Sunday, December 27, 2009
content to listen to the peaceful calls of songbirds and
mourning doves, and the buzzing of colorful dragonflies
circling the banks of the pond. Then, the trees suddenly
thinned on either side, revealing the open forest once
more, and Colin spied a small bridge ahead, which
crossed over a stream that branched off from the pond.
“Copper Stream,” Ailfrid said.
As they approached the bridge, Colin saw that the stream
was aptly named. The water, which babbled happily by, was
nearly golden-copper in color, brilliantly reflecting the
sunlight. Throughout the water, Colin spied several large
fish, also of a copperish hue.
“Does the stream have a story?” he asked.
“Everything in Tanglewood has a story to tell. But the
tale of Copper Stream is a tale for another time. Now, we
fish! A big fat fish, cooked over a fire!" Ailfrid grinned
from ear to ear. “How does that sound?”
Colin’s belly rumbled, and he realized he was
starving. He hadn’t eaten anything since his supper the
night before, and the thought of freshly roasted fish set
his mouth to watering. “That sounds really good.” He
nodded and grinned like a fool.
Ailfrid placed the blackberry branches on a log that
lay along the bank, and produced a tangle of fishing line
and a crude hook from his pocket. “I’ll catch us a fish
or two. You can relax on the bridge.”
Colin doubted he could relax, not when he was
famished. Still, the placid, serene waters of the pond
were a calming sight, and the sun glancing off Copper
Stream was warm and soothing at his back. He sat
himself down on the wooden bridge and quickly lost
himself in the tranquility, while a short distance away,
Ailfrid troubled himself with untangling the fishing line.
Colin closed his eyes and felt the breeze tickling the
back of his hair. He opened them again and squinted
against the rush of dazzling sunlight, which set the
whole pond to glowing. Wildflowers of all sorts grew
along the shore of the pond, tall and luxurious. A short
distance to his left, he could see the shafts of sunlight
streaming in through the thick trees of Root Path,
highlighting the floating motes of dandelion spores that
hovered peacefully in the air.
Colin smiled, feeling deep contentment. This place was
truly magical, and he was a part of it. His allowed his mind
to wander, much in the same way the dandelion spores were
spending their time on this summer afternoon.
The stream glided beneath the bridge as smoothly as
fine silk. Colin eyes followed the gentle waters as it they
passed beneath him. Glancing down at the bridge, he
spied a large black ant emerging from the space between
two planks of wood. It was steadily making its way
Casually, Colin drew back a finger and proceeded to
flick the ant across the wood, where it disappeared into
the thin shadowy chasm between the planks.
Satisfied, Colin turned to look at Ailfrid, who
appeared to be deeply concentrated on the surface of the
pond. He had apparently managed to untangle the line
and fasten it to the end of a stick, which he dangled
over the water. He slowly reeled in his line by hand,
hoping for a hungry fish to nibble on the bait.
Suddenly, the ferrish dropped the stick and sniffed at
the air, glancing about furiously. He settled his
measuring gaze on Colin.
“Did something just happen?”
Colin shook his head. “Nope. I’ve just been sitting
Ailfrid remained silent but sat with a furrowed brow.
He did not remove his gaze. Colin was about to inquire
of Ailfrid what had him worried, when he was
distracted by a subtle whispering, very faint, but
growing steadily louder by the second. It was coming
from beneath the bridge.
Ailfrid’s silver eyes grew wide. “Colin! To your left!”
Colin turned his head and shrieked, scrambling to his
A thick tide of black ants was streaming up through
the slats of the bridge, so numerous they began to cover
the expanse of wood like a rapidly growing fungus. The
whisper of hundreds of thousands of tiny legs and black
carapaces brushing against each other was like the
rustling of dead, dry leaves.
The army of ants was headed directly for Colin,
forming bridges across the spaces between the planks of
wood for the main bulk of the insects to scurry across.
They were moving fast.
Colin turned to run, and beheld a similar scene on
the opposite end of the bridge. Another force of ants,
rapidly closing the distance.
Ailfrid was running along the bank of the pond, and
shouting at Colin. “The water! Jump in the water!”
But Colin was frozen still with shock and fear. His
mouth was incapable of screaming or shouting; only
frightened breathing managed to escape past his lips.
Then the tide of ants were upon him, swarming over
his feet and up his legs, wriggling their way under his
pajamas. He felt the itching of a hundred thousand legs
thoroughly covering his skin. He found his voice again
and shrieked when they began to bite.
He was dimly aware that Ailfrid was still shouting
something, but then the ants invaded his ears and tried
to get into his mouth and nose. He was forced to shut
his eyes and end his flailing about, in order to keep his
hands over his face. Completely covered by the thick
mass of ants, he sank to his knees and curled into a ball,
his whole body twitching, his flesh reeling under the
onslaught of a thousand tiny pinpricks.
Despite the shell of ants that covered him, he
somehow sensed that the air about him had suddenly
gone dry, and now his skin tingled not with the bites of
ants, but with a static charge. A series of loud pops, one
after the other, echoed across the pond, and Colin felt
several tiny shocks along the length of his body.
He thought perhaps he had been electrocuted, and
the strong scent of sulphur filled the air. He felt
Ailfrid’s arms about him, helping him to his feet. The
ferrish was also knocking off the blackened crust of
thousands upon thousands of dead ants. Still
smoldering, they fell onto the bridge in large, crackling
“Damn sprites! Got nothing better to do than pester
us with your tricks!” He helped Colin shake off more of
the dead insects. They fell upon the bridge by the
hundreds, fused together in brittle masses. Ailfrid
kicked them into the water.
“It was pixie magic that did this. They were angry
that I led you away from their hole earlier. They don’t
often get the chance to claim a deiney plaything, and I
ruined it for them.”
Colin, visibly shaken, scratched at himself furiously.
His skin was alive with bites, and it still seemed as if the
ants still surged over his flesh. He noticed his pajamas
were slightly charred.
Ailfrid saw Colin’s concern. “Sorry about that, but it
couldn’t be helped. I’ve got a bit of magic myself, and it
was the best way to get the little buggers off you. Hope
I didn’t hurt you?”
“No, I’m okay.”
“Good. I would have tried to blast them before they
got to you, but I was too far away.” Ailfrid looked
about. “Damned intolerable sprites! I’d blast them if
they’d the courage to show themselves.”
Familiar laughter sounded from the undergrowth,
and it was not at all pleasant. Colin and Ailfrid scanned
the bushes and the trees, but saw nothing. Ailfrid
“I sensed them. Or their magic, rather. It has a scent,
like honeysuckle. If you are alone and you ever smell
that, you better run, until you don’t smell it anymore.”
“Well, they’re likely gone back
down their hole now. They made their
point. Come, sit by me over there.
We’ll have that fish soon enough.”
They ambled back over to Ailfrid’s
fishing spot, but neither could mask
the concern that clouded their features.
They still felt as though they were
being watched, and they both
wondered what other tricks the sprites
would cast their way.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
surrounded on either side by tall trees and thick
undergrowth. The path itself was narrow, composed of
thick roots that stretched across the ground, covered
here and there with bright patches of fairy carpeting.
Colin had to step carefully to avoid tripping over the
roots, but they were of little hindrance to Ailfrid, who
trotted nimbly over them as though the path were flat
Gradually, the path began to widen, allowing them to walk side by side. Colin now wore the mask slung over his back, secured by a piece of twine offered by Ailfrid,
He was more at ease with the mask now, and imagined
it was made of the very bark that encased the trunks of
the mighty trees lining the path.
“This area of the ‘wood used to be thick with trees,
so thick, only the smallest of the fey could get through,”
Ailfrid said. “Monohan the Druid came and spoke to
the trees, and asked to please make a path, so that all the
sheehogue could travel easily through these parts. A group
of trees pulled up their roots from the earth and moved
alongside Monohan. A great hole in the earth remained,
so the trees laid their roots across the hole. Monohan
stepped onto the roots and moved into the space they
had created, and the next group of trees before him also
parted, and laid their roots across the empty earth.”
Colin slowed, gawking at the trees that lined the path
with awe and appreciation.
Ailfrid continued. “Wherever Monohan stepped, the
trees before him parted and created a path for him, until
the way through the thick part of the ‘wood was clear,
and all the fey could now travel through it.”
Colin smiled at the trees, and marveled at all the
wonders Ailfrid was showing him. They walked along
the path till just past noon, and then the tree line along
the left side of Root Path thinned slightly, allowing
Colin to glimpse a glistening pond whose waters lapped
the shore just a few feet away from the mighty trunks.
“We’re nearing the bridge. Wait here, I need to get
something.” With the agility of a squirrel, Ailfrid
scurried up into the trees to his right.
“Wait! Where are you going?”
The ferrish grabbed hold of a branch, and pulled
himself over it with ease. Kneeling upon his sturdy
perch, he called down to Colin. “I’ve got to get a clutch
of blackberries for Doc Muffingrow. They grow near
here. I’ll just be a few moments. Just stay on the path
and you’ll be fine.”
Ailfrid climbed further up into the tree and slipped
through a space in the tangled mess of leaves and
branches, disappearing into the foliage. A moment later,
Colin heard a rustling on the other side of the trees, and
realized it was Ailfrid, landed safely upon the earth and
pushing through the undergrowth.
Colin looked around at the barriers formed by the
trees, and shook his head. Stay on the path? How could
he get off the path?
He picked his way slowly among the roots,
muttering to himself. At least the trees to his left had
the decency to thin wider, affording him a breathtaking
view of the small pond, alive with a large population of
ducks and dragonflies, and the occasional white swan.
The twisting roots of Root Path stretched outward like
a mass of snakes into the water, drinking deep of the
nutrients of the rich soil, while schools of tiny fish
darted playfully through the underwater maze.
Colin was so taken with the serenity of the pond that
he nearly stepped directly into a hole that lay in the
center of the path. He looked down and saw it at the
last possible moment, and nearly lost his balance when
he sought to divert his foot away from the hole.
The burrow was dark, measuring just a few inches
larger than his foot, and ringed thickly by the roots of
the ancient trees. It was at once frightening yet
beckoning, stroking Colin’s unyielding desire to explore
all things forbidden. Such traits are common in many
young boys, and often ultimately lead to trouble.
A light wind whispered through the trees, carrying
with it the sweet scent of honeysuckle, and the faint
tinkling of bells.
As if a trance had taken hold of Colin, he slowly inched
forward, closer to the hole, and kneeled before it. A shaft of
sunlight managed to reach through the trees and penetrate
the darkness in the hole, reflecting brightly off something
that lay within.
Peering even closer, Colin saw it was a small white
circular object, reminiscent of a shiny pearl. Then he
noticed similar objects laying beside the first, appearing
to be painted with veins of various colors.
He realized they were marbles.
Colin started to reach his hand into the hole.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a voice warned.
Colin quickly drew his hand back and leapt to his feet,
startled by the voice. Ailfrid emerged from the branches of
the trees above him, and hopped down to the roots with
the grace of a feline. “The gift of a sprite comes with a
“Sprites?” Colin backed away from the hole, eyeing it
warily. He could suddenly sense the presence of something
else within the burrow, something not so innocent as
“Indeed. That is a sprite hole. Pixies and sprites are
close cousins and nearly identical, and all of them are
bad. The ‘wood is full of them, especially Thorn Grove.
You’ll want to avoid them, and you definitely don’t
want to put your hand in there. One bite from those
mischief makers and you’ll find yourself in a heap of
A high-pitched snickering sounded from all about
them, and from within the hole.
Colin looked about, worriedly. “Ailfrid?”
“Don’t worry. They can’t do anything to you now.
You didn’t take their gift. So they can’t take you in
“Take me where?”
Ailfrid looked down at the hole. “Below.”
“Never mind all that. C’mon, look.” Ailfrid waved
about a small clutch of branches, covered with ripened
blackberries. “Bairtlemead makes a delicious blackberry
tea, better than any tea from those druids in faraway
Colin frowned. “I’ve never had tea before.”
Ailfrid frowned back. “How old are you?”
“Ten,” Colin replied. “Almost eleven. Wait, how old
“Three hundred and seven,” Ailfrid replied proudly.
“Ten, huh? I forgot, deiney years are different. Well, I
don’t care how old you are, you’re in Tanglewood, and
in the ‘wood, we have the finest wines made from the
plumpest of grapes. We have the sweetest mead made
from the most golden honey. And we have the best
blackberry tea made from the blackest of blackberries,
not to mention the tastiest of muffins made by Doc
Ailfrid grew excited. ”You’ll see, you and me are
going to have a flask of blackberry tea, and you’ll never
want to drink anything else again.”
And with that, Ailfrid turned and continued down
Root Path, and Colin smiled and followed, wondering
what the wonderful sounding tea might taste like.
Friday, December 11, 2009
tangled within his blankets, but it was a
bundle of leaves that he clutched in his
hands. And instead of the familiar sounds of breakfast
being made and the smell of sizzling bacon, he woke to
the haunting call of a mourning dove, and the scent of
pine and oak and other earthly aromas.
He sat up with a start, and found himself not in his
bedroom, but somewhere in the woods, surrounded by
trees and bushes and a wide-open sky, rather than four
walls and a ceiling.
His first thought was that he had been sleepwalking,
but then he spied the smoldering remnants of the
bonfire and the wooden mask beside him, and
remembered his dream.
He realized that this time, it had not been a dream at
He had shown no fear in the night, but that emotion
suddenly tumbled forward. Now that this was real, he
was not entirely certain he wanted to be here. Not if the
creatures he had seen in the night truly did live in theforest. And he thought of his parents, who would be
extremely worried if they found him missing. He
couldn’t imagine what sort of punishment they might
hand him when he returned home.
Rising to his feet, he surmised that finding the way
home would be another large problem. But he was eager
to leave the woods, for he felt eyes upon him. The
creatures he had glimpsed last night in what he had
believed to be a dream could be anywhere, and while
they had shown open friendliness then, he was not so
certain that courtesy would be further extended today.
He started off in a random direction, and nearly
shrieked when a boy stepped from a large grouping of
bushes. “You’re awake!” the boy said, clapping his
hands and hurrying toward Colin, who abruptly took a
step back. “Don’t be afraid,” the boy said, continuing
closer. “I gave you that mask, remember?”
Colin looked down at his hand, surprised to find
himself holding onto the mask. “I don’t want it,” he
said, handing it out to the boy. He shivered when he
spotted the small sprouts of horns atop the boy’s head,
peeking through tufts of sandy hair.
“Don’t be silly, it’s a gift. Keep it. You’ll need it at
nightfall, to see in the dark.”
Colin certainly had no intention of spending another
night out here. And the mention of eyesight drew
Colin’s attention to the eyes of the boy standing before
him, and just like in his dream (which wasn’t a dream,
he had to keep reminding himself of that), they were
pure silver, with no pupils. They stared at Colin in a
way that made him feel especially uneasy.
“What?” the boy asked. “I
though we had fun last night.
Colin had to admit to
himself that it was fun. The
memory of the dance thrilled
him, and he felt some of his
fear slipping away. And the
boy wasn’t all that frightful.
Except for the horns and eyes,
he looked very much like an
He was dressed in a loose-fitting shirt of a very light
material, and green breeches that seemed woven of heavy
cloth. His feet were barefoot and dirty. He had an old
tattered satchel slung over his shoulder.
Colin was slightly ashamed to still be wearing his
pajamas. “We have a gathering like that every new moon.
You were lucky to come when you did. Otherwise you might
have been wandering about Tanglewood, and who knows
where you would have wound up?”
Colin looked around. “I’m not really sure how I got
here in the first place. I thought I was dreaming.”
“You found us because you passed through the
Gateway. It is a secret pathway, and the kynney deiney
can’t find it. Only the fey can show you the way.”
The boy smiled.
“What are the fey?” Colin asked.
“I am of the fey, as are all my sheehogue brothers and
sisters in Tanglewood. Fairykind has many forms, but
we are all creatures of the fey.”
“I see. I think.”
“The magic of the fey keeps Tanglewood safe.
Otherwise we’d likely have all sorts of kynney deiney
tramping through here, and that wouldn’t be good at
“Oh, I guess not. But you didn’t show me the way in.
I found it myself.”
The boy stared, his expression painted with
confusion and mild shock as he thought of something.
“You’re right, I didn’t show you the way. And you’re
certain you followed nothing else, not even a butterfly
or a bird?”
“Nothing,” Colin nodded. “I was walking in the
woods, and I found a path of glowing rocks that led to
a bunch of trees that formed an archway. I passed under
– what?” Colin paused when he saw the boy’s mouth
“You saw the rocks?” the ferrish boy asked,
“Yes, and something written on the trees.”
“You should not have been able to.”
“Well, I did,” Colin replied, started to get frustrated.
“But, but–you shouldn’t have. Unless…” The boy
trailed off, appearing lost in thought. Then he simply
stated, “Come with me.”
“Where are we going?” Colin dared to ask.
“To see Bairtlemead Muffingrow.”
“Who is that?”
“A friend. A druid. Most of the younger sheehogue call
him Doc Muffingrow.”
“What’s a druid?”
“You might say a druid is a friend to the forest. But
more importantly, Bairtlemead is wise, one of the wisest
humans any of the fey have ever known. He came to
Tanglewood long ago, and has been here ever since. He
has no use for the world of kynney deiney. By the way,
how are you called?”
“My name? Colin.”
“Colin,” the boy repeated. “I’m Ailfrid. Say, Colin is
a good name.”
“Why, what does it mean?”
“Never mind that now. We’ve got a lot of distance
to cover. We have to follow the Root Path almost all
the way to Fallen Tree, then at the bridge, we follow the
Copper Stream. Muffingrow lives along the bank.
When we get to Muffingrow’s, we’ll see what he has to
say. It could all just be nothing.”
Monday, December 7, 2009
succumbed to, blinked and turned his head. He beheld a
small boy not unlike himself, save that two small knobs,
the beginning of horns, rested atop his head, and his
eyes were of purest silver, absent of pupils.
The boy smiled, angel-like, and held something out.
Colin slowly reached for it, and saw that it was mask.
Seemingly made of tree bark, it was painted a light
shade of green, had two eye slits rimmed with brown,
and two small horns imitating those of the boy.
“Come dance with us,” the boy whispered.
Colin donned the mask, felt it adhering to his skin as
though it belonged there, and shivered with forbidden
delight. Following the boy into the clearing, the ring of
unnatural forest-folk parted, allowing him entry.
He followed the boy into the circle, skipping and
dancing, waving his arms frantically along with the
beating of the drum. He soon found himself surrounded
by other strange and wondrous children, some with
tails, some with scales, some with claws, and some with
wicked grins filled with sharp teeth, but Colin was not
He knew he was welcome here, for the mask made
him one of them. Laughing and shouting with glee, he
frolicked and danced away the night. He joined hands
with some – the boy who had given him the mask on
his left, and a dark-haired girl with pointed ears on his
right. Together, they spun about, leaping and running
and circling about the fire, until Colin finally collapsed
from exhaustion and exhilaration.
His tired bones and weary head succumbed to sleep
as he settled down into a soft bed of leaves and grass.
The intoxicating smell of the earth was like a sweet
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
But Colin knew they were real. He would sit patiently at his window, and soon, the shadows would begin to pulse with life, feeding on the moonlight that was their catalyst. Slowly, they took on form. Humanoid, animal, and unidentifiable shapes evolved from the deepest patches of the inky expanse, sprouting horns and claws and hooves and shining eyes that peered through the night, seeing things clearly as if it were bright day.
Colin couldn’t hear them from his room, but he could imagine their growls and their laughs, their little shrieks and their sighs of contentment. He knew they reveled in their short time in the woods, short because soon the sun would come up to send them scurrying back to whatever hiding places they sought shelter in during the day.
He knew this because with the first inklings of pink light creeping over the horizon, they would melt back into the earth, take on the substance of trees and bushes, or scatter themselves into fragments formed of leaves and twigs blowing about in the wind, their voices fading and disguised as insects chirping and the rustling of branches. In actuality, this was his dream fading away to mere fragments, as the sun peeked through his windows and the noise of his parents in the kitchen roused him from his sleep.
Once, after awakening, he ran to his window and gasped when he thought he saw someone standing on the edge of the woods, peering up at him. He was unable to make out a distinct shape, but it was small, maybe a child like himself, and he imagined small, glowing eyes. He had run downstairs then, and into the yard, ignoring the shouts of his mother who told him to get properly dressed and put something on his feet. There had been nothing and no one else in the yard. He scanned the trees, but whatever he had seen was gone. He trudged back inside.
A few years passed. Colin never saw the form of the strange boy in the woods again, but he still dreamt of the forest creatures, the elves and fairies and satyrs. The dreams no longer came to him every night – sometimes only once a month. But when they did come, he always woke refreshed, with vigorous energy and a sense of longing.
It was a cool summer night when the dream came again, only this time, he was no longer content to sit at his window and watch from afar. This time, he found himself outside, standing at the edge of the woods. It was dark, with only the faintest of moonlight gracing the earth.
He took a step forward, then two more, and the woods engulfed him, brushing against his bare skin, tickling and caressing, sometimes scratching but never too deeply, and his feet soon adjusted to walking on the bare earth. The pebbles and twigs did not bother him, and he liked the tickle of the grass and leaves, the soft mud between his toes.
He walked a long time, and the woods grew murky and black. It was extremely difficult to navigate through the undergrowth, and Colin thought perhaps he might turn around and try to find his way home, when he spied something glowing softly, lain upon the ground. As he moved forward to investigate, he saw that it was a rock, and a short distance away was another one. A trail, in fact, of gently glowing rocks, leading deeper into the woods. He followed them to where they led – a small cluster of white trees that seemed to form an archway. And even odder yet more exciting than the rocks were the many strange symbols inscribed upon the trees, also glowing faintly, a comforting milky-white. He examined them closely, but they were like nothing he had seen before, though he imagined it was writing of some sort.
Colin traced his fingertips over the strange runes, and a twinge of excitement rippled through his body. Eager to continue the adventure, he stepped through the trees.
Upon emerging from the archway, he heard the noises. He was unable to make out distinctive voices, but there were many of them, and it sounded like hearty, joyous singing.
Creeping as silently as he could, he approached the chorus of voices, moving deeper into the undergrowth, pressing aside outreaching tree limbs that sought to block his path and protect the denizens of the forest.
Deeper into the woods he traveled, his way lit by a mass of fireflies signaling their mates. Trying desperately to be silent, twigs cracked and leaves crunched under his weight. Perhaps the creatures of the forest would teach him to move silently as they did.
His house far away now, little more than a memory, he began to feel as if he had been birthed here, living his young life among the trees and the earth, cradled within the leafy arms of the forest. How he longed to make this dream real, to banish his true life to some nether-region, replace it with one free of school and homework and all the complications grown-ups seemed to accumulate as they grew older. None of that would be found here, he knew.
The voices grew louder now, but were still unintelligible. Yet the woods were brighter now as well. Colin spied the telltale glow of a fire, glimpsed through a break in the trees, some distance away but growing closer as he traveled deeper into the heart of this magical nighttime world.
He moved slower, more carefully, picking his way through the bushes and around the trees, doing his best to avoid roots and thorns, until he advanced upon the clearing, but did not yet dare to enter.
The firelight lit the clearing in a soft orange glow, flickering shadows dancing across the trees to match those of the strange creatures who frolicked about the fire, waving their arms and swinging their heads with wild abandon. They looked to be caught in the throes of lunacy, yet their movement varied in accordance with a small drum, beaten by a small form that sat before the fire.
Colin watched in awe, unable to make out the true forms of those in the clearing, as they moved too quickly and were obscured by the wavering light. He found himself mesmerized by the dance and the drum, and did not realize that something stood directly beside him until it gently tapped him upon the shoulder with a child’s hand.
Monday, November 23, 2009
The old man called out certain areas to me as we passed by them or over them. Root Path, Copper Stream, Satyr Stump, Fallen Tree, and others. But I paid little attention to the names. Instead, I concentrated solely on observing all I could. I wanted to hold tightly to these beguiling visions of woodland splendor and the broad spectrum of color that no painter could ever hope to reproduce.
My body felt young again, and my energy seemed infinite, despite how far we had walked. The complaints of old bones were gone, replaced by vigor and determination.
The home of Monohan was hollowed out of a huge and ancient tree, easily fifteen feet across the trunk. The bark was rough and gray. A mass of thick branches reached high into the sky and across the earth, but bore no leaves.
I saw no entrance to the tree at first, but the outline of a door appeared when the old man knocked upon the thick bark. The door, a section of tree as tall as Monohan and myself, slowly swung open of its own accord, and the old man bade me enter.
“This tree was once mighty and powerful, long ago,” Monohan explained, as I stepped into the tree. “But, as with all things, his time was soon to pass, and when I happened upon him, I asked if he would share with me the space within his giant form, so that I may have a home.”
Remarkably large yet equally cozy, the hollow of the tree was yet another sight to take my breath away.
It was as if a storybook image had come to life before my eyes. All of the furniture that lay within; the large table, the chairs, the shelves and cabinets, and the narrow stairway that wound its way to another floor higher in the tree – they all appeared to be fashioned from the substance of the tree itself. In fact, the legs of the table sprouted from the floor as though they had been grown, as did the railing on the stairs and the stairs themselves. The floor was smooth and solid, and detailed the pattern of the tree’s long life.
“The tree obliged me,” Monohan continued, motioning me to be seated at the table. “I have lived here ever since, long after the tree gave its final breath to the sky.”
Lavish tapestries adorned the walls, depicting images of elves and fairies and other creatures I did not immediately recognize. A small fire blazed at the opposite end of the hollow tree in a small enclosure, with the smoke dwindling up into an unseen chimney within the outer shell of the trunk.
The scent of herbal incense also hung heavy in the air. I found it all very pleasant and soothing, and immediately felt at home within the tree.
Monohan leaned his staff against the wall and proceeded to take a small teapot off a shelf, and hang it from an iron hook, suspended over the fire. “Blackberry tea is best served hot.”
As the old man busied himself with the teapot, I took in some of the finer details of his home. Strange runes and symbols were impressed within the inner shell of the tree and along the table, reminiscent of Celtic design.
Various nooks and flat protrusions in the tree formed crude shelves, on which all manner of items were stored. Small candles placed thereabouts further illuminated the inside of the tree, casting the hollow in an amber light.
My eyes wandered over the tapestries, and I took notice of a small representation depicting a tall, thin being that I first thought to be an elf, but something told me that despite the elfin features, this fey was something different. He stood within a ring of other creatures, and possessed a regal look. His stance set him apart from the depictions of the other fey that regarded him. They seemed awed yet warmed by his presence. A subtle smile on the central fey’s lips revealed a multitude of characteristics; kindness, understanding, strength, confidence, and more. I do not know how I was able to discern all that from the tapestry, and Monohan interrupted any further thoughts of it.
He sat himself down across from me. I noticed then that Cluny was gone. He must have flown off at some point during the walk, but I was too lost in the wonders that surrounded me to have noticed.
“Now, while that tea is getting hot, let’s talk.” He clasped his hands in front of him.
“Alright,” I said. “Why have I been brought here then?”
The old man’s face brightened, and he smiled. “Ah, good lad, now you are asking the right questions.” He paused, and then grew very serious.
“You’ve been brought here,” he said, “to tell the tales of Tanglewood.”
He smiled again, but I was merely confused.
“You don’t look pleased,” he said.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I replied.
“You are a writer, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Well, I mean, I used to be.”
“Nonsense! There is no such thing as used-to-be. You are a writer, whether it has been ten minutes or ten years since you’ve picked up a pen. Look there, on the shelf.” He pointed.
The shelf he indicated held a large stack of parchment, and several quills and bottles of ink.
“They are yours,” he continued. “To write the tales of Tanglewood.”
He said this matter-of-factly, as though everything should have been understood.
The old man spoke. “Much has happened in the ‘wood these many years past. Much that needs telling. It has been my charge to record the events of the ‘wood and instill them within the Well of Knowledge, but I have fallen behind in my task, as I was busy with other matters, and will soon be called away again. So I entrust this chore to you. You need to write, and the ‘wood needs a suitable scribe.”
He rose from the table and proceeded to take two wooden mugs from a small nook.
“I wrote stories,” I explained. “Fiction. And sometimes newspaper articles. But I was never a famous writer. Why me?”
“Why? Because you believe. And also, because when you wrote, you wrote from the heart. You wrote with feelings and emotion. You let it flow from your heart and soul, to your pen, to the paper. You have a magic in you that can manifest itself in the words you write, should you choose to let it out.”
“Magic? I don’t think so. I imagine I would have been more successful as a writer if that were true.”
“You were not meant to write for the ‘kynney deiney’. You were meant to write for the ‘wood. Until now, your magic has been suppressed. Here in the ‘wood, it can be free.”
Monahan rose from the table but continued talking. “You feel it now, don’t you? You feel it stirring in your heart, like a sleeping beast that has been dreaming for very, very long, and is only now opening its eyes to a new world. No doubt there is a flurry of words and sentences and descriptive passages already forming quite a storm in your head.”
Monohan removed the teapot from the hook, and poured each of us a steaming mug of dark purplish tea. The sweet scent of blackberries and various other spices wafted through the hollow of the tree. It smelled absolutely heavenly as I breathed in deep the steam that rose from within the mug.
“Not just anyone can write these tales,” he continued, seating himself at the table again. “But you have always been a Soul of the ‘Wood, even if you were never actually in the ‘wood”
“Soul of the ‘Wood?”
The old man looked at me, his eyebrows furrowed. “You like repeating after me, don’t you? Well, to answer your question, a Soul of the ‘Wood is one who has always believed, one who has always had the wild spirit of nature contained within. You are at peace in the forest, and a friend to animals. You find the beauty in nature, and your soul is open to the magic of the world. That, my good man, is a Soul of the ‘Wood. Now, drink your tea.”
I did, and the sweet-hot liquid was like nothing I’d ever tasted. Its warmth enveloped me in a comforting embrace, while my senses were affected by a rushing wave of sprightly exuberance.
Tasting of ripe blackberries, woody herbs and sharp spices, I felt as though the spirit of the ‘wood itself was contained within this magical elixir.
It tasted familiar. It tasted like home, a home I had never seen, but at last returned to.
My mind was a flurry of ideas, and I looked at the parchment and quills, suddenly eager to begin work on these tales of the ‘wood.
I had denied myself the comfort and thrill of writing for far too long.
“These stories, these tales of Tanglewood you wish me to write,” I said, taking another healthy sip. “Who will tell them to me?”
Monohan sipped his own tea and smiled.
“Listen to the trees, my friend. The trees will tell you the stories, and perhaps much more.”
I listened, and the whispering wind rustled the leaves of the trees. The very air had found a voice, deep and ancient. There were no clear words, but rather a weighty moaning that penetrated my mind. From this engrossing chant I could discern a meaning.
Behind my eyes, I beheld new images of the ‘wood, places I had never been to, and strange creatures I had never seen.
The voice of the ‘wood suffused itself into my soul with startling intensity. It spoke as though it were just another part of myself, familiar yet detached, muted as though immersed under water, a rumbling echo within a deep cavern.
The great trees had witnessed much in their millennia, and had an abundance of stories to tell. But they chose to speak to me first of a little boy named Colin, who reminded me much of myself when I was his age.
But Colin had found Tanglewood much faster, much easier than I did…
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Many summers came and went, and my view of the world began to change. Distracted by homework, and video games, and mundane tasks and chores, the yard slowly transformed from something mysterious and magical to just your plain, ordinary, everyday backyard.
I had begun to grow discouraged after never finding any sign of the fey. But an advantage came with being older; I was now allowed to enter the woods alone. A small forest bordered the yard behind my house, and it was there, I thought, that I would stand a better chance of meeting a creature of the fey, for the woods were their true home, where they likely lived in abundance.
Every hidden pathway was an adventure leading to secret places, every knothole in a tree a possible lair for sprites, every clearing a possible meeting ground for elves. I walked the paths until I knew them all by heart, and watched and waited and listened, and I never found any sign of the fey.
Several more summers passed, and the woods, though undeniably beautiful, no longer seemed a haven for mystery and myth. The forest was home to typical woodland animals such as raccoons, squirrels, birds, and the occasional fox or owl, but little else.
I gave up my quest to find and meet the creatures of the fey. I had other things to be concerned about now anyway. College, a girlfriend, a job, followed by a house, a wife, a career. The magic of the world and my memories of the woods faded away to a far distant place, overtaken by real world technology. Steel and glass and concrete and plastic began to replace trees and grass.
All about me, the world changed at the hands of my fellow man, intent on removing all that was once bright and magical from the earth. Once, acres of farmland, and endless miles of woodland dominated my hometown. Now, most of that was gone, replaced by obscenely large cookie-cutter homes and unnecessary shopping malls boasting rows of cookie-cutter shops.
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall; the changing scenery repeated itself in a constant cycle, and I grew older still, watching with detachment. I grew bored, restless, and saddened by the state of the world and what it had become. I realized that a world without magic, whether real or imagined, is not a fun world at all. And if you can no longer find any magic in the world, then you must find it within yourself.
And so it was that one day, when I was very old, I decided I would take a walk in the woods once again. Away from the cities, technology still had far to go before it could completely erase every patch of nature from the world. I had moved far away from my old home and my old hometown, but here in this new town where I resided, there was a large area of woodland just within walking distance, and I felt a renewed sense of childlike energy as I approached it.
It seemed funny that I had never really paid attention to the woods that I had likely driven by so many times. Had it really been so long ago that I wandered a simple dirt pathway looking for fairies and elves? Had my childhood been abandoned and forgotten so easily?
As I walked through the woods, I appreciated the beauty of the trees, the serenity of nature, and the warmth of the powerful sunlight that split the trees. Fey or no fey, I found magic in the woods once again. I had to stop and pause a moment, to simply bask in the moment of peace that had overcome me. It was the peace of being a child, of having no worries or concerns. Such trivial things had been left behind at the border of the woods, and I stood here now with a happy heart, the heart of a child finding wonder and magic for the first time.
The moment had captured me so completely that it took a few minutes to notice the butterfly circling lazily before me. It was a colorful splendor of purples and yellows, and appeared to be dancing in the air just for me. I smiled and observed the small insect that seemed to mirror my happiness.
I held out my hand, and the butterfly lighted upon it, and I marveled at the insect, which was casually staring back at me, slowly waving its antennae. Then it caught a breeze and flew before me again, remaining close. I strode forward to continue my walk and the butterfly moved forward with me, ahead of me.
If it hadn’t been such a crazy notion, I would have thought that I was supposed to follow the beautiful insect. Since I had nothing else to do with my time but enjoy all that the woods had to offer, if they offered me a butterfly to lead my way, then I would follow.
We walked for some time, the butterfly and I, down a path that narrowed considerably, and into an area where the trees grew thick and the sunlight struggled to penetrate the canopy of leaves overhead. Still, I was certain that I could find my way back at ease, and I was enjoying the camaraderie of the butterfly in this enchanting environment.
The butterfly picked up speed, darting through a small tunnel of birch trees, and I followed.
Emerging from beneath the archway, the forest suddenly changed. It wasn’t something immediately noticeable in appearance, but rather a subtle feeling that enveloped me gracefully.
Though I had already been walking for some time, the weariness was gone from my bones, chased away by a sudden onset of vigorous anticipation.
My skin tingled.
I began to notice small differences in my surroundings. The forest was radiant; bright beams of sunlight trickled through the leaves to kiss the ground below, and cast a lustrous glow about the forest. The very air seemed to shimmer excitedly and the leaves and the grass sparkled with fresh morning dew. The twittering of woodland birds was musical, and the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and tickling my hair was a soothing, comforting whisper.
The butterfly still fluttered by, and I glanced at the insect suspiciously. I suddenly wondered if perhaps there was real magic to be found in the woods after all.
The rational part of my mind wanted to dispel the silly idea, but the child in me was wholly stronger here. Fueled by memories and desires of childlike longing, I easily dispatched rationality to a faraway corner where it was unable to cause any trouble or sway me from continuing.
I could taste the very essence of the forest on my tongue, a morning mist of earthy flavor. The aroma of the woods was fresh and primal; I could sense the richness of the deep earth beneath my feet, and the scent of pine was seductively inviting, mingling with subtler notes of clover and sweet honeysuckle, orange blossoms and wild berries.
My ears were wide open to the welcoming song of the birds hidden within the surrounding trees. The woods were lush with color; a bold array of greens, majestically strong browns, the effervescent glow of sunlight glancing off patches of delicate, golden-white flowers.
The whispering wind hinted at secrets and assured me that the magic I was feeling was real.
The forest was alive, and for some reason, the butterfly had led me here, to the heart of it, to witness these sensations for myself.
I was gazing at the woods around me in silent admiration, when a quiet voice startled me.
“I wasn’t sure you would come,” the voice said.
I whirled, frightened to find myself suddenly not alone. Had I not been so old, I might have run.
When I saw that the owner of the voice that addressed me was an old man, much older than myself, I realized there was no need to take flight. He was likely just another old soul out for a walk in the woods, and our paths had crossed. My heartbeat settled back to its normal rhythm.
I had not immediately considered his words to me.
I then noticed his appearance and strange manner of dress.
He wore a shirt of a roughly woven green cloth, and brown pants of a similar material, reminding me of something you might find in a thrift store back in the year 1500. The legs of his pants were folded over a pair of pointed brown boots of worn suede or leather, hardly what I would call a comfortable walking shoe. A tall, wooden walking stick, smoothed and topped with a gnarled clump of a head, was clutched in his hands.
His hair was cropped short, mostly white with the slightest tinge of red, and his beard was straight and long, framing a softly wrinkled face. His eyes, however, were not soft. Though seemingly kind, they were also hard and strong and lively. They watched me intently.
He leaned his staff against a tree and reached into a faded brown satchel that was slung over one shoulder, and produced a wooden flask.
“Something to drink? You’ve walked far to get here, you must be thirsty.”
I was thirsty, but I was not yet ready to accept an odd flask from an even odder man.
“No thank you, “ I replied.
He raised his eyebrows slightly. “Suit yourself. But you’re passing up a fine blackberry tea.”
He put the flask away, and when I witnessed the butterfly set itself down on the shoulder of the old man, it was my turn to raise my eyebrows.
The stranger glanced at the insect on his shoulder, and then returned his gaze to me. “Yes,” he said. “The butterfly is mine. Rather, he’s my friend. You two have already been acquainted, but you haven’t been properly introduced. His name is Cluny. I am Monohan.”
It seemed absurd to introduce myself to a butterfly, but I found myself starting to anyway, out of politeness. “I am–“
“We know who you are, of course. Why do you think I sent Cluny to find you and lead you here?”
This was all getting a little too bizarre for me. I was about ready to turn around and head home.
The old man uncannily sensed my thoughts.
“Don’t go, please. Not after all the trouble I’ve gone through to find you. The ‘wood needs you.”
“The ‘wood?” I asked.
“Tanglewood, to be more precise. This is where you stand now, just beyond the Gateway, the entrance to Tanglewood.” He pointed to the copse of birch trees I had just walked beneath.
“You would not have found it on your own, I assure you. Only the fey can show you the way. That is why Cluny led you here.”
The butterfly left the shoulder of the old man and flew about my head enthusiastically, and then returned to its shoulder perch.
I was more interested in what the stranger, Monohan, had just said, I asked him to repeat it. “What did you just say?”
“I said only the fey can show you the way. No one can get into Tanglewood otherwise.”
All my childhood endeavors of searching for the fey came rushing back into my head, but I forced myself to remember that I wasn’t a child anymore. Old notions of magic and innocence had been joined by doubt and suspicion, and I wasn’t quite ready to believe I was in the presence of a fey. Not yet.
Once again, the old man seemed to sense my apprehension. “You have questions?”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather follow me to my dwelling, where we can discuss all this over a mug of fine blackberry tea?”
“No, I’d rather ask them right here.”
Monohan nodded. “Alright. Ask your questions. But leave your heart open to receive the answers.”
Fair enough, I thought. “Okay. Are you telling me that you are one of the fey?”
The man chuckled. “Me, no. I do live among them, however, for quite some time. I have been away from the world of man, the ‘kynney deiney’, for quite a long time indeed.”
“Then the butterfly–“
“Cluny,” Monohan corrected.
“He is a creature of the fey, possessed of intelligence and some minor magics. You’ll find that many of the creatures of Tanglewood, the birds, the foxes, sometimes even the fish, are no ordinary animals. But we are getting off topic. We have much to discuss, so please try to keep your questions related to the topic at hand.”
“I’m not even sure exactly what the topic is.”
“That’s easy. The topic is contained within this simple question. Are you ready to accept that the fey and their magic are real, and always have been?”
I paused, unsure of myself. It was here I knew I had to make a decision. I could dismiss the ramblings of this man as harmless lunacy, or I could accept what he had told me, and follow him to his home, wherever that may be.
A gentle wind caressed the trees once more. Watching with curious perception, listening keenly, I heard the whispers of the woods and the song of the sky resonating within my mind. A primeval feeling of enlightenment overcame me.
I realized then that I had truly never stopped believing, and these extraordinary woods, full of untamed life and strange enchantment, had cast a spell over me.
Monohan took hold of his walking staff and gestured me over, turning toward a path I had not seen before.
With a renewed sense of adventure and my curiosity piqued beyond habitual limits, I eagerly followed.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The wind whistling through the angel’s feathers was an ethereal melody, playing softly as if in tribute to her own grace and beauty. The sky above belonged solely to the angel and nothing else. The clouds were her personal plane of reality; wispy tendrils of white cotton encircle her, and glistening beads of moisture cling to her lustrous golden skin. Her wet lips are spread in a soft smile, and her eyes closed against the tainted world floating below.
Weaving a haphazard pattern through the clouds, she darts about like an energetic child. For moments at a time, she simply sails along gracefully, randomly interjecting her flight with long swoops and dazzling turns, and then finally hovers still. Her snow-white wings are spread wide. Remarkable warmth emanates from them and kisses the ground far below, as soothing as the showering rays of the sun.
It is at this moment, when the angel’s perfect form is silhouetted against the sky, that Dariuse knows he must turn away or risk entrapment. His eyes are special, and can see nearly as far as heaven if he concentrates his focus. But to continue to watch the angel one moment longer would mean surrendering his mind to the glamour that is continuously expelled from the heavenly being. Had Dariuse been human, his consciousness would already be lost, doomed to envision the aerial dance even long after the angel had returned to her haven in the cosmos.
Therein lied the primary danger element in hunting angels. They were creatures of striking beauty and magical elegance, but dare to watch them for too long, and you are transfixed by the vision.
Dariuse knew this not just because he was extremely knowledgeable about angels. He knew this because he was nearly defeated in this way during his very first hunt. It was only his severe hatred of angels that enabled him to summon the willpower to break free from the spell, and even for days afterwards, the effect lingered on, forcing him to continually concentrate deeply in order to avoid slipping back into the recesses of oblivion.
The angel hunter drew a black arrow from the quiver slung across his back, and reached for the bow he had placed in the branches beside him. From his perch high in the trees, he kept the angel in sight out of the corner of his eye, not daring to chance looking at her directly.
The angel remained motionless, her ivory hair floating about her seemingly with its own life. Her physique is quite remarkable, the object of every man’s fantasy, the living embodiment of sexual desire. Her slender arms were spread wide, allowing a soft breeze to run through her long, nimble fingers. Each finger was capped with a white nail that was as sharp and as deadly as a hawk’s talon.
Dariuse nocked the arrow. It is exquisitely crafted; the shaft is long, polished and smooth, and nearly unbreakable. It is finished with the feathers of a slain angel and stained with her blood. The feathers will enhance the propulsion of the arrow and keep it on course. The arrowhead is sharp enough to penetrate the most solid mountain and bury itself deep within the mass of stone, but that would be an extreme waste. There are only nine more arrows such as this one in the world, and though Dariuse has only ever needed to use no more than one in each of his kills, he took great pride and pleasure in crafting them, and would not care to lose a single one.
The bow itself is fashioned from the bones of an angel’s wing, which Dariuse was delighted to find both strong yet pliable. It is in fact the wing bones of his first kill, which was quite difficult without the aid of this superb instrument of death, to say the least. The angel hunter smiled with amusement every time he reflected upon how the remains of one angel have since aided in securing the deaths of so many others.
In one fluid motion, Dariuse leapt to the tallest reaches of the tree, rising out of his leafy enclosure to reveal himself to the sky, and drew back the bowstring.
Dariuse let loose the arrow, and it streaked into the clouds with barely a sound, straight and purposeful. The hunter could almost see the trail of heat left in its wake.
The angel is oblivious until it is too late. Her eyes snapped open and she sighted the point of the shaft barely a moment before it struck her body. In that split-second, there was confusion on her face as she struggled to comprehend the unnatural object speeding toward her.
The angel hunter is constantly amazed at the speed possessed by angels. In that one miniscule moment of clarity in which the angel realized the danger, she was able to twist her body just enough so that the arrow missed her heart, probably by no more than a mere fraction of an inch.
The arrow made no sound as it sliced into her, and neither did she. Dariuse imagines that it was likely the shock of a strange new emotion called pain that overcame the angel first. The arrow ripped through flesh and bone as effortlessly as it had cut through the air. A portion of the shaft emerged from the angel’s back almost directly centered between her wings. A pure, unblemished white only moments ago, they were now spattered with blood.
Miles away from the tree in which Dariuse sat, the angel began her plummet to the earth, trailing feathers and red mist behind her.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
For centuries, Dariuse has hunted and killed angels, managing to stay hidden from their vengeance-seeking brethren. But when he kills an angel of particular importance, the delicate balance of restrained peace between angel and demon is threatened.
Adexzinus seeks a position on the Council of Demons, and intends to use Dariuse to achieve that goal, and perhaps bring about an era of unrivaled chaos on Earth as well.
Sebastian is an incubus whose appetite for the lifeforce of humans is rivaled only by his jealousy of vampires, particularly the attention lavished upon them by the entertainment industry.
Tracey, a reluctant prostitute, and Mitchell, the police detective intent on saving her life, find themselves suddenly thrust into a world full of supernatural beings they never imagined really existed.
Humans, demons, and cursed immortals. All will find themselves tested in ways they never imagined. The fate of the Earth depends solely upon who or what remains standing in the end.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
L.T. Suzuki lives in Canada and is the author of the Imago book series.
Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/Scott_Kessman, and join the Tales of Tanglewood Facebook Group!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The full story can be found in the Book of the Dead: A Zombie Anthology ( Revised Edition)
Finding the entrance to the old bomb shelter amidst the scattered debris and severely overgrown lawn was lucky. It would provide a suitable location to rest and regain some strength before continuing her journey across what was once a thriving suburb, but now little more than a barren wasteland.
The small confines of the bomb shelter made her nervous. She checked the locks on the heavy steel door a third time. She paced the tiny room and repeatedly scanned the empty shelves as if a fresh supply of water and canned goods might suddenly reappear.
She had been careful to avoid detection as she crept silently through the neighborhood, keeping to the shadows as much as she could. Still, you could never be too sure. The zombies could be sneaky bastards sometimes. They were slow, but they were also usually quiet, and in the darkness, you might be standing right next to one and not know it until it grabs you and tears away a chunk of flesh with its rotted teeth.
But Sam had been careful.
She sat upon the cot. The mattress was comfortable. She looked worriedly at the door. Still locked. She was still nervous.
The door was the only way out. If any of the dead had seen her, then even now they could be falling down the concrete steps, piling their bulk against the door as they sought to gain entry. More would come during the night, following the others without really knowing why.
She imagined them wandering out there in the dark, shrouded in fog, hungering for her flesh, seeking her out with, dull, dead eyes. She shivered and lay down upon the mattress, gripping her rifle tight. She hugged the gun close, as though it were a source of warmth. If anything other than a tool for killing, it is her only friend. It has kept her alive, it has kept the abominations at bay, and she cherishes it as she would any friend, for without it, she would be lost, alone, and vulnerable.
After what seems like an eternity, her eyes close and her body succumbs to sleep.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Feybound.com is an online magazine with fresh content updated regularly and a place to come browse and enjoy. It regularly features fantasy, horror, science fiction and manga books, reviews and interviews with authors in those genres, as well as genre-related news.
My listing can be found at Scott Michael Kessman – The Tales of Tanglewood: The Lon Dubh Whistle
Monday, August 3, 2009
A Place Where Fantasy Writers and Fantasy Artists Can Find Both Information and InspirationSilverthornpress.com is a free ezine published and edited by Corbin Silverthorn, and promised to be a place where fantasy writers and fantasy artists can find both information and inspiration. Additionally, all lovers of fantasy are invited to peruse the ezine for intriguing articles related to the fantasy genre, including artist & writer interviews, and additional related resources.
Read the rest of the article...
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The list is not limited to fantasy authors. Fantasy podcasters, writers of fantasy flash fiction, fantasy magazines and publishers, and much more can also be found. The list is growing every day. Check it out and message Brian if you'd like to be added.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter as well, and check out The Tales of Tanglewood Facebook group.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I discuss my ideas and inspiration for The Tales of Tanglewood, and also writing and other subjects related to the book, the publishing industry and fantasy in general.
Tales of Tanglewood radio interview with author Scott Michael Kessman
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Bairtlemead smiled again. “Words, written and spoken, are very magical indeed. Words have power; the power to hurt, the power to heal, to make you laugh or cry, to instill confidence, or to spread fear. Words can be very powerful, but if used incorrectly or for the wrong purpose, they can also produce disastrous results.
“The written word is also very powerful magic. It can be used to teach us many things, but it can be used falsely as well. It can also be used to tell wonderful stories.
"Writing is an art. It is a creative journey that begins in the mind, an impulse inspired by thoughts, pictures, feelings, and sounds. A writer takes those impulses and composes them into a format by which others can experience those same visions and ideas. A writer can transport you from your current surroundings to a mystical place of faraway legend. A writer can teach you about things you never knew before. Or a writer can lift one’s spirits toward the heavens and the stars, toward Alastar himself, and make someone else feel good and powerful. That, Colin, is great magic.”
Friday, May 15, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
The Curse of Satyr Stump
Colin, Blood of the Fey, returns to Tanglewood shortly before Sahwen night, a time when the magic of the 'wood has a strange effect on all things within it. Things have entered the ‘wood that should not be there, and the pathways are no longer safe.
The blackberries have spoiled, a pooka roams the ‘wood, and a strong calling pulls Colin close to Satyr Stump, where Fionn the satyr has been cursed by Grainne, the Grey Lady.
Tasked to face the dark druidess and help break the curse upon Fionn, Colin seeks help from the druid Bairtlemead Muffingrow, the ferrish Ailfrid, and the elfin girl Deidre. But it will be the satyr chieftain himself who joins Colin, seeking to help restore another piece of Tanglewood that has been claimed by deiney corruption.
But the Grey Lady will not yield so easily, and Colin and Fionn are both nearly powerless in her domain. Colin learns very quickly that during Sahwen, Tanglewood can be a very dangerous place indeed.
Sahwen is the Gaelic pronunciation of Halloween, which is actually spelled "Samhain."
Visit the official Tales of Tanglewood website to download a preview of The Second Tale.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
It was my extreme pleasure to have read the Spiderwick Chronicles, happily consuming all five volumes one New Years Eve weekend three years ago at a hotel in upstate New York. I read most of them either sitting beside a fireplace or perched on a balcony, swaddled with blankets, while a gentle snowfall laid claim to the mountains in the distance. It was an experience I shall not soon forget, as the magic of the books, coupled with the magic of that weekend, was one of those precious moments in time which begs remembrance.
And so it was also a pleasure to find myself on a discussion panel this morning at a fantasy convention with the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black, as well as her author friend Jane Yolen. Our discussion covered Realms of Fantasy in both the past, present & future, and was entertaining and informative.
Holly signed my copies of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and I gave her and Jane signed copies of my own book.My book signing at I-Con went very well, and the discussion panels I was a part of were very interesting and entertaining.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I-Con 28 website & schedule information
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
“What Do I Read After Harry Potter?” The Answer Now Available on the Kindle
Shortly after the release of the last Harry Potter novel, hundreds of thousands of readers with an appetite for more magical adventures were left asking “What do I read next?”
The Spiderwick Chronicles filled the void for younger readers, and Eragon sustained many in the young adult market, as did the Twilight series. But as those captivating novels and other series have also come to an end, or will not release any new additions for quite some time, there remains a void that still needs to be filled.
Enter The Tales of Tanglewood. Written by Long Island author Scott Michael Kessman, The Tales of Tanglewood: The Lon Dubh Whistle is the first in a new series of fantasy/folklore adventures surrounding a boy named Colin and his magical connection to a place called Tanglewood.
Tales of Tanglewood: The Lon Dubh Whistle melds together influences of Celtic and Irish mythology with modern-day folklore. Within its pages, readers will find the adventures of Colin, a child who is fully aware of the hidden world of myth and wonder hiding within the woods just beyond his home, long kept secret by old magic. Only the fey magic which runs through his veins has enabled him to find what others cannot; the Tanglewood, the wood within the woods. Full of odd characters and fey beings, the Tanglewood is a world of magnificent folklore come to life.
Several reviewers of The Tales of Tanglewood have likened it to Harry Potter and other popular fantasy series, recommending it as a suitable follow-up:
“How many of us were so involved with Harry Potter and his world that we were sad to come to the end of Book 7…There are so many fantastic series being published today. But which one to choose? The Tales of Tanglewood, I believe, is such a series.” – C. Aphrodite Spanos
“The descriptions paint a beautiful picture of Tanglewood and its creatures and there is plenty of the magical beauty that tends to enchant younger readers in the first place (you know, that same sort of magical beauty that drew us all into Harry Potter, except here it is the intrigue that grabs those younger readers).” - Shaun Duke "Arconna"
"Tales of Tanglewood" brought me the same type of enjoyment that I had when I was first introduced to Harry Potter. – Anonymous review
“It would not surprise me if this book became a cherished tale like that of Eragon.” – Ashley Sinatra
The Tales of Tanglewood: The Lon Dubh Whistle is available in most bookstores and online stores such as Amazon.com, and is now available on the Amazon Kindle as well, for a low introductory cost of $3.99.
The website, located at www.talesoftanglewood.com, includes additional information about the books and characters, and allows visitors to download the first three chapters of the first book, as well as the first three chapters of the second novel, due out in the latter part of 2009.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Faerie Fort was surrounded by a tall barrier of thick undergrowth, easily deterring any who would seek entry, ans we would have likely continued back home had I not spotted what appeared to be a rather small opening. It was nearly cloaked in shadow, as the sun was beginning to set, but dared invitation, and we were both of a mind to oblige it.
Upon first pushing my head through the opening, I was greeted by a sight that was at once magical as at was surprising. Ireland is green, to be sure, but within the Faerie Fort, the colors were lush and vibrant, and the air was thick with a mysterious, magical essence that sent ripples of excitement circulating through my veins.
I pushed the rest of the way through and called for my wife to follow. Together, we stood within what could only be described as fairytale wonderland. The entire floor was a thick carpet of bright green clover, and thin vines wrapped their creeping tendrils up the lengths of the trees. We walked softly, breathing deep the fresh scents of the earth and the trees.
There was no discernible path to be found with the faerie fort, but the grouping of the trees formed sort of a spiral. If we were to have followed their subtle direction, it would have undoubtedlty led us to the center.
But within the Faerie Fort, it was rapidly growing dark, as the canopy of leaves overhead let little of the remaining sunlight through to light our way. It was as though the fey were teasing us, daring us to try to navigate our way through the Faerie Fort in the coming darkness. Suspiciously, the battery in our video camera began blinking a warning that it was about to expire, defying our attempt to film the magical beauty of this strange environment.
Reluctantly, we decided to take our leave of the place while scant light remained, but our exit was not without incident. A long, sharp thorn drew blood from the finger of my wife. Was it a warning? Or perhaps payment for a wish that was made within the fort?
One day, we shall return to County Kerry and the Faerie Fort, and walk to the center, to see what secrets lay under the protection of the fey, and what magic will ultimately be revealed.
The floor of the Faerie Fort covering with a carpet of clover
A night image of the Faerie Fort, just before the rising of the moon and the arrival of the fey...