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Fairy Tales: 4-6

by IamI


The forest’s song

The Niad rose from the roiling just after noon, when the sun still sparked off the foaming river from which a hand sprang up and gripped the bank pulling the Niad out of the water, first head, then the beginnings of a chest, then another arm, and finally her legs. As she drew herself onto the bank her body (then only water given a feminine form) had begun to solidify; she was short and pale with golden hair and wearing a sandy colored dress that swayed in the wind. She followed no path as she left the riverbank for the woods. She left her river for the shade offered by the trees, the shade was a welcome thing in the summertime, when the nights were as hot as the days.

She was a respected dweller of the forest (her river brought life to much of it), and she had lived long enough to know each of the older trees by name. From the dryads she knew of many birds that nested in the forest, and had in her memory many of their songs. Few dryads came out to greet her this day, for it was hot even in the shade of the trees, and the dryads were a lazing sort in the day; their emergencies came most often at night, when the moon would gaze upon the wood, painting watery shadows onto the leave strewn ground with its silver light. The Niad often slept at night, allowing the river to run unwatched until the sky had brightened to gray.

The Niad came upon a clearing lit bright by the glaring sun overhead. A bird stood in the center. The bird was unremarkable, with dark brown feathers over most of its body and its underbelly colored a paler brown, but it did not move as the niad neared, it only cocked its head to the side. It began to sing staccato notes. The Niad sang back in a crystalline, lilting voice that rose and fell in pitch and volume like a storming ocean. When she stopped the bird sang back in clear piercing notes.

The niad sang back straining up to a shrill register that was heard through the forest. Animals came and watched at the edge of the clearing as the bird sang back; the staccato notes rose to an almost unhearable pitch where the bird trilled the note before stopping abruptly. The niad retorted with by diving from the top of her range down to the bottom, then back up again in one breath. The bird did an arpeggio of whistling pitches. At these the niad laughed and made a gesture of defeat. The bird twittered out a triumphant twitter. The niad glared at the little brown bird.

“There’s no need to brag.” The niad muttered. The end of her sentence was almost lost when the bird interrupted her, singing out a cascade of shrill descending notes. After muttering under her breath for a moment, niad answered with airy upward scale. She breathed in to begin another series of high notes, but the bird flew up onto her shoulder, making her halt her breathing and let it out in a long sigh. She moved to pet the bird’s head, but a warning peck on the temple stayed her hand. The niad laughed and walked out of the clearing, uncaring of the animals looking on.







A Nap

There was a smell of rain in the air and the stone gray sky promised more. But from where she hung, Lune didn’t particularly care; she gripped the chafing rope by a loop and hung there until her mother’s muted voice called to her. She shifted her grip slightly and let go. She dropped from where she hung on the tree branch, landing on the ground barely two feet below a heartbeat later. The grass around the tree was short and colored bright green by the midday sun where the shadows gapped. There was an uneven arc of green between Lune and the gently bubbling river interrupted about halfway through by a rickety bridge, the only way off her little island.

She ran across the bridge carelessly to the small cabin. She kept onto the dirt path and stopped a short distance away from the door for a moment. She moved closer to the door and opened it. It swung open to reveal her mother sitting on the couch.

“Time for your nap, love!” she said.

Lune shivered unconsciously. Sleep means dreams.

“But mother,” she whined “I—”

“Now hush my little moon.” Her mother cut her off sharply, “everybody needs their rest.”

“Fine.” She muttered sullenly, following her mother to her room.

A squat bed was pushed into one corner under a window framed by bunched up curtains. The curtains were the same dull brown as the sheets. She got into bed without undressing; despite her best efforts she fell asleep as her mother sang a familiar lullaby at her bedside.

She found herself on an island like her own but barren, its only populous being herself and a large oak, bare despite the warmth from the winds whipping up from the chasms that sat itself where the river ought to have been.

“I will ask a final time.” The voice rang out through the dreamland as if it were a cave. Lune turned around and found herself staring at the same black haired, silver gowned woman who had haunted her dreams for the past week. She was tall, and just barely close enough for Lune to make out her face; high cheekbones gave a curved framing to her pale, gray eyed face. Her dress seemed to glow with a pure, silver light.

“The answer is still no,” Lune answered, squeezing her hands into fists around the hem of her shirt.

The woman’s sigh echoed. “Very well then,” she said, her tone resigned and cold.

The ground dropped out from under Lune. A vine snaked its way around her hand and she screamed, shooting up in her bed. She could still hear the scream fading in her room as her mother rushed in; she leapt onto Lune’s bed and wrapped her arms around her daughter.

“Oh my moon, are you okay!” she asked, holding Lune by the shoulders. “Tell me you’re okay —I heard screaming! Are you okay?” She brought her daughter in for another fierce embrace.

“I’m fine,” Lune said shakily, hugging her mother tightly.

“C-can I go outside?” Lune asked. Her mother nodded.

“Yes,” her mother answered “be safe my little moon!” She shouted as Lune stood and left the bedroom. She passed in a daze out of the house, walking with stuttering strides towards her island, eyes fixed on the oak. Try as she mite, she was unable to erase the image of the bare tree from her mind.



It came in winter

Winter came (as it always did) after the final leaf of autumn, plucked off its branch by a gentle wind, fell to the ground. The final falling leaf (one of the few still tinted copper) marked the dozing of the forest and its slow drifting to slumber.

But not all the spirits in the forest slept equally, and there came a day —cold and lightly touched by snow —when one of the dryads was roused by a sound; she had heard of the sound from the birds and knew it as a babe’s crying. She emerged from the bark of her tree (a bare, snow dusted oak) and walked down the avenue marked out by her fellow trees who arched above like the skeletal remains of a great cathedral. The sun beamed cooly down on the snow covered ground through the gaps in the trees. The path outlined by her fellow trees wound about the forest like a careless serpent. As she continued down the path she grew more frantic, she knew the path but the knowledge of its warped, twisting length only quickened her pace. By this time she could see the clearing (blanketed thinly in snow) through the thin, irregularly spaced gaps between the trees. They were young in the reckoning of the dryads and their placement at that moment seemed impetuous to her.

She ran through a gap in the trees, ducking under the branches. In the center of the clearing there was a rock upon its worn, gouged top lay a swaddled, crying baby. The dryad slowed as she neared the flat topped stone. In a few moments she was standing over the babe. She softly touched her forefinger against the middle of the newborn’s brow. It was icy cold. Quickly she took the baby into her arms and ran through the woods to a cave she knew. When she came upon the mouth of the cave she slowed and stepped in and sat with her back against the damp wall and rested the baby on her lap and swayed slightly as she sang a song of warming she knew. The baby did not stop crying, but when the dryad touched its brow she found it warm and smiled.

The hours passed and eventually, with night falling outside the cave, the baby’s cries faded. The dryad did not sleep, nor did she not tire, for she was not a victim of human failings of body. Despite this, when day broke, casting light on the melting snows outside the cave mouth, she felt a growing weariness and her mind was haunted by the image of her tree, a broad, tall oak. She took the baby up in her hands and let the immaterial tether draw her back to her tree.

So was the manner in which the winter proceeded, fading into spring and then into summer. By now the other spirits of the forest knew of the strange arrival, and soon the animals knew. By fall they had all participated in caring for the child, and by winter the dryad was allowed her winter peace as the animals cared for the babe (it was now known to be a she) until spring came again.

The winters came and passed thusly until the babe’s fourteenth spring, which began with the first leafbud on a gray, rain warmed morning wet with dew. It was on this morning the dryad decided to teach the girl in the language of man. She learned slowly and others picked up the task when winter came again. By the coming of the next spring, she could speak legibly in the words of man. This new routine continued unbroken until her twentieth winter, when the dryad was woken by news from birds of visitors in the clearing. The dryad rushed to the clearing and saw the woman glaring at the visitors.

The three men, still in the shadows of the trees, wore the hides of beasts hunted in the woods. The sight of that was enough to set anger simmering in the dryad; however, she kept in the shade of the trees and listened.

“Please come home with us.” the oldest of the men implored, “it is birthplace, we are your family the kingdom is–”

“My home?” The women cut the man off. “No,” she answered herself, “no– not my home, why on earth would I return to a family who left me to die?” her voice grew in volume as she continued “my home is here, I will stay here until I die. You may go sort yourselves out, do not come begging to me. You have no right to ask anything of me.” she ended with an imperious shout and turned, striding back into the forest, her unkempt brown hair trailing in the snow behind her.

The visits continued for ten winters more, when the fifth winter came, only two men came to stand at the edge of the forest and by the eleventh winter the intrusions had ceased. By now she had grown into a woman, well versed in the rambling forest paths. She would sing to the ancient ballads and chants of the dryads to the animals when they would come to rest in her clearing in the spring and summer days. This was how the forest remained until the end of the woman’s fortieth autumn.

It is the way of living things to die; indeed, the woman’s life, like the days of summer, passed; and on an afternoon in her fortieth winter, she was laid to rest at her founding place on the ancient rock. And when the dryad sang the rites of death in a teary, quivering voice, a tree began to grow; it began as a sapling in the center of her chest and grew. When the dryad finished the song, she collapsed in the shadow of a fully grown willow whose roots snaked down the sides of the rock and into the grass. Some say this tree still stands in that forest, weathered by the passing seasons and the storms that come and leave with them.


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49 Reviews


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Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:41 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Enjoyed this charming collection of tales, especially with the consistent nature themes!

1. The way you've used the bracketed phrases here adds a lot to the narrator's voice. It makes the phrases seem like side comments given orally, by someone telling you story by a fireplace, which suits the atmosphere for a fairy tale.

2. All three of your stories had strong introductions. They focus the reader's attention on the subject of the story well, and also set the tone. The introductions are what, for me, helps distinguish the slightly different voices for each tale, for instance the more protagonist-centered nature of 'A Nap' and 'The forest's song', compared to the more distant, myth-like feel to 'It came in winter'. As a bonus to that, they're also full of poetic descriptions! I particularly liked the line in 'The forest's song': "rose from the roiling" because of the sound effects of reading that bit out loud.

3. Out of these three, 'It came in winter' was my favourite, so I really have to applaud you there. The sense of the 'fairy tale' was the strongest here. You've struck a good balance between creating an archaic, myth-like voice, without being incomprehensible to the modern reader. The way you describe the setting with personifications brought it to life for me, and I liked how you ended with the "Some say . . . " line at the end that fits the genre perfectly.

4. I thought the style of dialogue didn't quite match the narration at times. For instance, the Niad saying "brag", a very modern word, where the story takes place in this remote forest setting, jarred me a little while reading it. Where the two did match, however, I found the tale most effective, for example the exchange in Lune's dream "I will ask a final time// The answer is still no" almost matches the metric pattern of a medieval ballad in poetry, which I thought was an excellent touch.

5. Just as an observation, only 'It came in winter' seems to have a complete plot. The other two stories seem to be more like snapshots or beginnings to something, which can be effective if that was the intention. In terms of what I personally enjoyed most, I would rank 'A Nap' over 'The forest's song' if only because 'A Nap' introduced a problem and some conflict (Lune's nightmares) whereas 'The forest's song' only contains a set up of the forest and the Niad. (And of course, 'It came in winter' has all three elements, plus a resolution)

Overall, though, I still liked your interpretation of these mythological and nature-based themes. There's a real sense of poetry in the way you write descriptions - and I hope you keep writing them!

Cheers,
Liminality




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Tue Mar 31, 2020 2:11 am
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HGsomeone wrote a review...



Ahoy hoy,

I'm finally here to repay you for all those reviews you keep leaving on my works so here's a return for the favour (I'm beginning to dislike how YWS is underlining some of my words, ah the pain of using the letter u). Anyway, I'll review each of these three fairy tales individually so here are my general comments about each (sorry if I was meant to read the other ones first because I haven't yet, oops);

..............................

The forest's song:

1. I don't want to start with something negative but referring to the niad as simply, "the niad" is a bit over used. I suggest mixing it up a bit with maybe other words like "spirit" or "being" if you wanted to avoid using the pronoun, "she".

2. The very first sentence was a tad too long, for breaking the it up I'd recommend placing a full stop after "water" and then beginning the next sentence with, "First the head, ..."

3. Now that the two sentences are split up, it's best to probably to defuddle the first as it was a bit confusing and could be reworded. (I don't care that defuddle isn't a real word, it still works?)
First off, what is roiling? I assume that it's just a typo or you forgot a word so that's understandable. Second, one thing that could help with clarity is that I don't think you need a comma after noon, or the whole "just after noon" bit could go and you can explain the time of day a little later on as it does clutter up the sentence a bit. Third, if any of that advice wasn't helpful at all, I rewrote the sentence here to show how it could be a little bit clearer;

"The Niad rose from the (water???), springing a hand up through the river, where the sun sparked against the foam, to grip the bank and pull herself out of the water."

4. The language used is simple and easy to read but beware as this instead works as a double edged sword in the case of this story, so perhaps have a little more variety in sentence patterns. There are some excellent phrases in there, which I would never want you to change, but some of the sentences describing the action could possibly do with a little shake up.

All in all, its a sweet little story with some excellent lines and descriptions, but if I'm being honest I'd say it's probably the weakest of the three fairy tales (sorry).


.................................

A Nap:

1. I have a question, why is she taking a nap in the middle of the day?
I don't know, I'm sure some people do but it just confused my slightly. Some advice I could offer to help with this is to more clearly outline her age, which I assume is quite young, or two move this nap time to some point further in the day, such as around the afternoon.
This is probably the most minor of comments so you can just ignore it if you want.

2. With the line,

"'Fine.' She muttered sullenly, following her mother to her room."

I think you have the unique opportunity to change this direct speech to indirect (hehe, fancy gramma stuff. I feel so smart). This would add variety as I've personally found it rare to find much of it in today's media and it would spice up your ping pong dialogue.
here's just a lil example;

"She muttered a sullen agreement, following her mother to her room."

3. "A squat bed was pushed into one corner under a window framed by bunched up curtains. The curtains were the same dull brown as the sheets. She got into bed without undressing; despite her best efforts she fell asleep as her mother sang a familiar lullaby at her bedside"

This whole paragraph feels a bit disjointed though merging some of the sentences might fix this.

"A squat bed was pushed into one corner, under a window framed by bunched curtains. She climbed, without undressing, into the sheets that mirrored the same shade of dull brown as the curtains. Nestling down as her mother sang a familiar lullaby and lulled her to sleep, despite Lune's best efforts."

4. I'm assuming the main climax of the story is Lune's confrontation with the woman but the the information surrounding the build up was too vague and it was a bit confusing what Lune was refusing. The best I can guess is that she would turn into a tree (are tree's a theme in this or am i going far too into this???).
The story also feel's unfinished and makes me wonder, are you going to write a sequel? because if so, this definitely needs one.

In summary, this was a more intriguing story than the first with a slightly more solid story line though it feels a lot of information was missing and that it had an incomplete ending.

.......................

It Came in Winter:

1. The description,

"(blanketed thinly in snow)"

is a bit weak and I think you could definitely find something that is better, such as;

"The snow lay across like a threadbare blanket of white."

2. "They were young in the reckoning of the dryads and their placement at that moment seemed impetuous to her."

I'm assuming the dryad is referring to the trees but it's a bit unclear so my advice is to add a clear subject to the beginning of the sentence. MY word of choice would be something like, "foliage"

3. "The dryad did not sleep, nor did she not tire,"

the "nor did she not tire" is a strange word choice which confuses an otherwise, easy to understand sentence. I suggest rewriting it to;

"The dryad did not sleep, but nor did she tire," a lot simpler.

In the end, this is probably my favourite of the three fairy tales. The plot is simple but sweet, as well as having a satisfying ending. The style in which it is written also reads the most like a fairy tale and the use of using seasons to describe the passing of time seems natural, as in i can imagine a dryad using this system.

...............................

huh, I think that's he longest review I've ever written. I hope it's ok.

I'll have to go back to the first lot of fairy tales when I have the time but for now, have a nice day!

- H.G




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Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:04 am
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Lia5Giba wrote a review...



Hello! Let's get down into these stories.

First one: The Forest's Song. I liked the description especially that you used in this one. Your language is often really elegant, and in here it is too. The niad (spelled naiad, I think) is described really well. Although quick question about the naiad: do you capitalize it or not? Because that capitalization is inconsistent.

Although this story is really pretty language-wise, it seems a little incomplete to me. The naiad wakes up from her river and just decides to take a walk in the forest. Why does she decide to do this? Is this a frequent occurrence? In addition, the story... don't have a lot of plot. What happens after the bird? You need some kind of conclusion. Maybe you describe her slipping back into the river, and that's the end. Something like that. Otherwise, it feels incomplete.

Also, in the scene with the bird, I'd be wary of your usage of the word "bird." Be careful it doesn't get too competitive, because sometimes it does.

Next story: The Nap. This story is intriguing. This one does have a conclusion, which is good. However, I'm puzzled about this woman. Is she real? Is she not? What is she asking for? Who is she in relation to Lune? Is she of this world? Is she an angel? I have so many questions! Maybe you could provide the answers to them after the dream, add onto that conclusion a bit, add some internal dialogue in Lune about the previous dreams, just so we can get a better handle on it.

Otherwise, I quite liked the story. The dream sequence is kind of haunting. The dialogue could use a bit of brush up on the punctuation, but it seems realistic for the most part. Except for the quote here:

“Oh my moon, are you okay!” she asked, holding Lune by the shoulders. “Tell me you’re okay —I heard screaming! Are you okay?” She brought her daughter in for another fierce embrace

I think Lune's mother says "Are you okay?" too many times. I get that you might want to try and convey panic, but putting a bunch of "Are you okay?"s in there is just repetitive.

Last story: It Came In Winter. This story is the most emotional of these three. The first couple of paragraphs I found especially eloquent, describing the dryad. Although there are a few instances where your writing could be better punctuated, most of the time it is good here, or at least as far as I can see.

The last three paragraphs I think have the most emotion. The heartbreak of the dryad is understandable, and you let me feel it. The fact that she turns into a tree is pretty heartbreaking. The entire story, really, is beautiful, like a painting by Bob Ross or something. This out of all of them I enjoyed the most. It had a distinct beginning, middle and end, and I could relate to the plot the most. Plus it seemed one of the most well written

Overall: All of the stories were at least decent. However, all have at least a little to work on. Take a look through them again with a punctuation dictionary and look for punctuation errors. That's what's killing you the most, although (as I mentioned a bit earlier) the stories also have addition problems. Take a look through again. These stories are interesting though, overall, and I get vibes of beautiful scenery from each from your amazing descriptions, especially in your first and third stories. These stories have a good amount of potential. They just need some work.




IamI says...


Thanks! I%u2019m not particularly happy with %u201Cthe forest%u2019s song%u201D myself, I did my best to salvage it, but it needs a complete overhaul, so I%u2019m glad for your review. Thanks. I%u2019ll make sure to get to more of you stories soon (I%u2019ve got plans for national poetry month and I%u2019ll need the points). Happy review day!



Lia5Giba says...


Yeah, Happy Review Day! You ought to join a team or at least do a few reviews!




The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
— Chinese proverb