Fairies Tales

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Raven's Shire Fairies Tales
Hawthorn Tree Trains a Cunning

Aileana chopped the turnip with a sharp thunk of her knife and a bird chirped shrilly seeming to echo the sound. Again the girl chopped the turnip and again the bird sounded shrilly causing her to clench her teeth, annoyed that the bird seemed to be mocking her. Aileana paused waiting for a silent moment to see if the bird would chirp again on its own, but it remained as quiet as she did. Then a third time Aileana chopped the turnip and a third time the bird chirped shrilly echoing her knife. The girl closed her eyes and cursed the bird and the menial tasks she was left to do day after day.
Realizing the time, she chopped faster and the bird kept time with her as she worked to finish the soup before the twelve men she worked for came home.
Aileana was trapped, as trapped as anyone could be. It seemed as soon as she’d finished setting out the plates for the men, the food had been eaten and it was time to clean. While she cleaned the men told tales to pass their time. The tales that only served to make her dream fitfully in her sleep, a dream that was always interrupted all too early by the cock’s crow. Groggily, Aileana awoke dreading the day as she went to work once more.
When evening came and the shadows grew long she cut the turnips again and a dog barked as if echoing and mocking each slice, setting her teeth on edge. Once more the twelve men ate so fast she didn’t have time to sit. Once more she cleaned as they told tales that entered her dreams yet again. Once again the cock interrupted her dream far too early. She awoke so tired she felt ill and nearly collapsed as she cut the turnips as she had hundreds of times before. This time a girl Aileana didn’t know seemed to giggle, just outside the house, in time to Aileana’s chopping. The girl who sat happily with her lover and the two of them seemed mock Aileana’s loneliness. Then the men came home and Aileana longed to sit and share stories, but instead she found herself cleaning once more.
When at last everyone was gone to bed she stepped outside into the cold night too tired to sleep, she walked to the edge of the village. She continued on to the edge of the fields. Walking on, as if stepping into a requiem, she at last entered the very edge of the forest. Her heart was racing with an anxious fearful thrill as she approached the dangerous fairies nighttime abode.

The Hawthorn Tree felt Aileana’s heart racing as she passed under his branches. He watched her walking gracefully as a ghost in the moonlight, dressed in light linens as if she were still dreaming. The sight caused his branches to quake with interest. So he sent his spirit out of the tree in the form of a man and approached her gently as a man. After introducing themselves they spoke of the stories she’d heard and the dreams she had and as they spoke he told her new stories and gave her another dream. Then the cock crowed far too early and the Hawthorn Tree’s had to flee back to the tree leaving the girl to return home.
Despite not sleeping she felt well rested and went through the day as if in a cloud.
She returned the next night to the Hawthorn Tree and once more the Hawthorn Tree came out to speak to her. This time he told her of more stories and her heart ached for want of a story of her own, so he got ready to share with her a secret but the cock crowed far too early and once more he had to flee.
The third night the moonlight danced and the shadows sang their eternal songs as Aileana returned to the tree. When she got there the Hawthorn Tree rested his head in her lap. As he lay down he accidentally nicked her with a thorn so that a drop of her bright red blood fell upon one of his white blossoms. “How I wish for a child as red as this blood and as white as my flowers,” he told her.
Before dawn approached the Hawthorn Tree shared with her the secret of how to call a shee, a fairy to help her with her cooking and cleaning so that Aileana could rest during the day. Once more the cock crowed and the tree spirit fled back inside itself leaving her to return home.
That day she slept from the time the sun peaked above the top of the castle to the time it had reached the rocks rising from the sea. Yet when she awoke the house was clean and dinner was ready. The food smelled better than any food she’d ever eaten and the men spent so much time complimenting her as a genius in preparing it that she had time to sit and eat and tell stories with them at last.