So...yeah. As a result, this blog will have a new design and new blog button at some point :D Yey for prizes! I'd also like to give a shoutout to everyone who entered Kirthi's/ Ashley's and Rose's competitions. I've read the 2nd, 3rd and Honourable Mentions on Kirthi's blog, and I think you should have won, not me! For those of you that haven't read them, check them out here(2nd), here(3rd) and here/here(HM)
This blog post doesn't seem to have had any structure or form whatsoever, so I'll just move onto The Storyteller. This won Kirthi's writing competition (goodness knows how) and I hope you enjoy it!
Once upon a time there was a storyteller who was arrested for proposing to the most beautiful maiden in the land. This is his story.
There is a jealous prince, a soon-to-be princess and a dog carved from magic.
There are no fairy godmothers and no happily ever afters.
Nico sat on the dusty floor, his hands crossed on his lap and his eyes closed. A thin line of sunlight crossed over his face, and he could feel the gentle warmth through his eyelids. Inside him, he could felt the words building up, pressing like stones against his windpipe. He swallowed the urge to talk and pander and instead shifted his position, moving his cheek away from the sunlight. The chain around his ankle creaked and groaned and Nico opened his eyes.
The cell was dark and musty, full of dirt and bloodied strips of hay. The single window towered ten feet in the air, just brushing the pavement outside. If he was lucky, Nico could see people’s feet as they walked past, hear their happy conversations and the rumours that they shared. But now, the pavement was empty, and silent. It was early morning - Nico could almost smell the dew drops beading on the grass - and the great city was silent. The walls surrounding it would be getting manned, and the huge metal gate he had created, raised. Across the city, life would be blossoming into consciousness, getting ready for his death tonight. And he was missing it.
Nico sighed. His trial had been two days ago, and he had been sentenced to death. The idea of dying didn’t bother him much - it was the idea of keeping the words inside him. They flowed like a river through his blood, mingling with the ideas and the characters he had kept so close to his heart. He hadn’t told a story in over a month, and every ounce of his being was screaming for release. The pressure was pleasant at first, but now it was painful and sore, the feeling of being crushed under the weight of the world. His palms were radiating heat.
Nico swallowed, his mouth dry. He was holding the words in for later, but he could always use a small portion just now, only to ease the tension. Nico held up his hands and flexed his fingers. Heat spread to the tips and a gold glow burst from the top. He smiled.
“Once upon a time, there was a butterfly, the most beautiful butterfly in the land.” Nico rubbed his fingertips, and the outline of a butterfly appeared in front of him, flapping its empty wings as though it were real. The glow of gold became stronger and, cupping his hand around the outline, he continued. “It had crimson wings, framed with ebony, and long, spindly feelers made of velvet. It could dance through the air like a ballerina, graceful and elegant as it flew.”
Nico opened his hand, and the red butterfly, perfect as it had been imagined in his head, fluttered lazily towards the window. It had a tiny gold star on its back that shimmered in the light. The sign of Nico’s work. He smiled at it. “And it lived happily ever after.”
Nico watched as the butterfly vanished into the street. The pressure had lessened, now that he had got some of the words from his veins. Creating things was his speciality. He didn’t have to, of course - he often just told stories to children, not making props. But the words swelled and grew until he had to make something. People said it was witchcraft, or a form of magic. It wasn’t. It was just words, imagination, and the glow. The gold glow that fuelled his life.
Suddenly, there was a noise in the corridor. Nico looked up, his heart beginning to hammer in his chest. He knew who it was. He knew she would come to see him. She had promised to, and Maria didn’t break a promise.
Nico shuffled his position and rubbed his hands on his filthy, tattered shorts. They were covered with scars and cuts, cherry lines criss-crossing his wrists and his arms. His hair was fluffy, defying gravity as it stuck out from his head. He pressed a hand to it, and felt it bounce underneath his palm. There was no point trying to flatten it. Nico swallowed again, crossed his legs and waited.
A few minutes passed before he heard her voice, sweet as honey and melodic as a harp; “I have permission to see him one last time. Open the door.” There was a gruff reply, and a rustling of paper. Another grunt, and the black door embedded into the stone walls slid open. Nico felt his heart swell and melt at the sight of her. Maria. His love. His heart. His muse. His inspiration.
She walked into the cell, her long dress flowing behind her. Nico felt a pang at the thought of it getting dirtied and black around the rim, the beautiful cream it was. She knelt down beside him and stroked his cheek, her touch bringing a current of electricity coursing down his skin. Blonde hair flowed down her back, touching
Nico’s shoulder. He looked up at her and smiled. “Maria. You came.”
Maria sniffed, her blue eyes brimming with subdued tears. “Of course, I came. How could I not?” She touched his cheek again, forcing a smile to her lips. “How are you?”
“I’m fine. What about you? How is the Prince keeping you?” Maria’s cheeks flushed pink and Nico laughed.
“Relax. I’m not concerned. You are betrothed to him after all. Don’t feel you need to be loyal to me.”
Maria swallowed, and a tear trickled down her coloured face. “I have my own room, and a maid and a horse. H-he is nice to me, but he isn’t you. He can never be you.”
Nico nodded. His heart was thumping in his chest, and his mind was becoming a simple blur. Maria did that to him. She was perfect - of course she was, she was the most beautiful woman in the city, in the kingdom. She was amazing.
Nico looked at her and beamed. “I have a present for you.”
Maria sniffed back a tear and stared at him. “What?”
“Just stand back. I would stand up to do this but I can’t, so you’ll have to do it for me.” Nico jerked a thumb towards the chain on his ankle, and Maria stood up and stepped backwards. He could see her eyes roaming his body, cataloguing every mark and line on his marred skin. Her face turned inwards with sympathy and another tear fell down her cheek.
“Oh, Nico, what happened to you?”
Nico shrugged and flexed his fingers. The words - magic - were still pulsing under his skin, writhing like a snake in the pits of his belly. “The Prince thought it would be a good idea to torture me before he killed me. I didn’t really mind.”
“Don’t really...what did they do?”
“Oh, the usual - whips, thumbscrews, etcetera, etcetera. I didn’t really feel any of it.” The pressure of the words building up in his stomach had been more than enough to numb the pain. “Ok, stand back.” He opened his palms and Maria’s eyes widened.
“Here? Now? The guards-”
“-can’t do anything else to me. I’ll be dead this time tomorrow, Maria. Let me have this.”
Another tear slid down Maria’s cheek and she hiccupped. “O-ok. Just be quick. I’m only allowed ten minutes with you. Prince’s orders...”
Nico nodded and straightened his back against the wall. He pressed the palms of his feet together, and felt the energy growing inside him, letting it press against the seams in his skin. He felt the words, saw their shapes and sounds in his mind’s eye. He was the magician, the lover, the man with the golden glow. He was the storyteller.
Nico held his palms in front of him. The glow made the air ripple and shake. “Once upon a time, there was a dog. It was a beautiful dog; tall and strong. Its fur flowed to the floor, and its nose was keen enough to smell a hare from miles away. It was fast too, with legs that moved like lightning. Its fur was the most striking part about it.”
Nico glanced up and saw the dog in front of him, hovering a few inches above the ground. It was the size of a husky, with powerful legs and bright sparkling eyes. Nico smiled at it, and reached up. His hand tightened around a patch of hair, and he yanked it from his head. White, flecked with gold. He had been born with it, and it marked him as special. Now it was the dog’s turn.
With a wry smile to Maria, Nico placed the hair onto the dog, smearing it onto its skin. A flowing coat of white suddenly burst outwards, ivory mixing with spots the colour of the fading sun. Nico glanced up. Maria was staring, her eyes wide and flooded with tears. “The dog was given to a young maiden called Maria, and it was ever faithful to her.” The dog leapt out of Nico’s hands and walked over to Maria, sitting beside her and rubbing its muzzle on her leg. There was a gold shimmering star on the back of its foot.
“The maiden called the dog...Elden, meaning protector. And they lived happily ever after.” The dog glowed for a second, and then it was real, sealed into existence by those magic words. Happily. Ever. After.
Nico felt the heat fall and the pressure drop. He glanced up at Maria, who was sobbing , her hand still on the dog’s side. Tears were flowing down her cheeks in torrents, running down the strands of her hair on her bare chest. “T-thank you,” she sobbed. “H-he’s beautiful.” She patted Elden’s head.
“Maria, look at me. Look at me, love.” Maria stared at Nico.
“I’m going to go, but Elden will protect you. Don’t mourn me, ok? I’m twenty-seven - old enough to have lived a life. Go ahead, be happy. I won’t judge you. But please, keep Elden beside you. Promise me you’ll never let him go.”
“Ok, o-ok. I promise.” Maria hiccupped. “Can you not magic yourself out? Make a knight to save you?”
Nico shook his head. “No. I used the last of my words on Elden.”
“And before? Why couldn’t you save yourself before?”
Nico almost laughed. “Because I was saving to make Elden, of course.” He smiled and shook his head. “I’m ready, Maria. I’m ready to go. I love you so, so much.” He swallowed, his heart suddenly swelling in his chest again. “I love you. But I have to leave this world behind. It’s onto better and brighter things for me, ok? Now, you’d better go. The guard will be getting anxious.”
“Go, Maria. It’s better for both of us. Take Elden with you, and give him a home in your house. Goodbye. I
Maria sniffed and touched Elden on the rump. He stood up, his white tail thrashing as he walked towards the door. And as Maria walked out of his cell for the last time, Nico saw what he always dreaded - the golden star just behind her ear.
Once upon a time, a storyteller was asked by a lonely prince to make him a bride, the most beautiful maiden in the land. He had obliged, but the Prince was angry. The storyteller had fallen in love with his creation, and so, with a cold heart he had ordered the storyteller’s death.
There was a jealous prince, a soon-to-be princess, and a dog carved from magic.
There were no fairy godmothers, and no happily ever afters.