The Legend of the Stag and the Apple
Many, many generations ago, when our ancestors were still new to this land and forming a bond with the earth, a Huntsman entered the woods, to search for game. Suddenly he was startled by the appearance of a large stag standing in his path and staring intently at him. As the two continued to gaze into each other’s eyes, the man experienced such a great sense of awe that he barely dared to breathe. He knew at once that this was no normal animal to be killed and dragged back to his village.
Then, without warning, the stag turned and bounded down a secluded forest path the huntsman had never seen though he had often hunted this area of the woods in the past.. Suddenly, the magnificent creature stopped, looked back in the man’s direction and gave a proud snort as if he were signaling the other to follow. As the man took a few tentative steps towards the animal, the stag bobbed his head twice and then continued down the new path. The bewildered Huntsman cautiously followed a discreet distance behind.
This journey through the woods continued for quite some time and many miles, until man and beast emerged into a large, sun-drenched clearing. Much to the Huntsman’s surprise, the area was planted with what appeared to be neat rows of trees bearing some kind of strange fruit he had never seen. Upon closer inspection, he found some to be red, others yellow and on the far side of the clearing the trees bore fruit of green. The stag paused several moments at the edge of the clearing, as if to allow his human companion time to ponder the wondrous sight before them.
The stag then walked further into the clearing, stepping carefully around the fallen fruit, strewn upon the ground. At the center of the sun-drenched opening, he stooped as if to choose a red fruit lying upon the ground. Using his muzzle, the Great Stag pushed it along the ground in the direction of the Huntsman. After observing the animal’s obvious intentions, he stepped forward, met the stag halfway and picked up the fruit. The animal bobbed his great rack of antlers as encouragement, when the Huntsman took a bite of the fruit and was rewarded with the sweetest taste he’d ever known.
With slow, deliberate movements, the Huntsman removed his knife from his belt, cut off a slice of the fruit and offered it to the stag. The gift was accepted graciously and the man continued to divide the fruit in this manner until it was gone. The stag raised his magnificent antlers, turned away from the huntsman and began walking deeper into the strange trees. As before, it stopped and looked back at the human, who now immediately began to follow.
Their journey ended in the center of the clearing where a gleaming silver tree stood taller than all the rest of the forest. Its limbs bowed under the weight of the silver fruit. As the huntsman stood in amazement, the magnificent stag walked a slow circle about the tree. When he stopped below a low branch, he used his great antlers to shake a single metallic fruit from the tree’s branches. As before, the animal muzzled the fruit towards the huntsman, who sensing that he was once again being offered a special and unique gift, bent to one knee to retrieve his gift.
Upon touching the silver fruit, the huntsman received a vision as if he were a bird high in the sky above all land and river. Below, Our future Shire spread out beneath him as far as his eyes could see. From border to border, he saw vast forests and open fields ready to be tilled. A great river and several small streams brought cool, fresh water to fields and a cool breeze came from the beautiful mountains, which surrounded the Shire like a protective fortress. As he flew above, his vision for the future saw the good people of Sylvan Glen working very hard as they tended orchards of fruit trees, tilled their land, and farmed with great care and dedication. For their efforts he envisioned these proud people being rewarded with bountiful harvests and much happiness as they and their families prospered in the new land.
In his vision, he also viewed a Great Stag watching over the people of Sylvan Glen. This was the same magnificent animal that lead him deep into the new forest and had encouraged him to eat of the fruit of the tree. In the same vision of the future, the people rejoiced and held large Harvest Festivals and great Feasts to celebrate their bountiful harvests and happy lives. And from the mountains above the Great Stag shook his mighty horns as he viewed that all was well with land and those who lived on the land.
And so it has been for the countless generations since the huntsman was presented with the fruit of the tree. After he woke from his vision the might stag was no longer near the huntsman but the silver fruit still remained in the grasp of his mighty hand. As he viewed the prize and turned it reverently in his hand, sounds began to form deep within his throat and when he could no longer contain them a new word was created that would forever be held in high esteem by the people of Sylvan Glen …… “Apple.” Today, the people of the Glen keep that same apple, the one that was presented to the Huntsman by the Great Stag, hidden away in a secret location. At each festival within our lands, we bring forth the Silver Apple and display it with great reverence as we remind ourselves that we are a simple people who live in a wonderful land. It is also at this time that we honor the Great Stag that directed the huntsman to Our Kingdom.
For without the brave Huntsman, the Great Stag and the Silver Apple we would be like the poor people of the lands that surround us. These poor peasants must live like animals and beg like dogs to feed themselves and their sickly children. It is for this reason the people of Sylvan Glen must be ever watchful for the wicked Alantains that are jealous of what we have accomplished and the way in which we live. It is this jealousy that fills their evil hearts and causes us to keep a vigilant watch on Our borders. The Alantians are a lazy lot and would rather take from others than to work like the people of Sylvan Glen. To keep Our People safe we have sent spies to their lands to keep a watchful eye on their movement and discover any evil plots that these smelly creatures may devise. It is for this reason that we have sent runners to all areas where the sun does shine to warn of possible trouble from the Alantian dogs. Because they are such a loud, boastful, group of drunkards, information was easy to obtain. A few rounds of mead and they slobbered on each other as they bragged of plans to invade Our Lands and take that which we have worked so long and hard to build rather than work the lands for themselves. For that reason we keep continue to keep watch over Our lands.