A Winter’s Tale

It was a dark and desolate wasteland, despite the fact that it was actually a small town. Although most of the houses were well kept, a darkness hung over the town. The nights were long, the days were short, and what daylight there was, was a dull grey. On the brightest of days, the dull grey was punctuated with bursts of lighter grey, but it was not enough to enliven the townsfolk. When evening descended, the greyness merely turned to black. The people did their best to bring lightness into the gloom, with merry lights and false cheer, but they knew that more they light they tried to add into their world would cost them in the long run.

The evil overlord, who had supremacy over the small town, and hundreds more like it, controlled the power that lit the people’s homes. As the days grew shorter and darker, the overlord would increase the price of this power, forcing the people to choose between keeping their homes bright and warm, and feeding their children. Some wondered whether or not the overlord had control over the sky, and kept it grey and desolate to keep the morale low, thus rendering the peasants hopeless and pliant.

One day turned into another, and then another. Each day proving just as bleak as the next. Some days it would rain, increasing the gloom in both body and spirit. The people went about their lives in quiet desolation, but in the eveningtime when families would gather, the elders began to tell stories. They told fanciful tales of their youth, when a yellow orb would appear in the sky and bring warmth and light. Sometimes, this orb would appear for many days in a row, and the townsfolk would rejoice in its beauty and would spend hours outside, basking in its glory. The people were happy then. The children, of course, were doubtful, for they had never witnessed this spectacle. But the fanciful tales gave them hope; hope that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t just fairy tales.

The days grew shorter and shorter, but they knew that the solstice was upon them, and that Oak King and the Holly King would soon do battle. As always, they prayed for the Oak King’s victory, to turn back the darkness once more. They prepared their homes for the feasts and the fires with much anticipation. They gathered with joy and merriment, singing songs, and hanging decorations from their trees; they were together, which pushed away the gloom that hung over the town.

As they all sat down for the midday feast, a most peculiar thing happened. They noticed that the rooms were getting brighter, despite not having lit any more candles or lamps. The children grew afraid, but the elders began to smile and ushered everyone outside. “Look up,” they said. It was just then that the grey clouds parted and a beautiful colour emerged from behind. “That is the sky,” the elders proclaimed. “What colour is that?” someone shouted. They all looked to the most wizened elder of the village, who smiled a toothy smile and uttered one word. “Blue.”

As they all stood in the centre of town, enraptured by this blue sky, it happened. The last of the grey clouds blew across the horizon and revealed the mythical, blinding orb. It was the fairy tale! It was real.

And so it was, as the townsfolk stood there, rubbing their eyes and blinking against the light, that they knew that fairy tales could come true.