Scary Faery Tales 2

“The fairies went from the world, dears,

Because Men’s hearts grew cold:

Only the eyes of the young at heart

See what’s hidden from the old...

Ours is a realm just out of sight: another world, apart from yours; a land of shifting shadows...forgotten, now, save by those few brave souls who dare to dream Man’s mastery of this world is...incomplete. What fools you mortals be. Your kinsmen, though, they knew us of old...] ...knew it unwise to offend us by casting doubt on our strength, or to tempt our wrath by sharing our secrets...and our power. Sometimes, though, temptation can just be too much...and there are, they say, ‘soft-places’ where the magicks of our realm might be borrowed...or even stolen away.Patricia Brannigan, Queen Mab

Once upon a time, by the pass of Glenqueich, there was such a place. The Maiden’s Well, they called it. Some say it took its name from a poor lass bound in nearby Castle Campbell – Castle Gloom, as was – for the foul offence of loving a man below her station. An unsuitable suitor...or so her noble father thought. Often, in pity at his daughter’s woe, he’d grant the broken-hearted girl a boon – and let her walk to the well to drink it’s clear, crystal waters. One dark night – or so the legend tells - she slipped her jailor’s clutches...and cast herself into the well – her fair spirit rising to greet any bonny heartsick boy who passed that spot...ever hopeful of greeting her long lost love

Ranald, bold Chief of the Clan McCallum, he knew the truth of the Maiden’s Well – a secret passed down by the heirs of his noble blood. It was not the airy spirit of some silly girl who would dwel’t there, but a genie, a spirit – a beautiful maiden, aye, but no earth-bound wraith. She was a shape-changing Selkie – a guardian of that gateway between the worlds. On the day each heir to the Chiefdom became a man, ‘twas tradition that he stand vigil by the Maiden Well, to woo the spirit there, to beg her favour that she might honour him with strength and fortune in battle.

Ranald’s son, though – the brattish bully, Edwin – he craved more than that. When his time came he boasted he’d have more than favour...more than promises. He’d use sweet words to call her forth, as all his kinsmen had...then bind her to his will – and with her Faery power at his command, he’d have the kingdom, too.

“Come forth, sweet Selkie. Come to me!” the rascal gently called. And come she did: she rose as a thin vapour from the well, a wisp of shifting shadow - fleeting in the cold moonlight, forming the figure of the fairest maiden that bold boy had ever dream’d of. She reached out a gentle hand to him, and he, in turn, reached out to her..and grabbed her, tight. His warm fingers dug deeply into hers...and he lashed out with his other hand, spinning a thin, iron chain about their wrists and binding her to him – knowing that the Fair Folk have no defence ‘gainst aught fashioned from that metal. The spirit turned and twisted, but could not escape her bonds. “You’re mine!” the braggart boomed. “Aye, mine forevermore...for we shall never part, in this world...or the next!”

At this the Selkie simply smiled, and looked the bully in the eye. “As you wish!” is all she said. She coiled her free arm around his shoulders, held him to her comely form, and pressed her cold, cold lips to his. In an instant the brat found that he could not breathe. He reached for his blade, but found his arms trapped by his own iron chain.

An ancient ballad records his fate:

A chill crept Edwin’s bosom through,

He grasp’d his trusty brand;

But something on his shoulder laid

Witheld his manly hand.

Again he tried – his strength was gone –

A lifeless corpse he fell;

And with the victor spirit sunk

Down in the crystal well.

Bound together, for all time. In this world and the next. And the lesson of our tale? Be careful what you wish for!"

                            Monologue taken from Stirling GhostWalk 2012

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