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Bull Protector

I was the father she didn’t have. Her human father, the king, thought of nothing but war and put his daughter at the mercy of an evil queen. She left the princess to starve, and so I provided for her. When the queen found out about me, she became dead-set on putting...

Girl Who Shades Her Beauty

My father lost his wealth, and he was so disappointed in himself that he became ill and died. My mother and I spent months grieving, unable to take pleasure in anything. Then one morning my mother looked at me in a strange way, as if she had seen me for the first...

Lily on the Other Side

I stood in a vessel of water in front of a rounded lattice window when Takewaki and his lady love came into the room. They sat together on the white mats. An ancient woman came with saké in a silver flagon. She brought silver drinking-cups and provided everything that...

Matsu the Nurse

My named is Matsu, which, in the speech of my country, means the Pine Tree. And, as the pine tree, I am strong and evergreen; unchanging and enduring. I served in the house of Idé, and my charge was Fugiwaka, the son of the samurai and his wife. His father Idé had...

Hunter Brother of a Dreamer

Holding my lantern high, I ran out into the forest through the terrible storm. "My brother! My brother!" I called. I found an old temple, climbed the steps, and burst through the golden doors. 'Where are you, my brother?" I was soaked but I threw my long hair back and...

Letter to the Dragon King

She wrote upon me in great sorrow. How I felt for the daughter of the Dragon King of Dungting Lake! Her father had married her to a faithless, philandering Dragon who had sent her out to pasture to look after his sheep. I am to be taken to her father, and my contents...

Loving Dog

I lived with an old couple who had no children of their own. They doted on me and I never left their sides. One hot summer day when the old man was working in the garden, I caught the scent of something a little way off. I sniffled and scratched at the spot. Then I...

Quietly Flowing Stream

I flow past the hut of a poor fisherman, shunning the glare of the sun and the noise of the towns. I stream past trees and under bushes, listening to the song of the birds. One day, when the fisherman came to cast his nets, I brought him a crystal cradle. He slipped...

Spirit of a Dead Man

There is a great deal of magic in the world, and you will find it in my story. I was dying and my wife was very distraught, not only because I was leaving her in her youth, but also because I could not pay my debt to a creditor. The creditor had threatened to have me...

Mother Duck

Down by the edge of the canal, in a forest of great burdocks, I built my first nest and laid my first eggs. I laid six of them. Five were white and perfect, but the sixth was an ugly grey color. It puzzled me, that egg. How did it come to be so different from the...

Skillful Huntsman

I learned the trade of a locksmith from my father, and when I was ready to go and seek my fortune, he gave me some money for my journey. I found some work, but after a time, I decided to look for another trade. I liked to hunt in the forest, so one day, in my rambles,...

Circle

A twelve-year-old boy is drawing me around himself. We will not allow any evil to cross the line. When the dwarf comes to take him, the boy says, "What do you want here?" The dwarf ignores him. He wants to speak to the father who is quaking in his boots. They haggle...

King with Apple Trees

There is nothing I love better than my apple trees. When harvest time comes, the apples are red as blood, and so heavy that the branches hang to the ground, near to breaking. No apple falls until I do the harvesting, and if anyone picks an apple before its time,...

Zoulvisia

Another party of men had dared to hunt on the sacred mountain! I did what I had done before. I lured them into a feasting tent and gave them poisoned wine. Then I dragged their bodies to the ravine and threw them into the lake. As I was strolling through the forest, I...

Green Cloak

Cloaks have many functions. Some serve ordinary purposes. They keep their wearers warm. Others serve to adorn and signal rank. Some cloaks serve to disguise and even have the power to make their wearers invisible. Cloaks can also be traps. They can seal a person in....

Father Who is No Longer Negligent

When my children came home at last, I understood what had been going on in my own house. The twins never told me that my new wife beat them. I had no idea that she had sent them out to the gloomy wood to serve a witch who would happily eat them if they didn't please...

Double-Crossed Queen

Our daughter is a shut-in. It's not her fault. We've shut her into a copper castle surrounded by many walls and towers. I don't like the arrangement, but it has been prophesized that she will marry a common soldier, and the king won't have it. A few nights ago, our...

Baba Yaga’s Hut

The fence that surrounds me is made of human bones, and human skulls are stuck on the spikes. At night, they gleam and light the glade as bright as day. My doors have human legs for posts, and human hands for bolts. A mouth with sharp teeth serves as a lock. I shelter...

Dove of Peace

When the dwarves put the princess in the crystal coffin, the forest fell silent, and it has been silent ever since. First, the Owl came and watched over her. Then the Raven came and watched. When the Raven's time ended, I came and settled on the shoulder of the dwarf...

King Who Orders the Spindles Burnt

I will not allow the thirteenth wise woman to change the fate of my child. Nothing will happen on her fifteenth birthday. She will not prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for a hundred years! I will not have any of the queen's women meddling in my daughter's...

Very, Very Old Woman Among Robbers

Before the robbers come home, I go down into the cellar. I stay there, quiet as a mouse. I have learned not to make a sound, or move, lest they think I am listening. I cannot begin to tell you what I have heard. Suffice it to say that the robbers like the taste of a...

Healing House in the Wild Wood

I can be found in a great, wild forest. Nothing can harm my occupants. They are under the protection of angels. Here, the devil's work is undone. If you are lost in the wild wood, look for the sign that reads: "All Here Dwell Free." Rest awhile, and heal. The Healing...

Handless Maiden

When I came into the house and I saw our sudden wealth, I knew it must have come at a price. Right away, my father told me what he had done. He had promised me to the Devil, in writing. In three years the Devil would come to claim me. My father never stops weeping...

Box that Holds a Baby

In the beginning, I was just an ordinary box, built to hold the body of a dead infant. Then one day, the king picked me up! He lifted me out of the ordinary and gave me an extraordinary role. He put a living baby into me, and threw me into deep water. I did not sink....

Girl Who Fell into a Well

My shuttle fell into the well and there was nothing to do but go after it. So I jumped in. I fell and fell. I don't remember hitting bottom. When I came to my senses, I was in a flowery meadow where everything spoke. I walked along and came to an oven full of baked...

Deserting Soldier

Me and my two buddies have been hiding in the cornfield for two days and we're starving to death. If we venture out, it's certain death. The army is still camped here, and we'll be hanged. On the other hand, if we stay here, we'll starve. Now we're asking ourselves,...

Pot of Pinks

When Felicia's parents died, her brother Bruno inherited the house and all its possessions except for a silver ring and myself, a humble pot of pink flowers. He wouldn't even share his food with Felicia. He ate an egg for supper and threw her the shell. “There, that...

Felicia

When our father died, he left my brother Bruno the house with everything in it. I was given a ring and a pot of pinks. I thought that Bruno loved me and that we could live together happily, but I was wrong. “Keep your pot of pinks and your ring, but let my things...

Queen of the Woods

When I met the pretty shepherdess alone in the woods, I asked her if she feared the robbers. "No," she answered. "I have nothing for them to steal." "Ah, but you have a heart," I said. "What would you do if that were stolen?" She didn't know what I meant. Her heart...

Queen Who Wants to Keep Her Child

My husband has shut me in a tower with my baby girl so that she will not be taken by the fairies. I promised her to them, and now the fairies are furious. I have betrayed them! They've unleashed a dragon and it's ripping through countryside and eating everyone. The...

Son of the Brass Princess

In the evening, I walk alone by the sea. When I come to the brass chest, I sit and remember how I came to this country. When I was an infant, the brass chest carried my mother and me over the sea. We came ashore at this very place. I will never forget the song she...

Mother of Snow-White and Rose-Red

An angel guards my children. That's why I'm not afraid to let them play and sleep in the woods. Truly, I tell you, they will not be harmed. For instance, one morning, after they had slept through the night in the forest, they woke and saw a figure in a shining white...

Black Bear

Oh, how I love those girls! We spent all winter playing by the hearth and they became quite at ease with me. I let them maul me and pull my fur and beat me with their switches. When I growled, they only laughed. Sometimes I had to plead for my life, saying: Snow-white...

Blood Queen

I know that I shall never see my darling daughter again, and so I will give her all she needs to make a comfortable journey through life. I will give her my best waiting maid. I will give her baggage and ornaments, gold and silver for her trousseau. Yet these gifts...

A Lock of Fairy’s Hair

When the princess grew up, she was betrothed to a prince who lived a long way away. Before she set off on her journey, her mother packed up many costly things for her: jewels, gold, silver, trinkets, and fine dresses. She also gave her a waiting-maid to ride with her...

Good King

My dogs were in hot pursuit of a white rabbit when all of a sudden, the rabbit turned around and leapt into my arms. "Why, bunny," I said, "As you have come to me for protection, I will see that nobody hurts you." I took it home to my palace where it was given a...

Lady of the Black Bull

When the Black Bull came and carried me away, I was terrified. He did me no harm, though. At the end of the day, he landed me in a bonny big castle. The next morning, the good people of the castle gave me an apple. They told me not to break into it unless I found...

Sleeping Beauty’s Husband

Folks think that after I married the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, we lived happily ever after. I'm afraid that's not the way it happened, at least not in our story. We have two children, Morning and Day, and we keep them a secret because my stepmother is an ogress who...

Queen of the Elements

As mother of all the Elements, I have made my decisions. My eldest son, with his lively imagination, will be Lord of the Fire. My second son, who is stable but rather dull, will be King of the Earth. I will put my third son beneath the seas. He is monstrously wild and...

Mother of the Sunchild

The Sunball gave me a daughter on the condition that after twelve years, he would have her back. But I wouldn't let him have her! I shut all the doors and windows of my house, and I stopped up all the chinks and holes. I kept Letiko hidden away where the Sunball...

King of Bello Puojo

My dearest, most beloved daughter married the worst, most devilish magician you could possibly imagine. He shut her up in a stable, can you believe it? I finally have her back, thanks to a cooper who hid her in a barrel. Now she has run into the hall as white as a...

Well-Spoken Ogre

I came into my castle and right away, I could smell human flesh. What had ill fate brought me? I looked through all the rooms and found nobody. I called out, "Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm." No answer. Silence. "Come out, I tell you," I said. "Your life is...

Monk Godfather

One evening, I met a man who was on his way to the village because his wife had just given birth to a son. I asked him if he would allow me to spend the night in his home, and he willingly granted my wish. He considered it good luck to have a monk in his home on that...

Much-Loved Prince

After I was born, the fairies gathered around my cradle, and they said that it was written in the Books of Fate that I should die by a crocodile, a serpent, or a dog. Nothing could save me, they said. Well, I have met all three and I am still here. Why? I will tell...

Protective Godmother

I was heartbroken when I heard that the queen had died in childbirth. The poor king! He was beside himself with grief. He invited me to be the child's godmother, and I rushed to the christening. I looked at that sweet elf in his cradle, and, right away, I named him...

Queen of an Ungrounded Child

How I wanted a child! But it would kill me to have one. I couldn't bear to see the child try to walk, stumble, and fall. I can't bear defeat! At last, after twelve years of marriage, I gave birth to a boy, but I could not live to see him suffer. I weakened, and, after...

Over-Protective King

In retrospect, I would not have prevented my wife from going into the garden. I would have given her the companionship of a wise friend instead of telling her not to speak to strangers. She was too young to be shut in. That's why she listened to the old woman who came...

Old Forest Guardian

I've seen a lot of winters come and go. Indeed, I am so old that you might easily mistake me for another tree in the forest. I am grey, gaunt, and crooked as my staff. But ignore me at your peril! The huge, wild forest you are entering is full of ravenous beasts. How...

Snow-daughter

I am cold. I have always been cold. I must stay in the cold or I'll melt. In the winter, I live in the forest. In the summer, I come inside, and I stay in the cold cellar. My brother is the opposite. He must have heat. He spends his summers outside, and, in the...