This is the sixth in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.
Twice Blessed, Twice Cursed, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 7th December 2012
Word count: 1,000
Theme: fantasy, myth, Gary Sue, hunting, goddess, celtic
“No good will come of the runt, mark my words,” a wisened old woman said, holding an infant up to the light, “Look, he casts a red shadow, the mark of evil.”
“Put down my child, and begone foul witch!” a gruff bearded man said barging into the room.
The woman dropped to the floor, and grovelled as she shuffled out.
“You’re not to listen to those damnable witches,” the man warned the woman who lay silent on the bed. “Our son will be great, mark my words.” The woman lay still and quiet. She had made no sound since the last push to birth the child. The physicians assured the man, the king of Grata Land she was alive, but they knew not what she didn’t respond to anyone.
The man wrapped the infant in a blanket and left her with a look of regret as she simply stared into space. As he walked into the great hall, the infant wrapped up in the blanket, and not making a sound, there was a flurry of activity as people rushed to see the royal heir. His most loyal friend, and soldier stepped ahead to clear the way.
“Stand by, stand by,” he called.
The king mounted the steps to the throne and stood before it.
“Here ye all,” he called his voice deep and gruff, “This boy will one day be king, and while I may be a good king, he will be the greatest, all should rejoice and come to love Monague, prince of Grata Land!”
Monague grew up in the fort, learning from wisened warriors and scholars, tutored by passing bards, taught to hunt by the best poachers. He would spend his evenings in court with his father, as he grew into a young man he would be called upon to judge in disputes as deputy for his father.
He had a good life. He wanted for nothing, everything he did was praise worthy, and not just because he was prince, but whatever he turned his hand to, he excelled at. His sword and armour were handcrafted by himself with the help of a sour one armed blacksmith named for a viking, he could cook fine foods, tame the hardest of woods into fine goods, catch the biggest fish, break the wildest horses. Nothing was beyond the prince.
The only thing his life lacked was his mother. Monague knew his mother well though he had never heard her speak, never felt her fold her warm comforting arms around him. He was allowed to see her, at first physcians hoped it might bring her some healing, but she never reacted. After that, Monague would always visit, every third day without fail.
What no one knew was that Monague’s talents were born from the divine spark. A ghost hunting in the nearby fields, was using a stolen arrow from Brigante herself. In a fit of rage she cast upon the ghost her vengeance, shattering the arrow into pieces as a result. One piece landed on the belly of the nearby Hilain, Monague’s mother. It imbued the child with the divine spark, but robbed the woman of hers.
No one noticed, for when she carried young Monague, his spark was enough for both of them. When he left, she had none of her own.
It was autumn in Grata Land, Monague was now fourteen summers old, and Monague was allowed to go hunting with his band of friends.
As with all things, Monague was good with the bow and the spear. He soon found and felled a stag with a single shot. As Monague approached, an apparition appeared before him, wreathed in flames.
“Who comes with such skill?” the apparition asked.
“Monague, prince of Grata Land,” Monague said confidently.
“You are twice blessed and twice cursed,” the apparition said angrily and vanished.
Monague was perplexed, but resolved to ask his father about this. In the meantime he had a stag to bring home.
That evening in the hall of his father as the gathered great and good of Grata Land feasted on the boys fare, Monague asked the king about the apparition.
Good wise Hibbert of Sole overheard and spoke up, “Why that sounds like the very image of the Goddess Brigante herself.”
Monague spoke the words she said to him.
Conversations were cut off, as whispered mutterings spread through the hall. There was talk of a prophecy Monague heard someone say.
He turned to ask his father, just in time to see him bearing down on him with a sword.
“Father,” he shouted, sure that this was some kind of madness, the kings eyes were filled with unbridled fury.
Monague was well practised in the art of combat by sword and the instinct to dodge his father’s thrust.
Knowing only that his father was trying to kill him, and the rest of the room sat stock still shocked by events, Monague did the only thing he could think of and threw the nearest candlabra at his father’s face.
The beard instantly caught a flame, Monague expecting this to bring his father to his senses grabbed a jug of wine. Alas his father, his face wreathed in flame ran from the hall screaming. Monague chased after him, as the rest of the room were rising to their feet in panic, reaching drunkenly for their weapons or following the boy and his burning father.
None were quick enough, and the king died of his burns even as Monague tried to extinguish the flames.
Hibbert of Sole put an hand on the prince’s shoulder, “The prophecy was that a twice blessed, twice cursed king would steal his mother’s soul, and kill his father,” he said solemnly. The prince never said anything, not until after the pyre for his father had become nought but ashes.
King Monague reigned for fifty years, a good and wise ruler. Protecting Grata Land, and ushering decades of prosperity that made Grata Land the envy of all the land.
Well I did it, a Celtic myth. Okay, obviously it’s not an actual Celtic myth, I might as well have cut and pasted if it was. It’s my attempt at one in the style of a myth. I had great fun writing it – though I’m still struggling with this self imposed
Anyway, in regard to the story, I decided to have a bit of Gary Sue (Mary Sue’s male counterpart, a character modelled on the writer’s ego, in all it’s perfection and none of it’s flaws). I liked the idea of having the perfect character, he has no flaws, only to find out all his perfection came at a price he never agreed to, nor indeed did he actually ask to be perfect.
A better writer might be able to pace it better so there’s more room at the end to really explore what that means to the character, but I’m not a better writer – and to be honest, he’s perfect, it’s his only flaw, the only break in his character. As the psion of perfection, the only thing he would do is mourn appropriately, and then carry on as duty requires. Or at least that’s how I see that working out.
I really did enjoy it though – and would love to revisit it again in the future. The one thing I didn’t achieve was having something I could read to my niece, who’s two. I might try for a more kid friendly, with an appropriate moral of the story theme, but in the style of a myth at a later date. There’s still 359 fics to go (but for the record, it’s 6 for 6 so far).