Once Upon a Time, I wrote a fairy tale.
I’ve written another. This is… not my genre. I can write in the style easily, but it’s not my favorite. But I think the results are enjoyable for a fairy tale, so I will share.
This one is inspired by “Kotura, Lord of the Winds”, which I recently read in Through the Water Curtain, a collection of fairy tales selected by Cornelia Funke. And honestly, I wrote it out of annoyance because her commentary on the stories rubbed me the wrong way. I felt the need to prove a gender-swapped version of the story could have an ending similar to the original. So here it is. Many of the details are also changed, but that’s where I got the basic premise.
Many years ago in the far north, a man lived with his three sons. The oldest two were strong and brave, but the youngest was quick with his words.
One day a storm blew around their little house and all through the land. Snow fell and fell, and when it covered the front steps, the man said to his sons, “Something has angered the Queen of the Winds, so she has sent this storm to torment us. One of you must go and kill her.”
“But if the Queen of the Winds is killed, who will control the winds?” asked the youngest son.
“I will go, Father,” said the eldest son, paying his brother no heed, “if you can tell me the way.”
So his father told him, “You must travel north until you come to the top of the third hill. There you will find stairs leading through the air to her home. Do not speak to her!”
So the eldest son sharpened his sword and buckled on his snowshoes and walked into the storm. At the top of the third hill, he left his snowshoes to more easily climb the stairs. They led up and up, bringing him to an icy palace in the clouds.
The door was open, and he stepped inside. The Queen of the Winds, tall and stately, stood as though waiting for him. “Why do you come here, little hero?” she asked.
The eldest son did not speak but drew his sword. The Queen of the Winds merely laughed and waved her hand. A gust of wind burst through the open door, scooping up the eldest son and dumping him into the air. He fell and fell, landing with a crash beside his snowshoes, dead.
The storm continued on, and when the snow reached the windowsills of the little house, the father sighed and said, “The Queen of the Winds has defeated my son.” He turned to his second child. “You must save us now.”
“I will go, Father,” the boy agreed.
“Remember,” said the father, “Do not speak to her!”
So the second son strung his bow and buckled on his snowshoes and walked into the storm. At the top of the third hill, he left his snowshoes to climb the stairs.
The door to the icy palace again stood open, and inside the Queen of the Winds waited. “Why do you come here, little hero?” she asked.
The second son did not speak but shot his bow. But with a wave of the Queen of the Winds’ hand, a gust snatched both arrow and boy, dropping them into the air. He too landed dead beside his snowshoes, and the snow began to drift over his body.
The storm continued on, and when the snow reached the eaves of the little house, the father sighed and said, “The Queen of the Winds has defeated my son.” He turned to his youngest child. “You are now our only hope, though I do no see what good you can do.”
“I will try my luck anyway,” said the youngest son.
“Remember,” said his father, do not speak to her!”
The youngest son packed provisions, a sack of good bread and homemade jam, and a flask of mulled cider, tucked into his shirt to keep its warmth. Then he bucked on his snowshoes and walked into the storm.
At the staircase, he tucked his snowshoes under his arm and trudged up and up. He did not enter the open door right away, but stood to the side and looked in. “Hello?”
As she had before, the Queen of the Winds stood waiting. “Why do you come here, little hero?” she asked.
The youngest son stepped through the door and closed it behind him. “I’ve come to ask you to stop the storm before it buries us all alive.”
“Why should I care if it does?”
“I do not know,” he said. “I am here to find out.” Walking farther into the room, he took a seat at a table near a burning fireplace. The Queen of the Winds made no move to stop him, so he opened his bag and pulled out his flask. “I brought food to share.”
“I do not want your food.”
“Not even this jam? I made it myself.” The Queen of the Winds did not respond, but she watched as he spread jam on a hunk of bread. After chewing a few bites, the youngest son asked, “How long have you lived here?”
“Many times the span of your life, little hero.”
“Do you live alone?”
“I know of none who match my power, and I do not need the company of small mortals like you.”
“You must be lonesome then.”
“Of course not.”
“Then why are you speaking to me? I know you could kill me whenever you wish, as you did my brothers.”
The Queen of the Winds said nothing.
The youngest son stood and carefully held out a piece of bread with jam. “Are you sure you don’t want some? It’s quite good.”
Slowly the Queen of the Winds took the bread.
In the little house where the father was alone, he heard the wind go slack, and he rejoiced that his son had slain the evil queen. But when the snow had melted back down to the doorstep and his son had not returned, the man buckled on his snowshoes and set out to search. He climbed the three hills and the stairway and knocked at the closed door of the icy palace.
You can imagine his dismay when the Queen of the Winds opened the door. But the youngest son called out from inside, “Welcome, Father! I’m afraid I did not listen to you, and I talked to her. But it all worked out, because she agreed to stop the storm, and I agreed to marry her.”
It did all work out. Most days, the Queen of the Winds and the youngest son made each other very happy. All through the land, the people enjoyed better weather than they’d seen in centuries. Only the father remained unhappy with the arrangement, never pleased with his son’s choice of wife, but you try getting along with a daughter-in-law you sent your children to kill and see if you do any better.