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The Stag Whose Heart was Healed

In a land twixt the realm of night and the reign of day, there lived a white stag.  Noble in bearing, regal incarnate, such a creature was born to the authority that he wielded over his land.  And so he lived and ruled all within his purview, unquestioned and held in awe by those who acknowledged him king.
            So steady and routine was the nature of his rule that the stag was unprepared for the coming of a white doe to his land.
            When first he looked upon the doe, his eyes were filled with wonder at the sight of her.  Upon a second glance, he noted the kindness and care she gave to those she encountered.  And the third time his eyes cast her way, he saw that where she tread, green things grew and blossoms began to bud, as though she herself begot Spring.
            But his gaze sharpened when he saw the reverence paid her by his creatures.  A hardness fell upon his heart, and admiration gave way to jealousy.  In his envy there were planted seeds of hate that sprouted fast and rooted deep until they began to consume.  So it was that he bade his creatures have nothing to do with her kind and gentle ways.   And it was not long before all his land gave rise to petty spite and cruelty.
            So consumed he was with his hatred, that the stag did not notice as the land itself began to suffer.  The ground had turned from green to brown, and from brown it turned to gray—and in such grayness, it developed rot.  He did not notice, that is, until the day came that he found himself atop a hill surveying all that was his to rule.  For on that day, his heart had hardened so that he could not tear his eyes away from what was his, and he fell into a pit of rotted bog.
            The pit was full of splintered roots, and it was amongst these that he tumbled, until suddenly his body was held fast by the wood.  And just in front of his chest, a needles’ breadth from his heart, a bit of sharpened slate stuck out; should the land shift, he would perish.
            When the sound of hoofs caused the ground to tremble, he cried out in fear, begging that they stop.
            In an instant, the hoofbeats quelled.
            And in the silence, the stag felt vines wrap themselves around his body.  Slowly, he rose, and when the vines placed him alongside the pitted bog, he found that he was staring into the eyes of the white doe.
            Around her the grey had turned to green, and a gentle breeze had begun to take away the smell of rot.  The sound of birds filled the stag’s ears, the first songs in a long time.  And the ground that had turned bog began to harden.
            The stag felt a bitterness rise in his chest at the doe’s power, but it was no match for the beauty his eyes saw all around him.  A lightness grew within him.  And in overwhelming gratitude, he lowered his head as he bent his front legs.
            The doe laughed gently and nudged him rise with her nose.  It was together that they walked down the hill, as greenery grew wherever they stepped—over land that was no longer his.  And in that knowledge, the stag found his heart had healed.

The Cat Who Had No Home

Long ago, when the air grew cold at the bitter exhale of the gods’ breath and sweet at their inhale, there lived a cat who had no home.
In the cold of winter, the best it could do for shelter was to curl up against a pine tree and hope that, come morning, it would find itself still living.The heat of summer was equally cruel, for the cat would have to search from morning until night for a trickle of water to wet its tongue and sustain its body. One day it passed a man, upright with a golden flask upon his hip and the finest linens draped about him.The cat brushed against the man’s trousers, with no particular want but that of companionship, for it had known loneliness and sought its remedy.But the man tsked at the cat.‘Get off,’ he said.‘Be gone with you.Can’t you see that your fur is shedding on my fine clothes?’And with a kick, he sent the cat away. On another day the cat came upon a woman, who stood in front of a grand house with a watering can, drenching the soil about the stems of t…

An Enchanted Forest Takes a Toll

A witch stood at the edge of an Enchanted Forest and cackled.
It was a pristine moment; a moment destined to go down in the fairytale archives forever and ever and a day.And perfectly designed.For the witch figured that if she gave a good cackle right out in public where enchanted creatures could hear, all would assume she had become the evil witch of tales and, quite frankly, leave her alone. She was a tired witch, having spent many long years slaving away helping others.If she had settled down anywhere else, instead of this particular enchanted wood, she really could have done anything she wanted—and had a great deal more free time.But such a place is rather a needy spot as far as the world of enchantments goes, because of all the heroes adventuring, and princesses getting lost, and pre-witches going on quests to earn their real witch status.That meant a lot of scratches to be bandaged, dragon fire burns to cure, and water to administer to the shockingly underprepared knights and prin…

The Pain of a Muse

There is a restless torment that never ceases.An unsettling that must be satisfied before it lays down to rest—but it is never satisfied, and so it never rests.
It must wake, and when it does, it yearns. The weight of it beats within itself as though a heart, for it is a kind of life blood.And when it eats, it devours—it cannot help it—until nothing is left, save itself; a glowing torrent that aches, turns, and is as brutal as the most tenacious current. Some say the fairies put it there—and lit the match that made it burst.Some say it was the gods, put in place with keen desire so that the frantic depth they themselves could not escape would dwell in others.And some say the gods are fairies, doomed to grow ever smaller, as their place in the world diminishes.But what ignites it matters not; for it grows ever more possessing. A double-edged sword for the fae-gods, for they diminish from its very existence, but cannot be apart from it—for it is by its virtue that they continue to exist. I…

The Boy and the Elephant

There was once a little boy whose name was Nathan and more than anything in the world he loved to dance.If they had let him, he would have danced until dawn every night—but, of course, they said he had to go to bed.
One day Nathan was walking through the forest, a jig springing from his feet with each step, a whistle on his lips, and his greatest desire to dance until dawn on his mind, when he found that he had jigged into the center of a circle of mushrooms.Too late he remembered that such a ring is not what it appears, and before he could blink, his body was no longer in the mortal world. And so it was that Nathan found himself a prisoner in Fairyland. The fairies had been wickedly clever—the boy’s capture had not been by chance.For there is nothing the fairies like better than to be entertained in their nightly revels by dancing. The boy was not their only prisoner.An elephant had stepped wrongly while on tour with a traveling circus.And thus it was that the boy and the elephant found …