For in the Fae, where all magical creatures dwell,the moon and sun do not revolve. It is us, who have to choose the right path. And I will choose that that of the moon and I will learn it’s name just as I learned the name of the wind. I will tread the paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. And I will return…. If you promise to keep shining.”
Auri smiled widely – a row of pearly teeth peeking from behind her soft, thin lips.
But before he could summon the name of the wind itself, she disappeared along with it. Because she knew it too.
And he did not try to find her after that to bid her farewell because as he looked at the big white moon he knew she was watching. He imagined her pale eyes glistening with happiness. And no matter, how much she thought herself to be the weeping moon, she would always be as radiant and as happy as the fiery sun – Auri.
“Your smile is like cool water on my dry, tired heart.”
She hopped down from the chimney and skipped over to where I stood, her hair streaming behind her. “Hello Kvothe.” She took a half-step back. “You reek.”
I smiled my best smile of the day. “Hello Auri,” I said. “You smell like a pretty young girl.”
“I do,” she agreed happily.
She stepped sideways a little, then forward again, moving lightly on the balls of her bare feet. “What did you bring me?” she asked.
“What did you bring me?” I countered.
She grinned. “I have an apple that thinks it is a pear,” she said, holding it up. “And a bun that thinks it is a cat. And a lettuce that thinks it is a lettuce.”
“It’s a clever lettuce then.”
“Hardly,” she said with a delicate snort. “Why would anything clever think it was a lettuce?”
“Even if it is a lettuce?” I asked.
“Especially then,” she said. “Bad enough to be a lettuce. How awful to think you are a lettuce too.” She shook her head sadly, her hair following the motion as if she were underwater.
I unwrapped my bundle. “I brought you some potatoes, half a squash, and a bottle of beer that thinks it is a loaf of bread.”
“What does the squash think it is?” she asked curiously, looking down at it. She held her hands clasped behind her back
“It knows it’s a squash,” I said. “But it’s pretending to be the setting sun.”
“And the potatoes?” she asked.
“They’re sleeping,” I said. “And cold, I’m afraid.”
She looked up at me, her eyes gentle. “Don’t be afraid,” she said, and reached out and rested her fingers on my cheek for the space of a heartbeat, her touch lighter than the stroke of a feather. “I’m here. You’re safe.”
– Auri to Kvothe, in the Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.