a bird-painted ivory book
Just beyond the scope of current memory, there lived a sylvan sorcerer of great magical ability named Artretius. He specialized in the art of illusion, and was deemed by all and sundry a master of this unique talent. The sorcerer was also fortunate in that chosen for his mate by the matriarch of his family was a young sylph called Mianocre, who was credited as not only the most beautiful female in the village, but the most docilely sweet.
Mianocre, gentle of heart and rather dreamy of mind, was a lover of birds and winged creatures. She would follow and observe them for hours in the woods, coming back often late in the eve with only an armful of her favored hibiscus and a soft smile.
Seeing his wife as so docile, she would follow like a sheep wherever a man might lead her, Artretius was thoroughly convinced the men of the village knew finding the meek-woman during her woodland jaunts could provide a ready means of making base use of her sweet nature.
This strange delusion in the sorcerer grew with each passing month he spent in union with Mianocre, and each passing hour she pursued her observation of her beloved birds.
In fact, so huge did it grow, that Artretius accused Mianocre of following into intimate pursuits whatever determined male might happen upon her during her wanderings.
Mianocre denied Artretius' accusations, but to little avail. Finally she simply asked what she must do to assure him of the ironclad nature of her "bond of honor" with him. Artretius pondered and then decided.
He built an ivory tower deep in the woods and, using all the special sorcerous mastery at his command, covered its existence with the intense magic of illusion. He fashioned no door for the tower, only an open arch, because whoever ventured within must be free to go of their own will. The sorcerer then informed his wife that, if she could remain within that tower a year without resort to leaving its confines, he would believe her fully "honor bound".
Mianocre agreed to Artretius' test and took up residence in the tower. Artretius was kindly enough to provide her books on her beloved birds, as well as a magical window that projected the illusion beyond of all species of winged creatures. Every day he would come to bring her food and drink, seemingly expecting to find her fled. And everyday she "disappointed" him by remaining steadfastly within the tower.
Mianocre kept to her bond of honor through the tedious months, often writing quietly for hours and always marking off the number of days of that bond.
Late into the year, Artretius failed to come one day. Then another. And then a third.
Mianocre grew thirsty and hungry, but bit her lip in anxiety and waited, writing of her consternation. A week passed and still Artretius did not come, and Mianocre knew she would soon die. She wrote a farewell to her husband, forgiving him his treatment of her, and sat before the magical window watching the mere illusion of her beloved avian creatures.
Thus docilely did Mianocre wait alone for death, not leaving the tower because she was "honor bound" to stay the full year within its confines.
It is said Artretius had been killed by a wild boar in the woods and none knew the location of the tower where Mianocre was secreted to come for her after his demise. It is also said that it was during those final days of Mianocre's life a penetrating darkness appeared within the entrance arch of the tower.
In the end, Artretius' deep illusion had changed into this darkness in order to lovingly protect from prying eyes the hopeless dying agony of one so earnestly "honor bound".
For in death the two at last came to a true understanding of the depth of this bond between them, and the burden they had placed upon one another, one simply with her ease of nature and the other with the very insecurity of his.
For a bond of honor, once questioned, must be forever proven.