A philosopher once asked, “are we human, because we gaze at the stars? Or do we gaze at the because we are human?”
“Do the stars gaze back?”
Now, that’s a question.
Stormhold was the great Kingdom that neighbored the English town of Wall, named so by the wall that separated the two lands.
Wall was what can be described as plain, and dull - a rather standard English town as of the year 1856.
But in Stormhold, there was no such thing as ordinary.
Every creature that lived on that side of the wall had a story. A storyteller, such as myself could go on for years about each little tale that took place within such a grand kingdom, but today, our story begins with a visitor to Stormhold.
Young Dunstan Thorn, had braved going through the wall, which served as a portal to the ancient kingdom, and had then decided on wandering through the diverse marketplace.
He saw many glorious things in the marketplace, thing that he had never before thought possible in his small life in Wall. Miniature elephants put on display, glass jars full of eyeballs that followed you as you walked by, sights and smells that tickled the senses.
But perhaps the most interesting and wonderful thing Dunstan saw that day, was a young maiden sitting alone on a bright yellow caravan.
He was jared from his thought by an older looking woman with flaming red hair, and somewhat of a bad temper, as it would seem.
“I don’t deal with time wasters.” She said grumpily, before turning to the woman Dunstan had been staring at. “Get over here and tend this stall. I’m off to The Slaughtered Prince for a pint.”
The hag of a woman sauntered off, and the beautiful maiden came to take her place, her movements soft and merry, nearly skipping as she made her way to Dunstan.
He stared at her for several moments, in awe of her beauty, before the maiden asked him. “See anything you like?”
“Definitely,” Dunstan said with a wide grin, causing the girl to laugh, before he shook himself, knowing he was being rather rude, and corrected. He looked down and realised they were selling glass flowers. “I mean, what I meant was... These ones, the blue ones. How much are they?”
The maiden sway, and bit her lip as if in deep thought. “They might be the color of your hair.” She said cheekily. “Or might be all of your memories before you were three. I can check if you like.”
The giggled together, never taking their eyes off one another.
“Anyway, you shouldn’t buy the bluebells.” She said dismissively. She looked down and picked up a beautiful white flower from the display and held it up for him. “Buy this one instead. Snowdrop. It’ll bring you luck.”
“But what does that cost?” Dunstan asked, leaning forward.
“This one,” the young maiden said slowly, “costs a kiss.”
He grinned, and the maiden leaned forward to place the flower in his coat pocket, before tapping her cheek in a teasing manner. Dunstan leaned forward to place a kiss on her cheek, when the maiden quickly turned to capture his lips in her own.
The kiss lasted longer than what Dunstan was expecting, and became deeper too. More needy. The pulled apart and laughed with one another once more.
“Is she gone?” The maiden asked. Dunstan turned to look, and indeed the red-headed hag was out of sight. “Follow me.”
She led him towards the yellow caravan, opening the door and and waved at him, inviting him inside. Dunstan glanced downwards as he walked toward her and noticed a silver chain on the ground, attached to the maiden’s ankle. He picked it up gently, and looked at her questioningly.
She looked at what he was holding and let out a deep breath. “I’m a princess, tricked into being a witch’s slave. Will you liberate me?”
Dunstan smiled and look out his pocket knife, swiftly cutting the chain, but the watched with wonder as it mended itself, leaving the maiden still chained to the caravan. They both sighed in disappointment.
“It’s an enchanted chain. I’ll only be free when she dies.” The maiden said, looking in the direction of the witch.
“Well,” Dunstan started questioningly, “If I can’t liberate you, what do you want of me?”
The maiden smiled and reached out her hand invitingly, and Dunstan finally understood, he followed her into the caravan, and the maiden closed the doors.
Dunstan returned that night to his home in england, hoping to forget his adventure soon, as he was heartbroken that the maiden could not come home with him, and he tried to settle on a nice young women from the village, but with no luck.
And nine months later, the old man who guarded the opening in the wall that led to storm hold came to visit Dunstan with a basket, containing a baby. Dunstan looked at the man in shock.
“It was addressed to you.” The guard said. “It says his name is Blaine.”
Dunstan silently took the basket from the old man, and looked down at the baby in wonder. He knew then that he would never love another women, not when the maiden in Stormhold had a part of his heart, and especially not when the rest of it belonged to his son.
Now I must tell you of a less happy tale, one that takes place back in Stormhold, tucked away in an abandoned castle at the bottom of a crater, three aging witches made their home.
Lamia, the oldest and the wisest, was somewhat of a leader to her sisters. When she was young, she had the most radiant yellow-blonde hair, and beautiful high cheekbones. She appraised herself in the mirror now, touching her wrinkled face and pulling at the skin in an effort to make herself look young again.
Her sisters, Mormo and Empusa, were lying asleep on the bed the three of them shared. Mormo was round and plump, with what was once stunning red hair that now sat in a sad, tangled mop on her head. Empusa preferred to keep most of her wispy, thin brown hair tucked away in a hat, that also helped hide her decrepit features.
Lamia turned back to her reflection and sneered in disgust.
She was nearing 1,200 years old. She and her sisters kept themselves alives by consuming the hearts of stars whenever they happened to fall to earth. The heart of a star could keep one alive for roughly 400 years and renew their youth. It was almost 400 years ago that the last star fell, and Lamia was impatient to become young and beautiful once more.
But she would wait, for her star to fall.
No star is safe in Stormhold.