Down to Talen Hall

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to clare_dragonflyprompt.  It wandered a bit from the prompt…

“Talen” is an homage to someone who will likely never read this…  And obviously the poem/song in this is an homage to 

O I forbid you, maidens all, 
That wear gold in your hair,
To come or go by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.


Do not go by the TalenHall
Where ruined Talen’s Holdings Lie

Talen’s Hall was nothing but a stack of rocks in a loose square.  To look at it in the daylight, you’d never believe it had ever been more than that, some chance stacking of field stone in lines, probably by a farmer clearing fields, more stones scattered about the inside.

There was a song about it, the sort of thing that almost nobody remembered except on campfire singalongs.  It had a nice melody and you could sway along while you sang.  But most people thought the myth of Talen’s Hall had been made up to match the song, not the other way around.

Do not go dance with gentles tall
and twisted, in the pale moon’s light

It was a dare, in these days – go spend a night in Talen Hall.  Go do some plies or a little jig, waltz with your friends and tell stories about the shadows and the creatures you think are living in there.  Drink some stolen beer and say what you’d do if you caught some elf or some strange ghost in the rocks – the myths about who, exactly, lived in Talen Hall varied from year to year.   Last year, it had been vampires.

Do not go down in eventide,
where once the pride of Talen sang

Kara Jana did not go down with her friends.  She’d heard the girls giggling about it a few day before, and heard them whispering and scoffing the next day, that there was nothing at all to be afraid of, just some rocks and some old silverware, probably left by hobos.  They’d drank too much beer and wandered off, and nothing had been remotely as cool as their older sisters made it out to be.

But Kara knew better, because they hadn’t listened to the whole song.  There was a whole list of “do nots” to follow, and you had to follow every one of them.

Do not look what the shadows hide
When luna rides o’er  summer lake.

Kara knew what they weren’t talking about, too, that two of them hadn’t had one older sister but two, and that they had gone up to Talen Hall and never come back.

Oh, daughters, do not climb that hill,
and do not give them what they seek,

She’d had an older sister, too.  And this year, she was old enough to leave the house without explaining things.  This year, she had a flashlight and an iron firepoker, the entire song of Talenhall and, better yet, the song the Pride of Talen just might have sung.

Oh, child, stay on lowlands now
When the lilies bloom by Talen Lake.

This year, she walked up in evening to Talen Hall, when the moon was just glimmering on the shining lake, and she looked into the shadows and sang as the light touched the rocks.  She let the shadows take her hands and danced, her feet finding the edges of the fairy ring, just more rocks, white rocks glimmering in the moonlight, and as the gates opened in the middle of Talen Hall, as the shadows, twisted and tall, held her more solidly, Kara swung her iron bar with all her strength.

The things that wait by Talen Hall
Drape lies and songs and rhymes for name

But daughter, do not sing their song
Do not give the creatures your pride nor shame. 
She swung her fire-poker three times, because three was the number of such things, and each time she hit solid flesh and solid skin. “Give them back,”she cried.  “Give them back, give them back, give them back!”

And then, because the story had a force to it, even when she held iron in her hands, she sang it,

“You cannot have the ones you took
They are not yours to claim”

The twisted, tall creature fell to its feet.  It made noises that might, once, have been song, but Kara hit it again, and again, and again.

“This is our world and not your book.
Give back their pride and shame.”

The creature exploded in light.  The fairy ring exploded in fire.  The rocks of the Hall itself seemed to burn, their light reaching to the sky itself.

And from the opening no bigger than a doorway poured girl after girl, sister and aunt and great-aunt and cousin after sister after daughter.

Do not go by the Talen Hill 

Sang the fair folk

Where Jana’s Kara holds the steel.
Do not sing in the pale moonlight
When luna rides o’er  warm lake’s night.


Want more?


Back from Talen Hall:

6 thoughts on “Down to Talen Hall

  1. «She let the shadows take her hands»

    She must have had the poker somehow concealed, perhaps down her back under her clothes.

    • You know, I was thinking that too, but I decided the song took care of that. I.e., I was tired. 😀 Maybe I’ll throw another line in there later.

      • It’s possible to stuff a poker down your pants, though you’ll walk funny. But if the residents of TalenHall aren’t expecting such a thing, they may just think she’s got a dodgy leg.

        She might also put it across her back, as so many fantasy warriors do with swords, for an over-the-shoulder draw.

  2. I thought I’d already commented:
    Moar plz! Though I don’t see where this tale can go after its stunning climax and conclusion.

    • “Though I don’t see where this tale can go”
      Certainly not in this style. I think this one’s quite reasonably done here.
      But I note that you have *not* prompted for the zebra call. You could go ask for other fairy tales, plenty of which could fit with the theme.

  3. Have the captured people aged at all? And either way, the local community is going to have a hard time reintegrating them all at once.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *