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Storytime

One of the many things I did this weekend and sit with friends telling stories. We each told a story in turn, though I think I took the weakest path here in that I told a story I'd already told before.

It's wonderful telling stories with others. Each one is unique and different, and I think that when you tell a story to people, pieces of yourself and your audience enter the story, giving it little glimmers of life that are in ways stronger than a story written alone.

As a child, I sat, listened to, and told many stories at campfires. We made stories for every star, the mountains, the trees, the wind, the water, and the fire itself. A world rich with stories and living with strange and wonderful creatures.

I regret that I'd let myself get away from story-telling for so long. I used to really enjoy it on MUCKs and the like, but it seems like at some point, many of those places became much more 'out of character' and the characters were naught but hollow shells, a means to an end. In living in our characters, we became ghosts that haunted the beauty of what had once been bright and living things.

I would very much like it if the other storytellers from Saturday night would either write down the stories they told and let me link to them or give me permission to retell them in my own way (which will undoubtedly be inferior to their original, but they would still be a wonderful thing to collect)

My week, so far has also been filled with good stories. One of the 'horror' podcasts had two stories, Bone Mother a tale of Baba Yaga and Dracula, and one of frightening humans and alien fey Bottle Babies

Finally, there was one on a fantasy podcast titled, Hell is the Absence of God which poses a world where angels, God, Heaven, and Hell, are real and happen all the time. I ended up writing a somewhat long comment on this piece. It's thought provoking and (to me, at least) interesting because I realize how different my views of Heaven and Hell are from 'the norm'. Here's a link if you're interested in my view though fair warning, it may contain spoilers. The really super short form is that, in my view, THIS right here is heaven. Heaven in the classic description? It'd be my version of Hell, and not for the typical cynical reason of 'all those pious people'.

Perhaps I spend too much time thinking about what it would be like to be God, or even some mythical creature. I have moments of seeing myself as many different things. Moments where I think I might not mind spending eternity as fey, a fallen angel, Baba Yaga, Spider Mother, or one of the fates. But these are largely passing fancies. I would rather be free to live forever in my own way and continue to learn and grow and change and sing new stories than forever be locked to a weird.

Chaos and the Fates


Chaos by ~dv-girl on deviantART
A picture to go with the story of Chaos that I posted here: http://dvnt-spirit.livejournal.com/512.html

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King of the Mountain

A short tale tonight.

Once upon a time, a pair of children wandered into the woods late one autumn night under the silvery light of the half moon. Though most men would find the forest foreboding, the children had more than a touch of the fay in them and each felt at home in the forest. They took no lamps, depending only on the gentle kiss of the moon and their own bewitched eyes.

It had been the intent of both of them to walk to the strange paths. Both had wanted to draw mortals into their realm and call to them from the trees, gay with laughter as their charges stumbled along in the strange darkness where they felt so at ease. Yet, quite wisely, no foil could be found and so only they two went, each with a sly thought of misleading the other and still having their game.

A nearby mountain thick with forest provided their field of play. A dry creek bed was visible at the edge of the forest and they followed it up. At first over smooth pebbles, then boulders, and finally climbing sheer cliffs thick with moss. They didn't race to the top but both hoped to see it before the other. Further up, there was a fork of two tributaries. They sat on the ledge a while, looking down on the valley where they'd left their would-be prey and basked in the light of the moon.

Above, the tangle grew thicker and the brush denser, but both still wanted to see the top and, having wandered such ways before both knew mountains were most often bald and they might easily find a ridge to return on before the moon had even set.

So.. Each pushed the other further. They took paths less traveled by men or even deer or rabbits. Even mice might hesitate at the ways they knew that night, and though they came within a few hundred yards of the summit, the brush grew no thinner and no way could be found. They crawled on hands and knees, tearing their clothes and matting their hair with twigs and leaves.

Finally, they relented and turned back, returning to the ledge where they'd looked out on the valley many hours before. The moon was now low in the sky and the way down the sheer cliffs much darker than it had been. Looking at the fork in the stream and the way they'd chosen, they saw what they had not before. Both paths were equally treacherous. There had been no official competition between them and yet both had gone further than they would otherwise have ventured for the sake of having sport with one another... But the forest was much bigger than either of them and it was she who had the last laugh.

Lesson learned, the two made their way back down the precarious heights, returned to their friends, and were now as wise and well-versed in the woods as those who did not know the forest but who had the sense not to take it for granted.

Growing Up

A small group of children had escaped the hot August sun in the cool waters of the river. A bronze-skinned boy sat on the rocks, his skin sparkling with gems of water. He was the oldest of the children, though he did not wish it. His dreams were of endless summer, forever wandering the woods until he knew the name of every tree, animal, and blade of grass. He could not imagine himself a man and dreaded the day that label would be branded on him.

It was not a fear of duty or lack of skill which plagued him. If anything, he took his duties more seriously than most children and even many adults, and his hand with the bow, knife, and tomahawk was unmatched. He had joined the hunt many times and brought much game. Just as often he returned with baskets full of fruits, nuts, berries, roots, and greens.

He sat, lost in contemplation, watching the other children splash, and play until it was late and the cool of evening was beginning to roll in. Reluctantly, the other children began dragging themselves out of the water and began to talk of returning to camp and dinner. So they gathered up their things and headed up the path with him in the lead.

He had just turned to look back and make sure they were all following when he saw it. A copperhead had lain on a rock sunning itself and now, one of the youngest children had hopped up on the rock, unsuspecting. The snake drew back, raising its head to strike, and in a heartbeat, his knife had hurled across the short space and split the serpent's body. The tail writhed and coiled, rolling off the rock and onto the ground.

At first, they all stood stunned. The girl began to cry, inching back from the snake at her feet. He quickly went and picked her up and asked her a hundred times if she was alright and checked her legs for bites. The moment passed and, upon realizing they were free from danger, the other boys let out wild whoops and spoke excitedly about his bravery and skill. They poked at the snake with sticks until he had called the little one and put her down and picked up his knife and the corpse of the beautiful creature he'd slain.

The other children all raced back to camp, excitedly telling everyone the story of what had just happened. He followed behind them, but slowly. He had long been shy of attention, and when he was welcomed back and asked to retell the story, he deferred them, saying he had to go and skin and clean the snake and prepare it for his dinner.

It was a job quickly done. The skin peeled and put into a heavy brine, the body gutted, spitted, and roasted. He took his meal alone at his mother's camp, far from the communal fire and when people came and asked again about the snake, he told them simply, without the embellishments of the other children.

That evening, he was the subject of much talk at the communal fire and though he sheepishly approached once or twice, he largely stayed away until the fire had burned to embers and everyone else has gone to bed. It was only then he sat and stared into the cherry embers.

After some time, he realized he was no longer alone and though he never heard the approach, the weathered face of a very old man appeared in the dim light. The aged figure stooped to put another log on the fire. The boy rushed over to help him.

The man did not smile or express gratitude. He just looked at the child carefully for a long time. It was possible he did not speak English, the boy thought.

Though the child's skin was darkly tanned, his parentage was obviously predominantly European, and while he spent much of his life living in camps like this on the edge of the various Reservations, he and his were only guests of the tribe. The elder who now sat by the fire wore cotton pants and a ribbon shirt, but there was no question he belonged there.

An hour or more passed. Both sat, staring into the fire until at long last, the old man spoke. His voice was barely more than a whisper but very clear in the quiet night. "You are the one who killed the snake?"

The boy sunk a little and nodded.

"You are not proud?"

Perhaps it was the smoke from the fire or perhaps not. The boy's eyes misted with tears. "She could have been killed."

"She was not."

"I could have hit her with my knife."

"You did not."

"The snake was only defending itself."

The old man nodded and turned back to the fire. Several minutes later he said, "What did you do with it?"

The boy explained skinning it and having it as his supper. The old man neither nodded, smiled, or asked any more questions.

Both sat in silence for another long pause. Then the man rose, walked over to the boy, brushed his cheek and then forehead with a feather, then offered it to the child.

The boy took it and looked at it for several minutes, not really comprehending. The old man said, "You remember the land better than some of my children. It is good." Then he turned and left.

The Bitter Dryad

The persimmon is a strange tree, possessed at once of being the most sweet and bitter of the things in the wood. It's fruit hard and more bitter than acorns all the summer and through the fall, yet in the winter, after the first frost, when food is scarce, her fruits give themselves up, soft, sweet, and yielding easily to the lips. Through the winter, she feeds wanderer and wild alike. Moreover, her boughs are long and pliable and have been carved to many a fine longbow.

It may come as no surprise then that a nymph of such wood should be similar in her nature. So it was with the lady of the tiny grove beside the lake. Her scarce dozen trees, surrounded by wild tangles of blackberry brambles lay hidden in a small meadow beyond a deep wood and her grove seemed safe, forever protected from the encroaching world of man. And indeed, it was so remote that scarcely more than a wayward sprite ever came and danced in the circle of her grove and played his tiny fife.

An so she lived for untold ages until she met man, who is ever consumed with what he calls progress. In her long life, she had scarcely noticed the past hundred years. The native people of the continent pressed into her lands were full of woe but at peace with her grove and they took only what was needed from her bounty. The white men though.. Long had they forgotten the old gods and things such as her and in what was but a blink in her memory, they had broken the treaties they made with the native people and pushed their way into the last land given to them and claimed it as their own. Slaughtering the bison and replacing it with their cattle. Ripping open the Earth for the black fire stone within it and leaving gaping holes. A heartbeat had but passed in her grove and a city had sprung up only a few miles away. Ever closer the machines of man came until at last, the fate of her forest was sealed.

A highway bypass was to be cut right through the little glen. The tiny clear lake filled in, the stream that fed it channeled into a drainage ditch. A road with all its litter and speeding steel machines cutting through what had once been her grove. She struggled against them but it was much too late. Change comes most readily to those who are least prepared for it. In her efforts, she was able only to mire a great machine in the mud for a few hours and burst a few tires. Her grove hadn't any defenses strong enough to stop the progress of man, and so it was lost.

The lake was leveled and filled and the island laid flat with the land, her once so pure stream became a great ditch, filled with rotting paper cups and old tires. Mosquitoes festered in great clouds where once fish and frog had taken them readily and kept them in balance. Her grove, most precious of all, was cut down, bulldozed under, to the last tree.

And there she had stayed, clinging to the last branch of the last tree, trying desperately to hold it and keep her forest alive and green, and there she died.. Or so it was thought, for the field became silent. Like a vein carrying poison, arteries sprang off the road, developments and strip malls cropped up like tumors, and she was utterly forgotten.

Yet she had not died. The last magic of the land had been to seal her in the last fruit that fell from her grove. The five seeds of the persimmon holding each sort of magic, and though the found soil, they refused to grow, so grieved and bitter had she become. Years passed and little by little, the seeds failed until at last there was only the last which held her heart, cold and impenetrable. All she could remember were the scars that man had made in her.

Warm wet liquid seeped through the soil and bathed her oubliette, not with the sweet kiss of summer rains but the pungent metal tang of blood and through the soil, she felt the shallow breathing of breath which was nearly its last. The mortal world had forgotten her but she could not truly forget. Even her pain could not allow her to leave one alone to die in what had been her land for so long, and so she rose.

An aged mother opossum lay in the ditch near the road, her body wrecked and broken, shuddering painfully with each breath. Though her eyes were already fogged with death, they turned upon the ancient spirit. "Mother, why have you forsaken us?"

"I am destroyed, my grove is gone.", she said quietly.

Pained and choking on blood, the creature stared at her through dull misted eyes. "The land is changed but it survives. My children and now I die crossing the roads of man to search for food but we continue."

It was perhaps only then that she, ageless and far-seeing opened her eyes for the first time in a century and gazed upon the ravaged land. Broken bottles, bits of tires, fast food wrappers were everywhere, the roads and buildings cut through the land like scars and yet... They were scars. Around them, the land still breathed. It was changed, she knew not some of the plants and animals which dwelt there now but in reaching out, she felt them and those more familiar. The opossum, skunk, raccoon, squirrel, quail, even a lonely coyote felt her touch, raised his head and howled in longing for the lost heart of the land.

It was then she realized that in the darkest and longest winter of her land, she had been bitter and poisoned, and cut off not only man, but all that which was beautiful and needed her. She began to weep and the skies opened up and joined her, pouring a torrent of rain upon the land as not seen in a decade. The hard shell around her heart cracked, then split and a slender green shaft reached up towards the sun.

Though she is much changed, the land lives despite man's best efforts. The opossum, raccoons, mice, rats, foxes, birds, lizards, even deer cling tenuously to life and though man is long blind to such wonder, the forest is all around them, living in the parks, yards, and highway medians, and every year a small grove of trees retells her story with bitter green fruits that sit for all the year, inedible until the frost comes and the land needs them worst. Only then do they remember, turn red, soft, and sweet.

How to make Chestnut Brownies

Now. First thing is first, it really must be noted that if you're in the americas, you may encounter horse chestnuts, which unless boiled several times are inedible to humans. However, this should not come as a real worry, for while brownies made from horse chestnuts will naturally be more given to horseplay, they are otherwise as sweet and delightful as their cousins.

With that out of the way, lets move on. The first step, naturally, is to gather the materials you shall need. We start with a large helping of inspiration. For myself, this came from laying in the park under a horse chestnut tree and, from the corner of my eye, spying the spiky hair and large playful eyes of a chestnut brownie hiding in the husk of a fruit from said tree.


So, I wandered around the park and gathered various bits and bobs to help shed some light on the little rascals and make them more plainly visible to human eyes. You'll find a large quantity of twigs to be most useful in this recipe, though there is much to be said for magnolia blossoms, scraps of redwood, pine cones, arils, catkins, various drupes and berries, dried flowers, feathers, bits of broken glass and other found shiny treasures, and of course, a goodly helping of chestnuts or horse chestnuts.

Next, you will want a large and somewhat stable workspace, a small sharp knife, some sturdy scissors or shears, and some adhesive device. Pine sap is most desirable but can be quite messy and difficult to work with so I opted to use hot glue as a replacement and it seems to have done a decent job in its place.


On the matter of the actual spell you will need, it will of course vary from person to person and brownie to brownie but for myself, I found that placing all the raw components in a large heap upon the table, then carefully sorting things into different stacks and spending a goodly bit of time meditating on the faces and bodies and jobs of the varies sorts of brownies aided me greatly. Sometimes the small knife was used, circling it over the piles and on occasion, to pry open seeds, cut twigs, or bore small holes. I then lay the bits out in forms that collected the most energy and fastened them with the adhesive device. A few finishing bits and the brownie would simply spring to life and begin at once creating all manner of mischief. If you are having trouble getting a brownie to behave in his given task, I might suggest that a thin piece of maple or eucalyptus bark does wonders for helping him find his legs and stand proud.


With a little effort, in no time at all, you should have a whole army of them ready to take on whatever adventure might please them. Of course, for myself, I find brownies much too mischievous to keep in my home so as soon as possible, I shall return them to the park and hide them in trees where they might enjoy the place they came from and bring joy and wonder to the people who might encounter them there. While I Might recommend others do the same, I could understand if one might feel their own home is made brighter by the presence of a few woodland sprites. However, should you chose to keep them, may I at least recommend you find a few large potted plants for them to dwell in as they will likely be much happier there than gathering dust on a shelf.

Best of luck and happy baking!

Images and Descriptions behind this cutCollapse )



Song of the Woodland Charm

When I spoke of the fair exchange, I wrote about a song that I took away from that place. It's funny how such things are. Gifts of the fey are always so slippery. I've held onto much of it and if I continue to practice, I may one day capture it fully and re-open that doorway to the other, but until I do, these are the fragments of it I have managed to keep.

Song of the Woodland Charm
Variant version

The full song is much longer and more complex. I can hear it echoing in my mind but I haven't yet the skill to fully pull it forth.

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A fair exchange

It is said of the fair folk that they greatly enjoy gifts, but it is also known that for a gift they give, they hope for something of equal value.

I've often felt that magic has left the world, that where once the faerie played, now naught remains but silent trees and impassive stone. My heart had grown cold to such ideas and my mind too rational for flights of fancy. However, not long ago, I was wondering in the woods. I came upon a space so resonate in its magic that even I could feel it. A shallow cave hidden amidst the tangle of the roots of an old tree, set on a ledge which looked out into a boulder-strewn and overgrown canyon. Even to my mortal eyes, the ruins of fey grandeur were obvious.

It was during this moment of surveying and reflection that something caught my eye, a gleaming bit of something in a solitary shaft of light that pierced the canopy of trees and the tangle that hid the front of the cave. A charm of silver and moonstone that seemed bright and new hung just beyond the roots. It was at this moment that I became certain I was in the presence of the Other; a feeling I had not felt in so long. It was true then that they weren't all gone.

I reached out and stroked the dangling lure. The silver was bright and the moonstone glowed with the curious cloudy luminescence of its kind. This trinket was meant for me, of that I was sure. It matched quite handsomely what I was wearing and other trinkets that are close to my heart. Yet at the same time it was not mine. Had I taken it, by the time I was home, it would have been no more than leaves or dust. Fey creatures love to play these tricks on the unsuspecting and more, I feared that were I to take the gift without fair exchange, they door or the Other might forever be shut to me afterwards as I'd come to their home and been a rude guest.

One would also do well to understand that this place was sacred, it pulsed with the flow of magic, and the charm only increased that affect. I brushed the amulet one last time, letting it sway in its nook. It was only then I noticed that on the opposite side of the root was carved the rune of the sun; a mark most dear to me. Whatever sprite had placed this gift has planned ahead to tease me well and make certain I knew it was a gift to me.

It was about this time, I realized I did have some silver of my own with me; a piece of silver most precious to me but a gift I might willingly give in exchange. So, I drew my silver flute from its case, nestled among the roots and began to play. The notes were awkward at first. I was so estranged from magic and the Other, I had no idea what they might care to hear. Then my eyes settled over the canyon, the boulders, ferns, and dense moss, and I began to play.

My second sight returned and I could see their city as it had been before man had forgotten them, before I had let the world burn me down and become bitter and blind to such beauty and I played strange and haunting hollow tunes until tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks, falling into the dust and then, after so many years, after giving up hope, through blurred eyes, I could see them. In ones and twos, they came carefully from the woods, cautious, as though the cynicism of my past might destroy them with a moment of disbelief. How fragile they had become. I played for them, played and wept as they danced and whirled around me until I could feel them close and safe again, no more kept at bay by a heart grown cold and dark.

I had no gift I might leave in place of the charm. Nothing another such as I might find and encounter that same sense of wonder and so I took it only in my heart, keeping this story and the song as the true gift that was offered and in exchange, I gave them the same things I took. It was a most fair exchange and a moment of true magic.

Chaos

Sara was a thin wisp of a girl, born under the waning moon on the last day of summer. She dwelt in a tiny cottage at the edge of the woods with her mother. Her mother was a wash woman and often away. Her father had left to battle in the king's war when she was a babe. Word came only a short time later that he had died. As such, Sara lived much of her life alone for they had no near neighbors, but her friends were many. the birds, beasts, and insects of the forest.

It was a cool spring morning. Her mother had left before sunrise to make to her employ and Sara had watched the sun rise, the dew glistening like trapped gems in the silk of a spider's web. Looking closer, she saw faint motion and scurrying on the beam beside the web. Gathered there, hundreds of baby spiders ran upwards and made for themselves dainty silk balloons. One by one, they were setting out into the air, rising up over the forest and drifting away.

"Where are you going?", she inquired of them, but the spiders spoke not and continued on their journey.

Undaunted, she gathered for herself a jug of milk and some bread with which to sop, packed them into a basket for her lunch and followed the stream of tiny wanderers into the forest. These woods were ancient and filled with old magic. Many times her mother had warned her against going into them, though such silly talk had never frightened the girl. Instead, she had often played in the boughs of an old oak and gathered twigs for the hearth fire so that her mother might warm her feet after the long walk from the town after her hard day of work. Besides, what had she to fear of hobgoblins and gnomes? She loved all creatures and the worst that might ever befall her, she thought was to have her hair tied in knots. So there was no harm in adventure.

Despite this, she was so enraptured by the flight of the tiny creatures that she wandered much further than she might normally have done, plunging deeper into the woods where the twilight of morning was still thick and dark and she caught only the briefest of glimpses of the stream of silver threads gliding through the air until finally, even that was lost. The last of the little spiders had drifted beyond her view though she strained her eyes in vane with hope of finding them.

When, with a sign, she resigned herself to knowing that she would never discover their destination, she suddenly became aware of just how far she had wandered and it dawned on her that she might be well and truly lost. She felt a certain amount of panic rise up in her but then bit it down. She wasn't afraid of any forest! With that thought, she marched forward, taking the direction she believed the spiders had flown.

After a short ways, she thought she could hear a thrumming in the woods and the sound of singing. As she drew closer, she heard the laughter of women and this very much set her mind at ease. Following the sounds, she spied a tiny hut made of twigs. A low smokey fire burned inside and she could see the shadows of people moving inside. The voices sounded like old women and, when she drew closer still, she saw that this was true. Three women, hunched with age, moved inside the hut, talking and singing. One sat at a wheel, spinning, another held a skein, slowly winding it. The last held a great pair of shears and when she cut, all three cried out and stopped their singing for a moment out of respect.

"His thread was long and smooth with nary a twist or knot. I do not mind overly much that this one is now cut but the next troubles me." Her two sisters nodded and clucked.

"It is a shame, the girl who lives near our forest has never been anything but kind to our children but they have brought the silk for her but the king takes too much of everything from these people and has stolen her life's thread as surely as her food. A year and a day is all the more I can spare this child." They all shook their heads sadly.

Sara's eyes were wide but she held her breath. She knew they spoke of her. As she watched the women, she once again became aware of tiny movement. The myriad hundreds of little spiders she had followed were here now, offering their silk sails up to the old women who took them and spun them into the thread of all life.

Sara ran back towards home, tears and branches stinging her cheeks as she fled, her feet instinctually finding their way back home. How? How could it possibly be true? She had only a year and a day to live? It wasn't fair! When she made the house, she let her basket crash to the floor, spilling the jug of milk across the floor. She flung herself onto the bed and cried.

Misty, their cat appeared seemingly from thin air to first lap up the spilt milk, second groom herself thoroughly, and third, saunter over casually to comfort the weeping child. Sara hugged and petted the creature until she had stilled herself.

She resolved that she could not tell her mother this dread tale. She had already lost her husband. It would be unfair for her to live, counting the days left for her only child. No. She could not tell her. Besides. Perhaps it was only a dream or they had not spoke of her. Surely she misunderstood. There must be many houses near the forest.

Many hours later, when she had all but convinced herself it was a dream, her mother returned home, bustling with gossip. The king's butler had died that very day. He had been a kind man and lead a good and long life and had given the king fifty years of consistent service, having always performed his duties every day for all that time. It was sad, Sara thought, that he should have lived so long and yet never really lived at all. She would make the most of the time she had left.

And so she did. The year passed quickly and she was ever a faithful and loving daughter, spending every precious moment with her mother that she could but she also ranged further afield, wandering deep into the forest time and again. Though she retraced her steps a hundred times, she could not find the cottage. She did instead find a great many other wondrous and beautiful things. Cool glistening streams splashing through the emerald moss and old hollow trees where the magic of elves virtually tingled on her flesh. Caves and forgotten paths. All these, she explored with abandon. For if she was to live but a year and a day, why not lead each as if it were her last.

But before she'd had time to savor all that life had to offer, spring came again and she grew morose and carried her fate upon her face. She began to grow thin and hollow and though she tried not to worry her mother, her thoughts were consumed. Misty had given birth to three kittens that spring, but even their tumbling and play could not rouse her heart for too long, so heavy was her death upon her. Yet, she did not, would not give up.

A year had passed, and on the morning of her next to last day, she again glimpsed the glistening jewels in the window and the tiny stirring of spindly legs climbing upwards and setting silk sails to the wind. Quickly, she packed a basket of milk and bread and set into the woods, once more following the tiny flight until again she was truly lost, deep in the heart of the forest, and then she went forward again and stopped and listened for a long long time until.. at last, she caught the faintest of notes and chased it through the forest, following a sad song back to the little hut of sticks.

The three sat inside, singing and working the wheel slowly. Sarah stopped. What would she do? What could she do? She sat down and tried to think. She had been so frustrated trying to meet her fates again that she had not thought overly of how she might change it. After a while the only decision she'd reached was that it was best not to think on an empty stomach.

She pulled the jug of milk from the basket, then reached in for the bread but instead gave a sharp shriek of surprise when she grasped not bread but something small, warm and fuzzy. The kitten mewed and peered at her with large round eyes from within the basket. She smiled but then froze. The singing had stopped.

The three sisters stood over her, looking down. Their faces were ancient, lines carved so deep into them that they may as well have been made of tree bark. They all had crooked grins, slightly skewed to one side.. From all the spinning, Sara thought.

"We don't get many visitors", the spinner spoke.

"No. Hardly any.", added the holder of the skein.

"And never do they seem glad to see us.", the wielder of the shears finished.

The girl's eyes welled up with tears.

"Oh, dear. You mustn't cry. It doesn't suit you."

"But I don't want to die!", she bawled.

"All things pass, dear one."

"You did meter her life very short.", one sister chided another.

"Such is the way of fate. It is cruel but we cannot make exception for children or kings. No matter how beloved they are by our children.", she said and extended a thin finger to delicately caress one of the many million tiny spiders that, Sara could now see, swarmed about the trio.

Sara looked up at them, defeated and hugged herself to her knees.

A little mew and a petite rap against the lid of the basket drew Sara from her fugue. She opened the basket and lifted the kitten from it, hugging him to herself and sniffling.
The kitten purred with a ferocity that vibrated his entire body.

The crones cooed in unison for their affairs were with man and the deep wood and they had never seen a kitten before. There voices rose in pitch. "What is that?", "It's so precious."

Three pairs of gnarled hands reached out to caress the soft yellow fur and the kitten purred and rubbed against each. That is... Until he spied the skein and his front dipped down and rear flicked high and wiggled. The he pounced on the gossamer thread.

The crones cackled in delight, forgetting themselves a moment. One dangled the thread and the kitten leapt again, batting at it with his paws. Again the old women squealed with glee and mirth.

Suddenly, Sara was struck by an idea. "Oh! If you think that's cute. Watch this!".. Gently, she lifted the skein from the hands of its keeper and tossed it lightly in front of the tiny feline. Tail lashed, kitten hunched, then pounced ferociously and rolled with the skein, sending it rolling and unraveling. He flipped and ran after it, pouncing again and knocking it further.

The sisters howled with laughter, watching the tiny bundle wrestle and roll. Sara kept her fingers crossed. The sisters continued to laugh and took turns dangling the thread before the kitten until finally he was quite exhausted and climbed up into the lap of the spinner, kneaded, and went to sleep. She smiled and rubbed the little thing.

"You're a very clever girl.", she at last spoke.

Sara felt her heart leap.

A second of the sisters stood behind the first, laying her fingers on her sister's shoulder. "Fate cannot be tricked or changed.", she added.

The keeper of the shears smiled. "But is it not said that fate has a strange sense of humor?"

All three laughed. An ancient and knowing laugh. "We can't untangle this.", one said, gesturing to the snarl of thread strewn around the floor. "You shall have a long life but it will be strange, twisted and tangled and take you in a different direction at each turn. You have created your own fate."

Sara felt relief flush through her, "You honor me with such a great gift. Life is so strange, wonderful, and beautiful. All I've wanted was to explore it and now this is to be my fate? I thank you with all my heart."

The aged face crinkled into a smile and rubbed the tiny kitten. "It is a fair exchange. He is the most wonderful gift we have had in ages. Doubtless he will bring us ... and many mortals... a great deal of amusement." At this, her grin turned just a bit wicked. Sara smiled too. What fun was life without a little chaos?

And this is the story of how Chaos (for what else could they name this creature) came to live with the fates and make man's life more interesting to say the least. As for Sara? That's another yarn but it's quite long and twisted. Perhaps next time.