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Metafiction

tagged Fantasy Plants

Wisdom on the Mountain

Hala struggled up the mountain step by painful step, hunching her shoulders against the cold, but she would not give up. The Cursed Wisewoman’s advice was her last hope; if she could not find her, she might as well die here.

Sharp edges cut her fingers when she had to climb a steep outcrop.. Icy wind spooled her breath from her lungs - but the sight when she crested the obstacle took it away entirely. An old oak tree, more trunk than branches, huddled in the lee of a boulder. An old, lined face formed of craggy bark was too clearly visible to be a trick of the light.

When Hala approached the Wisewoman of legend, a creak announced the opening of her eyes. Yellow-brown and baleful they regarded the human woman.

Hala swallowed and took a few deep breaths, gathering thin air in her lungs. “Honoured Wisdom, I request your help.”

“Yeeeers, of course you do. And what do you have for me?”

“I…” This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. And the Wisewoman shouldn’t sound so petulant.

“Oh, girl, even a tree needs to live. I’m sure what you’re going to ask about is important, but I’m not gonna tell you a thing if you don’t bring me at least a bucket of dung.”

“And lug it up here?” Indignation was burning away Hala’s confusion.

“You have limbs that move, so stop complaining. Not a word.” The slash in the bark that was her mouth closed and fused, as did her eyes. Her entire face seemed to retract deeper into the tree, turning from a marvel to a bit of chance.

Going numb inside, Hala turned around. Dung. So much for legends.

tagged Fantasy

Shifting Focus

Kondarans! Arrogant, lazy... Mirab was an example of the type, being put out at the thought of having to learn a new language - it had never crossed her mind anyone would not speak her own. Teaching it had fallen on Daaren, and he was not about to complain about it, given that he had been another one of the strays the local keep was in a habit of taking in. The girl’s attitude grated on his nerves, anyway.

Mirab’s companion, Firo, seemed an exception from the rule, modest and diligent, and trying to mediate between the girl wrapped up in herself and the real world. It was he who suggested they could translate a story, for them to offer as entertainment and as thanks for the hospitality. The idea even roused Mirab’s interest.

“Oh, yes! A tale about Sir Garob!”

The name seemed vaguely familiar to Daaren. “What is he known for?”

“He was a knight who travelled to barbarian places to teach people to defend themselves. To teach them courage and honour. Only he and his page. How brave he was.”

“Ah. I heard stories that came from Harred.”

“That sounds like the place where he fought a bloodthirsty griffin.” Mirab was blind with hero-worship for someone she never had met. Firo was more perceptive, judging from the nervous looks he gave me.

Daaren nodded. “In Harred I heard tell of him. A Kondaran noble too stupid to care for his own horse or gear, so he had to have a boy following him and do the work.”

“Stupid?!”

“Or maybe lazy. Certainly, though, arrogant and stupid with that. He was set to killing a griffin that at the time hunted near the town. People tried to tell him it was a bad idea; there was a cyrnag with the griffin; they left the herds alone and occasionally traded with the people in Harred.”

The girl yelled something in Kondaran too slurred and rapid for Daaren to catch more than something about lies. He talked right over Firo trying to calm her down.

“I’m not making this up. I am telling the story as it was told to me. Do you want to hear the rest, or not?”

“Not.” She pouted, sulking like a girl half her age.

Firo tried to smooth things over. “Maybe we should try with the story of Saya and the good fairy. It is less long also.”

Mirab gave him a sour look. “You do it, I don’t care.”

“I’ve never heard of a good fairy.” The very idea raised Daaren’s hackles. But he did appreciate the boy’s efforts. “So tell me of those fairies you have down south.”

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