|Warning: I know this isn't exactly an urban legend, but you could consider it an urban legend of its time. Gods only know what possessed me to do this particular piece, but it happened, so here it is. And yes I had to alter the story to make it fit my plans. For those of you who know it, you'll guess why *^_^*. For those who don't, here's a wonderful place to find the original -- 15 different versions of it ^_^.|
He knew the stories of the wood, and cared for them not. The simpleton fears of country-folk, spun of superstition and ignorance. Besides, the lushest blooms opened there into early fall, nourished by soil so black it was the earth's own life-blood, and warmed by lacy sunlight.
Breeches of fawn, boots of richest russet, and a mantle so green it shamed the summer meadows and turned his eyes to the color of uneasy seas. His desire to be among the wild fragrance could be eased only through satisfaction. Denial made the want flare fiercely, till he near clawed at the manor walls in wanting to escape. Easier to just give in...
The path he knew by feel, by heart -- he did not ride, his feet loved each familiar rock and root and tuffet. Neither far nor close, the wood, and he passed no one along the way, for who wished to tarry with the haunts? None but the Lord's brave son, the foolish son, fey son who craved the company of roses.
At wood's edge he shouldered past, stepping through, the silence enveloping him like invitation to reenter the womb. He sought the forest's heart, its rich red heart, a glade of ancient briars. Over secret path he trod, so quiet the very breath of tree and bramble could be heard, trod till a spot of red appeared which marked his destination.
They said he never tore his coat on briar nor lost his blood to thorn, but they imbued him with false gift. He'd not but plucked a bright red bloom, and yet another, when behind his back a voice lifted. A voice of honey and crisp golden leaves and wine; it struck him, caused him to start and pierce his finger on the vine.
"Why do you pull the roses, break the branch, steal the blooms without consent?"
Treize turned, the single drop of blood born on fingertip as offering and proof of pact. He held it out to the strange man, the man of silent approach and perplexing manners, and beauty... "My father's woods are these, and his father before him and his before, and as his heir I'vefreedom to pick the roses, and no one can say me nay."
A smile on full fine lips, a quirk not cruel nor kind, as the strange man took Treize's hand in his and raised it to those lips, kissed the blood, lapped it up. "You trespass still, and I've right to take a forfeit." Azure danced, eyes of ice over crystal pools, very deep.
He was trembling; surely the hands on his felt it, the eyes that held his saw it, knew his plight. No longer did he care that the man before him -- the fair man, golden man whose warmth could the drive sun to shameful envy -- was prideful to speak so to the Lord's son. Treize cared not, so long as he might keep the other in his sight, brand the touch in his mind, slake his sudden longing with it. Unknowing, he took a step forward, and husked low and soft, "What would you ask of me?"
The man leaned, smile softening to a promise; closer, breaths mixed smooth and crisp, lush like harvest rain. "I think you know already." Finally the touch, blessed press of mouth on mouth, velvety hunger and mellow taste. And the man took Treize by the hand -- by his milk-white hand, cleaned of blood -- and lay him down on the forest floor. Stripped him down on the forest floor, flesh to flesh, fevered and writhing, on a mantle of brilliant green among the roses red.
He'd not lain long satisfied in golden arms -- lain awash in hair bright as straw, cool like dew -- when the other rose silent. The touch he missed, a spectre touch, fleeting and thin, already half convinced it was imagined rather than real. The other rose to go, and Treize felt he must not let it happen.
"You would take your leave of me without parting word, final kiss, your birthright name?" The other Treize knew, all knew, spoken in hushed tones ripe with reverent fear. 'Tam Lin rides the forest deep.' 'Tam Lin rides and hides, lies in wait, to prey on fair unguarded youth.'
Though shamed Treize felt no shame, though robbed of chastity he felt no loss, for his heart was gone already, freely given. Tam Lin fixed him with that too bright stare, piercing through to flood inside, and all loss was laid naked before it. He saw, and relented.
"Mirialdo, son of Peacecraft was I, mortal flesh though with misfortune fraught. A day, some years ago, I was hunting these very woods, and fell from my horse. The Queen of Faerie caught me, and much pleased with comely countenance she took me to her court, to dwell under hills of green. The land of Faerie is a pleasant one, full of marvel and splendor, but not without price. At seven years end I must pay a teind to hell -- my time grows short, I'm soon to pay I fear."
Hope crossed his breast, at Treize's expression of sadness at his words, hope such as he'd not felt burn in long years of service, hot like nothing Faerie can be. He added, cautious to not dislodge the tender stuff, "The morrow night is Halloween. Any who would their true love win must at the crossroads wait, for the Faerie folk to ride there past at midnight's stroke."
"I would my lover win," Treize assured, relieved it could be done. "I would win him from the Faerie Queen, make him mine, take him back to mortal land,to home and hearth and heart. Please, tell me how."
"You'll know me by my bared left hand, and by my milk-white steed. The others let pass, but run and pull the knight upon the white steed down. They'll turn me in your arms, to beast of claw and scale and fang, and iron hot -- but fear me not and hold me tightly. At last I'll lay a man again, and naked, and hide me with your mantle green, hide me out of sight. I'll be yours ever after."
Gloomy was the hallowed night, shrouded in gaunt mist, cold like bone. Treize, in his stout mantle green stole to the crosspath quick as his feet would carry, and waited. And waited till the night's ripe peak. The first was sound, bridle bells of silver; fleet hooves shod in gold, striking rock. The Queen of Faerie's entourage drew near.
>From out the dark a steed of black, the black of coal and eyes like sparks, grim and bright. She rode at the head. Hair of glossy black to match her mount, match the night, silver sweet woven through it, ribbons of captured moon-glow. Her beauty was that of ferocity, cool and stark -- he felt small and useless before it. But thoughts of Mirialdo bolstered him, and he waited, and let her pass.
Next came the browns, sleek of coat and careful stride, their riders all alike. Chill beauty, the mirror of hers, reflected on ice. Youth after gentle youth fair, sternly intent on the mistress who rode before, he let them pass. But the milk-white steed... Fine of blood and bone, Faerie mount, coat like cream -- its rider wore his left hand bare. Treize ran to the side of the milk-white steed, and pulled its rider down.
Into waiting arms he fell, Treize held him tight, strong of grip and earnest faith. Scarce could cry be raised before the turnings did commence. Fangs of thorns and scales of glass, an adder first, throbbing motion in his arms. Treize held him fast, resolute. Next a bear, great shaggy strength, and lion bold and cunning. Both sought to break away but could not, defeated by steady courage; he was unafraid.
Then a goad of iron, searing hot, forge's heart, Faerie bane. Treize held him close and was not burned, was not harmed. At last he lay a tired man, fast of breath, shaking and trembling in his lover's arms. And Treize was quick to cover him up, with mantle green he covered him up, and hid him out of sight.
The Queen of Faerie's cry was great, shrieking cry, angered to have lost the fairest of her company. She wheeled her mount around and trotted back. Treize rose to face her wrath, his lover hidden at his feet, hidden under mantle green, out of sight. She spoke, anger tightly held behind hard violet eyes. "You've taken away my good Tam Lin, won him fair, I'll not begrudge."
Gracious in defeat she spoke, those words alone, they seemed enough. Off into the night she dove again, plunged back into the dark, her entourage behind. Treize knelt to grasp his lover close, soothing embrace, the other shook like dead leaf on the wind. Dry leaf on the wind, stomped by gold-shod hooves, kicked and tossed; the sound was last they heard, hooves and bells. Then silence, which he was quick to break. "It is done, you're won and safe, a Faerie Prince no more."
Mirialdo raised his face, golden tears, the moonlight could not dull them. He raised his face and smiled, and sighed. "My love, please take me home."