Märchen (pronounced mâr·kĕn; the word is both singular and plural) are short stories of a generally fantastic nature (containing elements such as magic and mythical creatures), which were originally made up by storytellers and shared orally. Typically, Landian Märchen were composed within the first two centuries of The Land's existence (long before magic actually existed on the Land), though some stories which have been made up later (even some in the present) may be considered part of this genre, even if they are originally written and published, rather than being told orally. (Most of the earliest of the Land's Märchen have long since been published in collected volumes, though the names of the storytellers who originated specific early tales are generally not known.) "Märchen" is a subword from the Terran language "Deutsch." Other Terran terms for the genre include "folktale" and "fairy tale." Several Märchen from Earth and other worlds have been told on the Land by spirit-talkers who heard them from spirits, though in spite of Landians' interest in Earth's culture, original Landian Märchen are generally more popular.
It is also worth noting that, while Landians didn't generally use honorifics such as "Mr." and "Ms." until after the surname law was passed in LY 904, characters in many early Märchen did. In fact, it was more common for such characters to only be known by an honorific and surname, and no given name, than to be known by any given name at all (though there are exceptions to this). It was also common in Märchen for children to be called by the honorifics "Master" and "Miss," which even now are terms almost never used in real life (except perhaps in a jocular way).
List of Landian MärchenEdit
(This list is far from complete.)
This story is believed to have originated in the middle of the first century. The titular character is what on Earth would be called a "bogeyman," though there is no single story about him that is known to be the original appearance of the character. Anytime shortly after a heavy rainfall, when one goes out walking on the wet grass or mud, their footsteps can make a "squish-squash" sound. Mr. Squish-Squash is a man (or man-like monster) who supposedly approaches such people from behind, matching his pace with theirs, so that person will not suspect him or herself to be followed; they assume the sound they hear is merely their own footsteps. But they may get paranoid and quickly glance behind them to make sure they're not being followed, in which case Mr. Squish-Squash will simply vanish. He is never actually seen (except possibly out of the corner of the eye, to such a slight degree that the vision could easily be dismissed as an illusion). However, if he catches up and touches you, without being seen, it is said that you will vanish along with him, and never be seen again. It is also said that Mr. Squish-Squash cannot stand to be out during an actual rainfall, and if rain starts up again while he's following you, he will vanish and never bother you again.
Some people (usually children) have sometimes played games (most commonly on camping trips or on Samhain) where one person pretends to be Mr. Squish-Squash, and tries to tag the other players. A modern twist on the game developed centuries after the stories were first told, when Sorreters began using translocation, a method of disappearing and reappearing elsewhere that is reminiscent of the way Mr. Squish-Squash vanished, in the stories. So, if a Sorreter is involved in the game, he (or she) may play Mr. Squish-Squash, and use translocation to add a level of enhanced realism to the game.
Over the River and Through the WoodEdit
This story is believed to have originated in the second half of the first century. It tells of the various adventures of a (presumably fictitious) man named Lance, who crossed over First River and traveled through what would later be known as Valley Forest. (While it is not impossible that people from the time the story was first told might have crossed the river, it was certainly not a common occurrence until after the completion of First River Bridge in LY 149, nor did anyone explore far into Valley Forest before that time.) While it is believed that most of the fantastic elements of the story were entirely made up, there may be truth behind some of them. For example, the story mentions nearly man-sized beetles, which were thought mythical until stags were discovered in 152.