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.

guinea pig card

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 Day I Took A Piece of the Rainbow

Here’s yet another story fairy tale, this one in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve been telling a version of this at SCA events, but I finally wrote it down. Some form of it will likely end up in the Watchmage anthology. Enjoy.

(BTW, The first book in the Watchmage Chronicles is still only 99 cents. If you like these shorts, support your humble writer friend and pick the book up.

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One day, I fell in love with a fair maiden, but she would only marry me if I brought her a present of great worth, one that no one else could ever possess. Being the man that I am, I swore that I would bring her a piece of the rainbow, the most powerful of charms, or never return.

I sailed to find the end of the rainbow, where I could chip off a piece. Who would miss a tiny piece? I thought.  So, we sailed to the North, the West, the South, and the East. We sailed in the circle…we were all pretty drunk.

But I followed that rainbow. I went by sea and by sail, rode over hill and dale…even over Chip. Finally, I came to the end of the rainbow. It ended at the roof of a stone guard house, and in front of the guardhouse was a fierce leprechaun, armed with a mighty hammer that he held with two hands. Around his neck was a tiny piece of the rainbow.

Leprechaun

The leprechaun growled as he waved his hammer at me. “Ye canno’ have me gold, b’hoy. Leave, afore I squash ye flat.”

“I don’t want your gold, only a piece of the rainbow.”

“Wha’?” He stepped forward to squash me flat, or at least my kneecaps.

“I brought gifts” and I retrieved four bottles of whiskey from my cart.

“Leave da whiskey,” he said. “Now move yer feet backward.” He slapped his hammer against one hand.”

But I knew a secret about leprechauns. They can’t resist a challenge. I looked at the stone wall of the guard house. “I’ll wager with you that I can knock down this wall with four strokes. If I win, you give me a piece of the rainbow. If I lose, I’ll give you this whiskey, and you can squash me flat.”

The leprechaun laughed. “Wager accepted! These walls have lasted a thousand years. That whiskey and yer squashed head are mine!”

So I went to the wall and stretched as if I was ready to perform some great feat of strength. I raised my hand over my head. “Here goes…”

*knock* upon the wall. *knock* in front of my eyes. *knock* at my waist. *knock* at my knees.

I turned around and grinned.

The leprechaun looked at me dumbfounded, his hammer fell to his side, for he knew I had won. I knocked down the wall.

curing in Gaelic, he snatched the piece of the rainbow hanging from his neck and threw it at me. I left him the whiskey, for I knew that he’d need to drink his sorrows away.

And I returned to my love and presented her the piece of the rainbow, the most powerful of charms. But she refused me. She instead chose a man with a…bigger charm.

And that is why I wear this chunk of rainbow around my neck. It’s not the size of the charm that matters. It’s how you win it.

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

Upon a Distant Tide

Here’s yet another tale, told from the POV of my SCA persona and meant for oral presentation. I’m sure that another version will find it’s way into the book of short stories in the Watchmage world. They always do.

When I was away on a voyage, my betrothed, my loving sea, died of a fever. I 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 I swore that I would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods, and bring her back to the living.

Six months later, my captain, Cornelius van Corlear, agreed to my request, and he sailed 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 gave me one week to return, or he would leave without me.

I left and found the famed cave to the Otherworld, and there I drank the rye-blight tea. I entered the cave and soon lost my senses.

crystal ship

When I awoke, I 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, Drustan of Nordenfjord,” he said. “We sail for the Otherworld.”

“I must be,” I said. “My betrothed, my loving sea, has been taken before her time.” And I spun him my tale, and of my love, a woman of rapier wit and steel in her soul, a woman that never needed saving until the day I 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.” I pleaded, but the god was unmoved. I panicked, trying to find some way to convince him. I 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 my oath. “I will not take your oath or grant your request. You cannot sail backward, for that is the gift of we gods alone.”

I stood puzzled at his words and broken at his denial.

“Your offer pleased me, Drustan of Nordenfjord, 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.

I wept, for Manannan Mac Lir never lies. My loving sea was upon another tide and sailing backward would only leave me alone and adrift.

Finally, I said “If you live backward in time, allow me this humble request. Six 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 I lost my senses once more, awaking in the cave alone with my memories.

I returned to my captain and we sailed off to a new adventure. And once more I searched for a loving sea upon every distant tide. And I found 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.

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doge in space card redux

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

 

 

Maribell of the Needles: A Watchmage Story

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.”

I decided to have two endings: A sad one and a happy one. Let me know which one you like better in the comments section.

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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 his 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, with slender sliver sword at his side, requested a new tabard be sewn. The squire, Lutrin, locked eyes with young Maribell, and swore that no woman would ever take the place of the sweet, cherub, brown-eyed, girl 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 Lutrin’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 evening, Lutrin rapped on Maribell’s window. It would not be the last.

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The Ants and the Grasshoppers

Once there was a terrible winter, with terrible cold, terrible snow, and a terrible lack of hot chocolate (with tiny marshmallows). The insects in the Woodly Woods barely survived, except for the ants, who had foresight and hid away enough food to survive the terrible cold, terrible snow, and terrible lack of hot chocolate (with tiny marshmallows).

Come Spring, Alexandra Ant, the leader of the ants, realized that the ants must help their fellow insects. They set up a great insect convocation. The beetles were there. The stinkbugs were there. All of the bugs were there.

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