|Very Very latest Version, feel free to correct!
||[Mar. 23rd, 2009|08:12 pm]
Our King sits beneath his crimson banner, beneath the two golden lions of William the Conqueror. Their gilded claws are raised to take on all comers, for he is King Henry the First, and he bears the banner of his father. |
It puts all in mind of two lions from the tales of Twp, one who was the father, and the second who was the son, and both only men by moonlight. The ladies of court long to hear the tale, for it is the tale of the princess who put all wrongs to right and brought spring out of winter. No wonder, then, that Twp tells this tale at every Faire.
Prince By Moonlight
Part 1 The Step-mother
Now if it rains on Faire Day, I shall tell the story of the princess who married a lion, ruled his kingdom and bore his child. But if the sun is bright and the day is merry, I shall tell you the story of the girl who married that child – the princess who saved her own husband from a royal red dragon. And since it never, ever rains on Faire Day – it wouldn’t dare! I’m afraid…….there’s no help for it! You must hear the story of Elia Nore, who traveled all across the world and flew on a gryphon to end an enchantment placed by a Dragon Queen and live happily ever after, despite a bit of sneezing beforehand.
In the far away west lived the Lady Elia Tish, who had rescued the Lord Carfida from dreadful lions. They married and were the Duke and Duchess of a prosperous valley; and far and wide knew about their great adventure. They lived in great happiness, and they a little son and a bonny daughter named Elia Nore.
But the wretched day came when the Lady Elia Tish died, and her whole country was in mourning. Soon the Duke announced that he would remarry, and marry the sister of the High Queen of that whole country, and it was decided that the Lady Elia Nore would dwell with her father and step-mother. And so when the time of mourning was over, the young girl dried her eyes and looked up to see what would befall her.
When they arrived at the castle of her step-mother Elia Nore’s heart grew light. A great faire was being given at the castle wall to celebrate the marriage of the Princess and the Duke, and the people greeted them with gifts and shouts of joy. At the castle gate stood the Princess Annadyr, a solemn and handsome woman, and she led three young horses; a black stallion, a white stallion and an uncommon grey mare, and all three of these were gifts to the Lady Elia Nore.
That night there was so much merriment and revelry in the feast hall, you would have thought it was Christmas! and none seemed so merry as Princess Annadyr and young Elia Nore, who sat side by side at the high table and ate from the same plate. Then Princess Annadyr spoke to the hall and said, “Here is more good news, for in this country it is said, “Three things never sit still; the wind, a child, and the Queen of our Fair Land!” And yet even now my royal sister is returning from her great adventures,” and all the court spoke of this news.
The very next night the High Queen Keia and the royal riders arrived in the feast hall to the cheers and calls of all the people. But no sooner did they quiet did Queen Keia address the hall, saying,“It is well known that Queen Casey, the beloved sister of my father, does reign in the east, where she lives as the Queen of the Eastern Mountains. Her husband is a wise king, but cursed to be a lion by day and a man by night.
“She has ruled cheerfully from that cursed castle until now – for her son is also a lion by day and a man by night. He is of the age to marry, but no noble lady of her country will have him for a husband, nor high-born lord will give his daughter away to live in that cursed castle. Therefore let the daughter of the Duke, whichever one she is, be sent away to east, at once! She shall marry the cursed-king’s son.”
Without a moment’s pause Princess Annadyr rose from her seat and announced, “This is my step-daughter, and mine to protect and shelter. She shall never be sent away to marry the son of the man who was cursed by the Dragon-Witch!” and there was silence in the feast hall, and none knew where to look.
Queen Keia thought nothing of it, and called out to all of those there, saying, “Are there any here who are not close-cousins with Queen Casey, and are prepared to marry her cursed son? Shall I send him a lord to marry? Or this lady, or that one, with their husbands and children in tow? Or perhaps I should marry him myself, my own aunt’s son, and live with the boy in his cursed castle?” The court was troubled, but Annadyr was resolute, saying “She is my step-daughter, and not yours to send away.”
The next day Queen Keia sat at counsel with her wise lords, and the Princess Annadyr, and all those that traveled with the Queen on her adventures. The Queen pressed upon Princess Annadyr to provide a wife to send for the Prince of the Eastern Mountains, but all high-born ladies were too close in blood to him, or else promised to marry others, or else traveling with Queen Keia on her adventures, or else they were afraid to travel so far away to marry the cursed man. Princess Annadyr was greatly troubled, saying, “Let us take a pretty maid from the scullery, and give her wealth and titles and land, and then have HER marry the lion’s son, or else I shall have to marry my little cousin myself!”
Finally Elia Nore stood. She spoke to all those assembled, and if she had any fear to speak before the royal court, to those wise men and women, she only looked at her step-mother’s face. She said “I have come west from my far-away kingdom, and if I travel east to the kingdom of Queen Casey, I will surely have seen the whole world. Step-mother, let me marry Prince Lion, for I have no fear of living in a cursed castle, if it is with your beloved kin.”
So it was that after the marriage of her father to the Princess Annadyr that Elia Nore left for the cursed castle at the end of the world. Her step-mother wished to send her with a stately entourage and many courtiers and hangers-on and grand gifts, but Elia Nore told her, “The greatest gift you gave in this castle was your love and protection” and so she left the castle with only a little party, curious eyes and a light heart.
Now you must think that a cursed castle would not be a place of joy, but so it was when Queen Casey embraced the step-daughter of her niece, and begged her for all the news of her own home, and when King Evit Cej-da, a great golden-maned lion, presented Elia Nore with all manner of dresses and fabrics and jewels to welcome her to his kingdom.
So also did she find delight in the king’s son, Evit Caje, who was gentle lion by day and a handsome youth by night. In the heat of the day they would climb side by side upon the mountains and he would tell her many fairy tales from his kingdom, and soon the two could not bear to be parted one from the other.
Now the quiet castle of the cursed king was a queer place, for by evening all servers and servants and court-folk left and the king and the prince alone, for after the sun set they were, father and son, in grave danger of the light of a man-made flame. So although Elia found her groom a handsome man she could only see his face by moonlight. Still, the two were wed and lived happily for many years.
But the wretched day came when it was noised throughout the land that the Princess Annadyr was ill and near death, and all haste was made that Elia Nore would return to her.
Prince Evit Caje said, “I am a grown man, and will one day be the king of the Eastern Mountains, yet have never seen any castle but this one. Let me go and see the Fair City, where they hold the fair Faire, for that is the most wonderful sight in the world.”
His parents pled with him, and begged him not to leave the castle. “You and your father are under this curse of the Dragon-Witch” his mother told him, “to only be men by moonlight. To leave this castle would be a great risk for you, for if even a ray of light from a lamp or candle should fall upon you during the night, you shall have a much worse fate.”
“Let us go together!” prince and princess said, “it is no great thing for our servants to keep us from all lights that burn at night.” So with great fear and trembling, king and queen gave their blessing.
Part 2 Swords by Candlelight
Now they set out together, Evit Caje and Elia Nore, and many of their court beside, all the way back to our fair city. They made a merry party by day, princess and lion together, and at night the two ventured into the forest by moonlight, safe from the light of candle or firebrand.
When they arrived at the city gates they were met with banners and flags of every color, for the Princess Annadyr and grown well again, and had called for a faire at the castle wall to celebrate.
The princess and the lion were well welcomed by Queen Keia’s court. The nobles were so accustomed to the incredible tales of their adventuring Queen’s adventures they found it almost ordinary to entertain a talking lion. He even accompanied his wife to the Faire; what a time they had! Prince Lion was so gentle and well-spoken even the camels did not mind him, nor the great horses of the joust. Princess and Lion enjoyed the living chess board and the singing pirates (for every Faire has singing pirates,) and even the princess herself took a turn in the swift-swinging chairs. The lion roared for the fighters playing at chess, called out words for bawdy singers to sing in bawdy songs, and as for the food (what else can compare?) Where-ever the royal party found an irresistible smell they did not resist it, and even Prince Lion said there was no better meal in all the forest than a Faire Turkey Leg!
Each evening they returned to the castle and, when the prince was in danger of even the tiniest ray of light from lamp or candle, a comfortable room was made for them in a wine cellar under the castle floor. It was in that room that he met his doom.
In the court of High Queen Keia and Princess Annadyr dwelt many men from many lands, both low and high born, and some not as honorable as others. One such noble, the Lord Peirce, had returned with Queen Keia on her many adventures. But when he found that he had no hope of marrying her he set his eyes on the other high-born damosels of the court, including Elia Nore. Now it seemed a great shame to him that such a lovely lady should be married to a loathsome lion, and he looked for some way to be rid of Prince Evit Caje.
Having no hopes to challenge a lion, Lord Peirce meant to face him in the dark as a man. He sent his servants to call away the princess, and when she was gone he descended into the cellar unannounced. There, in the darkness of the wine cellar, the older lord thought he would find himself the master. After many years of training his sword was sure, even so sure as to fight a man in the dark.
But Evit Caje, the prince by moonlight, had only learned his sword-work in darkness. Quickly he proved the better man. Finding an enemy in the gloom, he quickly took his sword in hand, whirling around to meet his opponent. In his other hand he took a lid of a wine barrel as a shield, and soon was fiercely fighting with both shield and sword. But look! even as Evit had pierced Pierce in the shoulder and knew he had gained the upper hand: disaster! The servants rushed below to find the fight by lamp-light, alas! when the rays of light rested upon the prince, he was changed. When princess and servants came to discover the matter there was nothing to be seen save a white dove, which flew out the door, with his young wife following.
Part 3 The Journey of Elia Nore
Now began the sad, lonely journey of Elia Nore. The dove flew about the wide world, his wife following, walking while he flew, resting where he rested. Her stepmother Annadyr sent courtiers and servants to follow her with friends, nobles, cousins, cousins-of-cousins and the like, but many tired and fell behind, and others begged off to return to their homes, until such time as all had lost sight of her. Yet tirelessly she kept on her way through the world as the dove flew, neither looking to her right hand or to her left. Neither the magicians in Queen Keia’s court nor the magicians of Shilgne could find them, for the dove was hidden from all magics, as was his wife while she walked in the white dove’s wake. Tirelessly she walked, while the dove above was full of joy, knowing his love would never leave him.
Now as the year was coming to a close, Elia Nore found herself walking alone through the wild lands of Shilgne, even to the very foot of Fotsila Ogopta, the great mountain at the end of the world, the mount no man has climbed. Then the dove sang out with joy, for he knew the time was near when he would be able to break the spell.
But what woe! From high above, with a horrible howl, descended from the sky a dreadful red dragon! No sooner had Elia caught sight of it, but it snatched up the tiny dove in its cruel claw and flew away! As for the princess, she fell upon the ground as if she was dead, and she lay like that for a night and a day.
But, child, no one can lay down forever, so she began to climb Fotsila Ogopta, the mountain no man has climbed. In time she found a clever house of silver and green, and in the house lived an very old man. He took the wretched woman in, fed her well, and listened to her story.
“I am an archmage, and once advised an ancient king.” he said, “Yet my magic cannot help you, no more could I help the King of Shilgne. But I will tell you what I have told no other man; farther dwells my father, farther up the mountain! seek him.” Then he gave her ointment for her feet, and heartsease for her pains, and many other good herbs besides.
Then he gave her a golden egg, saying, “Never have I met a woman such as you – alas! I am too old to go with you on your adventure. But keep this egg, and when your heart is breaking, break it, and remember me.”
She thanked the hermit and set out to climb again, indeed, she climbed for one long month, until she came upon a grand house of green and silver. Therein she found a very old man who took her in and listened to her heartbreak. “I cannot help you,” he said, “for my magic could not even help the King of Shilgne, but I will tell you what I have told no other; my mother is farther up this mountain, and she is the oldest magess living. Seek her.” He gave her a pair of shoes that would never wear thin, and a cloak that would never be wet, and many other good things besides.
Then he gave her a silver egg, saying “Never have I met anyone like you – alas! I am too old to go with you on your adventure. But when your heart is breaking, break the egg, and remember me.”
Elia Nore thanked the hermit and continued up the mountain; indeed, she walked for one year, until she came upon a castle of finest silver, all covered in green trees, and
standing at it’s door was the oldest woman Elia had ever seen. She bowed before that woman, saying “Grandmother, you are the oldest Magess living,” and told her of her heartbreak.
The old woman offered her no food or good things, but said, “Because my child and my grandchild have sent you, I will ask you what I have asked of no man before; come within my castle, and meet my companions,” and the great woman led her into the heart of that castle.
I cannot tell you who lived in that castle, for I do not know, but it is said that, in this dwelling, sat the grandfathers of every wizard that advised a king, and the grandmother of every enchantress that lived in the wood. And it is said that Elia Nore sat beside them, even in their circle, and told them of her heartbreak.
The first old man, whose hair was as grey as fog, said, “I have the cure! For I know this; when the year ended your white dove would have become a lion again, but a ruby-red dragon caught him up in her cruel claws and carried him to the shores of the great salt sea. There they battle – for they battle every day, and at night they quit themselves to rest, and all who dwell there watch them, wondering.
But the older man beside him, whose hair was a white as snow, shushed him and scolded “Foolish lad! She cannot win with knowledge alone! Listen! The older and wiser know this; he battles a vile and wicked magess called Taratasha, Dame Dragon, and she is now the Queen of the Summer Country; it was even she who cursed his father the King of Shilgne.”
The next man spoke, and as to his hair, I cannot tell you its color, for it was all gone! “Impertinent youths! That is not enough to win the day, but listen to your elders! On the grassy shores of the sea I once planted many redbud trees, each guarded by one hundred bold yales. If one were brave enough to step among the yales and show no fear, and cut a bough from the thirteenth tree, listen! the redbud rod will force all to take a human shape! If the dragon is struck with the wand, she must become a woman. Then the lion can defeat her! And if the lion is struck, he must become a man, by night and day, for all his life!”
Beside him sat a wise woman withered with age. “Quiet children, let the grown-ups speak! I shall give the girl a gentle gryphon. When she sees her true love by the light of day she must catch him up at once and climb upon the gryphon’s back, and whistle in such and such a way, and the gryphon will carry them home!”
Beside that one sat an aged enchantress, blind and bent. “Silly young thing! Princess, you will be doomed unless I give you two good things; first, a winterwood seed, for while the gryphon is in the sky, Dame Dragon cannot follow. When the gryphon is weary you must drop this seed. Whatever it touches, ground or wave, a great winterwood tree will grow. On this the gryphon can rest; or else he will take to ground. But if he does not take to ground, he cannot not be found by witch or by wizard!
“Second, I will give you a bag of beans, and this bag can never be emptied. Whoever the gryphon grows weary and looks behind you, feed him a bean. In this way he will not grow so hungry as to eat you!”
Then the next said, “I will give her a silver knife, with this knife, cut the tree.” And even the next said “I will give her magic mantel, and with this no man or woman shall know her face.”
You can imagine how grateful was the princess to all those gathered, and how great her haste to mount the gryphon and to learn to whistle to it just so. She thanked with her whole heart every ancient enchanter in that place, and so in no time that gentle gryphon had flown her to the very shore of the sea, and she found it all as the mages had spoken. There she saw the fierce dragon, whose scales shown with the colors of fire, that fought most fearfully with the lion.
With no hesitation Elia Nore walked among the stern and steely yales into the young redbud tree, but the unicorns turned their horns away from her. She counted the thirteenth tree and cut a bough with the silver knife, stripped the leaves from it, and all before another moment had passed. Then she rushed into the surf and stood fearlessly in the brine until such a time as the dragon flew so low as to almost touch the waves. Thereupon she leaped into the air and struck the dragon, just grazing the tip of a wing with the wood, and look! instantly in the air appeared a fair woman with golden hair who plunged helplessly into the waves.
Elia Nore flew back into the shelter of the trees. She turned to see her husband become the conqueror, but alas! For no sooner had the archmagess struggled to stand upon her human legs, and saw her human fingers, she opened her mouth and sang a tune as sweet as honey, as smooth as silk. Upon the first note the lion became a man, upon the second the man stood by her side, and on the third, so stood the gryphon. In a trice they were upon the gryphon’s back and soon carried out of sight.
And where was the poor wife but standing in the waves, she who had searched so long for her love, standing alone? For days she could only sit on the shore, neither weeping nor speaking, staring into sky. Indeed she sat silently among the yales and did no thing at all.
In fact she might have stayed on that shore among the unicorns forever, had she not finally grown hungry, and ate from the bag of beans, and after a bite from the bag she was a full and as merry as if she had sat at a feast with her dearest friends. Thus her courage returned, and she said “Come, this will not do.”
“As long as the sun shines, as long as the moon is lovely, I will seek till I find Evit Caje.”
She set out. Soon on the shore she sighted fishermen and netmakers who listened to her story, astonished. “We all know of Dame Dragon. We have sailed to her country, where she is now the dread queen. But you could never face her, for she is a powerful and wicked creature.” “My mother was Elia Tish, who saved my father from magic lions, what have I to fear?” said Elia Nore and, wondering, they offered her free passage across the waves.
III In The Realm of the Dragon Queen
Now in this city the streets and roofs waved with ribbons and banners of every color, for it was noised about that the Dragon Queen was to marry a handsome man who had once been cursed to be a lion. The people rejoiced at every turn and every tavern, for their new king was kind and good, all were preparing for the wedding. When Elia Nore heard this, she knew her brave heart would break.
But when she found her heart was breaking she remembered the golden egg, and she brought it forth to break it. It opened like a box, and in it lay roses which glittered like the sun itself. These she had in endless supply, and she gave a single one to any maid or lady she met, woman or child, servant or beggar, denying no-one, and until she came right up to the castle door. Soon the Dragon Queen herself called to see the shinning roses.
She did not recognize Elia Nore for the magic mantle she wore, nor cared she for the redbud staff the princess bore. She said “These roses have no like; sell me thirteen to decorate the collar of my wedding dress, for the thirteen full moons of the year.
“I cannot sell them,” said Elia Nore, “but I will give you a single rose, as I have given to every woman I’ve met, beggar, lady or queen.”
It was with much amazement of the people when Elia Nore refused the queen. The queen did not threaten, but only pleaded, for she was sick with desire. She took Elia Nore into her own private rooms, to ply the princess with pretty things. “I could give you a tame gryphon,” she said, “Who, if you whistle, will wing to wherever you wish.” More and more Elia Nore let her plead, until finally she said, “I will sell thirteen roses only for this price: you must give me one night alone with your bridegroom.”
At this any bride should be angered, but as the roses shown with the light of happiness and health, so the Dragon Queen gave her consent.
And why shouldn’t she? For she was a great enchantress, and she gave her bridegroom a sleeping-simple, so that when the poor wife entered the room, what did she find? But her own husband fast asleep, with no way to wake him. So she could only wait there weeping, singing
I loved my Prince by Moonlight,
I lost my Prince to Candlelight,
I walked with tears for one whole year
I climbed the mountain for one year more
I told my tale to
Wizards and yale
And fisherman along the shore
Of all of them
Who could forget Elia Nore?
The next morning Elia Nore was turned out of the castle, and went weeping to the sea, thinking to cast herself in and drown in the brine.
But when she realized her heart was breaking she remembered the silver egg.
In it lay roses which glittered like the moon itself. These she gave away generously -- one to any maid or lady, beggar or servant she met until she came to the castle door. Soon the Queen herself heard of the moon-roses, and nothing could rest her heart but to acquire thirteen to decorate her wedding crown.
She took Elia Nore into her own private rooms, to ply and plead. “Sell me 3 roses for this bag of beans,” she said, “Which will taste like a feast among your dearest friends.” The wise wife waited, then said, “I will sell the white roses only for this price : you must give me another night alone with your bridegroom.”
Why should Queen Dragon be angered, when the roses shown with the light of secrets and serenity? She ordered her servants to serve her bridegroom a sleeping-simple, and feared for nothing.
Now Evit Caje was ensorcelled to forget his wife, and Evit Caje was ensorcelled to forget his life. But Evit Caje was still a wise man. He listened and he looked and he soon suspected the sleeping-simple. That night he did not drink it, but gave it to the dog, and lay down upon his great bed snoring, so that when Elia Nore found him, she thought she could not wake him.
Thinking he was lost to her she sat beside him, weeping, singing
I loved you by Moonlight,
I lost you by Candlelight,
I walked with tears for one whole year
I climbed the mountain when none knew how
How do you quite forget me now?
Of the mages and fisherman on the shore
Who forgot the love
Of Evit Caje and Elia Nore?
And no sooner had she spoken his name beside hers, her name beside his, the vile spell on him was broken! Up he sprung to his feet, his eyes opened, his mind returned to him.
He embraced his love, saying “We are in the greatest danger, for this is the castle of Taratasha, the Dragon Queen, who did curse my father when he would not marry her, and now desires me.”
“I fear nothing, now.” said Elia Nore, and she took his hand and led him to the highest tower. There she whistled just so, and the gryphon appeared. They sat themselves on its broad back, and it carried them away from the realm of the Dragon Queen. “Alas, Taratasha will discover us with her magic!” cried Evit Caje, but the princess had no fear. Over the sea the gryphon flew, and when they reached half-way, she cast the magic seed into the water. Immediately there grew a great winterwood tree. The weary gryphon landed among it’s great branches and happily rested. (But not so happy Evit Caje and Elia Nore, for the winterwood tree was in bloom, and the seeds fell like snow, and they spent the whole night sneezing!)
Was there ever a more joyful sight in any kingdom, in any cottage or castle than that of King Evit Cej-da and Queen Casey, to look up and see their own beloveds descending upon the gryphon? And no sooner had they landed that Elia Nore struck the king with the redbud rod. Then, before his whole court, he took his true form again.
So great delight spilled out of the castle into the city, and then spilled out into the country, and when the country saw that it could not contain it’s gladness it spilled it out to all its’ neighbors, and if they have not dammed up all that happiness, child, it may be spilling out still.
Now who believes my story? May your next travel be as safe as the one upon the weary gryphon!
But if you don’t believe every word --- may your next travel be bursting midway with sneezes!