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Fic: Tapestry

Title: Tapestry
Words: 1,062
Rating: G/PG
Summary: Kora weaves her past and Scanran myth into a gift. Written for team_fen's Neglected Country Challenge.
Author's Note: I'm a huge nerd, so when I went to figure out what to write, I decided to research Viking culture and customs at The Viking Answer Lady. The information on the types of magic that the Vikings believed in/used really interested me, as did the myths about the Raven Banner. Also, if you squint, you can see a trace of Kora/Aniki because I just can't seem to keep them out of anything.




Kora hummed idly as she slid the shuttle through the grid work of threads. With each pass, she wrapped a trace of her Gift into the weft. Already, the fabric was beginning to shimmer faintly with magic. The repetition of the motions was relaxing, and feeding her magic into the fabric allowed her mind set to wander.

"Many, many years ago, Brandulfr the Conqueror went to war against the southern kingdom - that's the land we call Tortall now - to take back the lands that the weaker kings who came before him let slip through their fingers," Kora's mother told her, as she guided her daughter's hands through the steps of putting the warp threads onto a loom. "No, not that way, the strings will get stuck; you'll want to tie it up higher. There, that's better. Back to the story: the royal foretellers couldn't divine what path the battle would take. They scried all that they could, but never found a hint of the outcome. His counsellors tried to keep him from riding out for fear for his safety. If he died, there would be another bloody takeover since he had no sons yet to carry on the line."

This had always been one of her favorites of the old tales she had been taught as a child and had kept her company whenever she sat down to weave. It was rare now since she had started traveling with Aniki that she had the time necessary for the job, much less a loom, but the inn keeper's wife had invited her to make use of the equipment.

"His wife, Guofinna, especially tried to keep him home, but he was stubborn, as men often are; you'll find the truth in that when you get older. She pleaded with him, begged him to stay, but it was for naught. Finally, the queen accepted that Brandulfr would not change his plans, but she needed to know there was something she could do that would keep her husband safe. She took counsel with her mother-in-law and the high priestess of Brisi, our nation's patron god. She advised Guofinna to weave him a tabard to wear in the fighting."

Kora paused for a moment to focus on the intricate details at the beginning of the pattern. This would be the hardest part, to weave in new colored threads and keep her casting strong through the garment.

"Guofinna was a strong mage and well taught in her Gift, especially in her protection charms and knot magic. Following the priestess' orders, she blessed the thread and cast the strongest protection spells into her work. Into the tabard she wove a bear, the sign of Brisi, asking for the god to hold Brandulfr in his keeping."

Grumbling at the fabric, Kora reversed her process to rip out a few faulty rows. The design seemed to evaporate off the loom, waiting for her to try again. With a sigh, she began the pattern anew.

Kora's mother handed her the shuttle, already strung with a thick length of wool. "You'll pass this through the war. Remember to press what you've finished and alternate the position of the threads each time you finish a row."

When Kora picked up the bobbin to move it across the loom, the warp and weft threads tangled. Looking up at her mother's lively eyes for direction, she worked out the knots in the yarn, careful to keep the strands from crossing again.

Her mother returned to the story she had been telling. "When the tabard was finished, Guofinna gave it to her husband, and that day he led his troops to war. They had traveled two days, nearly reaching the Vassa when Brandulfr felt his mail warm under the tabard. When he looked down, the bear on the fabric was rearing and thrashing his head. Startled by what he saw, he looked up to scan the area for anyone who might have cast magic on the garment. He didn't find any mages, but he could just make out the shadows of an enemy army in the forest. Silencing his men, they were able to come from behind the other troops and take them by surprise.

"After that, each time he felt his mail heat or saw the bear move, he was warned of a threat to come. In each battle he remained safe, even when men around him were gravely wounded. He returned a year later, successful in having reclaimed the land that the southerners had stolen."


Kora fed more magic into the threads as she began the last few rows of the fabric.

"He never once came to harm when he wore that tabard. Guofinna's magic had been strong enough the help him defy death through many battles and had led his army to victory every time."

As she removed the fabric from the loom, she tied a final surge of magic into the cloth.

"From Guofinna, Scanran women with the gift learned how to protect their beloveds with woven magic. That is why I teach you this now. One day, when you marry, you will need to weave your husband something like Guofinna made Brandulfr to protect him in battle. Because Brisi knows they can't take care of themselves," Kora's mother finished, rolling her eyes skyward in good humor.

"What's this? You've been on this loom for the better part of three days," Aniki asked as she ambled into Kora's weaving room, fingering the blue cloth resting on the loom.

Smoothing out any creases and folds in the fabric, Kora handed it over to the blonde woman.

"It's not quite finished yet," she said, "I still have to sew it up, but it's for you. I spelled protections into the cloth. It'll be a Guofinna cloak to keep you safe and keep me from going mad with worry."

"You went to all this trouble for me?" Aniki asked as she turned the fabric over in her hands reverently.

"It wasn't any trouble," Kora said, picking up scraps of thread from around the loom. "As long as it keeps you from meeting your death at the end of some cove's sword, it's no trouble at all."

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
girl_called_sun
Sep. 2nd, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
This is really rather lovely - I do like the dynamic you Kora and Aniki have. Certain characters just get under your skin, demand to be written about (at least they do for me).

I do love your icon!
thepurpletyrant
Sep. 3rd, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Thank you! Kora and Aniki are so much fun to write. There's enough about them in canon that you can get a sense of their personality and character, but there's also a lot left open to explore on your own.

I was rereading Regicide and thought that Delia would be the consummate Slytherin and the icon just ran from there.
osprey_archer
Sep. 3rd, 2008 12:19 am (UTC)
I like how the two stories interweave into each other. At first it's not clear what Guofinna has to do with this weaving Kora is doing, but as the story goes on it becomes clear.

I do think it would be nice if you mentioned what pattern she wove into the cloak, though, just because I'm curious. Does it have to be a bear like the original cloak, or can Guofinna cloaks have a range of patterns?
thepurpletyrant
Sep. 3rd, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad it made sense as it went on because I was worried things might seem too disjointed between the two story lines.

As for the pattern on the cloak, while I was initially writing this I couldn't quite decide on the design, so I meant to go back and add a description when I figured it out. Needless to say, I forgot about not having mentioned it. What I eventually decided on was a non-heraldic bear pattern, though the cloaks could have any design.
team_fen
Sep. 3rd, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
Brandulfr felt his mail warm under the tabard. When he looked down, the bear on the fabric was rearing and thrashing his head.
I love folk and fairytales, and I loved the bit about the woven bear on the tabard that comes alive-ish. It has all sorts of echoes of other stories.

The Kora/Aniki was lovely, as usual. I really enjoyed the bits about Kora's mother, who seems to have passed many things, weaving among them, on to her daughter.

The use of weaving as a metaphor for your story structure as well as your theme is very clever!

Ahahaha! I went to 'The Viking Answer Lady' too, but for Viking names and bynames. I also spent some time in Wikipedia. Research is fun. --Imo
thepurpletyrant
Sep. 3rd, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
Writing fairy tales/folktales/myths is really fun for me, so I automatically wanted to write some folklore that would be passed down through Scanran families. I took some things from different accounts of the Raven Banner along with some other miscellaneous stories and rolled them around until they felt right. I'm glad it worked.

I really enjoyed digging around more in Kora's past. I'm fascinated by the parts of characters' history that give them their shape, and if the author doesn't give it in canon, I'm more than happy to create it myself.

I wanted to work "weaving" into the story as many ways as possible, so it's good to know it worked.

All of the names in the myth came from combining parts of names that I found through the 'The Viking Answer Lady.' There's so much fun stuff you can learn just through semi-random research.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )