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15 February 2017 @ 08:23 pm
Pay the price  
So, short explanation; last autumn I discovered a new Larp system, Twisted Tales. The system is brilliant; totally fallen in love with the amount of effort put in by the crew, the concept, everything... it's an amazing world.
Part of what makes it so great is that one of the incredibly talented contributors has reworked several fairy tales to fit the mythos of the world... teaching lessons, highlighting dangers, the old use of the tales. I took much enjoyment reading through them, and working out what story they were based on, and thought I would give it a go myself.

Here's the result.

A time ago, there was an Alchemists daughter who went by the name of Lynne. Lynne was fair, and Lynne was quick, and it was agreed by many that, if Lynne decided to follow in her father’s trade, that Lynne could be quite a power in her time.

Now it was that Lynne heard the talk about her and decided that it was a fair appraisal – for wasn’t she sharp of wit and glib of tongue and knowing of many things? And so Lynne grew in pride as she grew in age and, by the time she reached her womanhood, she was sure that there was none in all the land that could outsmart she; no man or woman or fae besides. Many would come to test her, with trick of the hand or twist of the word, and Lynne saw through it all as clear as a noon-high meadow. And away they went speaking of how sharp she was and giving reassurance to her confidence.

One morning, as Lynne was gathering herbs on the edge of the wild wood for her father, she heard the most beautiful music from just beyond her line of sight, within the shadow of the cross-crossing trees. Now, Lynne had been told many times before never to venture into the wild woods; that to put even one toe into the shadow cast by the trees was too great a risk to take. But, thought Lynne, she was sharp enough that surely she would spot the risk in time and wise enough that she would find an escape.

So Lynne, clever confident Lynne, hitched her basket up on her arm and took a step, and a second, and passed into the shadows of the wild woods, and let them swallow her whole. She passed amidst the trees, following the snatches of music that wound their way to her, getting louder as she went deeper in. And the closer she got to the source, the more complex the music seemed, the notes twining round each other, till she just had to see the player, though she knew in her heart what she would surely find.

She followed the music to a clearing, and there was the source of the music; bespeckled in sunlight and bedecked in bright coloured clothing was a man so beautiful it made her heart hurt. But she saw his pointed ears and his sharp smile and she knew him as a fae, and even as the music called to her, her clever fingers snatched roots and leaves from her basket, and she wound them with her words.

The melody came to an end, and the fae turned to face her, the many coloured fabric flashing in the sunlight like the feathers of faraway birds. “Come into the clearing, sweet child, and I will play you a tune to dance to.”

Lynne shook her head.

“Come now, dove, there’s nowt to fear. You like the music well enough; won’t you step into the circle, so you may hear it better?”

Lynne shook her head again.

The fae laughed, and it was a cruel, cold sound. “Pretty mouse, I know you want to dance. You followed the music along to here readily enough; won’t you scamper closer?”

Lynne gripped her posy tighter and shook her head a third time.

The fae put his pipes to his mouth, and started to play. Oh, it was lovely music; it almost made you forget the cold laugh and the sharp teeth and the wicked gleam in his eyes. But Lynne was canny and skilled, and her charm held.

When he saw that she was not being drawn closer, the fae stopped playing, and tilted his head. “That’s a clever thing, child. Never known anyone work such a simple trick to resist fae music before. You have a gift.”

And Lynne, clever confident Lynne, smiled despite herself.

“Of course, it will not help you. You’ve come into the woods; you’ll never make it out before I catch up to you.” As though to prove his point, there was a flurry of colour and suddenly he stood beside her at the very edge of the clearing, his toes just shy of the shadowed line of the trees.
“It’d take a canny child indeed to make her way out of this. Perhaps... but no.”

“Perhaps what?” She should have been wary, and she should have been scared, but all Lynne could feel was the challenge in his words and the stirring of her pride in response.

The fae smiled “I’ll give you one chance. I’ll let you leave here, untouched and unharried. But in three days, you return to this clearing, and you bring me… bring me an apple. Rosy unbroken skin, perfect unblemished flesh, and three seeds inside. No more, no less. That’s my price for your freedom. Bring me that, and I will let you leave the forest again and prosperity will follow in your wake; long life and good fortune to you and your own. But if you fail to meet my price; if one thing falls short, or if you give me any more than asked for, and all is forfeit.”

Lynne listened, and Lynne thought.

“OF course, maybe you don’t want to risk it.” The fae shrugged. “Maybe you don’t think yourself canny enough, and you will call it quits now, so as not to risk the consequences.”

Lynne stood straighter, and looked him in the eye. “I’ll take your deal, and you will get your price.”

“No more, no less.” He reminded her, sharp teeth bared by a wide smile.

“No more, no less.” She agreed, and turned to walk away.

“If you don’t come back in three days, I will find you. Staying out of the woods won’t help you now child.”

She turned back and looked him in the eye again, although her hand did tighten on her posy, just to be sure. “I am Lynne of Hamme, and I give you my word I will be here again in three days’ time.”

The fae simply waved a hand in response, and brought the pipe to his lips again. The music followed Lynne all of the way out of the woods.

Now, as soon as Lynne stepped outside the bounds of the wood, she marked the height of the sun, so she would know the time to return in three days. Though, truth to be told, that was by far the easiest part of the task ahead of her, for it was early in the season for apples, and – even if she could find one to suit her needs - how to know the number of seeds whilst leaving skin unmarked and flesh intact?

But Lynne, clever confident Lynne, did not despair. She finished gathering the leaves and roots she had been sent to find, and took them home to her father. She didn’t mention a word of what had happened in the wild woods to him, for she did not wish to worry him when there was no need. She would find the solution to this by herself, for wasn’t she wise and skilled? Even the fae had said so, and if she could resist fae magic with a simple trick of leaves and roots, she could work something to meet his price.

So Lynne went to the orchard, for without an apple there would be nought she could do. Up and down the rows of trees she walked, searching, searching, searching. As the sun made the long trek ‘cross the sky, from zenith towards the horizon, she scanned branch and bud, looking for just one fruit that had dared to ripen ahead of the others. Even she, canny and sharp as she was, could do nothing if the trees had nothing to yield.

Just as the sun started to paint the sky in evening’s gold, she saw one small apple, nearly lost amidst the leaves surrounding it, and her heart sang in joy and relief. True, the apple was small and not quite ripe; true, the skin was pale yellow rather than the rich rosy hue she need; true, it would take all her skill and wits to make this fit for the fae’s demands – but she was sure she was canny enough to meet the task. So up into the tree she climbed, and carried her prize home wrapped carefully in her skirts.

The next morning she was up at sunrise, an oyster shell in one hand and a wooden bowl in the other. Three times she skimmed the shell across the grass outside her house, and three times she tipped the gathered dew into her bowl. This she took into the house to her room, out of sight of her father. Then she went to his jars and found his dried flowers. From this she drew out three crimson rose petals; these she took to her room, and placed into the bowl. Finally she went out to their garden, and stole away a small piece of combe before the bees even had time to stir. This too she took to her room, and broke into three pieces, placing each into the centre of the bowl, one after the other.

Picking up her spoon, she slowly stirred the mixture, and spoke the words she had shaped in her head as she had gathered her ingredients together
“Morning dew claimed by ocean shell,
Make the apple ripen and swell,
Rose petals crimson hued
Make the apple your tint imbued
Honeycombe golden and sweet
Make the apple a perfect treat
Three and three and three once more
Three seeds only in the core
I stir the mix once, twice, thrice
Make this apple fit the price.”

Then, as the liquid still swirled in the wake of her stirring, she lowered the apple into the bowl. Then she carefully tucked it away on a shelf where it would not be discovered or disturbed, and went about her days work. Often her mind would drift to that shelf and the working that rested there, but she did not go back to check on it, for she was sure she had done well.

That night, before she went to bed, she took the bowl back down, and oh her heart was glad. For the small unready fruit had changed to her will; it was fully swollen, the skin perfect and rosy, and the smell of it was enough to make her mouth water. Before temptation could have her, she put it back away and went to sleep, content and proud.

The next day found Lynne, clever confident Lynne, standing at the edge of the wild woods, basket once again over her arm. But this time no roots or stems lay inside; instead her precious bundle, swaddled in cloth to protect it on her journey. Checking the sun and judging the time to be right, she walked once again into the shadows of the trees.

No sooner had she passed the boundary from light to dark than that self-same music she had heard three days before started again, calling her deeper in. And follow it once again she did, until she found herself at the edge of the clearing, with the brightly decked fae piping in the centre. As soon as he laid eyes on her, he took the pipe from his lips.

“Welcome back little mouse. Did you bring me what I asked for?”

“No more and no less.” Lynne carefully took the apple from the basket and unwound the fruit from the cloth. Placing the basket and the cloth behind her, so it was clearly not a part of her offering, she held out the apple.

In the blink of an eye, the fae stood before her, just at the edge of the clearing. He plucked the apple from her hand and turned it this way and that. The skin was indeed rosy and unspoiled. He drew one nail down the side of the apple, and the skin peeled away in its wake. The flesh was indeed perfect and unblemished. Then in a sudden motion, he twisted the apple so that it fell in two halves. And in the centre for all the world to see were three seeds.

Lynne smiled in pride, and turned to make her way back out of the wood.

“Where are you going little mouse?” His voice was soft and smooth, and deadliness dripped from it.

She stilled at his words, and turned back to find that sharp, sharp smile bared wide at her. “I brought you the price you asked for; you said I would be free to go.”

“If you recall, I told you my price, and the consequence if you gave me more or less than I asked for. Yet, before you even left the wood that day, you broke our deal.” He raised the apple half to his lips and bit, the crunch of the flesh echoing in her ears.
“You gave me your word, though I never asked for it; that sealed your fate.” He took a second bite, and this time the crunch was followed by the sound of… things moving in the shadows of the trees.
“You gave me your name, though I had no need of it; that doomed your family.” His third bite was too hard to hear over the soft chittering that filled the air.
“And you gave me your village, though I didn’t want it; though I thank you for that one at least, for it means there will be plenty to go round.”

And Lynne, silly brash Lynne, saw the simple trick she had fallen for, and saw the risk she had placed herself in. But of course, it was far too late.
 
 
 
magicaddictmagicaddict on February 25th, 2017 11:42 am (UTC)
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I fricking hate fae.