I Wonder

I Wonder, fantastic tales

"I wonder," said the old rabbit. "Could it be that the Celtics saw the moon as a way to understand their world, and that is why they built these standing stones," asked the rabbit. "Perhaps we'll never know. Still, I wonder," said the rabbit to no one in particular.

The Curious Life of Cornelius Crumpet

The Curious Life of Cornelius Crumpet, fantastic tales

Cornelius Crumpet lived in an unassuming house on an ordinary street in a simple village. If you saw him on the street, you wouldn't even give him a second glance. However, if you followed him home to his garden behind the house, you would learn that Cornelius Crumpet was anything but ordinary.
Within his garden dwelt a menagerie of magical creatures. Cornelius was from Walpurgisnacht, a wonderous land and home to witches and wizards. Having specialized in plant and animal spells, Cornelius felt uncomfortable around the other masters of magic. "So Corney, what are you going to do next? Make a flower bloom," mocked the other wizards. The witches were no better, incessantly asking him to make perfumes from his flowers as if he were a local chemist. So he left Walpurgisnacht and settled in Islington, where he opened a flower and pet shop. 
After a hard day's work, the wizard likes to come home and tend his garden of delights until the moon hangs high in the sky. His creatures tell him stories of their time in the ether, and he shares his life in the human world.
The next time you spot an unassuming man walking down the street with a dragon sticking out of his pocket, wave and say, "Hello, how does your garden grow."

A Different Take on Things

A Different Take on Things, fantastical tales

Since he was young, others have taken from him. First, they took his food, and if he tried to stop them, they beat him. Later, they took his toys. Finally, they took his dignity. That was how life was, and Mörken wanted no part of it. One day, while walking to the mine, he kept walking and never looked back. Hunger pains drove him to search for a better life and revenge against those who pushed him down. Mörken would have his day. There was no doubt in his mind.

When Mörken first met the Troth, their kindness and nativity confused him. "How could there be such trusting creatures?" he asked himself. After regaining his strength, he formulated a plan of cunning deceit. If anything, Mörken understood how things worked from his years of toil in the mines. Gathering materials, he began to build machines to make life easier for the Troth. A water wheel to power the grain mill, then a metal plow to clear land for crops, and finally, he showed the Troth how to make weapons to kill the beasts without risking their life. In no time, Mörken became the celebrated savior discussed in Troth legends. Darkness is where he came from, and darkness would twist the Troth's mind to his will. 

The King of the Troth was old and sick, so he was glad when this stranger came and helped his people, but like all good intentions, there is always a hidden price to pay. The King suddenly died, and while no one was surprised due to his recent health, many were concerned that the lack of a leader would cause strife among the Troth. Ta'sac, the captain of the guard, felt he should be the leader, but most felt his violent ways were not the Troth's. Morlock, who led the council, offered himself as King, but his age brought concerns of another leadership vacuum. Tervis, the head of the merchant's guild, proclaimed that since he had helped the Troth selflessly, Mörken should be named regent until a proper heir could be found. Humbly, Mörken accepted and, under the guise of forming an effective government, placed those who owed him their prosperity in all positions of power.

Immediately, the Troth came under attack from an unknown enemy. Buildings were burned, crops were razed, and even the waterwheel was destroyed. Mörken had begun, and the Troth's fear would soon twist their precious ways so they could be used for his dark purposes. As an olive branch, Ta'sac was made council supreme and given the duty to secure the Troth from outside intruders. Daily drills helped convince the kind-hearted folk that they must cast off their old ways or be destroyed by the enemy. 

A stroke of luck gave Mörken just what he needed. Hunters from his old home appear in the village, having lost their way. At first, Mörken greeted them with kindness, but after they had recovered, they made the mistake of mocking him in front of his council. That night, after the guests were asleep, their dwelling was set a light, and Ta'sac cut down those who tried to escape. The following morning, Ta'sac and Mörken announced that the guest had been sent to kill Mörken and weaken the Troth for an invitation. Over the next few weeks, the fear of attack and daily lessons in killing gave Mörken what he longed for—a way to seek revenge on those who drove him down and humiliated him.

Autumn came, and the Troth prepared to attack their sworn enemy. As the full moon rose in the sky, the legions of Troth warriors marched toward the mines and Mörken’s revenge. The attacks were swift, and no one was left alive, not young or old. All had to pay for humiliating Mörken. What he had not expected was that the Troth enjoyed the killing. They reveled in the slaughter. Laughter rang out as buildings were burned and axes cut down those escaping. He had become the Dark One, bringing his hate wherever he went.

The raids continued, and one night alone in his tent, Mörken the Dark One decided they all must pay. No one would ever push him down again. Well, that's how it all appears. He's been killing and destroying ever since, and he may never stop until all is ash. 

But perhaps there is a way, but that's another story.

What Lies Within

What Lies Within, fantastical tales

The following morning, Ursala awoke before dawn, made tea, and sat at her table staring at the wrapped object she retrieved the following day.

"Maybe I should open it. It could be nothing at all, or then again, it could be a great deal indeed. Oh, bother, what to do?" asked the wise woman to herself. After breakfast, Ursala stood staring at the object when suddenly she had an idea. "I shall go to the twins. They understand this mystical hocus pocus far better than I," said the wise woman.

Picking up the wrapping, she made her way first to Hedgewitch Franny's, then headed directly to Marsh Wizard Fern's home with Franny in tow.

"What brings my sister and the wise woman to my door this early morning," asked Fern.

"I am afraid I don't know. I was ordered to follow without questioning," said Franny.

Ursala opened her clutched hand to reveal the leather-wrapped object. "I retrieved this yesterday from an ancient ruin near the forgotten stairway," said the wise woman.

"You talked to Griselda, didn't you?" asked Fern.

"Yes, and I believe you are correct about many things regarding the Old Ones and the Shadow Puppets," said Ursala.

"You saw them, the Shadow Puppets, I mean," asked Franny

"Yes, and I even talked to them and pleaded that they join the Old Ones again and help us defeat the Dark One, but they did not reply," said Ursala.

"Well, I guess we should open it and see if it is the hoped-for key that lay east of the moon and west of the sun," said Franny.

"Agreed," replied the wise woman.

Carefully, Ursala opened the leather wrapping.

"A ring," gasped Franny.

"A ring and much more. The pattern on the ring matches that on the Palantilith. What you have found, Ursala, is the key to opening the gateway to the Old Ones," said Fern.

Ursala felt frightened for the first time in years.

"Who shall do the deed?" asked Franny.

"I will. I was the one who found it, so the deed falls on my shoulders, but if you wouldn't mind, could you be there with me?" asked the wise woman.

"I think we can fit it into our busy schedule, don't you think, Fern," said Franny with a big grin.

Finding the Key

Finding the Key, fantastic tales

The wise woman sat sipping her tea and pondering what the ghostly figure had said, "Seek the key to unlock the doorway east of the moon and west of the sun." In all her time in the ancient forest, she had never heard of this place and wondered if it was a metaphor. Malak's face twisted into a frown when asked about the riddle's meaning. "Seems to me that the Old Ones are toying with us, and if they were so powerful, they could just open the door themselves." Ursala thanked him for his council, then bid him a good day.
"No, I don't believe they can open the door. I believe they are trapped and can't figure out how to get out," said the wise woman to herself as she walked along the forest path. Determined to solve this riddle, Ursala realized she would need to talk with Griselda, the wood witch, so she headed into the deep forest.
"What say you, medicine woman? Did you come to steal my herbs for your potion?" chided Griselda.
"Now you know I always ask before I gather my plants," said Ursala with a smirk. "No, I am afraid I have come for an answer to a riddle that may save the ancient forest and us with it," said the wise woman. Ursala told the wood witch what the ghost figure had said, then waited quietly for a reply.
"Them be powerful words, Ursala. Indeed, I know where this place is, but it is not a place I would want to be. Over in the next hollow lies a stairway leading to the remains of an ancient temple. You will find your key beneath the monument's head," said the witch.
"Thank you, my friend. I hope the next time we meet, it shall be for tea and laughter," said the wise woman.
"Don't dilly dally pet. That place has unseen eyes with dark intentions," remarked Griselda as Ursala waved goodbye.
Reaching the stairs, the wise woman made her way slowly to the top. The temple stood before her, a wonder so close to yet unseen. "Perhaps a spell was cast so you would see yet not see. I believe Fern called them perception filters," remarked the wise woman. Ursala approached the giant head and searched for a sign of where a key would be. At first, her attention was on the search, but soon, she caught glimpses of shapes that moved just out of sight; she saw them in the corner of her eye. "Eyes unseen," whispered the wise woman. Ursala noticed a small stone with a pair of crossed keys. As she approached it, the shadow figures increased in number and speed. She grabbed the stone and slid it aside. Under lay a slight depression with a leather-wrapped object. Snatching the object, Ursala turned and moved toward the forest's safety. The shadows began to swarm around her in number until she could no longer see her way. "I am not leaving here without this. There's evil threatening Ãlskad once again. It would be best if you allowed the Old Ones to return, or we shall lose our home in the forest." pleaded the wise woman. In an instant, the shadows disappeared, and her way was clear.
"If you are the ones known as the Shadow Puppets, please aid us in our fight against Mörken the Dark One. We beg you to unite with the Old Ones once again," said Ursala. The wise woman made her way to the forest's edge, then turned, bowed deeply, and whispered the word "Please" before entering the forest.
Walking back to her cottage, the woman whose task was to heal the sick hoped that what she carried would cure the land of darkness, which even now threatened to destroy all life. "I need a cup of tea and a dewberry biscuit," said Ursala as she descended the path toward her home.

Return of the Snars

Reappearance of the Snars, fantastic tales

The ancient forest has many secrets. When only reptoids walked the land, a tribe known as the Snars existed—a bloodthirsty clan of lizard men who ruled over the entire forest. As time passed, the tribe grew weak, and they were finally wiped out by the combined forces of the Old Ones and those known only as the Shadow Puppets. Lost in time, the Snars quietly dwelt deep beneath the mountains in tunnels left by bore worms. Lately, word has come that they may have decided to join the war on the side of the Waldvolker. The elders soon released that if Mörken were defeated, the Snars would likely try to regain dominion over the ancient forest. The council of elders was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Waldvolker's only hope lay in the return of the Old Ones, but that seemed remote, with no way to open the panopticon inside the Palantilith. Where was the key that lies east of the moon and west of the sun?

Grandfather Tree

Grandfather Tree, fantastical tales

The children of the forest will tell you there is no more extraordinary teller of tales than Grandfather Tree. No one knows his exact age, but many say he was here when the great forest was but a meadow. If he is up to it, he may share the story. Perhaps you are lucky today, for Grandfather Tree looks like he is about to tell one of his magical tales.
Hello children, long ago before now, there once lived a small creature who was always afraid. If the sun showed, he would run and hide, the same for the moon. He would run and hide if he heard the sound of another animal. Even the wind blowing made this create run and hide. Every day was the same until, by chance, he met another who was just as afraid as he was. At first, both ran from each other, but after a few moments, the two creatures peered out from their hiding spot and realized that the other was not a threat to themselves.
The newcomer spoke first. "Are you going to eat me?" said the creature.
"Heavens, no, I only eat plants," said the second.
"Oh, same for me," said the first.
Both creatures approached and introduced each other. The first was Kufu, and the newcomer, who called herself Nadal, became great friends. The next day, the two were out gathering food when Kufu saw an object flying in the sky. "Quick, Nadal, we must seek cover before we get eaten," said Kufu.
"From what?" asked Nadeal.
"That object in the sky will surely devour us," cautioned Kufu.
"Ha, Ha, no, that's just a feathered one, and they mostly eat nuts and tiny insects; we are much too big for their mouth," said Nadal.
"Oh, I did not know that," replied Kufu.
Later, after eating, they went down to the water's edge to drink when something moved beneath the surface. "Stay back. We shall surely be snatched away in the water," cried Nadal, running behind a rock.
Kufu looked into the stream, then smiled and told his friend it was only a tiny swimmer, and it was more afraid of them. "I have noticed we both understand what is bad and what is not," said Kufu.
"Yes, like when you were scared of the feathered one, and I was scared of the swimmer. Maybe we should not be so scared of what we don't know until we ask," said Nadal. For the remainder of the day, they pointed out the dangers to each other and were soon convinced that while life was scary, unfounded fear was a greater danger to their safety.
"So my children, when you go home tonight and think there is a monster under your bed, remember Kufu and Nadal, don't fear until you ask. Now it is time for me to rest, so run along and stay out of trouble," said Grandfather Tree. Then he closed his eyes and became as still as stone.

Wee Beasties Part Three: Marching Feet

Wee Beasties Part Three Marching Feet

"Is there no hope, wizard? Must we be destroyed like the Waldvolker?" the words ran through his head as he approached Marsh Wizard Fern's home. Leaving his steed to make its way back to the village, Nikomedes walked to the door and knocked as hard and rapidly as he could. From inside the house came sounds of yelling, fighting, and finally, a scream: "Will you two stop trying to kill each other? Now go to your corners until I tell you to come out." Soon after, the door swung open, and a smiling wizard greeted Nikomedes. "Hello, I'm sorry for the commotion, but my familiars were fighting to the death again," said Fern.
After introductions, the two wizards discussed how it might be possible for them, with the help of Hedgewitch Franny, to cast a perception field that hides the village from the scouting Troth patrols. The trick was to make the Troth think they could only see the forest surrounding the town while avoiding seeing what was directly in front. A messenger bird arrived, warning that a scouting party was nearing the village, so they must hurry, or everything would be lost. Izba, the magical cat, agreed to transport Nikomedes swiftly to the council while the twins gathered the materials needed for the spell. "We shall meet at the edge of the town at the sun's setting to attempt the spell," said Fern. 
Nikomedes waved goodbye, leaving the sisters with the Wee Beastie’s fate.

Silas Scrum and the Obstinate Bat

Silas Scrum and the Obstinate Bat

Silas Scrum, the keeper of things, lived alone in a dark, dank, and cobweb-filled hole in the side of a tree. He liked it that way. While on his way to see the Lord Chamberlain, Silas encountered an odd creature sitting on an old tree stump. "Good morning, who are you, and what is your function?" asked Silas.
"My function is to sit here, and it is of no concern as to who I am," said the beast, its tone defiant. Silas was taken aback by this obstinate creature and had to think momentarily. 
"I am Silas Scrum, the keeper of things, and I have to record what everyone does in this realm so you can be properly taxed," said the keeper. 
"Taxed for sitting?" asked the creature.
"Well, there is no tax on sitting, but I am sure you are doing something that can be taxed," said Silas.
"Perhaps you could tax a bat for taking space, for that is what I am, you baffoon," said the bat.
"Oh," said Silas, turning red, for he knew what a bat was. Silas remained quiet as he contemplated what to do next when suddenly he had an epiphany. "You are taking space, which is taxable," grinned the keeper.
The bat glared at Silas and said, "Which space shall you tax?" Then he opened his wings and flew off into the distance.
"I suppose it is best not to record this thing, for it would be much too challenging to explain to the Lord Chamberlian," said Silas, continuing his journey.

Silas Scrum and the Cantankerous Dog

Silas Scrum and the Cantankerous Dog

Silas, the keeper of things, lived alone in a dark, dank, and cobweb-filled hole in the side of a tree. He liked it that way. Silas roamed the land, collecting bits of facts about what people did. He wrote it down in a big heavy book so the lord could tax the people. On this particular day, Silas was approached by a dog. "Be gone, you flea-ridden beast. I have important things to do today," said Silas. The dog would hear none of it and followed Silas so close that he sometimes tripped him. Silas tried yelling, throwing rocks, and even his shoe, which the hound thought was a toy, causing the keeper to chance after him shoeless until he retrieved his footwear from the beast. Tired, Silas headed for the pub to eat his second meal, and so did the dog.

Sitting in the tavern eating his stew, the keeper noticed the dog gazing at him as he ate. At first, he ignored him, then turned his back on him. Nothing helped. Silas finished his meal, stood up, and asked to purchase a meat bone from the pub's owner. "You planning on cooking a big feast with that, Silas," mocked the owner. Silas paid the money and then walked out, saying nothing. When he had closed the door, he threw the bone to the dog, who picked it up and disappeared down the street. "Figures," said the keeper. A few days passed, and Silas saw hide nor hair of the beast. As Silas walked past a rundown dwelling, the dog jumped out of the doorway, followed by a frail young woman. "Oh, you must be the kind gentleman who gave us the meat bone," said the woman. "I am he. Did your hound enjoy it?" asked Silas. "Oh my heavens no, the bone was not for the dog but for my sick child. I sent the dog to find something to make soup with, and he brought back your bone," said the woman. "Oh," said Silas. "Your kindness saved my child's life. If there is ever a way to repay you, do not hesitate to ask me," said the lady. Stunned, Silas thought a moment, then, to his surprise, told the woman that when the boy was better, she should send him to the tavern to retrieve a bone for his dog, and then he gave the woman tuppence. "I wish you the best and see that your hound stays home rather than bothering my important work in the future, and that should be payment enough," said Silas. He walked to the tavern and enjoyed his second meal without being watched from afar.