Section I - Of Soup and Stone

"We are three hungry soldiers in a strange land. We have asked you for food, and you have no food. Well then, we'll have to make stone soup." -- Maria Brown, Stone Soup


     Once upon a time there was a princess named Niren. She had shining, straight dark brown hair which fell to her knees when it was not bound up in buns and braids. Her eyes were blue and her skin was fair, which means she was prone to sunburn, unless she wore a hat with a wide brim.


     Niren lived in the kingdom of Midmun, in Wayhall Castle. She was the eldest of two daughters born to King Thowin and Queen Jaynn. Her younger sister, Lyru, was also fair of complexion and blue eyed, but her long hair was blonde and slightly curly. The two of them each had a dusting of light freckles across their cheeks and noses.


     Princess Niren, you must understand, had encountered a great many different kinds of things to eat. Local peasants brought offerings of rustic breads, and various vegetables, many of them with strange colors and amusing shapes. Foreign dignitaries gave gifts of strange and exciting spices which turned their foods bright yellow or blazing red. Blazing could be used to describe the tastes as well. The cooks and bakers of her own castle and country competed to delight her with their creations. They presented her with fish, fowl and field-beasts which were baked or boiled, braised or broiled. All sorts of cakes, ices, pastries, and subtleties galore graced the board for dessert. Niren savored all of it with delight.


     Why, then, do you suppose such a well fed, well bred princess would eat a stone?


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