The Prophecy of the Lordless Land
“You will have your answer when you bring to this place a leafless tree, a mirthless child and a
roofless house.” Beyond this she would not speak nor could they entice nor force of her any aid with this riddle.
So it came that the two lords grew old and were unable to rule as once they had. And in the fullness of time each ceded his place to his eldest son. As they had feared the two young lords grew jealous and made war upon each other for the sake of the disputed land. And so the old lords were saddened for the peace they had long upheld was so shattered.
Now one of these lords had a daughter and she fairer than the stars to look upon. Her brother, now ruling their land, saw his sister as a prize that might bring to him wealth and honour in a great marriage. But one day he looked upon her and he saw that her gown, though once so loose, no longer fitted and that her face was pale and drawn, and he grew angry for he knew then his sister was with child. No threat could obtain from her the father of her child so the young lord decreed that, for her treachery, his sister should be put to death.
At this his father rose from his chair and, though old and tired, remonstrated with his son and pleaded with him for his daughter’s life. Eventually it was declared that the girl should not be slain but instead left in the disputed land, chained in a goat pen, with nothing to sustain her. Her child, when it was born was to be left there to die. And with this the old lord had to be content.
So the girl was left in the unknown land to weep and bemoan her fate, for she well knew that her brother, as cruel a man as her father was kind, would never let her return to her home and would gladly see her dead of hunger and cold. But as the night fell there came slipping over the way the youngest son of the neighbouring land, as good again as was his brother unkind. And gladly she looked upon him, for this was her love and the father of her child. Yet she feared for his life should her brother find him. Still her love comforted her in her misery, wrapped her in a blanket, and fed her, by his own hands, a bowl of acorn gruel sent by his aged father.
The girls fears were soon shown to be justified alas, for her brother, hot with fury, came to that place with his armies and his court to see his sister dead: ”behold” he cried “the traitress and her lord! Shall I have mercy now my puling father?” and he drew his sword. Yet he could not strike, for as he raised his arm he felt himself frozen, halted and cast back. Then spoke the old one who for so many years had not been seen: “ As I told you so has it come to pass: the acorn carries a tree yet it has no leaf, the pen houses goats yet is it roofless, the child unborn shares no mirth. By these signs may you know my prophecy fulfilled and that though they have no crown these two now shall rule this land. This is the answer you asked for my lords.”
And so by the old one’s word the two cruel lords were deposed and their younger siblings crowned in their place over both their lands. There came a great crowd of strangers cloaked in blue with their faces hooded over as legend tells and they raised there a castle in a vale of oaks and they brought food and ale to the young lady and her lord and cloaked them in finery, and so bad them stay as good and gentle rulers of the uncertain land and all beyond it. And from that line sprang heroes and kings.
Tales done, story’s spun.