The Mangar Prince and the Fairest Daughter (Short Story)

In those days the races of Falaer lived in peace, upholding their virtuous duties as caretakers of the world. The age of discovery had begun; the ancestors of the mighty mountain tribes, the Mangar, were in dominion over the lands of the west. They were a powerful race, and among the most noble was a prince named Imdel, a strong man who was wise and cared very much for his people. Every spring Imdel would set out to survey the vast domain of his people, from the western sea to the valley of Emendíl in the east, from the southern shores of Gaman to the wild woodlands of Ilfalden in the north.

One year Imdel decided to travel through the rough country of the north, further than he had ever before gone. He set out alone, with only a wooden stave, his cloak, and a few supplies. His journey was long and arduous for there were few roads in that part of the world. Then, having traveled the wild lands for a fortnight and a half, Imdel grew tired and very thirsty. Eventually he came upon a sylvan glen; a grove of yew, hemlock, and pine that grew about a clear mountain spring. A pool filled the deepest end of the glen, fed by the spring and was emptied into a winding river around the arms of the mountain.

Drinking from the cold waters of the spring, Imdel and was greatly refreshed. The prince named that place Erdonnoth, which meant “place of fortune” in his native tongue. (To this day the forest grove and mountain spring within are still known by this name.) Yet even as Imdel considered everything he saw and reasoned, he grew suddenly tired and fell asleep at the water’s edge.

The prince was awoken ere dawn break by an alluring song that seemed to ride the air like a crisp, redolent breeze. He was first convinced that still he slept, for the woods about were otherwise still. Soon, a company of women—beautiful, sylph-like maidens—came into the glen, singing an enchanting melody and dancing. As they came to sit by the pool their beauty captivated the prince, for there were none akin to the Daughters of Faera in either grace or charm. He then spoke among them, presenting himself after the manner of his kinfolk. Although the women were first afraid of the prince in his great stature, they soon welcomed him. (In those days, the Mangar and Faera lived peacefully among their brethren, for the spirit of strife had yet to rise among them.)

Imdel became very fond of the Daughters of Faera and listened to their endless song with much devotion. He remained with them for many days before he went home, promising to return the following year. This he did for many times, always yearning to return the following spring. Ever did the prince grow fond of the songstress maidens, and they of him; they would sing of nature and of heroic tales after their own tradition. Yet there was one among the company of maidens whom Imdel loved above the rest, for she was fairest of all and had the sweetest of voices. In turn, the Fairest Daughter also loved the Mangar prince.

One day, the Elders of Faera who had been watching them, said unto him, “Oh Prince of Mangar, we know that you love the Daughters of Faera for you visit them every year near the mountain spring. More so, we know of your love for the Fairest Daughter. Would that you marry her and be joint to our kin?”

“I would have it, and with much joy,” said the prince.

“If this you vow,” said the Elders. “Then you must learn our people’s song. You must seek out the seven songbirds in their seven wild groves. Once you’ve learned our song, that the wild birds sing, return again unto us and the Fairest Daughter shall be given to you.”

Imdel agreed and immediately went about the wild groves in search of the seven songbirds. He asked of them, “Please teach me your song so that I may win my bride who is the Fairest Daughter.” This he said to all seven of the songbirds in their seven groves, but the songbirds refused to teach him for they knew him not. This he asked of the birds for seven days, every morning as they sang from their nests in the boughs. Yet every day they refused and would not teach him their song.

The prince then went out and cut down three hundred saplings, stripping them of their skin to fashion rope, which he weaved into a net. He did so, saying, “If the songbirds will not teach me freely then I shall capture them and demand of them the song.” So, for several days more he hunted the reluctant songbirds, capturing the seven and asking again that they teach him their song. “Do this and you shall be freed. Then, perhaps, you will learn to be more kind to a prince of Mangar.”

The seven songbirds then taught Imdel their song, and quickly he learned it. True to his word the prince released them to return to their homes in the boughs of the seven groves. Thus, having endured the test of the Elders of Faera, the Mangar prince came among them and sang their song. With their blessing, then, Imdel took the Fairest Daughter to be his wife and they lived evermore together.

This story was written for a university composition class.