Once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess in a far, faraway land. Well, maybe she wasn’t beautiful. And maybe she wasn’t a princess. But she did live far, far from here in the land of Wrunwicks.
Lisette – so named after her grandmother – was the only daughter of the town’s blacksmith. Just about everyone in Stonebridge liked Samuel’s easy smile and quiet nature. His skill as a blacksmith earned him much respect, including their lord’s. A fact which improved Samuel’s good fortune considerably.
Lisette and her parents were grateful for the good fortune bestowed upon them. Unlike some of the people in the stories she read. Lisette had recently started reading the Millenia. The first book in a series about a land where people hid behind masks and preferred to communicate non-verbally through things called cell phones – tiny devices which everyone carried to send short messages to each other.
It was a strange world. And although the people of the Millenia had libraries too, they weren’t very popular. Not like in Stonebridge, where children and adults often borrowed books from the great library. Lisette remembered when Cinderella’s book arrived. People couldn’t wait to read about the new princess who survived years of abuse inflicted by her stepmother.
So after Lisette lost her mother, and her father remarried, she was a little frightened. What if her stepmother turned out to be like Cinderella’s? But Lisette’s concern proved unnecessary. A warm-hearted woman, Nora treated Lisette like her own daughter. And over time, Lisette grew to love her stepmother.
Lisette would have loved a brother or sister, although Nora never gave Samuel any other children. When Lisette reached the age to marry and start her own family, Nora began teasing her about all the grandchildren she would have before long. It didn’t matter that Lisette showed no interest in potential suitors.
But Lisette didn’t mind Nora’s lighthearted teasing. It was a welcome distraction from the increasing number of Stonebridge vanishings. Every day at noon, the elders of Stonebridge gathered by the village well to discuss a plan of action. Three months of debate had yet to produce a suitable outcome. Tension in the village was rising.
The people of Stonebridge feared the vanishings meant the wrunwick were back. A creature that once ruled the land of Wrunwicks, only to disappear centuries ago. Books described the wrunwick as cowardly creatures despite their size, who preyed on the young and helpless. They never came near the villages, preferring to wait for those who wandered off on their own.
When Lisette’s mother never returned from the neighboring village of Woodbridge, the elders concluded that Mrs. Hayden must have lost her way and suffered a tragic accident. Everyone agreed – as the elders were respected for their stories and wisdom.
Those with many stories to tell were considered blessed, regardless of their circumstance. Those with much coin were considered of good fortune. Of the two, the people of Stonebridge valued stories the most.
A Time to Act
This gave Lisette a rather bold idea. And the next day at noon, as the elders gathered once more by the well, Lisette summoned the courage to approach them. Beseeching their permission to speak, Lisette began as many stories do…
Once upon a time there lived a girl in a far, faraway land. The young maiden lived with her father and stepmother. The young maiden’s stepmother treated her with kindness and affection. Nora loved her stepdaughter as her own and never had any other children.
Then, when the young maiden came of age, she dreamed of adventure and exploring the lands. Oh, the stories she could tell upon her return! Hence, when the people of her village began to vanish, the young maiden knew what she must do.
She called upon those brave enough to travel with her. Together they would uncover the truth. They would find out if the wrunwick had returned, and – if they were killing the fine people of Stonehedge. It was time to act. It was time to put an end to the vanishings.
Lisette needed to gain the elders’ approval before speaking to her parents – such approval would lend a sound voice to her story. And so she continued.
Although the young maiden was anxious to begin her adventure, she knew to seek the counsel of her esteemed elders. The young maiden hoped the elders could advise her before she shared her story with the villagers, and perhaps grant their blessing…
Lisette stopped there. She refrained from mentioning that without their approval, she had little hope of anyone joining her. She didn’t need to, for the elders were wise, and knew this already. So, she waited patiently for the elders to address her plea.
At last, it was Henry who spoke. “I’ve known you since you were born, Lisette. Your story is just beginning. Be here tomorrow at noon to share with the village. We will spread the word of your story. May the truth and adventure you seek be the start of many stories to come. You have our blessing in this matter.”
Lisette smiled with joy. “Thank you, Mr. Williams. I swear to return with the truth and many stories. Now I must return home to share my story with mother and father.” Lisette bid the elders a prompt goodbye – having occupied their time long enough.
Running the whole way home, Lisette told her story to Nora. Samuel always listened to his wife. So if she could convince her stepmother, her father would also be convinced.
“My beautiful Lisette. As you know, I hoped you would have many children some day. And perhaps you will. But this is your life, and that is for you to decide. But now is not that time. Now is the time for you to begin a different story. I will miss you during your absence and will eagerly await your return.”
As Lisette helped Nora prepare the evening meal, she gave thanks for the woman who had raised her. There was no other mention of Lisette’s story until her father arrived home.
The evening meal still warm in his belly, Samuel listened to Lisette’s story with growing pride. His daughter was going on an adventure like the ones they read in books. Lisette had always shown courage and strength, even as a little girl. She would come home with many stories to share with the people of Stonebridge, and help bring an end to the vanishings. Samuel knew his daughter would return safely. Of this, he was certain. And he told her as much.
The next day at noon, encouraged by her parents’ selfless words, Lisette shared her story with the confidence of someone who had been telling stories for years. With each telling, Lisette adapted the story to her audience. The people of Stonebridge listened in awe at the thought of such a daring adventure, and five other brave young men and women offered to accompany Lisette on her quest for the truth.
As the sun rose above the hills two days later, the people of Stonebridge came to see them off. Many of the women offered sweet treats for their journey ahead. The six truth seekers had already been given horses, swords, and other supplies. The library donated books. Their lord offered coin – in exchange, the seekers promised to visit the manor and share their stories upon returning home.
Lisette had her copy of the Millenia tucked away with her few belongings. They were all travelling light. Neither of the seekers expected to be gone for long. The group consisted of four men and two women. Lisette was determined to return every one of them to their families. She was also determined to uncover the truth. Another vanishing confirming the need for action.
Lisette feared the age of peace was over, and that a new age had dawned…
I hope you’ll stay tuned for what I’m hoping will be the conclusion in next Sunday’s post! Until next time, be kind to yourself. You’re worth it!