Sun Moon and Talia

ONCE upon a time there was a king who gave birth to a beautiful daughter named Talia. He commanded seers and wise men to tell her fortune. All came to the conclusion that in her future she would face great peril from a piece of stalk in some flax. Upon learning this he commanded that the palace would remain free of flax, or any similar item, on pain of death, in the hopes that this would protect his daughter.

Many years later, when Talia was gazing from a window, she saw an old woman spinning. Due to her father’s ban, she had never seen a distaff or spindle, so her curiosity was piqued. Talia approached the woman and reached out to touch the thread she was spinning. On contact with the flax, a piece of stalk hidden in it stuck under her fingernail. Talia fell to the ground dead.

Talia’s father was so grief-stricken when he heard of the tragedy that he could not bring himself to bury his daughter. Instead he built her a country mansion, deep in the forests of a neighbouring kingdom. She was laid on a sumptuous bed, as if sleeping. The king closed the door behind him, never to return.

One day, it so happened that the king of the kingdom in which Talia had been laid to rest, was hunting in the forests around her mansion. It was his favourite pastime and he went every year. The king despised hunting, as the killing and blood made him ill, but it was expected of him. When he and his hunting party stumbled upon it, they decided to investigate, curious, as they knew of no lord who lived in these parts. No one answered the door, so they kicked it down, only to find the place completely deserted. Not wanting the finery that decorated the mansion to go to waste, the king’s men searched the rooms, taking anything of value. In the last room, the king stumbled upon Talia, and all there agreed she was beautiful. In the last room, the king stumbled upon Talia. All his men decreed her beautiful, and so the king, hoping to win their admiration, also confessed his attraction to her. Thinking her merely asleep, the king tried to shake her awake, but to no avail. He tried placing a kiss upon her lips, as kisses often broke spells, but she did not move. Even so, the king was so enamoured by her beauty that he took her anyway. At the encouragement of his comrades, he tried placing a kiss upon her lips, as kisses often broke spells, but she did not move. The king wanted to leave, but his comrades had other ideas. “A king takes what he wants,” they told him. They argued that it mattered not if she were awake. Their words churned the king’s stomach. They egged him on, and the king, terrified that they would think him weak, took her anyway. Afterwards he left, though thoughts of Talia never entirely faded. Afterwards he left, though his guilt meant that he could never entirely shake thoughts of Talia.

Although still under her death-like enchantment, Talia soon gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. At the same time, two fairies appeared in the palace. They cared for the children, placing them at Talia’s breast to ensure they did not starve, and keeping them clean. One day, however, the children wanted to feed but were unable to find their mother’s breast. Instead, they sucked on her finger by mistake, drawing the splinter from beneath her nail. As soon as the splinter left her, Talia awoke, as if nothing had ever been wrong. When her eyes fell upon her children, she immediately loved them more than life. When her eyes fell upon her children, she was confused and frightened, not understanding what had happened. Still, she felt obliged to care for them, and in time she grew to love them. She named them Sun and Moon. Talia remained in the mansion with Sun and Moon, caring for them with the assistance of the fairies, who were her only friends.