The Fairy Fiddler’s Fingers
Some while after the sea began to swallow up the earth, the people of Sixrivers were doing quite well for themselves. Their crops were bountiful, their sheep many and covered in wool, and only the most tenacious of devil-beasts had the gumption to climb their thorny walls. Still, all was not perfect in the town of Sixrivers. Y’see, every week when someone took the flocks out to graze the sheep would wander back home without their shepherd, and woe be to anyone who went into the woods… they would never be heard from again.
I resolved to find the source of the trouble, and set out into the woods. Meanwhile Agnimukha stayed in Sixrivers to guard against any beasties that might come looking for an easy supper. The very next day they sent the sheep out to graze, but one did not come back. Agnimukha decided that he would go to find the missing ewe, since few were the creatures that could cause him harm!
Now, Agnimukha was a man of many skills, but woodcraft was not among them. He loved to read so much he’d hardly notice the trees around himself. That day he was holding War and Peace in one hand and The Communist Manifesto in the other, reading one with each eyeball. It was Russian history month, you see. As he blundered through the forest he began to hear a faint, lively tune from some fiddle. “How fine and cheery!” he thought, and began to dance a little shuffle, for Agnimukha was always looking for a chance to dance.
Little did he realize, but that tune came from no ordinary fiddle. A little sprite lived in those woods and amused herself greatly by playing her fiddle for unwary folk. Its magical tune would set their feet dancing so fast they danced themselves to death! But if her’s was no ordinary fiddle, well! The fellow who’d wandered into her trap that day was no ordinary man either. Agnimukha danced faster and faster, the whole time never looking up from his books. He danced so fast he scorched the grass off the ground and burned the shoes off his own feet. The little sprite struggled to keep up, fiddling more and more furiously until finally she fiddled her fingers right off!
All of a sudden the music stopped and that little sprite set up a howling. Now that got Fireface’s attention! He looked up and saw the poor creature sobbing and wailing as though she were like to die. Now, for all his fiery bluster Agnimukha was really a gentle soul and it touched him to see that poor fingerless spirit… but he was much better at breaking things than putting them back together. So he fetched me and asked if I could fix this.
Now you have to understand, I keep my axe very sharp. So sharp, in fact, that when it’s all greased up not only can it cut just about anything off, it can also cut things back on. I lined up those fingers and chopped them back onto the fiddle-sprite’s hands, but not without taking a bit of care… I stuck her right fingers on her left hand and the left on the right. That way when she tried her musical trick again, she’d get her fingers all mixed up and break her own spell before anyone else danced themselves to death on her tune.