I’m working on a bunch of fairy tales and short stories that take place in the world of The Watchmage Chronicles. I’ll release them in an anthology after the 3rd Watchmage novel comes out (since some of the stories take place after that book). Here’s a variation of the White Lady myth called “Maribell of the Needles.”
Maribell of the Needles
By C.A. Sanders
Once upon a time, though it happens every day, there lived a young seamstress named Maribell. Still apprenticed, she was at that tender age between the pins and the needles, where love takes hold and never lets go. It was a dangerous age indeed.
On a bright Spring morning, a knight and squire came to her village and visited her mistress’s workshop. But these shining warriors had a secret. They were not men, but the mysterious Sidhe, faerie nobles from across the Veil, where time is not the straight stitch of a hem or seam. Time is the loops, swoops, and twists of embroidery.
They entered the workshop and the knight requested a new tabard be sewn. The squire, Litrin, locked eyes with young Maribell, and swore that no woman would ever take the place of the sweet, cherub, brown-eyed, young woman before him. And Maribell felt the same, for she looked into his eyes, a soulful shade of blue. No longer was she of the pins, but solely of the needles.
The knight laughed at Litrin’s stammers and hitches, and the seamstress pricked Maribell on the palm and snickered at the blood. The youngsters shuffled away, stealing glances at one another, their souls sewn together.
That night, Litrin rapped on Maribell’s window. It would not be the last.
The woods became their haven. The maples and oaks were their bedposts, the fallen leaves and soft loam their bed. And they loved, and they pledged their love every night.
The Sidhe knight laughed at Litrin’s dalliance. “Take your fun if you wish, but remember that she is only a mortal. Our world is not their’s, and their’s is not ours.” And Litrin knew this, but he cared not. For Maribell was of the needles, and had sewn their worlds together.
Maribell’s mistress scolded her. She pricked Maribell’s palm with a needle and snickered at the blood. “Return to the pins, young lady, and leave the needles alone! See how you bleed? Your heart shall bleed as well.” But Maribell did not listen, for she had looked into Litrin’s eyes–a soulful shade of blue–and her heart was sewn to his
The Sidhe knight indulged Litrin, and they stayed in the village through the Spring and Summer. But that Autumn, word came from across the Veil. The Wild Hunt had been called. Litrin and his Sidhe master would go to war.
Litrin and Maribell met one last time before he rode away with his master.
“I shall return this time next year, and I shall make you my wife forever. I will take you to the land of my birth, ” Litrin said, though he never confessed that the land was across the Veil, where time is not the straight stitch of a hem or seam. Time is the loops, swoops, and twists of embroidery. “You will be far from your cruel mistress that pricks your palms with needles and snickers at the blood.”
“And I shall wait for you. I shall sew us a blanket for our wedding bed, for we will no longer need the leaves and the loam.” She pictured the blanket–a soulful shade of blue–as blue as her lover’s eyes. And Maribell and Litrin were of the needles once more, their souls sewn together.
But a Sidhe’s soul is a slippery thing, and the next day Litrin was gone to war. And time across the Veil is not stitching. It is embroidery.
Maribell continued her apprenticeship, and then became a seamstress of her own, an acclaimed master. She had sewn her heart to a Sidhe, and that love gave her the magic of the needles. And every night she sewed their wedding blanket, a soulful shade of blue. She stitched with white thread to show the purity of her love and the loyalty of her days. And many a man courted her, for she was a great beauty with magic of the needles. But no man could compare to the Sidhe squire with eyes a soulful shade of blue.
But a Sidhe’s soul is a slippery thing, and Litrin had gone to war. And time across the Veil is not stitching. It is embroidery.
But Maribell kept sewing their blanket, and it grew and grew. And many years passed, and Litrin did not return. And many a man courted her, for she was a great beauty with magic of the needles. But no man could compare to the Sidhe squire with the eyes a soulful shade of blue.
And Maribell sewed and sewed, and the blanket grew and grew. And men no longer courted her. They praised her magic of the needles, but mocked her as The Blanket Lady. Maribell had grown old. Her cherub face was wrinkled and etched with dried tears. Her smile no longer shone. Her brown eyes grew dull, her brown hair grew gray. She was alone, except for her wedding blanket, a soulful shade of blue. And the blanket grew and grew. But she knew that Litrin was somewhere, and that he loved her.
But time across the Veil is not stitching. It is embroidery.
Forty Autumns after their goodbye, Litrin returned from the war. He easily found the house of The Blanket Lady, his Maribell. For he had his soul stitched to a mortal, and a mortal’s love was as powerful as any Sidhe’s. A Sidhe’s soul is a slippery thing, but a mortal’s is as constant as the Northern Star.
He threw open the door to her cottage and faced a blanket. It was the largest he’d ever seen, with no beginning or end in sight. It was stitched in white, but a soulful shade of blue. He climbed over the blanket, calling out for Maribell, until he heard a faint cry from upstairs.
Litrin climbed the steps two by two, and in the bedroom, engulfed by the blanket, was Maribell. His Maribell. And though she was wrinkled and tear-stained, though her eyes were dull and her hair was gray, she was as beautiful to him as when he first saw her.
A Sidhe’s soul is a slippery thing, but a Sidhe in love, loves forever.
Litrin collected Maribell of the Needles, The Blanket Lady, the woman that waited forty years for his return. And he collected their wedding blanket, a soulful shade of blue, made with forty years of hope and devotion. He brought them to the land of his birth, across the Veil, where time is not the straight stitch of a hem or seam. Time is the loops, swoops, and twists of embroidery.
And they lived there happily ever after. Forever.