Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Prince and the King

LLANWMOR was no more than a cluster of buildings upon the coast, but it did boast a mill. Twyla’s godmother told her once that somewhere, in a grand house, there was a king who wanted Llanwmor, and the countryside, and all the lands surrounding, but that a prince, in a house rather closer than the king’s and rather less grand, fought him fiercely for it. 
This scared Twyla, for she knew that should the king gain the upper hand, he would certainly come for her father’s mill at once, for kings (especially kings in grand houses) wanted grand things. And the mill, as she understood, was a very grand thing. Only a cathedral was better. 
When Twyla voiced this concern to her godmother, Elfthryth laughed, a laugh of the ocean and of weather, deep and vast, and a bit unpredictable. 
“You’ve nothing to fear, child. All this passed in the same year you were born. The very next year, they drew up a treaty.”  
“What’s a treaty?” 
“It’s a promise of peace. And to seal the promise, the king gave the prince the king’s own cousin as bride.” 
That was before Twyla nearly drowned. Before the king reneged on his treaty and killed the prince and took the land. Before Twyla knew that true tales don’t have neat, happy endings.

Don't forget, it's not too late to write something up for the Fourth Friday Fairy Tale Prompt; see you there!



  1. I love the name Elfthryth. And the Welshness. And the idea that a mill is almost as grand as a cathedral.

    And I'm intrigued to see how Twyla's near-drowning relates to the king's breaking of the treaty.

    Can't wait to read more!! :)

    1. Jenna, I am so happy you've caught onto the Welshness, and isn't Elfthryth a neat-o name? She was an English queen back in the days when England was all Anglo-Saxon, no Normans!

  2. I especially like the bit comparing a mill to a cathedral, which fits well within a child's image of the world. Also the way you describe Elfthryth's laugh - "a laugh of the ocean and of weather, deep and vast, and a bit unpredictable." Nice atmosphere developed here in the space of a few lines.

    I also like the quick turn these paragraphs make from everything seemingly working out nicely to everything looking like it's gone completely wrong.

    1. Oh, thank you for your kind, insightful words.

      I'm struggling with story chronology these days, and especially reading TBD has made me wonder how I want to present that in this story.

      For example, this excerpt actually comes after most of things mentioned have been well established, but it sounds like the beginning, doesn't it? I think I like the form of stories like Russian nesting dolls, but I'm not sure if it meshes with my philosophy (I hate deconstructionism!) and am not sure how to present it eloquently so that it doesn't dissolve into a schizophrenic narrative.

    2. (long and rambling but your comment got me thinking...)

      I know what you mean about the chronological challenge in nested stories. I think the familiar, linear form of them is less of a challenge than some of the innovations we might imagine. I'm no friend of deconstructionism as a philosophy either. In fact, after your comments about deconstructionism in TBD I revisited Chapter 3 and decided it was too early to have any self-conscious fictions discussing their angst.

      If anything in TBD I'm trying to carry something sincere and sublime through a framework we would see as a looming threat of absurdity: the awareness of fiction as fiction and the involvement of fiction in our own self-tellings. This is in part what the Leopard asks her hunters to bring back for her - a story that acknowledges the threat of irony and deconstructionism but pushes through to something beyond.

      Imagine a story that admits itself a fiction but then offers a counter proof, a narrative demonstration that fiction is the unique bearer of something too beautiful to speak of in another way. Aside from being entertaining and exploring story telling, this is the 'message' of TBD.

    3. I think that is an excellent message and so heartened to "hear" from the "mouth" of a fellow writer what I feel in my bones and sinews.

      I don't remember what about TBD reminded me of deconstructionism, but I don't think it was in the nullifying-meaning-is-useless kind of way, more in the fiction-aware-of-itself-as-fiction kind of way, which I like. As long as it pushes through to something beyond, as you said.

      But I am glad my innocent comments as an admiring reader help (I hope?).


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