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The Elven King's Daughters

Started by Magpie Flynn, January 31, 2012, 09:47:43 PM

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Magpie Flynn

Took an passing idea I had and ran with it, would love to hear feedback on it!
Once, there was a boy who lived in a small cabin in the forest with his mother. His father had long ago perished and he had no siblings to speak of. Each morning, before his mother awoke, he would leave the cabin to hunt for the day's food. Deep, deep into the forest he would go, checking the various traps and snares he had set. Some days he'd bring back a brace of rabbits or a pheasant, other days his luck would grant him nothing at all. Despite this, the two lived comfortably enough and never really wanted for anything.

One morning, the boy awoke as usual and headed deep into the forest. At each of his snares, he found nothing. Thinking this would just be one of the bad days; he reset the traps with fresh bait and moved on. Finally, he came upon his last trap, and as luck would have it, it had been sprung and within sat a small pigeon. "You're not much, but you'll do well enough for my mother and me." He spoke out loud. "Oh please kind sir!" the pigeon cried out, "Spare me and I will make it worth your while!" "O ho! I have never heard pigeon croon so nicely!" The boy stated in surprise, "Surely there is more to you than flesh and feathers. Very well, though it means no meat for my mother's table I will release you." And saying so, he released the pigeon from the trap. 

"You are very wise, sir, for there is far more beyond feathers to me." The pigeon responded, bowing slightly to the boy. Suddenly the visage fell away and revealed a beautiful fairy clad in fine clothes. "For your kindness and to make up for ruining your supper, I will impart unto you advice that will, if followed, grant you a lifetime of comfort." "Surely all I need is a roof over my head and a little to eat and drink." The boy responded. "You will have these things and more." The fairy responded, "Listen now, carefully. Deep in the forest, even deeper than we are now, there is a high hill upon which naught but clovers grow. On the south side, you will find a door. Knock on the door four times, each time someone will answer but dismiss you. You must have faith and remain, for the fourth time you will be admitted entrance. Once inside you must not eat nor drink anything offered. Even the smallest crumb or drop of water and you will fall into a dead sleep and shall never awaken."
"Deep in the clover hill you will find five coffins: one of wood, one of stone, one of bronze, one of silver, and one of gold. Within each lies a maiden, not dead, but in a deep sleep. You must kiss each on the cheek to wake them and lead them back out from the hill. If any of them should be tempted astray, you and the maidens must forever stay within the hill, never to see the light of day again."

"Who are the maidens? And what dread spell has them so ensnared?" The boy asked. "They are the daughters of the Elven King," the fairy replied, "Stolen away as children from their beds." "But I do not understand," The boy responded, "Why does the Elven King not rescue his daughters himself? And what part do you play in this, good fairy?" "I am their Godmother," the fairy replied, "The hill is protected by the clover, none of the Seelie can gain entrance unless brought in by those underneath. Being human, you will more easily gain entrance. Not to mention you'll be quite enticing to the Unseelie." "Goodness, this seems to grow more complicated and dangerous by the minute. I hope you do not send me to my demise."

"Have faith, good sir, and you shall not fail. You have a pure heart and a clear mind. Remember my advice and you will receive the gifts you justly deserve." Saying that, the fairy disappeared in a flash of light. The boy remained for a moment, pondering on what had just occurred. "I should just leave things as they are," he mused, "For only disaster can come from any adventure involving the Fae courts. But," he continued, "It's hardly fair those maidens should be held captive away from their family. Ah, I see my heart has made up my mind. I pray the fairy has placed her trust wisely in me."

And so the boy set out in search of the clover hill. It was near midday that he chanced upon it and going around to the south end he espied the door. Boldly he knocked upon it and almost immediately it was answered by a red cap. "What do you want?" the red cap asked grumpily. "I wish admittance to your hall." The boy responded. "Be gone with you! You'll not have admittance here." And with that, the red cap slammed the door. Slightly put off, the boy remembered the fairy's advice and again knocked. Immediately the door was answered, this time by a will'o'wisp. "What do you want?" she questioned. "I wish admittance to your hall," Again the boy responded. "Be gone! You will not have admittance!" and the door was slammed shut. The boy knocked for a third time. "What do you want?" asked the answering pooka. "I wish admittance to your hall." Said the boy. "Denied!" shouted the pooka as the door slammed shut. The boy knocked for the fourth and final time and the door was answered by a troll. "What do you want?" he grumbled. "I wish admittance to your hall." The boy sighed. The troll studied him for a moment then shrugged, "Yeah alright, get in." The boy, relieved, entered through the door into the hill. He was surprised to find himself in a rather cozy kitchen, with a great fire cracking on the hearth. A sumptuous feast was laid out on a table. "Hungry?" asked the troll, "You are welcome to partake in all that you see."

The boy eyed the feast hungrily and reached out. Before he could lay a finger on the food he recalled the fairy's warning.  He stepped back from the table and addressing the troll replied, "I thank you, but I ate my fill of berries on the way here. I must regretfully decline." The troll snarled. "Very well. Surely, though, you must be parched. Have a bit of wine or at least a drop of water."
Again, remembering the good fairy's words, the boy spoke, "I drank from a small crystal pond not long ago, so again I thank you but must refuse." The troll grumbled, but did not press the issue further. "Our Queen wishes to meet you. I will take you to her ." The troll lead the boy through winding passageways to the great throne room. At the far end of the room on a mighty dais, sat a fairy, resplendent in golden cloth with a shimmering diadem on her brow. Around the dais were laid five coffins: one of wood, one of stone, one of bronze, one of silver, and one of gold. The boy thought to himself, 'Surely these are the coffins the good fairy spoke of.'

"Welcome to my hall," the Fairy Queen announced majestically, "you are welcome to stay as long as you wish and maybe longer still. It pains me greatly that you would scorn my offering of refreshment, however tomorrow perhaps you will accept. Rooms have been readied for you, you will be shown to them. Rest well, sir." The boy bowed awkwardly as he was dismissed and promptly followed the troll from the great hall to his rooms. The boy paid close attention to the path taken, knowing he would need to find his way back to the great room and out through the kitchens once he had awakened the maidens. They arrived at the rooms and the troll excused himself and closed the door, leaving the boy on his own. Immediately, the boy set to work on a plan. Finding paper and a quill on a table by the door, he hastily wrote drew a map detailing the hall. Next, he took a sheet and tore from it five strips. Finally, he cut the bottoms from the candles on the wall and collected the items together in his satchel.

That night, he waited for all to be calm before slipping silently from his room and making his way to the throne room. There, he set to work waking the maidens from their slumber. The first to awaken was the maiden of the wooden coffin. The boy laid a gentle kiss upon her cheek then stood back as her eyes fluttered open. He signaled her to remain silent and helped her out of the coffin before moving onto the next. He awoke the four other maidens in similar fashion, and once the last maiden was out of her coffin he gathered the five together to explain his plan of escape. To avoid the maidens being led astray, he placed the candle wax in their ears and the strips of fabric over their eyes. He then took a rope from his satchel and strung the maidens in a line. Taking the end of the rope, he withdrew the map and led the maidens from the hall.

It wasn't long before they came upon the red cap, who entreated the maidens to stay, promising them everlasting beauty. But the maidens could neither hear nor see the red cap and the boy continued to lead them on. Next, the will'o'wisp blocked their way and entreated them to stay, promising wealth beyond their wildest dreams. But again the maidens could neither hear nor see, and they continued on their way. The pooka was the next to hinder them, promising great wisdom if they only were to stay. But the maidens heard not a word nor saw his pleading face, and they continued on their way. Then the troll came upon them and begged them to stay, promising the love of the ages. But, as with the other specters, the maidens did not see nor hear him, and they continued on their way.

Finally the Fairy Queen barred their passing and spoke directly to the boy, for she knew speaking to the maidens would be useless. She promised him great power and influence if only he were to turn from his path and remain within the hall. The boy considered the offer. He thought of all the good he could do with the gift and all the people he could help. As he mulled over the offer, the good fairy's advice once again came to mind, warning him that if he were to turn from the path, he and the maidens would be trapped forever. Coming to a decision, he steeled himself and faced the Fairy Queen.

"Thank you, but no. I must refuse your offer." He stated. The Fairy Queen was furious, but she could do no more than watch as the boy lead the maidens through the kitchen and out the door in the south of the clover hill.
Once they were all removed from the hall the boy untied the rope and fabric from the maidens and removed the wax from their ears. "You are free now. You can return home to your family." The boy said with a smile. The maiden of the golden coffin came forward and clasped the boy's hands in her own. "We insist you come with us," she said, "Our father will be so pleased we are released he is sure to reward you for your bravery!" The boy responded, "I require nothing. I need no reward." But the maidens fell on him and begged him to return with them and he could not refuse.

The maiden of the stone coffin sang out into the wood and down from the trees flew three enormous eagles. They climbed onto the eagles backs two by two and soon found themselves soaring through the sky to the Elven King's home. Once they were safely back on the ground they entered the great hall of the Elven King. The maidens all ran to their father in greeting and he was overjoyed to see them.
"Father!" The maidens cried out, "We brought the boy who saved us!" The Elven King gestured for the boy to approach him. "So you are the boy who saved my beloved daughters. You will be rewarded greatly for your bravery. If would accept, I will make you my heir and offer the hand of my eldest daughter in marriage." The boy was struck dumb and did not know what to say. Finally he spoke, "Sire, what you offer me is truly great. But I am nothing more than a poor boy." "You have proven yourself more worthy than ten kings in my eyes." The Elven King responded, "I would have none other for my heir." "Very well," the boy responded, "I accept on the condition that I may bring my poor mother to live here. I can't very well leave her on her own in the forest." "If you wish it, so it will be." The king responded, and suddenly the boy's mother appeared by the boy.

A great feast and countless revelries were given and the boy married the Elven King's eldest daughter. The boy became the heir of the Elven King's kingdom and everyone lived long, happy lives.

The End

"Now, my boy. Can you tell me the answer to my riddle?" Madame Pendragon asked upon finishing the tale.

"The maiden of the wood coffin?" the young man questioned.

"Incorrect, you stupid boy! Pay attention!" Madame Pendragon sang cheerfully, "I'm a good sport; I'll give you two more guesses. Think carefully now, unless you want to be added to my little collection."

The boys eyes widened with fear for a moment before a look of deep concentration settled on his features. He had never been good with riddles. Why oh why did he agree to this game? He turned the riddle over and over in his mind. 'The wood weaves, the rope leads, freedom at a price, before you step, think twice'. "The... pigeon? The good fairy?" he ventured.

She shook her head, a coy smile spread across her face. The boy could feel a cold sweat come over him. Only one more guess, he had to think, he couldn't get it wrong. 'There must be some trick to this. Oh! I feel as though a trap has been sprung on me!' Realization spread through him. Of course! The trap! Woven wood cage, rope snares, freedom at the price of death, think before you step! It made perfect sense, how could he have not thought of it before?

Confident in his final guess, the boy responded with a smile, "The trap! The trap is the answer!"

Madame Pendragon threw her head back and laughed. Wiping the tears from her eyes she grinned at the boy, looking all too much like a cat with a bird in its claws. "Oh my boy! The trap is a trap!"

The boy felt suddenly very ill at ease. "What do you mean?" he cried.

"Exactly that. The trap is a trap. The correct answer is a Puppet!" she responded, gleefully, "And you'll have quite a long time to fully realize all that that is."

"NO!" shouted the boy, "There were no puppets in the story! The story was supposed to give me a clue to the riddle's answer!"

"What made you think the story was the clue?" She questioned, coldly, "The story was nothing but a way to pass the time while you mulled over your answer. If anything, I gave the answer away! You watched the puppets tell the tale!"

"This isn't right! This is unfair!" The boy blubbered.

"LIFE IS UNFAIR!" She yelled, "You steal into my wagon, help yourself to my food, break one of my creations, and I give you a chance to get away with it all! You did not answer correctly, and now you must pay the price." Reaching into the drawstring pouch hanging from her belt, she drew a handful of sawdust. She whispered a string of strange words over the dust then blew the dust at the boy. It swirled about him and caught him up as a strong wind roared through the wagon's open door and windows, extinguishing the candles and leaving the room in darkness.

A match flared to life and relit the candles, restoring the soft glow. Madame Pendragon's lips curled into a smirk as she bent and picked up a small wooden puppet from the floor. "Freedom comes at a price, young one. Do not fret," she sang softly as she brushed a bit of dirt from the puppet's brow, "before you know it, your debt will be repaid and once more you'll be a real boy." Humming to herself, she hung the puppet from the rafters and extinguished the candles once more.

The End.

Lady Christina de Pond

Helmswoman of the Fiesty Lady
Lady Ashley of De Coals
Militissa in the Frati della Beata Gloriosa Vergine Mari

Captain Teague

The Code is the Law...

Magpie Flynn


What!? I didn't quite get it. Was the first story literally just a story on its own, or did you want the themes in the first to be refelcted and higlight ideas in the second? If the latter, then I didn't see that, but that was probably my fault.

I much prefered the second part. The first part was nice, but I think your reliance on fairy-tale stock characters made it hard at times to invest in the story. I think using stock characters often gives power to a story, as it is speaking with the weight of tradition behind it, but I think you need to inject a bit more of yourself and your own imagination in the characters. Otherwise a reader ends up wishing he or she was reading one of the other stories - whether it be Narnia or Grimm. Particularly I mean the boy and the Queen.

But as I say, I still enjoyed it, and if you did agree with my thoughts, they would be easy to impliment.  :)