Once upon a time, for that is how these tales always begin, there was a boy and a girl attending Elsewhere University.
The boy was possessed of a clever mind and a craftsman’s hand, and could make numbers rise up and dance across the pages to build magnificent things. His words would catch in his throat, until he began to speak of the precise and abstract beauty of the world, whereupon his voice turned to leaping silver. While he was certainly not the wisest in the university, he was among them, and was always willing to lend a helping hand to any who struggled to make the numbers dance as he did. We do not say his name.
The girl was called Miranda, and she was light of foot and spoke words of honeyed gold. Her passion was performance, weaving a tale of magic with her voice and her dance. She was pleasing to many, students and…others alike, and many came seeking her hand. However, she spurned them all, saying “I will keep my heart until I find one who can make it dance as my feet do.“
One day, Miranda came to the boy as he studied, seeking help with numbers, for her skill was in the curve of extended legs and arms rather than ink on paper. He gave her what help he could offer, freely and without favor owed. In his knowledge, he explained the curves to her in ways she knew well - the shape described by an outstretched arm’s spin, the speed gained and lost from a leap - and she learned well. She thanked him, and both returned to their own work. A few days later, she returned with more questions, and once more he helped her freely. She returned again and again, and he always offered his help as he would to anyone, until one day he requested one thing in exchange - a kiss. She smiled, and traded it willingly, as her heart danced over the stage he’d constructed of paper and numbers.
For a time, all was well. The boy continued to offer his help freely, and if he did so less often, then who could truly blame him? Miranda’s dancing never faltered - if anything, it grew more quick and beautiful than ever before, as she dreamed of dancing in the stage the boy had built. When their days swung them close to each other, they’d sit together, and the boy would draw and redraw every corner of the stage as Miranda offered suggestions - lower the light beam, or a few more feet on the right wing, or set the curtain forward a bit. Those who had been spurned by Miranda before were jealous, but only in the way of all those refused by the object of their affections, and kept quietly to themselves. All, that is, except for one.
We do not know the name of the Spurned, and nobody wishes to. Filled with hatred and madness, he swore that if he could not have Miranda, then neither should the boy. He struck a bargain with the Gentry, offering anything and everything for them to take Miranda to Elsewhere. In the end, he traded away his name to give them hers. He remained, broken and too mad to speak; Miranda was Taken, suddenly and without warning. Only the boy remained, but not entirely. Something of him had left with Miranda, whatever it is in a human heart that allows one to laugh and enjoy life. Numbers would no longer dance under his hands, and the stage he had so lovingly crafted was nothing more than a tormenting reminder of her. In the end, he was as mad as the Spurned, but with grief rather than hatred. In his madness, he struck his own bargain with the Gentry, trading his own name for them to return Miranda. The Gentry happily returned her body. Her name remained with them, sealed in a bottle with that of the Spurned and the boy, and without her name she was but a shell that could never dance again.
The boy had always been somewhat mad - mad with numbers before the University, mad with love after he met Miranda, and mad with grief when she was taken. But now a new madness rose within him - the madness of someone with nothing left to lose. He poisoned himself with iron, swallowing it until it tore his innards, piercing himself with cold rings of it, and choking his skin with iron paint. Armored in cold iron and armed with desperate fury, he followed the sound of his name to Elsewhere. Nobody can say what happened in the Elsewhere then - the Gentry do not speak of it, and the boy could never speak of anything again. Regardless of what happened, he came stumbling out of the forest the next morning as the sun rose, bleeding iron-rich blood and with iron shards torn in his flesh, carrying a bottle of names. He staggered to the room where the shell of Miranda stayed, and laid his head beside her, and whispered to her two names - hers, and his own. He died then, with a smile on his lips, and Miranda cradled him in mourning.
They tried to send the boy’s body away from the University, for even in death his body was anathema to them. But Miranda refused, and there were many who saw his acts and stood with her. He was buried in a too-small pine box on the outskirts of the University grounds, without a proper headstone - only a small piece of marble, weathered blank almost too quickly for nature. In substitute, however, someone - perhaps Miranda, perhaps not - planted an apple tree on his grave. The tree is now weathered, beaten and battered; heavy snows have broken branches, lightning has struck it more than once, and wind has torn leaves and sticks from it many times. Despite this, though, it still grows strong and proud, producing apples every year.
We do not know the boy’s name. It was only whispered to Miranda, and she could never bring herself to give it away. The tree’s name is known, though. It is called Ironheart, and it is a custom to work on your math or physics homework in its shade. They say that it will do its best to help you - in all things.