New Fairy Tales Issue 2
Contents Letter from the Editor
List of contributors
The tales The Zoetrope, by A.K. Benedict
The Ice Queen and the Mer-King, by Elizabeth Hopkinson
Jorab the Selfish, by Jeanette D'Arcy
The Story-blind Princess, by Pauline Masurel
The Terrible Troll, by Dave Jeffery
A Lighter Load, by Sophie Ward
The Goblin King and the Pig, by Oliver Eade
The Sirenâ€™s Child, by Tori Truslow
Creature from the Curiosity Cabinet, by Particle Article
the back page
Important Copyright Notice Copyright of all the work contained in this magazine remains with the individual writers and illustrators. The magazine is intended for personal and educational use only. Please respect copyright; all enquiries about the work contained in the magazine should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org We will pass your enquiry on to the relevant writer or illustrator. Illustration on front cover by Lucy Smith and on this page by Leila Peacock Issue 2
Letter from the Editor Welcome to the second issue of New Fairy Tales. On the following pages you’ll find an eclectic mix of fairy tales and fantastic illustrations. Word about New Fairy Tales is spreading and we’ve received submissions from all over the world, from previously published and experienced writers and from lovers of fairy tales inspired to try creative writing for the first time. New Fairy Tales is proud to provide a platform for new work and the privilege of being the editor of this magazine is getting to read the myriad interpretations of what a new fairy tale is. In this issue you’ll find contemporary stories and stories with a more traditional tone, there are princesses, goblins, mer-folk, trolls, sirens and magpies. Fairy tale bequeaths us a language rich in motifs which I believe we should feel free to plunder. Fairy tales have always belonged to the tellers, their listeners and readers; they belong to us all. And rather than stuffing them away in a cupboard we should play with the form, experiment with its language, make it our own, tell the stories that mean something to us, the stories that dance at the edge of our dreams…
‘The Fey’ by Laura Daligan
Special thanks must go to the wonderful illustrators of this issue who have produced some stunning work to a very tight deadline. Like the writers their work was contributed for free in the hope that readers will show their appreciation by making a small donation to our nominated charity, Derian House Children’s Hospice. Please do take the time to donate, if all of our readers make the minimum £2 donation we will be able to raise an amazing amount of money for a very important charity. Happy reading! Claire Massey February 2009 Issue 2
A.K. Benedict writes in a red-walled room filled with books, broken teapots and the severed head of a ventriloquistâ€™s dummy. Her poetry and prose have been published in various journals and anthologies, and her songs have been released on Filthy Little Angels and Scalpel Records. She is currently writing the first in a series of crime novels and trying to outbid other eBayers on a blow-up pirate. www.akbenedict.com and www.theblacktulips.com
Lucy Smith is based in Derby and has been working as a freelance footwear designer for the past few years. She has a love for art & design & all things creative, dreaming of being a great artist one day & a little old cobbler making hand-made shoes for people. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Elizabeth Hopkinson is from Bradford, West Yorkshire (home of the Bronte sisters and the Cottingley fairies) where she especially enjoys writing in the coffee shop of the old Wool Exhchange. Her stories have been published in several fantasy/sci-fi magazines and webzines, including Interzone, Strange Horizons, DKA and Byzarium, and her short story, "A Short History of the Dream Library" won the James White Award in 2005. My True Love Sent to Me, a themed collection of "medieval" romances inspired by the Twelve Days of Christmas has just been published in print form and is available from Virtual Tales.com. Elizabeth's website, with links to all her stories and more, is: www.hiddengrove.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
Laura Daligan grew up with a passion for creating. When she was a little girl she was often happiest letting her imagination roam free, creating fairy tales and monsters, all with the help of paints and paper. To this day not much has changed. A love of books, lyrics, myth and story telling led Laura to specialise in illustration at Falmouth College of Arts. Whilst studying for her degree she began to develop her unique style of visual communication. Laura is now lucky enough to make a living from her passions; art, illustration, writing, teaching and psychic work. Find out more at: www.lauradaligan-art.com
Jeanette D'Arcy lives and writes in a South Wales valley. Her poetry has previously appeared in the online magazine The Dirty Napkin (http://dirtynapkin.com) and she gives regular performances in Cardiff and elsewhere as part of the Cardiff Cafe Writers. Jeanette is also a Shakespeare scholar about to embark on a Phd. She is very busy. Pauline Masurel lives in the South West of England and her short stories have previously been published in anthologies, online and broadcast on radio. Her micro-fiction Discovering a Comet is the title story in a recent collection published by Leaf Books. She is a reviewer for The Short Review website and a regular performer with the Heads & Tales storytelling collective based in Bristol. More about her writing and collaborations can be found at her website www.unfurling.net
Leila Peacock is a writer and artist based in Berlin. http://leilapeacock.blogspot.com
Nicki Dennett graduated from the University of Derby with a first class honours degree in Illustration in 2006. Whilst at university she developed a passion for printmaking. Her collagraph prints possess strong tones combined with fine drypoint lines created by ripping and scratching the surface of printing plates made from card. Besides exhibiting work in galleries across the UK, she has delivered many printmaking workshops and creative projects for schools and the community. Her published work includes illustrations for Derby City Council, University of Derby and Derby Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. You can view more of her work and find out about projects and workshops at www.nickidennett.co.uk Marina Rees is a sculptor and illustrator. You can see more of her work at http://ycnonline.com/profile/show/54770/ Marina-Rees myspace.com/marinarees Louise Grant or Fuzz as she is mostly known has a passion for colour and paper. Louise is an Australian illustrator living in the UK. She climbs a ladder everyday to her own loft studio tower where she creates pictures in a flurry of paper. Illustrating for a number of years, her work can be seen on her website at www.fuzzillustration.com
The Writers (cont.)
The Illustrators (cont.)
Dave Jeffery is 44 and lives with his family in rural Worcestershire. A Member of the Society of Authors, Dave is author of the Beatrice Beecham adventure/mystery series for those who enjoy their adventure yarns without any hocus pocus. The series has achieved international critical renown and is in the process of being translated into Persian. When he is not writing novels Dave works as a mental health practitioner. He has published an academic book with a major publishing company and articles in his field of mental health whilst presenting on the international stage. He is in the process of writing more articles for the nursing press for publication in 2009, and editing another academic text for Wiley/Blackwell Science due for release in 2011. For more details about Dave and his work visit: www.davejeffery.webs.com
Alex Craggs is an IT professional by day but at night he writes and illustrates. In the current financial climate his day job is very welcome, but long term he’s working towards giving it up and making his living creatively. Normally he illustrates his own writing, this is his fist time interpreting someone else’s text. Many of his illustrations rely on very controlled line work. With the Troll images, he wanted to experiment with a looser line and used a brush with Indian ink for the black lines. The inked images were rendered on the computer with textures borrowed from his photographs. He is currently writing and illustrating picture book stories about mixed up animals and hopes to generate interest for them this year. For more information about Alex and his work please visit his website: www.alexcraggs.com.
Sophie Ward is a postgraduate student at the National Academy of Writing (based at BCU) and has been published in Finding A Voice an anthology of new writing, in The Times newspaper and she has a regular column in crAve magazine. She also works as an actress and keeps a blog at http://sophiesofar.blogspot.com. She has two children and records many children's audio books for the BBC. Oliver Eade is a retired doctor and grandfather who loves to read fairy stories to his granddaughters. He’s been writing for four years: about seventy short stories (children's and adult, recently joint first prize winner of 'Love is in the Air' Valentine's Day Competition run by Cormorant Publishing, due out 14th Feb), eight novels, (three children's, four teenage and one adult) and four plays, one full length and three one-act. His children's book, Moon Rabbit, was a winner of Writers' and Artists' Yearbook Competition 2007 and longlisted for Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2008, but is as yet unpublished. www.olivereade.co.uk Tori Truslow recently graduated from the University of Warwick, where she spent her time reading books, producing original student theatre, running writing workshops and, at weekends, pretending to be a knight. She is currently writer in residence at Shrewsbury International School in Bangkok. Her poetry, fiction and drama have previously appeared in The Poetaster and tapfactory and can also be found on her blog at amagiclantern.livejournal.com
Annie Dalton currently works as a freelance illustrator based in London, her illustration style ishequite traditional with an occasional use of graphic software. She is a laughing weird little person who lives to draw and can be found at www.anniedalton.blogspot.com Steve Lawson an artist an illustrator and all round paint splashing, pencil scribbling Keyboard slapping artist extrodinair. Living on the south coast of England with his collection of alter egos, including Sir Marvin Mc Mishwash, fat funk Freddy and the fat funk five, Steve regularly exhibits his paintings through various galleries and sells his art internationaly. Jumping out from behind the bushes of the low brow to dilly dally with the high brow Steve's work has been featured in magazines such as Art of England and Juxtapoz as well as one or two slick fancy art book type things. www.stevelawsonart.com Particle Article are sisters Amy Nightingale and Claire Benson. Amy graduated in 2007 fromNottingham Trent University with a BA (Hons) in Textile Design where she specialised in embroidery and developed pieces with a handmade, precious feel, fusing metals, plastics, fabrics and found materials, combining traditional and contemporary techniques and styles. Claire has been an Occupational Therapist in Mental Health since 1997. She uses creative activities to enable recovery from mental illness. Together they create intricate, quirky sculptures of winged creatures from abandoned and reclaimed materials, both organic and manmade. Their fragile figurines often resemble insects, fairies, angels, or hybrids of these. They have exhibited their work across the UK. See their website www.particlearticle.co.uk for more details, stockists and forthcoming exhibitions.
The Zoetrope by A.K. Benedict “You only find love and great shops when you’re not looking,” Mum says. It’s because of her that that I’m wandering around town on a rainy Monday morning with no idea where I’m going. Shooing a limping pigeon back onto the pavement, I
amble down one street and then another, before noticing a lane running diagonal to the others. Walls of blackened brick frame the lane like iron gates. Tucked into the walls on either side are cafés with steamed-out windows, and a junk shop. There’s no name above the door, but a swinging sign bears the mirror image of a question mark. A man with a stack of white hair arranges books in the window. He sidles past a display of ancient teapots and I remember it’s Mum’s birthday at the weekend. She loves anything that’s older
than her. The door tinkles shut behind me. Inside, the shop smells of the rugs in Grandma’s house. The corners are lit by broken Tiffany lampshades, the walls striped with shelves, each one topped with stopped clocks, ruby decanters, African statues. Pans dangle from the ceiling, and a yellowed wedding dress hangs on one wall. Under a pile of rough linen, I find a collection of jewellery boxes and a round biscuit tin. I shake the tin. There’s something inside. I
ease the lid up till it squeaks and sighs off. “Well found.” The man, the owner I think, is next to me, buffing the belly of a coffee pot. “It’s beautiful, but broken. Like everything in here.” He points to the snapped-off spout of the coffee pot and places it high on a shelf. Very carefully, using his thumbs and forefingers as pincers, he lifts a cardboard circle out of the tin and rests it on a pile of books. A painted tangle of roses twists round the outside. “What is it?” I ask. “A zoetrope. An early form of moving pictures. It’s like a flip book – a series of static images that run together when you move them.” He gestures to a small hole in the side covered with cellophane. I bend down and see a drawing of a man in a lush garden. He’s darkhaired, wearing Victorian dress clothes, and stands in profile, leaning forward. If I met a man who looked like him, I would superglue my hand to his. “It should revolve,” the owner says. He gently encourages it to turn. It doesn’t budge. “Such a shame – it’s a particularly special zoetrope. There are two layers – each turning in opposite directions. When it spins, the story looks threedimensional. Or it would do if it worked. And wasn’t missing the pictures on one layer.” He takes off his round glasses, rubbing the impressions on the sides of his nose. I reach out and touch the cardboard. The zoetrope shudders. There’s a faint whirring, a sigh, and it begins to revolve: slowly to start with, then wheeling like a frenzied Issue 2
merry-go-round. The owner steps back, staring at me. My heart thuds as I bend to look through the viewer. The young man is moving, walking towards a rosebush. He looks at me, snags off a flower. His hand bleeds onto livid green grass as he holds out the rose. I want to take it. It vanishes. Then he’s back to the beginning of the cycle, bending forward again, looking sad, as if he’s lost something. I stand up. The zoetrope stutters. And stops. The zoetrope sits on my lap on the bus ride home. I feel it vibrating in its tin, as if it were spinning on its own in there. “It’s certainly unusual,” Mum says. I want to grab it back off the kitchen table and hide him in my room. She peers at the painted roses. “Some of those need dead-heading.” “You haven’t seen what it can do,” I say, touching the cardboard. It shivers and whirls, and I want to shove Mum away from the viewing screen. She straightens up and places a hand in the small of her back. I take her place and watch him bleed. I can’t sleep. I keep thinking of the man in the zoetrope. About how sad he looks. I wish I could touch him, tell him a joke, tickle him under the starched armpit. Whenever I drift off, I dream of lapping at the blood on his hand and wake with the taste of iron gates in my mouth. Shrugging on my dressing gown, I slink down the stairs, missing out the creaky first step. I switch on the kitchen light. There he is, bent forwards, all cheekbones and lips.
Tracing the outline of a rose, I set the zoetrope turning. Mew, mew. Toby’s stuck outside. He sneaks in when I open the door and leaps onto the table. His little head shakes as he tries to follow the spinning wheel that’s picking up speed like a pram pushed over a hill. My heart lurches alongside. Toby jumps down with a yowl, but I don’t move. Faster and faster it turns until all I can see is oncoming stars, and I’m toppling into them. “You can open your eyes,” a man’s voice says. I’m standing on vivid green grass – the green of a witch in a child’s drawing. “You’ll become accustomed to the colours,” he says; the man in the zoetrope. He holds the rose out to me. I take it. He leans forward and places his lips on mine. It feels like sticky-back plastic. The world around us spins and we are still. And then we’re back at the beginning: holding, taking, smiling. Kissing. Heavy steps shake the ground. It goes dark and I glance up. Mum looms over us, blocking out the artex sky. “Are you out there, Isabella?” she booms, staring into the garden. “You’ll catch your death out there.” She locks the door and turns toward us. “Weird,” she mutters, jabbing out a huge hand and holding the zoetrope till it stops. He’s opposite me, miles away. We’re on separate sheets, looking out at each other. Mum’s eye appears in the window next to me. I never noticed how thick her lashes are. They’re batting at the cellophane like branches -7-
at a window. “Mum,” I call out, but even I can’t hear me. “I won’t have it in the house any more,” Mum says. “It reminds me of the night she left. Anyway, it doesn’t work.” “Actually,” the shop owner says, “I think you’re wrong about that.”
“But I can’t make it spin like she could.” “Not many can. I’ll keep it for now.” He takes the tin and looks down at us. Behind him the copper pans look like huge gongs, and I want to bang on them, call her. The door tinkles shut.
The zoetrope sits on the shelf next to the coffee pot. He keeps the lid off our tin so, although dusty and fading, we can gaze at each other until the lamps go out. We cannot touch, but we can look. And sometimes that’s enough.
Illustration by Nicki Dennett
The Ice Queen and the Mer-King by Elizabeth Hopkinson There was once, so the story goes, a king who subdued the surrounding nations with the might of his sword, and all feared him. And when he had conquered the nations to the west and the south, he made war on the icemen who rule the frozen wasteland to the north, beyond the mountains. Then there was battle on the plains of ice for many days, but the soldiers of the warrior king outnumbered the icemen with their sparkling javelins, and the plains fell. For a prize of war, the king from the south demanded the elder daughter of the ice prince for his wife, and he carried her away captive to his home among the heath lands and the rushing rivers, and made her his queen. Never in all his days had the king seen such a rare beauty as the ice princess from the frozen waste. Her skin shone and glittered in the sun. Some say the sun shone right through it, leaving rainbows in every room through which she passed. Her eyes were as blue as the clear sky on a January morning, and each delicate strand of her flowing hair was made from a single icicle. Too rare and too delicate was the new queen for the
palace of the king within his fortified city. He could not regale her in the mighty feast hall of his fathers, where the trophies of war hung above the great fireplace and unspeakable desires burned in the eyes of his warriors and chieftains. He could not promenade her in the scented gardens where the daughters of the ancient houses whispered by the trellises and the jealous sun winked maliciously from behind the clouds. So the king took his queen of ice and locked her in the upper room of a tower. It stood on an island in a coastal bay, where the great river flowing from the mountains met the dark and changeable sea. Here she remained, looking out from her window at night, as the waves crashed and tumbled, singing a lament in the cold, chiming tongue of her people. Her breath as she sang was like clouds of snowflakes falling in a mist. It fell slowly to meet the restless surface of the sea, each flake for one moment a glistening star before it was gone forever. Each week, the king would unlock the door of the queenâ€™s chamber with an iron key, and bring her down to the room beneath her own, a cold room with gloomy tapestries and a panelled bed. There he would embrace her roughly and, with each embrace, one icicle strand of the queenâ€™s hair would break off and fall to the ground with a crash. When the king was gone, the queen, returning to her chamber, would weep and mourn the breaking of her delicate hair, shedding hailstone tears. These too would fall into the night, and the wind would carry them
away into the heart of the sea. Now, beneath the waves that roared about the island, lay the kingdom of the merfolk. For long centuries beyond the accounting of men, they had ruled the ocean depths. But unlike the king above the surface were they, because they ruled with equity and not by the sword. Although their king wielded the trident, and the power of the waves was at his command, he seldom used it. He took counsel among the lords of the mer-folk, and understood the ways of the many creatures that swim the unseen depths, and the pulse of the ocean was the beating of his own heart. So it happened that, as the mer-folk feasted at night upon thrones of pearl and shared the fellowship cup together in their coral gardens, they looked far above them and saw the glittering of stars. It seemed to them that there were constellations in the heavens. Each star gleamed for one moment and then went dark as another appeared, as unlike the first as it was unlike the next. Magical and mysterious to the lords of the sea were the stars that were the breath of the ice queen. It happened also that, as they swam in clear lagoons beyond the knowledge of mariners, pearls fell softly through the sea towards them, no bigger than the scales of the tiniest fish. But when they tried to touch the pearls that were the ice queenâ€™s tears, they melted in their hands. And the king of the merfolk declared that they should all swim up to the surface to see what these marvels were, that came to them from the world of air. So they rose -9-
together at night upon the back of a wave, singing their haunting songs. There, in the window of the tower, they saw the ice queen with her clear blue eyes, weeping into the night. The queen looked through her tears and beheld the mer-folk riding the waves and their hair blowing about them in the windy night. She lifted up her voice and sang mournfully in the chiming tongue she had learned beyond the mountains. Then the mer-folk were glad, for they saw again those stars beneath the stars that had glittered on the surface of the sea. But the deep green eyes of their king were thoughtful and sad. Long into the night, the ice queen and the merfolk sang together in a strange and mysterious harmony. At last, as the first light of day showed pale upon the mountains tops, the mer-folk turned and dived into the sea with a splashing of their powerful tails. From that night onwards, the lords of the sea would often rise from their thrones to sing with the ice queen. All along the rocks they would sit, the jewels of the ocean gleaming wet on their blue-green breasts. And, from high in the window, the snowflakes of the ice queen’s breath would flutter around their heads. All the while, the deep green eyes of the merking were fixed on the lonely ice queen, with her rainbowwhite skin and her beautiful, broken hair. So it came to be that the king of the sea conceived in his heart a love for the queen in the tower. And she, looking down at his noble face, wise with the changeable mysteries of the sea, also felt the pangs of love, for the very first time.
At that time, their love was a secret, locked deep in the heart of each. The silence between them could not be broken, for the language of the ice queen was as strange to the mer-folk as theirs was to her. But, as one night gave way to another, so they gradually came to understand one another, and to speak, as well as to sing, together. The ice queen told the merpeople of her home in the frozen north; of the glittering palaces of crystal with many turrets, and the sleighs drawn by white reindeer that once carried her through frozen forests of silver glass. She told of the battles with the king from the south and of how he had carried her away, far from her home and all she loved. And the tiny pearls of her hailstone tears rained into the ocean. The mer-king told her of the gardens beneath the sea where fish of a thousand colours swim through endless grasses. He told of the hearts of those who rule the sea, which are gentle and loving toward the tiniest creature that floats there. And, beneath the moon and the stars, their talk became ever more tender. Now the queen dreaded more than ever the turning of the iron key, and she wept more bitterly at the roughness that broke the icicle strands of her hair. Each time the king summoned her down stairs, she feared that he would see the heart of the ocean beginning to creep into her blue eyes. All that consoled her was the coming of the night and the pounding of the waves. Then one day, when she felt she could endure no more, the king did not appear at his appointed hour. Instead, the squire who held www.newfairytales.co.uk
his horse came to tell her that the king had fallen in battle to the warlike princes of the scattered isles, and would visit her no more. Then the iron lock was broken and the queen walked for the first time on the grass and rocks of the island, and sang a song of freedom that swirled in frosty clouds about her. The song of the ice queen pierced the sea and came to the ears of those who sat on thrones of pearl That night, the mer-king rose from his ocean kingdom alone, and his wave lashed at the rock like thunder. In his hand he held a necklace of coral with a jewel that glowed with every colour under the sea. He held it out to the ice queen with words of love, and humbly begged that she would come back with him to the kingdom of the mer-folk and sit beside him forever. Now the heart of the ice queen was filled with pain. She said to the mer-king, “I love you more than all the crystals of the silver forest. But in your kingdom I should dissolve away to nothingness. Where you swim I cannot follow, except in my heart.” And though the salt of the ocean came to the merking’s eyes, he knew that it was true. “Then let me take you to your father,” he said. “We shall make for you a carriage pulled by rays and bring you to the foot of the snowy mountains.” “No,” said the ice queen. “I cannot now return to my father’s house with my hair snapped and broken and the heart of the ocean in my eyes. I shall remain here on this island; and this tower, once my prison, shall become my home. I shall weave from the grass and the seaweed new tapestries, that the
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generations to come may not forget me.â€? Then the mer-king delicately kissed the hand of the ice queen, and dived back into the sea. The necklace of coral he lay in a pool on the rock. And the
queen picked it up and put it around her neck. It melted a small patch over her heart, for it was wet with the sea, but she never removed it. Every day for as long as she lived, she wove tapestries for the walls of her tower. And
every night she would stand on the rocks and sing, and mariners would see from far off the mingling of the snowflakes with the spray, which was the love of the ice queen for the mer-king.
Illustration by Marina Rees
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Jorab the Selfish by Jeanette D’Arcy
A young woodcutter called Edward lived alone in a tiny house in the forest at Farwick. Sometimes he was very lonely, but he loved the forest and would never think of leaving it to live in the village. One cold winter morning Edward dressed in his warmest clothes, put money in his wallet and set off for the market to buy provisions for himself. As he whistled his way through the misty woods the leaves crunched underfoot and the frost made beautiful silver patterns everywhere. Edward had many friends at the market and he got a good price for the salted meat, bread and lamp oil he bought, because everyone knew that Edward was a kind, generous man. It was well known that Edward’s house was never closed to travelers in the wood and many of the villagers had welcomed his hospitality Issue 2
when they were tired and needed to rest on a long journey. Often Edward did not have much food left for himself because he always ended up giving most of what he had to his visitors, so much did he love their company, and enjoy seeing them comfortable. It was becoming dark as Edward left the market and the trees were full of strange shadows, but he had never feared the forest that was his home and he walked with confidence through the trees. On the way to his house, Edward had to pass through a crossroads, at which stood the largest tree in the forest. The top of the tree was barely visible and Edward craned his neck to look at the pretty outline of the topmost branches against the grey, cloudy sky. The branches swished in the wind, shadows mixing and merging and rushing as they waved back and forth. One shadow in particular caught Edward’s eye; it did not move with the rest of the tree’s limbs but seemed to be moving against the wind. There came a snicksnick-snick from the top of the tree and down thumped the great monster Jorab. He had yellow claws on his feet and shiny scales on his belly, and his breath came steaming from his great big beak, smelling of rotting meat. He was hairless and pink and naked and shivering in the cold winter air. Gripple-gripple-gripe went his empty belly. “Ah-HA!’ shouted Jorab, ‘Who is this crunching through my home? A little man!” Sniff sniff went Jorab’s nostrils, high up in his great sharp beak. “What have you got in your bag, little man? Something to fill
my belly and stop me shivering?” “You are welcome to share what is mine,” said Edward. He opened his knapsack and the monster stuck its great head inside, chomp-chomping its way through the meat, chewchewing its way through the bread and even slurpshlupping its way through his lamp oil until there was nothing left. Jorab belched happily. “Very good, little man!” said the monster, sticking out his shiny gut, “My belly is full! The meat was tasty, the bread was filling and the oil was warm - but I am still shivering. Your clothes look lovely and warm. Give them to me.” “You are welcome to share what is mine,” said Edward. He took off his warm winter clothes and stood naked and shivering in the icy air. Jorab squeezed himself into his new outfit, tut-tutting as the breeches ripped and struggling to pull the coat over his massive scaly back. Pleased with himself, he sat on the lowest branch of the tree and clicked his tongue, turning this way and that to admire his new attire. Edward set about making a fire to warm his naked self. He gathered leaves and branches, and ripped his now empty bag into strips of kindling. “What are you doing, little man?” called the monster. “I am making a fire to warm myself,” Edward replied. Jorab had never seen a fire, but he could still feel the cold through the holes he had made in Edward’s coat, and cold made him miserable. “If it will keep me warm, I want - 12 -
this fire!” bellowed Jorab, beating his chest with his fists. “You will make it for me!” “You are welcome to share what is mine,” said Edward, and he began to make the fire at the base of Jorab’s tree. Soon the fire was blazing merrily and licking at the tree’s trunk. Jorab wiped the sweat from his gigantic forehead. “Phew! This fire really is warm!” he said. He took off Edward’s coat. “A little too warm!” he panted, removing Edward’s breeches. It was not long before Jorab, pink and hairless, sat naked once again on the lowest branch of his great tree. Edward took back his clothes and put them on, though now they were stretched and ripped, and stood warming himself at the foot of the trunk. Jorab thought what a very clever monster he was. He had been planning to eat the little man, but perhaps he would not after all; better to keep him here, to make fire for Jorab and keep him warm through the winter. Edward gathered more wood to add to the fire. “What are you doing, little man?” called Jorab. “I am feeding the fire so it will grow,’ said Edward, throwing more logs onto the blaze. “And what does a fire eat, little man?” asked the monster. “Wood is best if you want it to grow,” replied Edward, “a fire loves to eat wood.” “Ah, little man, you are not very clever,” grinned Jorab, “for now you have told me the secret of the fire I may feed it myself and have no need of you! Now I may eat you and still keep warm
through the winter!” Jorab laughed gleefully. “You are a very clever monster,” said Edward, “but do you know what else a fire eats?” The flames leaped upwards. One of them touched Jorab’s foot on its raw, pink sole and he screeched, jumping to the next highest branch. “This fire bites!” he cried. “I do not like it any more!” “You asked me to build a fire for you.” said Edward, “I have been very generous - I have shared everything I own. You are a very ungrateful monster.” He threw two more logs onto the flames.
Jorab jumped to the next highest branch, flames licking his heels. “Tell me, little man,” he asked fearfully, “what else do fires eat?” “They love to eat oil,” said Edward. Jorab howled. He jumped up to the highest branch but the fire was soon all around him. The lamp oil in his gut bubbled and spat as it began to heat up. He danced from foot to foot, trying to avoid the flames. “Oh-ooh!” said Jorab, clutching his shiny, oilfull belly. “Ah-ow!” bawled Jorab,as the oil rose in his throat. “Eee-aargh!” screeched Jorab as the oil caught fire in his mouth. Ooom-foom-BOOM! went Jorab’s belly, and smoke
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came belching from his great beak as the flames consumed him. Although it was nighttime now the crossroads was as bright as day, such was the size of the blast. All the village came running to see what the eruption was, and were amazed to behold the largest tree in the forest burning fiercely against the starry sky. Edward told them what had happened and they rejoiced that the great monster was dead and gone. When they heard that Jorab had eaten Edward’s winter supplies they were outraged. The butcher sent his son running back to the village to fetch the choicest meat, the tastiest loaves and the best lamp oil. “I could never eat all this, even if I took all winter!” cried Edward when the boy returned. “But you are all welcome to share what is mine.” So Edward had a different visitor every night at his tiny home in the forest, and as well as offering his hospitality, he could now offer them the best of fayre. He was very happy and his house was always warm and full, as it was so tiny he could only fit one visitor at a time as well as himself! Before long the king came to hear the tale of Edward’s clever defeat of the great monster Jorab. He asked Edward what he would like as a reward for ridding the village of such a beast. Edward asked only for his company and the king happily obliged. He visited Edward regularly and they became great friends. “I would like to bring my family to meet you, Edward,” said the king one day, “what a shame that your house is
so tiny you can only have one visitor at a time!” Edward smiled sadly. “Yes, but I could never leave my forest,” he said. The king gave him a grin. “I have a surprise for you,” he said. The king led Edward to the crossroads where once had stood Jorab’s tree. Edward had been so busy with visitors that he had not travelled to the village for months. To his surprise, where there had been an immense blackened stump now stood a tremendous, towering house! It was so big Edward had to crane his neck to see the pretty outline of its chimney stacks against the bright spring sky. People were hanging out of every window to greet him - the butcher waved happily from the very top while his son stood in the doorway, beaming. “Well, what do you think?” said the king as Edward stared in amazement, “The villagers have been working day and night to build it for you. They were tired of only being able to visit you one at a time – now they can all come at once, and so can I and my family!” Edward laughed delightedly and ran into his new home to make everyone welcome. The villagers talked and laughed and slapped Edward on the back affectionately as he went about preparing a huge meal to thank them for their work. Everyone agreed they had never met a better man. Among the crowd, Edward noticed a face he did not recognise – a young woman was sitting amongst the villagers, joining in their raucous conversation and guffawing loudly at the butcher’s jokes. Edward had never seen anyone so www.newfairytales.co.uk
beautiful. Every chortle chortle she uttered made him want to hug her. Every clink clink of her glass on his brand new table made him want to declare his love. “I told you I wanted you to meet my family,” said the king, “This is my daughter Sarinda.” Sarinda looked up from her drink and gave a fantastic smile which seemed to stretch from one side of the room to the other, so did it fill Edward’s heart with warmth. Before long Edward and Sarinda were married and now they live together with their family in the big house at the crossroads of the forest. Their doors are always open to visitors and their rooms are always filled with happy, laughing people. Everyone in the village agrees that nowhere will you find better company and contentment than at the house of Edward and Sarinda.
Illustration by Lucy Smith
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The Story-blind Princess
of the genre. There she lived and grew, alone, for many years. Oblivious to the ways of her people, she never once dreamed that anyone would discover her hiding place and rescue her from this life.
by Pauline Masurel When his first child was born the King assembled a flotilla of swans. He commanded them swim the length of the river and proclaim her birth. Only then did he look into the cradle and say to his new daughter, “Take an old story and make it new.” The nurse who attended the birth coughed softly and tugged at his ermine-clad elbow. “What?” said the King. “Royal Majesty…” “What is it, woman?” “Your Majesty, that little ‘un wouldn’t know a story if she were poked in the eye with it.” “What do you mean, you impertinent bundle?” asked the King. He sounded exceedingly narked, in a most un-royal way. The nurse lowered her voice so that no courtiers or members of the royal household would hear. “The poor scrap is story-blind, Your Majesty. She can neither tell nor apprehend a tale.” The King looked at the infant and knew that what the nurse said was true. His pride turned to a dented mourning, laced with ire. He must be the unluckiest of fairytale monarchs ever, to have sired a princess without the slightest sense of story. So the King recalled the swans and locked his daughter in a remote tower, according to the conventions Issue 2
One morning the story-blind princess awoke to a transformed kingdom. She opened the shutters and looked out. The whiteness was so sharp it snatched away each breath before she could catch it from the air. Snow had fallen in the night and the lake was lightly frosted across. The trees shouldered more powdery depth of snow than they could bear and were discarding it, not one way but many. There was the slow trickle of a melt against trunks where the morning sun caught them. Loose falls of flakes spilled softly. Quick firecrackers fizzled, denser lumps broke free and snaked to the ground. Hollow flumps came from tiny pillows or moundy growths of albino moss that toppled, slid or plummeted. Increasingly frequent were avalanche cracks, which opened and widened until, with a sickening slither, the skin of snow fell away and exposed raw bones of bark beneath. Everywhere, stray clumps and sprinklings escaped their perch and clotted or dredged the ground to remake the forest’s underlay. The snow had settled on each tree, and after it had shuffled and fallen further it settled again. Into this view rode the boy with only one shoe.
The mare was accustomed to the feel of suede in a stirrup against her right flank and callused human skin against her left. The uncovered foot gripped her girth firmly at a gallop. The sole was employed to stroke a companionable encouragement as horse and rider made their way up a hillside at more leisurely pace. This morning they were riding on new territory and in no sort of a hurry. Toes tickled her from time to time and then drew back. The boy set out over fresh snow for the joy of exploration and rode his horse further across the hills than he had ever been before. When they reached the lake he stopped and shaded his eyes against winter sunlight. On the opposite shore stood a tower with gilded roof. The dizzying light sprang off golden tiles and flew back, illuminating the snow. He patted the mare’s neck with his left foot and then dismounted, sinking into powdery whiteness up to his ankles. The cold engulfing his left foot was enervating, more shocking than the air. Crystals of frozen water melted against flesh. The other foot, insulated within layers of brushed wool and leather, made a satisfying scrunch as he moved around a boulder, brushing snow from its top surface with a broken branch. The boy removed his saddlebag from the horse’s back and splayed it across the flat surface of the rock by way of a rough cushion. He sat for a while, leaving his horse to nuzzle for grass in the depressions left by his footsteps. This slim tower of ivory stone across the lake, almost indistinguishable against the - 15 -
snow, couldn’t possibly be home to any ordinary subject, so the stories told about a locked-away princess must be true. The boy carefully dried the sole of his foot and then flicked between his toes with the fringes of the horseblanket. He examined its landscape. Right there, up close, pitted, with whorls. The contours were encrusted with dirt. He twisted it this way and that, wrinkling the blue veins, stretching the skin. Through the birthaccident of a fractionally elongated leg he had always known what it was like to walk through the world with a foot in both camps. One shod and insulated, the other bare. He’d grown up walking around his own village on the verges. Every journey was an equal combination of the metalled and the turfed. The boy watched as the King’s swans patrolled the lake. He sighed to think that across the water there lived a woman who would never experience the sights he had encountered this morning, purely by chance. Worse still, people said she had no concept of her own predicament, no wish for a life freer or larger than one lived within those walls. The mare was chewing away at a choice mouthful of grassy sorbet. The boy stretched his leg to scratch her gently behind the ear with his toenails. “No time for that,” he said. “Come along, we’re going to rescue a princess.”
The canter around the lake was a delight. The boy drew Issue 2
close to a drawbridge that lead across the moat to the great wooden gate. He dismounted, let his mare resume her grazing and hunkered down behind a snow-capped bramble thicket to spy out the situation. Moments after the boy’s arrival, a loud growl ran along the driveway. Chutes of snow kicked up to either side as it howled to a halt. A dozy-looking guard sauntered out to greet the rider, who flipped back his visor and unstraddled the motorcycle. The man was clearly petitioning the guard. His black-and-silver-leather-clad stance made it clear he expected to be successful. The boy watched as an enormous wad of money changed hands. Then, the booted suitor left his helmet on the pillion, back-combed his hair and stomped across the bridge with a commanding gait and into the tower. The boy realised that he wasn’t the first potential rescuer to discover the whereabouts of the princess. He was smart enough to realise that he must be participating in something of a trail, judging by the three neatly marked parking spaces at the end of the long driveway approach. Barely ten minutes after the motorcyclist had gone up, he returned, looking ruffled and disgruntled. With bad grace he got back on his bike, started it up and roared away. The boy removed a blanket from the mare’s saddle-bag and sat on it, cross-legged, in a sun-melted patch beyond the thicket, hidden from view. This was not going to be easy. While he considered his options a white Rolls Royce www.newfairytales.co.uk
drove into view, camouflaged against the landscape. It was visible more by its chrome than the bodywork. It wound its stately progress up the driveway. The car pulled up and a chauffeur scurried out. He held the door for a passenger whose robes cascaded in lush ripples, right down to his ankles, to skim the hems of their purple and gold silk against the snow. He handed something to the guard, who had lumbered out as before. The boy craned forward across the thicket, trying to see better. Snow smudged the front of his jerkin. The guard brought his hand to his mouth, bit down on something, and then held it up into the winter light. He hid it away smartly in his pocket, made an obsequious bow and let the visitor pass. The boy realised he had no gifts to indulge in this expensive sport of princess wooing. He was almost disheartened enough to turn around and ride home. It wasn’t long before the latest arrival had swept down the stairs. The chauffeur redonned his cap, and drove them both back to civilisation. The boy tethered his horse behind the brambles, where a sweet, green clump of grass was widening in the sunshine. He slipped around behind the tower to see if he could find an alternative entrance. The ring of the moat was frozen solid, so he slid down the bank and slithered across the ice. The climb up the tower was taxing. It took all the boy’s strength and concentration. In the lower reaches of the building he had to find footholds for his left foot on the coarse-haired trunks of ivy and avoid the - 16 -
mingled thorns of the rose tree. A few stunted scarlet blooms had struggled into bud. Higher up there were scant handholds in the pockmarked stone, or where lime mortar had washed away. He dare not look down. The descent would be impossible, particularly if encumbered by the burden of a regal escapee. He would have to find another way down. When he reached the single window at the top of the tower, the boy was relieved to find a latch on the outside. Perhaps it had been designed with the assumption that no one would scale this high to release it. Or it could have been built in the expectation that one day a young hero would make such a climb. As the boy clambered into the room, a textile rainbow drew his gaze, spiralling back to the centre where its creator sat within her encircling web. At first glimpse he imagined the walls and ceilings were carpeted but the true nature of their coverings was stranger than this. A canopy of midnight chenille, shot through with stars of spun silver threads, gave way to sunshiny spells lacing the opposite corner. Flocks of swift cables flew in bursts as though startled into flight. Piled in mounds lay strata of textured marls, in clover, lavender and heather. They lead to outcrops of russet and donkey-hued ridges that faded into a fernery of flecks and moss stitch in the darker recesses. A ribbed ocean of waves washed around an intent young woman, whose head was bent above her labour. Her wrists turned and flexed with each stitch.
She had the most beautiful fingers that the boy had ever seen.
The princess worked, as she did every day, knitting from around dawn to the brink of dusk, pausing only from necessity. When she was much younger, her nurse tried to teach more appropriate accomplishments for a shut-away princess, such as spinning and fine embroidery. However, it seemed that knitting was her chosen craft. She didn’t fabricate garments, or anything recognisable as a product. The princess’s creations consisted of colours and textures that were exquisite when viewed locally, yet they splayed out into wide plains and rivers of yarn after yarn that never submitted to pattern or shape or sense. The old nurse had finally died, vindicated in her prediction at the child’s birth. Since the princess was already of age, the King employed no other regular companion. Thereafter she took care of her own education, increasing, decreasing, casting on and off according to her own contrary whims and without hint of objective.
The princess heard a sound at the window and looked up from a purl row. A boy dropped into her room. She set her knitting needles down in her lap and stared at him. www.newfairytales.co.uk
No visitor had ever called on her by this route before. Although she was accustomed to ignoring the pleas of voices, accompanied by tapping and thumping, from beyond her door. He was a scruffy fellow, with scratches on his cheeks. He wore a relieved smile and his eyes were bluer than the sky above snow. She looked into the deep piles of multicoloured knitting lapping around his feet and noticed that the boy wore only one shoe. There was nothing uneven about his gait as he picked his way carefully across the room to stand before her. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I’m not,” she replied. For why should she be? If you’ve always lived a safe life and don’t believe in stories, then it’s difficult to develop any concept of fear. “Come away with me,” he whispered. “But where?” The princess was perplexed. “To the ocean. For a day. We’ll be back by nightfall. No one need know.” The boy looked out of the window, to where his horse waited patiently. Across the lake a line of trees marked the place where the land dipped downwards, towards the coast. A boundary beyond which the princess had never seen. “Where is this…ocean?” “Beyond the horizon. Further than your eye can apprehend. We’ll have such fun on the journey. I’ll show you the fields of your father’s lands. Where the river goes when it leaves this lake. Do say you’ll come.” “You’re a fool. There’s nothing beyond the horizon. This room is everything.” The princess picked up her - 17 -
needles and resumed knitting.
The boy tried tack after tack, line upon line. Nothing could convince the princess that freedom might be grander than her life here. Everything he cited in favour of the outside world was imperiously denied. She pointed to some patch or fragment of knitting that was brighter, more harmonious, vivid or subtle, contrasting, wild or constrained. Her life seemed to exist stitch by stitch. He was quite unable to invoke in her any longing for a wider view. The day wore on and the light from the single window became threadbare. The princess set down her creation and seemed ready to settle to sleep. The boy looked mournfully around at the folded waves of fabric lining this upper chamber of the tower. He wondered whether servants were obliged to periodically cut away and clear some part of this labour to avoid her drowning in this confused, woolly world. The boy gently tucked the princess into a silken corner and waited until a low murmur of snoring arose. Then, finding no other suitable materials on which to write, he took off his shoe. Holding it against the stone sill of the window, by moonlight he inscribed a message on its battered sole.
When the princess woke, the only trace of the boy was a trail of knitting slung from the window and an abandoned shoe bearing the following words: ‘No one is immune to story. Even if you can’t see story, it can see you.’
Illustration by Louise Grant
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The Terrible Troll by Dave Jeffery Once upon a time, or so they say There was a wild wood where no children could play, For in its middle was a deep dark hole, And in this lived a Terrible Troll. And there in the gloom, by an enormous, hot pot The Terrible Troll stirred a terrible broth, Singing songs as all great cooks do, As he searched for things to add to his stew: Cabbage and broccoli, sprouts and tripe; All of the things that most people dislike, But his tummy still rumbled with a hideous din, When he thought of the children he would catch and throw in! Now the troll was so lazy he would sleep until noon, But noon to the troll was still too soon, And many a day he would wake with a yawn, Then fall back to sleep ‘til the following dawn. Late in the evenings the Troll loved to read From a big book of stories that were scary indeed! Stories of things that snarled and growled, With red, shiny eyes and slavering jowls, But the troll merely laughed at the goblins and ghouls Most of them were his old friends from school! When the troll went on trips he would put on his cloak, Which was held together by a big brass brooch, Then came boots of the finest leather, Thinner than silk and light as a feather, When the troll went for walks, it’s of little surprise, That the kind hearted creatures would run and hide, The foxes with the rabbits, the squirrels in their tree; The badger in the bushes, where the troll would not see, And the troll was happy to be all alone For his heart was as cold as the standing stones. So it came to pass that on one fine day, The terrible troll made his terrible way, Down forest tracks, through bracken and brush, Over muddy banks, slurry and slush And just before he began to get bored, He heard someone giggle, and another guffaw, So he climbed a tree, riling raven and rook, The terrible troll could not believe his luck, Because there in a clearing, unaware of this sneak, Were two little girls playing ‘Hide and Seek’.
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“Stay where you are!” the troll said with glee, “I’m the Terrible Troll, and you’re coming with me! Tonight you’re my supper, and tomorrow: a pie, And the day after that, a pudding to try!” “I don’t think so,” one girl said in haste, “To tussle with us would be a mistake! We don’t want to be on your menu, Go on your way, so we may go too!” “Enough of this nonsense!” the troll said in temper, “Two cheekier girls, I cannot remember! Time for you to be in my pot, Braised and buttered and served with shallots!” But there was no way that these girls would give in, For they were, in fact, the Terrible Twins!
They scuffed his boots and ripped his cloak, They broke to pieces his big brass brooch, And just when he thought they could do no worse, They covered his head with a bucket of dirt! Muddy and moaning he ran all the way home, And put out a call on his Trollophone, To warn other trolls all around the world, To stay out of the way of these terrible girls! So, these days, a troll is far too scared, To show its face in the open air. More often than not, they stay underground, Hiding in shadows, not easily found The more brazen will only peer out of their homes, A face of a cliff, or big pile of stones, So think of the places where you have been, Have the rocks always been what they seem? Issue 2
Illustration by Alex Craggs - 20 -
A Lighter Load by Sophie Ward
Nikolai was fond of the small pleasures in life. Of other matters, he had no interest. So it was that marriage, work, children, his own home, had left little impression on the ambitions of the farmer’s son from Åkerlänna. Hours could pass watching the beetles as they picked their unsteady path between the cobblestones, and whole afternoons were spent sucking his pipe and feeling the sweet smoke pluming from his nostrils. In such a way, although he was healthy and strong and nearing his middle years, his parents were obliged to care for him. His mother and father had never worried about their only child. He had arrived long after they had stopped knitting tiny sweaters or carving toy boats. He had been born when his mother’s breast had emptied and drooped and yet he had fattened. He had been born in a winter of disease and spoil and yet he had thrived.
They could ask for nothing more. And so the family lived in contentment until the day came when Nikolai’s father could no longer guide the plough and Nikolai’s mother could no longer carry the pails. His parents knew that Nikolai could do nothing on the farm for what had they taught him? Winter was chilling the pastures and soon the harvest would lie beneath blankets of snow. Nikolai’s parents decided their son must go to the city and sell all they had that was valuable: some sacks of grain and barrels of fine herring, their best silver plate and the golden goblets given to them on their wedding day. “The city people will afford these luxuries!” cried Nikolai’s father, “In the city, even the fence is made of sausage. With the money you make we can hire a fine worker and live the rest of our days in peace.” Nikolai had never been to the city and his parents were not strong enough to make the journey with him, but it was a straight road and there was a good cart with which to carry the goods. His mother packed his lunch while his father loaded the cart and the next morning, Nikolai set off. It was a cold day and Nikolai had wrapped warmly for the journey. Light drifts of snowflakes became heavier as he walked and the lonely wind found the man and his cart sporting playmates as they travelled along the exposed country road. After a few hours, Nikolai’s arms grew weary. He propped the cart by the side of the road and sat down to eat his lunch. As he ate, he resolved to turn back to the farm. “This journey is too far and www.newfairytales.co.uk
the road is too hard,” he said to himself, “I cannot go any further.” Some magpies had drawn round him as he scattered his lunch upon the ground, unused as he was to being careful. After he had spoken, the smallest bird turned to Nikolai and said, “Why do you travel with so heavy a burden? You are a long way from home and the way is not clear.” “I was going to sell my wares in the city,” replied Nikolai, “but I cannot go further, the road is too hard.” “You are right,” said the magpie. “Give me your heavy load and I will fill the sacks with feathers. My friends and I will carry the precious objects to the market and when you get there you can give us back our feathers.” Nikolai was delighted with the offer and accepted immediately. The sacks were unloaded and the feathers placed inside. “You must be careful,” said the magpie, “The feathers are light and delicate. Treat them as though they were your home and they will give shelter. Treat them as though they were your wife and they will give comfort. Treat them as though they were your children and they will give love.” So Nikolai set off toward the city with the cart of feathers and he made good progress with so light a load. But as the snow continued to fall, Nikolai worried that the feathers would get wet and he took off his coat to place it on top of the sacks. He carried on walking until it grew dark. “Those sacks look comfortable,” said Nikolai. “I will climb on the cart and sleep. With my coat for a - 21 -
roof, I will have a good rest.” And he settled down amongst the sacks and slept. In the morning, Nikolai woke as a band of gypsies passed him on the road. “Good morning, traveller,” they said. “What a fine bed you have. We could use a bed like that. Would you sell it to us?” “It is a fine bed,” replied Nikolai. “But I cannot sell it to you. I must take care of it and make sure it gets to the city safely.” And Nikolai packed up his things and went on his way, glad that he had such a fine load upon his cart. When he reached the city, Nikolai pushed his cart through the powdered streets looking for the market. He came to a small street where he left his cart while he asked for directions in a nearby café. When he returned, the cart was gone and the sacks of feathers were lying in the snow. Nikolai fell to the ground and picked up all the sacks, afraid that they were damaged. “I have left the cart and abandoned the sacks of feathers. I cannot go to market and find the magpies,” said Nikolai, hugging the bags. “All is lost.” Just then, the smallest magpie flew down. “I am so glad to see you,” said Nikolai. “My cart has been stolen and I cannot walk with these sacks. Please could I have back some valuables that I may sell them and find a new cart to carry the rest of the heavy load?” “We have eaten all the herring and stored the grain,” said the magpie, “The gold and silver now line our nests.”
At this, Nikolai became angry. “I have nothing to sell at the market. These feathers will not buy a new worker for the farm.” The magpie stood on the top of the sacks and looked at Nikolai. “You do not need a worker when you can do the work.” “But I cannot work,” said Nikolai. “I do not know how.” “When you carried the sacks of feathers, you treated them as though they were home and they gave you shelter. You treated them like your wife and they gave you comfort. And now you treat them like your children, you will have love. Go home and help your parents on the farm. You have shown you can work for what is important.” So Nikolai returned to the farm with what he had learned and spent his days in the fields. He married and had children and built a new home on the farmland. And on fine days, when the work was done, he sat with his www.newfairytales.co.uk
children and watched the beetles picking their unsteady paths through the cobblestones.
Illustration by Annie Dalton
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The Goblin King and the Pig by Oliver Eade Jimmy Halliday was an ordinary schoolboy who came from an ordinary home in an ordinary town somewhere in the centre of England. At least, he thought he was until that Monday morning when, cycling to school, he was forced to squeeze the breaks and skid to a halt, almost colliding with an old woman lying in the road. Strangely, he only saw her at the very last moment. Even more strangely, despite the busy traffic, she seemed unharmed when he crouched down beside her. “What are you doing lying in the middle of the road?” he asked. Cars blared their horns as they skirted past Jimmy and the woman. It was a miracle she hadn’t been killed. “Waiting for you.” She picked up her walking stick and struggled to her feet. “And you’ve passed the first test,” she continued, gazing vacantly into the distance. “Please, let me help you to the pavement,” Jimmy supported the old woman’s arm, steering her out of danger. “And the second!” she added, a faint smile distorting her wrinkled face. “Sure!” said Jimmy, grinning. “Well … better be
going. Late for school already.” He paused. “But will you be okay? Can I help you to wherever you’re going?” he asked. “No.” “Fine … er … bye, then!” Jimmy got back onto his bike. “What about the third test, Jimmy?” Jimmy’s jaw dropped. “You know my name?” “I know your name, and everything about you, except for one thing.” Jimmy stared at her. “Whether or not you can pass the third and final test?” Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. Maybe she was more than just a bit dotty. Could be totally off her head. And the name thing? Perhaps she was an old friend of his parents he’d forgotten. “I’ll try, what …?” “To save my granddaughter from the Goblin King. She’s a fairy princess.” “Oh! Well, er …” Of course, he could have pushed his foot down on the pedal and just cycled away, but he didn’t. Something was preventing him. “Thank you for committing yourself. There’s no turning back now. I can take you as far as Goblin Hollow, and turn you into a pig, but after that you’re on your own.” “A pig?” Call for help? The police, a doctor? Jimmy’s mind was whirl. “Just follow me.” Before he had a chance to say ‘sorry, no way!’ the old woman flew upwards. For the first time he saw her four diaphanous wings, like those of some enormous damselfly. He began pedalling like mad, but he, too, shot up off the ground, the bike following the woman as if pulled by an invisible thread. www.newfairytales.co.uk
“This isn’t happening,” muttered Jimmy as he peered down at the busy streets through half-closed eyes. But he knew it was. Soon they’d left the town and were soaring over fields and woods. Having no head for heights, he gripped the handle bars for all he was worth as his feet spun the pedals. Soon the bike began to descend. He had no idea where he was. He always thought he knew the surrounding countryside well, but the group of hills ahead was totally unfamiliar. They landed below the crest of the largest hill. “And this is where I must leave you until you’ve passed the third test … or not, as the case may be … for only a mortal can save the girl from the goblins.” Jimmy felt truly afraid. A pig? He’d already seen what she could do. “You must offer yourself up in the place of my granddaughter. The Goblin King wants to cook her and eat her. Just tell them a pig is far tastier than a young fairy.” A dead pig? End up as pork chops? Jimmy struggled with his bike, trying to turn it the other way so he could take off down the hill, but the thing had a mind of its own. It would only face the brow of the hill. “Leave your bike here. If you succeed, she will lead you home.” “If not?” But there was no reply. Gradually the old woman was becoming invisible. The bike fell sideways when Jimmy’s trotters could no longer hold on to the handlebars. He could see the end of his snout, twitching, and he became acutely aware of an unpleasant smell wafting - 23 -
down from the hill-top. Like old socks, only a thousand times worse. But it was something else that forced his fat body to hurry up the slope. Something his large, flapping ears now picked up. The voice of a girl, screaming. He waddled to the very top of the hill and looked down. In the hollow below, a large fire was ablaze, and a crowd of hideous goblins danced around the fire, whooping and brandishing spears. A particularly fat goblin, dressed in splendid gold and purple finery, sat on a stone throne watching the spectacle, his face stretched into an evil grin. But it was the vision of the girl tied to a tree that held the pig-boy transfixed. Long, wavy black hair to her waist, a small crown of colourful flowers on her head, he’d never imagined anyone could be so beautiful. But her silvery dress was in tatters, and her glistening wings drooped. Her screams cut him to the quick, and snorting and squealing with fury he capered down the hill, scattering the dancing goblins asunder. He trotted up to the Goblin King who emitted the same putrid smell that had invaded his nostrils on the other side of the hill. “Oink, oink, oink!” he demanded. He knew what he wanted to say: ‘Let her go at once! Take me instead!’ But all that came out was ‘oink!’ The ugly goblin roared with laughter. “What makes you think I’d be interested in roast pig when I can feast on roast fairy?” Jimmy was suddenly reminded of the delicious smell that came from the kitchen whenever his mother Issue 2
cooked pork on a Sunday, but uncertain what to do next, he dithered. “Put her on the fire! If we have room in our bellies afterwards we’ll cook the pig as well!” So he would die anyway! Jimmy glanced at the fairy princess and their eyes met. He saw the anguish and the despair in those beautiful eyes. He scampered over to the fire, turned around and stuck his bottom in the flames. The pain was awful, but he refused to budge until his nose could detect that same deliciously-tantalising aroma his mother always produced from a pork joint. The goblins watched, mouths
agape, when Jimmy returned to the Goblin King and stuck his bottom in the creature’s face. “Mmmm!” said the Goblin King. Jimmy felt something stab into his hind-quarters. He heard a crunching sound, and turned his head enough to see that the Goblin King was holding a knife in one hand and in the other a hunk of meat coated with crisp pork crackling. On the goblin’s face was an idiotic expression of sheer ecstasy as he chewed the pork crackling. “Let’s swap them round, boys!” shouted the Goblin King, his mouth still full.
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“This pig is seriously good. We can finish off with the fairy. She’ll be our dessert!” There were further agonising stabs at his haunches and his sides, and Jimmy was aware of chunks of meat being flung in all directions to other goblins who greedily fought over the mouth-watering morsels of himself. He glanced again at the distraught fairy, and was about to return to the fire to roast what remained of Jimmy the pig, when he became aware that the only sound was that of a sobbing girl. The goblins had gone quiet, and the Goblin King was now still, his eyes closed. Jimmy crawled over to him, nudging him with his snout. No response. The others lay motionless around the fire. Then Jimmy realised there was a large hole over his bottom where the Goblin King had hacked chunks of roast pork from him. He wriggled backwards and squeezed himself out of that hole, emerging as Jimmy the schoolboy. Whether the goblins were dead, or sleeping after overfeeding on pork, Jimmy didn’t wait to find out. He rushed over to the fairy princess, untied her from the tree, took her by the hand and together they ran as fast as they could back up the hill. “My … er … bike,” he said shyly, pointing to the bike on the ground. When she looked at him with those eyes of hers he feared his legs would buckle. “Thank you,” she said softly. “You’ve saved my life. Granny will reward you for sure!” “Oh … it was nothing really. Look we’d better get going. Can you … er …?” She giggled, “Fly? Wouldn’t be a fairy if I Issue 2
couldn’t!” She spread her damsel-fly wings, and, after springing gracefully into the air, hovered above Jimmy. “Follow me!” she called down. Jimmy leapt onto his bike and started to pedal furiously. It came as no great surprise when he found himself climbing into the sky rather than wheeling down the hill. Not for a second did he take his eyes off the fairy princess as they flew over meadows, farms and villages. He almost felt disappointed when he saw the town ahead, for he now wished he could travel on forever with the beautiful fairy girl in front of him. Only too soon, they had landed together in the very same street where he’d braked hard to avoid hitting the old woman. “Is … is this it then?” asked Jimmy, not quite knowing how to say farewell to a fairy princess. The girl smiled and, reaching up on tip-toes, kissed him on the cheek. He held his hand to the spot where she’d kissed him, watching her face and body become transparent before vanishing. “Curses! I didn’t even to think to ask for her name or find out how we can ever meet up again,” muttered Jimmy, feeling cross with himself as he rode on to school.
her eyes that he could be certain. “Prin …” he was about to say when he’d finally recovered the power of speech. “You can sit down, Jimmy,” interrupted the teacher. “I was just introducing our new pupil, Gabriella, to the class. I’m sure, like everyone else, you’ll want to make her most welcome.” And when their eyes met Princess Gabriella winked at him. He was pleased to see she no longer had wings, for he had no head for heights. So this is my reward, Jimmy thought, happily, as he sat at the back of the classroom still unable to take his eyes off the girl who was once a fairy princess.
Illustration by Steve Lawson
“Sorry, I’m late, sir! I was … um … er …” the boy began after rushing breathlessly into the classroom. He was rendered speechless by what he saw. He stared at the girl sitting behind a desk in the front row. He’d have known her by her long, wavy, black hair alone, but it was because of www.newfairytales.co.uk
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The Siren’s Child by Tori Truslow Once there was a young sailor who lived in an old port town that was always cold but always beautiful, full of stone houses with coloured glass in their windows and winding streets where a salty breeze was forever chasing its tail. But on the night that this story starts he was far from home, his ship sunk, his shipmates drowned, and the dark sea pulling him down to join them. Just as he was about to give up his struggle, he was spotted by three sirens who were flying home from a party. “Look!” said one, 'A drowning man- we must rescue him!'
“Yes!” cried the other two. The three of them lived on a tiny island with a jagged rocky shore and a lovely garden beyond, full of flowers and music. Their job, since time began, had always been to lure men in boats onto those sharp rocks - but tonight they were in high spirits and thought it would be more fun to carry this man to their garden and talk to him. So they did, but instead of talking he slept for Issue 2
a very long time. Eventually he woke, delighted to be alive, and saw three lovely winged women standing over him. They brought him fruits and fresh water, and he thanked them. They asked him where he was from and he told them of his home, how beautiful it was and how he longed to return. “See that island?” said one of the sirens, pointing. “There's a small town there where ships stop. We have an old rowboat we can lend you if you promise us a favour.” “Anything!” cried the sailor. “We have a sister who was taken by fishermen to that town, where she is kept prisoner. We can't go there because of old magic that keeps us from flying to the dwellings of men. But you can find her, free her, then go on your way.” The sailor promised to do so, and rowed to the little port, where everything was rickety and ragged and brightly painted, a different song spilling from every door and window. He searched high and low, but found no sign of a fourth siren, until he came back to the docks and saw a tavern he hadn't noticed before. He went inside to drink, and heard a song that for a moment made him forget who he wasall he knew was that he wanted to stay and hear that song forever, but that he also wanted his home more than ever. The song had no words, only a melody almost too sweet and strong to bear. He looked for the singer and saw her- at the back of the room, in a giant birdcage: skin smooth as driftwood, hair the colour of a rusted anchor, feathers all the shades of a stormy sea. He fell in love www.newfairytales.co.uk
with her in a moment, and when the tavern closed he left only to creep back and let her out, saying, 'I've come to rescue you, follow me.' But instead of taking her to her sisters, he led her onto a ship that was about to sail, and when they were on the open sea, he told her he was taking her home to be his wife. Then he went to the captain and asked if the ship was to stop at his town- but the captain laughed long and loud, and didn't stop until the sailor asked for the tenth time what was so funny. “You're mad,” said the captain. “How do you expect us to stop at a town in the middle of the desert?” “But it's a port town!” said the sailor. “I've sailed from there every spring since I was sixteen!” And the captain laughed again. He let the young man off at the first port on the mainland and told him to find his own way. The sailor was sure he would find a ship with a more intelligent captain who could take him home. But ask as he might, he was treated like a madman. His siren bride followed him, her wings bound inside a bundle on her back, as he went from ship to ship asking if they were sailing near his home but they only laughed and told him to follow the road inland. And at last, with no one left to ask, he did. He told everyone that he passed on the road the name of his town, and they always pointed further down the road, to where the land became desert. At last he came to a stony town. The winding streets were the same as the streets he had grown up on, and the houses were the same size and - 26 -
shape and had the same coloured windows as the houses he remembered, and there were the same seashells in the plaster and the seagulls still wheeled and cried- but the sand was hard desert sand, and no salt breeze blew. He went into an inn and the innkeep was the same man, and the old sailors with their mermaid tattoos were the same and the ale they drank smelled the same and when he tried it tasted the same- but no man in that room had any memory of the sea. And when he met people that he knew, they had no memory of him. He asked his siren bride if this was her doing, but she never spoke, only sang songs without words. He turned to follow the road back to his other home, the ocean, but the desert was so vast and blank in every direction that he did not know which way he had come; the road seemed to have become one with the hot hard sand. So he stayed, in a new part of town where houses were being built with no seashells in their mortar, and found a new place to drink that had no anchor outside it, and tried to forget the sea like everyone else had done. But he dreamed of it every night. So he lived for his dreams, and the songs of his siren wife, which scorched his heart with guilt and sadness but filled it, too, with brief beauty. Until she died bearing him a daughter. Then he lived for the child. She was almost fully human but had talons instead of toes and a scent of salt. He called her Mar and tried to make her love him but she never listened to a thing he said. So he retreated to his bed, growing weaker every day,
and died when the girl was thirteen years old. Mar lived in the house alone, feeding the seagulls from her window and singing songs that came into her head as if from far away. She had strange dreams, in which the town was underwater; sometimes she woke to see ghostly shapes like those things called 'boats' she had seen in pictures, gliding over the house. She would run up to the roof and try to touch them, but they had no substance. She called to them and they paid no heed, only drifted out over the open desert and cast down nets that shone in the starlight. She wanted more than anything to go with them. One night as a boat floated slowly over the house she tried singing to it. It paused as if to listen, and she saw the shapes of men on it, looking down. It was joined by another boat, and more, all captivated by the sound. She didn't think the men could see her, so she sang louder. She kept singing all night, although she wanted to lie down and sleep, although her throat ached, she sang and the boats
clustered round her, unable to pull away from her song. But when the sun rose the hoarse song was no usethe visions melted and there was only heat in the air. The next night she took her father's old guitar with her and sang them to her again, although it soon became painful to sing. She shivered and sang still and tried to touch the things in the night air above her but could not, and they melted in the sunrise. The next night she sang to them again- and from the darkness something spoke to her. It asked her if she wanted to reach the boats. “Yes!” she cried. “Who are you?” “A friend,” was the reply. “I can see your town is kept prisoner from the sea to which it belongs. Would you return it to its rightful place?” “How?” “You must string your guitar with your own hairs plucked at midnight and sing to its tune till a boat comes with nets of rain. You will be able to get into it. Snare the town in those nets and drag it behind you, sailing to the brightest star you can see. By morning all will be set right. But be sure to throw the guitar into the sea before sunrise, or the waves will rise up and swallow you.” And Mar thought she could hear a hunger in the voice as it said that. So at midnight she pulled six moonlit hairs from her head, and strung the old guitar with them, and sat on the edge of the roof and sang until she saw a boat approaching. When it stopped she reached up and found it solid, so she pulled herself up and into it. She looked down at the town - 27 -
so silent and silver in the moonlight, before casting the cold shining nets of rain over it so that every single house was snared. Then she pointed the boat to the bright far star and whispered “go!” The boat responded, flying towards the horizon and carrying the stone houses and streets of the sleeping town in the nets behind it. As the sky turned blue the air below grew thick and when she looked down it was not air but dark cold water slapping the sides of the boat. The town dragged behind her, underwater- but she felt calm, and was overcome by a longing to sing songs she had never heard or sung before. The wind took her hair and trailed it behind her like a ribbon; the taste of salt filled her mouth and at that taste her tongue made strange songs with no words, and her fingers moved on the guitar as fast as they could, trying to keep up with the song. Light began to creep from the west and she remembered she was supposed to throw the guitar into the water, but she wanted to keep on singing- so she did, as the sun rose bright and fresh. A storm leapt suddenly out of the sea and howled at her. “You are mine!” it raged. “A child of a sailor and a siren is a powerful child and I will have you for a slave!” But Mar had not thrown her hairstrung guitar to the waves, and the storm had no means of controlling her. She carried on till she found land, and with a massive tug yanked the town onto the shore, where it settled with a sigh into its old foundations.
She lives there now, surrounded by seawater and salty sky, singing sea-songs and desert-songs, although the people around her don't remember the desert- not even when they tend the cacti that fill their gardens.
Illustration by Leila Peacock
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Creatures from the Curiosity Cabinet by Particle Article
If you’ve enjoyed New Fairy Tales please remember to show your appreciation by donating to our nominated charity, Derian House Children’s Hospice. You’ll find the link at www.newfairytales.co.uk Issue 2
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Published on Nov 28, 2009
New Fairy Tales is an online magazine dedicated to publishing new fairy tales that are suitable for all ages. We are passionate about fairy...