Notes about the story The Girl Who Swallowed the Night

Notes about the story The Girl Who Swallowed the night which is published in Storytime - #99 by Elsebeth_Rhiannon

I’ve left intact some comments by the teller about a possible re-telling. I thought they might be of as much interest to the audience than an actual re-telling. I told as a gift back the short story about luck told by Morgana Tsukiyo in the same thread and it was well-received and found both amusing and educational.

The story opens with “once upon a time, in the Darkness”. Such stories are often mixtures of the real and the mythical. Many stories of this style were constructed originally as slave stories about a real event but embellished with obvious fantastical elements to make them sound like fairy tales rather than forbidden history. Post-Rebellion, facts where known might have been inserted back in, but the fantasy elements not removed.

Kyrill is a real family of the Haran, one of the big Sundsele clans. Their near genocide is almost certainly a factual event, and it is likely the near escape of the last Kyrill of his time also is based on a real rescue mission that received inside help from the Holding.

The goblet that can hold anything and Marrha drinking up the night are, obviously, with equal certainty, not factually true. Marrha of the Night is a spirit known in the region, who is indeed often prayed to when someone needs more time to finish a task; a spirit likely preceding the occupation. Historicity of “maiden Marrha” the housekeeper is unclear. The fact that her family or clan are not mentioned makes it likely she is an invention, possibly an earlier origin story of Marrha of the Night mixed with the Escape of Kyrill, maybe in an attempt to obfuscate the identity of the true inside help while still recognizing its existence.

What renders as “maiden” by translators is a word for a young woman, just beyond her Mark, schooling and diversion years, beginning her adult career. Marrha of the story seems young for her position, if that word is accurate. (The word does not have the connotations of sexual inexperience or innocence that some possible translations give it.)

Festival of the Dead is a Sebiestor custom that has gained increasing popularity among some of the clans of Sundsele in the past years. During the Festival of the dead, passed ancestors are said to walk among the living, and stories of their good deeds are told and their advice sought. Families and clans also set up feast, clothes, etc ‘for the dead’ in public places, with the understanding that what the ancestors don’t claim over a night will be free for anyone in need to claim as their own.


It’s an interesting story that leaves me wondering what the goblet might be an allegory for and whether Kyrill’s escape was the prophesied loss of face or his descendants returned for a reckoning with the Holder’s.

It also makes me wonder about the social dynamics between slaves with positions in a Holder’s household and those labouring on the holding but I appreciate that it may be best to follow the example of the story and leave such painful topics to allegory.

1 Like

I kind of assumed the escape was the fulfillment of the prophecy myself, but Kyrill feature in other, and later, stories of the region as a force for the Resistance, too, so it could refer to that too.

As to the other topic… The ways we survived is not a topic often discussed. It is, of course, quite clearly apparent to anyone who cares to face it that options for most people at the time were run and hide, at least pretend to submit, or die. The dead clans are not here to boast about their valour, and no one wishes to be branded as either deserter or collaborator. Those are the words easily tossed around if anything but honorable resistance is suggested, so we talk about it very little, and where we do it seems like 100% of the population were heroes of the fight for freedom. Of course, most people who could tell about those times first-hand are now dead, and so we are left with mere echoes in stories like this.


This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.