Fairy Tales of M-E. NEW! 9-29-07, "The Seeing Stones"

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Postby seren » Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:36 am

Thanks DG and Balrogthane for reminding me about Woses.

:)

About the dead or not dead - another reason why I might have inferred that they were dead is the reaction of the watch stone. All three assaults on Banur resulted in blood appearing on the stone. As the stone seems to display the colour of the assailant's blood, there is nothing to make the distinction between those that live and those that die. As you say, you make it overt that the orcs are killed.

But
The wolf choked and fell to the ground


seems pretty clear to me that he might be dead. You said that the reason Banur 'hastens away ' is because the wolf might not be dead; I inferred that it was because wolves work as a pack, therefore, there might be more of them around, so he would have good reason to want to get away.

One thought occurs to me: when Banur says "as the whole, so the part" that implies to me that the whole power of the stone is directed against the assailant so I assumed that it would be set to 'kill' not 'stun'. Would a stone make such a distinction? Also you said that it hit the orc with the force of a stone mace -- I would assume that would be enough to kill anyone.

On the other hand, you do specifically mention dispatching 'all three' so if I had read that carefully enough I could have made the assumption that the one hit by the cloak tie might not have been dead. However, Banur could just have been making sure that he was deader than dead by cutting his throat or whatever.

Ambiguity is a wonderful thing is it not? We all bring a wealth of different experiences and different understandings to a story which results in a whole range of fascinating interpretations.

:D
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Postby DrummerGirl » Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:41 pm

seren wrote:...
Ambiguity is a wonderful thing is it not? We all bring a wealth of different experiences and different understandings to a story which results in a whole range of fascinating interpretations.

:D


I'm OK with ambiguity. :) I may just leave it thus, especially as I don't actually know the ultimate fate of any but the orcs. I'm pretty sure the man was still living when Banur hoisted him over the horse, but that's about it. That is, my POV is strictly Banur's (except when it's Ghuran's). :D

+++++

As I mentioned above, I've revised it again. The following is v2.0. I've sorta combined v1.1 & v1.2 - kept Ghuran's tale to the end, but expanded it. My reader at HASA suggested it could be more dramatic, so here goes.

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Cloak Ties, v2.0

Postby DrummerGirl » Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:44 pm

Cloak Ties, v2.0

I'm not gonna post the whole thing yet again. This is the same as v1.2 up until Banur reaches home. It picks up at:

"They went into the house. Banur set down his pack and told his tale in full, showing the cloak, rent and with only a thorn for a pin."


Ghuran then recounted how, two nights gone, she heard a sharp crack from the watchstone. She ran through the dusk, and saw red blood on the stone. She grew cold with fear for her husband, but knew she could do no more than she had already done.

Then, yestermorn, she woke early from broken sleep at the sound of rumbling from the watchstone. She rose and went out to find black blood dripping from it, and small chips of stone around it. Thus, she knew Banur had survived the trouble of the previous evening, only to find worse this morning. She stumbled through her chores, sick with worry for him.

All day Ghuran had stayed within sight and sound of the watchstone. When she heard it again groaning, and saw red blood seep from it, she felt both relief and dread. She knew then he had escaped death from black-blooded orcs, but had used his last cloak-tie in defense against some new threat. She could not work or even eat for fear, for she knew all three cloak-ties were gone.

When she saw him approaching with the dawn, she felt limp and light-headed from relief.

"I will travel with you next time you go anywhere," she said, "and, I shall have to make new cloak-ties for you."

"Make some for yourself, as well, my dear," said Banur.

****************

Thanks to all for reading! :)

DG
Last edited by DrummerGirl on Mon May 29, 2006 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The Lady in the Water

Postby DrummerGirl » Mon May 29, 2006 10:29 am

The Lady in the Water


Between the Withywindle and the Brandywine was a small village. In those days, it had another name, but now we call it Haysend.

Gladden and Kalimac lived in holes dug in the same hillside. As little ones they played together, though as they grew up Kali began to spend more time with the other boys. Gladdy missed him and waited for him, but he would greet her carelessly, and rush on to fish or play games without asking her to come.

Sometimes he remembered her, and they would talk in the evening after chores, and she would stay as late as her mother let her.

One day, he said, "Gladdy, I've had the most peculiar dream. I dreamed a tall lady with yellow hair walked along the river, and beckoned to me."

"That's not so odd," said Gladden. "People walk along the river all the time."

"No, no. She walked on the river, right on top of the water."

A few days later, he mentioned the same dream again. He began to dream of the lady and the river often. He told Gladden of it, but no one else. "The boys would just laugh at me, and mother would say I was being silly," he said.

It seemed to Gladden that he spent more and time thinking about the lady, believing she wanted him to come find her. He grew thinner and paler.

One day, Kali's mother came to Gladden's hole, wringing her hands and weeping. "He's been gone for two days," she told Gladdy's mother. "I don't know where he can be. He's been moping about the house for days, I thought it was just a girl, but now he's gone."

Gladden overheard this, and thought, "He's gone to find the lady of his dreams." She felt a sharp pang in her heart, and tears fell down her cheeks. She wiped her eyes, and said to herself, "If he loves the lady and she loves him, then I will wish them happy. If she gives him pain, then I'll give her pain," and she started right off to pack a little bag with food and extra clothes.

Somehow, she knew that he had gone up along the Withywindle, so she set out toward it with certainty, but a troubled heart. She had walked some hours, and the afternoon was fading, when she heard a thrashing in the bushes and soft whining.

She stepped carefully around them, and found a vixen caught in an old rabbit snare. She took her little knife, and said, "Be calm, my friend. I will cut you free." The vixen quieted her whimpering, and kept still while Gladden cut the twine away from her leg.

While the vixen rested, Gladden brought her water from the river, then fed her bits of bread and cheese, until she felt stronger.

"Thank you, my dear," said the vixen. "You have a kind heart. If I can repay you in any way, just call on me." She gave Gladden a white tuft from her tail-tip, and said, "Keep this in your bosom. If you need my help, strike it against a tree-trunk and call for me," and with that she sprang away through the woods.

Gladden followed the faint trail along the river until dark. She found a hollow beneath an oak tree, ate a little and then wrapped her cloak about her and curled up. She slept, but her dreams were full of Kali, looking past her at something she could not see.

In the morning, she breakfasted, drank from the river and set off again. Before long, she came upon a clearing by the riverbank, where she saw a family of otters. The mother and her kits were playing in the early sun. They turned toward her as she approached, and the mother otter said, "Greetings, young lady. Good morning to you."

Gladden returned the greeting, and knelt to make friends with the kits. She played with them a little, while their mother rested and looked on.

Soon the mother said, "I must go fishing for the children's dinner. Will you watch them while I am gone?"

Gladden agreed with good cheer, for the kits were active and comical. She played with them until the mother returned with a couple of fish in her mouth. "Will you have some?" she offered.

"I thank you, but no," said Gladden. "I have already broken my fast, and these little ones are quite hungry."

The otter mother divided the fish among her kits. While she and Gladden watched them eat, she said, "Thank you for your kindness in watching my children." She clawed one long, bristly whisker from her snout, and said, "Take this. If you need me, just trail it in the water, and I will come to help."

Gladden thanked her again and again, then took her leave and continued her journey up the river. She stopped to make a little sachet from her handkerchief. She put into it the tuft of fur and the whisker, and hung it about her neck on a cord.

She walked through the day. The sun began to sink to the west when she saw a large muddy flat in a bend of the river. There caught in the mud was a hawk, its claws held fast by the sticky muck. It flapped its wings, trying to get free, but only sank deeper, getting mud on its feathers, as well.

"Stop, stop," cried Gladden. "You'll do yourself more harm that way. Let me help you." She set down her bag, tied up her skirts, and walked out through the mud. She sank to her knees in it before she reached the bird, but she was able to lift it away from the mud and carry it back to dry land. She tore a strip from her underskirt, and washed the mud from the hawk's claws and wingtips.

When he had preened every feather back into place, he pecked out one, and gave it to Gladden, saying, "You are a good-hearted young person. I owe you my life. If you have need of me, wave this feather through the air, and I will come to you." Then he leaped onto the air and was gone.

The sun dropped below the trees by the time Gladden and the hawk parted, so she found a place to spend the night, ate a little and went to sleep. Again, she dreamed of Kali. He looked thinner and paler than ever.

In the morning, she again continued up-river, but was soon stopped by a steep, rocky slope, over which the river tumbled with great force. She looked about for a trail, for she was certain, she knew not why, that Kali was still ahead of her.

She saw nothing. "If only I could fly over this cliff," she said to herself. Then she thought, "My hawk-friend! I cannot fly, but he surely could go ahead, and see if my dear friend is there."

She pulled the feather from her tunic and waved it through the air. Almost before her hand ceased moving, the hawk was plummeting toward her. She held up her arm, and he landed there. She told him her tale, of Kali's dream of the Lady, and her certainty that he had followed the river to find her.

"No sooner asked than answered," said the hawk. "I have seen your playmate. He is indeed by the river. Over this cliff, the land slopes gently up toward another, taller waterfall. Below that fall is a deep pool. Beside the pool waits a young person, drooping and sad. I see nothing of any Lady, but I know the river can be tricky and treacherous."

"How may I come there?" asked Gladden, but on this, the hawk was unable to advise her, for all his pathways were through the air.

"If you are acquainted with any creatures of the ground, perhaps one could guide you," he said.

Gladden bethought her of the fox, and, bidding the hawk farewell, she pulled the bit of fur from its sachet. She struck it against the trunk of a tree. Hardly had she struck it thrice before the vixen came trotting though the woods.

"Good morning, my friend," she said. "I am ready to help you."

Gladden again told the story of Kali and the river, and how the hawk said that he was beyond the cliff.

The vixen said, "I can guide you 'round this pile of rock, and bring you up to the pool. The hawk is correct, though. The river is not always friendly."

So Gladden followed her around through the trees and up past the cliff. After some time, they came to the pool, surrounded by the yellow flags of her name-flower.

There, indeed, was Kalimac. He sat on the sand at the edge of the water, his eyes fixed on its surface. He seemed not to see nor hear her. Gladden wept and shouted, but he gave no reply. However, when she stepped between him and the pond, he moved aside so he could still gaze into it.

Gladden went closer, and looked into the water. Deep in the pool, she could discern the outline of a woman. Her long, yellow hair and green gown rippled in the water.

"My Lady," whispered Kali. "I cannot free you from the bonds of the river. I have tried and failed."

Gladden thought the lady could not be alive at the bottom of the pool, but then she saw her move and twist, as though trying to break free from unseen bonds.

"I have tried night and morn to release you," said Kali. "Now I shall die here beside you." Tears fell from his eyes to the sand.

Gladden thought, "If it will keep my dear friend from dying, I must try to free the lady, though she take him from me forever." She laid down her cloak and took off her skirts, looking aside at Kali. He paid her no more mind than before, but continued heaving sighs and watching the lady.

Clad only in her shift, Gladden walked into the water. It made her shiver, but she took deep breaths and dived down to the bottom. She saw then that little tendrils of mossy waterweed wrapped around the woman's arms and legs, holding her fast.

Gladden tried to pull it away, but as fast as she pulled, the weeds twisted back faster. She rose back to the surface and breathed deeply. She climbed dripping out of the water to get her little knife from her bag.

Once more, she dived into the water, but no sooner had she reached the lady, than she felt someone beside her, and saw the sleek dark fur of the mother otter and her kits. She had left the sachet with the whisker in it around her neck, and as soon as it touched the water, it had drawn the otter to her aid.

The otters pulled away the weeds, and Gladden cut them with her knife. She had to return to the surface for air more than a few times. As soon as one arm was loosened, the lady's eyes opened, and she began to tug at the weeds, as well.

Soon, the last green curl gave way, and the lady rose to the surface. Gladden came shivering out of the pool. The water mixed with her tears as she saw Kali watching the Lady.

The Lady was very tall. She hardly glanced at Kali, but looked around. Her eyes fell on Gladden, and she said, "Do I owe my rescue to you? You have my deepest thanks.

"My poor child, you are nearly frozen! Come, let us get you dry," and without a word to Kali, she led Gladden to her pile of clothes, helped her strip off the wet shift and put on dry clothes. The Lady wrapped her in her cloak, and drew her into the sun.

The Lady herself seemed not at all inconvenienced by a prolonged wetting. Her green gown still rippled and glittered as dew on young grass, and her yellow hair drifted in the air as if in water.

"How did you come to find me?" she asked. "I sent dreams to my true love, hoping he would set me free, but he has not heard them, I see."

"Those dreams found their mark," said Gladden bitterly. "Behold, there he is," and she gestured to Kali, who still stood watching with open mouth.

"Ah, I see," said the Lady. "My dreams were sent astray, and have ensnared your friend." She laughed softly and sadly. "No, here is not my true love. My true love walks far under sun and star. He is older, he is wiser, still the river tricked him. The river held me, sent my dreams adrift.

"Now you have freed me, but I must free your friend." The Lady went to Kali and laid both her hands on his head. "I am but a dream to you. One day you will find the one who is not a dream."

She turned back to Gladden. "You have courage and a generous heart. Though you thwarted the river, my father, he will not harm you. Indeed, he will be kind to you and your friends, in this much I can guide him."

She knelt and embraced Gladden warmly and kissed her. "I and my love will be friends to you and your children and theirs. May you fare well all your days. If you would speak with me again, go to the river, to the Withywindle, and say, 'Send me your daughter', and I will come to you." The Lady dived once more into the pool. Gladden thought she saw something green and yellow flashing up the waterfall. She whispered, "Fare you well, also, Riverdaughter."

Gladdy turned to Kali. He shook himself and looked around. "What are we doing here?" he asked, "and is there anything to eat?"
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Postby *yona* » Wed May 31, 2006 11:32 am

Hey, neat! A story about Goldberry!
I really like her character in the Fellowship, and the the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, but there seems to be entirely too little of her history and such in them.
Anyway, hurrah for the Riverdaughter!
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Postby DrummerGirl » Fri Jun 02, 2006 6:52 pm

*yona* wrote:Hey, neat! A story about Goldberry!
I really like her character in the Fellowship, and the the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, but there seems to be entirely too little of her history and such in them.
Anyway, hurrah for the Riverdaughter!


Hi, *yona* :)

Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm so glad you liked it. :D

The thing is, Tolkien gave pretty short shrift to most females. He was a man of his times. :roll:

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Shadow and Fire

Postby DrummerGirl » Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:46 pm

Shadow and Fire


Dwarves keep their language secret and their lives hidden from outsiders. Sometimes, even among themselves, there comes one yet more guarded.

In the great City of the Dwarrowdelf lived a Dwarf of a more than usually suspicious nature. His soul shrank under the gaze of others and withered even more when they looked away.

He began to avoid the other Dwarves. He worked when they slept and dug his tunnels as far away from others as possible. Each day, his soul grew smaller and harder.

He found a new vein of mithril, and wishing to keep it secret and safe for himself, he took devious routes to and from his digging. He hid the ore and rubble in abandoned mine-shafts, "Just to keep them from prying," he thought.

Sometimes the other Dwarves asked him to join them in mining or in feasting. "No," he said each time, thinking, "They just want to find my vein of true-silver."

When they left without pressing him, he thought, "If they really cared, they would ask me again," and his soul shriveled a little more.

They ceased asking, at the last. "I see they truly don't care for me; they don't ask me to accompany them," he said to himself. His soul dwindled yet again.

He spent all his waking hours in his secret tunnel. He followed the vein as it twisted ever downward. Dreams of smoke and flame running toward him along the mithril accompanied his sleep. He imagined the others, the ones who had rejected him, engulfed in flame. "They would be well served," he thought.

One day, the sound of his pick on the rock changed. He knew he approached a large cavity. Though it meant, perhaps, the end of his vein of true-silver, his heart beat faster at the thought of opening up a new cavern, or even series of caverns. "Then I would get my due," he thought. His mind filled with visions of the other Dwarves envious of his fortune in expanding their City yet again. Somehow, though, heat and smoke wreathed through the vision.

At last the tip of his pick slipped into a tiny hole. He enlarged it with care, and peered through. Instead of utter blackness, he saw a dull glow and heard a slow rhythmic thud. He pulled away more shards of rock, and in his haste and lack of care, one large piece tumbled inward, clattering ever louder down the side of the chamber.

The glow brightened and turned toward him. It rose up. Its cloak of shadow filled the cavern. He thought to retreat, but his limbs shook with fear and failed him. He fell to the ground as the thing beyond reached up and broke away the edges of the hole. It came closer and he pressed himself to the ground and hid his eyes for very terror. It said, or perhaps he only thought it said, "Thou! Thou puny thing! Hast thou released me, then, after ages in this prison?"

The Dwarf's tiny soul shrank to nothing and winked out. The Spirit of Shadow and Fire strode out over his body, through the tunnel and away up into the City of the Dwarves.
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Postby DrummerGirl » Sat Jul 22, 2006 8:22 pm

The Swans

...

Amroth beheld the fading shore
Now low beyond the swell,
And cursed the faithless ship that bore
Him far from Nimrodel.

Of old he was an Elven-king,
A lord of tree and glen,
When golden were the boughs in spring
In fair Lothlorien.

From helm to sea they saw him leap,
As arrow from the string,
And dive into the water deep,
As mew upon the wing.

The wind was in his flowing hair,
The foam about him shone;
Afar they saw him strong and fair
Go riding like a swan.

But from the West has come no word,
And on the Hither Shore
No tidings Elven-folk have heard
Of Amroth evermore.


Part of Legolas's song of Amroth and Nimrodel, "Lothlorien", FOTR

~~~

Long ago, there lived a Lord of the Elves. He loved an Elven maiden, and she returned his love full well.

In those days, the lands were racked with war, and the maiden said to her love, "I cannot marry you here, in the midst of war. Let us fare to Elven-Home; there, in the land of peace, may we wed."

Now the Elven-Lord was a warrior, and ruled over many folk, and loth was he to leave his people to the chances of war while he departed for the Undying Lands. However, after many years of pleading and waiting, at last he relented. He took ship down the River to the Sea, while the maiden and her ladies journeyed by land through the woods.

The Lord waited in his ship upon the Sea for many weeks, unknowing that she and her ladies had become lost and mazed among the trees. A storm came up; a strong wind blew; the ship ran out to Sea. The Elven-Lord saw the land receding as the ship bore him toward the Straight Road.

He sprang into the water, that he not be parted from his love by the impassable ocean. The waves and water overwhelmed him, and he was like to drown, but the Lord of the Sea took pity on him, and transformed him into a swan. Thus he returned to Middle-Earth. There he found his betrothed with but one maiden left to her, wandering upon the shore.

The Lord of the Waters, being persuaded by the great love of the Lady for her Lord, transformed her, also, into a swan. The Elf-Lady's handmaiden begged him to turn her to a swan, as well.

"For the devotion you show to your Lady," he said, "you may join her every day, but at night you must put off the swan and return to your native form."

Joyfully she agreed, and for some years the three lived thus, the Lord and his Lady as swans. By night they slept near the water, the handmaiden as woman beside her mistress the swan.

~~~

One day, a Prince of the land was out hunting. He became separated from his fellows, and lost his way. Evening drew nigh, and he wandered deeper into the woods, where he came upon a lake. He resolved to camp there for the night.

As he lay watching the stars over the water, he saw three swans flying low. They landed on the shore. Unseen, he watched them preening before sleep. One of the swans stretched up her wings and flung them back as a cloak, and lo!, it was a cloak. A lovely maiden stood there, pushing back a covering of swan plumage. She was clad in naught but a white shift of feathers.

The Prince stared unashamed, entranced by the maidens beauty. They spoke together, the maiden and the swans, then the maiden and one of the swans settled down to sleep, while the other swan kept watch. The Prince intended to stay awake all night, but fell asleep, and woke to the whir of swan-wings as the three rose up into the dawn sky.

All thought of returning to his home fled his mind. Instead, he hunted for food, and rested against the coming night.

Night after night, he watched the swans and the elf-maiden. One day, the weather turned hot. Even the night was sultry. While the maiden slept, she threw off the feather cloak she used as a coverlet. As the watchful swan drifted on the lake, the Prince crept up to the maiden and stole away her swan-cloak.

In the morning, the maiden bewailed her missing cloak. "Someone must have taken it," she cried. She searched among the trees and bushes, but durst not go far alone, as the swans could not follow into the wood.

The Prince retreated into the forest, but his conscience smote him, for bringing distress to such a fair creature. He took counsel with himself, and determined to return her the cloak with nightfall.

The two swans took it in turn to remain with her, for they feared to leave her alone with robbers about. Both swans returned at dusk, and kept the maiden company. The Prince stood up and walked to the shore. The swans raised their wings and stayed between him and the elf-maiden.

He bowed low before the swans, and held forth the cloak.

"Hast thou stolen my cloak from me?" said the maiden, in the tongue of the Elves. "Know this, if I am woman all day, once I regain the cloak, I must pay back the time, and remain swan all night for each day as woman."

"Has some evil enchanter laid a spell on thee?" asked the Prince in the same tongue, for he was well-tutored. "How may I help thee to break it?"

"Nay, sir," she said, "'tis by my own choice that I am by turns maiden and bird." Nevertheless, as she looked on the goodly young man, she felt her heart leap.

"Then may I keep thee company and have speech with thee when thou art woman?" said the Prince.

Now the Elf-maiden, dearly though she loved her Lady and Lord, longed at times for the companionship of others. Though she saw the Prince was but of the Second-born, she assented.

She took back her cloak, and it leaped from her fingers to wrap around her shoulders. Her body dwindled, the cloak-wings stretched up into swan-wings, and there before him were the three swans.

They settled for the night, the Man and the swans. In the morning, the swans again took flight, while the Prince remained on the shore. He wondered if he would see again the lovely maiden, or if she would forget her promise of friendship. All day he waited. As the sun was setting, he looked anxiously to the sky. At last, he saw them drift down from the clouds. They landed, and the maiden at once threw back the swan-cloak.

They rested before sleep, and each began to learn of the other. Even in woman-form the maid could speak with the swans, so the Prince heard also the tale of the Elven-Lord and Lady. The Prince took his turn at the watch in the night, and at dawn the swans left once more.

After some days, the Prince remembered his lands. With regret, he told the maiden and the swans that he must needs return to his duties as Lord of his House. "It would please me if you would visit me in my castle by the sea," he said. "Have no fear, for it shall be made the law of my land that no one may harm a swan, nay, not even the smallest swan's feather."

With a heavy heart, he searched his way back to his lands and to his castle and his duty. He feared that never again would he see the Elf-maiden.

When he was again in his own council chambers, he made good his promise to the swans, and his heralds proclaimed throughout the land that no person might harm any swan, no, not the least feather of the smallest swan.

He took up the rule of his lands, and resolved to put out of his mind the swan-maiden.

The seasons changed, and turned toward the time of storms and cold. One day of bitter wind and rain, as the Prince sat before his council table, one of the guards that walked his castle walls came in, saying that in the storm three swans had landed on the parapet walk.

The Prince laid aside his work in haste, and hurried up to the wall top. There, indeed, were the three swans. As he greeted them, the short winter day drew to a close, and before the astonished eyes of his guards, the swan-maiden became all maiden.

She shivered there on the stone walk in her bare feet and short feather shift, with the swan-cloak wrapped about her. The Prince threw his own velvet cloak over hers, and led all three inside.

"Lord Prince," she said, "we have come to beg shelter of thee. Our lake is frozen, and my Lord and Lady wish not to leave their home to follow the Sun South."

The Prince agreed eagerly. He allotted to them a fine suite of rooms with large windows facing the sea, that the swans might come and go as they pleased.

The swans wintered there, and the maiden was most pleased to sleep once again in a bed instead of on the earth.

The Prince took to calling his council meetings after dusk, for he found not only that the maiden was wise and well-spoken, but that the counsel of the Swan Lord was of true value. With the Swan Lord to advise him and the maiden to interpret, he became known as a Lord of justice and wisdom throughout his land.

When spring came, the three swans took their leave, though the maiden seemed quite sad. When winter returned, so did the swans. Again, the Prince and the maiden spent what time they could together.

With the return of spring, Prince and maiden declared their love for each other.

"Though I am of the Eldar, and thou art of the Second-Born," she said, "I had rather be thy wife for thy time in Arda than the wife of any other for all time." The Swan Lord and Swan Lady were grieved that her heart had been given to a mortal, but delighted in the love of the twain even as in their own. Thus they gave their consent to the wedding. And so she did off her swan-cloak, and put it away in a locked chest, and she and the Prince were married.

For many years, the Prince and Princess lived happily. They had children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The Swan Lord and Lady overwintered with them every year, and were greatly beloved of the Prince's family.

Now though the Prince was of the House of the King of the Western Land, and thus gifted with age far beyond the span of lesser men, still he began to feel the weight of the years. His Princess, the erstwhile swan, looked on in sadness, for she, being of the First-Born, had not been granted a share in the Gift of Men.

One autumn evening, the Prince and Princess sat in their garden, with all their family about them. The Princess felt cool, and wished for a wrap against the night air.

The son of the son of the Prince's heir leaped up and said, "Let me fetch one for you, Great-Grandmother!" and he ran up to her rooms. He saw, in a corner, the chest that had always been locked. It was now open, and a luxurious white feather cloak spilled out. He snatched it up, and carried it down to the garden.

He came softly up behind the Princess and draped it about her shoulders. With a cry, she sprang up, but it was too late. Her form melted into the swan's shape. She turned to her husband. He embraced the swan and wept. The great-grandson looked on in horror.

When the Prince heard the tale of the unlocked chest, he knew then that the Lord of the Ocean had determined that his servant's time was almost done. He knew that his time was short as well.

The Prince lived but one more winter. The swan was his constant companion. She would sleep beside him on his bed, and fly out but briefly before returning. The Swan Lady and Lord also spent the winter by his side. As spring approached, the Prince breathed his last. The swans mourned his passing, then flew about the castle in farewell. The new Prince buried his father, and the swans returned to their lake in the woods.

The Prince's House kept the story of their great-grandmother, and from that day to this, no one may harm a swan, not even its smallest feather.

~~~

Now, when the children of the Prince's House in Dol Amroth see swans flying overhead, they wave and blow kisses and call, "Great-great! Here we are - look at us!"

And that's why the sign of the House of Dol Amroth is the Swan.
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The Wooden Boy

Postby DrummerGirl » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:58 pm

The Wooden Boy

A tale of Elves and Men set in Long Lake / Esgaroth.

~~~

In Esgaroth long ago, or rather nearer the Forest than the town, there lived a husband and wife. They were toymakers. The husband foraged in the Forest for wood, though he never laid axe to any living tree, but rather sought downed wood. He knew that the Elves mightily prized their trees.

He brought the wood home, and together they would carve and paint and dress dolls and other toys of all sorts. From time to time, they took them to Dale to sell in the toy market.

They had no children, though dearly they wished for them, even one. "At least," said the wife, "we can give joy to children through our toys. But Oh!, how I would love a little boy!" And the husband said, "Ah, me! How it would lighten our days if we had a little girl beside the fire with us!"

Nonetheless, they were a cheerful couple, as kind to each other as to all they met. Sometimes in the evening, the Elves peeped in to see them whittling and sewing in their workroom, singing and talking and laughing together. The Elves did not grudge the use of the the Forest's wood thus a whit.

One day, the husband brought from the Forest a large oaken branch. He carved and sanded and smoothed it, his wife painted and sewed, and soon they had a new, life-sized boy-doll.

"How sweet-faced he is," said the woman. "I can hardly bear to let him go."

"Let us put him here by the hearth," said the man. "He will be our companion for a while."

So of all their toys and dolls, they kept this one wooden boy, sitting in a little chair by the fire. As they worked, they included the boy in their conversation, though he never answered. Sometimes, perhaps by a trick of the firelight, it seemed his expression changed as the tone of talk changed from joyous to sad and back again.

~~~

Away on the other side of the lake, there lived a family, a family loud and without peace. The mother and father shouted at each other and at their children without cease.

"These children eat more than I can provide," cried he.

"You spend more time and money with your friends at the tavern than your own flesh and blood," cried she.

"That one is no flesh and blood of mine," he said, pointing at the thin, small ragged boy in the corner.

"He is my sister's child, and we must do our duty. Besides, he doesn't eat much," said she, and they began shouting again about the orphaned boy, about their own poor children, about their small mean house, about anything that came to mind.

The orphaned boy huddled in the corner. His father had died so long ago he scarce remembered him. His mother had died but recently, and he mourned her silently, here amid the loud, rude, unhappy family of his aunt.

When the Elves peered into this house (which they seldom did, on account of the noise and discord), they saw the little boy sitting silent and still. They felt sorry for him. They said to each other, "We can play tricks on the mortals and help this little boy at the same time!"

One evening the Elves gathered at the house of noise. While the shouting went on unabated, the Elves began to sing, softly, so softly. Soon, all within the house were asleep. They tiptoed into the house, and went to the corner where the orphan lay. They roused him, and as he rubbed his eyes, they offered him water from a little silver flask.

Now inside this flask were a few drops of water from the Enchanted River, deep within the gloomy Forest. This water would put to sleep for days any who drank of it. The Elves had also laid on it an enchantment of forgetfulness.

When he had drunk from it and fallen back to sleep, they picked him up and carried him out, down the street, away from the town, back toward the Forest.

They came to the house of the toymakers. There, the husband and wife had already gone to bed. Again, the Elves sang softly. Even if the mortals had been awake, they might not have heard it.

The Elves slipped into the house, still singing. They set the sleeping boy beside the wooden boy. They changed clothes between the two boys. As they did so, Lo!, the boys exchanged form as well. The human boy took on the seeming of the wooden boy, while the wooden boy looked for all the world like the orphan.

They laid the sleeping boy on the floor beside the little chair, and carried off the doll. Back they traveled to the house of discord. Well before dawn, they set the wooden boy in the orphan's corner and hastened again to the Forest edge.

When all in the house began to stir, the mother went to rouse the orphan. She shook his shoulder and found him cold and lifeless. "Alas, my nephew, my sister's only child is dead," she cried.

"All the fewer mouths to feed," said her husband. "Quick, get him out of my sight and bury him."

So the orphan's aunt wrapped the wooden boy in a cloth and buried him. She shed some tears over him, for she had been a little fond of her nephew. She returned to the house and shouted at her children and husband, and they returned the favor.

In the house by the Forest, as the sun rose, the Elves sang low. It was a song of concealment, that they might watch without being seen.

The toymakers awoke and began to prepare for the day. They found that somehow during the night, the wooden boy had fallen out of his chair. He now lay curled up on the bit of rug before the hearth.

The wife picked him up and found him to be much heavier than she remembered. As she did so, he moaned a little and wiggled in her arms. She almost dropped him in her startlement.

"Look, my love," she cried to her husband. "Our dear wooden boy has become a real boy!"

Together they carried him to the bed and set him on it. With the glamour laid on him by the Elves, his face looked just like the one they had carved and painted, but warm and living.

"Perhaps some magic has come out of the Forest, and brought our boy to life," said the man. They both turned and waved and bowed toward the Forest and the unseen Elves, their hearts full of gratitude.

After some days, the boy stirred and woke. The enchantment of forgetfulness was still upon him. He remembered but dimly his real mother, and his aunt and cousins not at all. He soon came to call the toymakers "Mother" and "Father".

The glamours of the Elves faded, of course, but so slowly that no one noticed. The woman and man, now Mother and Father, rejoiced in their son and were happier than ever. And, as so often happens, they soon had a little girl, who came about in the more usual way.

Even their toys were better than before, for now they were tested, each and every one, by the toymakers' children. Sometimes, the Elves would creep into the house and lay a little enchantment on one or another toy. Thus, they became known far and wide for their wonderful, magical toys.
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Postby *yona* » Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:50 pm

Hello Drummergirl!
Those are very good! The swan story was good in one way, sort of Old Fairytale-ish, but nicer, and a little Aragorn/Arwen-ish, but way happier! I have always disliked the Nimrodel 'tragic love', it doesn't sit right, somehow. Good job for bringing peace to a formerly distressing tale. And Dol Amroth worked in just beautifully. Very nicely done!
And the boy one was good in another way, certainly much better then Pinnochio! I especially appreciate the way you bring your stories to a calm and happy conclusion every time.
I've been away from the internet for several months so I am just now getting to read them.
Just wanted to let you know. Great job!
Yona
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Postby DrummerGirl » Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:02 pm

Hi, Yona :)

Thanks for stopping by again to read and comment! I'm so glad you like them.

My stories do tend to happy endings, or at least ambiguous, though one or two are darker. I confess to being a bit of a Pollyanna...;)

*pokes at story-seeds* *sees at least three Fairy Tale seeds* Looks like two happy endings and one bittersweet, but who knows when they'll sprout.

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The Heart of the Mountain

Postby DrummerGirl » Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:42 pm

The Heart of the Mountain

A tale of Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain

~~~

Long, long ago, when dragons still roamed the North, the Dwarves founded the Kingdom Under the Mountain. Gamil, he who would become the greatest jeweler of Erebor, traveled to the new realm with Gil, his sister.

Gamil served the King Under the Mountain. At times he would dig in the mines in search of gems. These he then cut and shaped and set in fair metal work of silver or gold.

On the eve of the Feast Day of Mahal, while seeking gems deep below the Mountain's peak, the light of his lantern winked off something in the tunnel wall. He saw there the surface of a water-clear crystal. For many weeks he worked tap by tap--a small chip of rock and no more, perhaps, in a whole anxious day. Finally he freed from the rock a stone of adamant of such size he could scarce wrap his hand 'round it.

He carried it to the chambers he shared with Gil, to show her the wonderful stone, yet unshaped.

Together, they knew, they could make a thing of wondrous beauty, which would charm all who beheld it. They spoke long together ere ever they began to work.

First, Gamil studied the stone. He looked at it in bright light and dim. He examined it by light of lamp and candle. He even left the halls of rock to gaze at it by Star and Moon and Sun.

At last, with trembling heart but steady hands, he took the first small flake from the stone.

Gil left their chambers to study with the Wise Women, who dwelt apart. She learned to walk wakeful the pathways of sleep, and of runes inscribed and spells chanted. While her brother took pains to carve the stone, she grew in mastery of the magic of the Dwarves.

Gamil did not neglect his other work. He took an apprentice; he made ornaments great and small, for the King and his Council.

He knew the stone demanded naught but the best from him. Thus he touched it but rarely, only when his strength was full, his hand sure and his mind clear. And so, over the months and years, the stone took shape.

When at last he had fashioned the final facet, he rested, and called on his sister to bring her wisdom to the stone. Gil, too, studied the stone, sitting before it for hours, contemplating it with eyes and with mind and with heart.

Under her counsel, he devised a cunning array of mirrors and prisms. Together, they positioned them to catch and bend the light from the well in the side of the Mountain above their chambers.

Now, indeed, he must turn his other work over to his apprentice, Balon, for this endeavor would require all his thought. Balon was nothing loth to act the part of master, though he wondered ever what work Gamil wrought, for Gamil had kept secret all knowledge of the stone of adamant.

Gamil took a disk of pure silver. He hammered it and rolled it out smooth and fine as paper. Then Gil brought out a quill of copper. She wrote spells upon the silver, till it was covered with runes.

At midnight, on the night of the full Moon, they set the stone in the device of prisms. Around it they wrapped the silver paper. Gil chanted softly. The light of the Moon came down the well, past the mirrors and through the prisms. It fell full upon the silver. While she spoke, the moonlit silver sank into the stone, as a raindrop sinks into the river. The Moon passed away from the shaft and all went dark, save for the faint, new glow from the stone.

Gil dropped weary to the floor. Gamil took the stone from its cradle, and locked it away.

Again, Gamil took a disk of pure gold, and hammered it thin as tissue. Again, Gil wrote upon it, now with a quill of silver. They waited until Midsummer, then, at the height of the year, at midday, they again set the gold-wrapped stone in the device. The full force of the Sun poured down the light-shaft, multiplied by the mirrors and prisms. The golden tissue, full of the light of the Sun, melted into the stone.

When the Sun had passed from the shaft, and the dazzle left their eyes, they saw the stone glowed with golden light.

Now they waited until the dark of the year. Gamil took a nugget of pure mithril. He hammered the mithril until it was wafer-thin, tissue-thin, thin enough to see through. Gil used a quill of gold to write her spells on it. She worked with care, for the metal was as delicate as cobweb.

On the night of Midwinter, a night of no Moon, they placed the stone again under the prisms, cloaked in the enchanted mithril. All the longest night, Gil paced and chanted, as the stars wheeled above spilling their light down the shaft into the stone. As dawn broke, Gil swooned and could not be woken.

Gamil, distraught over his sister, ordered Balon to summon the healer. Though Balon had but a glimpse through the door of pale gold light from the network of mirror, lust for the shining thing filled his heart. The healer took Gil to their chambers, with Gamil following anxiously.

Balon tried the door, but Gamil had locked it behind the healer. For many days, Gil lay in a trance. Gamil feared to remove the stone until Gil awoke, though he returned daily to gaze upon it. Balon spied on his master, watching as he went from the workroom to Gil's side. Each time he saw the light glowing from within, he coveted it yet more.

At last, one day the healer called to Gamil that Gil had awakened. He sped to her, neglecting, in his joy, to lock the door behind him. Balon, peering at him in secret, saw at last his chance. He crept into the chamber and stole away the stone from its cradle.

When Gamil returned and found the stone gone, his heart near broke. He knew his apprentice had taken it while Gil recovered and he attended her.

He went at once to the King, to accuse his apprentice before the Council. The King sent for Balon, and within his chambers the guards found the stone. They brought both to the King.

"Oh, King," said Balon, "my master lies. I found this stone, and fashioned it thus. He saw my work, and being jealous that I have surpassed him in craft mastery, he wishes to take it for his own."

The King questioned many Dwarves, but found none who could say which of them, master or apprentice, spoke the truth. Indeed, Gamil and Gil had kept their secret well.

The King took thought on how to discover who had the right of it. He spoke with his advisors and read in the scrolls of Mahal. He pondered the dispute all night, and in the morning, he summoned his Council and Gamil and Balon.

"I have made my decision," he said. "As none can tell who rightly demands this artifact, let it be divided between the two claimants. The jewelers shall break it, and shall give half to Gamil and half to Balon.

"I will grant you," said the King, "one night and one day to consider this. Then you must return, and if both agree, my decision will stand."

"That is fair," said Balon. "You may break it in half, half for him and half for me."

"No," cried Gamil. "I need no thought for this. Rather let him have it whole than destroy the years-long work of my heart!"

The King smiled. "Then you shall have the whole. For what true craftmaster could bear to see his creation so blithely despoiled? I see that you are the true maker of this marvel."

Then Gamil threw himself before the King in thanks. He took back the wonderful adamant stone, and went immediately to find Gil. When he brought it to her, it was as though the light of Sun, Moon and Stars filled the room. She gazed long upon it, the end of many years of work that had so nearly been destroyed.

"What shall we do with it?" Gamil asked his sister. "I would not keep such light in a strongbox, yet all now know of it, and it will not be safe here without guard."

"It seems we have made it for all the Kingdom Under the Mountain," she said. "Let us give it to the King, and it will be the greatest treasure of all."

So they gave it to the King, and it became the most precious part of his regalia; he would call no Council and greet no ambassador without it at his right hand. The King found that by its light, he could read hearts and minds more clearly, and all praised his wisdom and knowledge. But he knew the truth of it, and gave honor and the King's favor to Gamil and Gil.
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Postby balrogthane » Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:41 am

Another great one! I liked the solution the Dwarven king used... like Solomon with the baby. :P It's also nice to get a story where the main character doesn't do bad stuff.

-(----
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Postby DrummerGirl » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:09 pm

balrogthane wrote:Another great one! I liked the solution the Dwarven king used... like Solomon with the baby. :P It's also nice to get a story where the main character doesn't do bad stuff.

-(----


Hi, balrogthane! Thanks for following my stories, and especially for stopping by to comment! I'm so glad you like them. The, ummm, Solomonic solution was pretty recognizable, no?
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Day-Bright and Night-Dark

Postby DrummerGirl » Sat Sep 01, 2007 7:58 pm

Here's a tale for Hobbits and Elves.

~~~

Day-Bright and Night-Dark
or
The Tale of the Fairy Wife


Long ago, before ever the Hobbits moved West across the Brandywine, a widow of the Took family lived with her little son Isumbar at the very edge of Hobbit country, right up against the Forest. They lived in the smallest, meanest, poorest hole.

One winter evening, they heard a knock on the door.

"Who can that be?" asked Mistress Took. She peeped through the spy-hole and saw there a woman of the Big People, drooping and leaning on the door frame.

Though she was astonished to see such a person, she opened the door to let her in.

"This is not a night to leave any person to face the winter snows," she said.

The woman staggered in. She was small for one of the Big Folk; still her head nigh touched the ceiling. She fell before the fire in a swoon.

Mistress Took bent over her unexpected guest. "Hasten, Isumbar. Go to the healer and bring her here," she said.

So Isumbar bundled himself in his warmest cloak and hurried off to the healer's hole. The healer was not best pleased to be dragged from her Fore-Yule preparations, but she assembled her healer's kit and returned with Isumbar.

When they arrived at the small hole, they found Mistress Took had made the poor woman as comfortable as possible before the hearth, for the Hobbit-bed was by far too small. His mother and the healer put him to work bringing in firewood but then banished him to his pallet. He curled up and tried to sleep. The cries of the strange woman troubled his dreams until morning.

He awoke to a different kind of crying. The woman lay in shallow sleep on the floor; the healer had taken his mother's bed, while Mistress Took dozed in her chair by the fire. On either side of the woman, tucked under her arms were two tiny babes.

Isumbar tiptoed closer. His mother roused and signaled him to silence. He gazed down at the new little ones. One had golden down upon her head, as yellow as her mother's. She opened bright blue eyes at him. Her sister's hair was black, and her eyes were gray as cloud.

The mother stirred, and Mistress Took went immediately to her side.

Later that day, another knock came at the door. Outside stood an elf-man, dark-haired and gray-eyed.

"My wife," he said. "Have you seen her?"

He stooped a little to enter the hole, but fell to his knees beside the woman. He gathered her and the little ones in his arms.

"I am in your debt. The storm parted us, and I have searched for her with little hope until now."

"I have done but what was needed," replied Mistress Took.

The woman rested with Isumbar and his mother. The elf-man visited daily until she was stronger.

When she was ready to leave, she looked at little Isumbar. "When he is grown, he will be worthy of the daughter of the Lord of the Elves."

The elf-man and his wife and babes disappeared into the Forest. A few days later, Mistress Took found a little woven fern basket on her doorstep. Within it lay two elf-beryls, one as blue as the sky, as blue as the eyes of the golden-haired babe, the other silver-gray as rain.

She put aside the blue gem, and with the pale gem set about restoring her prosperity.

Mistress Took and her son worked hard, but soon their fortunes had improved. They moved to a larger, more comfortable hole. Mistress Took increased her properties, and became a person of substance and influence.

Her son grew to be an industrious, clever lad. When he had leisure, though, Isumbar wandered in the fringes of the Forest and practiced music on his pipes.

While playing songs in a glade of the wood one day, he met two little girls. The taller one had hair dark as shadow; the other's glowed like sunshine. They told him their elvish names, but said, "You may call us Night-Dark and Day-Bright," for he did not speak their elvish tongue.

When his mother could spare him from work, he went straight to the Forest to meet his playmates. They rambled together among the trees; Isumbar would play upon his pipes while Day-Bright sang and Night-Dark whirled about and danced. He met again the elf-man and the woman of the Big People, and learned somewhat of their language.

As the years passed, Isumbar grew taller; in fact he grew to be the tallest hobbit for miles around, and must needs duck his head at the front door. His elf-maid friends grew as well, though more slowly. Still, both soon o'er-topped him, Day-Bright by a little and Night-Dark by a great deal.

Mistress Took saw how her son had grown to be a promising young Hobbit. The families with daughters of an age for marriage showed Isumbar special attention. However, Mistress Took remembered the words of the wife of the Elf-man, and the blue elf-beryl. She looked over the Hobbit-girls from far and near, and found none to be good enough for her son.

As for Isumbar, he had no thoughts yet of marriage. He preferred to visit his elf-friends in the forest rather than go to parties with his mother. He could spare less time than he wished, for his work kept him from the woods, but he went there straight-away when his chores were done.

One day, as they rambled in the woods, a great grey wolf came creeping through the trees. Isumbar stood between the young women and the beast, but his bravery was for naught. The wolf crawled forward on his belly, and showed them his throat. Night-Dark dashed from behind Isumbar and dropped to her knees beside the wolf.

"Look, here is an ornament attached to his neck!" she cried. She petted the wolf without fear, and he butted his head against her. Sure enough, there was a tiny lock embedded in the skin of his throat.

By this, they knew that some mystery or even magic was attached to the beast, so they took to calling him the Enchanted Prince. He became their playmate, but took care to disappear when others came near. Night-Dark became his especial friend, and learned to communicate with him somewhat.

She found that he was indeed an ensorcelled elven-youth. He had fallen afoul of the King of the Goblins, who, instead of killing him, had flung the wolf-skin over him and locked it shut at his throat. "You shall remain a wolf until you die, for the key is always by my hand," said the Goblin King, and laughing he drove the wolf out to be hunted and feared by all.

The three friends consulted together on how to reverse the spell on their dear wolf. They decided that the best way was the most direct way, so they set out for the Goblin King's caverns. When they drew near the mountains where the goblins lived, they sent the wolf to wait in the forest nearby.

"If the goblins see you, they will surely kill you," said Night-Dark. "Stay out of sight until we return."

Isumbar, Day-Bright and Night-Dark stepped boldly up to the front door of the caverns. The goblin soldiers laughed and jeered as they approached.

"We are wandering minstrels," said Isumbar. "We seek only to earn our way through the world with music and dance."

The goblin soldiers brought them before the king. "Let them entertain us. Sing and dance for us, puny elves," he said.

And so they sang and danced. At first they played happy dance tunes, while all the goblins crowded into the hall. When the hall was filled, the music changed.

Isumbar piped a tune of sleep. Day-Bright sang a song of sleep. Night-Dark danced a dance of sleep. Her dusky hair floated about her, the sleepy shadows reaching all around.

The Goblin King stood up. As he stepped toward her, he crumpled to the floor. All his soldiers and retainers fell to the ground, fast asleep as well.

While Isumbar continued piping and Day-Bright singing, ever softer, Night-Dark took the great iron ring of keys from his belt. The three friends moved quietly out of the hall of the Goblin King. They ran down the tunnel and out of the mountain into the night.

The wolf waited there for them. Already, they heard the goblin soldiers stirring behind them, and the Goblin King shouting after them, "Sieze them! Bring them back and throw them in the deepest caverns!"

They ran into the forest, not stopping to try the keys they'd stolen. Now one, now another rode on the back of the wolf. Finally, as day was breaking, the cries and clatter of the goblin soldiers fell behind. They hurried on until they could go no farther. As soon as they stopped, Night-Dark hunted through the keys on the iron ring, until she found the tiniest one. With shaking hands, she turned it in the lock at the throat of the wolf.

The lock opened and the wolf-skin fell away. A tall elf-youth stood before them. He embraced each one, and kissed Night-Dark on the mouth. Then they all turned toward their home, bringing the former wolf with them.

When they had met the Enchanted Prince, Day-Bright and Night-Dark's parents rejoiced that Night-Dark had found her true love. They saw also that Isumbar and Day-Bright had eyes only for each other.

"But first," they said, "you must gain the consent of Mistress Took."

So Isumbar and Day-Bright made their way to the Hobbit Holes. Mistress Took looked with favor on her son's choice, but she said, "How can I be sure she is a real elf? The woman foretold my son would marry the daughter of the Lord of the Elves. If she is a real elf, she can run upon the snow."

When winter snows fell, Day-Bright sprang out upon it and ran to and fro. Mistress Took clapped her hands for delight and immediately gave her approval. The shining elf-stone she hung about Day-Bright's neck.

So Day-Bright married Isumbar and her sister Night-Dark married the Enchanted Prince. Isumbar and Day-Bright had many children, and grew old together, for Day-Bright had chosen the fate of her mother's kindred when she gave her heart to Isumbar. As for Night-Dark, she chose the path of her father and the Elves, though she mourned her sister when she received the Gift of Men.

Even now, they say, she and her daughters watch over her sister's children from the eaves of the woods.
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Postby MithLuin » Sun Sep 02, 2007 12:18 am

Beautiful! SnowWhite and RoseRed, of course, though I thought it was going to be MacDonald's Day-Boy and Night-Girl (at first). What a wonderful way to blend together the legend of the Tooks with that of Luthien and the choice of the half-elven! And you've even preserved the moral of 'be kind to strangers.' I like it!
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Postby DrummerGirl » Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:19 pm

Hullo, Mith! Thanks for stopping by to comment. Yah, the names made me think of "Photogen and Nycteris", too! But of course, the story is more S-W & R-R until it takes a left turn toward Beren and Luthien. Of course, "Be kind to strangers" is woven through so many fairy tales, it just comes naturally. I'm glad you liked it.
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The Seeing Stones

Postby DrummerGirl » Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:29 am

Finally! Here's the story of the King's Daughter and the palantíri!

The Seeing Stones


In the City of the Fortress of Stars, there lived a King's Daughter. Of course, she was beautiful, with dark eyes and black hair flowing to her feet.

As King, her father was Master of the Seeing Stones. Every day, he looked in the large dark crystal to survey the other stones both within his Land of Stone and in the northern Royal Country. As she grew from childhood, the King's Daughter often accompanied him into the Chamber of the Stars, and gazed into the Seeing Stone there.

"You were born to rule," said the King. "Though your brother will be King after me, I shall marry you to a King, as well. Watch all that I do and learn."

One time, while the King conferred with ministers and generals from afar, she spied the face of a young man in the Seeing Stone. As she watched him, it seemed he returned her gaze. She did not know where or who he was, only that her heart was given in that moment, and so, she thought, was his. Whenever she returned with her father to the Stone, she sought his face. As soon as he spied her, his eyes never left hers.

Daily she would watch him in the Stone, but then came the day when he did not appear. She looked for him again in vain.

By now, the King's Daughter had grown to womanhood, and the time came for her to seek a husband. The King announced that he had contracted a betrothal for her with the prince of a distant land. She thought of her love, seen only in the Stone. "How can I marry any but him?" she wondered. She told her maidservant all her hopes and fears.

"The Elder People have come to the City," said the maid. "If you visit them, perhaps they can help you." She accompanied her mistress into the streets, and guided her to the place where they stayed.

The King's Daughter came to a large house. On either side of the entry stood a man of the Elder People, still as door-trees, with pale faces, black hair and gray eyes. She passed between them into the house.

When she reached the inner chamber, she found there three women of the Elder People, all, by seeming, as young as herself. They stood behind a table; one had black hair and gray eyes, as like to the door-wardens as a sister; one had silver hair and eyes pale as cloud; the third's hair rippled like sunlight down her back, and her eyes were as blue as summer sky.

Before them on the table lay a wide silver basin.

"Oh, Queens of the Elder People," said the King's Daughter, "how may I find my love, he whom I have seen in my father's Seeing Stone, but no longer?"

The dark-haired woman said, "As we are kin from afar, we will help you."

The woman with moon-pale hair poured water from a silver pitcher into the basin.

The golden-haired woman beckoned her forward. "Do not touch the water," she warned as all four women gathered about the basin and stared into it.

As she gazed into the water, the King's Daughter saw first a night sky. It paled as if the sun rose, and against the sky she saw a succession of towers. The first she knew as those of her island home, the City of Stars, but soon there came towers she knew not. The last tower stood over a mighty city beside a vast lake. Then she saw the face of her love, but his eyes were closed. He opened them and gazed into her own, but knew her not, it seemed. Finally her own face appeared, but somehow not her own. Then the night sky returned and faded into clear water again.

"You have far to travel," said she of the golden hair, " and obstacles to overcome."

And so they gave her gifts. The dark one gave her a silver mirror. The maiden of the pale hair gave her a golden comb, and the golden-haired one dipped a little crystal flask in the basin of the Water of Vision. She filled it, stoppered it and sealed it.

"With our gifts you may succeed, but you must start today," she said.

The King's Daughter thanked the women many times for their help. When she returned to the palace with her maid, the King summoned her immediately.

"Let me travel first to visit my Aunt and Uncle," she begged. "Then I will bow to your wishes."

Her father sent a troop of guardsmen and several ladies-in-waiting with her. She went first to the City of the Tower of the Moon, where her uncle was Lord. He led her to the topmost tower, which overlooked the Black Land, but the Seeing Stone there showed no sign of her love.

She visited next her aunt, the Lady of the City of the Tower of the Sun. Again, she climbed to the high tower of the Stone, but saw nothing of him.

Then in secret, she stole away with but her maid and one guardsman. She traveled many days across the plains and beneath the mountains until she reached the Tower of Clever Thought, in its valley bowl. The Warden of the Tower shouted to her from the window high above the door and refused to admit her.

"None but myself has been within this tower for many years. King's Daughter or no, you shall not enter either," he cried.

She turned away from the Tower of Clever Thought. With her companions, she traveled by secret paths through the mountains to the Sea. They came to the City of the Sea-ward Tower, ruled over by her uncle, the Prince of that land. With his help, she gained passage on a ship of the Elder People, and sailed with them to their Haven far away.

There she met the Guardian of the Haven, an ancient man of the Elder People. With him, she climbed the Watchtower of the Stars and saw its cunning star-gazing device. In the tower she found the Seeing Stone of the Elder People, which shows only the far-off home of the gods, but found not her love.

"There are but two more Stones," said the Guardian, "and both are still far from here. I will teach you the way to the nearest."

So she traveled for yet many more days until she came to the Tower of the Wind.

"Though there are many young men under my command," said the Captain of the Tower, "none may look into the Stone but I." Nevertheless, she reviewed the troops stationed at The tower and went to the Chamber of the Stone at its top, but once again in vain.

Now the Tower of the Wind stood within the Royal Country, and its Captain was in the army of that country.

"Our king is ill and near death," he said. "His second wife is ruling in his name. She is a witch, and has ensorcelled the King's Son. She hopes to marry him to her daughter from her first marriage, and thus control the kingdom."

At these words, the King's Daughter felt her heart beat faster. Surely this was her love!

"I must rescue him from his wicked step-mother," she said. "Will you help me?"

"I will," said the Captain, and he taught her the way to City of the Tower of the West, capital of the Royal Country, where the last Stone lay, and taught her also somewhat of the City and the wicked Regent. Her constant companions the guardsman and handmaid traveled with her to the City.

When they arrived, they found the City decked for a festival. "In three days time, our King's Son will marry the daughter of the Regent," proclaimed the heralds. "Let all the people rejoice."

"I am still in time," said the King's Daughter, and she went straightaway to the palace with the Tower of the Stone. "I am the Daughter of the King of the Land of Stone," she announced to the doorwarden, "come to gaze into the Seeing Stone of the King."

The doorwarden sent word to the Regent of the visitor, who laughed and said, "No one as shabby and ill-attended as that could be a King's Daughter! Send her out."

The King's Daughter went sadly out of the palace. Then she bethought her of the gifts of the three women. She sat beside the wall of the palace, and drawing out the golden comb, began to comb her hair.

At that time, the daughter of the Regent was walking along the top of the wall. She looked out and saw the King's Daughter playing with the golden comb. "I must have that comb," she said, and called down to the King's Daughter.

"Give me your comb," she said.

The King's Daughter looked up in astonishment, for the face of the Regent's daughter looked like her own. Now the Regent had ensorcelled the King's Son to believe that her daughter was his love, and had likewise enchanted her daughter to look like the woman he loved.

"It's neither for sale nor for giving," replied the King's Daughter, "but I will trade it for one look at the Seeing Stone."

The Regent's daughter led her to the Tower of the Stone, and she entered, but found no-one. She gave the golden comb to the Regent's daughter, and returned downcast to her lodgings with the guardsman and the maid.

Meanwhile, the witch's daughter took the comb and went to sit with the King's Son. She began to comb her hair while he watched.

When she drew the comb through her hair, the spell on it weakened, and the glossy black turned to light brown. She hastened away to her mother before the King's Son could notice.

The next day, there were but two days until the wedding. The King's Daughter sat by the palace and played with the silver mirror, turning it to and fro, and looking at her reflection in the shiny metal.

The daughter of the Regent walked again upon the wall, and saw the mirror.

"Give me the mirror," she said.

"It's neither for sale nor for giving," said the King's Daughter, "but I will trade it for one look at the King's Son."

"Follow me, but mind you stop at the door!" replied the Regent's daughter.

So she followed the Regent's daughter to the chamber where the King's Son sat. It was he! There was her love, but he looked only at the other woman, who shut the door firmly upon the King's Daughter. Away she went again, with both more hope and more fear.

The Regent's daughter showed the mirror to the King's Son. He looked into it, and beheld his own face, but when he turned it to look at his betrothed, he saw the face not the face of his love, but that of the daughter of the Regent.

"What witchery is this?" he cried, but the Regent's daughter dashed the mirror from his hand.

It broke upon the floor as she said, "Mind it not, my love. It is but foreign sorcery."

Nevertheless, the King's Son thought upon what he had seen, and could not put from his mind the vision of the mirror.

On the third morning, there was only one more day before the wedding was to take place. The King's Daughter again went to the palace wall. She took out the crystal flask and played with it, tossing it sparkling into the air or looking through it at the City.

"Give me the crystal flask," said the Regent's daughter.

"It's neither for sale nor for giving," replied the King's Daughter, "but I will trade it for one moment with the King's Son."

"What harm can one moment do?" thought the Regent's daughter, and she guided the King's Daughter to the chamber of the King's Son. At last, the King's Daughter stood near her love, and he beheld two women who looked alike. He could not tell one from the other.

"Now give me the flask," said the daughter of the witch. The King's Daughter drew forth the flask, but gave it instead to the King's Son.

"Let the King's Son give you the Water of Vision in the way he thinks best," she said.

The King's Son broke the seal on the flask and pulled out the stopper. He bathed his eyes in the Water of Vision, then dashed the rest of it on the King's Daughter and the daughter of the Regent.

With his vision now free of the spells of the Regent, he saw the true form of each woman. The Water of Vision drove also the enchantments from the head and heart of the King's Son. He called upon his father's ministers and generals. They arrested his stepmother the wicked Regent and her daughter, and threw them into the dungeon. He went to his father and found him so improved, with the removal of the Regent's spells, that he was able once again to take up ruling.

And after all, there was a wedding the next day, for the King's Son of the North Kingdom and the King's Daughter of the South Kingdom were joined finally in marriage.

~O~

Key:

The City of the Fortress of Stars: Osgiliath
The Tower of the Moon: Minas Ithil (Minal Morgul)
The Tower of the Sun: Minas Anor (Minas Tirith)
The Tower of Clever Thought: Orthanc
The Watchtower of the Stars: Elostirion
The Tower of the Wind: Amon Sûl
The Tower of the West: Annúminas
The City of the Sea-ward Tower: Tirith Aear in Belfalas (to be Dol Amroth in the future)
The Guardian of the Haven: Cirdan
The Land of Stone, the South Kingdom: Gondor
The Royal Country, the North Kingdom: Arnor
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Postby balrogthane » Sun Sep 30, 2007 5:01 pm

Another great story! I love your names for all the towers. I was with you up to the Tower of Clever Thought, then I had to go read your footnotes (a.k.a. cheat ;) ).

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Postby DrummerGirl » Wed Oct 03, 2007 8:25 pm

Hahaha!

"Cheating" is fine in this case, as I made frequent use of Encyclopedia of Arda & Tuckborough to get the names & meanings right!

Balrogthane, thank you so much for stopping to review so often! I really appreciate it, and am so glad you liked this new offering.

I noticed the other day that while I have more than one tale for the "good" types, I haven't attempted any for the baddies! Perhaps I should work up a tale for orcs or trolls... :)
Last edited by DrummerGirl on Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Frelga » Thu Oct 04, 2007 1:06 pm

I loved that story! It's true to the form of a traditional fairy tale, and yet it is all your own.

A story of evil people, now that would be interesting!
Impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.
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Postby DrummerGirl » Sun Oct 07, 2007 8:35 am

Thank you, Frelga, for your enthusiastic comments! I'm happy you liked it, and that the fairy tale form & elements work.

I had started thinking, idly, about a story for orcs, when I heard the announcer for a classical music station give a brief description of the tale behind Antonín Dvořák's symphonic poem The Water Goblin, and wondered if I could use that as a jumping-off point. It would be nice if it got written in time for Halloween, but alas, I cannot write that fast.
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