Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Repertoire Refreshment 3: The Quest

So here’s the third of my blogs about that beautiful story from the Arabian Nights which I’m preparing for telling in a fortnight’s time.  The first blog gave a brief idea of the story as I’d remembered it over a number of years. The second itemised the three treasures in the story that I’d completely forgotten about. Now here’s the main body of the story.  I’ve simmered it down to its bare bones. That’s how I work when I’m starting from a written story. Visualisation must do the rest. Here goes.

The set-up:

P1070107Farizad and her two brothers, Farid and Faruz, live in the beautiful garden which was created by the gardener and his wife who were their parents.

Now the parents have died.

One day an old woman comes to the garden and says to Farizad: This garden is beautiful but it would be perfect with 3 rare treasures – the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree and the Golden Water. Farizad asks where these can be found? In the mountains on the road into India.

Farizad says she must go and find them. Farid and Faruz say, ‘No, we’ll go.’ But then they agree that one brother must stay to look after Farizad.

Quest of Brother No. 1

P1070109Farid is the elder brother. He goes. Before he leaves, he gives Farizad a shining knife. If something bad happens to him, the knife will lost its shine. He sets off towards the mountains.

After 20 days, Farid sees a holy man sitting under a tree. He asks the holy man where he can find the treasures. The holy man gives him a ball and tells him to keep rolling the ball along the ground and to follow wherever it leads.

When he reaches the mountain, Farid must tie his horse’s bridle to the ball and, leaving the horse behind, begin to climb the mountain. There he will hear noises. They are the Invisible Ones. He must not listen, he must not turn round.

If he succeeds, he will reach the top of the mountain. There he will see a cage with the Talking Bird inside it. Then he must ask the bird where he can find the other two treasures.

What happens?

Well, you can almost guess the rest except that all the way up the mountain are black basalt rocks with twisted shapes. Are they human bodies? We shall see. The Invisible Noises are as horrible as you might expect – BIG CHANCE FOR AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – and when Farid hears them, he turns round. At that point, there’s no Farid, only a new black stone.

Quest of Brother No. 2

P1070108When Farid’s knife loses its shine and becomes stained with rust, Faruz sets off on the same journey. Before he leaves, he gives Farizad a string of pearls. If ever the pearls bunch together, she will know he’s in trouble.

The same things happen. Faruz resists the Invisible Noises – ANOTHER BIG CHANCE FOR AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – until he hears a sad call coming from the big black rocks. The voice says, ‘Brother, do not pass me by.’ Faruz turns round. At that point, he changes into a black rock too.

Quest of Farizad, the Sister

At home, Farizad realises that more trouble has happened. The pearls have bunched together. Disguised as a warrior, she sets out to find her brothers. She too journeys for 20 days but when she finds the holy man, he sees through her disguise and, moved by her bravery, gives her more instructions. Only if she succeeds in finding the three treasures, he tells her, will she be able to save her brothers.

What happens?

Farizad resists the Invisible Noises – CHANCE FOR EVEN MORE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION – by stuffing her ears with cotton. She gets to the top of the mountain and sees the cage with the Talking Bird. The Talking Bird tells her she must cross the mountain to where the Singing Tree grows. She must break off the smallest branch – it will be enough – and take it westwards until she sees a shaft of sunlight touching a turquoise rock from which flows a thin, clear stream of water that looks like liquid gold. This is the Golden Water. She must fill a phial with the Golden Water (the Talking Bird gives her the phial) and take it back to the Talking Bird. All this she does and when she returns to the bird she asks her important question.

Question: How will I find my brothers?

Answer: Sprinkle on each basalt rock one drop of the Golden Water.

When Farizad does this, each of the rocks becomes a handsome young man. Two of them are her brothers.

Now the three go home. Imagine the scene when Farizad brings the 3 treasures into the garden. (Well, perhaps you imagined it last week.) The birdsong, the tree that grows from the broken branch, the fountain that rises from the Golden Water. Can anything add to this happiness?

The Surprise

Well, the interesting thing is that this story I’ve been telling you has a beginning and an end that I’d also completely forgotten before I re-read it. In a way, they’re not essential to the story. I think you could tell the story without them. You may disagree. In any case, I’ll tell them to you next week.

Helpful Hints

While thinking about this story, I’ve been wondering about props. Props could not only help you to engage your audience. They could also help you (and me!) to remember this story.

1. Why not write out our 3 characters’ names, each on a separate card? This may help to settle the names in our listeners’ minds. The cards can be wielded whenever needed.

2. What about taking along an ordinary tennis ball or rubber ball? Produce it at the appropriate time. The ball in the story is magic (it can roll uphill). Point out the difference.

3. How about a shiny knife and a string of pearls (artificial, I suggest)? Produce them before the story if you like – I often do such a thing as an attention-catcher. What role will these objects play in the story? Keep your audience guessing.

 OK. See you next week for the final surprise.


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One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ Repertoire Refreshment 3: The Quest”

  1. Jean Says:

    Looking forward to the beginning and the ending and enjoying the unwinding thread of this story leading us on Mary. It is a beautiful story and I’m pondering a Scottish version – Thank you for the reminder of this tale. I remember when i was struggling to remember a story long ago – a wise storyteller told me – if you can’t remember part of the story then make it up – you are a storyteller after all – and thanks to your inspiration Mary – i am and happy to be so.
    Jean x

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