The Princess and the Weaver

This story comes from the world of the Gwion, but takes place nearly a millennium before The Water Mage of the Mageless Isle. This time, you meet one of the Gwion. I like taking some of the stereotypes and turning them around. Who needs a prince when you have these two resourceful girls? 

"You know, in stories, a princess in the tower sings in the tower while she waits until the prince comes along to rescue her," Greye merc Gwion observed from the loom in the corner. The hollow pop of fabric repeated at regular intervals as Greye wove.

"I'm tired of waiting for a prince to show up," Putri retorted, sitting in the windowsill. She was the eldest of four children born to the King of Caergwlân. While out riding with Greye one late spring day, the girls had been captured.

Now, nearly three months later, Putri swung her left leg back and forth, not brushing the plush carpet which covered most of the tower room the girls had claimed as their bedroom. The tower wasn't the largest tower either girl had ever been inside, but stuck out in the middle of the countryside just outside the border of Caergwlân, their own kingdom, the tower most likely had served as a fire watch. Surely, with only three floors and nary another building in sight, it seemed only temporary.

Every morning, food was brought to them and every evening, more food was brought, but they were never able to see whoever brought it. No matter how long they watched or where they were, the delivery was unseen.

"It's been a season already, and I think I see snow on those clouds." Putri drew her legs up to her chest. "It's getting colder.”

"We're too far south for snow this early in autumn," Greye answered.

Putri looked at the back of her best friend. Greye had come to be the princess’ companion some ten years ago when they were both six. The queen had died, and the king wanted another girl to help his daughter.

Blowing out her breath, Putri groused, "Boring, Greye, utterly boring. Can't you come up with something interesting?" She motioned to the loom before Greye. "And why have they placed a loom in here with me? I'm a princess not a Gwion."

"I happen to be a Gwion, not a princess, so I've enjoyed the loom." Greye walked over to the window and leaned outside. "Shame I'm not strong enough with my storyteller magic, or we'd be out in a moment."

Both girls sighed.

It was mid-afternoon and the sun glowed as it began its descent. Leaves remained on the trees, flowers bloomed, and the wind dusted across the grass. Rain had faded sometime in early morning, but the road while not muddy remained dustless.

Putri stood in front of the loom looking at the stones Greye wove in the center of the tapestry. Two separate rows framed the stone. One was wood and the other water. Greye, like all the Gwion, were weavers. Their magic was incorporated into their tapestries and clothes. The storyteller magic of which Greye was not as strong, was a beautiful type of magic which could make stories come to life.
"How much longer, you think?"

Greye sighed. "Another week or two. It isn't quite finished, but it will be beautiful not to mention highly practical. The fire, once activated by the magic I do have will heat the stones and the water, providing us with a warm place at night."

Unable to remain still, Putri twisted on her foot and stalked back to the window, and returned to her window seat, inhaling the fresh air. Looking to the south, she shaded her eyes and leaned forward.

A knight walked down the road.

"Hello down there!" Putri scrambled to her feet, and hanging onto the top of the window with her left arm, she leaned out, waving her right arm for the knight’s attention. "Can you help? The door's locked from the outside...."

The knight continued walking.

"Must be deaf," Greye decided, twisting into the space beside Putri. "He's not exactly young. Mature, my brother would say."

"Must all be deaf,” Putri grumbled as she climbed back into the window and hung her leg out the window. Her silken dress rustled with her movements, and had frayed around the edges. Despite their care of the clothing, they had only two sets of clothes for each girl. While the trunks had clothing, it had taken all of their know-how to create the clothes they did have, patchworked though they might have been.

Putri pointed to the road. "That's the fourth one in the past two hours, and none have stopped. It's not like we're that high up here. It must be that we're invisible to them."

"I'm more interested in what's happening down the road that requires four knights."

Staring at her best friend, Putri shook her head. "I never considered that."

"Which is why you're the princess, and I'm not."

"That vaguely sounds like an insult."

Greye smirked. "Not really, more of an observation. You haven't found a map have you?"

"Nothing in the library below; but I'll go take another look." Putri hopped out the window, and stretched backward. "I shall descend into the realm of word while you remain amidst the wool."

Putri went to the second floor to the library. The lowest floor had a kitchen, but nothing worked except the sink which only ran hot water. Both the first floor and the second floor were devoid of openings. Though, technically there was a door which remained locked despite Greye’s attempts, and the chimney which was much too small for either girl. Only the third floor had two windows, and of course they could reach the top, but with nearly a twelve meter drop from the third floor, another two meters from the top, jumping had been impractical.

Still, despite the limitations of escape, there was always the library which was filled with all sort of books from classical literature to modern fiction. It included several languages from the Common Fae tongue to that of the Dark and Light Dae tongues. The language of Caergwlân and two other kingdoms were represented as well, but fiction predominated.

In addition, there were fewer books on science or history and nothing on current culture. A geography map had to be there, but nothing could be found recently. It would take another extensive search since neither girl could utilize a seeking spell. Putri had little magical abilities, and Greye’s magic wasn’t strong enough.

Beginning at the top level of the library, she began to look through each of the books. The light from one of the high windows dimmed by the time Putri had reached the half-way point on the library. She trudged back upstairs. "Supper should arrive soon."

"I know," Greye said from the window.

"See anything?"

Greye shook her head. She, like all the Gwion, had red hair to one extent or another. In her case it was more of a wash than true as her color was that of a roasted chestnut. While paler than Putri, Greye wasn't ghostly, but in the fading light, she was the only one who could sit in the window and look out, invisibly visible.

With her dark black skin and dark eyes, Putri hid in the darkness, but always managed to stand out in the daytime. Most of the people from Caergwlân were as dark as she. The Gwion came from one of the northern kingdoms, originally, and despite extensive intermarriage with the southern folk, remained oddly pale.

Below them, a bell rang, signaling the arrival of their supper. "There's only one door," Greye said, "yet no one arrives."

Putri walked downstairs to collect the tray with the food; tonight's meal was salmon in an herb sauce, whole grained rolls, a sweet potato pie and steamed vegetables.

Back upstairs, Greye remained in the window. "No one, not even the sound of a horse running away." She motioned to the sky. "I don't even hear any wings flapping away, and a dragon isn't exactly easy to hide." She slid out of the window. "What do we have tonight?"

"Salmon."

"Smells good."

"Smells divine, but I'll be happy to leave this place." Putri clapped her hands together and thanked the Uncreated One for their food. "Have you wondered why no one's come for us?"

"I would say it's because we're out in the middle of nowhere," Greye reasoned. "They are most likely working with the leadership of the various kingdoms, but if we're between two, or even worse, not captured by a kingdom, we could be here for awhile."

They had picked apart each possible explanation, and returned again to the beginning. No one would come to rescue them. No knights on a quest, no princes seeking wives. No one. It would be up to them to do something, but that fall …

Putri motioned to the tapestry. "I don't think that it will help us fly, will it?"

"No; it won't. I'll have to make you an honorary Gwion." Greye wiggled her fingers. "We'll become blood sisters, and I will have royal blood and you will have Gwion blood. The tapestry will protect you then. We'll sterilize a knife then proceed from there."

Putri held out her hand. "Tonight to give me enough time for it to activate."

"It's not like a spell, you realize."

"Makes me feel better."

That night, they went to sleep with their left hands bound in makeshift bandages.

Two weeks later, with the tapestry finished, they waited until their meal for the morning was brought. After eating their breakfast, they gathered up their supplies and prepared to depart. Theoretically, they would have nearly a day before their captors realized they were gone.

Squeezing into the window sill, the stood facing each other with the tapestry hanging out the window. "It's going to protect us for the most part," Greye warned, "but it isn't going to protect us from hitting hard."

Putri gritted her jaw. "Ready?"

Greye nodded once then they counted to three and jumped.

Wind blew past them, snapping at their clothes. They were on the side of a hill making their three story tower into a five story drop. Even with the tapestry below them, they landed hard, knocking their wind from their bodies, momentarily stunning them.

"Putri?" Greye scrambled to her knees. "Can you breathe?"

Her lungs burned, but she inhaled. "I can," Putri said then coughed. "Hurts."

"Me too," Greye agreed. She shifted to look at the bags they had tied around their waists. The little bags looked small, but carried more than enough supplies for their trip home. They decided the best way to walk would be to the southeast, assuming they were not in Caergwlân. At some point, they would reach either civilization or a defining landmark.

Four days later, they came to a ravine separating their way home. From the top, where they stood, to the bottom was a hundred meters or more, and another fifty meters across.

"There's only one place in the entire island where we could be,” Putri said, backing away slightly
from the terrible height.

"The Grand Ravine separating Colchyster from Grainelyn." Greye sighed, easing closer for a better look. "We're nearly halfway across the island."

Putri pointed across the ravine. "If we head south, we'll come to the plains, but we need to head east towards Caergwlân."

"Even with the tapestry, I wouldn't survive that fall, and neither of us have Gwion made clothing so we're missing even more layers."

"Won't that gossamer wings cloak you wear help?"

Greye shook her head. "If my storyteller magic was stronger, I could fly us across."

Putri put a hand on Greye's shoulder. "No need to beat yourself up over what you can't do, Greye. You'll be stronger in no time."

The sun warmed their backs, reminding them both that it neared nightfall. "We're going to have to find a place to hole up again," Greye reminded Putri. "If we start south, we'll come across some of my people, and they'll help us return home."

"If they aren't working with the kingdom," Putri grumbled, but fell into step behind Greye.

"Ah, that might be, but the Gwion always help the Gwion." Greye stopped.

Putri ran into her, but stopped both from falling into the ravine. "Maybe we should walk farther from the ravine?"

"Look." Greye pointed to the sky where two dragons twisted in the sky, playing. "One of them is a demidrake."

"I didn't think they lived this far south."

"Maybe they're looking for us. The Gwion are friendly with the demidrakes of Drake Isle since we have family there." Greye shielded her eyes judging the path of the dragons.

"Gwion on Drake Isle? Are you related to the riders?"

"No," Greye started walking towards the two dragons. "We're related to the demidrakes."

When they were nearly below the dragons, no other signs of life could be seen save for a small bag. Above them, the demidrake huffed almost in a farewell before it slowly descended to the ground, which, upon reaching, transformed into a human male with bright red hair and hazel eyes. His skin was brownish red and he wore a tunic and a pair of breeches. He wore no shoes, belt or hat, but all those he pulled out from his bag.

"Who are you?" He spoke first, his voice oddly gravelly, but not unpleasantly so.

"My name is Greye merc Gwion."

"Ah, one of those fellows," the demidrake answered, a grin lifting the corner of his mouth. "I'm Brandr Grey of the Southern Demidrakes. What is a Gwion doing this far from home?"

"We were captured a season ago," Greye explained. "We recently rescued ourselves, and are now on the path home. Would you mind giving us a lift to Caergwlân? We can pay you with this tapestry I wove."

Brandr looked at the tapestry. "Fair enough. I was heading that direction anyway, and two more won't be too much trouble. The flight will be good." He stretched his arms over his head. "We can start now unless you two want to sleep some?"

"No, now is fine," Putri demanded.

Within moments, they were in the air, flying towards home. When Brandr tired, they rested, and started their journey after he had had some sleep. It took them only three days to fly the distance between where they were and the edge of capital district in Caergwlân - the furthest into the city which Brandr could fly. He set down in a grassy knoll. "Can you make it from here?" He pointed in the opposite direction. “I have to travel that way for a meeting.”

"Certainly," Greye assured him. "If you are ever in the capital, come by the Gwion Guild Hall. My family is there, and can direct you to where you can find me."

"Fair enough. You're not a member?"

Greye shook her head. "I work elsewhere."

"We must be going," Putri reminded Greye. "Father must be worried by now."

At the border station, soldiers, recognizing the princess and her companion sent word of their arrival while the girls took horses and rode into the city.

Two weeks later, the parties celebrating their return had dimmed, leaving the girls more time to relax. They strolled along one of the palace walls where none bothered them. "Never have I been so happy to be home," Putri sighed as she stretched her arms over her head. "Nor have I been so thankful to see my bed or my brothers."

"Did anyone explain what happened?" Greye asked. Below, the sounds of normalcy reached the room - soldiers changing their shifts, servants yelling for help, children playing and the endless sound of birds, work and laughter.

The noise, which had been deafening six months ago, was now a pleasant lullaby.

"No; I will find out eventually, but I think Father wants it kept a secret because he fears for me." Putri lowered her arms to cross them. "You know, now that I think about it, I wonder why Father hasn't told me anymore. Maybe we should pester him."

Greye turned to look back at Putri. “Maybe we should ignore the problem for now, and ask later when they think we have forgotten.”

"Maybe you're right.” Putri relaxed her arms, but bounced forward a moment then back again. “Still, one cannot allow a good capture to go to waste; how shall we use it?"

"Write up a memoir and sell it."

"Perfect. We'll do that and use the proceeds to go on more adventures."



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