The Lady of the River. Once, a young maiden was pushed into a river by her eldest sister, Anne, who was jealous and wanted to marry the maid’s true love, a prince by the name of William. The maiden drowned, but the latent power within the river transformed her into a swan; and, in that form, she was discovered far downstream by a miller’s daughter. As the miller and his child admired the swan, a passing harper shot it with bow and arrow so that he could make a harp of the feathers and bones. When he finished building the harp, however, it began to play by itself, and so the astonished harper brought it to Court. There, the king, queen, and princes—one of whom was William—listened as the harp told the tale of the young maiden’s murder at the hands of her sister, Anne. This tale has been captured in a folkloric ballad, entitled “The Bonny Swans,” as written by (it is rumored) Laryn Goldentongue.
[See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsNJuhBfbPg All credit for the song “The Bonny Swans” goes to Loreena McKennitt.]
The Shankill Butchers. The Shankill Butchers were a group of three peasant siblings—Leon, Rowen, and Erik Shankill—born and bred in Stemma. Rowen and Erik excelled at fighting, each favoring blades, while Leon pursued the shaman profession. As they grew older, they turned to banditry to make a living. Their signature trademark was to kidnap children, who were easy targets, and cut their throats; Leon would then raise the bodies as undead servants and send them to raid their own homes. For more than five years, the Shankill siblings—quickly becoming known as the “Shankill Butchers”—terrorized villages in the area where Stemma, Hawksworth, and Blacknall intersect. Finally, their hideout was located and the bandits executed. Over time, they have become legends; parents often warn their children to behave, lest the Shankill Butchers come after them. There is a popular folksong to this effect, by the name of “Shankill Butchers.”
[See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLY0HNds_tE All credit for the song “The Shankill Butchers” goes to the Decemberists.]
[I apologize that this post is belated–due to family obligations yesterday, I was unable to post in a timely fashion. I hope you will forgive me!]
The following tale is considered a regional tale, particularly well-known to those who live in and around Ravensgate in Stemma.
Eli Whitaker, “the Barrow-boy.” God-chosen of the Black God, Eli Whitaker lived many centuries ago as a near-penniless peasant-merchant of odds and ends. The exact reasons for his ongoing servitude to the god are unclear, but it is fairly well-known how and why he originally went to his final death: After saving up his humble earnings for a very long time in the hopes of winning the hand of a local noble’s daughter, Eli was informed that she had, in fact, passed on many years ago of disease. Some people blame heartbreak, while others claim he simply went mad, having lusted after a wandering spirit for so long without understanding that she was dead; whatever the case, the unfortunate boy dressed in an outfit of heavy corduroy, tied stones to his wrists and feet, and drowned himself in the nearby river.
Since that time, Eli—now referred to by his colloquial nickname, “Eli the barrow-boy”—has appeared from time to time near the graveyard in which his body is interred, in order to continue his earlier sales. Although he still offers his strange assortment of knickknacks, it is rumored that he also deals in stranger wares. These fantastic rumors have led to a rash of attempts to steal the barrow-boy’s body from its resting place, which is currently located within the Ravensgate cemetery.
There is a popular folksong by the name “Eli the Barrow-boy” which references Eli Whitaker.
[See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz7wKhVa_VE All credit for the song “Eli the Barrow-boy” goes to the Decemberists. Note that the lyrics need to be changed from “silk Arabian thread” to “and Stemman thread” to keep them in-game and appropriate to the world.]