Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Works-in-Progress Wednesday: "The Four Travelers, Pt. 2"

A bit of background....
The story of the Inkweaver came about as I was thinking over a scene in which a painted vignette on a piece of cloth "came to life" and the characters depicted began to make choices for themselves that caused the cloth to rip... and then the owner of the cloth (it might have been the skirt or dress of a young girl) brought it to a woman who did not repair the tear with needle and thread, but by telling a story to incorporate the choices that the characters already made. It wasn't magic, per se, I decided, but the inherent "magic" of storytelling.
From there, I imagined a world in which there existed a guild of craftsmen and women who plied this sort of trade in all sorts of different media: The Wordspinners, who "spun" tales into their wares, and these wares never wore out unless the characters in the story tried to "rewrite" themselves, in which case the break or tear could be repaired by working the choice into a new story.
This, then, turned into a situation many years into the future of this world, when society had moved on to "fact-based information accumulation" and this whole notion of making one's own choices and crafting one's own outcome is frowned upon, shunned, and--in the case of storytelling or "wordspinning"--downright dangerous. The Wordspinners are exiled, but one young woman dares to be reckless and strike out, along with her friend, to find the last Inkweaver from her village...

Along with this main tale, then, I decided to write "Inkweaver Tales"... ones the Inkweaver spun into the tapestry Shereya now carries. To Shereya, they are just dreams, but she is rapidly finding out that these tales might have more bearing on her real-life circumstances than it seemed at first.

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There were once four fools who decided to take a journey through a forest where an enchantress was known to reside. They had learned of her from a Raven, who warned them of the many dangers the forest held. But each time, the fools did not heed the Raven's warning, and the Raven croaked, "Then you have only yourselves to blame."
 

The enchantress seduced them and trapped them in the house with a fawn—a young doe—whom she had also ensnared. She departed to look for herbs with which to boil her prisoners alive, for she was the sort that ate people.
The fools began to moan and weep.
"We are dead men!" cried the first.
"The Raven could have shown us another way instead of leading us down the path to our grave!" wept the next.
"I suspect the old bird might even be in league with the witch," muttered the other.
"What have we done to deserve such a fate?" wailed the last.
 

Then the doe stepped forward and began to speak.
"Good travelers," said she, "like you I was lured here and trapped by the enchantress and have remained bound by her for many a day. May I tell you my story?"
 

The first traveler sighed. "Oh, what else have we to say?"
"If you insist, we have nothing to say against it," added the next.
"It passes the time," observed the other.
"Tell away, little doe," said the last.
"Very well," said the doe, "I shall begin.
 

"Once, in a kingdom far away, there lived a young woman who was very poor, so poor that she had to work very hard for enough food and clothes for only one day."
"Rotten luck for her!" cried the first.
And the doe said, "But wait, my story is not finished.
 

"The young woman received a ragged-looking visitor and treated him kindly, for she was kind to everyone. In thanks, the man reveal that he was in fact a powerful magician, and he taught her all that he knew and gave her his power—but he made the young woman swear that she would not use the magic to do things she could learn herself; she must only use it to do the impossible."
"Pretty mean of him, I'd say!" insisted the next.
And the doe said, "But wait, my story is not finished.
 

"Very soon, the woman's village was oppressed by an evil sorceress. The witch used her magic to kill and torture anyone who would not do what she said or give her what she wanted. She was the strongest witch anyone had ever seen, so that no one could ever stand up to her when she attacked. She would kill them on the spot and go on with her oppression."
"This tale keeps getting worse and worse!" roared the other.
And the doe said, "But wait, my story is not finished.
 

"The young woman discovered that the only way to be rid of the witch would be to follow her home, for only in her own house could the witch be killed. But the young woman could not follow the witch on foot, for the witch flew on the wind in a cloud of smoke impossible to trace. And even if she did find the house of the witch, she could not enter it unless the witch invited her in—and the witch only invited guests she wanted to eat."
"I say! That's rum!" grumbled the last.
And the doe answered, "But wait, my story is not finished. For you see: the woman had more than you know."
 

"That is a fine tale," said the first traveler, "but what does it mean?"
"How can we be sure you are not in service to the witch, yourself?" asked the next.
"This is all stuff and nonsense, and it doesn't give us a way of escape," retorted the other.
"I fail to see what a talking deer has to do with anything," sniffed the last.
"It has everything to do with it," replied the doe. "Your escape is at hand. Be ready, friends! For you see: I have more than you know."
 

At that moment, the witch returned with many herbs.
She said, "I am so hungry, because I have not eaten in three days! I will feast tonight. And since I always believe that 'first come, first served,' I will cook the fawn first!" And she seized the doe.
 

"Witch, beware!" cried the doe. "I have more than you know."
"Faugh!" spat the witch. "You are so small, and I am bigger than you!" She struck the doe with her hand.

And the doe replied, "But I have more than you know."
 

"Fie!" shrieked the witch. "I am stronger than you, and I have a sharp knife!" and she pricked the little fawn with the shining blade.
And the doe replied, "But I have more than you know."
 

"Fiddlesticks!" screamed the witch. "I will tie you up with my magic rope and throw you in my cooking pot!"
And the doe replied, "Beware, you wicked witch! Your time has come, I have more than you know." 

And all at once, the fawn shed her skin and transformed into a beautiful young woman. It was the young enchantress, who had changed herself into a fawn in order to trick the witch into bringing her into the house, where she could finally defeat her.
 

The witch shrieked and prepared her magic wand, but the enchantress was more powerful than she, and cast a spell with such force that a bright light swallowed the wicked witch completely.
"Huzzah!" cheered the first traveler.
"Good show!" cried the next.
"That's the end of her, then!" said the other.
"Might you set us free, then?" asked the last.
 

The enchantress freed the four travelers, and they went on their way, resolving to be wiser and to listen to advice from others, so that no one could trick them or trap them again.
So, really, the four formerly-foolish travelers found their fortune after all.

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I jumped awake as the dream ended. For a moment, I wondered why the inn had such hard beds, and why there seemed to be no lamps in the room--
Then I felt the shackles on my wrist, and I remembered that this wasn't an inn. I planted my hands and eased my bruised body up into a sitting position. There was a window in two of the walls. The one over my head gave me a limited view of the tree canopy outside. The other, just above my line of sight on the the right-hand wall, was about as dark as my own cell. I pulled myself up to this one. I could see the stone walls on the other side of the barred opening.
"Larryn?" I whispered. "Belak?"
I heard the shuffling of cloth, and a low groan.
"We're here," Belak whispered back. "Larryn's still unconscious, but she's breathing. What about Greyna?"
"I don't know," I replied. "They put us in separate cells. I'm alone--"
"No you aren't," a voice sounded from behind me.
I turned away from the window and squinted at the shadows in the opposite corner. I made out the knees first, reflecting the thin white-grey light from the window. Two hands rested on them--dirty and thin fingers ending in chipped black nails. A grin materialized against the dark stone, and the whites of two eyes. My cellmate leaned forward into the light, and I saw that he was about as tall as Belak but thinner than Greyna. His hair was so dirty and matted I couldn't tell what color it was, but he had a lot of it. He looked so worn from poor nutrition and languishing in the cell that it was impossible to gauge how old he was.
He held out a grimy hand to me. "The name's Taurin. You have no idea how glad I am to meet someone new."
I barely touched the dark-brown palm. The stench of the cell seemed to ooze from his every pore.
"Glad?" I spluttered at him. "How can you talk about being glad when you've been here for so long, and we're about to be shipped off to who-knows-where and there's nothing we can do about it?"
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Also from "Inkweaver":

-The Legend of The Wordspinners
-The Last Inkweaver  
-What Are You Afraid Of?  
-In The Inkweaver's Cottage 
-The Unfinished Tapestry 
-Tales of the Inkweaver: "The Three Daughters"
-In The House Of The Talesmith 
-"The Invisible Gift" and "Forward Unto Danger" 
-Escape From Blackrope 
-The Rise and Fall of Morgianna Plontus-Byrmingham 
-The Morning After 
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "The Four Travellers
-In the Court of Count Bergen 
-Do You See What I See?
-Welcome to Criansa
-Meeting Delia
-A Nice Cup of (Honest) Tea
-Saving Margo
-Interpreting The Stone
-Confessions
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "Four Animals in Partnership"
-Tark Trades People
-"Plotting" and "Meet Tark's Crew"
-Storytime for Tark
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "The Stone in The Road"
-Moon Valley
-Writer's Eyes