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Tale of the Fae

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When a man sets out to tell a tale, he wants to entertain with adventure, action and fun. He cares not of lofty goals or higher ends. Yet tales have a way of telling themselves; at least when they are told correctly. Unseen turns and hidden paths reveal themselves with each step. Shadows shift as our eyes adjust, and then there is a flash of light as confusing as the darkness before. In the end we may have told a different story than we set out to, but it is the one that wanted to be told. We care not, so long as there is adventure, action and fun.
The road was familiar even at night. The houses, the neighborhood, the shops and bars were all known. This was home. Wandering home from somewhere, he became lost. The streetlights cast a garish glow that did little to dispell the stark and encroaching shadows. Once again he was alone in the night in a strange place. The breeze chilled his skin as it stroked his face and moaned through the sycamores. Leaves rustled and unseen whispers could be heard. Without warning a horse seemed to bear down on him, rider unseen. It was too close, too sudden; he would be trampled by the mindless beast.
Rhyder sat bolt upright in bed. Another nightmare. His wife beside him, his son in his crib across the room. The feeling of fear and disorientation hung over him, but slowly faded. He drank the water from the table by the bed and drifted back to sleep. Moments later the baby, his son, woke screaming. Rhyder leapt up and picked up his son and held him to him. The crying was unconsolable. When at last he had calmed his boy and gotten him back to sleep, he found that sleep for himself was elusive. With a heavy heart he realised his son had inherited his nightmares.

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Faerie Sketches

I’ve been working on a new series of faerie sketches for a children’s book. Some are more finished than others. Most of them are in a little 5×7 sketchbook that my wife gave me as a gift, so the sketches are kind of small. These newer ones are being done with water soluble graphite, watercolor pencils and markers. They are helping me to flesh out the story. I’ve also been writing some poetry for the book, but again, more as sketches or ideas that may or may not end up in the book.

All I can really tell for sure is I probably won’t do the finished pieces in watercolor pencil and marker.

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Robin Hood: Cedric & Hilde 28

All of Sherwood Village was glad to see Martha return safely home. She arrived with her mother to a celebration filled with joy and feasting. Everyone had to hug her and tell her how glad she was safe. Robin’s reputation grew as the story of his lone venture into the Manor house, the rescue of the girl and his near capture was told and retold. None among them saw that Robin himself kept a reserved humour to himself. Robin knew the early relatively care free days of Sherwood village were over. The sheriff had seen what he was up against and would act quickly and decisively. There was a chance that the Earl would also seek revenge to assuage his wounded pride.
As the sun set on the forest revelers, their song carried on the evening breeze, and was taken up by the birds of Spring as they whirled among the treetops. The scent of roast mutton and venison wafted into the forest as well. The shadows stretched out to greet the coming night and a single man walked carefully and silently to where he had tied his horse, well away from the outlaws, lest it be found. He mounted heedless of his own hunger. He was a vagrant huntsman who had been arrested two night ago in Nottingham for drunk in public and failing to pay his considerable bar tab. The sheriff had shown uncharacteristic leniency toward the itinerant huntsman. The sheriff had even offered the man a job. Now, having followed the girl and her mother to their destination, he had found and monitored his quarry, and thus returned to Nottingham to deliver his findings.

The daily task of running the orphanage and seeing to the children in its care had suffered since Marian had been arrested and Tuck had taken it on the lam. Despite the danger, the two felt the needs of the children were more important than hiding in the woods. Robin could not argue with bravery, so in typical Sherwoodian fashion, he helped them devise disguises. The women of the greenwood helped Marian bleach her hair and cut and fashion it to look more like a Dane. They also lent her Danish clothes. Marian’s dark hair worn either down and loose or up and under a wimple was now blonde and braided into the famous Valkyrie style under a white linen scarf.
Tuck had grown a beard and his tonsure had also grown in. Though he didn’t look drastically different, just putting on layman’s clothes was enough to throw anyone who didn’t know Tuck well, off the scent. They were snuck back into St. Anne’s in the middle of the night, and in the morning, everyone was so glad to see them, especially the children, that a celebration broke out.
It seemed that in their absence, Father Cedric had come snooping around and been cajoled by the nuns into helping out around Saint Anne’s. He was currently teaching a class about the politics of the Church. It was a subject to which he warmed. Never mind that the class had previously been a math class taught by Marian. Marian had chosen the name of Hilde as her Valkyrie disguise name. She was a great admirer of Saint  Hildegard of Germany, who had been a great herbalist, doctor, poet, composer, artist and seer who had lived during Marian’s parent’s lifetime.
Marian returned to her classroom expecting to see the children learning math from one of the nuns, and was caught completely off guard to find Father Cedric teaching her class. Since the priest was responsible for getting her arrested, she had fostered a deep and growing hated of the man, whom she  viewed as a toady and a coward. Father Cedric was also surprised to see Marian, though he failed to recognise the woman he had callously had imprisoned; so convincing was her disguise.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, and then, remembering to add a thick Scandinavian accent, she added; “My pardon, Vader, Ich had nein idea dat you vere teaching dis class!”
“Your apology is unnecessary, my young, blonde beauty!” Cedric said, lighting up in a way that Marian had never seen in a priest and certainly not in Vader, uh Father Cedric before. “Come in, come in!” he said. “My name is Father Cedric, and I am just selflessly filling in since the poor children’s previous teacher has become a most base outlaw and a fugitive. It is for those of us working for the greater good of these pitiful urchins to give of ourselves, when wayward souls shirk their duties to become wanton criminals.”
“Ach, well, pity you had not seen fit to give of yourself until your hand was forced by da fates, ja?” she managed to say in a flirtatious voice despite the stinging content of her words.
“Yes, well, my duties are many and varied as I oversee St Mary’s and have lately become a deputy of the sheriff. I hardly have time for these young scalawags, yet I am ever answering the good Lord’s call for more it seems.” Cedric seemed to be trying to impress the lovely young blonde lady before him with his important offices and tireless good deeds, but his self importance and disdain for the children is what shone through. “And who might you be?”
“Ja, I am Hilde the math teacher. I am from, uh, Derby. Ja Derby is vere I am from, und I have come to be a substitution teacher for the children.” Cedric mistook Marian’s blushing for shyness. She wished she were better at dissembling.

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The Faerie Ring

Violette had been practicing for months. The Summer Solstice Festival was coming on Thorsday and she was going to be singing. Everyone was going to be there: Pansy, and Lily, Poppy, Lavender, & Rose. And there would be boys there too! Ursus the bear, Salamander, Puck, and Jasper. They had all been rehearsing together and the day was finally coming. All the faeries in the valley would be there.
At first Violette had been nervous. She had been given a difficult part and it was important to get it right. The Summer Solstice was sacred to the faerie folk and the Music of the Spheres was the most important part. It didn’t just signify the delicate and intricate symphony that permeated and sustained the Universe; it WAS that symphony. Everyone had to play their part and the Fey valley’s was during the Summer Solstice. Violette was so afraid of making a mistake that she couldn’t sing.
Then Aisling had given her the ring. Aisling was Violette’s favorite aunt and a Pillar of the Circle as well. When the Faeries of the Valley met, they gathered in concentric circles. The priestess was at the center surrounded by her council, and there were Pillars to keep order in all the rest of the circles. They were like the standing stones of the Fey circles of the land: dependable, honorable, wise and without bias. They were the leaders of the Valley and it was a great honor to be chosen by the council to be a Pillar.
The ring was a magical musical instrument. It was wrought of pure gold, and when struck however slightly or hard it rang with a sustaining tone; The root Sound of the Universe. The ring was ancient and bore inscriptions of long dead tongues upon it. If the ring were turned so the wind could pass through it, the Root sang like a ghost. With the ring to guide her, Violette couldn’t go wrong.
She quickly became adept at playing it and everyone who heard her admired her skill. She never tired of it and spent long hours coaxing the ring’s secrets from it. As the days grew longer and the cool nights bore witness to the stars circling the sky, the Fey looked forward to the festival.

They practiced in late afternoon sunshine. It raked across the landscape, touching the trees and the rocks, filtering its way through the leaves and casting long, blue shadows in a patchwork across the wild grass. Jasper had had enough for one day and decided to see if he could get a reaction from Violette. He had been slowly, nonchalantly making his way around behind her. His wings fluttered nearly silently in the still air and he floated up behind Violette. He ran a finger gently up the edge of her shimmering, gossamer wing, which he knew from experience tickled. She jumped and turned and as he propelled himself backwards up into the trees, she laid down the ring and chased after him. Lily saw and pointed and followed to see. Jasper, flitted around the elms and the birch, his ruddy, earthy brown clothes blending in to the woods, making him hard to track even for the other faeries.
Violette would not give up easily and chased him up and around, banking ever on his left to drive him rightward until he almost flew into a briar patch. He stopped to face her and they nearly collided.
“I give up!” he said, hands raised defensively. She closed in on him and pummeled him with her tiny fists, laughing. They were both breathing heavily from the chase. The other faeries gathered around laughing and the cool breeze carried the sound of their laughter through the leaves of the trees to the brook, which giggled along.
They heard the bell for dinner and they flew off to sunset hill where the faeries had their communal dinner each evening as the light of the day slowly faded. Lisa heard the dinner bell, and tore off running for home. She didn’t want to be late again, or she would catch a whuppin for sure! She glided over rocks and wove between trees like the wind itself. She came to the brook and grabbed her skirt by the bottom and gathered it up and leaped the stream in one graceful bound. She could only be this way in the woods. when she was around the other children, she was awkward and shy. She had few friends and longed to tell someone all her ideas and questions. Even if the other person thought they were silly, she wouldn’t care as long as they listened. She came to a small clearing and was momentarily confused. She hesitated for a moment, and in that moment, she lost her balance, tripped and fell.
There, laying on the grass in front of her, slightly hidden was a golden ring.