And on to chapter 4, which is a short chapter, so this commentary will necessarily be likewise. Actually, in the original writing, it was longer as I was cramming for word count in NaNoWriMo. In addition to the “two things” Robin and Robert also attended a barn dance (where Robin found another young man to impress with her sword skills) and there were three or four more events that I can’t remember.
However, while editing, my mother pointed out that all of those other items didn’t actually do anything for the plot, so I chopped them out. I ended up with a very skinny chapter, but other than that, the book didn’t suffer.
The True Nature of Quests
Despite the fact that fantasy is my genre of choice, I’m not very good at the filler content that makes quests exciting. I hadn’t planned any adventures for them until they had met with Rosamond, and since they weren’t to meet Rosamond until they had been traveling for at least a week, I opted for the “quests are actually quite boring” approach. As I read over this opening, I have a feeling that, were I to rewrite this book, I could actually come up with some interesting adventures for them, but as it is, I’m content with what I have.
But I do mention that Robin does find enough young men willing to have their swords placed in unreachable places, so I suppose she did enjoy herself.
In the original writing of this chapter, I only mentioned that his story had something to do with the fairies. It wasn’t until the rewrite that my mother pointed out that this was a perfect opportunity to plant some backstory and introduce the story of the Mountain Princess, who would also prove very important to the story. We also toyed with the idea of having it be Sleeping Beauty, but since that’s a much better known fairy tale, and I already had another character tell it later on, we went with the Mountain Princess.
I know I’ve mentioned frequently that the Mountain Princess is not original to me, but is actually my retelling of a lesser-known fairy tale called “Casperl and the Princess.” (Though some versions I’ve seen have it shortened to merely “Casperl”) It’s a very rare fairy tale that, to my knowledge, only exists it maybe three books, and the only place you can read it online is my blog here.
Of course, after the story is told, Robin and Robert are naturally going to ask the man if he has any idea where they might find a fairy (though I’m not sure they mentioned the reason they are looking for one), and unfortunately, the story teller has no idea. He just collects and tells stories, he doesn’t collect archaic knowledge like that.
One plot device that I enjoy in other books, and naturally included in my own book, is the capital C Change. Something, in a world’s past, happened, and because that something happened, everything is different. Differences so big, you have to have a capital C to properly convey them.
Bookania’s Change took place a hundred years before, an interesting number when you take into consideration that it’s about the same time as when the Mountain Princess lived according to the Storyteller. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this, and if you didn’t live back then, or if you aren’t interested in that subject, it’s likely you don’t know about it.
Robin and Robert certainly don’t.
So I chose a random old woman to enlighten the twins. They tell her that they’re looking for a fairy, tell her why, and immediately, her mind goes back to that long-forgotten time. She doesn’t know why it happened, or everything that changed, but the name is thrown out there, and it’s obviously going to be important.
And then, just before the twins leave, disappointed because they didn’t find out anything particularly helpful, she adds one more word to their new vocabularies. Skewwood. Doesn’t really sound that important, but, who knows?
Robin and Robert discovered over the next week that adventuring mostly involved traveling through virtually unchanging countryside. Robin also discovered that there was a never ending supply of young men who were ever eager to have their swords lodged in trees or rafters or whatever else was handy.
“We’re looking for one in particular,” explained Robin. “She’s our Fairy Godmother, and she messed up our gifts somewhat.”
“It’s been a long time since I have seen anyone who had a Fairy Godmother,” the old woman said. “Not since I was a girl. And they were all princes and princesses whose birth preceded the Change.”
“The Change?” said Robin. “I’ve never heard of that.”
“About a hundred years ago,” the old woman said, “this land was very different, how, I don’t know, for I was but a wee lass toddling at my father’s knee. I know that then there were fairies and magical places in the land, but they all disappeared after the Change.”
“On this one path, however, there are three challenges. For one to get to the top, and it is said that he must do it completely on his own, he would have to first get through the gate. This gate is so heavy, no man can lift it. Second, they would have to get past a trunk of a tree. This tree is magic, and it is impossible to get over, under, or around. It is also impossible to chop through it. At the very top, there is a dragon. He is solid black, with flaming eyes and breath.
“It is said that only a true prince will be able to pass these challenges. Many such young men have tried, but none have succeeded. It is said that she is still as young of face as when the magician first placed her there, for the fairy’s magic keeps her so. I have not seen her myself, but I have spoken with princes and kings who have, in their youth, made the attempt, and they assure me that she is every bit as beautiful as the rumors give her credit. But none have succeeded.”
1. Do you like a lot of filler content in your fantasy, or do you prefer it to just get to the point and get the adventure over with?
2. What's the rarest fairy tale you know of?