Allwen of Finland. The beloved youngest daughter of a Lord in Finland, loves her country and its beauty is mirrored only by her own face. She is in love with a local nobleman’s son, and they plan to wed in the Spring when the weather warms.
Allwen begins to feel poorly. Her skin turns pale and grey. Her beautiful hair of sunshine becomes dry and falls out in clumps. Her mother stays by her bedside until she recovers, but it takes many months.
During her illness, Allwen worries her betrothed will forget her, or worse, no longer want to marry her now her beauty was failing. He had not visited in recent months the thoughts of it consumes Allwen as much as the illness.
Finally, she is well enough, so she wraps her head in silk. She applies cosmetics to cover her grey skin and sunken eyes. Her betrothed is invited to visit with her in her favourite tea parlour in her Lord’s keep.
She sits and waits by a fire, the only thing keeping the cold out. Deep winter is upon them and the days are short. Her love arrives and she notes his strange behaviour. His normally jovial nature is muted, he smiles not once, and barely looks into her eyes.
All she’d feared is coming to pass. Her beauty is gone. He no longer wants her. She presses him and he finally blurts out, “I am sorry my Lady I can no longer marry you, I hope you can forgive me.”
He leaps up, bows his head, and is gone. Allwen does not cry, her eyes already ache from her long illness. She rises and slowly climbs the stairs to her tower room.
Her father finds her staring out her window at the beautiful landscape which surrounds his keep. “Our country is so beautiful father, it soothes me, even in my illness.”
He sits beside her. “He will not marry you.” Not a question, just a statement. “No father. I’ve lost my beauty and I’m no longer worthy of him.” A single tear rolls down her cheek as dying light rests on her face.
“Your beauty will return to you once your strength returns my darling daughter.” He takes her hand, but her eyes never leave the window. “The King has honoured me, child. He is sending me to rule the land of Denmark in his stead which he has recently conquered…”
“I require a new bride as your mother is too old to produce an heir, so we have decided I will take you as my bride. You are to be the Princess of Denmark darling Allwen.” Allwen stares at him in disbelief. “Mama is ok with this?”
“Yes she knows and approves. We leave tonight, please prepare yourself I’ll send your servants to you so you may pack your belongings. I’ll await you after sunset in the carriage.” He kisses his daughter’s lips and leaves her to prepare for the journey.
Allwen is torn, disgusted by her father. Despondent that her mother would bless such a union and allow her to be taken away. With her love taken from her and the prospect of leaving her beloved Finland Allwen now openly weeps.
She makes her way to her chambers main door and locks it. She walks to her wardrobe and selects her favourite white and blue gown, kept for special occasions. She prepares her hair and writes a simple note explaining that nothing awaits her outside the borders of her beloved Finland.
She opens her balcony door and walks out into the bitter evening air. The sun has already set below the flat plains and night is upon her. She was born here. So she will die here.
She climbs up on the stone, takes a final deep breath, and jumps.
Her mother’s screams rings in the frozen grassland at the sight of her dead daughter, sprawled in the garden, at the rear of the keep.
Allwen’s beloved stalks through the sheets of snow, passing the keep Allwen called her home, tears streaming down his face. He is drunk and slips on the icy paths, knocking his head off the ground.
He comes too, and sees Allwen before him, dressed in her white and blue gown. Distressed she asks. “Why didn’t you love me? I loved you deeply and I would have been a good wife. You broke my heart. I had nothing left to live for.”
Scrambling to his feet he sobs, “Allwen. Allwen. I was a coward. Your father threatened me, said he would ruin our family if I didn’t break off our engagement. I love you, regardless of your illness. I feared for your life. When you recovered I was overjoyed, I believe we could still marry, but your father…”
Between sobs he reaches for Allwen, but she was nothing more than a shadow.
Her mother sits in her chamber, as she had in the days since her daughter’s death. It is cold, the fire has gone out. She hadn’t troubled the servants to relight it. Her breath hangs in the air, her cheeks slowly turn blue from the chill.
She has no care for the cold. Her beloved daughter is dead, having killed herself. God would not allow her into heaven, and she would be alone forever. Even in her own death, she would never see her daughter again.
“Mama?” The older Lady rouses at the sound, Allwen’s voice vibrates in the cold dark room. Her eyes focus on the apparition of her daughter, silver and beautiful in her melancholy. “Allwen? Allwen?” She tries to stand but she is weak with grief and the chill. “Mama, I’m so sorry I left you, I wish I hadn’t. Father demanded that my beloved should not marry me, why would he do such a thing!?”
Her mother’s eyes are wide with fright. “Allwen, he didn’t approve of the match. He poisoned you so you would become ill and lose your beauty in hopes your suitor would be put off, but it didn’t work. He became more fervent in his devotion, even when your hair fell out, your cheeks lost their robustness and your eyes their lustre.”
Allwen wails. “Why would you let him mother? Why would you abandon me? So he could take me to Denmark and make me his new wife, so I could give him an heir? Where is his Princess now!?” Allwen sees the genuine shock on her mother’s face and realises the truth now. Her mother knew nothing of this plot.
“Your father told you this? It is untrue, I would never agree to that.” She finally rises from her chair. “Now I understand his true purpose for chasing your suitor away. He always showed too much interest in you but I thought it was the interest of a devoted father. Wait for me Allwen, I will be with you soon.”
The Lady acquires the poison from the cabinet of the keep’s healer. She makes her way to her Lord’s chamber and knocks. He bade her enter. She walks to his drinks cabinet and stealthily laces two glasses of lakka with the poison.
She offers one to her Lord and says. “Here is to our beautiful daughter, I pray to God that someday we can be together again.” They both drink deep and the Lord tastes the poison, but it is too late. His face betrays his folly, but his wife offers no comfort. “I will join our daughter in oblivion so she will no longer be alone. You, however, will go to hell, where it is colder than the coldest winter here, and freeze for the remainder of eternity.”
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