A while back I started to attempt turning the Merchant’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer into a fantasy. Well, I kind of forgot about (as you can tell from the lack of posts about it) I have however found the little bit that I did for college a few years ago that inspired my rather lack lustre attempt.
I thought it lost forever, but I cleared out the deep, dark recesses of my room and found it tucked away in some random little box beneath my bed. Anyway, I’ve put it below to see what you think.
Merchant’s Tale Fantasy Version
With the idea fixed firmly in his twisted mind the ancient and gnarled mage hobbled down the spiralling staircase into the dungeons in which he housed two of his most valued prisoners. He often refered to them as his conscience, they both yelled their advice trying to gain the freedom they had so long been denied.
Posing as a Knight had helped to keep his true identity secret, the peasants hadn’t dared to defy him or question his authority, and noblemen didn’t waste their time prying into the business of an old man.
His bent spine barely allowed him to walk faster than a child new to their legs, so Januarie had to make do with his slow progress, raging against the world for his unfortunate state.
Finally he emerged from the oppressive spiral and made his way to the two cells with his prisoners shackled inside; Justinus was on his right and Placebo was on his left, both of them peasants who had trespassed too far into his luxurious abode.
“What do you desire of us this time sire?” Placebo questioned as soon as Januarie made his appearance.
“I desire your silence before I speak to you,” Januarie croaked back at him, sounding less intimidating than he would have liked.
Placebo still winced, aware of the abnormal powers that the knight before him had at his command. With a single flick of his hand Januarie could summon a storm, call forth the sea, split the earth and birth a flame as unnatural as the man himself.
“I seek your advice, I have exhausted all other resources and come to the two of you only as a last resort,” he paused, willing either of the two men to break the silence he so coveted, to give him yet another chance to impose on them the true horror of his power. When nothing so much as a mouse squeaked he continued; “I wish to be young again and wish to have an heir, how may I combine the two?”
Silence followed as both men pondered the mage’s question, the louder the silence became the more agitated and impatient the mage grew. Soon enough the flame of the torch in the nearest bracket flared out, mirroring Januarie’s fury.
“Seek out a maiden still fresh with youth, I have heard of a young woman who might satisfy you. Her beauty is often compared to the angels and as innocent as a lamb is she. She will bear you a child as handsome as herself and as talented as you, my lord. After your heir is born you should sacrifice her to the pagan goddess of youth and beauty, pour libations of her blood and drink to Venus. Then shall the gift of youth be returned to you, but whomever you choose as your wife must remain chaste to you, my lord, or this will all be done in vain,” all of this Placebo replied with the haste of desperation. Januarie knew of their dreams to see their homes and families again, but the light of day would forever be denied to them.
“But, my lord, you would be better off doing both things separately. If you choose a young wife it won’t be long untill her eye wanders. Better to bed an older woman to gain your heir and reclaim your youth with another. At least that way you will know the child is truly yours,” Justinus offered his advice with a calm voice, not a single tremble disturbed its smooth surface.
The lord of the elements considered the words of both men, but Januarie was a man of pleasure.