16.259.The Melody of Fairy-Tales

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 259
“The Melody of Fairy-Tales”

La-Iin rifled through the living room bookcase, hoping to find an interesting book to read. She threw books to the floor and tried to see behind them to the books that were hidden. One book piqued her interest. She pulled it out and took a good look at it.
“PUT THAT DOWN!” Mit-Sun yelled. Her face was bright red as she took the book from La-Iin. “God, I can’t believe I still have this…”
“What is it? If you’re hiding it from me, then I definitely want to know!”
“Trust me, La-Iin. Even knowing how you are, you wouldn’t.” She walked off with the book. La-Iin huffed. ‘I’ll find that in the garbage somewhere, Mama, just you wait….’
“And stop throwing all those books on the floor!” She snapped from the hallway. “You’re making a mess and I had it organized by author. You probably won’t reorganize it that way, will you?”
“I never reorganize anything,” La-Iin said. ‘Well, that isn’t completely true…’
“You never do any chores either!”
“That’s because there’s hardly any to do! And taking Choungetsu out is already enough of a chore.”
Choungetsu looked up at her. Without his normal cheerful expression, he looked strange to her.
“I don’t hate you, Choungetsu. You’re just really annoying.”
Choungetsu seemed to take that as a compliment. He stood up on the couch, his tail wagging as fast as it could go. She mostly ignored him and continued to pull books out the bookshelf until she reached a book which was so heavy that it sent her plummeting to the ground.
“Are you alright!?” Mit-Sun called. She came running into the living room. She tried to steady La-Iin.
“What the hell is this book? It almost killed me!”
Mit-Sun got down on her knees and checked. “That’s my old fairy tale book,” she said. “They called it the most complete collection of known Vaelis fairy tales, all in one volume. I had planned on reading some of the stories to you, but you ended up liking different things so I never did. Still, thinking about it, you might like fairy tales….”
“Fairy tales are just goody-goody goop, aren’t they?” La-Iin asked.
“Well, you’d be surprised…” Mit-Sun looked around at the piles of books on the floor. “If you clean this mess up, maybe I’ll read a few to you.”
“I can read on my own just fine,” La-Iin complained.
“You still stumble over some things,” Mit-Sun said. “Now clean this up. It’s not just fairy tales you’ll be losing out on if you don’t, you know.”

***

La-Iin walked into the kitchen and heaved a sigh. Her arms felt ready to drop off. Mit-Sun was waiting at the table for her with a book in front of her and Bes-Isa at her side.
“Why’s Bes-Isa here?” La-Iin asked.
“I heard her complaining upstairs. You must have left her awake.”
“She did,” Bes-Isa scoffed.
“Oops.” She levitated Bes-Isa over to her. Bes-Isa gave another scoff.
“So I finished those stupid chores. You said that I’d be surprised about fairy tales. So tell me, what’s so surprising about them?”
“Well, I’ll read them and you’ll find out. Here’s one called The Werewolf in Winter. This is one of the oldest fairy tales in this book. ‘Once upon a time, there was a Werewolf named Gunter.’ This was before hyphenated names.”
“Get on with it, Mama.”
“Sorry, sorry….anyway, ‘It was the middle of Winter, and Gunter was starting to become worried. He had not eaten in days and was sure he would die as soon as the snow arrived. One night, when he managed to seek shelter inside a cave, he plead, “Please, whoever you may be out there, take pity on me and give me the chance to survive to see Spring.”
“The plea was heard by a nearby creature, who surprised Gunter with her strange appearance–that of a Witch, but with characteristics of a Fairy. The Witch bent down and talked to Gunter. “You say you wish to see Spring?”
“”I do,” Gunter cried. “I wish to see all the joys of Spring that I have heard about. But I will not survive this Winter, I am sure. I’ve not eaten anything in such a long time that I cannot count the days. Once the snow arrives, not even my fur will protect me, I’m sure.”
“”Dear Werewolf, you appear to be pure of heart, so let me grant you a wish.”
“Gunter was touched by the woman’s offer, but he could not believe her. “I will make it so that you can survive to Spring. When Spring comes, your life will be blessed. You will live in happiness and prosperity among your own kind, a mate by your side and enough food for all. You will have nothing to be worried about any longer, but you must do something for me.”
“”I’ll do anything,” he said.
“”In this forest, there will be no food save for the corpses of lost travelers. If you trudge through the forest at a fast enough speed, you will eventually make it to a small village. In Spring, that village will become your eternal home. With granting your wish I will make it possible for you to survive without any form of nourishment, but should you eat those corpses, I will curse your life to be one of misery and tragedy.”
“”I could never eat a corpse, not even one of another species,” Gunter said. “I will do what you have asked.”
“”Good Werewolf,” the woman cooed. “Go on, now. You mustn’t delay. If Spring arrives before you exit the forest, you will have to make your way to the village in such a weak state it would be unlikely you would survive.”
“Gunter felt a thrill as dashed out the cave and pelted as fast as he could across the forest. He continued on this way for many days and nights, stopping only for rest; otherwise, the only times Gunter would cease running was when he could no longer run any more and would collapse to the ground.
“As he continued through the forest, he entered a part where a rank stench drowned his senses. The thick trees were covered by hanging corpses in a variety of species. Their meat seemed appealing as it dangled from their arms, but the stench and the memory of the woman’s words kept him from giving into temptation.
“The snow eventually arrived, and Gunter’s journey became much slower. Although he trusted in the woman’s words that he would not die from hunger, he was not sure he would survive the cold. His movements became slowed, and on one night he took solace in a hole buried under the snow.
“While half-asleep, the snow was moved out the way. Gunter was too dazed from hunger, cold, and exhaustion to react. A young Snowliv girl had brushed the snow out the way. She noticed Gunter’s skinny frame and became worried. She took a part of her body and fed it to Gunter, reassuring him that it was alright as she could replenish her body with the snow. Then, the Snowliv girl took off.
“When Gunter awoke, he was surprised to taste water in his mouth. He figured snow must have leaked in. He was grateful for the brief respite from his hunger and continued on. Finally, after days in agony, he reached the village.
“The strange woman awaited him there. “I did as you told me,” Gunter told her proudly. “Where must I stay in this village?”
“”You did not heed my warning, Werewolf,” she spat. Gunter was confused. “How could you say that? I did not eat the flesh of any corpse. Not even by accident.”
“”A corpse perhaps not, not at the time in any event. You have eaten the flesh of a Snowliv. Therefore, I will not grant your wish.”
“The memory was blurred to Gunter, so the woman’s words served nothing but to confuse him. But she said nothing more, and the area was covered in snow. Gunter was buried and trapped under the snow, freezing to the bone and with pangs of hunger confusing him. The Witch’s curse still applied, and Gunter survived both the cold and his hunger until the Spring.
“When Werewolves arrived to the new village, they were greeted immediately by the corpse of Gunter. Taking him to be a ruffian, they disposed of it and lived in a relative peace in their new village, never once learning the story of the man. The end.'”
“That’s too short. Aren’t fairy tales supposed to be a little longer?”
“It depends on who wrote it. The man who wrote this one was known for shorter fairy tales.”
“….you’ve proved a good point, Mama,” La-Iin said. Mit-Sun could tell by her tone that she had enjoyed it. “I want to read more.”
“I have the time to read you some more,” she said.
“One question first,” La-Iin asked.
“What’s that?”
“Why are they called fairy tales? I don’t get it.”
“I know!” Bes-Isa said.
“How do you know!?”
“They’re called fairy tales for two reasons. One, it’s said that long ago Fairies told these stories to the various societies to stave off boredom. Nobody knows if this is true, or if the stories they told are true. The second is because two of the most notable collectors and writers of many fairy tales were Mernick Fairy brothers. Theirs are some of the most popular fairy tales.”
“Are some of theirs in there?” La-Iin asked.
“I doubt it.”
La-Iin glared.
“I’m sure the library might have a collection of their fairy tales. Hopefully translated into Vaelis….anyway, let me find another one to read.”
“I want to read the next one,” Bes-Isa said.
“Let Bes-Isa read the next one, Mama,” La-Iin said. Mit-Sun sighed. “Fine….Bes-Isa, come over here.”
“Shit, I have to be held by this woman?” Mit-Sun glared at her, then sat her in front of the book.
“She’s having me read ‘The Doppelgänger Siren Princess’. Um, let’s see….’Once upon a time–geez, is this by the same author?”
“Yes. Continue on.”
“Yeah, don’t stop, Bes-Isa!”
“Ugh….’Once upon a time, in a Kingdom called Vahntelle, there lived the Princess of the Sirens, Princess Auede. Princess Auede was respected by all in her Kingdom. Many considered her the epitome of a Siren–one who was so lovely in all ways that her beauty could kill. Against those in other Kingdoms, she would use her voice to take out soldiers, so Vahntelle had since established a place as one of the most powerful Kingdoms.
“Princess Auede was a popular Princess for many reasons, but aside from her beauty, she had gained notoriety also for her disappearances. At times where the Kingdom was in a complete peace, she would disappear from the public’s eye for months at a time, then return as if nothing had happened. It made many in Vahntelle consider her somewhat of an enigmatic Princess, which only increased their respect and love for her.
“In truth, when Princess Auede would disappear, she would return to a village in Sirens off the Vahntelle border. Differing from Vahntelle, it was a poorer place, where less fortunate Sirens would make their homes. In that village she was no longer Princess Auede but instead, a young Siren named Bavodi.
“When Bavodi would return to the village, the Sirens there rejoiced. Many of them consistently believed that Bavodi was deceased any of the times she disappeared for long periods. Bavodi was considered a peacebringer, and the village always considered themselves more fortunate to have her–all, except one.
“One young Siren believed that Bavodi was hiding a secret, and she worried about the weight of such a secret. She always found Bavodi’s disappearances and reappearances strange, but mostly she found the mannerisms Bavodi displayed not long after returning abnormal.
“Once, the young Siren decided she would learn Bavodi’s secret. She enlisted the help of a Warlock from the Kingdom of Asouri to trespass inside Bavodi’s house. When the Warlock returned, he provided her with numerous items from Bavodi’s home. None seemed suspicious, so the young Siren demanded that he do another search. Upon the Warlock’s next trespassing, he uncovered something unusual hidden inside of a hole in the floor of Bavodi’s house.
“The Warlock had uncovered the corpse of a Siren, stripped of all clothing. Given the close proximity of the village to Vahntelle, the young Siren was quick to realize the corpse belonged to the Princess Auede.
“In only a few days, Bavodi left the village once again, and news traveled of Princess Auede’s newest good deed. The young Siren opted to present her proof then. She showed the corpse of the true Princess Auede to the people of her village and made her case, stating to all the Sirens what she believed to be true.
“The other Sirens did not believe her. They did not believe the corpse was Princess Auede. They did not believe that Bavodi was taking her place. What, however, they did believe was that the young Siren had murdered one of her own. The young Siren continued to try and make her case, but the Sirens of the village would not listen. She was quickly executed, and the corpse buried.
“Not even seven months later, Bavodi returned and again Princess Auede had disappeared. None of the villagers thought anything of it, save for one young Siren for whom the deceased Siren’s case had started to make sense. The end.’ ….wow, that was a mess.”

“It was one of his earlier works,” Mit-Sun said. “I wasn’t even actually going to make you read this one, but whatever. I always hated this one. Bavodi makes me so mad. I hope someone made a version where Bavodi gets what she deserved.”
“I liked it,” La-Iin said. Mit-Sun sighed. “Of course you did.”
“What do you mean by someone making a version where Bavodi gets what for?”
“I don’t know if you know this, Bes-Isa, but there are plenty of people who make different versions of these fairy tales. There are versions of The Werewolf in Winter where Gunter manages to bargain with the woman to give him another chance. One of the Unbellt brother’s tales ends in a very violent way, but most ways it’s presented nowadays are with a happy ending. That’s probably why La-Iin thought fairy tales were nothing but, as she says, ‘goody-goody’ tales.”
“Why would they do that!?” La-Iin yelled.
“It depends. Some just think the stories go better that way. Others see the stories as being for children and, as you know, not everyone likes their children exposed to violence. A lot of the earlier fairy tales are violent. A lot of the classics are violent in their original form too.”
“Those people are stupid,” La-Iin said. “Let’s read another one, Mama. I want to read it this time.”
“I don’t think you can manage it,” Mit-Sun said.
“You have no faith in me, Mama. You want me to learn, yes? Then one of the best ways to learn is if you let me try to read it!”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Fine, I suppose you have a point…just let me pick one for you that’s a little easier.”
“You’re mean.”
“No, you’re little,” she said. She flipped a few pages before sliding the book over to La-Iin. “Here.”
La-Iin checked over the story quickly, then began to read.
“Mama gave me….ooh, it’s called The Magic of War. That sounds possibly good….but it looks like it’s by that same guy. ‘Once upon a…’ It’s by the same guy. Anyway. ‘There was a Birdmix man who served as a soldier in the midst of a great war. All around him there was nothing but despair; but he kept his mind strong by reminding himself of the people who waited at home for him. He fought for them and continued on for them. When dispensing all his love only towards them, his brother’s fatalities did not matter.
“On one day he was allowed to return home to escort his family out of the area. He had been told that it was likely the next area the Witches and Warlocks planned to attack. He was glad to see them again, and eager to save them from any possible….”
“Disaster. You know that one.”
“It’s printed funny, don’t blame me! ‘Disaster! He flew as fast as he could towards his family’s home. He was awaiting to see them once he opened the door, to see their smiles for the first time in months. The area around him was disastrous, and he was sure they would brighten it for him; however, when he opened the door to his house, he was immediately greeted by their bodies.’ This guy is sick. I love it.
“‘At that moment all that had been keeping him going throughout the many battles failed him, and he dropped to the ground. Whatever had killed them, he was prepared for it to take him as well.
“But nothing happened to him. Instead, he was asked a question. “You would like to see them alive again, yes?”
“The question was asked by one of the enemy Witches. Had his family been alive, he would not have responded. “Yes. I need them alive. They are what gives me strength.” His response was filled with a resolve that the Witch could not ignore.
“”I can bring them back to life,” claimed the Witch.
“”No you cannot. I know you are lying.”
“”You do not know the true power of a Witch,” she said to him. “I will return your family back to you. I see how upset you are, and I wish to give at least one person happiness during this war.”
“”No Witch is good! I know that for truth now!”
“”Then you, with nothing more to live for, would still go against me?”
“The man realized the Witch had a point. Without his family, he had nothing more to live for save for winning the war. That, he believed, was not a reason he would want to stay alive for.
“”If you can bring them back to me,” he said, “do so now.”
“At that moment the Witch grinned. “That I will,” she said. The man was not given time to react after that point. The Witch fired into him a magic so powerful that he was sent flying into the bodies of his family, and he collapsed. The Witch let out a cackle and flew off.
“Though the man was now deceased, the Witch had kept his promise. Soon after death, he saw the smiling faces of his family once again, and all of them lived in peace far, far away from the war. The end.” ….”
“….”
“….”
“The guy who wrote these is weird,” La-Iin said. “Can I borrow this book, Mama?”
“Uh…sure, why not?”
La-Iin grinned. She took off with the book and Bes-Isa upstairs.

—–
“I should write some fairy tales of my own, Bes-Isa,” La-Iin said.
“They wouldn’t be classics. Or be collected in a book like this. In fact, probably nobody would know them.”
“Maybe, but they would be tales so gruesome that the people who read them would remember them anyway!”
“I’m wondering if what you’re thinking about even counts as a fairy tale….”

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