“Grandfather.  May I have a story before your nap?”

“Aren’t you going to disarm my traps and snares”

“No, I think if I keep doing that, you may burst a vein in your brain or something.  Just don’t exasperate me so!”

“Oh.  Have I ever told you why it’s always spring in Carasonne, near the Covenant of the Glass Oaks?”

“No.”

“Ah, well, sit comfortably and I’ll begin.  I was a young redcap out on my first mission, and I was sent to Carasonne in Langedoc, to deliver a letter.”

“You were sent to Langedoc?”

“Yes. I had misjudged my travel time, and so I need to camp in the woods on the final night of my journey. I thought they were safe, mortal woods, because they had none of the strange presence you sometimes feel.”  I think it was because I pitched my tent on the road.  I would have been fine, if only I had not decided to make water, and stepped off the edge.”

“What happened then?”

“A terrible host of faeries came riding along the treetops, and although I tried to run back for the road, I had been chased into an area with twisting grass, and so became terribly lost.”

“Twisting grass?”

“When you stand on it, it rotates without you noticing, so you charge off in the wrong direction.”

“So, how did you escape?”

“Well, the host carried flaming torches, and so I thought “Follow the sound of the river.  Run for water.” and that worked well for me until I actually found the small waterfall I could hear. For on the other side of the river was another host, armed with icicles which they used as great pikes.”

“Oh, and what happened next?”

“Well, I was trapped on a little sandbank, in the river, but not in the water, and so heralds from each side were sent, to determine who should have the privilege of killing me. Would I roast or freeze?  The heralds came onto my islands, as a neutral point.  And one was a damosel with eyes of flame and dressed in flickering red, and the other was a damosel with clothes made of cloudy ice, and with the blue lips of the drowned, and silver eyes.  And they argued with each other.”

“What happened next?”

“I asked to speak to the lady of flame, and promised to faithfully serve her court, but she refused me, so I offered to die, if she promised me something.”

“What was her promise?”

“That whenever anyone told a story of me, she must listen, and, in turn, tell the story of my conquest of the sky on a giant duck.”

“So, how did you survive?”

“Well, I then talked to the woman of ice, and offered to serve her, but she said she did not want service, she wanted blood. So I promised I to die for her, if only she would agree that when I was mentioned, she would listen to my story, and tell the story of the time I killed a king with a misplaced banana.”

“Oh. So then you just walked away?”

“Yes, I waited for them to be together, and craned my mouth close to the ear of the lady of ice and said “I once was digging some turnips with my friend and I said “I don’t believe in ghosts.” and the fellow who was with me…he just vanished!” She looked horrified, and began the story of my accidental murder of a king, with a misplaced banana.”

“And when she finished, the other started. And when the other finished, she started again!”

“Yes, and so the hordes of summer and winter are trapped, forever, at the stream, telling my two interlocking stories over and over again.  It has been spring in Carasonne for forty-nine years.”

“And the moral is?”

“It’s how a story moves people that matters.  Time for my nap.”

* * *

“Grandmother.”

“Yes, child?”

“Was the story true?  I couldn’t spot the false parts.”

“Close to true, certainly.”

“Which bit did he make up?”

“The part about the banana, I imagine.”

“So, he never killed a king accidentally with a banana?”

“It’s just not the sort of story he’d want others to tell.”

“He killed a king with a misplaced banana?”

“Yes, child.”

“That’s…”

“Ask him about it sometime.  Clearly he wants to tell it to you, or he would not have mentioned it. Now, eat your supper.”

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3 replies on “In Which Marco Explains Why It is Always Spring in Carasonne

  1. Hi, this story (as the other Marco ones) is quite good. 🙂

    However I am intrigued by the place you mention. Is Carasonne the English name for the medieval city of Carcassonne?

    Like

    1. No – I just wanted a name which sounded plausible, and so I changed the name of Carcasonne slightly. In English it’s the same as in French, I believe.

      Like

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