Fairytales of the Elvish Coin – Chapter 3: The Singing Silver Birch

There once lived a tenacious young man named Tristan. Brought up in a world of grandeur, Tristan had always been the child who wanted more. When he received a pony for his eighth birthday, he demanded for another. For his thirteenth Christmas, Tristan’s mother planted him a wonderful garden filled with fruit trees and the most magical, rarest plants she could find. But Tristan was unimpressed, remarking that he had seen most of the plants before, and he could not understand why he would want fruit trees, as his servants would always bring him his favourite fresh fruits, prepared and sliced on a plate. He ignored the garden for many years, no matter how much his mother would try to persuade him to visit it.

As Tristan grew older and both his parents had passed away, he became increasingly selfish. He was now the only member of the family left guarding the magical coin. He knew from what his father told him, that he was going to remain rich so long as he did not loose this precious item, for it’s powers would keep him wealthy. Tristan had no other knowledge of it’s power or where it came from, and he did not care. He only cared that the coin would remain his forever.

Being the violent tempered young man that he was, Tristan allowed people to dine with him if they brought him a suitable gift, and if anyone dared say anything he disapproved of or expressed an opinion he did not agree with, he would have their head chopped off instantly. Sometimes, if he was feeling tired, he would order his servants to do it for him, but he mostly killed his enemies himself. Tristan soon had chopped so many heads off over the years that he became known as ‘the chopper’. In time, people grew increasingly fearful of him.

It was when he killed his one hundredth victim, after Tristan spotted the man stealing a pear from his tree in the garden, that everything began to change. He stood in his mother’s garden triumphantly, with the head of the pear thief at his feet. And be began to hear the sound of a soft voice singing, as sweet and tuneful as a lullaby. With a bloody axe in his right hand, he paced around the garden, which up until now he had hardly visited.

“Whose there?” Tristan demanded, “You are trespassing in my garden, peasant! You will be my next victim!” The ghostly singing grew louder when Tristan walked further through a part of the garden which was filled with a variety of colourful trees.

A ray of sunshine shone down through the shimmering leaves, settling on a small silver birch tree, whose trunk revealed a face within the white bark, her lips moving as she sang the song;

The coin may guide you through the years,

It brings wealth, but also tears,

Will you know to give it away?

As it is not merely yours to keep and play.

The coin is both a curse and prize

It recognises evil with fierce gold eyes.

Return it to the light and you will see,

You don’t need treasure to set you free.

But if you decide that greed will rule

A death wishing well is waiting for a fool.

The singing stopped and Tristan was now facing a tree which was as silent and still as all the others. The face then gave a small smile before it disappeared back into the trunk. Tristan wondered what was meant by the death wishing well, as he had not heard of this before.

“Curse you stupid tree!” screamed young Tristan, “I will chop you in half!” And he picked up the axe and tried to chop if in half, but nothing happened. He tried again and again but not even a dent formed in the bark of the tree.

Raging with frustration, Tristan marched back into the castle. Never before had he considered giving up the coin, and he certainly had no intention of doing it now.

Young Tristan ordered his servants to bring him out horses and a carriage, and he left the castle to head for a ball he was invited to. He was only invited because the host was terrified Tristan would chop his head off if he didn’t invite him.

And so young Tristan went to the ball dressed in his most impressive materials and wearing bright red rubies on his ring finger. As he walked through, he parted the crowd and everyone whispered, “Its the chopper! Look, the chopper! Watch out!”

But Tristan ignored these murmurings, telling himself the people were nothing but mere peasants.

“Ah, Tristan,” said a tall man stepping forward. “I had hoped that we would meet soon. Would you care to speak with me outside? We have things to discuss.”

“Very well,” he replied. Tristan did not care for this man as he did not like being told where to go or what to do, but he was clearly a man of wealth and Tristan respected this.

Outside they met in the garden as the sun began to set. “You,” said the man, “have murdered my family. You have frightened my neighbours. This will happen no more. Tonight you must die.”

Tristan drew his sword instantly and the two men began duelling. This carried on until the darkest stage of twilight, both the men strong and fierce. Soon people came pouring outside in their suits and ball gowns to watch the fight. Distracted momentarily, Tristan had his sword knocked out of his hand.

“Surrender!” yelled the man as he held his sword at Tristan’s throat.

“Never!” he shouted back and tried to grab his weapon back from the ground. But the man was too good. He had trained long and hard for this day ever since his sister had been killed for rejecting marriage from Tristan.

With one last plunge, his sword sunk into the chest of Tristan, and Tristan stumbled backwards, falling over a wishing well where the coin was forced out of his chest pocket and onto the surface of the floor, amongst thousands of other shiny silver pennies. The body of Tristan lay sprawled over the top of the wishing well, droplets of blood dripping down to the coins beneath.

And everyone at the ball who was watching cheered and celebrated, for they had for many years longed for this day to come. All the villagers could be at peace, for young selfish Tristan was at last dead.

What do you think?

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