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Lavaglut

Ruth Nestvold and the late Jay Lake, both multiple award-winning authors, wrote these tales together. Please check out other tales in their series at Tales of the Rose Knights.
They called him Lavaglut for the fire that burned within him. He was the accidental knight, come among the roses late and without purpose, and so they gave him the most generic of red for his colors.
Lavaglut had passed much of his life in a sort of walking sleep, awakened by the Rose fire, or perhaps awakening it, in his thirty-seventh year. He fought against it for a while, before surrendering himself to the course and manner of the passions he'd never known, unfolding from an ordinary man into a Rose Knight without ever understanding why or how.
He nearly met his end over a woman. She was a courier who crossed the lines of the Armies of the Sun and the Armies of the Moon with the impunity of her station. Lavaglut had fallen in with her on the trail, and fallen in love with her not long after, but she just danced and talked her way ahead of him, leading him deeper into the fire within until his every movement and thought were white pain against the glory that was her.
There came a day when he felt he must either declare his love or abandon her side. The decision was hard enough to freeze his joints and clutch at his words, so that he was left motionless and silent. She kissed him on the forehead, laughed with a sound as startling and pleasing as an explosion of quail and went on her way.
No, I lie.
That day came, and he could not bring himself to risk his heart with his poor words and clumsy acts. So while she slept by the fire, muttering secrets in her dreams, he wrapped his sword in his cloak and stole away into the forest. There he cried his eyes bloody for the love of her, and avoided her ever after.
No, I lie yet again.
The day arrived, and he summoned courage and action to sit next to her and tell her quietly of his thoughts and feelings. She listened with patience and kindness, laughed only a little, then welcomed him into her arms.
No, this is still a lie.
Lavaglut burns for her, but she could not or would not love him the same way. Her imagination was tied to a Rose Knight she fought against rather than side-by-side, someone she would never be able to love in the open light of day.
That, too, is a lie of sorts. They came together even differently than I can tell, and the little love they share is an odd-winged angel that flies on occasion by moonlight. Now, philosophy tells us many things love can and cannot do, but it has never been able to explain why love is so stubborn and attempts to survive where it cannot. Lavaglut struggles to be a good knight, and the courier fights to be someone she can admire in the mirror, and love plucks at them both as a harrier hound.
Do you pity Lavaglut? He blooms brighter than ever. Do you sorrow for the courier and her inability to take love where it is offered? She has a Rose Knight forever sworn to her. If love were simple, everyone would love. If love were easy, the world would never quarrel.
And so they listen to the tales told of each other and smile a small smile and go their separate ways.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

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