In the misty Marshes of the North, there is a small village called Motbell. Some call it the village born from fog. When the sun rises and the church bells toll, the fog slowly retreats from the streets and the village emerges, glistening like a wet rock. Slowly the three main streets become inhabited by the odd dogs and cats, quickly followed by the early birds amongst the villagers. The stable boys rush to their respective stables and herd their animals down
which leads to, through and out of Motbell, out to the Marshes. The clacking of
the hoofs on the cobbled street serves as a wake up call for the rest of the
villagers, who open up their shutters and welcome the sun. Most of them then
make their way to Market Street,
which leads to the big square in the centre of the village. Here butchers,
farmers and housewives meet. The former two to sell, the latter to gossip and
buy. The villagers fill all the streets with so much bustling life that the fog
is not allowed entry until the sun sets and everyone goes to bed.
To visitors Motbell might have seemed closed off. They were usually hesitant of strangers entering their village and their life. None of them had yet forgotten about the strange nobleman who rode into Motbell, stayed for a week at the
Inn and then took off with
the butcher’s oldest daughter. It was, by far, the most exciting thing to have
happened in Motbell for years. It was also especially good for her younger
sister, who now followed in her footsteps as the village’s most eligible young
girl. Had the nobleman stayed a while longer and sat at the hearth fire and
talked to the farmers, the village would have opened its heart and arms to him.
They needed to get to know you before you were allowed to get to know them. Behind
the clammy, glistening walls there were warm and comfortable living rooms, in
which age old tales were told and retold, to be passed on.
One of the tales told to scare children out of walking around in the dark was about the White Women. ‘Whenever you get lost’, the mothers would say, ’they will find you. When you are lost and cannot find your way home, they know the way into your hearts. They are women, mothers, wives, daughters that were lost. They remain on Earth because their loved ones cannot let them go and they become vengeful because they cannot rest. Beware when the fog surrounds you because that is where they live.’ Most of the children don’t really believe, but all of us who have heard old tales know there has to be some truth to each tale. But the villagers were by no means overly superstitious, they were, in fact, very realistic and grounded.
Every Sunday evening, the villagers would gather at the beginning of
and, as a congregation, walk down to the Church which lay just outside of the
village. For the children it was more about the excitement than any kind of
realisation about religion. All the people were given candles and they lighted
up their end of the road. As the bells started tolling, everyone slowly walked
towards the Church. Little girls hold their fathers hands, the boys run around
trying to kindle a real fire, the parents chat. In short the villagers enjoy
each others company. But then the church appears and a silence falls across the
crowd. The light of their candles slowly creeps up the big square brick
building. The stones seemed black and weather beaten. At the edges of the
building, vines crept up the wall with blue and purple flowers that reflected
the candle light. The children gazed in amazement as the lights slowly creep up
the massive tower. The arches and statues create a shadow play that hints at
the existence of angels. But the most important was the sound made by the
The bells sounded together to create a music that brought all the villagers together. Only on Sundays was the Church actually a church. The other days of the week it was a community hall, a place where people gathered and where the story of the butcher’s daughter was retold amongst laughter. For the children the bells were a memory of the previous evenings, of the fun from yesterday and a promise, for more entertainment. Often they would gather onto the streets as soon as the bells rang and run towards the Church to start exploring all its nooks and crannies all over again. For the young adults, the bells represented the chance to sneak away unnoticed and meet a certain someone under the night’s sky. The nobleman from before would not have known about the meaning of the bells and found its frequent tolling a pest. Yet for the villagers, the tolling represented their community spirit and made many a person stand still for a minute and consider themselves lucky to belong to Motbell.
Well, that was Part 1. As I said before, let me know what you think!