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.”

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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.

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The Alabaster Grapes (Yet Another Fractured Fable)

Thanks to the advice of a friend, I revised my Fox and the Grapes satire, removing it completely from the fable to give me more room to play with it. Here is the first draft:

The Alabaster Grapes

Not so long ago, there was a great vineyard surrounded by steep hills and cliffs. The grapes were sweet and tasty, each grape slightly different. It wasn’t a perfect vineyard, for perfection is a myth, but most of the animals were content, except for a fox and an owl

The fox and owl had heard that somewhere in the vineyard were the legendary Alabaster Grapes, a grape with the perfect flavor. For them, only this would do.

The fox and owl searched the vineyard for the Alabaster Grapes. They sampled from every vine, some grapes plump and purple, others a green or gold approaching the alabaster they were searching for. Though they were all delicious, they did not satisfy them.

When the owl settled on the bunch of grapes that he liked best, the fox became filled with anger.

How can you settle!?” Demanded the fox. “Only the Alabaster Grapes are worthy.”

The Alabaster Grapes are just a legend, my friend,” said the owl. “We must enjoy the best we have.”

No! I will never back down, and these inferior grapes are in my way. They are now my enemy.”

“How can grapes be an enemy?”

“They are my enemy!”

But they’re delicious,” said the owl as he ate a tasty grape.

The fox was so enraged by his friend’s wisdom and pragmatism that he chose to teach him a harsh lesson. The fox grabbed a branch from Mankind’s Fiery Flower, the one that brought heat and destruction.

The fox set the owl’s favorite grapevine aflame with the Flower. “You dare settle? Now you get nothing! Good day, sir!” And his friend’s weeping enraged the fox even more. He set every plant in the vineyard on fire, watching with satisfaction as they burned.

But the Fiery Flower burns all in its path. The flames spread red across the land. All the animals except those living high in the verdant hills were burned to death or fled far from the vineyard. Even the owl died in the flames, but the fox felt no guilt for his friend’s gruesome death. He watched from his borrow on a high cliff, where the fire would not touch him.

And when the fires went out, all the vineyard was destroyed except for one grapevine, which was covered with white ash. “At last!” Cried the fox. “The Alabaster Grapes!” The fox came down from the verdant hills and took a bite of one of the ashy grapes. It was dry and bitter, the flavor of desolation.

“This is fine,” said the fox between choking bites. “This is just fine.”

****

If you have any feedback, please comment below. Like with all of my stories, I strive for perfection.

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Writing About Not Writing

I’ve been very disappointed in myself this year.  I have not been able to transition to the increased work hours while keeping up with my writing.  I know that it’s a lot for me to handle and not something that i am used to, but I have to get used to it.  I love to write, and I can’t not work.  Something has to give, or I have to change myself to be able to do everything.

And it’s not just writing that has suffered. I’ve had less discipline and progress across the board.  No more daily exercise routine. No more keeping track of my diet.  I’ve put on a good 15 pounds this year. Granted, I’ve had a lot of injuries, but still.  And I think it’s because my mind is so frazzled from all of the stuff that I have to do.

So I am trying a productivity app on my phone. Am I am going to sometimes journal from my phone.  Anything to get all of these thoughts out.  I think that we all know that every person needs an outlet. Writing has always been my main outlet.  When I don’t write, I get very stressed.  I have other outlets too: playing guitar, fencing, various SCA stuff, but writing has always been the key.  I think that if I want everything else to fall in place, I have to get back to what keeps me in the right headspace, and that is writing.

I can feel myself starting to relax already.

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Upon a Distant Tide (Revised to 3rd Person)

I decided to write a 3rd person POV version of Upon a Distant Tide. I think that it will be more accessible.

While a sailor was away on a voyage, his betrothed, his loving sea, died of a fever. He returned home to the news, and raged that the fire in her soul consumed her body. 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.

Three months later, the heartbroken sailor traveled to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druid religion, and where stood an entrance to the Otherworld.

He left and found the Lake of Little Stones, the entrance to the Otherworld, and there he drank the rye-blight tea. He waded into the water and soon all went dark.

crystal ship

When he awoke, he was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, and the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was the God of the Sea and patron of sailors, Manannan Mac Lir. “You should not be here,” he said. “We sail for the Otherworld.”

“I must be,” the sailor answered. “My betrothed, my loving sea, has been taken before her time.” And he spun the god his tale, and of his love, a woman of rapier wit and steel in her soul, a woman that never needed saving until the day he was not there to save her.

He shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, for that loving sea you dream of has flowed to a distant tide.”

“Please…PLEASE…bring her back to me.” He pleaded, but the god was unmoved. The sailor panicked, trying to find some way to convince him. He looked at the shadowy oarsmen.

“I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her to life. I swear it upon the sea!”

The Sea God smiled for he believed the oath. “I will not take your oath or grant your request. You cannot sail backward, for that is the gift of we gods alone.”

The sailor stood puzzled at his words and broken at the god’s denial.

“Your offer pleased me,” the sea god said,  “and in these times, I am rarely pleased. So I will explain and share a secret of the gods. We live backward in time. We were born weak as kittens at the Sun’s final death. We grow stronger every day before, and at the height of our might, we will die setting the foundations of the Earth. Your past is our future.

The sailor wept, for all know that Manannan Mac Lir never lies. His loving sea was upon a distant tide and sailing backward would only leave him alone and adrift.

Finally, he said “If you live backward in time, allow me this humble request. Three months before now, please visit my love and give her three kisses: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together again in the Otherworld.”

The great god agreed, and the sailor lost my senses once more, awaking on the lake’s shore, alone with his memories.

The sailor returned to his ship and sailed off to a new adventure. And once more he searched for a loving sea upon every distant tide. And perhaps one day he will find her.

Like this story? Then you’ll love my series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents! Come visit a 19th century New York, where a world of magic and supernatural beings exists beyond the riches of the Upper Ten Thousand and the grim deaths of the poor.

Watchmage black

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