Prequel novel rough draft, complete!

Draft started: May 8, 2019

Draft finished: May 6, 2020 (irony not intentional)

Word count: 70,776

Passes: Two passes on all but last chapter and epilogue, 3 (or more) passes on chapter 5. -.-

Mostly written in: May 2019 (30k, lots of uninterrupted time out in the boonies), November 2019 (retype/fix pass), January 2020 (finished retype in prep for forward progress), April 2020 (covid-19 shut-downs).

Working titles: “Aromantic Masquerade story” aka “aro masq,” or The Prince’s Masquerade.

Tentative “final” title: Fealty.

References to the story on social media:

 

 


House-warming gifts :)

I have some really good news!  Today is the day I move in to a new apartment.

This year has been extremely surreal. Aside from the pandemic which is surreality in itself, (yes, that’s now a word), this year so far I have

  • healed enough to accept a full-time work position
  • been hired full-time as a librarian’s minion
  • found a one-bedroom apartment and am finally moving out of living in other people’s homes

I have been disabled for ten years. I’ve been living in other people’s homes–either with relatives or via pet/housesitting–for all of that time.¬† But today is the day that changes. I am so excited.

To celebrate, I am giving away a free party-favor. Fairer will be free through this Friday.

Since I can’t actually hold a house-warming party, please enjoy a lovely reading session curled up in your favorite reading spot, sipping your favorite beverage.

If you would like to give a house-warming gift in return, I would love it.  After unwrapping gifts, we could sit at my low table on pillows and play card games and enjoy whimsical conversations full of folklore and our favorite books and writers.  What are you reading now? Have you watched The Mandalorian?

I’ll admit, the first two proper pieces of furniture I bought for my new apartment are a writing desk and chair. I can’t wait to assemble them and start using them! It will be great to have a workspace all my own again. ūüôā

See you around!

-Laura


2019 in review

In 2019,

 

This year’s new release:

Fairer_smaller2


“The Wondrous Scarab,” an Alsatian folktale

Strangely enough, I’ve encountered many Alsatian folktales about scarab beetles. I say strange, because when I think of scarab beetles I immediately picture Ancient Egypt, but here we are instead in the liminal forests between France and Germany, encountering many forms of wondrous scarabs1. This particular folktale is pulled from the collection R√©vue des traditions populaires. 1901.


A foreign knight left the monastery of Murbach one day, garbed in the robes of pilgrimage. He passed through the valley and, in order to expiate his sins, went in search of other prayers.

He arrived on the hill where later the village of B√ľhl would be built, and weary from his journey on foot, reclined beneath a linden tree to rest. He fell asleep, and when he awoke near evening, he perceived an exquisite fragrance. The scent was emanating from an unknown species of scarab clinging to the stem of a flower. Examining it more closely, he discovered that the insect bore, beneath its closed fore-wings, the image of a black cross.

He saw it as a sign from heaven2 and swore an oath to construct a little chapel on this very spot. He kept his word and erected the church of B√ľhl3 surrounded by a cemetery, from where one can behold the whole valley and the plain up to the Rhine and the Black Forest.


1. One of the first Alsatian scarab folktales I encountered featured golden scarabs, or scarab beetles turning into living gold. Such a wondrous image was entirely folkloric, I thought, until I saw this tweet showing off the species chrysina resplendens found in Costa Rica.‚Ü©

2. I really enjoy tales where the pattern of religious–in this case Catholic–legends intersects with faerie and folkloric themes. For example, a righteous man encounters a sign then builds a church on that very location is a fairly common story behind many churches scattered throughout Europe. A traveler encountering a wondrous creature that asks him for something or that changes his perspective is just as common in faerie folklore. And so here we have the tale of “traveler encounters wondrous scarab” intersecting with “man searching for greater holiness finds what he seeks.” It’s like an early “cross-genre” tale.‚Ü©

3. According to wikipedia and B√ľhl’s own website, the medieval town’s earliest church was actually built starting in 1514. That century to me doesn’t invoke the image of a knight on pilgrimage and feels a couple hundred years too late. Is this an instance of a 19th Century tale mistaking the dates of a historic location? That has certainly happened before. Or is this seeming discrepancy due to Alsatians not knowing as much about the German town of B√ľhl as they thought? (Strasbourg and B√ľhl share a historic connection through a feud in the 14th Century). ‚Ü©


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my further translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The Astronomical Clock of Strasbourg Cathedral”

I translated this particular version of the tale from¬†R√©cits historiques et l√©gendaires d’Alsace, collected by Robert Wolf. 1922.


For a long time the Strasbourg Cathedral clock remained unfinished. The master who had invented it had died without finding anyone capable of finishing his work.

At last a foreign master craftsman who promised he could finish the work arrived in Strasbourg. He completed the masterpiece, far surpassing all hope for it. One day, at noon, he presented the moving clock to the astonished gathering of people. The bells tolled and Death indicated the hours. The apostles passed before the Savior, bowing before him. The two lions that held the city’s coat of arms began to roar. It was a festive and joyful day for all the city.1

With the work completed, the young artist desired to take his leave, but the council of the city’s municipal officers did not consent. They feared the artist would create a similar masterpiece in another city, and they desired to be the only ones to possess such a marvel. Therefore, they had the artist’s eyes blotted out.

But soon the city was punished for this cruelty. The blind artist became weaker and sicker from day to day, and the clock itself no longer worked with precision. When the master died, it stopped entirely. (1) Later, another artist, Schwilgué, succeeded in restarting the clock in 1842.

~

(1) In truth, the clock built under the direction of Dasypodius, a strasbourgeois mathematician, and that of the brothers Isaac and Josias Habrecht of Schaffhouse, stopped working in 1789.2


1. If you would like to see the astronomical clock’s various parts and figures,¬†this page has a great collection of photos of the current version of the clock.¬†‚Ü©

2. The famous astronomical clock of the Strasbourg Notre Dame Cathedral has been built several times throughout history. The first clock was built of wood in the 1350s. The second, started in 1547 by the mathematicians Chretien Herlin, Michel Heer, and Nicolas Briiker, was interrupted by the death of Herlin and not finished until 1574 by Dasypodius and the Habrecht brothers Isaac and Josias. While work on the clock was still in progress, Josias was called away by the officials of Cologne to build the clock of Kaiserswerth castle. He was also unable to return, due to the illness and subsequent blindness of his sister. Grandidier proposes that this is one of the keys to the creation of the legend surrounding the clock.

Once again the clock stopped working, this time in 1789 in the midst of the French Revolution, a time of great turmoil for the city. Although the young Schwilgué was but a boy of twelve at the time, he determined to be the one to bring the clock back to life. He grew up to make his dream come true, finishing a complete overhaul of the clock and its figures in 1842.

The Astronomical Clock of Strasbourg Cathedral was once counted as¬†“one of the seven marvels of Germany.”¬†Over the centuries, it has collected quite a number of legends, including the assertion that its creator was none other than¬†Copernicus himself. Most of the legends surrounding it, however, deal with ablind mathematician. Either the mathematician becomes old and blind, thereby unable to express to others the true workings of the clock; the clock itself refuses to be touched by any other hand but its master’s; the city municipal council blinds him and the city is cursed by a clock that refuses to work for cruel masters; or else the blind mathematician takes revenge on those who destroyed his eyes by asking to visit his clock one last time, and, plunging his hand into its gears, withdraws a critical piece.‚Ü©


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my future translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The Enchanted Armies of Ochsenfeld,” an Alsatian folktale

(Originally posted February 2018)

I translated this particular version of the tale from¬†R√©cits historiques et l√©gendaires d’Alsace, collected by Robert Wolf. 1922.


Not far from Cernay lies a great, desolate plain called the Ochsenfeld1 cattlefield. There, come evening, a faint clatter of weapons can often be heard. It is here that the armies of the infamous sons of Louis the Debonair who betrayed their father on this land in 8332are enchanted and imprisoned in immense subterranean caverns. Travelers out too late must often submit, until they reach the lands of Cernay and of Thann, to the worrisome company of warriors outfitted in a heavy cuirass.

One day, as a countryman was passing by the field, a warrior suddenly emerged from the earth and announced the era when he and his comrades would be delivered from the spell pronounced against them. Then, just as suddenly, he disappeared. In the Middle Ages, the entire army was also sometimes seen passing through the air, especially during a full moon3.


1. German for “cattlefield” due to its purpose back in the Middle Ages, Ochsenfeld has persisted as¬†the name of the plain between Thann and Mulhouse. It’s a place rich with history and old battles.‚Ü©

2. Here comes a brief history lesson. Once upon a time, an Emperor named Louis the Debonaire, or Louis the Pious, had three grown sons–Lothaire, Pepin, and Louis–and laws of inheritance already spelled out. Then he remarried and had a fourth son, Charles, and was so taken with him, he decided to give him an inheritance of his own, including¬†Alemannia, of which Alsace was a part. Now, this Emperor’s eldest son, Lothaire, did not like the idea of inheriting less, and so he went to war against his father, persuading his brothers to join him.
The Field of Lies, also called the Field of Blood, was the legendary location (now disputed) where the Emperor’s own army and other allies, one by one, were persuaded to give him up to his sons and their armies. In other words, there was a lot of betrayal going on. Sons against their father, armies against their emperor, the pope against his ally, and so on and so forth.‚Ü©

3. I find this tale similar to tales of the Wild Hunt, in which an army of the ghostly dead rises to ride during thunderstorms or during the full moon, led by Odin or Wodan or another powerful figure.
This tale also reminds me of a less kind version of the tale of King Arthur and his sleeping armies, waiting to rise in a time of need as Britain’s “once and future king.”
Another version of this tale of the sleeping warriors at Ochsenfeld says that the warriors asleep beneath the plain did not belong to Lothaire and the other traitorous sons of the emperor but to Charles, the last-born and promised king of this region. In that version, warriors who die are said to join the sleeping army, waiting to rise again not from a curse of shame or guilt, but as an honor for those good men who die in battle. These are called the Ochsenfeldritter in German, and the knights of the Ochsenfeld, in French.↩


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my future translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“Tales of Christmas Horror from Illzach, France”

‘Twas the Wednesday before Christmas….

(Originally posted to Patreon as a Christmas special for my patrons, 2018)

From Illzach: The Beast of the Wednesday Before Christmas (oral tradition, recorded in the Revue des traditions populaires, 1901)

This phantom animal is the size of a year-old calf; its eyes glow like lightning and are as big as window panes. The creature arrives the Wednesday before Christmas to call out to its chosen victims by their names. ¬†Anyone who answers the monster’s call falls under its power and is immediately overcome. Its victims are usually the children born in this generation; at night it compels them to make a great racket so their parents no longer love them. These children are then in constant liaison with infernal spirits, and it is a sorrow for no one when–as is very often the case–they die prematurely.

This monster, as well as the vampire specter and the phantom donkey of Illzach, are local ghosts.  It is especially at the approach of the Advent and Christmas that their power comes into its own.

The Donkey of the Village (oral tradition,  recorded in the Revue des traditions populaires, 1901 )

One night an inhabitant of Illzach was passing by the church with his young son. ¬†Suddenly the child, whom he held by the hand, became anxious and turned his head away from the shadow cast by a neighboring house. ¬†“What’s wrong with you?” demanded the father. “Keep walking!”

The child began to shriek, “Father, don’t you see the tall man on the village donkey’s back? He’s coming closer–he’s grabbing my hand!”

“Foolishness!” said the father. “I don’t see anything; let’s go, it’s late.”

He pulled his son to the side, but the child became still more anxious, and clutching his father’s leg, exclaimed, “Both of you let me go! Let go of my arm!” ¬†The father, although he did not see what was distressing his son, began to tremble. ¬†He took his son in his arms and ran home where the child remained bedridden for several days with a high fever.


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my future translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The Silver Rose,” an Alsatian folktale

(Originally posted in the Folktales’ section of the little translator website, June 30, 2016)

I translated this particular French version of the tale from the Castles of France website, and this version has been frequently posted in other folktale centers around the Internet. Other versions were collected by or referenced to Auguste Stoeber, either in the Revue d’Alsace (1851) or Die Sagen des Elsasses nach Volksuberlieferung, gedruckten und handschriftlichen Quellen gesammelt und erlautert, mit einer Sagenkarte. (1852)


In the heart of the Vosges mountains of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, there lived an entire nation of dwarves. These dwarves had built a subterranean city of shining beauty.

This city of crystal and silver was a permanent Gate between the two worlds. The dwarves dug into the earth and shadowed the men from whom they learned the arts of mining, of the forge, of gold and silversmithing.

But despite the good relations between humans and dwarves, skepticism and wariness began to increase in the hearts of man. Disputes, conflicts, and jealousies multiplied.

Then, it happened one day that the King of the Silberzwergen1 came up out of the mountain to contemplate the moonlight of the world of men. Near a stream, he saw a young woman who was the daughter of a rich miner and who had just departed from the cloister where nuns had raised her.

The young damsel was radiantly beautiful, and the king fell desperately2 in love. He revealed himself to her in order to confess to her his love, but she was frightened by the sight of this small, ill-formed creature, believing she had before her one of the demons the good sisters had spoken of. She fled without saying a word.

The King of the Dwarves was seized with a great passion for the damsel. He made a thousand attempts to seduce3 her, showering her with magnificent gifts. But she, terrified, always fled.

Mad with love, the King of the Dwarves no longer knew what to do. In the end, he offered the young woman the most wondrous treasure in his possession: the Silver Rose. It was the only one of its kind and held great power, crafted by the Ancients and the Goddess of the Moon. The Rose rested at the heart of the underground city, and it was the Rose that bound the two worlds permanently together by way of its magic.

But once again the young girl refused the dwarf’s advances. She fled, shouting hurtful words to the king as he held out the Rose to her in a gesture of supplication. As she ran, she had a terrible accident: she tripped on a root of a tree in the darkness of the night and fell into a river. Not knowing how to swim, she drowned.

The king of the dwarves felt an immense sadness after having learned of the young girl’s drowning. He returned to his mountain home and had all the mine’s tunnels collapsed behind him. As for his magical powers, the miners of the Valley of Sainte-Marie-aux-mines were no longer able to discover the veins of gold or silver flowing within the mountain. The King, still unhappy, took the magic Rose and departed for lands far away, in the regions to the east of the Waldwelt woods.

This unfortunate event had immense repercussions within the Waldwelt: upon learning what happened, its inhabitants felt it was no longer possible to maintain relations with humans if humans would only flee. Everywhere, faeries, elves, dwarves, and lutins4 disappeared little by little, leaving only a variety of legends and tales behind them.

As for the king of the Dwarves, he returned to his native land, in the mountains which arose at the castle of the Unicorn and the Forest of Shadows. There, he made a gift of this Rose to the Unicorn’s Lady, and this queen of the Elves accepted the guardianship of the treasure and cast it into the deepest well of her domain. The unhappy dwarf left to return to his dear mountains and died of grief….


1. German for “silver dwarves.”‚Ü©

2. The word in French is “√©perdument” which is most often used in the context of love, as opposed to translation of “desperately” which can be used in many contexts. But this is a love that’s consuming, violent in its power and force, and may lead to destruction.‚Ü©

3. The French word “s√©duire” (seduce) didn’t gain a positive subtext (“entice”) until the late 18th century. If this tale were recorded as a 17th century fairy tale, I’d automatically assume, from this word, that the dwarf king’s intentions were less than noble. But instead all known recordings of this tale date from the 19th century, leaving us with the question: did the dwarf king only mean to entice her, win her over with his gifts? Did she run solely because she was afraid of how he looked?‚Ü©

4. Lutins are a French kind of hobgoblin.‚Ü©


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my further translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The White Lady of KŇďpfle Hill”

(Posted to the site February 2016)

Translated from the folktale “LA DAME BLANCHE DU KŇíPFLE” collected by the Alsatian folklorist Auguste Stoeber, translated into French by Ren√© Sti√©bel and published in Revue des traditions populaires, volume 16 in 1901.

Between Didenheim and Zillisheim is a hill, belonging to this last town, called KŇďpfle. A white lady is often seen there at noon carrying a set of keys. She seems to smile, and often she descends to the bank of the Ill near the Bisz watermill; there, she washes her face and her hair. Soon she returns, and one can hear her weeping until she disappears over the hill.

At night on this same hill, great blue wandering flames can sometimes be seen. The whole village believes the white lady guards a hidden treasure. People have sought it in vain. During the winter of 1849 a local left on this quest after saying Saint Christopher’s prayer1. He saw an apparition that he couldn’t describe. Then he returned home, sick with fear, and remained ill for a long time.


1. Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. One of the traditional prayers is as follows:

Dear Saint Christopher,
protect me today
in all my travels
along the road’s way.
Give your warning sign
if danger is near
so that I may stop
while the path is clear.
Be at my window
and direct me through
when the vision blurs
From out of the blue.
Carry me safely
to my destined place,
like you carried Christ
in your close embrace.
Amen.
Sources: Prayer to Saint Christopher, Prayer to St. Christopher While Traveling‚Ü©


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my further translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.


“The Faerie’s Gift of Tears”

(Originally posted 2015)

“La f√©e des larmes” (“The Faerie of Tears”) is an Alsatian folktale with French subtitles provided free-to-view by Espace ressources S√†mmle, an organization for the preservation of Alsatian culture. Their description of the tale is as follows, translated: The faerie of tears is a tale of the fantastic which takes place in the breathtaking vistas of Wormsa Valley and of Fischboedle lake on the slopes of Munster. This legend comes from the locals’ imagination and is told in Alsatian by G√©rard Leser.

***

Once, in a time far distant–a long time ago, as the elderly say–a young peasant couple left Metzeral. They were seeking a Markairie, or a thatched cottage and mountain pasture where they could raise a herd, make cooked cheese, and build a new life for themselves. After a long search, they found the Markairie of Montabey not far from Hohneck.

Several months later, one Sunday a child was born, and they called her Gredala. And like all children born on Sunday, Gredala could see the world of spirits.

A week after her birth, she was baptized in the little chapel of Le Valtin-Mortz. Her parents rejoiced, all their friends were there, and, after the baptism, they all went to Hohneck together.

How surprised they were on their return to the Markairie! Three splendid ladies stood waiting, three beautiful women. They were the Faeries of Hohneck.

The first was the Faerie of beauty, of flowers, and of plants: the faerie Aligère. The second Faerie was she of the treasures of the earth, of rocks, of nature. She was the faerie Aurigère.

Beauty and riches are two considerable gifts.

The third Faerie wore a resplendent blue cloak. She was the faerie Turquoise, the Faerie of springs, of lakes, and of mountain streams that sometimes burble and laugh in the summer. She wanted to bestow the gift of tears on this little girl. But her parents did not accept it. They did not want their little girl to cry unceasingly. But the Faerie knew that since her parents had refused this gift, that later in her life Gredala would often be sad.

When she was grown, once a week Gredala would travel with her young donkey from Hohneck to Metzeral. At the market, she would buy what they needed back at the Markairie. One fine day, she heard a noise in the forest. A handsome man on a white horse emerged from the trees. He was entirely overcome by her beauty. He was the knight Gontram de Giersberg.

The knight fell body and soul in love with Gredala. And afterwards they had–as you can imagine–a grand and beautiful wedding, a wedding such as never before been had in the valley. People spoke of it often during the long winters that followed….

But a little later, just after the marriage, everything went wrong between them, nothing worked anymore. She simply did not know how to show her love to her husband. He left more and more often to go hunting or to pay a visit to other aristocrats, and she stayed behind, alone at the castle, melancholy and despairing. The fountain of her tears was trapped inside her heart. She did not know how to express her pain, how to show her love.

Gredala could not take it anymore.

She left the castle.

Her heart is full of pain; her heart is heavy.

And slowly she makes her way back to Wormsa Valley, a valley she is well acquainted with. Step by step, she directs herself towards Fischboedle lake. There, a storm is raging. The storm reflects everything inside her. Her whole heart is full of storms, but she does not know how to express it.

The storm becomes more and more powerful and violent. Wind, forest, and mountain are all allied in expressing her suffering. Her pace accelerates. Already she has reached the foot of the fir tree at Fischboedle. She feels the call of the watery deep. She stands at the edge of the lake. The water attracts her more and more. She would like so much to forget all her pain and suffering. The water’s depths hold only peace and silence.

She makes her decision, and already the water reaches her chest.

And suddenly she hears her name called twice. And from the depths of the water emerges the third of the Faeries.

The Faerie gives her a gift of tears, the gift that her parents had not accepted when she was a little child.

Quickly, Gredala returns to her husband’s castle at the other end of the valley.

The path she walks gleams softly. All the tears that she shed on the shore of Fischboedle have now become pearls, each more beautiful than the last. At last she has found peace in her heart and in her soul.

Returned to the castle, Gredala sat in her bedchamber. With great pleasure she made a necklace out of her tears, out of those pearls, those radiant pearls, a necklace of unrivaled beauty. When the necklace was finished, she fastened it around her neck. She glowed with beauty and with love, because this time her beauty came from the heart.

A little while later, her husband returned from his trip. How surprised he was to see how his wife had transformed! And Gredala told him everything, how the third Faerie had given her the gift of tears.

One thing is certain, beauty and riches are nothing without the illumination of the heart.


My goal with this translation was to stay as close to the conversational style he uses as possible, including leaving in extra conjunctions, breaking paragraphs in places that he pauses, and maintaining his dramatic use of present tense in the middle of the tale.

 


 

If you’ve enjoyed this series of folklore translations and would like to support my further translation endeavors, please feel free to support my work on Patreon.