The Travelers and the Oyster

This is modified from Aesop’s Fables, Barners & Noble Signature Edition. 

Two travelers were walking along the shore at low tide when they saw an oyster lying there. They both reached for it at the same time, the first pushed away the other, and the two raised their staves and began to fight. An old man came along and asked why they were fighting, and when they told him, all three decided that he would listen to their arguments and act as judge.

While each traveler was arguing their case, the old man slowly picked up the oyster and opened it with his knife. When the travelers were finished, the old man solemnly took out and ate the oyster meat. He then handed each traveler a shell. “This judge,” he began, “Awards you each a shell. The oyster will cover the court fee.

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The Feathered Princess

Here’s another fractured fairy tale. I think that this one with transfer over to bardic circles well…because it’s short 🙂

The Feathered Princess

Once there was a fisherman. He was small, and greedy, lecherous and generally unpleasant. His nets were torn and frayed, and he was too lazy to repair them. He was not a very good fisherman.

One day he was leaving his boat after a meager day’s catch, when he saw a fair maiden bathing. Being lecherous and generally unpleasant, he hid in the bushes to watch. And he noticed that on the lake’s shore was cloak made of feathers.

The fisherman knew the legends, and he knew that this fair maiden was actually a swan princess. If he could steal the cloak, she would have to marry him and he’d have all the riches he could ever want, and being greedy, that was a lot. He crept forward, very sneakily, for he was lecherous and used to creeping sneakily, and grabbed the feathered cloak.

“Ha ha!” He cried. “I have your feathered cloak, Swan Princess! Now you must marry me, and all of your riches will be mine!”

The maiden slowly left the lake and walked toward the fisherman. Her steps were small, but she walked with purpose, her flaxen hair falling behind her. She raised her arms in the air, as if to embrace the fisherman, and ran to him.

Here comes my wealthy, beautiful…and also wealthy princess, the fisherman thought as he rubbed his greedy palms together. Look at how eager she is for me to hold her.

The maiden stopped in front of him. She let her arms fall to her side.

“What do you have to say to your husband and lord?”

The maiden looked him in the eye…and hissed

“What?”

She leaned in until her face was inches from his. “HONK!”

“What?”

“HONK!” She snapped her head forward, breaking the fisherman’s nose. “HONK!” She headbutted him again, flapping her arms as she attacked.

The fisherman had made a terrible mistake, for it was not a Swan Princess, but a Goose…a horrible, horrible goose. “No! This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. You’re supposed to be my bri–”

The goose maiden honked again, and her call brought a flock of geese to her aid. It was a flurry of honking and pecking as they savaged the fisherman, who was now crying for mercy and for his mother.

When the fisherman was finally a bleeding, crumpled mess, the geese lined up one by one. Each of them took a possession of his: the first took his net and threw it in a tree. The second took an oar from his boat and waddled away. The third took a boot that had come off of him and swam off. And they continued until everything he had was gone. Then the Goose Maiden took back her cloak, kicked him once, and pushed his boat out to the center of the lake.

For she was a Goose. A horrible, horrible, goose.

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Time and Tide (new version of Upon a Distant Tide)

I decided to rewrite a previous story, because that’s kinda what I do. I took out what I didn’t think fit. If people like this, I will write one more appropriate for Bardic spoken word (maybe even a song or poem).

Time and Tide

On the day of a mighty storm, a stranger in a deep blue cloak kissed a lovely, freckle-faced maiden three times as she lay dying. Her betrothed, a sailor, had gone away to buy the poultice that would save her, but the storm delayed him. He was a day late. His true love was dead, and he raged that fate had kept him from saving her. It was a cruel trick of the Old Gods, and he swore that he would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods and bring her back to the living.

After three months of searching, the brave and heartbroken sailor traveled to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druids. He found the famed Lake of Little Stones, the entrance to the Otherworld, and there he drank the henbane tea. He waded into the water and all went dark.

When he awoke, he was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was Mannanan Mac Lir, God of the Sea, patron of sailors, and ferryman to the Otherworld. “I know why you are here,” The god said, “But this is not your time.”

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“Please,” the sailor answered. “My true love has been taken too soon.” And he spun the god the tale of his love, a woman of fiery hair and fiery soul, with kisses sweeter than sin, a woman that never needed saving until the day he was too late to save her.

“You wish her returned from Death. A bold request, young sailor.”

“I don’t ask for her return, only to let me try again. Give me the chance to save her.”

The God shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, and that love you dream of is upon a distant tide.”

PLEASE…please…” He gnashed his teeth. “It was your storm that stopped me.”

“Dare not accuse. I send many storms, and they crush the sick and sailors alike.”

The sailor pleaded, but the god was unmoved. He looked about, trying to find some way to convince him. His eyes fell on the shadowy oarsmen. The brave sailor threw an oarsman aside, grabbed the oar, and started rowing.

I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her. I swear it upon my soul!”

Mannanan Mac Lir smiled at the sailor’s boldness, but said No. “I will not take your oath. You cannot sail backward. Life and death, time and tide, belongs to the gods alone.”

The sailor sat puzzled at the God’s words and seethed at his denial.

Your offer pleases me,” the sea god said, “and I am rarely pleased. So I will grant you one boon. But be wary and wise, and remember what I have said. I will refuse what is not yours to have, and what you ask, you may not want.

The sailor thought hard, cutting through the choppy waves of rage and despair as they tossed him back and forth. And he heard the god’s words in his mind, “Sailing backwards. Time and tide.”

Finally, the sailor said “Time and tide rolls in and rolls out again, and this ship sails forward and backward. My request: Three months before now, please visit my love and give her kisses three: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together in the Otherworld.”

The great god gave a knowing smile at the sailor’s request. “Agreed,” he said as he pulled back the hood of his deep blue cloak. The sky darkened into a mighty storm, the sailors rowed, and the ship turned about the way they came. The sailor lost his senses once more, awaking on the lake’s shore with faint memories and sickness from the henbane tea.

The sailor returned to his ship and never let the tide take him home. And though he saw great wonders and gained many stories to tell, he never forgot his boon from Mannanan, his lost love, and the mighty storm that took her.

doge in space card redux

The Ostrich and the Pelican

Here is yet another of Aesop’s Fables, modified slightly. This one is lesser-known, but important in the SCA. The highest award for service one can get is called The Pelican, named for the early belief that pelicans bled themselves to feed their young.

Hey, what’s a Bard without shameless flattery? 😉

The Ostrich and the Pelican

The Ostrich one day met the Pelican, and observed her breast all bloody,

“What has befallen you?” said the Ostrich. “You have certainly been attacked by some savage beast and barely escaped from his merciless claws.”

“No such attack has happened to me friend,” replied the Pelican. “I have only been tending my nest, feeding my dear little ones, and nourishing them with the blood from my bosom.”

“Your answer,” returned the Ostrich, “horrifies me more than your wounds. How terrible, to tear your own flesh, to spill your own blood, and to sacrifice yourself to the cravings of your young ones? I don’t know which to pity most, your misery or your folly.

“Take my advice: stop mangling your own body; as for your children, commit them to the Fates like I do. I lay my eggs upon the ground and cover them over lightly with sand, and never see them again. I leave them to be nursed by nature and fostered by the elements. I give myself no cares what becomes of them.”

“Unhappy wretch,” says the Pelican, “who knows not the sweets of a parent’s anxiety, the tender delight of a mother’s pain. Your lovelessness may exempt you from a temporary inconvenience; but also makes you incapable of relishing the pleasure that comes from it–a pleasure, the most exquisite of all with which Nature has indulged us; For the greatest joy is in service to those we love.”

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

The Frog Fable Trilogy

I am still doing my thing with Fables and Fairy Tales for the SCA. Eventually, I will compile and alter them in a Watchmage book of stories.  I’m picturing a Decameron style book (I wonder why?) These three are from Aesop, but I combined them into one narrative. Enjoy.

A wise one can learn so much from one of Aesop’s fables. But I, your humble bard, have done better. Here are three of his fables, all connected. Presenting, The Epic Frog Trilogy of Epicness!

The Frog and the Mouse

A young Mouse in search of adventure was running along the bank of a pond next to a marsh, where lived a Frog. When the Frog saw the Mouse, he swam to the bank and croaked:

“Won’t you come with me to my home in the marsh? I can promise you adventure if you do.”

The Mouse did not need much coaxing, for he was excited to see the world and everything in it. But he did not dare risk going into the pond without some help.

The Frog had an idea. He tied the Mouse’s leg to his own with a tough reed. Then into the pond he jumped, dragging his young companion with him.

The Mouse soon grew afraid and wanted to return to shore; but the treacherous Frog had other plans. He pulled the Mouse down under the water and drowned him. But before he could untie the reed that bound him to the dead Mouse, a Hawk came sailing over the pond. Seeing the body of the Mouse floating on the water, the Hawk swooped down, seized the Mouse and carried it off. But the Frog was dangling from its leg! Thus at one swoop he had caught both for his dinner. For those that seek to harm others often come to harm themselves

Perhaps this frog earned his gruesome fate, but things would get much worse for our amphibious friends in the marsh.

The Fighting Oxen and the Frog

Two Oxen were fighting furiously in a field, at one side of which was the frog’s marsh. An old Frog living there marsh trembled as he watched the fierce battle.

“What are you afraid of?” asked a young Frog.

“Do you not see,” replied the old Frog, “that the Ox who is beaten, will be driven away from the field and will live in our marsh. We shall all be trampled into the mud?”

The young frog didn’t believe him, but it turned out as the old one had said. The beaten Ox was driven to the marsh, where his great hoofs crushed many frogs to death. For When the great battle, the weak suffer for it.

And so war came to the marsh, but the frogs persevered, as one does in the face of such ribbiting tragedy. So much, that one frog earned a far different fate.

The Frog and the Ox

The beaten Ox came down to a reedy pool to drink. As he splashed heavily into the water, he crushed a young Frog, the very frog that didn’t believe the old one, into the mud.

His brothers and sisters quickly told their mother, a huge and vain frog, what had happened and who had done this.

“It was great big monster,” said one of them, “he stepped on little brother with one of his huge feet!”

“Big, was he!” said the mother Frog, puffing herself up. “Was he as big as this?”

“Oh, much bigger!” they cried.

The Frog puffed up still more.

“He could not have been bigger than this,” she said. But the little Frogs all declared that the monster was much, much bigger and the old Frog kept puffing herself out more and more until, all at once, she burst. It was a horrible mess, frog guts everywhere.

Now the medieval moralists that preserved Aesop’s fables present the moral of this story as one should not attempt the impossible. But I humbly disagree. Attempt the impossible! Be larger than what you are. For though you may burst in the attempt, spilling frog guts everywhere, just before that moment, you will be larger, greater, more impossible, than you ever imagined you could be.

doge in space card redux

Award of Arms

Something very unexpected and wonderful happened to me on Saturday. I was at an SCA event called Yule, in the Barony of Bhakail (the Philadelphia area). During court (the period near the end of the event where the current royals give out awards that have been voted on secretly by members of society) I heard my SCA name called…Actually, I didn’t. Like many names, they’re uncommon, from historical times and places rarely spoken. For example, mine is Drustan, the Old Irish version of Tristan (meaning “calamity or tumult,” perfect for this walking disaster.) The herald put the emphasis on the wrong syllable (not unusual because it was the first time he probably saw my name), so I didn’t realize that it was me until Katie took my hand to walk me up and the rest of my friends were all smiles and hugs.

Once I was led up to the Queen (who is an absolutely wonderful person in mundane life as well as in the game) I knelt, and after telling the audience all about the wonderful things that people have noticed me doing, she awarded me what’s called the Award of Arms, or AoA. Basically, the AoA is the first award you receive in the SCA, for contributing in some way to the society, participating, and just making it more enjoyable for everyone. It entitles you to a noble rank, as in “Lord, Lady, or Noble,” (the SCA is very inclusive and recently added a gender-neutral title). I was given a scroll (or a promissory note for one, since the scroll wasn’t done yet) received cheers from the crowd, and walked trembling off the stage into the waiting arms of all of my friends…all of whom knew that this was coming.

I did not. I’ve only been in the SCA for a year and a half. I wasn’t expecting this so soon. Luckily, I like surprises.

It feels good to be recognized, that people have noticed me and said “we like what he’s doing, he makes the society better.” Based on the timing, I’m sure that I got it by impressing everyone with my music and storytelling at Winter Nights (I am interested in the Bardic Arts, big surprise, right?), and not for any fencing skill (since I suck). But I guess people have also noticed me just being kind, and helping out when I can.

I feel seen, and in a modern world where most of us are a shade above invisible, it feels good to be seen.

I love the SCA.

It should be noted, I had a bit to drink (we do a lot of eating and drinking. I think I’ve put on 15 pounds since joining), and I was wearing Christmas lights around my neck, over my tunic (I’ll post a pic).

Merry Yule.

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doge in space card redux