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Kevin G Hare

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The Singing Bone

The country of Benderwold was a land of mesmerizing beauty. A gentle swaying forest waning off to a mountainous landscape, lush fields and rivers aplenty to aid the healthy growth her people and their livestock.

But for all her beauty, Benderwold had a terrible curse. A demon had infected the forest and plagued the fields. It destroyed men and livestock without constitution or mercy. The demon took the form of a monstrous wild boar and the waste it laid in its wake was so great, none dared challenge the beast to kill it.

The good king, Mayerfee wished to rid his land of this curse and in an act of desperation, promised his daughter to the hand of the man who would slay the boar. The king’s notice went out to the people but the only answer to the challenge came from the sons of a poor farmer.

“I shall kill this boar, take the Princess for my wife and leave this wretched life of poverty behind me forever!” declared Ferris, the older of the two brothers.

Farley, the younger and kind-hearted said, “Do not worry, Father, should I prove successful, we shall see better days if the Princess would have me or not. The farmer smiled with great pride at his sons as they went to visit King Mayerfee at the palace.

“So it is only you two who have answered the challenge?” the King said to the boys. “So be it. I would think your best strategy is to enter forest from either side, so as best to trap the beast.”

The boys stood before the King, Ferris with his head high, chest out and a smug smile stretched across his face. Farley did not look at the King directly for he noticed the Princess, who was looking upon her suitors. When their eyes met, Farley quickly dropped his eyes to the floor. He did not feel worthy to look upon such a beautiful face as that which the Princess had.

The boys were dismissed to their task, each to their direction. Farley entered the forest from the west side, furthest from the palace and only ventured in a short way before being met by a short man in raggedy clothes and dark cloak. His hood was pulled over his head, shadowing his face and longer grey hair. He held a black spear in his hands that he lifted toward Farley. The pair stared at each other, waiting for the other to make a move.

“You must take this,” said the little man.

“Why do you give this to me?”

“Because you heart is pure. Take this spear and attack the boar without fear for while you hold it, the beast can do you no harm.”

“My thanks to you, stranger,” Farley said. He shouldered the spear and walked on with new confidence.

When Farley reached the center of the forest, he knew he had reached the lair of the demon boar. Skeletons and rotting corpses of man and animal were loosely tossed about a clearing in the trees. The boar was there as well, glaring at its new prey. It lifted its massive head to stare the boy down. Farley pointed the spear toward the beast and bent low to brace himself. The boar hoofed the ground and snorted ferociously With a loud grunt, it started off in a dead run toward Farley but the boy stood his ground as the monster rushed him. In the time of a single heartbeat, the boar leapt for the boy, Farley dug the butt of the spear in the ground and aimed the point at the beast’s chest. It buried itself so deep and so quick at the speed and weight that it clove its heart in two. Farley stood over his prize, pulled the spear free and cut the demon’s head for his trophy to the King.

Ferris, not having the true sense of bravery in heart, stopped at a house before the entrance of the forest for some wine, dance and bravery found in a bottle. When he stepped outside, he saw his younger brother coming out of the wood, walking proudly with his trophy.

“My brother,” Ferris said, “you have slain the beast!”

“Yes Ferris, I am off to the King for the reward. Our farm is saved.” Farley spoke through a broad smile.

“But what is your hurry, dear brother? Come inside, we must celebrate our victory!”

Together, the brothers shared a bottle of wine as Farley recounted his encounter with the boar to Ferris. The older brother had many questions of the task and kept Farley very late into the night. He offered to walk with Farley to tell the King the boar was dead.

They reached a bridge over a brook in the darkness and the evil of Ferris’s heart took over his mind. He struck Farley from behind so hard that the boy fell dead to the floor of the bridge. Ferris looted the trophy from his brother’s body then heaved him over the side where Ferris buried him ender the bridge. When he tried to claim the spear as well, Ferris’s hands burned on the shaft of the weapon. Dismayed, he kicked the thing into a deeper part of the brook where it sank beneath the water.

Ferris took the boar’s head to the King and spoke his brother’s story as his own. King Mayerfee rejoiced with his people in a grand celebration while Ferris told his father that Farley must have been slain by the beast for he did not return, nor had Ferris seen him when he killed the boar.

Not to the Princess’s greatest delight, she was made to wed Ferris as the King’s promise. They were given land, gold and a great estate with many servants to pamper them throughout the next several years.

It came to pass one day when a shepherd was driving his flock across the bridge, that he looked below and noticed a snow-white bone sticking out of the sand. Taken by the brilliance of the thing, he retrieved it and carved a new mouthpiece for his horn. He fitted it together when he was done and thought to try it out. On his first breath, the horn would not play the notes the shepherd had fingered, but rather it played a song of its own accord complete with a ghostly voice to accompany the tune:

“Ah, friend, though blowest upon my bone. Here by the water long have I lain, killed by my brother in his fury and vain. My trophy he took and the hand of the King’s daughter, buried my body, my spear cast to the water.”

Astonishment at the wonder of this horn, the shepherd rushed off to show it to King Mayerfee. When he blew upon it again and the words filled the ears of the King, he understood it at once. He sent some men to the bridge where the shepherd showed them the spot he found the bone. They soon recovered the gleaming white skeleton of Farley’s body and the spear was found in the water nearby. When the news was returned to King Mayerfee, he was furious at Ferris’s treachery.

“For you deeds so foul against your King and your family, you shall be sewn in a sack and drowned in the brook where you so brutally slew your brother!”

When the order was executed, Ferris’s body was burned to ash. the remains of Farley, however, were gently laid to rest in a beautiful tomb in the churchyard and marked with the true story of the hero that saved them from the demon boar.

 

Here's the original story.


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