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The Wood Elf Tree

Once upon a time, in the great expanse of forest that ranged across, northern Europe, there was found a unique variety of tree. It was called the wood elf tree. Wood elves always lived in this tree from time before we started counting time.

One day the prince who lived nearby in a castle, rode past the tree on his horse. It was a very big horse, and it’s hooves sank down deeply into the ground at the base of the tree as the prince looked up in amazement. He could see, delicate winged fairies and elves moving throughout the whole tree. He called out to them, but they would not answer him.

Finally he got down from his huge horse, and started to climb up to the elves. He wanted to see their “tree house” and he wanted to catch one and bring it home to his castle to live with him. The queen of the fairies watched him from her perch in the top of the tree. From here she could see everything that was happening in her tree.

Realizing that one of her fair young elves would be enslaved in the castle, if she did not get rid of the prince, she quickly devised a plan. If he would accomplish a task for her, she could reward him.

She came down to the prince and said to him, “Abra, cadabra, this is a magician’s tree. There is great magic here, and you may perform one magic spell that I can teach you, if you go back to your castle and wait there for your fairy kin to come to you. You must wait for 33 years, and you must never doubt my words. You may not take a wife during that time.”

The prince rushed home with stars in his eyes. He waited with never a doubt about the fairy elfkin that would come to him. He wrote many poems about the wood elf tree and kept them hidden in preparation for that day. He never left his castle.

Finally after 33 years, in the spring, he had his servants clean and sweep the whole place. He hung out many lovely banners of welcome to the elfkin who would come. On the exact day, 33 years after his first encounter with the elf queen in her tree, he had a mysterious visitor.

“Come with me to the elf queen,” said the visitor.

“No, I may not” he replied. “I must wait here, and by my oath, here I will wait!”

At once the visitor turned into a beautifully dressed elfkin, so lovely, that she fairly radiated the sunlight around her.

“I am your elfkin, that you have waited for so long,” she said to him.

Now the prince was overjoyed to see that his wish had come true, as the queen had promised. He said, “what is the magic that your queen has promised to teach me?”

“That you must decide for yourself, ” replied the little elfkin. “You may keep me here in your castle forever, if that is what magic you wish, or you may learn something else of the queen.”

“But.I was told I could also learn a magic trick!” he exclaimed.

“Then, you must bring me home to the elf-tree,” said the elfkin, “and I will stay there with you as my prize.”

“But, I do not wish to stay in your tree!” the prince exclaimed. “My real home is in this castle!” Why should I give it up?”

Then the elfkin answered, “Would you require that I exile myself from my home, in order to stay in your castle with you?”

Then the prince could see and feel what he had asked of the elves, when, in his youth he had tried to capture one of them to keep with him in his castle. He forthwith set the elfkin free, and said, “give my greetings to the Queen, please. I am setting you free to return to your home”.

As soon as he had uttered this, the elfkin suddenly transformed into the Queen herself.

“Now you may have your magic wish,” she said. “From now on the magic tree of the elves will stand rooted in your castle courtyard, and we will live here with you always”

From that day forth, the prince went daily to visit with the tree elves in their tree. He learned their wisdom and followed their counsels. He became the wisest and most benevolent ruler in all the land.

Writing by Regina Stemberger
Photo “Glorious Sunsplashed Morning” by jurvetson

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