* 
Welcome Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?


*
gfxgfx Home Forum Help Search Login Register   gfxgfx
gfx gfx
gfx
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: The Princess and the White Bear - Part Three (final!)  (Read 3232 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Bard Judith
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 365
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 7.650


Dwarvenmistress


View Profile Homepage
« on: 30 November 2002, 00:42:00 »

A grey cloud went across the sun, and a sudden gust of wind blew up.  Snowflakes flurried from off the surface of the packed snow, hiding the castle gate in a blur of white.  When the wind lowered, the White Bear and the Princess were gone.  


In the courtyard, the castlefolk stood staring at the loaded sleigh and the trembling reindeer, but out over the wild wastes the Princess lay on the back of the Bear, his powerful paws making the strals vanish behind them.

Stral after stral the Bear galloped,  West with the wind and North for the ice, towards the Wastes of Despair.  The sky grew darker and the faint sun sank towards the horizon  and the Princess shivered.


“Are you cold, Princess?” the White Bear said, never breaking stride.  But the Princess did not answer.  “Nestle down into my fur, then, sink your hands deep and warm them.  I will not let you fall.”

“Will we reach the Wastes tonight, White Bear?” the Princess asked him.  “The sun is near setting, and every child of Faerin lands knows it is death to be out of walls after sundown.”

“Nay, Princess,” said the Bear.  “The Wastes are far, and my magick weak, expend it as I would upon your people.  Do not fear, the bindings will stay…and do not fear for yourself either.  We will stop here, since you are weary.”  And the great bear drew to a stop and sank down so that the Princess might dismount.

The Princess looked around her, but never a building did she see.  It was snow, and ice, and rock, and grey scrub and shingle, with here and there a stunted tree.  And as she looked, the sun’s last light shimmered and was gone, and a cold blackness came over her.  Then was her heart fallen within her, and an icy sickness throughout all her limbs, as she thought on how she had made her bargain with a beast.  Surely now he would devour her, and no man would know more of her, or of her people.  

And she felt, in the darkness, the breath of the Bear upon her face, and she bowed her head to await his pleasure.  But instead of fangs rending, and claws ripping, she felt around her body the warm comfort of her own fur coverlet, or so it seemed.  The Princess sank on the Bear’s breast, and he curled his mighty body around her so that neither the stone of the ground nor the snow of the air could reach her, and her weariness overtook her so that she slept.

When the Princess woke, she lay for a moment with her eyes closed, thinking herself awakened from a dream, and in her own bed with her own castle and people around her.  For the fur was warm around her body, and the scent of woodsmoke rising, and food cooking, and the chatter and buzz of people dimly heard through walls and corridors.   Then all that had passed in the seven days gone,  came back to her, and she sprang up with eyes wide.

A great chamber she was in,  but no princess’s bedstead, indeed.   She lay only in her shift,  among tattered skins in the chimneynook of a vast kitchen.  Carved all of ice it was, and surely some strong magick sustaining it, for the chairs and tables were of ice, and the shelves upon the walls, and even the fireplace where a huge fire roared and leapt was all of crystal ice, unmelting under the lick of the flames. There were cook and maid and scullion and potboy busy at their tasks, their voices like birds in the chamber’s echoing space.  And even as the Princess rose to her feet,  one turned upon her and shouted,

“To your work, lazy wench!  Look how she lies asleeping late, like some fair princess, when the Master would break his fast, and all of us toiling to fetch it to him!”

The others laughed, and the cook threw a long-handled brush at the Princess’s head.  “There, Potgirl, get about your scrubbing.  We’ve enough pans, sooth, to keep you crowned and throned till Solsticeday!”   Nor would they listen to her protests, but mocked her chapped hands, and made light of her tears and anger till she swallowed both and set about the filthy pots.

All day she labored in the kitchen, with now and then some leavings of food as the cook pleased,  and when the last pan was scrubbed, a coarse laugh and a push to the chimneycorner.  “There you sleep, Potgirl, Raggedfur, Ash-Princess!” mocked the scullion lad, as he ducked out of the icy doorway to escape the cook’s parting blow.  The Princess laid herself down in the ragged furs, and fell asleep to the hissing of the dying fire.

For seven days such was the tale of the Princess’s time: waking to jeers, scrubbing pots during the day, gulping half-eaten scraps, and huddling into the chimneynook to sleep.  The only things to cheer her were three:  her mother’s gift which she found in her shift pocket,  the heat of the always-burning fire, and the kitchen cat, a great snowy animal with immaculate coat, that would snuggle in the furs with her at night.  She would talk to it, whispering into its soft pricked ears, and it let her drench its white coat with tears at times.  

On the seventh day there were less pots than usual, and more food, and even a word of praise.  “I’ll give you the good ware tomorrow, if you can make souppots shine like that,” said the cook, and she gave the Princess an entire ungnawed Taenish leg.  “Now, get you to your corner, for there is to be a feast tomorrow, and there will be plenty to be done…. Mind you bank up the fire first, though!”  

So the Princess took a good large log, and laid it to the back of the fire, and raked the coals up to it, and covered them over with a dank slab of bark, that they might burn slow and steady all night, to be ready at dawn for the next day.  In truth she was no wearier than usual, for her tasks at her castle had kept her hands always busy, but her heart was sore and her mind perplexed.   She had taken courage for the unknown worst that might befall her at the claws of the White Bear, or the Wastes of Despair, but somehow this grinding servitude seemed worse than the unknown.  The fire banked, again she laid herself down, with the cat against her back.


Well, in the morn she rose as usual, and indeed there was plenty to lay her hands to.  The good ware was set out, and the baking and roasting and broiling and seething began before breakfast was fairly cleaned away.  Though she could not leave the kitchen, and indeed had not seen more of the place where she now lived than the back courtyard, the corridor up to the dining hall, and the servants’ privies,  she could hear the stamping of sleighdeer, the grate of runners on ice, the shouting of greetings muffled through distance and heavy coats…

It was to be a feast indeed, she learned from the tray porters and serving lasses who kept ducking in and out the frosty corridor.  The Master was to be wed that night, and a momentous occasion, to be sure, though she could get no more from anyone than than.  And when the cook saw her talking, she hurled a half-empty saucepot across the chamber to crack against the ice wall, roaring at the Princess to get back to her scrubbing.

Suppertime came, with all the furor one might expect of a great lord’s castle, and when the first of the courses were born in, and the entire kitchen working to get the next onto the platters, a tray porter came bounding in with a great grin and empty hands.  He paid no heed to the cursing cook who gestured him towards a tureen, but cried out.

“The Master commands that you send him in the Potgirl who scrubs the pans in his kitchen!”

The cook swore again, and beat her ladle against the crystalline table.  “A dirtied plate, no doubt, or a grease smear on the serving ware.  You lazy wench, it’ll be your hide I’ll use to clean it with!”   But the porter seized the Princess’s arm and pulled her away, up the corridor and towards the dining hall, struggle as she might.

Into the hall he dragged her, and set her in the center before the head table, just as she was.  There she stood in her simple tunic, her face bestreaked with soot smears and her legs with dust, her hair tangled and her eyes red,  her hands and arms the only part of her that were clean.  Yet she held her head high, vowing that she should look the Master in the eye as a Princess should, though she be no more than a Potgirl to him.  And she vowed further that she would use her mother’s gift, for whatever virtue it had, that she might be delivered from her servitude before all.

Under vast ice-shaped arches, on a dais of snow covered with snowy furs, sat a man clad all in white.  His shoulders were broad, his forehead deep, and keen were his iceblue eyes.  His face was young, and unlined, for all that his hair was white as the winter sky.    The Princess put her hand into her pocket and drew out her mother’s gift, and the moment she loosed the strings, she knew him for the White Bear that had stolen her away, and for the white cat that had licked her tears, and for the Master of the Castle that she had served.  

He stood, and smiled, and held out his hands.  “Princess,” he said, and his voice was the rumble of the bear and the purr of the cat, and something more, altogether human and powerful, “Princess, forgive me for thrice testing you.  You are the fairest, and the sweetest, and the strongest of heart that ever man might see and desire, and not temptation nor fear nor grieving will sway your soul from its purpose.”

He set his hands upon her shoulders, and as he did the fouled tunic became pure silk, falling about her like a spring wind.  Her body was cleansed and her hair fell dark down her back, with pearls woven into it.  “I am no Dinali mage, no fell-purposed beast,  nor sorcerer-king.  Here I am only a man who would love you, and have you love him.”

The Princess looked him deep in his eyes and thought of the two virtues her mother’s gift held.   And she knew that for the one, she would trade the other.  Truth has that power, and Truth melded with Love even more.  

“Which part of you should I love, then?” she asked.  “The White Bear who gave my people all the wealth they needed, or the cat who comforted my heart with his gentle beauty when I was alone, or the Master with powerful magicks in his hands?   Had your first words not been of forgiveness, your love would move me no more than your wealth, your beauty, or your power.  But….” and she smiled like the sun coming through clouds, “I forgive you.   And I would learn all that there is to love.”

Then a great cheer went up, and the people in the hall crowded in upon them, and there the Princess saw not only the court of the Bearlord, but the faces of her own folk, whom she had thought lost to her.  There her mother and father came smiling, robed full fairly and with shining faces, and there her nurse, and the hunters and bakers and weaver, the men and women, the children down to the smallest toddlers, and all whom she had left.  “The Bearlord has given us half his kingdom,” the Queen spoke, “and that half is fairer and greater than twice our whole.  So here we have come, and here will dwell, in truth….”

“And in love,” finished the Bearlord, “which is the greatest of all.”  The Princess kissed him, and the feasting began.  

And the wind blew West, and the ice moved North, and so may it ever remain!








 

Logged

"Give me a land of boughs in leaf /  a land of trees that stand; / where trees are fallen there is grief; /  I love no leafless land."   --A.E. Housman
 
Thuja
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 2
Offline Offline

Posts: 820



View Profile
« Reply #1 on: 30 November 2002, 02:26:00 »

Beautiful story.  EVEN if I had to wait centuries for it to be finish. :)   I really liked the last line of this story.  It somehow gave it the perfect ending.  I can't wait until you get around to some Mithral Mountain stories.


"In a place like this, the magic is all around you, the trick is to see it."

Edited by: Thuja at: 11/29/02 8:28:52 am
Logged
Ta`lia of the Seven Jewels
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 143
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 11.638


Shendar, Shen-D'auras


View Profile Homepage
« Reply #2 on: 30 November 2002, 02:34:00 »

I have no more words left......:)  

Logged

"For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path  that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking,  breathlessly. ~Don Juan"
***Astropicture of the Day***Talia's Long, Long List***
Rayne (Alýr)
Dreamress
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 117
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 4.466



View Profile
« Reply #3 on: 30 November 2002, 06:57:00 »

::sniffles lightly, drying her eyes:: I loved it! ^_^, Mommy-Judith is the best writer ever!

...Ripples in the Dream Pool...

Logged

"There is much misjudgment in the world. Now, I knew you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you take me for a clown, or a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes. We are not always what we seem..." -Schmendrick the Magician, The Last Unicorn
Winlok
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 0
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 772



View Profile
« Reply #4 on: 30 November 2002, 14:18:00 »

You cannot beat a happy ending. Judith I applaud it's exemplary skill, what ever that means.

Basically I mean it's great!

Logged
Artimidor Federkiel
Administrator
*****

Gained Aura: 538
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 23.091



View Profile Homepage
« Reply #5 on: 30 November 2002, 15:55:00 »

Already preparing it, very happy to have another unique Bard Judith story on the site:D

Short note: Can you please provide a short summary/teaser in order to put it on top of the story?


The Santharian Dream Webmaster - Let Fantasy Dreams come true!
World Development Admin - The Forum where Worlds are born...

Logged



"Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a mediator, and this must be the heart." -- Maria (Metropolis)
Bard Judith
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 365
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 7.650


Dwarvenmistress


View Profile Homepage
« Reply #6 on: 01 December 2002, 15:59:00 »

Summary - righto!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------


This romantic tale of loyalty and temptation has nonetheless a realistic feel, conjuring up the cold of the Northlands and the beauty of its determined heroine with equal efficaciousness.  Adults will enjoy it for its tidy triparate form and solid Northern morality; children will find the repetitions engaging, the trials of the Princess thrilling, and the conclusion satisfying.   We have set it down here as we heard it recounted by a Skald of Hargath, and may presume from internal clues that the story indeed originates from the region.






Regards from the I'm-Northern-myself-Bard,
Judith



(as recounted by a Skald of Hargarth)

Logged

"Give me a land of boughs in leaf /  a land of trees that stand; / where trees are fallen there is grief; /  I love no leafless land."   --A.E. Housman
 
Artimidor Federkiel
Administrator
*****

Gained Aura: 538
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 23.091



View Profile Homepage
« Reply #7 on: 02 December 2002, 03:14:00 »

Many thanx! And, now that I've read the whole story: Wonderful Bard Judith quality, as usual:D  


The Santharian Dream Webmaster - Let Fantasy Dreams come true!
World Development Admin - The Forum where Worlds are born...

Logged



"Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a mediator, and this must be the heart." -- Maria (Metropolis)
Bard Judith
Santh. Member
***

Gained Aura: 365
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
Posts: 7.650


Dwarvenmistress


View Profile Homepage
« Reply #8 on: 02 December 2002, 08:43:00 »

Don't forget to put a link FROM the White Bear Entry in the Bestiary TO this story, by the way.... ;)  

Logged

"Give me a land of boughs in leaf /  a land of trees that stand; / where trees are fallen there is grief; /  I love no leafless land."   --A.E. Housman
 
Sahndorf
Newbie
*

Gained Aura: 0
Offline Offline

Posts: 64


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: 05 December 2002, 02:39:00 »

Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap  :D


I haven´t been around for a while but is great to return and find this wonderful story finished. I loved the way it had been written.

Hope to read more of your great works soon.

Best Regards, Sahndorf.

Logged
Artimidor Federkiel
Administrator
*****

Gained Aura: 538
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
Posts: 23.091



View Profile Homepage
« Reply #10 on: 05 December 2002, 15:30:00 »

Okeydokey, mentioned the story in the White Bear entry now as well and added this link, Judy:)  


The Santharian Dream Webmaster - Let Fantasy Dreams come true!
World Development Admin - The Forum where Worlds are born...

Logged



"Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a mediator, and this must be the heart." -- Maria (Metropolis)
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Recent
[27 March 2019, 00:01:57]

[21 June 2018, 14:28:00]

[31 May 2017, 06:35:55]

[06 May 2017, 05:27:04]

[03 April 2017, 01:15:03]

[26 March 2017, 12:48:25]

[15 March 2017, 02:23:07]

[15 March 2017, 02:20:28]

[15 March 2017, 02:17:52]

[14 March 2017, 20:23:43]

[06 February 2017, 04:53:35]

[31 January 2017, 08:45:52]

[15 December 2016, 15:50:49]

[26 November 2016, 23:16:38]

[27 October 2016, 07:42:01]

[27 September 2016, 18:51:05]

[11 September 2016, 23:17:33]

[11 September 2016, 23:15:27]

[11 September 2016, 22:58:56]

[03 September 2016, 22:22:23]
Members
Total Members: 1019
Latest: lolanixon
Stats
Total Posts: 144586
Total Topics: 11052
Online Today: 35
Online Ever: 700
(23 January 2020, 20:05:39)
Users Online
Users: 0
Guests: 30
Total: 30

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2005, Simple Machines
TinyPortal v0.9.8 © Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Theme based on Cerberus with Risen adjustments by Bloc and Krelia
Modified By Artimidor for The Santharian Dream
gfx
gfxgfx gfxgfx