One hour ago, or was it one day ago, or one week ago? Anyhoooo - there was a time in a time when a man went walking.
He was a tall man, slim, with grey trousers and long black hair. He wore a hair shirt which dug deeply into his skin, and it pained him all the time. He could not take off the shirt for the hairs had grown into his skin and were embroiled within his being.
Walking along the road, he spied a tall tower. At the top of the tower shone a wonderful gold light. The light seemed to call him from a distance. Though his feet were wedded to the path ahead he struggled to cross the field between himself and the tower, and eventually arrived at its foot.
How to reach the top of the tower?.....
As he stood looking, and thinking, a wee mannie appeared beside him.
"Are you thinkin of climbing the tower good sire?"
"Well, yes I am, and I have no way of climbing up it!"
"Do you not have hope within your pockets then?"
"Hope? What has hope got to do with it? I need to do something to get to the top!"
"A man with no hope in his pockets is a sad man indeed, here, let me give you a little, and perhaps you might find your way up?"
The wee mannie slipped his hands into his pockets and pulled out a beautiful silver chain, on the end of which there hung a pendant in the shape of an eye.
"Put this round your neck and see how you go now"
The tall man took the pendant and slipped it around his neck, leaving it hanging outside his shirt.
"Ohh but you can't leave it outside, it has to be close to your heart for hope to enter in!"
"Alas I am stuck, for the hair shirt has grown into my skin, and nothing touches my skin other than my shirt - it has been that way for many long years."
"So. Now there is
a thing. Have you ever tried to take off your hair shirt? What does it do for you, why do you wear it?"
"It was a shirt that my mother knitted for me, so very many years ago, and I wear it in honour of her, but with the wearing of it comes the pain, it is so ingrained in my skin, that it would take much cutting to break its spell"
"What was your mothers name my son?"
"Why she was called Endragora - a fine a name as any in this world - this shirt was a gift from her heart, she said, and I should wear it to please her, and keep her special in my heart."
"I know that Endragora well, she is one of three sisters, who were born of the white fire in the Dragon-era - hence her name. Each sister was given a different skill.
Your mother was given the gift of hair shirt making, knowing that each and every shirt she made would give the wearer warmth and pain for the rest of their lives, until they were able to find the will and hope to take it off - despite the agony of the process.
The second sister was Elmora - she was given the gift of tongue twisting - every tongue of every speaker that she trained, would bring beautiful words to the attention of every listener, and within these words double meaning and anger would prevail - a secret darkness hidden within a cloak of light.
The third sister Arienna, was the antithesis of the other two. Only she could undo the pain and darkness of Elmora and Endragora - and it is she that lives at the top of the tower you see in front of you."
The grey man sighed deeply, it seemed that the eye of hope would be of no help to him - how could he climb the tower with no way up?
"The eye of hope cannot help you, unless you are willing to put some effort into turning your darkest moment into light. If you are willing to begin to remove the hair shirt - just enough to let the eye of hope rub against your heart, then you may find the way..."
The grey man looked askance at the wee mannie. What he was asking seemed very difficult, and he saw no other way out.
"Will you help me open my shirt enough to bare my heart?"
The wee mannie smiled and laughed.
"Why of course I will"
Saying this, he jumped onto the shoulder of the grey man, took hold of his shirt collar, and without warning pulled it back very hard and very quick. The pain seared through the shoulder of the grey man, and he screamed out "No more"
"Why, it is done, that is enough"
The skin of the grey man was now pink and raw, and the eye of hope hung over his heart. As he watched, it began to glow brightly. Warmth spread through his heart, and with that, hope sprang up.
Turning to the little man, he found - nobody.
He looked around the base of the tower, and there, he found a large pile of rocks. Though the tower seemed very high, he began to build a staircase of stone, reaching up into the evening sky.
The task of reaching the light at the top took many long days. By day, the staircase grew, by night he slept, eating only the berries and nuts that grew in the forest around.
At last, one late and dark afternoon, the staircase was finished. The eye of hope was glowing brightly, and the man climbed the steps one by one, until at last he reached the cill of the window at the top of the tower.
As he sat on the cill, with his legs one in, one out, a woman came to speak to him.
"Are you Grayling?"
"How did you know my name? Are you Arienna of the three sisters?"
"It is I, what do you wish of me?"
"My mother Endragora knitted this hair shirt of mine, and you are the only one who can take it off me. Will you help?"
Arienna nodded "And you must promise that once you have removed this hair shirt, you will go out into the world and find all those tainted by your mother's spell, and bring them to me. You must also find those of twisted tongue, that I may release them of their pain. That is your life- work"
Grayling agreed, and Arienna bade him to sit on a golden stool. She began to sing a hauntingly beautiful song which touched his heart and tears began to fall. As they fell onto his chest, the hairs untangled themselves from his skin.
Arienna likewise began to cry, and her tears bathed his back and shoulders, until every part of his skin was free from the taint of his mothers spell.
From that day onwards, Grayling and Arienna together, worked to undo the pain and injury to every person tainted by the dragon sisters of the dragon era.
That work continues even to this day, somewhere in this wild world..
Written by me Astorymouse 18th May 2009