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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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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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.

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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.

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EKCoP Assembly, and My First Performance

On Saturday, I did a thing. For me, it was one of the bravest I’ve ever done.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I joined the SCA in the fall, and became interested in Bardic recitation and performance. I did a very short story on Novice Day in front of a giant crowd of…three?..Four?.. It might have well been a hundred, for I was terrified. But I did it and I was hooked.

Saturday was an event for bards called the East Kingdom College of Performers Assembly and University. I not only taught a class on story structure (which I’ve done before at libraries so I wasn’t that worried) but I got up on stage and did two separate performances. Both were original pieces. I’ll post them below.

This is the first one that I did. I swear that I was trembling inside, and hoped that I wasn’t trembling on the outside too.  

This was the second one that I did. I felt a little more comfortable, but still nervous.

 

So why is this such a big deal for me? After all, I teach. I get up in front of kids all the time and talk away. I’ve even taught adults.

When I was a kid, I was impossible to understand. My voice was so garbled that no one knew what I was saying until aged 4 or 5. I had years and years of speech therapy and orthodontics (head gear, lip bumper, retainer, braces, the whole thing), to fix my crooked, chaotic mouth. Even then, my voice was still whiny and the target of many a bully.  (I still get mocked for my voice by students. It’s a very sore spot for me). Add in that I once literally froze while giving an oral report in college, and I have all sorts of anxiety problems.

This was a big freaking deal, and I’ve proven to myself that I’m not the unintelligible child that I was. I killed that monster that’s been hounding me as long as I can remember. Yes, my voice is still weird, but it was much, much worse.

I’m looking forward to more of this. I have many stories in my head that need to come out.

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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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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.

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Gary the Gingerbread Man

Once upon a time, there was a town full of live baked goods. There was Bill the Breadpudding, Terry the Tiramisu, Christine the Cookie, and far, far more. There was also Gary the Gingerbread Man, and he was one far different.

You see, Gary the Gingerbread Man never agreed with anyone. He wanted things his own way. If Bill the Breadpudding said water was wet, Gary the Gingerbread Man said it was dry. If Terry the Tiramisu said the sun was hot, Gary the Gingerbread Man said it was cold. And Gary the Gingerbread Man never changed his mind, even when he knew he was wrong.  Gary the Gingerbread Man knew that changing your mind is weakness. Gary the Gingerbread Man was inflexible and brittle, so he pretended to be hard.

Gary the Gingerbread Man decided that he was finished with such small-minded fools. They were all sheep, he thought. I know the Truth, though I am freshly baked. Admitting wrong is weakness.

Gary the Gingerbread Man ran away, into the deep woods away from the town. And when Bill the Breadpudding, Terry the Tiramisu, and Christine the Cookie went after him to bring him home, Gary the Gingerbread Man said “run, run, as fast as you can, I know the Truth, I’m the Gingerbread Man. And when Bill the Breadpudding went after him, Gary the Gingerbread Man said “run, run, as fast as you can, you’re just a sheep, I’m the Gingerbread Man.

And on and on he ran, refusing to see things any other way, for Gary the Gingerbread Man was inflexible and brittle, so he pretended to be hard.

And on and on he ran, until he was alone with his thoughts. But he was not alone with himself. Frankie the Fox found him until a Poplar tree. Frankie he Fox said “I like the way you think, Gary the Gingerbread Man. You are right, they are wrong. Everything they say is a lie, but you know the Truth.” And Gary the Gingerbread Man believed him, for what is a gingerbread man without frosting to sweeten him?

Gary the Gingerbread Man and all the foxes became friends. They said “I like the way you think, Gary the Gingerbread Man. You are right, they are wrong. Everything they say is a lie, but you know the Truth.” And Gary the Gingerbread Man believed them, because he believed himself.

Gary the Gingerbread Man told his fox friends about the town of baked goods. They pretended not to lick their lips and told him that they are wrong. They must be shown the Truth. Lead us to them, Gary the Gingerbread Man, and we will help you show them the Truth. And Gary the Gingerbread Man believed them, for what is a gingerbread man without frosting to sweeten him?

They all returned to the town of baked goods. When Gary the Gingerbread Man tried to tell him that he found others that knew the Truth, the foxes rushed forward and ate all the baked goods. They ate Bill the Breadpudding. They ate Terry the Tiramisu. They ate Christine the Cookie. They ate all of the villagers. And Gary the Gingerbread Man was happy, because they were sheep and deserved to be eaten by those that knew the Truth.

And then Gary the Gingerbread Man was alone. And then the foxes turned on Gary the Gingerbread Man. They said “thank you for the meal.” They circled Gary the Gingerbread Man. They said, “we are not finished. You must feed the Truth.”

The foxes ate Gary the Gingerbread Man. And as they bit off his legs and arms, Gary the Gingerbread Man was happy. He was feeding the Truth. He would die for the Truth. He was not inflexible and brittle, he was a hero.

Gary the Gingerbread Man didn’t care about Bill the Breadpudding. He only cared about himself. He never knew the Truth. He knew a Belief, and refused to listen to anything else.

Gary the Gingerbread Man died a fool, and everyone in the town of baked goods died because of him. Because Gary the Gingerbread Man was inflexible and brittle. And Gary the Gingerbread Man was wrong.

Gary the Gingerbread Man was always wrong.

Hey, did you like this story? Check out my historical fantasy, The Watchmage of Old New York. It’s only 99 cents for the holiday season, and available in paperback too! Books make great gifts, and ebooks are great (cyber) stocking stuffers.

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doge in space card redux

Wired

I went for an echocardiogram yesterday for my heart issues. They also hooked me up with an 24 hour take home ekg machine. I hate this thing, the wires keep snagging, and I can’t shower 😦

But there’s a bright side. I looked in the mirror this morning and saw all the wires and electrodes attached to me. The first thing I thought was “this looks awful.” The second thing:

This look would make a great story character.

Boom.

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BTW: In honor of summer and summertime reading, I have lowered the price of The Watchmage of Old New York to 99 cents. This is only until July first, so hop on the watchtrain (there is no actual watchtrain, but it’s still a purdy damn book. Awards and shit.

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Happy Friday. Get your wiggle on.

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