I came across this short story by Tanith Lee and I would love to base a role play off it.
I do have the ending if you'd like to read it but I'd like change elements of it. I'd like the chemical, instant attraction between them to remain but I don't want him to be patient. I'd like him to force the issue, to almost be overwhelmed by his lust for her. I'd also like to add elements of BDSM to the mix. Please read the excerpt below and PM me if you are interested!
His hundred and fifty-first birthday dawned aboard the sleek ship from Cerulean, high above the white-capped ocean that was the earth. By nightfall he would be at home, in his beautiful robot-run house. Beyond the tall windows a landscape of the western hemisphere would fall away, pure with snow, to a frozen glycerine river. Far from the weather control of the cities, the seasons came and went there with all the passion and flamboyance of young women. And in the house, the three young women came and went like the seasons.
Dark slender Lyra with her starry eyes and her music—well-named; Joya, much darker, ebony skinned and angel-eyed, full of laughter—well-named, too. And the youngest, his only born child, made with a woman from whom he had long since parted: Estár, with her green-brown hair the color of the summer oak woods, and her unrested turbulent spirit—ill-named for a distant planet, meaning the same as the Greek word psyche. It seemed his seed made daughters, either mixed with the particles of unknown women in crystal tubes, or mingled in a human womb. They were his heirs, both to his mercantile fortune and to his treasures of art and science.
He loved each of them, and was loved in turn. But sometimes Estár filled him with a peculiar fear. Her life would never be simple, and perhaps never happy. He did not like to think of her, maybe far from the shelter of the house, the shelter he could give her. In fifty, sixty more years, he might be dead. What then? Tonight, there was the ceremonial dinner party to welcome him home, and to mark his birthday. A few charming guests would be there, delighting in the golden rooms. There would be the exchange of presents, for, with every birthday, gifts were given as well as received. This time, they had told him those three, laughing, what they wanted. “Natural things!”they had cried. Lyra wished for pearls, real pearls, the kind only to be taken from oysters which had died, neither cultured nor killed for. And Joya had demanded a dress of silk, an old dress made before the ending of the silkworm trade. Estár, he guessed, had subconsciously put them up to it, and when her turn came he had waited, uneasy in some way he could not explain. “A rose,”she said, “a grown rose. But something from a hothouse or a city cultivatory won’t do.”“In all this snow—”exclaimed Joya. “I can send to the east,”he said. “No,”said Estár, all too quietly. “You must pluck it yourself.”“But then,”said Lyra, “he would have to detour from Cerulean. He’ll never be home in time for the dinner party to give you such a present.”Estár smiled. “It seems I’ve posed you a riddle, Papa.”
“It seems you have,”he said, wincing a little at the title “Papa”which she had adopted from some book. His other daughters called him by his name, graciously, allowing him to be a person, not merely an adjunctive relation. “Well, I’ll keep my eyes wide for roses in the snow.”Yet how ominous it had seemed, and not until the ship landed at the huge western terminus did he discover why.
Mercator Levin? Would you be good enough to step this way?”The attendant was human, a courteous formality that boded ill. “Is anything wrong?”he asked. “My cargo?”“Is quite in order, I assure you. The commissioner wishes to speak with you, on another matter.”Perplexed, he followed, and presently entered the circular office with its panoramic views of the landing fields. Dusk was immanent, and the miles of ground constellated by lights. Far away, little flaming motes, the ships sank slowly down or up. He was offered wines, teas, coffees, and other social stimulants. He refused them all, his oppression growing.
The commissioner, a few years his junior, was patently troubled, and paving the way—to something. At last he leaned back in his chair, folded his hands and said, “Depending on how you see your situation, Mercator Levin, it is my duty to inform you that either a great honor, or a great annoyance, is about to befall your family.”“What can you mean?”“This, sir, has been placed in our care, for you.”He watched, he looked, he saw, and the control and poise of one and a half centuries deserted him.
Risen from a recess in the desk, a slim crystal box stood transparent in the solarized light. A heap of soil lay on the floor of the box. Growing straight up from it was a translucent stem only faintly tinged with color, and leafless. At the head of the stem there blossomed a rose slender as a tulip, its petals a pale and singing green. There were no thorns, or rather only one and that metaphysical, if quite unbearably penetrating. “I see it is not an honor,”said the commissioner, so softly Levin was unsure if he were dealing with a sadist or a man of compassion. In any event, that made no odds. “I’m very sorry, Mercator. But I had no choice. And you, as you know, have none either. As you see, the name and code stamped into the crystal are your own.”“Yes,”he said. “So, if you would be so kind. I am to act as the witness, you understand, of your acceptance.”“But I don’t accept,”Levin said. “You know, sir, that failure to comply—”“I know. I’ll do it. But accept? How could I?”“No.”And the commissioner lowered his eyes.
When he was within a foot of the desk and the box, the crystal opened for him. Levin reached in and took the smooth stem of the green rose in his fingers. The roots broke away with a crisp snap, like fresh lettuce, and a sweet aroma filled the air. It was the most disgusting, nauseating scent he had ever smelled.
Homecoming, normally so full of pleasure, was now resonant with dread. He dismissed the snow-car at the edge of the hill, and climbed, as he always did, toward the lovely, sprawling house. Most of it was of one-story construction in deference to the high winds that blew here in winter and often in the spring also, and all weatherproofed in a wonderful plasteel that made its walls seem to catch the prevailing light within themselves, glowing now a soft dull silver like the darkening sky.
It had been turned into lace besides by the hundred golden windows—every illuminator was on to welcome him. Inside, the house was warm and fragrant, old wood, fine synthetics. The robot servants had laid everything ready in his rooms, even to the selection of bedside books and music.
His luggage was here ahead of him. He prepared himself, dressed for the party, went down. He had hurried to do so, but without eagerness. The glass of spirit he left untouched.
The main communal room of the house was some forty square meters, summer-heated from the floor, and also by the huge open central fire of natural coals, its suspended chimney like the glass pillar of an hallucination floating just above. How that chimney had fascinated Lyra and Joya as children. Something in its strength and exquisite airy unactuality—For a while, the scene held in the room. They had not noticed him yet, though they expected him at any second. Lyra was playing the piano in a pool of light. What would it mean to her to be sent away? She was studying with two of the greatest musicians of the age, and already her compositions—three concertos, a symphony, song cycles, sonatas—were phenomenal and unique.
She promised so much to herself, to her world. And she was, besides, in love. The young man who stood by the piano, watching her white hands, her face. Levin looked at him with a father’s jealousy and a father’s pride that the lover of his daughter should be both handsome and good.
The Asiatic blood that showed in his amber skin, the carven features and slanting eyes, the violinist’s hands, the talent of his calling—all these were charming and endearing things.
And then, standing listening by the fire, Joya, jet-black on the redness of the coals, no longer fascinated by the chimney, fascinating instead her two admirers, one male and one female. They were her friends, poets, a little eccentric as all Joya’s friends turned out to be. It had alarmed him at first. He had feared she would be forced to change. But Joya had not altered, only extending her sunshine to others, giving them a steadiness they lacked, herself losing none. And she was now four months pregnant. She had told him her news the day he left, her eyes bright. It was splendid, enchanting. The thought of her as the mother of children filled him with painful happiness.
She did not know who had fathered the child, which would be a son, nor did she care, had not bothered with the tests to discover. He had chided her gently, since the father had every right to know, and Joya had laughed: “Later. For now he’s only mine.”And to send Joya away, two lives now—No! No, no. Seated between the fire and the piano, the other guests were also listening to the music, four contemporaries of Levin’s, well-known, stimulating and restful people of experience, and, in one case, genius, and three well-liked others, mutual acquaintances of them all.
And there, on the periphery of the group, alone, his third daughter, his born daughter, and he grew cold at the perfection of the omens. The apple tint she used upon her brown hair had been freshly enhanced. Her dress, of the fashion known as Second Renascence, was a pale and singing green. She played with a glass of wine in her left hand, twirling the stem between her fingers.
The translucent stem. It was as if she had known. He had heard rumors of such things before. It was ironical, for just now he recalled, of course, that she had almost never been born, her mother’s frenetic life-style having brought on the preliminaries of an accidental abortion—the child had been saved, and had continued to grow inside the woman’s womb to a well coordinated seventh-month term. But how nearly—Estár seemed to feel his eyes on her.
She looked about, and, not speaking to anyone, got up and came noiselessly over to him in the doorway. She was tall and slim, and almost a stranger. “Welcome home, Papa.”She did not reach to kiss him as the others did, restrained, perhaps inhibited. He had noticed it with many born children. Those not carried in flesh seemed far easier with the emotional expressions of the flesh, a paradox. “Did you,”said Estár, “find my rose?”
He looked at her in devastating sadness. “At first, I thought I’d have to fail you,”he said. “But in the end—look. Here it is.”And he held the green flower out to her in silence. She gazed at it, and her pale face whitened. She knew it, and if by prescience she had foretold it, then that clearly had not been with her conscious mind. For a long while she did not take the rose, and then she reached out and drew it from his hand. The music was ending in the room. In another moment the others would become aware of his arrival, of this scene at the door. “Yes,”Estár said. “I see it must be me. They are your daughters. I’m only your guest.”
“Estár,”he said. “What are you saying?”“No,”she said, “I’m sorry. I meant only I have nothing to lose, or little—a nice home, a kind father—but they have everything to lose…love, children, brilliance—No, it has to be me, doesn’t it?”“I intend to petition,”he began, and stopped. “You know that everyone petitions. And it does no good at all. When do I have to leave?”“The usual period is a month. Oh Estár—if there were anything at all—”“You’d do it. I know. You’re marvelous, but there are limits. It’s not as if I’ll never see you again. And, I respect your judgment. I do. To choose me.”The music ended. There was applause and laughter, and then the first cry of his name across the room. “You fool,”he said to his youngest daughter, “don’t you know that I chose you—not because I consider you expendable—but because I love you the best?”“Oh,”she said. Her eyes filled with tears, and she lowered her head, not letting him see them. “That is the decision this thing forces us to,”he said. “To sacrifice in blood. Could I ask you the unforgivable thing—not to tell the others until this wretched party is over?”“Of course,”she said. “I’ll go to my rooms for a little, ten minutes, perhaps. Then I’ll come back, bright as light. Watch me. You’ll be proud. Tell them I went to put your—your gift in water.”