n the harbor town of Lorehaven
there once lived a jeweler and his wife. Well off as they were they inhabited a
huge estate overlooking the picturesque Gulf of Maraya and had everything one
could only wish for.
Their mansion was decorated inside and outside with pearl shells as is customary
among the most moneyed Avennorians, and from all the homes of those rich
merchants, ship owners, traders and the lot, the jeweler and his wife certainly
had the most magnificent residence in town. Even the mantelpiece in the drawing
room was made of nacre with real pearls added here and there for ornamentation,
gilded picture frames hung everywhere; the drinks were served in leaded crystal
glasses and the dinner plates of the finest imported Uderzian porcelain. The
master of the house, Lord Thorverg, had even constructed a fountain in his vast
gardens according to the wish of his wife: Jets of water shot out of an array of
silver fishes, whose eyes sparkled with real gems! Oh, and then of course there
was the Lady Magghrin herself, who was known for wearing all those rings and
bracelets and necklaces at the sumptuous monthly banquets at the mansion – after
all her husband was one of the greatest jewelers of the whole kingdom! The Lady
earned many an envious look, and she was ever so proud of her husband for the
wealth he had provided her with and had pleasure in showing it off.
Lord Thorverg was a self-made man. He didn’t have much back in the days when he
had married Magghrin of Bridgewater, and little had she. They had both been
commoners upon meeting for the first time – he, a lad from Shimmerrock near
Griffin’s Marl, who went to town to earn a living as a goldsmith’s apprentice,
and she a dainty seamstress, who often used to while away an hour at the pier
watching the ships and the sunsets during the mild Manthrian summer evenings.
Well, and there they had met, at the Lorehaven docks, and a couple of months
later they were already married. Now, about thirty years after, the once
aspiring Thorverg had made a fortune selling jewelry from Astran up north to
Cape Strata, Santharia’s southernmost point. He had become a Lord, and only
recently the Thane had bestowed on him the title of Skeijorn, reserved only for
the wealthiest of the wealthy. Lady Magghrin on the other hand had quit her
tailoring long ago of course; rather she employed a couple of seamstresses now
on her own, whose almost sole duty was to make her presentable at the next
However, with all the riches and splendor at hand Lady Magghrin had changed in
the past years. At first she had enjoyed all the gifts her husband made her, but
she got used to them, aye, she even expected them: like a new sapphire ring at
her birthday, or a jeweled medallion in shape of a heart with a touching
engraving one New Year’s Eve. But all of that wasn’t anything special anymore
after so many years. In fact, when Lord Thorverg left on longer journeys and she
stayed back home hosting one of her banquets as she had done for many years, her
mind began to wander. She thought about all those well-situated ladies her
husband provided jewelry for, and how they must admire, yes, idolize him. She
thought about him touching another woman’s hands and wrists and necks when he
tried new jewelry on them, and the more often she saw him leave to spend a
couple of days in another province, the more she turned jealous. Several days a
month he often was away, and handsome and rich as he was, Lady Magghrin had no
doubt in her mind that certain... opportunities... must have presented
themselves to him. Yes, maybe he already had a mistress somewhere, had
had her for months maybe, or even for years, and she had been ignorant for so
long, letting him travel alone whenever he so pleased, on his so-called
‘business trips’, while she was entertaining party guests...
The more she thought about it, the more everything her husband had ever said
appeared in a new light to her. Lord Thorverg was quite the joker, and she had
loved him for it ever since they had met. But now she took what she had always
thought was playful teasing for something else. She remembered that upon leaving
for a customer he would say: “I’m off, darling! More gems demand to delight
their new owner!” And when she asked who that might be, he used to add with a
smirk: “Well, Lady Donarcaey of course, my secret lover, my dear! Who else?”
Then they would both laugh, only to repeat the whole back and forth the next
time more or less in the same manner. But could there be some truth to it? I
have to find out, Lady Magghrin said to herself, and swore to learn more
about Lady Donarcaey or whatever mistresses there might be – one way or another.
So she tried prying some details out of her husband by posing innocuous
questions that might nevertheless help her cause. However, Lady Magghrin’s
attempts to shed light on her suspicions yielded no significant results. Maybe
that was because her husband expected her to try to find out and thus was
Then the day came when Lord Thorverg set out for another of his trips. “To
Klinsor, didn’t I tell you yesterday already?” he replied when she asked him
where he was heading this time. He was already standing at the doorstep, next to
the coach and the coachman was stowing away the luggage. “I’ll be back in four
days or so. But you enjoy your banquet this Folkday, darling! You don’t mind me
being away over the weekend, do you?” he added. “For you know, all these
festivities, the long dinners, the hours and hours of small talk aren’t for the
likes of me. However, I’ll be with you next time, I promise, and serve my
sentence on your side if it helps to make you just a tad happier.”
“Fine then, I’ll take you up on that. No excuses next time!” Lady Magghrin
replied, though, truth be told, her mind was preoccupied with other things. “But
say, to Klinsor?” she then went on. “Has that secret lover of yours, you know,
this Lady Donarcaey, moved eastwards per chance?”
“Ah no, thankfully not, my dear! I’ve other business to attend to this time. But
now that you remind me,” her husband said thoughtfully. “We’ve made a piece for
Lady Donarcaey recently, which the errand boy delivered just yesterday. I must
have left the jewel case at the mantelpiece in the drawing room, along with the
key to open it. Would you be so kind as to bring it down to my study and put it
in a drawer until I return, for I have to make haste?”
“Yes, of course,” Lady Magghrin whispered.
“Just promise me not to open it,” Lord Thorverg said. “It’s really a very unique
item, made especially for her. And you know how women are, they are a bit on the
chatty side,” he laughed.
“I will,” Lady Magghrin replied almost soundlessly.
“Good bye then, my sparkling jewel,” Lord Thorverg bade her farewell, and
thereupon he took his leave. His wife pulled out her handkerchief to wave after
him as he drove off.
But once her husband was gone, that very same handkerchief served another
purpose: It dried Lady Magghrin’s tears, which now came flowing freely over her
cheeks as if a dam had just burst, as if all her doubts and fears fed into that
river running down her face. Whatever had been kept inside her for a long time
now erupted like a torrent. The morning was warm and bright, the sun shone on a
cloudless sky, but Lady Magghrin felt as though she could be washed away, there
and then, overcome by her emotions. He said it, she reminded herself. He said
it, she incessantly repeated again and again. She is not just an imaginary
figure! She really does exist, that Lady Donarcaey! He hadn’t even lied, he
admitted it right away! Oh, what a fool I’ve been all those years, believing he
were only jesting! She had hoped so desperately that there was nothing to
that silly talk of his, but all of a sudden her worst fears seemed confirmed,
inflamed by a slight remark.
The seeds of mistrust sown, the Lady dreaded going into the drawing room. She
made a step towards it, but then hesitated, her foot leaden as if she were
heading for the gallows. And yet at the same time she felt drawn towards that
object her husband had provided for Lady Donarcaey, probably a gift he had
personally prepared for his lover... She took another cautious step. In her
mind’s eye she expected nothing but a poisonous snake sitting there on the
mantelpiece: a monstrous serpent, quiet, but deadly, one that could strike at
her any moment, wind itself around her, strangle her, punish her for the
naivety, carelessness in face of the obvious, the undeniable, which she had
chosen to ignore for so long. She couldn’t bear looking at that case her husband
must have chosen for his... his... mistress. For that she must be, this
conniving Lady Donarcaey: her husband's longtime mistress. Finally it has become
Picture description. The jewelry case for Lady
Lady Magghrin composed herself.
She went in, up the stairs, straight towards the drawing room, wiping away the
tears, brushing aside her unsettling thoughts. Maybe she was just imagining
things, she tried to convince herself one more time. Maybe there was nothing to
it, maybe it was all in her head? Then again, how could she know for sure?
Perhaps she had jumped to a conclusion too hastily, she considered. There had
been so many kind words her husband had spoken, so many tender moments with him,
she now remembered. But... what if he used the very same compliments and shared
such affectionate moments with another woman secretly as well?
There it was, resting on the mantelpiece. Just as her husband had told her: A
small, beautiful sandalwood case, inlaid with golden swirls and meticulously
crafted ornaments, complete with decorative beads and the tiniest of gems worked
into the design. A most beautiful box indeed, one she’d admire herself very
much, if it only belonged to her and weren’t made for her husband’s lover.
Lady Magghrin picked it up, weighed it in her hand. It felt light, but it might
contain the most precious of stones, or something of significance only for the
both of the two lovers others couldn’t possibly understand, a token of his
devotion. There must be a good reason he doesn’t want me to open it, she
thought. Eagerly she grabbed the key, but then reconsidered. No, she didn’t want
to see it, didn’t want to know, didn’t want to learn what he had made for that
wench, didn’t want to be reminded how much he desired her.
Instead Lady Magghrin rushed down the stairs, into her husband’s study, opened
the first drawer and dumped the jewel case in it. Like a hot coal she couldn’t
bear to hold any longer than absolutely necessary. There, it was done. As he had
The following days proved torturous. Time and again Lady Magghrin’s thoughts
returned to the last moments with her husband, his request, and then the ghost
of Lady Donarcaey, along with the realization that this once believed
'phantasmal customer’ was no figment of the imagination, but a real person, a
woman of flesh and blood. Every time she thought of her she couldn’t help but
picturing her husband together with this striking beauty, helping her put on a
necklace, her shoulders bare and immaculate, her blond hair fragrant with the
aroma of lavender and jasmine. The seductress’s voice she thought of as soft and
breathy, the laugh of being warm and infectious, and in the presence of her
lively, ever bantering husband there was no doubt that it would ring out again
and again in amusement; the sweeter and more innocent she imagined it, the more
it sounded like sheer mockery to her, the cheated wife back home. Needless to
say, Lady Magghrin caught very little sleep these nights.
Folkday evening, at the banquet she held, Lady Magghrin, was barely herself. She
didn’t enjoy the musical performances that were given or any of the
conversations for that matter, drank more than she used to and eventually had to
excuse herself early on, despite being the host. So the party dissipated long
before midnight, and the lady of the house was all alone again with herself,
aside from the handful of servants of course. But her heartache was with her as
well, and, alas, it had no plans of joining the guests’ early departure.
Thus Lady Magghrin dropped into her bed, and the burden that she carried with
her made her fall into a deep, deep sleep, filled with agonizing nightmares.
Hours later, sometime in the middle of the night, she woke up in fright. She lit
a candle and watched her sorry self in the mirror, sobbing uncontrollably. It
was then that, through a veil of tears, her eyes fell on a small object on the
carpet, a silver key: It was the one for the jewel case, she understood, which
must have fallen out of her pocket while undressing. Lady Magghrin picked it up.
Apparently she had forgotten to put it in the drawer along with the jewel case.
Indeed, she remembered now. But as these distraught moments – when she had
rushed down into the study with the case in hand – returned to her, all the
anguish she had felt came back with renewed fervor.
I’ve had it! she said to herself and jumped up. Taking the key she dashed
down into the study. Haunted by visions of her husband in the arms of another
and driven by her curiosity she unlocked the jewel case...
Lo and behold, the case was – could it be? – empty! There was a purple
velvet inlay, but nothing on it. Lady Magghrin let her fingers run through the
folding of the fabric, carefully feeling her way through the various creases to
maybe find a tiny, precious gem that might be hidden within any of them – but to
no avail. She turned the case upside down, searched the drawer lest she had
overseen something dropping out – nothing. How could that be? The case had been
locked all the time! Or has it?
The servants couldn’t have stolen it. Impossible. Right? The errand boy? Had her
husband checked the contents of the box before he left at all? Upon opening the
case he’d have found out immediately! Unless the jewelry had disappeared
later... Or was it... – Lady Magghrin froze as the thought occurred to her – was
it... that she had opened the case herself? Was it possible? That she had done
so when she was drunk after the banquet? Had she disposed of the jewelry in her
rage? She couldn’t recollect any of that. But maybe she didn’t want to remember.
And maybe it wasn’t important anymore to remember where a piece of jewelry had
disappeared to when her marriage was in tatters, when the only man she had ever
loved prepared jewelry for his mistress... – And she? She even was serving as
his personal messenger, carrying his jewelry around!
Well, whatever might have happened, Lady Magghrin didn’t regret anything. She
slammed the drawer shut. It wasn’t her business anymore.
The next day Lord Thorverg arrived back on the estate. He was right on time for
afternoon tea. The servants, and Lady Magghrin of course, welcomed him, as they
always did. While sleep-deprived and agitated, Lady Magghrin tried to remain
calm and restrained. However, she was determined to confront her husband as soon
as she got her chance.
“Care for some tea?” she asked, and Lord Thorverg agreed.
After a while it was her husband himself who touched on the subject that Lady
Maggrhin couldn’t stop thinking about: “Oh, I’ll have to deliver the jewel case
for Lady Donarcaey right after, haven’t I?” he brought up. “You’ve put it in my
“Of course,” Lady Magghrin answered. “You find it in the first right-hand drawer
of your desk.” And she thought: Suits me well! Let him deliver an empty box.
Lady Donarcaey will be delighted when she’s receiving this little courtesy...
In the evening, long after supper, which Lady Magghrin had eaten on her own, her
husband returned from his errand. He sat down on the porch with his wife to a
glass of Bard’s Own, and they gazed together at the fascinating constellations
formed by the stars.
“So?” Lady Magghrin approached her husband, ready for a serious conversation.
“Did the Lady like it?"
“Oh,” said her husband, “we’ll see, but I’m quite sure of it. After all, she was
delighted to see that jewel case, that’s for certain. It’s quite an
extraordinary piece of work, isn’t it?” His wife nodded absent-mindedly. Who
cared about the jewel case? “But as for what’s in the case, sweetheart: She
hasn’t opened it when I was there. I trust she’ll get to that later, together
with her husband, when they both will be renewing their wedding vows.”
Lady Magghrin swallowed hard. She hadn’t expected that.
Lady Donarcaey – married? Even more surprising was that she would renew her
wedding vows! Lady Magghrin had been prepared for anything, but not this. Was he
still lying? Regardless, she suddenly felt overwhelmed by guilt. As much as her
suspicions had festered in the past days, now everything seemed to be blown away
by a fresh, icy breeze of reality catching up with her.
“What... what’s in it, dear? What’s in the case?” she asked sheepishly, aware
that it was empty and that she probably was even responsible for the
disappearance of its invaluable contents.
“Ah, I can’t tell you that, dear,” Lord Thorverg replied. “I already told you
that it is something very special, something very personal to her. Something
that reminds her of the time before she was married. What’s in there only
matters to the two of them, to those who found themselves, and anyone else could
hardly understand its importance.”
“Well, you’ve made it, now haven’t you? So you know how much it is worth, don’t
you?” Lady Magghrin’s eyes widened. “What if... what if it happens to be gone?
What if there’s nothing in that case you just delivered?”
“Well,” her husband chuckled, “then that must be what reminds her of the
time before she got married, wouldn’t it?” He sat back, considering the idea.
“Let’s see: Maybe she was just a gal from the village then and didn’t have any
jewelry or big gifts either, for she didn’t need any of that. I guess the love
of a young lad must have been enough for her. How’s that for a thought? – Then
again, with customers like that who only order jewel cases with no jewels in
them, we wouldn’t get much business done.”
Lady Magghrin smiled about his words and wiped away a tear from her eye. He
always came up with the strangest explanations! But she couldn’t hold back any
longer about her opening the case. She had to confess that she had found it
empty, or at least that she didn’t know what had happened to the contents.
“I have something to tell you...” she finally said with a quivering voice.
But her husband cut her off. “First, let me tell you something,”
he said. “I’ve got an idea: Isn’t it time to renew our wedding vows as well
after so many years? At least the thought occurred to me a while ago. But what
kind of present could I possibly pick out for you, sweetheart? We’ve been so
fortunate that I fear you’ve got everything already you could ever wish for.
That, and a good deal of jealousy – for it so happens that I know the love of my
life at least a tiny little bit.”
Lady Magghrin's head drooped. Maybe it was she who didn’t know him
well enough, she thought, and rather envisioned him what he might be then
what he really was. She felt regret.
“You see,” her husband continued. “I have a little confession to make. I didn’t
visit Lady Donarcaey this afternoon. I went to my old comrade Haerneph, on
Threepswitch Ave, you know, and had a little chat with him for old time’s sakes.
That’s because to my knowledge there are no Donarcaeys living around here in
Lorehaven, so I’d have troubles finding some, even if I wanted to. Though for
some reason you seem to have made a sport out of it to keep looking for that
fabled lady, don’t you?
Anyway, that’s at least why I happen to have an extra jewel case. You like its
design, don’t you? – Now for lack of a better spot it now rests right at your
nightstand, naturally with everything in it, which I otherwise would have given
to Lady Donarcaey. Doesn’t matter whether you peeked in it already or not, but
in your heart you know what is in there, and what it might remind you of,
right?” Then he kissed her tenderly. “But enough about jewelry boxes, my dear.
Excuse my rambling. – You wanted to say?”
Lady Magghrin didn’t say anything at all for a while. Her mouth agape while she
was listening she just couldn’t. She embraced her husband though, wouldn't let
go of the treasure of her life, and then she kissed him back and whispered
softly in his ear: “I love you.”
And that’s the story of Lady Donarcaey’s jewelry and how it contributed to Lady
Magghrin and Lord Thorverg living happily ever after – because in fact, that’s
exactly what they did. Now some say, certain marriages last because it’s the
jewelry that keeps them alive. Others however last because of the lack of it.
This is one of those.