George Macdonald

Tales from Faerie — Conclusion

Posted on Updated on

Continued from Part V…  or Start from the beginning… 
My journey was uneventful, and the road was clear. I passed through Feldland and through the settlements of my own people. Faren welcomed me at Tælongaad with a feast and a day of celebration. During the evening meal, however, fate finally became clear, and the prophecy of the Ellathe fulfilled itself. The river overflowed his banks and formed a body with which to speak to us. Terrifying the city as he trudged down the main road, he came to us in the misty form of fog and rain. ‘Peace has deceived you!’ The words thundered through the courts of Faren, ‘You have neglected the defenses of the land, and the traitor among you has made his move. The evils of this land have been awoken, and your fate has been sealed. Tharen, move now to defend your land; I will divide the East from the West, yet each of you shall have his own evils to suffer.’

We took up our arms and Faren sounded the alarm for the city. The soldiers raced to removed their swords and teach their arms to once again wield a blade. The old men fitted their scabbards with belts that allowed for the years of non-combat. The fair-skins took up their own weapons, yet they stayed in their own homes and waited for the unseen danger. Eagles were seen circling the skies, yet these were strange to our eyes. The mountain-dwelling eagles of the East, their loyalties had not been strong to our people. Falcons and hawks from my own land flew into the sky to meet them, and a battle in the air soon began. It is a terrible thing to see such creatures of majesty and grace torn and bloodied, but the eagles were powerful and much larger than their more nimble brethren. My birds were soon overcome and forced to return to the forests to nurse their wounds. Word came that the high kingdom was besieged, and my brother’s people were seen marching through the North with an army of mountain-creatures and fell beasts. The one who shall not be named made his way through the settlements of our people, destroying what he could not have for himself. With fire and sword he campaigned through the North. Peace had deceived us, and our own brother was the traitor who was foretold by the Ellathe.

The countryside was razed and all that was beautiful was made dangerous to the unsuspecting. My brother had learned much in his solitude in the East, and not least of all, he coveted the beauty of old. Far from a hideous sight, his armies were marvelous to behold. In fact, their armor made one feel that no evil could ever come from that grandiose sight. Their swords were made with the upmost skill, and the intricate designs brought wonder even to those whom the blade was piercing. The creatures that accompanied my brother brought a sense of dread, but the fear arose from their perfection. The great lake-creatures and mountain serpents entranced my people as they appeared from amidst the ranks of the fell army. The eagles were majestic and breathtaking as they soared above the battlefields, calling orders and reporting to the officers. Soon, the beautiful legions reached the banks of the river. The river is very old, and he is loyal to my father. He stopped the advance of the bright army, but the nameless one soon found a path across the sea. The great creatures of the mountains swam through the sea, and my brother’s army soon found ships to cross the bay.

The beautiful army soon reached the gates of Tælongaad. The grand city was impermeable to attack, and the army could do nothing against the great walls. The fair-skins, however, held no loyalty to Faren’s people, and they soon turned against the land which had become their home. The gatekeepers were slain and the arts of the fair-skins held back the city guard. The bright army marched into Tælongaad unhindered, and the conquest of the West was complete.

Faren was brought before my brother from the East. The council was short, and as Faren valued the life of his people over the majesty of his lands, he was exiled to the far West. The ships of the Tælon set sail on the next day, and Faren, the son of the High King of the Empire of the Three Kingdoms, sailed into the West and out of my realm of influence.

As I stated before, I had hastened back to my own lands to prepare to defend my people. The men of my land were well-practiced in the art of  defense and subtlety. The bright army had not been able to pass into the Southernmost part of my kingdom. The fields were guarded by my men, and the keepers of the forests would not allow the entrance of the fell creatures. Soon, however, my brother turned his attention once more to my land. He marched on the river and the forests of the South. He could not, however, pass the river, nor could he gain entrance to the forests.; therefore, he cursed the land with false beauty and serenity. He commanded everything that had life to cease growing. He used words far older than our people to stop the advance of time, even to reverse it. Over the land of Tharen he placed a curse that appeared to us at first a blessing, but just as he could not enter, we have not leave to exit. Time does not pass in this land, neither does aging or sickness or death occur. All who stay in this land will age in years, but will stay well in mind and body. As soon as one exits this realm, however, the curse of the ages will be broken, and his true age will take its toll. We are forever cursed to stay in this land forever. If we cross the halfway point of the river to the West, we return to the clay that we were formed from. If we venture past the beauty of the northern fields, out of the forest to the South, or into the mountains of the East, the same fate will befall us. Peace was ever our blessing, as now it is our curse.

Many centuries have passed since that time, and we are sure that our brothers have since passed out of this world. Yet we are cursed to remain in this world, weary of the perfection and peace that surround us. This is why our songs vary in in tone and cheer. Our mirth cannot last for long before the sadness of that which we lost overtakes us. The lands beyond the curse have since become pits of beautiful evil and wonderful snares. For a time, travelers from abroad continued to venture to the coast to trade or buy, but news of the dangers that lie herein soon spread to the world. The Three Kingdoms once more became one. The realm of a beautiful evil. A land of the fell light. Deception and lies are the language of the land, and none who enter may exit unchanged. The armies are massing in the East, and I’m sure that the bright armies will one day embark on a campaign of terror, but for now, they sit, wait, and grow evermore powerful and deceptively beautiful. So now, my good traveler, you know our story. Leave us to our fate and leave this land. The river will soon calm his wrath, and the path will be once more opened to you. Take it to the South, perhaps you will escape the evils of this land. Trust nothing that is fair, and beware of the creatures that patrol the borders.”

Thus my encounter with the Fields of Time ended. I headed back into the Western and Southern lands, convinced that this would not be the last time I would hear of the Three Kingdoms and beautiful armies of light and deception.

Thus concludes the first major piece of Faerie that I’ve written. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to critique and/or ask questions. I plan on writing more like this in the future, but I probably won’t post to this blog. If you liked the story, please share it with others who you think will enjoy it!

~ Chris

Tales from Faerie — Part V

Posted on Updated on

Continued from Part IV… or Start from the beginning…
The years stretched on and the abundance and prosperity of the Tælon began to take their toll. The lords of the cities and keepers of the books began to find more use of tailors than fletchers. The chefs of the cities were not lacking, nor were the products of their kitchens. Swords were not allowed to become rusty, for the High King had warned against the slacking of the guard. The young men, however, became content with the pleasures of court and home, and the older men retired from soldiery and chose to study the arts of farming and the making of money. Merchanting became an occupation more desired than knighthood, and the values of nobility and honor slowly began to give way to the vices of fortune-seeking and pleasure. It was at this time that the fair-skins began to appear. Similar to our people in most ways, these men were thin, tall, and long-faced. They did not hold the values of our people, and they cared only for the money that could be made from their crafts, but oh! The crafts that they could make! They were glorious; they were beautiful; they were terrible.”

Tharen stopped. His voice was now cracking slightly, as he continued:

“The men brought with them great gems and wonderful stonework. They produced boxes that opened on command and swords that could not be removed from their sheathes except by their owners. The fair-skins brought these toys and the Tælon were enraptured. They allowed the foreigners to live in the city and settle amongst their own people. Faren was at first concerned, but he could find no apparent wrong with the men. Although they were greedy and dark, they broke no laws of the land. Their skill at metallurgy far surpassed that of Faren’s people. Their knowledge and control of the ancient skills was also great. No Tælon man ever entered the house of a fair-skin without his consent. The fair-skins delved into the rock to the South of Tælongaad and built their houses completely from the cold, dark stone of the earth. The fair-skins’ homes contrasted as widely with the white sea rock of Tælongaad as the fair-skins themselves did with the Tælon. The Tælon learned to live with the newcomers, but the peace and joviality that first filled the streets were becoming concepts of the past. Faren’s visits came to our woods and fields less frequently. My own kingdom knew little of the fair-skins, for they despised the open fields, and the keepers of the forests did not suffer them to enter. Messengers of our people would often venture into Tælongaad to learn of the news of the world and inquire as to the health of my brother.

It may seem to you that I have been negligent in my storytelling. I assure you, however, that I have not forgotten my father; soon after dividing his kingdom among his sons, he decided to journey down into the Southern lands. Deep in the South is a small kingdom of the Ellathe. The Ellathe are the oldest of this world, barring the One and his servants. Being like men in appearance and manner, they do not fear death at the hand of time. They are knowledgeable in the ancient arts and can foresee much that might come to be. Seldom do they interfere in the domains of other races. Content to dwell in their homes of nature, formed for them by the Celapth,[1] they remain hidden except to those who are friends.  My father fought in the Ellathian council that first purged this land of the fell creatures which had overtaken it. The high race of men we are called by the Ellathe. It is said that we have their blood in our own, but those stories are much farther back in time than our lore now reaches.

The peace in our land was temporary. The eldest of the Ellathe warned my father of a people who would come upon our land and receive welcome. Our rule dictates that we are to turn away none that come in peace. Peace is a blessing with two faces. Both are fair, but the fairest of faces can mask the darkest of hearts. It was concerning fair-skins that my father now sought council. My father took with him a consort of royal high-guard and a few of my huntsmen. Gifts were not required, for nothing crafted by men could match the marvels of the Ellathe. My father granted to me the power of the high throne, and I managed the affairs of the imperial city. Unsettling reports of strange happenings began to reach the city from the East and South. Settlements began to report missing livestock and entire fields of damaged crops. Creatures of the tales of old were even reported to have been seen, although these stories were dismissed as the delusions of worried villagers. Marauding men of the sea began to land and trade with the fair-skins, who had no loyalties but to the strongest and highest paying trader. Faren attempted to stop this practice, and he even banned the pirates from entering Tælon. He could not patrol the entire coast, however, and the settlements of the West began to grow evermore dangerous. After a time, I decided to venture into the West to discern how best I could aid my brother.


[1] Ellathian word for the servants of the One. The Celapth stayed loyal to the their maker, but others broke from his plan and created their own machinations.

To be continued…

Tales from Faerie — Part IV

Posted on Updated on

Continued from Part III… or Start from the beginning…
Tharen paused for a moment and cleared his throat. His youthful appearance clashed with his claims of royalty and ancient heritage, yet I could not help but feel that he was telling the truth.

[map]
A Map of the Three Kingdoms
“In the far West was the pride of Faren’s realm: Tælongaad, the city of the glistening walls. This was the seat of his land and the fortress into which he had poured all of his craftsmanship and creative abilities. The great pearl and coral gifts from the sea had been set up in the walls as decorative and imposing displays of his city’s craftsmen. The crowning accomplishment was a statue of a great white horse. The men worked for 10 years on the shaping and details of the horse. The pearls were cut to perfection and polished to reflect the passersby. The statue was placed in the center of the city and rimmed with a fountain that was kept ever flowing by a water sprite whose service Faren had won in one of his quests.

The Tælon became adept seafarers, and many set off and formed their own colonies on distant islands. Reports even came back that a land larger than that of the Three Kingdoms had been found, and that people who spoke our own language were dwelling there. The tales of old were rekindled in the hearts of our elders, and stories of how we came to dwell here began to be retold in the meeting places. The northern port became a well-known trading hub, and the races of men and others sailed from miles to trade and buy the crafts and horses of Tælongaad. We praised the One who sent us here, and peace continued its work of contradiction.

Of my land, there are many tales. My people did not dwell in any particular strong city or fortress. We preferred to wander through the wood and settle for a year or two in a pleasant field as the fancy took us. The creatures of that day were not violent, neither did we worry over any enemies, for we knew the woods better than any other. I lived for a while with my father in the High Kingdom, learning what there was to know of our lands and history. I studied the lore of our people and learned of the One who created and molded the lands. I learned how he made servants of great power to whom he granted the living and non-living clays. I was taught how they created all of the living creatures, save the Ellathe, yet the animals had not life until it was breathed into them by the One. I shuddered when I was told of the evil that also sprang from those days. How the One, by granting freewill to his servants, not only created those who could love Him, but also those who could despise His might. I learned the concept of evil, and I wondered in my mind how any could turn against a Creator and one who loved them. I rejoiced that my father had purged this land, and I took comfort in the fact that the spirits and beasts that keep and roam the lands are benevolent and good.

Many things I learned, and wise I considered myself. Yet I was a warrior who had fought only in the training grounds. I had no experience with actual evil, and I did not perceive that subtlety was counted among the greatest of the skills of the Fallen. As I have said, I was often visited by the keepers of the forest. These creatures were formed by the servants of the One to keep the woods and guard the great forests from harm. They are wise and exceedingly old. Of them I learned the old arts and ancient skills. My people were able to vanish in the forests and make nearly any useful thing from the dead branches of a tree. Great cities we built in the forests, and pets of falcons and hawks we made for ourselves. Faren would often travel down the river that you crossed on your way here. I would tell him of a new lore or skill that I had learned, and he would relate to me the latest news from afar. During the early years, our other brother would often join us and tell of his discoveries in the arts of mining and metalworking. He would bring with him jewels and swords and shiny things for our children to play with. As the years progressed, however, came less frequently; eventually, he completely ceased his visits.

Faren and I would sometimes travel to our brother’s halls. Underground in the North-East, my brother had created a vast network of tunnels and caverns that served as roads between his stone cities. He had numerous mining pits in which he was delving for all manner of precious materials. He had made alliances with the mountains and keepers of the great lakes. Of these creatures, however, little is written. Even smaller still was the trust which was granted them by Faren and myself. Still, our brother assured us that everything was going well. One day, he announced that he would be abroad on travels for some time, and that any visits by us would be met with futility. It is at this point that we now, in hindsight, count our brother as the one who shall not be named.

To be continued…