Matilda Làvois, or Tilda, as she was called, ran through another urine-soaked, vomit-scented, fluid-stained alley on a broken, brick road in Paris. Born in winter 1692, a few days shy of the new year, and going on 13, she sauntered and pranced throughout the streets of Le Faubourg Saint-Antoine picking pockets, stealing lockets and chomping chocolates. Tilda wore ragged, tattered clothes like fine, brilliant garbs of royalty. “Je suis la petite fille poisson et la poisson deviendra grande! (I am a little fish and the little fish will become grand!),” she would chant, crashing like a wave flooding the poverty-stricken commune with other destitute Parisian children. If nonsensical nuisances or minor mischiefs happened, older people in the community would mutter, “Tilda l’escroc agile” (Tilda the nimble trickster) with a smirk. Tilda was the epitome of Spring.
Tilda’s father had died during the Battle of Carpi when she was four. Her mother used to work as a laborer in a textile factory, until a group of policemen decided she needed extra assistance going home. The rumor at the orphanage and around town was that Tilda’s mother became the wife of some important police officer who became nobility somewhere in noble quarters, but the truth wasn’t so glamorous. Bludgeoned to death after not complying with the demands of the lead officier, Tilda’s mother was fortunate enough to die before witnessing the inventive atrocities angry men with power performed with her battered corpse. Tilda knew the truth, but never spoke it aloud. “Ces’t la vie,” (that’s life) she would say, frequently and nonchalantly.
Her girlfriend since 3 years old was trampled by a horse in the fields. When Tilda received the news, she sobbed until the sun shone bright over her pale face. “J’aime mon ami, mais c’est la vie, je suppose!” (I love my friend, but that’s life, I suppose) she exclaimed, giggling and carrying on. When she was 20, her reputation as a ray of sunshine in a cold world had attracted the favor of a quiet, but observant Mantlean named Lumierre. Enamored by her antics, Lumierre had developed a habit of following Tilda. He would chuckle at her misadventures, cry with her after heartbreaks, unseen and unheard. Many times he would serve as a guiding wind, helping the young woman saunter carefree past danger, pilfer pockets with ease and feel as though her pillow was always fluffy. Until one day.
Years of hovering over Tilda, had made Lumierre nearly blind to most of his surroundings. Until one day, the retainer of a siren, beckoned him for moment (roughly four human days). In his absence, a man patching a roof struck his thumb with a hammer. The man wailed in pain and rolled of the stone roof, falling on a child. Crushing him instantly. The boys father, drunk and angry, went to pray. Finding no solace in the church, he left in search of more alcohol to quelle is broken heart. Eventually the man stumbled into an alley and robbed a nobleman leaving a bar. The nobleman gave chase, and when he caught the boy’s father, he stabbed him and reclaimed his purse. Out of breath in the poor part of town, the man stumbled in the darkness until he saw a torch affixed on a building. On his way into the straw and wood cottage, he collapsed, knocking the torch against dry brush. The building caught fire and the only casualty was Tilda. She died in her sleep from smoke inhalation after a beautiful day of playing with orphans at the church and helping the mother superior with her chores, while gossiping about lighthearted trivialities.
Alarmed and upset by her death, Lumierre begged and pleaded with many powerful Mantleans to bring her back to life exactly as she was, but was only met with indifference and contempt. A dragon who had recently become enthralled in a bet with several other Mantleans agreed to help Lumierre on the condition that Lumierre leave the girl alone and never guide her again, unless it was to help the dragon win the game. Lumierre dropped on one knee and beseeched the mighty dragon to take him as his herald. The dragon accepted and said, “Thou hast chosen to serve me as thine master. For this, you have spurred my humility and appealed to my ever so modest benevolence. I shall grant you the privilege of naming mine pawn.”
Without hesitation, Lumierre uttered, “Elles.”