A Chapter by Haeshin

One servant girl's friendship with an Elven hunter saves a kingdom and its princess.


'The one who chooses to believe is you.'


Rosalind is the perfect princess of a mountain kingdom, golden and kind and truly caring for the people. Nonie is her shy young maidservant who is irritated by Rosalind's perfection and adamantly believes that the princess 'isn't whole', lacking normal human qualities like anger and impatience. On one particular trying day, Nonie loses her temper and takes it out on Rosalind, saying exactly what she thinks of her in front of the king, the queen, and all his banquet guests.


Needless to say, she's fired! And Nonie is heavily scolded by her mortified mother, who says that her father is working desperately to make sure that her parents don't lose their jobs. In hot angry tears she flees their room in the servants' quarters, and gets herself lost in the mountain forests. A strange beast attacks Nonie in the darkness but is killed by a hunter who shoots an arrow into its neck. The beast collapses into dust that is carried away by the wind before it can touch the ground. While a minor injury is tended to on her leg, Nonie realizes that her rescuer is a young Elf man armed with a hunter's gear. It's rather strange since the Elves are a pacifistic, almost timid race that sequester themselves deep in the most remote forests and glades. Among the greatest sins of their culture is the sin of drawing blood.


The Elven hunter speaks very little to Nonie, who is weakened by her ordeal and earlier crying anyway. He takes her out of the forest and leaves Nonie in a place where she is soon found by one of the royal servants. In spite of herself Nonie feels a little disappointed that no one noticed she was missing, and her parents are too busy apologizing to the king and queen to worry. She becomes convinced that everyone is better off without her, and makes preparations to run away. While the entire castle is asleep the next day, Nonie sneaks outside and goes back to the mountain forests.


Again Nonie is attacked by a strange beast; in the daylight she now sees that it takes the shape of a bear but seems to be made of rough wood and moss, a symbol carved onto one side of the creature's face. Nonie manages to escape the beast only to find herself surrounded by two more. Again the Elven hunter saves her and tries to return Nonie to the castle, but on seeing Nonie's unhappiness he gives his name, Derehan, and takes her over the mountains. Nonie forgets her troubles at the sight of awe-inspiring waterfalls, lakes, grassy cliffs, rivers, and rocky meadows, but Derehan forcibly takes her back to the castle when the sky grows dark. Still, Nonie is so elated that she doesn't mind the second scolding given by her mother.


Nonie is kept in the royal household as a lower maid who scrubs the floors and dishes, surprising everyone with her cheerfulness in spite of the lowly job. She spends what spare time she has in the mountain forests with Derehan, who teaches her herbal medicine, archery, tracking, and a few Elven songs. Her growing knowledge startles everyone at the castle but fascinates Princess Rosalind. The latter tells Nonie of the things expected of her as a young eligible lady, and the younger Nonie will face the same pressures as well one day, lowly maidservant or not. Nonie feels more sympathetic towards the princess, causing the two girls to become friends. Nonie shows Rosalind some of the natural wonders that Derehan first showed her.


One day a banquet is held for the Knights of Vaole, who had been incomplete until new recruits were brought in and trained. While helping serve drinks and food, Nonie notices the princess take on a strange look that never leaves the face of a young knight, Argus. Rosalind is strangely unresponsive after that banquet, and like a host of other women is never seen far from Argus's side. Nonie gets a close look of the beauty mark on Argus's face while playing with the stable boy's homemade telescope, and recognizes it as a miniscule version of the scar on the beasts taken down by Derehan. She drops the telescope and runs to the mountain forests to tell Derehan. The beauty mark on Argus is a curse that hypnotizes men into falling in love with a woman, or vice versa if the curse mark is worn by a man. A hypnotized person is driven further into obessive behavior until their body transforms into that of a wild beast. The soul of the victim is left to wander the earth for eternity.


There is no way to lift the curse once a human has been transformed. Derehan tells Nonie that she only has to sing one of the Elven songs to Rosalind, putting emotion into it to make some magic happen. It works better when the singer has a close bond with the listener, but in case anything happens Nonie forces him to come to the castle with her. She frees Rosalind from the curse by pretending to sing for the king and queen's entertainment, but in revenge Argus lets loose one of his beast-victims among the nobility. Derehan kills the beast and is revealed not just as any Elf, but the Elven hunter who was expelled for murdering human soldiers in a neighboring country on the other side of the mountains. Derehan escapes the castle and its soldiers; Nonie pleads with the king but he must inform the neighboring country of Derehan's whereabouts. The Elf is a wanted criminal there and political relations would be ruined if they kept his existence a secret.


Nonie is tempted to cry as she used to, especially since nobody will believe her about Argus. She enlists Boyd the stable boy and a few other servants into helping her expose Argus's beauty mark as a curse mark with a magnifying lens from Boyd's homemade telescope. Argus is expelled from the castle after a seal is slapped over his face to prevent the curse mark from ever affecting anyone again. Nonie is furious that for all her efforts, nothing still can be done for Derehan. She goes to see him in the mountain forests, just before he is set to leave the country.

It's true that Derehan did kill some human soldiers, but they had been enslaving his people for years and submitting them to unfair laws that were slowly driving the Elves to extinction. If Derehan had not intervened, his younger brothers would be dead along with his mother and several other Elves who were killed that day. The village drove out Derehan because they were afraid of the humans' wrath and his natural talent for hunting, which went against their peaceful nature. There is nothing that can prove Derehan's tale, and he's still unsure on what to do about his people, since he was badly hurt when they expelled him from the village. Giving Nonie a final pat on the head, Derehan takes his leave.


There's nothing left to do but return to the castle. Rosalind attempts to comfort Nonie, only to fail as the castle is suddenly attacked by wild beasts. Argus may be unable to curse anyone else, but he still has control over the victims that have already transformed into monsters. In the chaos Nonie is able to help Boyd, Rosalind, and her mother the queen get out of the castle alive, but everyone else is trapped behind the stone walls and held prisoner by Argus. He demands the princess as his wife in order to become king, holding the women and children hostage so the men cannot fight the beasts.


In desperation Nonie climbs to the highest mountaintops where Derehan showed her an amusing trick, how her voice could be carried an incredible distance by the surrounding winds. She shouts Derehan's name until her throat is sore. Nonie is captured along with the queen and her friends by Argus's beasts, who did hear Nonie calling out and followed the sound of her yells. The group is returned to the castle and herded into the main courtyard, where Argus 'holds court' in front of his prisoners and forces a priest to hold a binding marriage ceremony between him and Rosalind.


Plant leaves fall silently and unnoticed to Nonie's lap. They're herbs from the first lessons Derehan ever gave her on medicinal plants. Immediately Nonie jumps up to create a distraction, luring the beasts in the courtyard to chase her as a single group. The few beasts left to guard the hostages and prisoners are shot down by arrows, freeing them to rebel. Derehan saves Nonie from the beasts coming after her and she in turn saves Rosalind. An enraged Argus attacks Nonie and hunts her all the way from the castle to the edge of the mountain forests. Holding Nonie at the edge of a grassy cliff, Argus tries to draw a curse mark on her own face and is shot through the heart with an arrow. Derehan snatches Nonie away from the cliff edge and takes her back to the castle.


Everyone gathers at the edge of a lake at dusk, where Nonie and Rosalind sings an Elven song to give the souls of Argus's victims some peace in the afterlife. As they watch the souls drift towards the stars as beads of light, Nonie reminds Derehan to keep his ears covered.



Nonie- A young, short-tempered servant girl who looks bitterly on the princess and the nobility whose lives sparkle because of the labors of their unappreciated servants. She grows strong and cheerful through a newfound friendship with an Elven hunter.


Derehan- The Elven hunter who saves Nonie from beasts in the mountain forests. When he sees how lonely and unloved Nonie feels, Derehan befriends the girl and imparts some of his knowledge in herbs, archery, and magical hymns.

Rosalind- The famous golden princess of the mountain kingdom where Nonie lives. At first her perfection irritates the servant girl, but later they manage to form a sisterly friendship.


Boyd- A stable boy who is awkward but kind-hearted. He has a small talent for creating amazing items, such as a telescope, from everyday objects.


Argus- An incredibly handsome, newly ordained royal knight. The beauty mark on his face turns out to be a curse mark that causes women to fall obsessively in love with him, losing their humanity until their souls are lost and their bodies are transformed to beasts under Argus's control.

© 2015 Haeshin

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Added on June 17, 2012
Last Updated on January 5, 2015
Tags: derehan, fantasy, fairytale, princess, elf, hunter, adventure, kids




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A Chapter by Haeshin