I really don’t know how I would categorize this story. Folk tale? children’s tale? fable? Take your choice. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I had some vague idea of writing a series of stories from a story-teller’s point of view. . . Not too sure where I was going with them, but here’s the first in the series. :-)
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Night and Day
In the beginning it was light all of the time. But one day the light vanished and the world became cold and bleak. The herb-wives and wise-men made charms out of the strongest magics they knew, but there was no relief from the darkness.
In this village dwelt a boy named Todos, who was the orphaned son of both an important herb-wife and a powerful wise-man. Because of this, he thought himself better than most. After the herb-wives and wise-men ran out of magic and still had not brought back the light, Todos scolded them.
“Aren’t you fine magic-workers, you can’t do a simple thing like bring back the light. Even I could do that.”
The herb-wives and wise-men grew very angry at this and they drove Todos from the village.
“Then don’t come back until you do,” they called after him.
Todos ran into the woods, all the way to the cave where his Aunt Nahara lived. She was the keeper of a magic fire that held all the answers to the universe, which made her the oldest and wisest woman of all.
“Where has the light gone and how can I bring it back?” Todos asked.
Nahara stared into her magic fire for a long time.
“An old man has stolen the light. Why, I know not. To find the light you must travel far to the north. You will know you are in the right place when you get there.”
“Thank you, Aunt,” Todos said respectfully, and left the cave.
He traveled for many days in the dark and cold. Every place looked the same for everywhere there was nothing but snow and darkness. At last, far in the distance, he saw a ray of light.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Todos traveled onwards. At last he came to a tall hill of snow. One side of the hill was bright with light, the other side lost in darkness. In front of the hill was an old man shoveling snow.
Todos hid behind a pine tree on the dark side of the hill, trying to figure out a way to get the ball of light away from the old man. At last he approached the old man.
“What are you doing?” he asked
The old man stopped shoveling and replied, “I am digging a chasm in the snow. The job is much easier now that I have this ball of light with which to see. Now all my chasms will look the same. Who are you and where did you come from?”
“My village is so very dark and cold that I did not want to live there any more,” said Todos. He peered into the hole the old man was digging. “It doesn’t look all that deep to me.”
“I will prove to you how deep it is,” the old man said, and jumped in.
The moment the old man disappeared from view, Todos snatched up the ball of light and ran.
The old man shouted at him but by the time he had climbed out of his chasm, Todos was gone. From that time onward he was forced to dig his chasms without the aid of the light, which is why chasms of snow in the arctic are all different shapes and sizes.
The ball of light seemed to grow heavier and heavier as Todos traveled southward. So he broke of a piece and threw it away, making day. He continued onwards but the ball began to grow heavy again, so again he broke off a piece and threw it away making another day.
Todos continued to travel, breaking off pieces of day as he went, until he reached his own village. Triumphant, he threw the last of the ball into the sky where it became the sun.
“There!” he said. “I have brought back the light. Now we will have light and then dark, day and then night.”
And from then on, in Todos’ village, day and night followed each other, but the lengths of each varied for sometimes he traveled a long way without throwing any light away, and sometimes only a short distance. And that is why sometimes our days and nights are very short, and sometimes they are very long.