Thanks to everyone who helped me pick a name for the wild man. <3s
Also, critcism is welcome, and encouraged.
The entire household was quite amazed at the discovery of this wild man. The father, after trying unsuccessfully to talk with the wild man, declared that he should be locked up a stall in the stables until a better place to put him was found. The father forbade anyone to let the wild man out, and secretly placed the key beneath the mattress of his bed for safekeeping. The kite was all but forgotten.
The wild man’s stall faced into the courtyard, where the children often played. On a particularly windy day, Esmeralda and Orléans recalled their kite, still lost in the forest. As they sat in the courtyard, pining over their kite, the wild man suddenly spoke.
“If you release me, I will get you your kite.”
The two stared at him in shock.
“We can’t do that! Our father has forbidden it!” cried the children. The wild man simply shrugged and settled back into his bed of straw.
The children were soon called to dinner. As they crossed the courtyard to go to their lessons, they noticed wind had picked up, and they further lamented the loss of their kite. The wild man turned to them and said,
“If you set me free, I will get you your kite.”
“We can’t do that! Our father has forbidden it!” they cried. And so the wild man wild man simply shrugged and settled back into his bed of straw.
The children thought of nothing but the kite throughout their lessons. They were still talking about it as they returned across the courtyard for tea, after their lessons were completed. Again the wild man spoke:
“If you release me, I will get you your kite.”
“We can’t do that,” cried Orléans, “Father has forbidden it!”
“Besides, we don’t know where the key is,” said Esmeralda.
“It’s under your parents’ mattress,” said the wild man. The children gasped, and quickly ran inside.
Now, the elder children and their parents were going to dine with some neighbours that night, but the two youngest children were to stay behind so as not to miss their bed times. Soon after tea, they departed in a carriage, leaving the Orléans and Esmeralda in the care of their nanny, who sent them outside to play. Instead of going straight outside, they snuck into their parents’ chambers and found the key to the wild man’s stall. Taking it, they raced outside, and rapped on the door of the stall.
“How did you know where the key was kept?” they demanded.
“I know much more than you think,” he replied.
“And you promise to give us our kite?”
“Yes.” So the children passed the key into the stall, and the wild man unlocked the door and walked out. He immediately broke into a loping run, which sent the children after him, crying,
“You promised! You promised!”
“Just wait,” he called back, and began crossing the fields and meadows between the house and the forest. The children stood at the gate and gazed after him, watching nervously as he disappeared into the trees. Within moments he’d returned, carrying the silken kite and it’s string, unbroken. He set them in the children’s’ hands, and then turned to return to the forest. It was then that the scope of their actions occurred to the children, and they began to cry.
“Please take us with you,” they cried, “for we will be in such trouble when everyone gets home!”
The wild man turned and looked at them for a few moments, then said,
“All right. I pity you. Climb up on my back, and I will take you away.”
So the Esmeralda and Orléans climbed up on his back, and holding on to his hair, were carried away into the forest on the wild man’s back.
Once they had gone a little ways into the forest, the wild man set them down and turned to them.
“You may call me Feo-Arien. Now, I am going to get us some food, and then we will sleep. In the morning, I will explain what you will do to in exchange for staying with me.” With that, his disappeared into the forest, leaving the children to wait for him in the dappled sunlight of the forest.
Feo-Arien returned with bread, cheese, some meat, apples and some clear, sweet water, which he shared between himself and the children. Then, he took them to a cave where he made them beds of spruce boughs and leaves, and there they slept.
In the morning, Feo-Arien took Esmeralda and Orléans to a circular grove of ancient trees.
“This is a sacred grove,” he told them, “and your task is to protect the sacred grove and keep anything from entering the circle. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” they replied.
With that, Feo-Arien, disappeared into the forest. Orléans and Esmeralda were left to amuse themselves in the forest, playing with sticks and leaves, and chasing butterflies. They were careful never to enter the circle, and spent their day happily. At the end of the day Feo-Arien came to get them, producing food for their supper, and then returning them to the cave to sleep.
Life continued in this pattern for many days, until one day the middle brother came upon them in the forest.
“You must come back!” he told them, “Mother and father are worried sick about you. Everyone’s been combing the forest for you. They think the wild man took you and ate you, and they’re planning an expedition into the forest to hunt him down and kill him! Come back, the forest isn’t safe for you!”
Esmeralda and Orléans were quite upset at the news. They refused to return with their brother, saying that they had to warn Feo-Arien of his danger. They knew they were as safe with him in the forest as at home with their parents. They sent their brother back with the tale of the wild man’s compassion, praying that it would keep their parents from taking his life, and waited for the evening.
When Feo-Arien came to collect him, they told him their brother’s news. Their brother had told them that they wouldn’t be punished if they went home, so they asked Feo-Arien if they could return. He agreed that it would be best, and walked with them to the edge of the forest. As they said goodbye, he told them,
“If you ever have need of anything, come to the edge of a forest and call out ‘Feo-Arien!’ What ever you need, I will provide. I have great power, more than you know, and gold and silver to spare.”
And so they parted ways.
Orléans and Esmeralda raced home. Everyone was quite relieved to see them safe and sound. When their father spoke of the expedition to kill the wild man, they pleaded for his life, describing his compassion and kindness until their parents relented.
The years passed, the summers spent at the country house, and the rest of the year in town. The father and the three sons spent their time with lords and dukes, hunting and gaming. They became known among their peers as the kindest, noblest and bravest of men. The mother and the three daughters spent their time at balls and parties, and were noted far and wide for their beauty, grace and good manners. Feo-Arien, the wild man, soon faded into memory and wild tale to be told on long winter nights.
When Esmeralda and Orléans were almost grown, a great sickness fell on the land. Many fell ill, and many died, but the merchant’s family was mercifully untouched. However, trade ground to a halt, and eventually, the family was left alone with but a few loyal servants. The father decided that rather than go hungry, they would move to the house in the country. There, all hands were needed for the tasks of running a house and a farm, so all humbled themselves to the work. Soon their fine clothes were torn and stained, and their smooth skin roughened and tanned. The lords and ladies scorned them because of their changed appearances and fortunes. However, they kept their good natures in spite of these trials.
Late that summer, the father took his eldest son into the city to see how their ships had fared overseas. The news was bad: all the goods not destroyed by a storm at sea had to be used to pay their bills. On their way home, they became caught in a violent storm, with lightning and thunder and hail. They finally returned home late in the night, their cloaks and clothing soaked through.
The next morning, both father and son awoke fevered. All feared they had caught the sickness that had plagued the land. The eldest son recovered quickly, but the father only grew worse. A physician was sent for, but to no avail. The family began to fear that he would die.
One day, Esmeralda went down to the river to wash clothes. As she scrubbed, she began to cry, for she feared what would happen to her family if her father died. Suddenly a small voice by her foot asked,
“Why are you crying, child?”
She looked about her, and there in the water was a little copper fish.
“I’m crying because my father is ill and dying,” she replied. The little fish looked at her carefully and said,
“There is a way to cure him. But it will be very dangerous and difficult. How much are you prepared to give to save your father’s life?”
“I’d give anything,” she swore.
“Very well. You must travel to the Copper Fairy’s garden. There you’ll find two wells: one blue, one green. You must bring your father back some water from both, mixed in equal parts. You may only carry it in a copper vessel. The wells are poisoned, but it is the antidote to the poison that runs in the veins of your father this very instant. If he does not drink this poison, he will die. However, you must be certain not to drink any of the water in the copper land, or you will die.”
Esmeralda grew very afraid, but she thought of her family should her father die, and gained courage.
“Must I do this? Must I do it alone?” she asked.
“No. But it must be someone in your family.”
“How will I find the Copper Fairy’s garden?”
“I can show you the way, as it is my home. Just put me in your pocket, and give me a coal to eat ever day, a drop of fresh water to drink, and I will tell you where to go.”
So Esmeralda picked up the fish and put him in her pocket, and rushed in to her family. When she told them the little fish’s words, they became hopeful that their father might live. But who should go? Not the eldest son, for he had to remain in town to handle the business here.
Not the middle son, for he was to depart by ship to trade in distant lands two days hence. The mother, weakened by worry, felt she could not undertake the journey, and the two eldest sisters would need to run the house and the farm. So the arduous journey fell to Esmeralda and Orléans.