The Silver Door – Two

Reposting in preparation for Bethany’s second story: The Goblin Tree

This post contains Copyrighted material and may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.

Song Suggestion: Star by Break of Reality



There was an old gypsy on a particular mountainside, one that bore no name of honor and had not seen the horrors of any battle. It was just a mountainside well within the Blessed Lands and the gypsy liked it well enough. She had an old dog, an ancient cat, and a horse who was so old that her coat had turned a staring white. With the gypsy lived her granddaughter, a pretty child with long, curling black hair and a smile that had to be answered with a smile. Though they were polite, they stayed well off from others and did not try to mix with any, for they were each happy enough with the other’s company.

Once, the wagon had been painted, as all gypsy wagons are. Its central mural was of a large, silver, arched door surrounded by vines laden with blooms of blue and white. Time and weather had worn the paint away until all was naught but shadow, a ghost of the beauty that had once graced the wood.

Sometimes the girl, Bethany, would ask about the door, for gypsy wagons carry the tale of those who own them, like a book anyone might read, if they know how. Always, her grandmother said to her, “not yet, child, not yet.”

Bethany grew, as all children do, blossoming into a lovely young woman whose curling, black hair hung unbound to her waist and moved in the most becoming of ways when she danced, sometimes falling over her sharp, green eyes so that they glittered like hidden jewels from the shadows. Her grandmother, in balance, withered, as the old must do, until, at last, they stood exactly at the opposite ends of life. One was on the very cusp of adulthood, ready to start her true life, as the gypsy folk call it, and the other stood ready at the edge of death, waiting only for the Morrigan to speak her name and call her home.

“Come close,” she told her granddaughter one day when she found herself unable to rise from herbed. Bethany did as she was told. And the old gypsy whispered to her, at last, these words. “There is a door set into an ancient, living tree in the forest. It is high and wide and you might drive a wagon right through it. I will not tell you my story; it is ending and only a fool spends their last moments looking back. Just know that, when I was your age, I was not quite yet ready to settle down and bear children, for I did not yet know my own self. My grandmother lay dying on this very hillside and told me I had a choice, that I could stay here and live quietly or that I could go looking for adventure. This is what I will tell you, as once my own grandmother told me. Go and find the silver door, if you’ve the courage and the wish. Take the journey through. There you will find adventure and not a little wisdom, but danger there is too. I leave you all the clever beasts who have been my friends in life. Forsake them not and they will see you through, though I can not promise you will return if you choose to pass the door and leave the land of your birth.” The gypsy grasped her granddaughter’s hands. “No oath is laid upon you. Go, if you wish more from life than what you are given here. Stay if you like and that will be fine too. All the roads that lie before you are yours to choose. I’ve taught you all I can, given you what tools I deem useful, and there is no more left for me here. Do not weep, child, for a I go to my rest satisfied.” With that, the old woman closed her eyes and, within the hour, she died.

Bethany did cry a little, for she’d been fond of her grandmother and would miss the sound of her voice. She buried the gypsy within her rose garden, which was always her grandmother’s favorite place to sit and watch the bees, birds, and beasts go on about their lives. Then, Bethany set to deciding her own road over the bright, merry light of her fire.

The animals her grandmother left her were old, certainly. The dog’s muzzle was white, the cat did not often go chasing mice – though he always caught them when he did -, and the horse looked hard put to do more than nap all day in the sun and walked with a limp. Nor was the wagon in much shape to go anywhere. It had sat so long its rotted wheels had sunk deep into the hillside and it would take more than even a healthy horse to move it. Bethany had only once been further than the village and never to the dark forest on the horizon. Yet the spirit of the gypsy, a wild and rootless folk, lived within her, so she could not just dismiss the idea of it.

She stayed and muddled so long that the fire grew low and the bright, summer stars winked down at her like old friends. “If you’ve a need for advice, I’ve got some,” said a voice.

Bethany was only mildly surprised to realize it was the cat that had spoken; gypsies know that all cats can speak, when they’ve a mind to. “I’m not sure if it’s advice I’m needing or just courage,” Bethany replied, “but if you are offering, then I am listening.”

The cat looked up at her with eyes that shone like the first grass of spring. He was a large, heavy tom, almost as large as one of the hunting cats of Dumhaile, which stood near as large as medium sized dogs. His coat was deep silver, like twilight shadows, and, within it, there could be seen black spots, as though he had, indeed, descended from those wild, dangerous felines of the green land. And he said to her,” if you stay you will find a quiet life. It will not be exciting. You will not find danger or peril. You will live a perfectly ordinary existence with a man who will soon pass over the mountains from the west. You will bear him fine, strong children and he will love your beauty and your sparkling eyes. He will provide for you in daytime and lie happily with you at night, never straying or wishing he had chosen another. You will die satisfied that you did well enough for yourself, but for one thing. You will always question what would have happened, had you taken the door in the wood.”

Bethany did not question the cat; though they are not always right, cats are uncanny good at predicting the future. “And if I go?” she asked.

“There will be danger and peril aplenty,” the cat replied. It licked its paws and washed its whiskers before saying more. Then it gave Bethany a keen, sharp stare. “But. You will find that all adventures have that and though I cannot say you will survive to old age, you will live a very exciting life. Your only trouble will be knowing that there was the possibility of a life here that had not danger in it.”

Bethany frowned. “In both there is doubt, you say.”

“There is doubt in all life,” the cat replied. “All question, at times, what might have been. It is only a matter of which doubt you would rather have.”

“I do not mind children,” Bethany said quietly. “And to stay would be easier, for the wagon is well and truly planted. But Grandmother always said that inaction is easiest because it is lazy. Perhaps she did not mean me to remember it now, only when I did not do my chores, but now is when I am remembering it.”

“Ah, but there is no shame is a well lived life,” the cat pointed out to her. “And there is no inaction in raising children or keeping a man happy.”

“Only boredom,” Bethany said, realizing that she did not like the sound of that at all and not because she thought it a lesser life, but because her heart yearned to see what lay over the mountains, away from the village and the mountainside where every day was almost exactly like the last. Bethany was smart enough to see that, did she stay, she would not just wander. She would grow sour with her curiosity and resent all that held her from finding out. She would not mind the quiet if she had first seen the storm and might even, she thought, enjoy it. But to succumb to the silence without seeing what else there was felt like it would end in nothing but regret. Bethany smiled at the embers of her fire, for her mind was made up. “I suppose we had better go,” said she.


Feed The Author

The Coven

All material contained here is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.
Song Suggestion: After Hours by Nox Arcana


The Coven

Founded by Mesophistas after the death of Iviradelle’s last king. There is some evidence that the weavers had built this tyrannical council long before Mesophistas became it’s leader, but he was the one that gave it the first real power. The kings of Iviradelle have long been known to possess their own magic, but it is different from that of the weavers – stronger, or so the story goes. The first king of Iviradelle worked together with the weavers happily. He was, in the first days of the Silverlands as they are now, a powerful mage, cousin to the witch kings of Tyrth, who passed his magic to his children. The weavers were men of nature who learned of their magic from the king and gained control of it through his teachings.

No-one is sure when the relationship began to sour or why. Perhaps the weavers, beyond their grandfathers far enough that they did not remember what they owed the royal family, grew bitter to always be serving those who were rumored to not be wholly of the human race. Maybe it was because no matter how powerful they were, the royal family was always stronger and not limited; the weavers each were bound to their own element while the king and his children could control all the elements and beyond.

The Coven, made of thirteen men and led by Mesophistas, took Iviradell for themselves and the other weavers, using strange, foreign men they called the Enforcers as their brute strength. There is no knowledge outside The Coven and their weavers about the relationship here, how the deal was struck, or why these men would serve the Council when it is plain that the weavers cannot touch them with magic; it simply rolls off them.

Roughly ten years before the finding of the child of power, there was an uprising in Blossom Town. Though the Enforcers did not befriend the downtrodden folk of the city, they did turn on The Coven and drive them from it. The old castle there is empty, now, for the weavers lost the battle and the Enforcers that rose against them closed the gates against all but those bringing supplies.

This was only a small faction of the Enforcers, though, and the rebellion was focused solely on Blossom Town. It is believed that, if the child had been born elsewhere, it would quickly have been lost to The Coven for they certainly were hunting for it.

There are no women weavers. There were rumors that a girl might be born, now and then, with the nature powers, but this was denied by the first king. There was no reason to question him, for he was not a weaver himself, and he had made it clear that any who bore a daughter with the powers of a weaver be declared at the moment of her birth. There were tales that he did not like that there were no women among the weavers and those who were close to him wrote that he had often complained of this imbalance, for even the girls among the royals had their own gifts, though they tended to be less violent and combustive than those of their brothers.

Mesophistas, lord of the coven, stands at its head even today. Though his brutal takeover of Iviradelle occurred nearly a century before the finding of the child of power, he still lives. He has aged, so is not immortal, but has done so slowly. Some whisper that his wife, a woman so beautiful that she is rumored to be the child of a god, is a witch and that she has bent the natural laws for him. It is also said that it was she who had put him in power to begin with, for she is clever with poisons as well as magic and the king had no love for her.

Though every other woman in Iviradelle, be she noble or peasant, is treated like they are prized livestock at the very best, Lady Carmine is treated as a queen. Mesophistas seems almost to worship her, though he will bow to no man, and she treats everyone, even The Coven, as though they serve her. Any who have seen the weavers in her presence and have the bad sense to talk about it say that they almost seem to cower before her.

The Master of the Haunt – Final

All material contained here is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.
Song Suggestion: Dead Silence Theme (Intro) Luca Riviero



The next morning came and the queen caught the middle brother by the gate as he went out on the hunt. He did not wish to listen to her, but, as she was the only queen, he could not deny her. Her smile was sweet, yet his men did see it as sinister and shrank from her. “The bear you brought was larger still than I ever imagined,” said she. “Truly you must be a match for Arturus himself.” And then she gave him her wicked smile. Already he felt her foul magics twisting around his heart, but was helpless to stop her. “So I must assume that the snow white stag I have heard of wandering the forest wide must have escaped your bow by pity alone. Though I do hear tell he is larger, even, than the great oxen in the fields and swift as running water.”

“Aye,” the middle brother said. “He shines like the moon and it is said that to be touched by his many pointed antlers is to become more powerful in wealth and happiness than any other man alive.”

“Ah,” said the queen. “And yet those antlers do not hang upon your own walls. I must guess that you simply do not wish to outshine your brothers, for I fail to see how else the great hart could have escaped you.”

And she turned and walked away, her spell already well entrenched. The middle brother rode into the forest, inflamed again to the point of madness. He saw the white stag with its mate, a doe with the deepest, darkest pelt of black and stars in her soft eyes. He shot his first arrow and the stag was so swift, it evaded the arrow easily. The brother gave chase, his pride stinging worse than ever before. Over branch and bush, stream and meadow, the stag flew faster than a bird and the brother followed.Through the day, into the night, until, come the morning, the brother shot another of his arrows and missed again.

On they ran, through the forest the brother knew and into places he had never seen. Always the stag was ahead, guarding his mate from harm, yet never quite getting away. There are those that say he was not really trying to. The sun rose again, and the brother shot at the stag a third time. At last, his arrow struck true, piecing the beast’s fine hide just above his heart. Only, it was no more a stag, but the great huntsman himself, Arturus.

The god was furious. His rage was so plain that the middle brother fell to his knees and, raising his arms to the goddess now behind his lord, the lovely Lafflyn, and begged mercy, for he was at last free of the wicked spell which had driven him. The lady touched her husband’s arm, raised to aim his own bow, and the god did bend to the single finger she used to dissuade him, for always her will was his.

“Do not judge this man yourself, for I see that he is otherwise honorable. There is some wickedness at work, here, and it would not do to let it poison you as it has poisoned him. Call your niece and let her who may always see truth tell you what has gone on here.”

And, because Arturus honored his wife’s intelligence more when his own was tempered with fury, he did at once call for Sira, goddess of death and judgement, though most, including Arturus, did not like to ask for her. She came and Arturus did tell her the tale of the middle brother’s wickedness. Twice he had stuck down those who were not meant to die by any hand but one divine. A third time he rode out and sought to murder his own god, who had often favored him with grand gifts in the past.

Sira saw at once that the middle brother had been bewitched – for nothing may be hidden from Death. Still, she saw that the brother could have broken the enchantment, had he not let his pride overrule his sense. So she said to him, “you’ve let another guide your actions and lead you astray. The harm you have done the forest I might heal, for those souls were not yet meant to come to me.” She opened the doors of the underworld and released Father Pheasant and Mother Bear from her dark domain. “Yet your pride, now woken, I cannot take without also taking your life, which I see would do a great and lasting harm to your race. So you must either take my uncle’s punishment – your bow taken and your house cursed for all time – or you must take the punishment I offer. Your bow will not be yours in either case; you have dishonored it and now the blessings laid upon it by elvish will have turned to darkness. But there is a way to save those you will father. To save your descendants, you must serve my will as I choose.”

“Whatever order you give to me, I will take, that my blameless children will ever be unbroken by my foolishness,” the brother said and Sira saw that he had not entirely lost his honor to she who had cursed him.

“For six months, you will be free. Find a wife and give her a child to carry on your blood. Then, when the Grim Moon rises, you will mount your horse and you will hunt for me those of wicked, willful hearts who disobey the pronouncements of the gods. You will lead them every year in this way until the ending of time. Upon the hour that would have been your mortal death, you will take their lead instead and remain here, doing my will until the very end of time. You will vow to guard my fallen sister, for I see a great misfortune which will come to her. You and the men whose wicked hearts have made them yours will answer to her call alone. Should you ever fail, I will send your souls to the sleepless void and there you shall remain even when all others have been collected and forgiven by me. Succeed in keeping her safe and I will, in that final hour, forgive you all and send you to the lands of the undying.”

The middle brother trembled with terror, for this sentence seemed heavy for the two deaths that she had undone. But, far from the poison tongue of the wicked queen, he had the sense to know that this punishment was not for the evil she had healed, but that which he had not yet committed. And so he bowed to her. “Milady, I am yours to command.”

Sira took the hand of the middle brother and accepted his choice. Thus was he safe from the wicked queen, who had spoiled the Bow of the Righteous, but not the brother, so had only attained half her desires. And Sira, after this, did watch the queen, so you could say that she had gained one victory at the cost of being forever marked by the eyes of Death. This did not save Angboria, but it may have saved the race of humanity from true ruin. There is only one now that could tell that tale, besides Sira herself, and he keeps what he knows to himself.

The wicked queen still reigned a while yet, but when the moon rose, she and all others did lock themselves away, for Elphame, Sira’s beloved youngest sister, would sound her hunting horn and those the middle brother found out wandering did join him in serving his sentence, for he was Master of the Haunt, and her faithful servant. Still they guard her there, the last of the fairy queens, though Angboria fell to ruin and the wood the middle brother loved so well grew dark and full of evil things.


Feed the Dragons

Master of the Haunt – Three

All material contained here is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author

Song Suggestion: Gothic Mirror by Derek Fiechter & Brandon Fiechter



The next day, as he was riding out, the queen found him again. And though he wanted to turn her away, she was the queen and he could not. “Dearest brother,” she said to him. “I was wrong to question you about the pheasant, this is true. But, and do not mistake me, for surely you are the greatest hunter of all men, isn’t it true that there is a great, black bear in the woods, one so tall that she looks like a tree when she stands upon her hind paws and is still?”

“Aye,” said the middle brother and his distrust of her slipped away; the queen’s charms were so strong that some thought them magical and easily did she bend him to her will. “She is the mother of all the great bears and we cull only those which are smallest of her brood, yet their hide does keep us well warm in winter and their meat does keep us fed, even when all the other animals have gone to ground or left for warmer climes.”

“And yet she who would make blankets for all is spared.” The wicked queen gave him a sly look. “Surely it is your kind heart which would deny your people and not your courage which ought to be blamed, for you are chosen by Arturus to hunt whatever you please and have no need to fear any of the beasts which walk there.” And she turned and walked away.

Again, the middle brother’s pride was pricked and her poisoned darts did find their home in his heart. He rode forth and, without much thought, turned away toward the caverns beneath the cliffs in the south. Along the way, many bears fat with the summer’s feeding and wearing pelts of thick, sumptuous fur came across his path, but he ignored them; his desire was set for the largest of them all. At last he found the mother of bears, asleep in her den. Her coat was deepest, gleaming black, as thick and plush as velvet and as soft as down. Beneath it was enough meat for the royal court to go on feasting for a week.

The middle brother strung his bow and as he drew it, the wood did creak mightily. The mother of bears turned to look, for it woke her from her slumber, and the middle brother put his arrow in her eye. At once he did regret it, but what is done is done. He fell to his knees and prayed forgiveness from Arturus for his foolish strike. Then, because to leave the corpse behind to waste in rot would be further insult, he sent his huntsmen to carry her back to the castle for skinning and butchering.

Now the huntsmen were, as all men in those days, free men. They had no fear of speaking their minds, especially when they thought one of their brethren at risk from foul magics. So the middle brother’s huntmaster went to his king’s best friend, who kept a fourth of the weapons of fate, the Spear of Truth. The huntmaster told this man all that he had seen in the past two days and the words he had overheard the queen say to his king.

This good man did recognize a bewitchment was at work, for naught else would have convinced his friend to strike down such beloved creatures. So he went to his lady wife, who kept the Hammer of Justice – for she was general of the eldest brother’s army and near as wise as the youngest brother. She told her husband that they must take the bow from the middle brother, for the wicked queen was trying to spoil it with the murder of sacred beasts.

They made another bow, which looked exactly like the Bow of the Righteous, and the man went to visit his friend, the middle brother, who was drunk off honey mead; thoughts of what he had done weighed heavy upon him. His friend did swap the bows and, believing they would be saved by this, went home. But the wicked queen, through her dark talents, saw what had been done. She took the fake bow and went to find the friend. He was sleeping beside his wife, the Bow of the Righteous tucked safely into a chest. The queen easily opened it and switched the weapons again, returning the real bow to its master.


The Master of the Haunt – Two

All material contained here is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.

Song Suggestion:Gothic Moonlight by Brandon Fiechter



Before the Wicked Wood was wicked, there was a castle within its borders. And here lived the three kings of Angboria, who were loved by all their subjects. Prophesied to raise men to a divine status, they each carried one of the five weapons of fate. Though the Sword of Destiny is now the only one remembered by most, the others were no less powerful and one of these was the Bow of the Righteous. It would always strike true, when fired by one with a pure heart. The middle brother was strong, a hunter by nature, and he spent most of his days in the forest, preferring a roof of leaves to one of stone and tile and the company of beasts to that of humanity and it was to him that the bow had fallen.

The Bow of the Righteous was made by the elves like its brother, the Sword of Destiny, the two weapons of fate born in their hands. It was meant to echo the bow of Arturus, god of the hunt, and to this god did the middle brother pray before and after every hunt. It was said that Arturus did favor him, for always he found there was plenty of game for his arrows and the forest never failed to provide for his people, not even in the leanest of times.

Now, the youngest brother had no wife, for he was devoted to gathering knowledge and had no desire for a companion or the distraction of idle chatter. The middle brother had no wife because he was so often out hunting and had not looked for one. But the eldest brother had a wife so lovely that she shone like a star and all of them considered her queen. In fact, she was the daughter of a god and though she wore a lovely face, her heart was full of wicked, ugly thoughts.

One day, late in summer, a year after the eldest was married, when the light hung in green-gold veils, the queen caught the middle brother as he was leaving on a hunt. “Dearest brother,” she said to him with her most charming smile. “I have heard there is, within the forest, a pheasant of great size whose feathers are of purest gold. I come to ask you if that is true.”

“Indeed,” said the brother. “Father Pheasant lives deep in the darkest parts of the wood, but the shadows do not linger near him, for he is as bright as the sun.”

“Yet you, greatest of our hunters, had never brought him down?” the queen clucked her tongue. “My, but I was told you were blessed by Arturus himself.” And then she turned and walked away.

Perhaps her words would not have lingered, had she given the middle brother the chance to argue, but she did not and her tongue, like the snake’s, was full of venom that would work its way into the heart of a man, if it had enough time.

All of us, even the gods, have faults, for only one is perfect and all else is just a smaller, incomplete version of the Great Mother. The middle brother, though strong and kind, also had more than his fair share of pride. So when he rode into the forest that day, he went hunting for pheasant, but naught that came to him suited his mind and he turned toward the darkest parts of the forest. Many fat birds crossed him, each one more temping than the last, but the middle brother could only think of the golden pheasant. He was certain that he had been cheated, somehow, and questioned why he, greatest of all hunters and Arturus’ chosen one, had not been allowed to bring down the golden pheasant. When he saw the bird, shining in the darkness of the deepest wood, he drew his bow and shot it down.

Now did the barbed words of the queen leave him at last. He saw the magnificent bird lying dead and at once was sorry. He fell to his knees and begged pardon from Arturus, for her knew this creature belonged to the god of the hunt alone and was meant to breed the huge pheasants which filled the forest. He mourned his own foolishness; no more would the size or beauty of Father Pheasant grace these birds.

The middle brother took the bird home to his brothers, for he would not waste it, even in his shame. The royal court did feast upon it, but the middle brother would not touch it, for he was sick at heart over what he had done. He swore that he would never again let another drive his arrows and sat in the quiet dishonor he bestowed upon himself.