We’ve got something special for today’s Spooky Legend. It’s not a retelling of a well known urban legend, instead Kersten Hamiliton, author of IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT, the second book in The Goblin Wars series (available on November 22, 2011 from Clarion Books), is sharing her original story LOVELEAVES AND WOODENDER which she eventually expanded into TYGER TYGER. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a pre-ordered copy of IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT. See details below
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Loveleaves and Woodwender
Are you too old for faerie tales? Then you are lost—for Samhain is upon us. The light is fading, and the ancient Guardian Trees sleep. Their slumber allows the walls between the worlds to grow thin. Those twice-blessed—for what is sight but a blessing?—can see the shadows seeping through, feel the frost in their cloaks. We smell the mold of the grave on their breath.
Now, hope and truth must be bound up in words and held like a candle against the dark. Listen: if your heart is young enough to hear the truth in faerie tales, I’ll weave you one to keep you until the sun returns. Until the trees wake and whisper their prayers once again.
Long ago, when dragons slept beneath the hills and faerie folk ruled in woodland and glen, there lived two children in the East country in the shadow of the Great Oak Forest. Loveleaves was as dusky as the dawn; but her brother Woodwender was laughing and fair. The children’s mother was dead but their father, a poor woodcutter, loved them well.
The woodcutter would not allow his children to follow him into the forest for it was dark and drear, but every night when he came home they knew they would find a present—robin’s eggs, or a shy baby rabbit—hidden in his pocket.
One day the woodcutter brought home three pieces of wild honeycomb he’d found in a hollow log and set them on the table.
“We’ll have a sweet supper tonight my dears,” he said. But just as the porridge began to bubble the door flew open and a strange little man stepped inside.
“I’ve come for the honey you stole,” he said. “It belongs to the Forest King!”
The woodcutter pulled his children close. “Take it and begone,” he said.
“Is this all of it?” the wicked dwarf asked, snatching up the sweets.
“Yes,” the woodcutter said, “save one small drop I licked from my finger.” When the dwarf heard that a drop of honey was missing he flew into a rage and with a flash and a rumble he stole the woodcutter away.
The children waited a night and a day and a day and a night for their father’s return. When he did not come they set out to find him down paths where deadmen’s bells and goblin’s thimbles grew.
They had not gone far when they heard a merry tune, and following it they came upon a fiddler. He swayed to his music like a tree in the wind, but he did not dance, for his long brown toes dug into the earth, holding him down. The hair that hung to his waist was as green as new leaves on a willow and his face was long and glum.
“Good fiddler,” Woodwender asked, “How can your tune be so merry when your face is so sad?”
“I play a merry tune,” the Fiddler said, “to give my poor self courage. Many years ago as I was traveling these woods I happened to meet the Forest King. He asked me whither I went and why my step was lively. I told him I was off to fiddle and dance at a wedding. The Lady of the Wood was to marry my lord, a noble knight. The king smiled at my words, a terrible smile that made my kneecaps quiver.
“‘Stay, fiddler, ’” he said, “‘you may as well grow roots! There’ll be no such wedding, nor dancing, nor mirth, not as long as I walk to or fro upon the earth!’
“He must be walking to—or possibly fro, I know not which—but I know he walks, for from that day until this I have not taken a single step!” A tear rolled down the fiddler’s cheek. He brushed it away with his knobby hand and said, “Now children, why are you wandering this sad wood?”
When the children told him their story, he said, “Alas, I cannot help you. You must look for the Lady of the Wood. To find her you must walk down paths both dark and deep.”
The children thanked the fiddler and went on their way. Soon they saw that his words were true, for the trees leaned close about the path until even the sunlight grew dim and green. Spriggans snatched at their hair from branches overhead and Phookas blew icy breath on their necks, but Woodwender whistled the fiddler’s tune and they went on.
In the green forest twilight they came upon a doorway in the trunk of a mighty rowan tree and through the door they saw a lady stitching tiny pearls onto a veil. Ivy twined her long black hair and flowers hemmed her dress.
“Why do you stitch your veil alone?” Loveleaves asked. “Is there no one to help?”
“No one,” the lady said. “For I am the Lady of the Wood. The Forest King stole me when I was just a babe. I was to be his bride. For six years and ten this was my home and then by chance I met a young knight in the wood. We agreed to meet again, and soon we fell in love. My knight promised he would love me as long as his heart beat; I vowed I would wed him and no other. But on the day we were to wed he did not come to our meeting place. I waited all day and then came home to wait some more. To wait, and stitch my wedding veil. It was here that the Forest King found me.
“‘You must finish your veil, my love,’” he said. “‘The false-hearted knight has broken his promise, forgotten your vow, but I will make you a promise and never forget. I promise you will be my bride. And this will keep you safe until our wedding day.’”
“He gave my cheek a cold, cold kiss, and whispered in my ear, “‘Stitch and sew, sigh and weep, but in this hall each hour keep—until your veil is done.’”
“With those words he bound me. Only when the veil is finished will I be free to search for my love. Each day I stitch until my fingers ache. Each night the king’s wicked servants come and my work is all undone.” The Lady sighed and lay her stitching down. “But tell me children, why are you wandering this wood?”
When the children told her their story, the Lady said, “Tonight when the servants of the king arrive we may hear news of your father. But you must hide, for it would not go well with you if you were found.”
As midnight crept through the forest and into the hall, she hid the children behind a tapestry. No sooner were they out of sight than in walked Jenny Greenteeth, who drowns travelers in bogs.
LOVELEAVES AND WOODWENDER is a story that I wrote years ago—a re-imagining of a fairytale by Ireland’s blind storyteller Francis Browne. Many editors loved it, but the picture book market had turned to short texts for young children. My story was too long and too dark. I was told it would never be published. But….it was too much a part of me to even consider giving up on it. Eventually, the story grew into YA novel called TYGER TYGER, the first book of the Goblin Wars series. I do adore TYGER TYGER. But LOVELEAVES AND WOODWENDER came first and I will always love it—so I am giving it to your readers as a Halloween gift. I hope they love it too!
About the author:
Kersten Hamilton is a prolific children’s writer known for her fast-paced, dramatic storylines. She is the author of twenty-four books for children and works with the house church movement in her home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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Giveaway provided by Kersten Hamilton
One pre-order copy of IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT by Kersten Hamilton
Available on November 22, 2011 from Clarion
Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have made it out of Mag Mell alive, but the Dark Man’s forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Tea’s goblin cousins show up at her school, sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive once awoken. Soon she will belong to Fear Doirich and join them. In the meantime, they are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Tea’s family and friends.
Teagan knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her. But as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich.
And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.
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**Don’t forget to visit Dark Faerie Tales today for her Spooky Legends guest blog with Leanna Renee Hieber and a chance to win DARKER STILL**