What is so special about fairy tales? Is the mystical places “you can be” while you are in the comfort of your bed with someone you care? Or maybe is how easy you can escape a grim night to a distant place and time and enjoy the adventures of others?
Until now I have not been able to know why I have been a little addicted to tell, to create or narrate stories in the form of fairy tales to others. Maybe is the fact that it sounds so much interesting if you add a dragon in the conflict between adventurers/friends, it may sounds more appealing when you tell how you started trusting again with the tale of a singular little witch trying to keep a little boy away from a troll with a toothache (this is an actual tale), or how a brave princess could fix a little robot with an electronic problem (this being a history on what is to fall in love again after you have been completely broken). It may be because you can always mix true stories and some crazy ideas that are only alive in my imagination. Or it could be because I just grew up in an era where my grandma will tell old tales over and over again and she would be very happy when I tell her my own ideas back on how they should have ended. Who knows?
And here I am, on a new city for me getting ready to go to Ecuador in a few hours, and while the winter in Boston is quite cold I can only imagine a small storyteller packing some parchment, ink and quills. Shaking a little bit before stepping outside and trying to fight one of the hardest obstacles he has ever faced. One that has been foretold to be impossible to win… But let’s see what happens, most of the times I have failed/being crushed/or betrayed in my life I do feel I have become a little stronger after learning from that (some extra EXP if you may), after all failing is sometimes the best thing that could ever happen to you.
The storyteller and the golden apple
Long time ago, in a far, far away kingdom one of the most beloved and wise kings they ever had gave a very special present to all his subjects, a magic apple tree. This tree would give a golden apple once a year that will grant wisdom and health to anyone that was brave enough to climb to the top of it. During many centuries many brave knights, wizards and even common-folk would take a trip to the castle of the king and try to reach for the apple. Many were successful and were able to fulfill their lifelong ambitions. It became a trial that will not only provide with the health and wisdom but also with a special adventure for everyone that would take a chance.
But then a dark period in time started, an evil figure appeared and slowly it poisoned the mind of the people to impede others for reaching for the apple. The envy and greed made impossible to reach the tree because of the fights between common folk but also it was said that the evil wizard chained a giant to the base of the tree to keep away anyone that could have been able to reach the tree. The difficulty of getting the golden apple went from hard to impossible.
And after all this the kingdom was consumed slowly. Becoming just a tale in the lips of wanderers.
Many winters later a small storyteller was coming back to his home; he had spent many years away travelling distant nations and continents but he knew he had to go back when he got a letter from her family with some dark news.
Travelling in winter was never easy but he enjoyed the inns and the opportunities to share some tales he wrote and aw, to hear some new stories and help if needed be. Here is where he would learn about the golden apple tree.
While he was walking over a snowy road he would hear a farmer curse all the saints that he knew (and even more than the storyteller ever new that existed) After helping to get the carriage out of a muddy road the farmer would thank him and advise to avoid the next road, telling him about the story of the wise king, the special apple and now the darkness that have descended among the few locals that still lived there.
It could have been wise for our little storyteller to keep walking on the main road but he froze when he heard about the special healing properties for the golden apple. He needed it, not for him but his family. It was a dark road, old and abandoned, but the scary part wasn’t walking alone. The scary part is that he knew that the snow was going to keep falling and that this road was not going to be easy at all.
So he started walking through the mud and snow, watching the old swords and shields left by past battles, feeling the memories of the confrontations among men and wizards marked in the stones and trees. Maybe the snow and winter wasn’t the scariest thing about this trip, it was realizing how much evil can reside inside others humans.
The morning helped him to shake some of the fears he had, the landscape was wild and empty but at the end of the forest there was an inn and a small chapel next to it. He put all his energy in order to reach somewhere warm. The inn was almost empty, one soldier was drinking in one corner and the owner was behind the bar trying to fix and old clock, she shook her head and started talking to him.
– May I help you? And if so, my first advice would be for you to go back home wanderer- said the owner without looking at the storyteller
– I just need a place to rest and get some food, I promise I will not take too long – the storyteller said with a shy smile in his face
– I will never deny a place to rest or food but I have warned you, this land only brings bad news to everyone – concluded the owner while she walked the storyteller to his room.
That night he shared some tales about nearby kingdoms, after a few hours he saw the first smile came out of the mouth of the owner. She was a completely different person when she smiled, so was her voice, she told him about the evil shadow that casted this darkness among them, who chained the giant to the tree. She did warned him again about the trip but he knew he couldn’t back down.
With a sad smile this time the owner said goodbye to him, as he covered his head and headed out again. But this time he wasn’t alone, a shadow was following him.
The storyteller started using his tales to keep his mind busy, to remember warmer times and do not focus on all the despair in this land. Too many battles, too many bones, too much destruction to keep things under control. But this helped, at least until he heard a scream from behind. The shadow, no.. The soldier was laying on his knees hiding his face behind his hands. Below him a small shield, under that a helmet and s skull.
– This was my brother, this was my little brother…. WHY? I came here to find a cure for him.. WHY DID HE HAD TO FOLLOW ME?
The storyteller didn’t know what to say… he took some steps forward and placed his hand on the soldier’s back and said:
– Let me help you move him to a proper place –
They worded all day long digging a small grave, finding rock to cover him and to mourn in silence him and all the other souls that didn’t make it.
The next day the soldier woke up the wanderer, gave him his map and told him:
– You will make it, you seem to have all what is needed now. Thanks – and he started walking back.
The map helped him to cross around a hidden bridge, to find clean water next to an empty town and at the end of it there was a small note next to the drawing of the apple tree:
<< Do not fight with him, outsmart him>>
As he was getting closer to the castle his feelings became a little bit darker, the loneliness started bringing crawling into him but the hope of helping his family was brighter than all these things. He kept walking forward.
And there he was, a huge sleeping giant. A body made by muscles, 5 times the size of the storyteller and with arms and trees that only could be described by its resemblance to barrels. At least something was clear, fighting was not an option.
He spent a whole day watching, analyzing (overthinking if you may say) but finally he came with a plan. The little storyteller waited for the night to arrive, against any logic he started a fire and waited for the giant to see it. As soon as this happened the giant stood up, started walking towards it, saw the hat and the jacket hiding behind a bush and in one violent motion he squashed it with his hand.
And then a loud scream: HEY!!! I’m over here.
The storyteller was on the other side of the tree, shaking a torch and calling the giant. The reactions were repeated, the giant started running toward the fire, tried to find the storyteller and started smashing anything close to where he saw it. The storyteller would appear again on the other side and repeat this again and again until….
The chain that was around the giant neck had surrounded the tree... he could barely move. As soon as the storyteller saw this he ran towards the opposite part of the tree and started climbing, agile, fearless or at least with a strong determination. The road towards the end was difficult but as soon as he started climbing to the top and the branches started becoming smaller he saw the light of a new day. And there it was, the golden apple! He climbed a few more meters, a little bit more to put his hands around it. So close. He got it!!
But… There was someone else on the top, waiting for him. The dark wizard, the dark shadow that have been waiting for someone to defeat the giant. It was one motion, a push and the storyteller started falling. He wanted to scream, he wanted to live, he wanted to see his family again… But there was no escape.
With some tears in his eyes he brought the apple to his lips and bite it. Everything became slower. A white flash. He opened his eyes again and there he was… On the dirty road hearing the farmer for the first time. He blinked again, was this a dream?? No.. It couldn’t be, he had a golden apple on his hand.
The story repeated itself, the warning, the tale but this time the storyteller did walk back. He understood that even if some challenges could be overcome the prize to it was too high.
He walked back home, arriving for the last night where his grandparents were alive. They smile at him, he cried because he failed, because he ate the apple and he couldn’t safe them. They kept smiling and said: Seeing you here is more important than anything else. Don’t mind if you fail in something, because even if you did we have you here and that is the most important thing we have.
After that it was said the storyteller shared his tale with other and after many attempts the giant was defeated, the kingdom was restored and the quest for the apple became part of the tales again. No one else saw the shadow again, not at least when people realize there was nothing wrong if they fail because there was always another chance to try.