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Of Melle and Mellya

Once there was a great king ruling over the now sunken island of Anduotol1. His name was Melle and early in his life, he had taken a daughter of the neighboring island Lauria as his wife to appease the subdued population there and prevent an uprising. Her name was Bruya and she had only agreed to marry him after hearing of his treasury. Bruya was not well behaved and harassed the royal servants as well as her husband and so king Melle soon became a frustrated man. He did not take his meals with her any longer and he sent her to another bedroom. He let her have her ways and dedicated himself to his people but after a year Bruya became pregnant and soon gave birth to a child. Deeply ashamed Melle suspected her cousin Pret to be the father but did not dare to speak an accusation. He feared to lose his face before the whole kingdom and kept quiet. Bruya named the child Melle to stress its position as heir to the throne.   One day king Melle went down to the harbour to inspect a ship, mighty and newly made for his fleet. On his way, he saw a young woman fishing in a little bay and fell in love on the spot. She was gentle in nature, gentle even to the fish she caught and she was beautiful beyond any woman he had ever seen. Melle hurried on to the harbour and to the surprise of the shipwright he jumped on board without hesitation, commanding the crew to set sails and maneuver the gorgeous ship to the tiny bay. There he approached her boat in all his glory and invited her to come on board. She went with him and soon became his second wife known as Iphania, meaning ‘the beautiful’. After two happy years with king Melle, she too became pregnant and gave birth to a girl whom she named Mellya. Upon seeing how king Melle loved his daughter Bruya became afraid he might try to establish Mellya as his heir instead of her son Melle. When king Melle was away on a journey she poisoned a bottle of milk not knowing that Iphania was breastfeeding Mellya2 and drank the bottled milk herself. On the very same evening, Bruya learned from a servant, that the milk was not for the child but the mother. She trembled in horror as she expected to bring Gorpaura’s Curse 3 upon herself and hastily searched for the bottle. She found Iphania with the bottle already empty and threw herself to the ground before Iphania’s feet, begging her not to breastfeed Mellya. Iphania questioned her vigorously until Bruya confessed. Bruya was immediately imprisoned and Iphania passed away the next day.   When king Melle returned he was struck by rage and grief. He found that Bruya had escaped the island with her son and was now back in Lauria. He cursed her and all Laurians to sink any ship they set foot on thereby capturing her on her own island. He renamed his ship Iphania and gathered three thousand three hundred and thirty-three 4 armed men. With them, he sailed to Lauria and demanded the Laurians to surrender Bruya and her son. But the Laurians were proud and scoffed at the king declaring their independence and in turn demanded back taxes. King Melle was enraged. He landed with his men and burnt down the whole of Lauria turning every stone to find Bruya. But when all soil of Lauria was merely ash and blood he learned how his first wife had escaped bound and hanging upside down on a trade ship from a far land, therefore not having set foot on the ship thus not sinking it.   With Bruya out of reach, king Melle returned home to raise his daughter and he did so very lovingly and was a caring father until she had become a graceful lady like her mother, delighting the senses of men around her. But Mellya did not hope for a wealthy or handsome husband but was seeking wisdom in him above all else. So when king Melle asked her whom she wanted to marry she answered: “Who first solves my riddle and brings to light my hidden second name shall be my spouse!” And around her neck lay wooden pearls spelling her second name in a way unknown to the people of Anduotol*. For many years hundreds of suitors came and went and could not find her second name. Such struggles went on until king Melle became afraid his daughter would never find a man. So on the day of presage6, he went to visit a famous oracle dwelling inside a cave on the coast. But the priest denied him any form of prophecy, instead urging him to bring Mellya with him.   So one year later king Melle returned with his daughter and asked again if she would find a husband. To his relief, the oracle prophesied a wedding within a year. However, he was much confused when it went on to state that no groom for her would ever set foot on his island. Remembering Bruya’s ruse he soon had suitors carried to Mellya upside down but still, the months went by and none found her second name5. Then came the day of presage again and early in the morning king Melle took his daughter back to the oracle. He was disappointed since there had been no wedding and felt a slight anger towards the priest. But when they arrived no priest was there so king Melle left Mellya in the cave and went to find one. In his absence, a dolphin came into the cave and through Mellya’s gentle touch it took the shape of a woman. It was Ilauma7 who took the pearls from Mellya’s neck and examined them closely. Then she dissolved the string so that all the pearls fell to the ground and rolled into the sea and she spoke that none beside her should solve the riddle then naming the solution claiming Mellya to be hers. And Mellya was so very much taken with her she readily agreed to wed Ilauma on the spot thus fulfilling the prophecy spoken almost a year before. When king Melle finally found the priest he was surprised to hear that Mellya had already found a spouse who had taken her away. He hurried back to the cave and as he found it empty wept many tears, caught between joy and sadness, victory and loss. Mellya was granted a life among the high ones and given the gem of immortality. And every year she would visit her father in a vision providing guidance for his rule. Such is the story of king Melle who went on to rule wisely and just until he died in old age many years later.     1 The name Anduotol likely is one given later. The island’s name at the time may be unknown today.
2 Translators are not sure whether this is to be read as ‘was still breastfeeding Mellya’ and would therefore allude to the child’s age at the time or as ‘was breastfeeding Mellya herself’ indicating that this was uncommon for women of her social status in that period.
3 This will be worth another story. What would mythology be without endless references to its own lore?
4 Scholars suggest the number would have actually been closer to roughly 2500.
5 Let’s take a moment to enjoy the comical value of this plot point.
6 Identified to be on vernal equinox
7 Ilauma, spirit/goddess of waves, tide and foresight

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