Writing Every Day in March: Day 11

The Art Gallert of Porthaven: Fine Arts, and yet more traditional Aurorean folktales.

To recap: Aurora is supposed to be Canada, yet its traditional folk music ended up looking pretty Finnish. Originally, the great Aurorean folk hero was “Sauvatonttu”, which is “Wand-Elf”, which is “Gandalf“, which is, which… already a name — and as it happens, one attested in real-world histories.

Incidentally, the Pope’s summer residence is in Castel Gandolfo, which is ultimately derived from the Italian form of a Lombardic name, which Wikipedia says is “Gandulf” (wolf) rather than than “-alf”.

All of which is to say, I’ve changed the name to Sauvaherra, which is “Wand-Lord”, which I think is better at conveying what I have in mind for the character. That both names have the same number of syllables (at least based on what I’m hearing) is a nice poetic bonus.

In actually writing the thing for today, I ended up emphasising that less than I originally intended and went off on a bit of a tangent here.

In an effort to teach some culture to her wards and their companions, Duchess Sofia is leading Roland and Alda — with Apolline, Petra, and Lucia — to the Art Gallery of Middlesbrooke.

As the others tour the galleries, Petra tries to find an out-of-the-way place to park herself to make practice sketches of some of the paintings — no small feat for a towering half-Troll Amazon.

“Hey, Aunt Sofia,” Roland asks, furrowing his brow as he studies a panel of the Wildlife Mosaic of Albrechtsburg.

He points.

“What is that thing, and where is its head?”

“It’s a rhinoceros, dear,” Duchess Sofia says. “And, see, its head is there. It’s looking over its shoulder.”

“Oh!” Roland says. “I see it now. Thanks, Aunt Sofia.”

Meanwhile, Lucia is making a friend.

“Mommy! Mommy!” a little girl says, eagerly hurrying after Lucia, bewitched by her furry ears and tail.

Doggy!” the little girl says to her mother, pointing up at Lucia’s ears.

“N-no,” Lucia mutters. “I’m a lynx. We’re cats.”

“Oh,” the little girl says, thoughtfully sucking her finger as she stares up at the Wilderling woman.

A broad smile breaks out on her face as she continues to study Lucia.


Lucia groans.

The little girl frowns and looks up to her mother. “Sad Bunny.”

Next, the girl walks over to Petra and stares curiously up at her sketch book.

“Doggy?” she asks, pointing up at Petra’s drawing.

Petra’s face lights up. “It is a doggy! Well, technically it’s one of the Hounds of Alexamenos. But they’re a sort of doggy.”

“Doggy!” the girl repeats happily.

She points over to Lucia.

“Sad Bunny,” she informs Petra.

Lucia groans again.

Apolline is guiding Alda through a series of paints detailing the Aurorean folk tales about the singing wandering wizard Sauvaherra. They’re looking up at painting so tall it takes up nearly the entire wall where it hands. Sauvaherra is standing at the bottom while a woman with red hair and a blue dress stands at the top of the canvas, waving down at the wizard from the top the waterfall that runs the length of the painting.

“Wow,” Alda says, looking up at the woman in the painting. “She’s beautiful.”

“Sauvaherra thought so, too,” Apolline says.

Alda turns to Apolline.

“What’s her name?” Who is she?”

“That,” the Aurorean sorceress answers, “is Tulva, the Maiden of the Smoking Waters.”

“Smoking Waters?” Alda repeats. “Is the water… on fire?

“It’s a poetic way of saying waterfall. The mist coming off the falls looks like smoking rising through the air,” Apolline explains. “Her mother is the goddess of the river that comes down from Mount Goldhorn.”

“Tell me about her,” Alda bids.

“She heard him singing at the bottom of the falls,” Apolline explains. “And it was love at first sight. But Tulva was the proud sort, and would never deign to admit that she was head over heels in love, so she had to sort of gently prod him into confessing his love for her. And, well, one thing led to another and she has kidnapped by the Witch of the North Kings, he had to turn into a goose to fly to the Lands Beyond the Ice, the Great Moon Bear forged him a magic sword, and the entire Kingdom of Epäonninen was swallowed up by the sea.”

“Is there a song about it?” Alda asks.

Apolline smiles. “It’s an Aurorean story. Of course there’s a song about it.”

“Will you sing it to me?” Alda asks.

“Me too, please?” Lucia says, sidling up to her friend.

“Metoo, peese?” the little girl says, popping up beside Lucia seeming out of nowhere.

She gazes up once more at Lucia.

“Sad Bunny,” she declares decisively.

Fun fact: “What is that thing, and where is its head?” is a real conversation I’ve had about a real mosaic rhinoceros.

Basically, we were looking that the Nile mosaic of Palestrina in an Ancient Travel & Geography class, and I had that very issue with its rhinoceros.

FYI, the real mosaic looks like this; Rhinoceros highlighted for your benefit.

The Nile mosaic of Palestrina, with the rhinoceros indicated in a red circl.
Image via Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

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