The Road To Magalie

Started by Jubal, August 15, 2015, 11:03:46 PM

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The Road To Magalie

There once was a young man called Tammin. Some of you will of course have heard of him – some will not, for he did after all live a long way from here. But his tales are told even on these far rocky shores, weather-beaten on the west of the world. They are told across the hills of Germany and the little sun-baked islands of Greece, told in the rolling mountains of Cappadocia, into the lands they came from, lands that lie far to the south and east – where the stars are strange.

Tammin is the greatest of heroes in the tales of those lands, and did so many great things that a hundred nights would not suffice to tell you them all, but this tale is maybe the most important – for it is the first tale of Tammin, and one that everyone should remember.

Tammin was born in a small village. One night, when still just a boy, he had a dream – not the kind everyone gets, but a proper telling-dream. When he woke up, he remembered and knew one thing – that he had to go to Magalie. He knew this more than he'd known anything ever in the rest of his life, knew it so strongly that he decided right there and right then that he had to leave. So his mother and father – both of whom knew very well that a proper dream is not to be argued with – helped him pack a small bag, and he set out upon the road.

The first traveller he came upon was a djinn. Djinns are always proud, and this one would have though themself the best thing since sliced bread – only sliced bread had not yet been invented, for this was quite some time ago. And so Tammin asked the djinn what he knew of Magalie.

"I have heard only this," said the djinn. "That if one were to stand before Magalie, it would be like seeing a tower of the whitest marble, beautiful as a summer's dawn."

And so Tammin thanked the djinn – imagining in his head a city or some castle of marble towers – and he hurried on, for he knew that he had to get to Magalie.

The second traveller he met was a man made of metal and springs, a curious creation of some great wizard or magician or alchemist I suppose. He bowed low, with only a few of his joints making odd noises (if you try bowing yourself, you will probably not go "boing" quite so often). And so Tammin asked the metal man what he knew of Magalie.

"I have heard only this," said the metal man. "That if one were to fly over Magalie, it would be like seeing a thousand golden spirals,"

And so Tammin thanked the metal man – imagining in his head a place of marble towers with spiralling golden rooves, and hurrying on, for he knew that he had to get to Magalie.

The third person he met as he made his way along the road was a sciapod. I don't suppose you have ever met a sciapod; they have just one great foot – so large that they can shelter under it as a parasol from the heat of the summer sun. This is extremely useful to them, for in those lands the sun is very hot, and sciapods (as you would know if you had ever met one) are always very sleepy.

"I have heard only this," said the sciapod. "That if one were to close one's eyes and hear the sound of Magalie, it would be music like the first chorus of thrushes in the morning. Music... to help one..."

Tammin thanked the sciapod, and imagined a place with gardens and forests and birds, though of course the sciapod was fast asleep again by this point. And Tammin carried on down the road.

He then came to meet a fourth traveller on the road, on a bridge over a wide flowing river. This fourth traveller was a young woman who spoke with a voice like birdsong. Her hair fell around her head in golden curls, turned as if by the finest goldsmiths. Her eyes were blue as the sky on a hot summer's day, and she wore a long white dress, standing like a column by the road. And so Tammin asked the woman what she knew of Magalie.

"I know only this – that Magalie is hard to find if one doesn't look carefully. But will you not stay a while?"

Tammin thanked her – but told her that he must go on. For he knew he had to find Magalie, and so he crossed the bridge and carried on along the road.

He came at last to the castle of Prester John, a great and wise king who ruled those lands. And so he went into the castle and asked to see the King. They let him in easily, for Prester John was a good king and always wanted to hear what people had to say to him. And so Tammin told him of his dream, and then what the djinn had told him about a white tower. And then Prester John said to him:

"And have you seen a white tower, slender and beautiful?"

Tammin said he had not, and then told Prester John what the metal man had said to him. And then Prester John asked him a second question:

"And did you see golden spirals that you could have seen from the sky?"

Tammin said he had not, and then he told him what the Sciapod had said about a sound like birdsong. And then Prester John asked him a third question:

"And did you hear a sound like birdsong?"

And then, with her voice still remembered in his head, at last Tammin realised. For of course he had gone to Magalie – and had walked straight past her.

Later Tammin grew to be a very great man in that kingdom – a hero, a vizier, a magician, and too many other things for me to list them all here. But I do not think he ever again saw Magalie. He made sure others knew the story though, so whatever they searched for they would remember it. And that is why I am telling you, even on these far rocky shores, weather-beaten on the west edge of the world, and that is why it is told in the hills of Germany and on the little islands of the Aegean, and across the rolling mountains of Cappadocia. And of course, it is always told in Tammin's country, far, far to the south and east – where the stars are strange!

Tellers' Notes
This is the second story I ever wrote, the second I ever told, and the first Tammin story (both the first written and the earliest in his life chronology). It's an enjoyable one to tell, a lot of the trick is in wording things such that it doesn't feel like the twist has been layered on too heavily before it's explained to poor Tammin. There's good room for effects with the three travellers, too - a very haughty voice for the djinn, I occasionally get my Jews' Harp out to do "boing" noises for the man of metal, and the sciapod has the trait I usually give sciapods, namely lots of yawning.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...