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          It was springtime in Ireland. The grass was green on the hillsides, and colorful flowers were blooming everywhere.
          In the small village of An Tíarna, Cónnlan and his people were preparing for a special festival. Every hut was clean and freshly scrubbed, and baskets of fresh flowers hung in every window. Fiddlers and pipers were playing music in the center of town. Children were dressed in their best clothes, and bright ribbons hung from the nearby trees.
          The spring festival was very important to the people of An Tíarna. They believed that the Goddess Keridwen watched over them and protected them every day. She made crops grow in their fields all summer, and helped gentle rains fall from the skies.
          When Keridwen was happy, life was good for Cónnlan and his people. So every year, they held a special festival to thank Keridwen for helping them.
          Everything was ready. Cónnlan looked around the crowded square, and smiled. "This will be An Tíarna’s best festival ever," he told his beautiful young daughter, Álainna.
          He nodded his head, and the holy druids began chanting a prayer. Three small children carried gifts into the center of the square and laid them in a neat row.
          Then Cónnlan began to dance.
          Cónnlan was a very good dancer. When he danced, the winds themselves stopped to watch. The sun and moon smiled down on him, and the stars fell from the sky to shine at his feet.
          Keridwen loved to watch Cónnlan dance, too. Magic sparkled through the night whenever he soared through the air. She felt very happy whenever she saw him dancing, because he loved to dance so much.
          Soon the entire village began dancing with Cónnlan, and Keridwen smiled as she watched them from the shelter of An Tíarna’s sacred oak trees.
          But the Goddess was not the only person watching from the shadows. Chanda, the powerful fairy queen, was hiding nearby with her servant Daeriese. They secretly spied on Cónnlan as he danced with his people in the shimmering starlight.
          Chanda was very beautiful, but she was also very evil. And she hated Cónnlan because he refused to be her slave. She wanted to hurt him, and destroy his village.
          She scowled as Álainna danced into the bright circle and spun around with Cónnlan. Álainna was so small and light, she seemed to float on the air like a wispy cloud.
          Suddenly Chanda knew how to hurt Cónnlan! "We will kidnap Cónnlan’s pretty little daughter!" she told Daeriese. "And when he tries to rescue the girl, I will capture him and make him my slave forever!"
          She edged closer to the dancers, and created a magical haze of darkness to hide from Cónnlan’s sharp eyes. Then, when Álainna danced past, she and Daeriese quickly snatched the girl from the circle and melted back into the shadows.
          Chanda’s strong magic kept Álainna from crying for help. No one even noticed that she was gone until the next morning, when the festival ended.
          And by then, Chanda and Daeriese...and Álainna...were far away.
          Cónnlan was furious! He ordered all his warriors to search for Álainna. But no matter where they looked, no one could find a trace of his daughter. And as the days turned into weeks, and the green spring faded into golden summer, everyone gave up hope of finding her.
          Everyone except Cónnlan.
          Cónnlan knew that somehow Chanda must have stolen his beautiful daughter.
          And he knew that only he could find the mythical Sidhe, where the fairy folk lived. Only he could rescue Álainna from Chanda’s magical fortress.
          So as the golden summer aged into bronzed autumn, Cónnlan began to make his plans.

          Chanda had plans, too. And her plans were wicked.
          Down in the Sidhe, where all the fairies lived, Chanda chained Álainna to her golden throne. And she forced Álainna to dance every day, until the young girl was too tired to stand. Daeriese and the other fairies loved to torment Álainna and make fun of her. Sometimes they pulled her long golden hair, or hit her and made her fall down. Then they laughed when she burst into tears.
          Not all of the fairies were evil, though. Chanda’s own son, Triáth, fell in love with Álainna, and begged his mother to release the girl. He hated to see her cry, because she looked so beautiful when she danced.
          Daeriese and Chanda were both angry when Triáth tried to protect Álainna. Daeriese wanted to marry Triáth herself, and she hated Álainna for being so young and beautiful.

          Back in An Tíarna, Cónnlan knew that he was running out of time. He had to rescue Álainna soon, before Chanda’s evil magic turned his beautiful daughter into a fairy forever.
          The holy druids wanted to help Cónnlan rescue Álainna, so they held a special ceremony in the sacred oak grove. They prayed to the Goddess Keridwen for help.
          Keridwen knew how much Cónnlan loved his daughter, so she came to the oak grove that night. "Chanda has taken Álainna," she told Cónnlan, "and she will not let her escape. If you are going to rescue her, you must be very brave and strong."
          "I will do whatever it takes to rescue Álainna," Cónnlan said.
          Cónnlan wanted to leave right away, but he knew he could not. He was An Tíarna’s clanlord, so he had to stay in An Tíarna until after the sacred fall festival.
          Casidhe, Cónnlan’s best warrior, wanted to help his clanlord find Chanda’s magical fortress. "You need me to fight and defeat Chanda," he pleaded. "I can help rescue Álainna!"
          But Cónnlan shook his head. "Chanda wants to destroy An Tíarna," he argued. "You must stay here and protect the village while I am gone."
          The days passed very slowly. But at last it was time for the fall festival.
          The villagers wanted to thank Keridwen for protecting them all summer, and making their crops grow. So Cónnlan led them in the sacred dance, and the winds stopped to watch him soar through the air. The sun and moon smiled down on him, and the stars fell from the sky to shine at his feet.
          Finally Cónnlan could not wait any longer. While his people were still dancing, he slipped into the shadows and hurried away from An Tíarna. The Sidhe, where Chanda and her fairies lived, was far away. He needed to hurry if he was going to rescue Álainna.
          Keridwen saw Cónnlan leave An Tíarna. She met him at the sacred oak grove, and gave him a magical pendant. "This will protect you from Chanda’s evil magic," she told him as he slid the chain around his neck. "But you must be careful, Cónnlan. If you cannot free Álainna, Chanda will never let you return to An Tíarna. She will keep you in her fortress as a slave forever."
          "I must try to save my daughter," Cónnlan replied, "even if Chanda kills me."
          Keridwen watched Cónnlan leave, then turned and peered into the shadows. Casidhe was hiding there, spying on them.
          "Cónnlan asked you to stay here and protect An Tíarna," she told him. "But you must follow your clanlord and keep him safe. I will guard An Tíarna while you are gone."
          Casidhe knew how dangerous Chanda could be, so he was glad to follow Cónnlan and protect him. He thanked Keridwen, then gathered his warriors and hurried into the darkness after his clanlord.

          Cónnlan traveled for many days and nights. No one knew how to find Chanda’s magical fairy fortress, because it was hidden underground. But as he got closer and closer, he could feel Álainna’s sadness. He knew he was going in the right direction.
          Casidhe and his men secretly followed behind Cónnlan, and guarded him from the trees when he stopped to rest. They hid so well that he never even knew they were nearby!
          One night, Cónnlan heard beautiful music playing. He crept to the top of the hill and stared down into the meadow. Moonlight was turning the grass to silver, and the flowers looked like shimmering wands as a gentle breeze swept through them.
          In the middle of the field, Chanda’s fairies were twirling around in circles, dancing for their queen.
          Cónnlan searched for Álainna, and finally found her crouching at Chanda’s side. A golden, glowing fairy rope was stretched between Álainna’s slender ankle and a nearby tree. Her pretty festival dress was faded and ragged, and her small face was smudged with dirt.
          Suddenly Chanda clapped her hands, and the magical rope vanished like golden mist. Tears shimmered on Álainna’s cheeks as she slowly rose to her feet and shuffled into the starlit field.
          A hush fell over the fairies as Chanda’s son, Tríath, moved into the circle and took Álainna’s hand. Even Cónnlan, from his hiding place on the hilltop, could see that Tríath had fallen in love with his daughter.
          A single piper began to play slow, sweet music as Álainna and Tríath danced around each other in elegant circles. Daeriese and Chanda scowled and whispered together beneath the tree. They were angry because Tríath loved Álainna so much.
          Suddenly a sentry blew several warning blasts on his horn. In an instant, dozens of silvery horses leaped up from the deeper grass. The fairies swung up on their gleaming backs and raced for the distant western horizon.
          Tríath and Álainna were the last to vanish. Cónnlan thought he saw them hesitate and glance back in his direction. Then the fairy prince spurred his magical horse into motion, and they soared over the far hill.
          Cónnlan knew that the sun was rising behind him. He had to enter Chanda’s hidden fortress before sunlight touched its stony gates. Otherwise, he would be trapped outside on the hills. And Chanda and her fairies would not emerge again for several weeks, until the moon was full again.
          So Cónnlan ran. He ran so quickly that the wind whistled behind him! Even when he was dancing for Keridwen, he had never moved so fast before!
          A dark, gaping hole suddenly loomed at his feet. Cónnlan threw himself into it just as the first rays of sunlight lit the morning sky.
          The ground itself shuddered around Cónnlan as he tumbled down, down into the darkness. When he picked himself up, the vast entrance was closing behind him. He shoved a big rock into the doorway, propping it open. Then Cónnlan hurried down the long, winding passage, searching for his lost daughter.
          Distant lights and laughter drew him on, toward the Great Hall. Then haunting music echoed from the large room, and he heard Chanda’s wicked laugh.
          Cónnlan hid in the shadows and peered through the wide stone doorway. Álainna was twirling around the floor, her eyes glazed as Chanda’s evil spell forced her to dance again. And Chanda’s fairies were darting around her, pulling her hair and mocking her graceful steps.
          Before Cónnlan could protest, Tríath jumped up and hurried to protect Álainna. Chanda’s angry voice rose above the lilting music as she stood and cast a powerful magical spell, and banished Tríath from the Great Hall in a puff of smoke.
          Cónnlan knew that Chanda would capture him if he stepped into the Great Hall. But he had to save Álainna.
          "Chanda!" he cried, jumping into the light. "Release my daughter!"
          Silence filled the hall as Chanda’s head snapped up, and an evil gleam lit her eyes. "Cónnlan!" she hissed. "How dare you invade my kingdom?"
          Cónnlan took another step forward, and laid a protective hand on Álainna’s small shoulder. "Your fight has always been with me, Chanda," he reminded the scowling fairy queen. "I will not allow you to harm an innocent child!"
          Chanda began to smile, and Cónnlan felt cold chills run down his spine. Keridwen’s magical pendant was hidden beneath his tunic, but he could feel it glowing with power. He prayed that its magic would be strong enough to ward off Chanda’s evil spells.
          "You are a fool, mighty clanlord, to risk your life for this weak girl!" Chanda gloated. She clapped her hands, and Daeriese quickly stepped forward. A glowing fairy rope was in her hands. "Bind his hands, Daeriese!" Chanda ordered. "Cónnlan will remain here as my slave forever."
          Daeriese took a step toward Cónnlan, but stopped when he turned to stare at her. "You do not need to bind me, Daeriese," he countered in a low, hypnotic voice.
          Then he spun back toward Chanda. "I will stay here of my own free will, Chanda," he promised. "But you must release Álainna and return her to An Tíarna, where she belongs."
          Chanda laughed, and shook her head. "How dare you bargain with me, Cónnlan! You are a greater fool than I thought! You and your precious daughter are my captives...and I will do what I want with both of you!" she boasted. "Daeriese, tie him up and bring him to me!"
          This time, Daeriese obeyed. She threw the magical rope around Cónnlan, then pulled him over to Chanda’s large throne. "Here is your new slave, my queen!" she exclaimed. "Will you make him dance for us, as he danced for the Goddess Keridwen at An Tíarna?"
          Chanda hesitated for a moment. She hated Cónnlan, and wanted to make him suffer. Now, after many years of plotting, he was finally her prisoner. And he could not escape while she held Álainna captive.
          But Chanda wanted more than just another slave. She wanted to control Cónnlan’s very soul.
          "You will stay here with me forever, Cónnlan," she laughed. "And your little Álainna will remain my slave until the day she dies!"
          Cónnlan was furious! He struggled to free himself, but the magic in Chanda’s fairy rope was too strong.
          The evil queen raised her hands in the air. "You cannot escape me, Cónnlan!" she laughed. She uttered a magical spell, and the glowing rope vanished in a flash of light...but Cónnlan still could not move. Chanda’s spell held him captive, despite his fierce efforts to break free.
          "Now, mighty clanlord," Chanda mocked, moving forward, "dance for me! Dance for the wind and stars you will never see again!"

          Chanda’s magic had thrown Tríath out of the Great Hall, and into the dark hallway. Scowling, he started running back toward the bright room.
          He was angry at his mother for hurting Álainna again. But he knew that if he fought with her, she would hurt the pretty girl even worse.
          There must be some way he could free Álainna! Then, together, they could escape from Chanda and her evil fairies!
          But Tríath could not think of a way.
          Suddenly he heard sounds around the corner. Several armed men were sneaking through the dark passage! Invaders were in Chanda’s hidden fortress!
          Tríath almost yelled for help...but then he hesitated. Whoever the men were, they must have come to rescue Álainna! If he helped them, maybe they could defeat Chanda!
          The young prince knew that he might be killed, but he had to protect Álainna. So he bravely stepped around the corner, and let the unknown warriors see him.
          "If you are here to rescue Álainna," he said before they could raise their swords, "I will take you to her! But we must hurry!"
          Casidhe, Cónnlan’s best warrior, remembered seeing Tríath and Álainna dancing together in the fairy field. He knew that Tríath loved Álainna, so he nodded his head. "We have followed Cónnlan, our clanlord, from An Tíarna," he told Tríath. "We will help him rescue Álainna."
          Tríath frowned. "If your Cónnlan is already in Chanda’s fortress, then he is in danger. Follow me!"
          He turned and ran down the long hallway, and Cónnlan’s men followed him. But when they reached the brightly-lit Great Hall, they saw that they were too late.
          Chanda and Cónnlan were dancing around the room while Álainna and the fairies watched nearby. Cónnlan’s eyes were blank, because Chanda’s powerful spell was forcing him to obey her.
          Casidhe hated seeing Chanda control his mighty clanlord like a helpless puppet. Yelling, he lifted his sword and ran into the big room. His men quickly followed him.
          Chanda was stunned by their sudden attack! She stopped dancing with Cónnlan, and called her fairies for help. Cónnlan was still under her spell, so she kept him close as they began fighting Casidhe and his men.
          Casidhe was shocked to see Cónnlan fighting for Chanda, but he knew that his clanlord was still under the evil queen’s spell. He and his men were careful not to hurt Cónnlan as they fought Chanda and her fairies.
          Tríath finally saw his chance to save Álainna! While Casidhe was fighting Chanda, he slipped into the big room and hurried over to the girl’s side.
          "We must escape, Álainna!" he urged her. "Quickly, before Chanda sees us!"
          But Álainna was still under Chanda’s magical spell, and would not follow him.
          "Álainna, hurry!" he pleaded. "You must come with me! I love you, and I cannot leave you here!"
          Before Álainna could pull away, Tríath put his arms around her and kissed her. Golden light suddenly flooded over her as Chanda’s evil spell was broken. She remembered Tríath again, and gratefully hugged him.
          "Now we must hurry!" Tríath exclaimed. "Quickly, while Chanda is busy fighting your warriors!"
          Álainna looked past Tríath, and saw Cónnlan fighting beside Chanda and her fairies. She let go of Tríath and ran right into the middle of the battle. "Father!" she cried. "Father, what are you doing?"
          Cónnlan did not recognize Álainna. His eyes were still glazed by Chanda’s wicked spell. So he ignored her when she caught his arm and tried to pull him away from Chanda’s side.
          Suddenly Álainna noticed Keridwen’s golden pendant hanging around Cónnlan’s neck. It seemed to glow with power and energy. She laid her hand on it, and felt Cónnlan hesitate. Slowly he stopped fighting and looked down at her. Then his hand covered hers, and his eyes widened in surprise as he realized where they were.
          Dazzling light flooded the room, focusing on Cónnlan...
          And on Daeriese!
          Silence filled the Great Hall as Chanda’s trusted servant blinked several times, and stared around in confusion.
          The last of Chanda’s evil spells were broken! Daeriese, who had been stolen away from An Tíarna as a child, was finally free again!
          Daeriese began to smile with joy as she recognized familiar faces... Cónnlan, her beloved clanlord. Álainna, her childhood playmate and best friend. And Casidhe, her true love, the man she had always known she would marry!
          With a happy cry, Daeriese ran to Casidhe and hugged him tightly. Now that she was free of Chanda’s evil magic, nothing would ever separate them again!
          Chanda was still busy fighting Cónnlan’s guards. Cónnlan gently pushed his daughter toward Tríath, and joined Casidhe and Daeriese. "Tríath," he urged, "you must take Álainna to safety. Hurry, before Chanda stops you!"
          The young prince caught Álainna’s hand, and used his own magic to take them from the Great Hall. Cónnlan sighed with relief as they vanished in a puff of smoke.
          "Daeriese will not leave, my lord!" Casidhe exclaimed as the beautiful girl challenged one of Chanda’s fairies. "She wants to fight at my side!"
          Cónnlan laughed. "She will make you a good wife!" he told Casidhe. "Protect her while I fight Chanda!"
          Before he could move, a blinding light suddenly flooded the Great Hall. Chanda’s fairies screamed and ran for cover as the Goddess Keridwen appeared beside Cónnlan.
          Keridwen laid her hand on Cónnlan’s broad shoulder. "We must combine our powers to defeat Chanda here, in her own fortress!" she told the mighty clanlord.
          Cónnlan knew what to do. A golden, shimmering glow surrounded him as he raised his hands in the air. Keridwen stepped into the glowing light, and cast a powerful spell.
          Chanda lifted her own hands, and tried to fight back, but their combined power was too strong.

KA-BOOM!

          There was a loud explosion...
          ...and Chanda was gone!
          For several long moments, the Great Hall was totally silent.
          Cónnlan’s golden glow slowly faded away. Tríath and Álainna appeared in the doorway again, then slowly came into the room.
          Keridwen smiled at Tríath, and touched his forehead. A golden crown began to glow in her hand, and she placed it on his head. "Your love and courage have made you worthy to rule over the Sidhe," she said.
          Sparkling lights suddenly began to glow all over the walls, and all the dark shadows vanished. "The Sidhe is a land of light and music again," Tríath exclaimed, "as it was before Chanda turned to evil! Álainna and I will keep it beautiful always!"
          Smiling, he took Álainna’s hand. "Will you stay here with me, and be my queen?" he urged.
          Álainna smiled at Daeriese and her father. She loved them both very much, but she knew that she belonged with Tríath. "An Tíarna and all its people will always be welcome here in our kingdom," she assured Cónnlan.
          Keridwen smiled again. "You cannot wear rags at your own wedding, my child," she laughed. "You must have a beautiful gown!"
          She raised her hands and cast another spell, and glowing white light fell down on Álainna. The girl’s ragged clothes vanished, and she smiled as a shimmering new gown appeared in their place.
          Cónnlan hugged his daughter tightly, then laid her hand in Tríath’s. "You will be good for each other," he agreed. "I am glad that you are both so happy!"
          He stepped back as Tríath led Álainna into a slow, elegant wedding dance. Nearby, Casidhe and Daeriese smiled at each other, then joined in the dance themselves.
          "If the fairy and human tribes are to be united," Keridwen told Cónnlan, "your people should also be here to celebrate."
          She waved her hands, and people started pouring into the Great Hall. Some of them were fairies, some of them were humans. And everyone was happy that Tríath and Álainna had fallen in love.
          "Now there will be peace in the land," Cónnlan said. "And it will last forever, as long as true love exists in this world!"

 

The End

 

Based on the stage presentation
Written By:  Jo Grant