The Silver Bell
Oh furlings, come gather around the Storyteller’s Circle, I have a tale to tell, a story my grandmother told me, who was told by her own grandmother!
Yes, yes, gather around the fireplace -- but know that the best spot is reserved for the Storyteller
Long ago There was once an old fox king, he was fragile but noble and kind. He had a temple built in his castle so so he could pray every day with his people and in the temple was a shiny silver bell in the bell tower, no bigger than an apple.
The first time silver bell was struck, it sung so beautifully and so clearly on the first day of prayer which the whole land could hear. When the silver bell sound dropped into the ears of the king, he suddenly became young again and to keep young he asked his three children to ring the bell so he could remain young forever and let the kingdom thrive.
One day, the Eldest Son climbed into the top of the tower to ring the bell, but it was missing. He began to search and far beyond the young Prince saw a bell shimmering in the forest. The eldest son left the tower at once and spoke to his father and vowed to return it.
“Prime-speed my son and return with the bell as soon as possible,” was all his father could muster to say.
The Prince arrived at the forest as the Sun began to set and began to look for the bell, but after a few hours of hopelessly searching a thought occurred to him: if his father passed away, wouldn’t that make him the new king? As he thoughtlessly wandered, a corvid approached him and said: “Prince, the bell has been stolen by a group of bandits who wish to keep it ransom, I can show you where it is!”
The prince approached the bandits with a smile and negotiated not for the bell itself, but for another plan altogether.
“Hide the bell, for if you do I will reward you in the next kingdom.” The bandits all agreed knowing the cunning prince would have to keep his promise. The next morning, the Eldest Prince arrived and explained to his father that he could not find the bell; he was disappointed, but understood that he had tried his best.
Now, The Youngest Daughter, had been worrying about her father so much that she could no longer hold her prized bow without a tremble in her fingers. She climbed the tower just like her brothers to see if she could find clues and found the corvid exhausted. Seeing him stricken, she returned back with a pitcher of water, which the corvid drank quickly.
“Thank you Princess, I shall consider you a friend; now I shall tell you everything,” And so the raven explained what her Elder brothers were doing and she knew that she was going to be the last hope for her father.
“Corvid, have you seen where the bell hangs now?”
The Corvid knew exactly where it was: “The bell is in the Kingdom of the Quarterprime, in the royal gardens under an oak tree’s the bell rests, I would pick it up myself but I have little strength to carry such a heavy thing.”
“Then I shall get it myself,” The princess began to pack and ready herself for an adventure, but the bird hushed her:
“You will have to pack lightly not to be suspicious to your brothers. Take the commoner’s clothing and do not strive about like any princess, but as the Fox Hero. I will accompany you and if you run out of arrows may fletch more arrows with my own feathers.”
So two of them set forth and after many days and nights, through forest, desert, mountain and sea, helping people in need, the Fox Hero using her bow to strike true and the Corvid using his many magical tricks. They became famous all over the land and the bow that the Fox Hero held was considered to be magical.
After weeks of traveling. The two arrived at the city where the Quarterprime lived and approached the Royal Garden. The Fox Hero had quickly spotted where the bell was hanging.
“It won't be hard to pick up the bell but it’s ringing will alert all the guards in the castle,” the Corvid explained.
“But it’s too high up for me to pick out from the tree.” She took out the bow and began to plan: “I will have to shoot down the branch that holds it, it will fall down silently if you pluck it from the air and let it float down.”
The Fox Princess let go an arrow which swung the tree trunk and the bell slowly slid from the branch. But just as she went to catch it, the bell hit a single falling leaf, alerting the guards who quickly surrounded them.
The Fox Hero and the Corvid was taken to the Quarterprime and he said, “I see you are a criminal from the Fox Kingdom, I should have you executed for stealing!”
The princess had to think quick on her feet and said, “I am the Daughter of the Old Fox King, he asked for me to return the silver bell back to him. If you execute me, then the Old Fox King will make sure your kingdom finds no peace ever again!”
The Quarter Prime stroked his black beard for a moment and thrummed his talons, and said, “Very well, if you are his true daughter you must be the Fox Hero and if he wants the bell, I shall trade for it for your magnificent and magical bow.”
The Princess was struck silent, but eventually she found her voice. She said she wouldn’t give the king an answer before she could speak with her friend in private and so he agreed to do so.
“I shall part with my bow. But must for my father and the kingdom,” she was on the verge of tears and about to accept the proposal.
“Worry not princess you shall not give him the bow! Remember that the bow isn’t truly magical, but the magic I have imbibes it. Remember the arrows made from my feathers? They are truly magical: they let you to switch places wherever they strike.
“If you hide one of my primaries in your golden hair and draw the bow as far as possible, you will change placed to wherever the arrow hits unharmed. Agree to the trade but at the moment when he gives you the bell, ask to test it for one last time and let loose an arrow before you trade it away and we will be safely out of his kingdom in an instant. Let him have the bow, but know that all our magic is between us.”
Immediately the Fox Hero hugged the Corvid, “Dear Friend-Corvid, forever I am in debt to you. I will agree to the Quarterprime’s demand and follow your advice.”
When the Quarterprime was delighted to learn that she would agree and began a competition with his own guards. Because the Quarterprime placed his trust in her, the bell was placed in a sack on her side filled with cotton so it did not ring. As the competition continued, the Princess bragged that she could let loose an arrow that would end up into her kingdom from the courtyard.
Everyone was doubtful but allowed her to show off her marksmanship, only to laugh at her.
She drew back her bow and let loose a single raven-feathered arrow into the sky, just as it began to drop back down to the earth the Corvid scooped up the arrow in the air. The Quarterprime saw what was happening and applauded her for such a clever trick.
But as he approached her to take the bow, she disappeared and the bow clattered to the floor! The moment the arrow hit the ground into the Princess’s Kingdom she would be safe and the Quaterprime would have his bow, however useless.
When the Princess returned, she triumphantly showed her father the bell. When she rang it her father became young again. When the king learned of his son’s treachery he banished him out of his kingdom and offered his kingdom to his daughter, but she refused: “All I need in this world is a good friend and the magic we share between.” And with that she travelled forever with her Corvid friend, being heroes forever and ever. But they say every time that small bell rings, every heroric archer in the world can’t help but touch the fletches of their arrows in honor of all their friends who helped them along the way.