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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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.”

crystal ship

“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

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.

doge in space card redux

The Fox and The Grapes

Okay everyone. Here’s another fractured fable for you. I bet that you know the original…This one’s a little different 😉 Like the others, they’re slated for a companion book to the Watchmage Chronicles (Book 1: The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents. Get hooked on the series now, so you can snark about how you discovered it first)

Once, but not so long ago, there was a great vineyard surrounded by great hills and cliffs. All animals loved the grapes for they were sweet and tasty, each flavor slightly different, a paradise for those that partook.

All the animals were happy, except for the foxes. The foxes had heard that somewhere in the vineyard were the legendary Alabaster Grapes, a plant that produced the perfect flavor. For the foxes, only this perfection would do.

Two fox brothers searched the vineyard for the Alabaster Grapes. They sampled from every plant they could find–some plump and purple, other a green approaching the alabaster they were searching for. Though they were all delicious, they were not the grapes that the foxes were looking for.

Fox-and-the-Grapes-story

While the second fox became despondent, but decided to settle on the bunch of grapes that he liked best, the first fox became filled with anger.

“How can you settle!?” Demanded the first fox. “Nothing else will do. Only the Alabaster Grapes are worthy.”

“The Alabaster Grapes are just a legend, my brother,” said the second fox. “We must make do with what we have, for there is no perfection, but things that approach it.”

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

“But they’re delicious.”

The first fox was so enraged by his brother’s wisdom and pragmatism that he decided to teach him a lesson. The fox grabbed a branch from Mankind’s famed Red Flower, the one that brought light and heat.

The fox set his brother’s grapes aflame with the Red Flower. “This will teach you for settling. You deserve this!” And his brother’s weeping enraged the first fox even more. He set every plant in the vineyard on fire, watching with glee as they burned.

But the Red Flower is insidious and burns all its path. The flames spread red across the land. All the animals except those living high in the hills were burned to death or fled far from the vineyard. Even the second fox died in the flames, and the first fox felt no guilt for his brother’s gruesome death.

From high on a hill facing outside of his burrow, the first fox watched the carnage. “Those grapes were sour anyway,” he said. He curled up in his burrow, satisfied with all that he had done.

Now, years later, the vineyard began to recover, and delicious, plump grapes reached harvesting time. And the fox began his quest for the Alabaster Grapes again. And the Red Flower was already between his jaws…

The moral: Just because something isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you should destroy it. You never know the consequences.

Like this story? Than you’ll love my historical fantasy series, The Watchmage Chronicles. The first book is only 99 cents and free with Kindle Unlimited.

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doge in space card redux

The Captain and The Storm King of Dunderberg Mountain

Here’s yet another fractured fairy tale. I hope to include this one in my Watchmage Chronicles collection, as it’s a variation of an old folk tale of New Amsterdam (the name of New York when it was first colonized by the Dutch).

Note: My Captain Antony Van Corlear is not-so-loosely based off of the real Anthony Van Corlaer…or likely real, anyway.

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The Frog and the Hen: Another Fractured Fable

Once again, I am adding another fable to my collection. I will probably add this one to an anthology I’m working on about stories, fables, and fairytales from the Watchmage Chronicles’ world. Now that The Watchmage of Old New York and Cold Iron are both out, I can work on both these and the third book, The Fiddler’s Bow.

Oh, and if you’d like to jump in on The Watchmage Chronicles, the first book, The Watchmage of Old New York, is only 99 cents. Both books are free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

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The Frog and the Hen

by C.A. Sanders

Once upon a time, though it happens every day, there lived a frog named Bud. He lived in a swampy pond, not far from a chicken coop. He slept all day and spent all night drinking fly-flavored beer (Coors Flight: “the Buzzy Bullet”) and croaking as loud as he could with his frog buddies, Err and Weis. The croaking was so loud that it kept the chickens awake, and sometimes Weis would play his banjo, making the party even louder.

One day, Henrietta the Hen made a racket, clucking away as loud as she could. Annoyed, (because how dare someone keep him awake) Bud hopped over to the chicken coop.

Damn, Henrietta, will you please shut up? Some of us are trying to sleep.”

You’ve got a lot of nerve,” Henrietta clucked. “I just layed an egg and it’s hard work, harder than you’ve ever done. What have you accomplished in your life? You sleep all day and croak all night while drinking fly-flavored beer. Next time you want to complain, bring some proof that you’ve accomplished something in your pathetic, ambivalent, amphibious life.”

Bud hopped away, embarrassed by Henrietta’s tongue-lashing, especially since Bud’s tongue was so much longer. She’s right, he thought. I’ve done nothing in my life except croak and drink Coors Flight. I’m gonna prove her wrong. There’s nothing a chicken can do that I can’t do better.

Bud first mentioned his plan to Err, who laughed so hard that he fell off of his log. “Bud,” Err said. “You’re an idiot.”

Why? My mom said can do anything I want if my put my mind to it.”

First of all, frog-bro, you’re a frog, bro. You can’t scratch, you can’t peck, you can’t fly. How the hell do you not know this? Has the Coors Flight softened your head?”

Screw you, Err,” croaked Bud. “I don’t need your help. I’m gonna chicken so hard that Henrietta will molt in shame.”

You’re a dumbass, but do what you want.” Err opened a can of Coors Flight, popping the top with his tongue. “It’s your right as a Swamperican.” Err downed his beer and leaped away.

Bud decided that he needed to observe first He went to the chicken coop. First he talked to the hens, but they all clucked in his face and said “bless your heart.” Then he found Earl the Rooster, all decked out in red and white, with long, sharp spurs in case a chicken with other-colored feathers showed up.

Hey, Earl,” Bud croaked.

Hey, Bud,” Earl clucked as he strutted around the coop, full of Big Cock Energy, as most roosters are.

Bud hopped after Earl. “I need some advice.”

Well, maybe I can give it to ya. I’m the smartest rooster in these here parts.”

Bud held in his comment that he was the only rooster. “I want to do what chickens do, and I want to be the best.”

Ba-gawk! What!?” Clucked Earl. It took a while for Earl to stop laughing, but when he finally did, he showed Bud how to scratch, how to peck, and how to fly.

But Bud’s froggy body had no claws, beak, or wings, and Earl laughed him right back into the swamp.

Bud had one last friend to go to for advice: Weis, the wisest frog in the swamp. Weis liked to hang out during the day on a lily pad in the center of the pond, picking his banjo and singing about rainbows and connections. Bud sat down next to him.

I want to be like a chicken,” Bud said.

Weis plucked a string, then turned a tuning peg. “Why do you want that?”

Bud stumbled over his response. Why do I want to do that? Bud thought. While Bud mused on the simple question, Weis played his banjo.

I think I know,” Bud said. “I want to show Henrietta up, and do what she does better than her.”

Weis said, “Instead, why don’t you do what you already do better than her. Don’t try to be the best her. Be the best you.” With that, Weis broke into a song about being green and how it wasn’t easy. Bud had heard it a thousand times, so he hopped away.

Bud thought all day about what he was best at. It wasn’t hopping. It wasn’t catching flies. It wasn’t drinking Coors Flight. He thought and thought and thought until he had a frog-piphany, which is like an epiphany, but for frogs.

I’m the best croaker in the swamp! And that’s what I’m going to do.”

That night instead of croaking and drinking fly-flavored beer with his friends, Bud went by the chicken coop “Hey Henrietta! This is what I can do! Listen to this!” And Bud croaked as loud as he could. He croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked and croaked the whole night through.

Weis and Err found Bud in the morning, covered with chicken scratches. He had croaked.

The morals of the story: Don’t complain about other people doing stuff if you do nothing all day long.

Or: Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you should be an asshole about it.

doge in space card redux

 

 

The Fly on the Wall: Another Weirdass Fable

The following was inspired by a huge fly that got into Katie’s apartment last night and pissed me off with its flyness and flyosity.

Once upon a time, there was a fly. He was not a sly fly, nor a cry fly. He was not my fly or your fly or anybody’s fly. He was Guy the Fly, just a simple fly in an unsimple world, a world where he could find no picnics to sample and faced all sorts of predators that wanted to predatize him with their predatory ways.

One day Guy was fleeing…no…flying…away from one of these predators when he saw with his hundred eyes a rectangular-shaped cave. It was cool in the cave, and Guy could see with his hundred eyes that there was raw chicken breast on a baking sheet in the kitchen. “What luck!” He buzzed. “I can eat a tiny bit of that chicken and there is nothing that will attack me. This is paradise!”

The cave closed shortly after Guy the Fly flew into it, but Guy was not perturbed. He had flown a long way before he saw the cave, and was not afraid of such odd occurrences. But when a giant, fleshy hand swatted at him, Guy went from unperturbed to very, very perturbed.

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