Takoda’s Song


Here follows a retelling of the Aztec Fifth Sun legend.  In the original story, Nanoatzin, the old god, is pitted against Tecuciztecatl, the proud young god, in a battle to find their place in the heavens.  In this reimagining, the protagonist and the antagonist are brothers who are destined to take their place in the heavens, but are rivals for same love interest.  The names selected are North American native names to give it a more familiar flare.   As usual, comments and critiques are welcome.

Target age:  9 to 14 years.  Both genders.  Word count target: 1000

Takoda’s Song

              Takoda had never felt so cold as in these last weeks.  How many days had passed?  A hundred?  A thousand?  Maybe more.  Here in the Cave of Preparation, the Feather-Spirits waited with him while the new planet was finished.  He could remember when Elu, the Great Eagle and Creator, had summoned him.

“Takoda, most humble of Feather-Spirits, I have chosen you to give light to a new world that I will make.”

“Great Father,” said Takoda, for he dared not speak his name, “I accept this grave honor.”

“At the appointed hour, the Chosen Ones will sing the Glimmering Song and become stars.  And one will be given a great and terrible task.”

Takoda had left Elu’s presence brimming with great joy.  What could the special task be?  He had heard rumor that only the best Feather-Spirits were chosen to be lights.  He had heard that Sakari, most virtuous of Elu’s angels, would go to the Cave as well.

He looked at her now, shivering in the icy cave, radiant as the shining star she would become.  No one spoke in the cave, but they had often stared into each other’s smiling faces.  He hoped that she could see in his eyes how much he loved her, how much he yearned to spend eternity with her in the new sky.

Nearby, glaring at him with growing envy, was Kuruk, strongest and proudest.  Long had he endeavored to win the affections of Sakari, who had laughed at his feats of strength, and giggled through his long-winded odes to his own mighty deeds.

Takoda loved Kuruk as well, for he was his brother.  He knew Kuruk resented him now more than ever.

“Folly!” Kuruk had charged long ago, when he found out that Takoda was chosen.  “You are not yet grown, and yet you are picked to give light.”

“You are hardly older than I,” Takoda reminded him.  “Let the wisdom of the Great Eagle bear itself out.”

In the Circle of Heaven, their rivalry had been one-sided.  Takoda was humblest of angels and meek before his brother, even in front of Sakari.  He wondered if that was why she never had pledged to him.

Here in the Cave, it would be different.  Takoda prepared his heart and steeled his mind for the terrible task.  Whatever it was, he would finally show Sakari his worth; he would finally be with her.  Surely she would pledge then.

The Cave shook with Elu’s call.  The time for light had come.  One by one, the Feather-Spirits emerged.  First went Nodin, swiftest.  He sang the Glimmering Song, filling the opening of the Cave with silver brilliance.  Takoda’s eyes brimmed with tears as the strains soared to their climax, Nodin’s body bathed in white flames as his music swooped and swelled and pulsed.  Then Nodin was gone, swept up into the sky.

Takoda watched them go out one by one to sing and then alight: Meda, holiest, then Aiyana, the fairest, then Wapeka, most skilled weaver, and Taima, of loudest voice.  He waited until the end, hoping to perform the great task.  His eyes followed Sakari as she stepped forward to take her place in the sky.  Finally, only he and Kuruk were left.

“Come forth and gaze upon this world that I have made,” came the voice of Elu.

They both walked out of the cave, and Takoda could now see the new starlit world, but something was terribly wrong.  The creatures, great and small, were shivering and slowly dying.

“One of you must save them,” declared Elu.  “Sing the Death Song and give your body to be burned forever.  You will die doing this thing.”

This could not be!  Takoda thought of Sakari, already waiting for him.  He looked at the beautiful creatures, lovingly made by Elu, yet fading in dark shadows of the new world.

Suddenly, Kuruk began to sing, boldly and proudly!  This would be his greatest achievement!  But fear gripped his heart as the red flames began to touch him.  He refused to die.  He refused to leave Sakari.  Kuruk failed and turned to stone.

Now Takoda breathed deeply of the icy stillness, and sang out, of love and death and the world’s beginning and end.  As the red flames swirled about his limbs, still he cried out in singular melody.  Yellow fire consumed him and his body convulsed in agony.  Feeling his life force slipping away, he whispered a prayer: “May Elu bless you, Sakari.”

Now Elu sang.  In the strains of the Divine Medicine song, Takoda was no more, but was reborn as Ishan, the Sun.  Elu lifted him into the sky to warm all the creatures of the world.

Kuruk he placed on the far side of the world to be the Moon, never again to shine but by the light of others.

“Great Father,” cried Ishan.  “I did not know it would be like this.  I know not words to speak of this joy.  Only I regret that I will never again see Sakari, brightest of stars.”

“Child, she is pledged unto you forever, for she knows your fate and your worth.  Look upon her now, for she is the morning star, always to share in your radiance.”

At this Ishan smiled, and looked lovingly at Sakari.  Then he turned his face toward the earth.

© 2009 Daniel Alegria

A faerie tale, in classic style



                 Lorelei lived in a lonely cottage with her father in the middle of a peculiar forest.  All of the trees for miles around were apple trees, but the two never wondered at that; there were no other people.  It isn’t hard to imagine what Lorelei and her father ate.  They ate apple pies, apple cakes, baked apples, dried spicy apples; they drank apple cider.  Now, lest one think this would become dreary after a while, one should know that there were all manner of apples to be had, ones that do not grow in our own country.

Some apples tasted like mincemeat, and some tasted like orange.  Some apples reminded you of carrots, and still others were rather like porridge.  Tiny apples, giant apples, and all sizes in between could be found, high in the uppermost branches and low near the grass in dwarf bushes.

One wintry afternoon, when the apples rarely grow, Lorelei was foraging for golden bell apples in the lowest branches of the smallest shrubs, frozen in the drifts of snow. As she plucked them and placed them in her apron, she suddenly heard a small shrill voice.

“Good morning, good maiden!”

“Good morning?  Why, it’s already two hours before sunset,” she protested, looking about for the source of the voice.

“Indeed!” said the voice.  “Only I have just woken up, so to me it seems quite like the morning; but now that you mention it, the sun is coming up in the wrong direction.”

“You mean it is going down,” she corrected.

“Going down.  Coming up.  It’s all the same when you can’t go anywhere,” the voice answered.

“Where are you?” asked Lorelei, growing curious now.

“In your apron just now.”

“Oh my goodness!” cried Lorelei, spilling her apples.

There amongst the scattered golden fruit was a tiny golden frog, wrapped tightly in a ball.  She must have plucked it out of the bush without noticing.  It was quite still.

“Oh do take me inside with you that I may be warmed by your fire,” the frog pleaded.

“I really can’t bring strangers home,” she informed the frog.

“What is your name?” asked the frog.


“Lorelei, how do you do?  My name is Felina.  See?  We are strangers no more.”  It looked as if the frog smiled.

“Okay, then,” declared the girl, picking her up and filling her apron again.  “Let’s go home.”

The sky was just beginning to dim when she reached the door of the cottage.

“Fa-ther!” she called, as she passed inside.  “I want you to meet someone.”

“Lorelei!  You know I don’t enjoy visitors,” grumbled her father, coming in from the workshop in back.  Her father was in fact a grumbly sort of man, demanding of Lorelei, and rarely pleased by his daughter’s work.

But even he was amused by the creature in his daughter’s hand.

“What a strange little frog!” he exclaimed.  “Why I haven’t seen one of those in many winters, not since…,” he trailed off.  His silvery eyes looked off in the distance as he rubbed his graying hair.

“Father, this is Felina,” explained Lorelei.  “I found her while picking the golden bell apples.  It’s so cold outside, Father, couldn’t she stay with us?”

“Well, that’s hardly another mouth to feed,” her father remarked. “I suppose she can stay with us for a while.”

“Thank you, kind sir!” exclaimed the frog as she hopped to the floor and plunked down near the fire.

The evening came on and the night wind whistled through the cracks in the door; but the fire roared hot and the sweet smell of applewood put everyone in a cheerful mood.  Lorelei sang while her father fiddled, and to their surprise Felina joined in.  Just at that moment, the cat woke up.

He was a massive black cat that napped most of the day. He hadn’t been awake when Lorelei came home with the frog.  Now his eyes opened to a curious scene, not so much the music but the little golden creature singing by the fire.  Was it a mouse?  Older than Lorelei herself, his eyes weren’t as sharp as in former days.  Maybe it was a mouse, a golden delicious mouse.

“Please, kind guest,” started Lorelei’s father after a while, “tell us of yourself.”

“There’s not much I can tell you,” answered Felina. “I’ve been hanging from that branch for ages, it seems.”

“Well,” offered Lorelei, “could you tell us a story?  We would love to hear any tales you have learned.”

“I only know one,” replied Felina, and this is the tale she told:

“Years ago, before you were born, young lady, there lived a good king magician whose greatest love was his son.  He gave everything he could to make his son happy.  He even caused to be planted an enchanted orchard that bore apples all year round, for this was his son’s favorite thing to eat.  But he forbade anyone in the kingdom from eating the fruit, on pain of death.  One day, when the boy had grown into a strong and goodly man, he found a golden-haired maiden walking through the orchard, eating some of the forbidden fruit.  They fell in love the moment they met and the young man resolved to make her his bride.  But the king found out what the girl had done and ordered her to be burned alive!  His son fled, and took the girl to the uttermost parts of the kingdom and hid from his father.  They married in an old chapel near the bordering realms, and in time, the young maiden gave birth to a beautiful girl. The two lovers thought they would be happy forever.  But the king’s men found them and brought them before the royal court.  The son pleaded with his father and begged for the life of his bride.  The king, his heart saddened, took pity on them; but he was still king and his law must be obeyed.  He conjured up all his power and banished his son to live in the orchard for all of time, casting spells that they would never find their way out, nor remember him.  The young maiden he transformed and hid her away in the orchard.  The only way the spell could ever be broken would be for the young maiden to be burned with fire, as the king commanded.  And to this day, that young man lives there with his daughter, doomed to live out the rest of their years.”

Lorelei and her father were astonished.  They looked at each other.

At that moment, the cat decided he had waited long enough.  He sprang after Felina, intending to make her a meal, and she lept to escape.  But the old cat was still frighteningly quick and just at the moment the frog jumped up, the cat swatted her right into the fire!

“No!” screamed Lorelei.  Instantly, the fire burst into a white light that filled the room and then just as suddenly was no more.  Instead, sitting in the ashes, was a golden-haired lady, weathered by years but no less beautiful than the day Lorelei’s father met her.

“Are you my mother?” asked Lorelei, though she had never known a mother.  The woman nodded with a knowing smile.  “Oh, Mother!” she shouted this time, tears filling her eyes.

It was a merry reunion, and when the morning came they all discovered that the forest was no forest after all.  The walls of the orchard could be seen in the distance and beyond it the castle.  Lorelei’s father led them to the castle where they soon discovered that his father, the old king wizard, had died only the day before.  As he drew his last breath, the chamberlain told them, he had uttered, “It is time for a new king;” and then, “Return to me, my son.”

The people had not known what he meant but now it was clear.  Lorelei’s father and mother were made king and queen that very same day, and Lorelei lived as a princess from that day onward, with her cat.

© 2009 Daniel Alegria