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The Black Thief and the Knight of the Glen

Popular with: Tarsikka, Tharici, Oresund, Athral Isle
Unpopular with: None
Less known by: Akathia, Gaunt, Principalites
Archtypes, if any: Warrior(2,3,5), Trickster(4), Wise Man (1)
Variations, if any: NA

A dying queen made her husband promise to hide her children from the new queen by raising them in an island on a lake. When the king remarried, a Tharici witch1 told the stepmother she knew a secret, and when the queen paid her richly, told her of her stepchildren. The new queen grew furious, and demanded that they be brought to court. The Tharici gave the queen cards, and told her to play with the stepchildren. If she won, she could compel them to a bind themselves to a task of her choosing. If she lost though, she would have to be so compelled.

The queen defeated her older two stepchildren2,3, but the youngest4 won. She set a quest that the older two must steal the Knight of the Glen's5 wild Steed of Bells. The youngest said that she would go with her brothers, and set a compulsion that the Stepmother stand on a tower with her face to the wind, with a sheaf of corn to eat and water to drink, until they returned.

The princes and princess met Caiomhe, the Black Thief and told her of their task. The Black Thief warned them that the Knight of the Glen was far more dangerous than they knew, but came with them, intrigued by the challenge. They snuck into the enchanted stable where the Knight of the Glen kept the steed, but when they lifted the bridle, the horse shook his head and rang the bells. This awoke the Knight and they were caught.

The Knight took them to a furnace to boil them for sneak-thievery, from the oldest to the youngest of the children, and then the Black Thief. The Black Thief said that she had once been in more danger than the oldest was right now, and escaped with her life. The Knight said that if she told her that story, she would pardon the oldest son. Caiomhe, the Black Thief said that she had once seen three Northern Witches going to sleep with their gold under the heads to keep her from stealing it; she had put turf under their heads instead and gone off with the gold. They chased her as a greyhound, a hare, and a hawk. She climbed a tree. They changed themselves into a smith's anvil and a piece of iron, which the third one made a hatchet of, and she started to cut down the tree. But just then, a cock crowed and the sun began to rise. The axe disappeared, and they fled back into the woods.

Impressed, the Knight pardoned the oldest son and set about to boil the second.

The Black Thief said he might yet escape, and the Knight said that if Caiomhe had a tale in another such great danger, she would pardon the second. The Black Thief told she had heard how a rich Judge had been buried with jewels and rich robes, and went to rob the grave. She heard footsteps and lost courage. Then she met with a dark figure, at whom she shot an arrow, and found it was one of the Judge's Adjutants, who had already rifled the tomb. Some guards came. She held up the body, and the guards shot at it, and ran into the tomb to ensure she had no others with her. The Black Thief escaped once they were past her.

The Knight pardoned the second youth and said she would pardon the youngest for yet another such tale.

The Black Thief told how she had once come to a castle in the Eastern wasteland, surrounded by a village of terrified hill-people. Creeping around the back of the castle, near the kitchens, she met a hill-woman holding a child and weeping. the hill-woman told her that a massive troll lived there and had ordered her to kill the child and cook it in a pie. Caiomhe killed a pig and had the hill-woman cut off a finger; then she baked the pie. When the troll gathered his fellow trolls for dinner, the woman hid Caiomhe in a room where the troll kept corpses. The troll doubted the pie, but the woman showed him the finger. Being not full, the troll went to cut off some meat from the corpses, and cut off some from the thief. She did not cry out, and the troll got drunk and slept. She blinded it but could not kill it. The troll threw a ring after her, and it leapt on his toe, where it called out whenever the troll did. The thief cut off the toe and threw it into a fishpond, where it called to the troll, who followed and drowned.

Once this story was told, the youngest pulled out the card with which she'd beaten her Stepmother, and the Tharici Woman sprang out of it. She told the knight that the knight had been the baby and she the woman, and the Black Thief the one who had saved her life. The children explained to the knight why they had to get the horse. To spare their lives, she gave them the horse gladly. From her tower perch, the wicked queen heard the bells of the horse coming, and threw herself to her death.