(Four Quills and a Tale is a folktale about losing one’s creativity and the struggle to regain it)
As you can imagine, I was agog with surprise and confusion. I had traveled miles and miles in search of the mystical Katerina and there, in that small cottage, my journey ended with an old woman who merely handed me a box of quills and folio of parchment.
Now, as I stare at the items before me, I can only muster the shake of my head. How can these things help me discover what happened to the Great Storyteller?
I do not, dear reader, relish the idea of keeping you in the dark, nor do I intend to quicken your despair. I do, however, require you be provided with a parcel of background about our magical storyteller, thereupon allowing you to not only feel her heartbeat, but its unfortunate absence.
Katrina traveled far spinning her tales so clearly that villagers felt like clay being molded by a gentle potter’s hand.
After departing each village, her cascading auburn hair and multi-colored skirt disappearing into the distance, her tales kept the residents alive with exuberance as if she had dribbled potent nectar from a sorcerer’s cup over the entire town, leaving them enraptured.
The oft-feuding townsmen became docile. Fussy children played with a new aloofness. Hardworking laborers rejoiced as they leaned over hot melting irons or carried objects twice their weight. Women washing clothing in the river disrobed, danced, and splashed one another as if small children.
Katerina had given them something they had all been longing but were unaware they lacked – something new and tantalizing. Something fresh. Exotic stories of gold raining in a forest, a two-headed serpent who entertained himself by singing opera while he ate, a feathered boy whom the red-beaked eagle thrillingly hunted.
Then, after time, Katrina disappeared and it became my life’s focus to find her.
And now, I stare at the quills next to this parchment and work up the courage to pick up the first of four.