The Story of Brighilda

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I thought I’d share another snippet from my work-in-progress. This is my attempt at creating a mythology of the world from my novel, and I tried to make it sound like a real myth, not exactly realistic or completely logical. 


In the old times, the land was inhabited by trolls. They were mostly small, chubby creatures, mischievous but not evil. However, there was also a race of malicious giant trolls, who lived in the mountains, and they were so strong that even the gods feared them.

One day, a giant troll threatened the gods to destroy their land, the wonderful Meadows, unless they convince the warrior goddess Brighilda to be his bride. Brighilda did not want to submit to the troll’s request, and she said that the gods should fight the giant rolls. The gods, however, did not want to start a battle that would cost them many lives, and they ordered her to marry the giant troll. They took away her magical sword, Aiobheann, so that she could not oppose them. The only one who supported her was her brother, Aylill, the god of the rivers. Together, they came with a plan for her to escape the unwanted marriage.

On the day of the wedding, Brighilda pleaded the troll to allow her to wash her hair in the river. The troll did not allow it, but he ordered a bucket of water to be collected from the river and brought to Brighilda. He did not know that Aylill had taken Brighilda’s sword and thrown it into the river. Since the river was Aylill’s faithful servant, it made the sword invisible to the trolls, so they unknowingly collected it together with the water and brought it Brighilda. Once she had her sword, Brighilda was invincible. She slayed all the trolls, and the rest were drowned in the overflowing river. From that day on, there were no giant trolls in the entire world.

When Brighilda returned to the Meadows, the gods begged her to forgive them, and they never dared to oppose her again.

Quote for Thought: Lestat

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Who cares? Kingdoms rise and fall. Just don’t burn the paintings in the Louvre, that’s all.

Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

I think that my love for vampires was quite obvious on this blog. I even wrote an entire post about fictional vampires which you can check out here if you want to.

Anyway, this obsession started with Lestat. Not the one from the books though, and not even the Tom Cruise version, but the Lestat from The Queen of the Damned film. Yes, I know, the film is quite bad, but for fourteen-year-old me it was the best thing ever, and I still adore the soundtrack. Then the books came and my obsession was sealed. So, I decided that I should honour Lestat with at least a short little post.

For me, Lestat was, and is, a perfect anti-hero. He is a reminiscent of the Romantic, Byronic hero, who acts because he is bored. He is also curious, and has a strong desire to learn and understand the world. And in the end, he appreciates art in all of its forms. The Vampire Lestat is my favourite book from The Vampire Chronicles mostly because of Lestat’s complexity. And this quote decribes him the best. Lestat would rather see the world burn than be bored, he regards people as weak and corrupted, but still sees humanity as something precious. He loves his immortality but grieves for some aspects of mortal life. He wants to feel, even if it means he would get hurt. He loves to enjoy beauty and to experience art.

All of this is contained in this short quote. This quote is Lestat.

Evelyn

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I haven’t posted a new short story for a while, and that’s because I’ve been working on my novel. So, I thought I should share with you the first chapter. It may not be the best one, and it might eventually be changed a little bit, but I found it was the most suitable one to publish. Everybody, meet one of the main characters, Evelyn!


The window was open, but light draught barely entered the room. It was warm, even though the sun was approaching its descent under the horizon. Everything was quiet, except for the crickets, chirping somewhere in the distance. Evelyn was reading, cosy in the sofa on the side of the bed, enveloped by the long sleeves of her gown. A grey cat curled next to her feet and slept peacefully. She allowed the book pages to take her to distant worlds she could never know and to make her life interesting and full of surprises since, in reality, it was nothing like that. She connected with the characters easily, felt all of their emotions, lived through all of their adventures, worried when they faced adversities. Once she would start reading, it was hard for Evelyn to let go of her book and it hardly left her arms, but at the same time she hated reaching the final words and saying goodbye to what for a while felt like a real part of her life. That was why she liked to write. She wrote poems to bare her soul and stories to live through.

Not everyone could understand her unusual needs, and therefore nobody knew about them, except for her father. But he didn’t understand either. Evelyn’s mother did, while she was alive, before Evelyn was left alone with the strict manners of her father. Her mother knew what it meant not to be free.

The Baron of Ashire was not a bad man. He was just a man of his time. He frowned each time he saw Evelyn with a book, let alone an inked feather in her hands. He used to say that it would be better if she’d never learned to decipher the words from those accursed black symbols. Literacy was not on the list of his priorities. It angered him that Evelyn was not interested in the normal things. He felt embarrassed. In his own way, he wanted what was best for his daughter, which meant that he was determined to make her embody his clear vision of a proper lady. After all, that was what was expected of her – to fit in. The baron knew that society looked askance at deviations.

He was now mostly worried by her disregard of the very thought of marriage. Her youth would not last her much longer and her beauty would soon fade away. The baron was a respectable man, but he was not uncommonly wealthy. Evelyn’s beauty was what he put his hopes on. And now, to the baron’s great fortune, she was given an opportunity to shine and make something of herself. He would not allow anything to go wrong.

“Always with a book in your hands”, his deep voice was saturnine and strict, even though he wasn’t particularly disgruntled. He just wanted her to know how important today was.

“Father”, Evelyn raised from her sofa and instinctively adjusted her gown. Father wanted her to at all times look presentable.

She waited for the onslaught of remarks, but they remained unsaid, as if father thought he would make a better impression if he kept her in suspense. And maybe he wasn’t angry at all. When he wanted them to, his words were sharp glass debris, at times cutting her deeply, and sometimes just scraping her skin, but always hurting all the same. The silence suddenly became heavy and dense, and the droning noise made by crickets seemed much louder.

“You know you should be getting ready. We were invited to the royal ball! This is not some nonsense like your books! I even got you a dress”, the Baron of Ashire finally started with his deprecation.

“I’ll be ready father, there’s still enough time”, Evelyn said humbly, allowing her voice to take just a mildly brash note.

“Other girls would appreciate this honour…” mumbled the baron as he left his daughter’s room, showing thus his disappointment.

The room was now quiet again, and the chirping from the outside became unbearably loud, as if the crickets were sensing the approach of some kind of mysterious danger, and were now screaming their warnings in despair. Evelyn was gripped by a sense of unrest. She closed the window to muffle the horrible voices, with a swift but somewhat clumsy movement, as if she needed to defend herself. The window, however, could not save Evelyn from everything. She had to get ready for the ball if she didn’t want to suffer through another discussion with her father. His words always found a way to make her feel worthless, but it was a sentiment she was now used to. Inside of her, insurgency started to grow. Why can her father order her around whenever it pleases him? Why can’t she be the tailor of her own life? She hated posh balls and being surrounded by stately noblemen. At times, she was saddened by her deep loneliness, but she took comfort in the company of her cuddly cat, named Daisy. Father didn’t like the cat. He couldn’t understand the purpose of that creature in his home. Several times he tried to kick her out in the street, but Evelyn fought fiercely for Daisy to stay, until he finally gave up. What Evelyn didn’t realize was that her father’s attitude towards Daisy changed on the day her mother died. The baron knew he couldn’t comfort his daughter, but he tried at least not to hurt her even more. He never shared these thoughts with her.

Evelyn did not want to hurt her father either. She wondered whether she was the one who was wrong, the one with a problem. She could never fit the strict social frames, not even when she tried to, while everybody else did it with ease. When she thought about her life, she would always come to the conclusion that there was no reason for her to complain. She was born in a wealthy, respectable family which was the golden key that opened all doors. Many are less fortunate and have to make painful sacrifices only to survive. She was given all she needed, served on a silver platter. She resented being spoon-fed, but she couldn’t help it. Sometimes, she felt like she was being held under the water and slowly drowned, trying hard to fight for breath. It happened mostly when she was surrounded by a crowd of people. People never suited her and after some time and many acquaintances made, she knew it was no use trying. Yes, she certainly had a problem. And it wasn’t even caused by the fact that she was only ever surrounded by the nobility. She fit nowhere, as she found out on a walk with her parents which went all wrong.

Little Evelyn sometimes got so enthralled by the images which appeared in her head that she would forget to pay attention to the surrounding reality. It took her a long time to learn to keep her lack of attention under control. She would get involved in a flurry of strange thought, creating in her head a world of her own, filled with somewhat silly characters. They knew her secret desires and were always willing to talk about the book she was reading. Sometimes she told them she wanted to change the ending. Evelyn always found the endings particularly interesting since she never knew how to finish her own stories. She didn’t want to destroy the lives of the characters she’d created and loved dearly. Even the bad ones had a story to tell. But at the same time, she never liked when serious books ended like children’s tales. Evelyn felt like there are no truly happy endings in life. Even after the last page, life goes on. No one speaks of what comes next. What happens to the princess after she marries her prince? The rest of their lives won’t necessarily be happy. After all, the real end of everybody’s story is death, and death is such a horrible thing to write about. In the end, Evelyn’s stories were always left unfinished.

Since she was a child, Evelyn feared the future. For her, however, the future was not something unpredictable. She knew exactly what was expected of her, which seemed to her more horrible than vagueness. Her life would not be like one from a book. She would have to marry whomever her father found as an appropriate suitor. She would bear his children. He would not appreciate her unusual nature or her books. Her cat would die and he would not allow a new one. She would be lost in bleak monotony. Evelyn was aware that she could not avoid this future easily, but she was determined to hold tight to any possible straw of escape and do her best to at least postpone the inevitable.

Lost in such, or similar thoughts, young Evelyn lost her parents during the famous walk – or they lost her. She started to look around in panic, searching, but she couldn’t see them. Terrified, Evelyn looked at every face which passed her. Grey, bleak expressions made her even more scared. And then, there were the falsely smiling ones which resembled theatre masks. These were even more frightening.

Evelyn walked in an undetermined direction, just to keep moving and to create an illusion of getting towards someone or something that could help her. From the corner of her eye she noticed a pair of children. She wouldn’t normally turn to face them, but she was intrigued by their gleeful shouting. The girl was probably around Evelyn’s age, wearing a dingy brown dress which reached the ground in frowsy drapes. Her hair was down, disorderly but free. The boy was a bit younger than the girl, and even more covered in dust. They didn’t mind playing in the dirty street, trampled by countless shoes. They didn’t worry about their clothes or the almost black fingernails. And as unpresentable as they were, Evelyn found them beautiful in their freedom and childish disregard.

The girl noticed Evelyn staring and directed her piercing gaze at Evelyn’s eyes. Evelyn looked down, as if she hoped it would make her invisible.

“What are you looking at?” shouted the girl at Evelyn.

“Nothing… I’m just… Looking for someone”, Evelyn found it hard to articulate the words.

“You can’t play with us”, the boy said. “You are one of those in nice dresses. You can’t get dirty. My mom says those like you don’t ever play.”

Evelyn had to admit the boy was right. It seemed as if he felt a bit sorry for her, and even the girl didn’t look hostile anymore.

“Do you even know how to play?” the girl asked.

Evelyn did not know how to respond. She was scared. Those children were so different from her. As much as she wanted to talk to them, the words got stuck in her throat and she couldn’t speak. She looked at them in awe. They were elusive deities and she was just a weak little girl. In the end, she did the only thing she could to save herself. She ran.

Soon afterwards, she met her mother’s caring arms. Evelyn was safe, but quite sad. She knew she would never be able be herself around other people. She was born into a world of nobility in which the social norms determined how you should behave and what you should think. Maybe that was why she was so scared of those children. Maybe the social rules she so disliked suited her after all. Evelyn was trapped between the two worlds, not belonging to any of them.

Evelyn could hear the crickets through the closed window glass. She sighed deeply and closed her book.

Audiobooks?

This is just a short personal update, but I thought it might be nice to share it.

So, I have just finished listening to my first audiobook. (Yes, I know, it’s a bit weird I haven’t tried it earlier.) I listened to The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, a book I have wanted to read for a while, but just didn’t get my hands on. First, I’m going to say that I liked the book. It provokes a feeling of uneasiness and is at times creepy, but it’s something I don’t have a problem with. It’s done quite well and I loved the style which at times felt like listening to a poem. What I fear, however, is that I might have enjoyed the book better if I had actually read a physical copy.

Listening is not for me, it seems. It hard for me to concentrate and my mind wonders off. I had to go back and listen at some parts more then once. Maybe it’s a question of adjustment, but I am generally a visual person and I need something to get my eyes’ attention. It’s a shame, though, since I think audiobooks are quite practical at times, especially for listening on the go, and especially since I can’t really read on any kind of transportation – buses, cars, trains, aeroplanes – since I get dizzy and nauseous. So, in the end, I decided I’m not giving them up yet.

So, what do you think about audiobooks? Do you like them? Was it hard fro you to ajdust to listening as well?

P.S. I remember listening to fairy tales on the cassette player when I was a kid. I loved it then so I might learn to like it again. 🙂

Quote for Thought: Life as Compromise

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George’s son had done his work so thoroughy that he was considered too good a workman to live, and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o’clock that same day – another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning  to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely on compromise.

I started reading “Far from the Madding Crowd” yesterday. George’s son is a young dog who does not know when to stop when chasing sheep and he is sure that the more he runs the better job he’s doing. He therefore tragically leads all the sheep to death. I knew this was going to happen and that the dog is going to be shot so I prepared for it. I can’t cope with animals dying even in fiction, it’s something that really makes me sad. (I actually ignore the books with animals sometimes, if I don’t want to be drowned in sorrow XD) And then, it was described like this. It wasn’t even an extremely important event for the story, but Thomas Hardy wrote this wonderful sentence about it.

What can I add? People who try to do something different really are seen as crazy and even dangerous for the society. And sometimes the truth that only a few can see can be dangerous but does it mean that it should be ignored? I was impressed how Hardy introduced this theme in only one sentence and then continued with the story, leaving the reader to think about it more by him/herself. I don’t want too talk too much and now I’ll just leave the quote as it is.

In Familiar Attire

People fear the unknown. They fear what they don’t understand. Unless it appears in nice attire.

I’ve seen them many times riding horses, ordering the dogs around, and hunting unarmed prey with their guns. That’s all they have against the nature, their guns and houses, dividing them from what they truly are. People are weak -their teeth are blunt, their skin bare. They cannot kill their prey with their hands nor can they survive the winter without their clothes to protect them.

But people can be smart. They are aware of their weaknesses and they think of ways to erase them. It makes them feel superior, not only to other animals but to nature as a whole. It the end, their biggest strength will make them weak. It is never wise to feel too safe.

I see a man on a horse, and a young woman riding behind him, his daughter. Confident they seem. He was not as confident that time when I showed up in front of his horse, only for a glimpse. The horse saw me, but the man couldn’t, blinded by his conceit. The horse decided to run away, as any wise animal would. The man couldn’t control him anymore. He pulled the reins but it only made the horse wilder. The man was lucky. He fell right away and the horse galloped away into the forest. The man broke his arm, but that was better than being trampled with steely hooves.

He feels safe again. He even lets his daughter ride. It was just an accident, and those don’t happen often. People trust horses. Animals are not as treacherous as they are.

So I appear to them as a horse. I am beautiful, white, with silky mane. I come out of the chilly, fresh river and offer them a ride. They are bewitched by me and the nature which is now more and more escaping their reach. They trust me. I carry them to the water and they feel happy. Then I drag them down, and they realize the mistake they have made, but they realize it far too late.

People trust a lovely horse. They think they possess it and that it exists just to serve them. They feel that the nature belongs to them. They are the ones who have the right to swim in lakes, eat their fish, and rest among the green trees. They fought for it with their intellect. But they are still weak.

People trust their possessions and believe they know all about them. They fear the unknown. They fear what they can’t understand. But the unknown sometimes appears in beautiful, familiar attire.

*A kelpie is a water spirit from Scottish mythology, though similar creatures exists elsewhere as well.

Captured Moments… Scotland

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I have returned from my vacation in Scotland, full of impressions. I’ve always loved to travel, and even as a kid I often travelled with my family. Travelling can be expensive, but it’s worth giving up some other things in order to save for a trip. Getting in touch with different countries and cultures really broadens your horizons and I love it!

Anyway, that’s the reason I wasn’t very active on my blog for a while. But, I do bring you some amazing and inspiring photos of the Scottish nature and castles. The photos don’t really do it justice, I have to say. The experience of being there is something that cannot be translated to an image. However, the photos are still beautiful and I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was. The Scottish landscape and stories told by our great and funny tour guides really did inspire me and they helped me develop the story of the book I’m currently working on (though quite slowly). Enjoy!

Oh, and I might do a post with images of castles as well. 🙂 Most of those images are not on my camera so I don’t have them on my laptop yet.

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And, to finish this post bookishly, I did buy some books there! I found a store which had a discount on Wordsworth Classics and some other books, three for 5 pounds, so I picked some I wanted to read. I also bought The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory at the Edinburgh Castle shop. It’s a book about Mary Stuart, so it seemed fitting. I know these books are not really historically accurate, but they have been a guilty pleasure of mine for a while now. They are the easy reads I pick up when I’m tired for anything else. But they can also motivate me to explore the real history behind them and to find out more about the historical characters they mention.

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