Title: The Woodcutter's Axe
By Morticia (in a VERY odd mood)
Pairing C/P (trust me LOL)
Rating: umm, dunno really. Very cheesy. Barf bags might be

Spoilers: Well, I already warned you it's nonsense.

Disclaimers: If any one at Paramount can actually find any
similarity between these characters and their own then, yeah,
I stole 'em.

Answer to Ki's challenge to write a magical story that must contain the
following words

Solar eclipse

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a lonely woodcutter who
was known far and wide for the size of his axe. It was long, thick and
perfectly balanced precision instrument. All who had seen it had been
envious of its size and beauty and had covetously attempted to claim it for

Legend had it that it was a *blessing* from the gods themselves. The
woodcutter, however, did not agree. He thought it was a curse.

He hadn't always been a woodcutter, you see. Once he had been the youngest
son of a king. As the third prince he had had little responsibility. He had
not been drilled in the arts of statesmanship or warfare as his brothers had

His only expected function, as a third son, was to make a good marriage.  A
*union* would be arranged between himself and the heir to a smaller kingdom
(since he WAS only a third son, after all, so not the greatest of catches).

So he was allowed to grow up into a thoughtful, well-read boy rather than a
warmonger. He explored his spirituality and longed to find a mate who would
embrace his beliefs that all creatures were equal in rights even if the gods
had bestowed varying degrees of blessings upon them.

Yet as he had grown, the rumors about his OWN particular blessing had begun
to abound. All of the princes and princesses of the neighboring lands began
to clamor for his hand in marriage.

He found none of them suitable. Some were too small, some too large, ALL
were too selfish and self-important. None were the perfect fit. Deciding
that he was only a third son after all, so his father didn't REALLY need him
to make an alliance, he had defied his elders and had begun to journey
throughout the world to meet the lesser nobles, sure that among them he
would find the perfect receptacle for him to prove the superiority of his

He had believed that his wondrous tool had been designed so that he could
bring divine happiness to a mate whose innate goodness deserved no less. He
would use it for the *consecration* of his love for this perfect, imaginary

He had been sorely disappointed. No matter how often he had demonstrated his
prowess with his axe, he had always found that there was something
unfulfilling in the experience. Scratch the skin of all the nobles and they
bled with avarice and greed. They were spoiled and petty, unthinkingly cruel
and careless of the people they ruled.

None of them were deserving of the gift of his own god given blessing.

"What value is there in a perfect tool" he asked himself. "When there is no
worthy recipient of its precision?"

He grew angry over the years. He cursed the gods and goddesses themselves
for taunting him with such a promise of happiness when all he ever
experienced was disappointment.

So he retired to an enchanted forest on the border of an insignificant
little Kingdom known as Paris and lived alone, grim and bitter, deciding
that no hands but his own would ever touch the shaft of his cursed tool
again. So when the occassional traveller was brave enough to enter the
forest and stumbled across his humble cabin and said, "Please, Mr
Woodcutter, Sir. I have heard tales of your wondrous axe. May I see it?" He
would growl like a grizzly bear and roar like an angry troll, and the
travellers would run away in terror.

As time passed the animals in the forest, and even the *elven* folk
themselves, became accustomed to his presence and welcomed him within their
midst.  He was a kind soul at heart, quiet and reflective, and always eager
to help the four-legged or winged creatures of the forest through the cold
of winter.

At first they were pleased that he drove all other humans away, but as the
years went on and the Woodcutter still avoided all company, they became
concerned about him.

"It is not natural to live alone," the animals whispered to their mates each
spring as their own families were born.

"It is harmful to the *spirit* to be forever lonely," the elves murmured.

Yet they all agreed that the harmony of the magical forest would be
disturbed by the presence of another human.

"Perhaps we should drive him out," the wolves muttered. "Force him back to
his own kind."

"He is too brave and bold to be frightened from his home," the birds
twittered. "Besides, who will feed us in the long winters?"

"We must not be selfish. He has taken care of all of our wounded and lost
for many years. He is a good but sad man. He should find himself a mate.
There has to be a suitable person somewhere in the world and the only way he
will find them is if he leaves and begins his search once more," the wise
owl scolded the other birds.

"But who will be worthy of his splendid tool? What furrow can he plough that
is deep enough to satisfy him?" the dwarves asked, because they had a
thorough appreciation of the magnificence of the woodcutter's axe.

"Nothing will make him leave the safe solitude of this place," the wood
nymphs replied hopefully, for they too appreciated the woodcutter's
wonderful tool, having often crept to peer through the cracks in the cabin
when the woodcutter was inside. They had spied on him as he had oiled and
handled its thick shaft in the privacy of his bedroom and they all longed to
be split by a deep stroke of its magnificent length.


The other denizens of the enchanted forest huddled together in excited
whispers. Although they knew the type of traveller who sought the treasure
that the woodcutter concealed was unlikely to be interested in the dragons'
hoarded gold, they could see the advantage of encouraging the dragons'

Thus it was that on the next day the sky echoed with the thunderous flapping
of dragon wings as they soared towards the woodcutter's cabin.

As they approached, their huge bodies filled the sky, until it was as dark
as night, and when their mouths belched forth flame the cabin looked like a
*solar eclipse* as the tongues of fire licked around the blackened building.

The woodcutter was forced to run for his life, with the dragons in hot
pursuit, until he burst from the edge of the forest back into the land of
the humans.

He did not bother to try to return. He understood that the *fae* had cast
him out and although he did not know what unknown transgression had caused
his banishment, he forced a stoic expression onto his face and set forth
down the road towards the civilization he had spurned so many years before.

The *moon* passed two cycles as he travelled. He was growing ever more weary
and ragged. He lived off wild roots and berries since he had been unable to
face eating the flesh of animals since making friends with the creatures of
the forest, and he grew lean and haggard as the weeks progressed.

One night he paused by a stream for water. He studied his reflection in the
dark mirror of the water and sighed.

/Where should he go? What should he do?/ He asked himself, as he had done
every night of his journey, and still no answer came to him. He had no hope
that human nature had changed. There was little point in resuming his search
for a soul mate, in his opinion.

All he was sure of was that he should keep his marvellous tool hidden from
all prying eyes lest he should be recognised.

He was grateful for the enveloping cape that he had grabbed to cover his
face from the thick smoke of his burning cabin. The nights were beginning to
get cold now. He wrapped it around himself until he was sure that his axe
was completely concealed and then he curled up by the side of the pool to

He was woken by the sound of light youthful laughter and the champing sound
of horses chewing on their bits. He curled tighter in his cape, feigning
sleep. He was not ready yet to deal with the petty cruelties of humans.

"You are a foolish dreamer, my lord Tomai," one voice mocked. "It is but a
beggar man. See his ragged cloak? It is all singed and burnt."

"He is no beggar. I am sure of it. His face is too noble. See his firm brow
and strong cheekbones?  He is one of the fae, perhaps. Lost and far from his
home. See his bronze skin and the beautiful markings on his face? He is not
of this land, for sure, Hari," a gentle, lilting voice replied.

"You are a romantic, Tomai. Next you'll be saying he's the Woodcutter, come
out to look once more for the perfect sapling to split with his wondrous
axe," the other youth laughed.

The golden haired boy bit his lower lip. "Would it were so," he muttered
under his breath. Then he shrugged and gave a wide sunny smile.

"Let us wake him and ask whether he would like a ride to the city," he
suggested, obviously unaware that the Woodcutter was already awake.

"I'm not letting a filthy beggar upon my horse, Tomai," the dark-haired
youth protested.

"It is a long walk to the City. He may ride my horse," the golden boy

"Delta Flyer is far too fine-legged to carry two riders,"
Hari argued.

Tomai nodded. "You are right. I shall have to walk then," he proclaimed.

Hari's face filled with horror.

"No, my lord Tomai. Forgive me, I forget myself sometimes. I am your valet,
after all. If you insist on this foolish plan, he must ride B'Elanna. She is
a strong mare and despite her foul temper, she is dependable enough.
Besides, how would I explain your dusty boots to your father?"

Tomai, or Prince Tomai to be more precise, gave a huge, smirking grin.

"Just tell the King I broke the rules again. He ought to be used to me by
now," he laughed.

The Woodcutter decided it was time to intervene. He had no intention of
mounting either horse so he would quickly end the youths' argument. Giving a
dramatic yawn, he pretended to wake and then he hauled himself to his feet,
careful to keep his cloak tightly around himself.

He opened his mouth to advise the boys to ride on and leave him in peace
when his first sight of Prince Tomai's bright blue eyes stole the breath
from his throat. He had never seen such perfection.

"Good morning," Tomai said exuberantly. "Are you travelling to the city?"

The woodcutter nodded dryly.

"Please may I offer you a ride?" Tomai asked, his eyes sparkling with
something a little less than innocence.

The woodcutter bit his tongue as his axe shifted dangerously under his cloak
at the youth's comment.

"He's a beggar, my lord. Or even a thief. He might be an escaped criminal
for all we know," Hari muttured. "One of those rebels."

"If he was a rebel, he'd have a tent. He wouldn't be sleeping in the open,"
Tomai pointed out. "The rebels all live in those strange camouflaged

"I thank you for your offer, my lord," the Woodcutter replied with a stiff
bow of pride. "However, I am fit and hale. I can walk to the city without

Tomai's face filled with disappointment.

"Please, sir. Ride my horse. I trained her myself. She is sleek and fast and
a pleasure to ride. I would enjoy watching you ride her," he said

"No doubt you would also enjoy shocking your subjects by returning home with
a 'beggar' in your saddle, my prince," the Woodcutter replied dryly.

Prince Tomai flushed deeply with remorse.

"Forgive me," he replied. "It is true that some part of my offer was
inspired by the anticipation of my father's displeasure. It was not, however
the main reason for my offer. You do look weary, good sir, and I am not. I
do little enough good in my life. Let me do this one good thing today."

The Woodcutter was surprised by the obvious sincerity of the young prince's
request. Tomai had not only admitted freely his less charitable reasons for
his offer, but then had seemed sincere in his generosity.

Had he himself ever been so noble a prince?

No. Despite his avowals of spirituality and his beliefs that all men were
equal, he would never have stopped to notice a beggar on the ground. He had
been too busy searching among the nobility for the perfect place to rest his

He WAS weary, tired and undernourished, he realised. The young prince's
horse was suddenly a tempting proposition. Perhaps if he agreed to ride for
just an hour or two, the Prince would be satisfied.

"Thank you, your highness," the Woodcutter said mildly. "A short ride would
indeed be most welcome."

Tomai gave a huge sunny smile and slid gracefully off his mount, revealing
endlessly long slim legs and a firm, well-toned bottom in his tight riding

The woodcutter averted his eyes from the promise of the youth's body. He
knew from sad experience that the contents of the prettiest packages rarely
lived up to the promise of their wrapper.

"What is your name, good sir?" Prince Tomai asked cheerfully, once the
Woodcutter had hauled himself into the saddle, carefully arranging his cloak
so that his tool was concealed.

The prince's companion snorted in a combination of amusement and disgust at
Tomai's persistant refusal to act in a matter befitting the heir to the
kingdom of Paris.

The Woodcutter's face went blank. He dared not say his true name lest it
were recognised even after all these years of exile. He thought quickly, not
wishing to offend the young prince by refusing to gave a name.

"Kotay," he replied, as Hari began to glare at him for his silence. It was
'almost' his real name and in the language of his own people it meant
Pilgrim and it seemed oddly apt under the circumstances.

"Charred Kotay, more like," Hari smirked, gesturing at the ragged burnt
cloak that Kotay wore.

Tomai's blue eyes flashed in fury.

"Do not mock him, Hari. We too could some day fall on hard times."

"You are a prince, my lord, and I am a nobleman. We will never wear burned
rags like a pauper," Hari replied blithely.

"Will we not?" Tomai hissed.

His fine features creased into a frown of deep concentration and then he
unfastened the golden broach that fastened his own ermine-lined cloak and
stripped it from his body.

"Sire Kotay, would you honor me by accepting the loan of this garment?" he
asked proudly.

Kotay glanced suspiciously at the young prince.

"If I take your cloak you will be cold, your majesty," he replied carefully.

"Not if you would be so kind as to offer me your own garment in exchange,
good sir," Tomai replied.

Kotay's eyes narrowed. He was sure that the gesture was less a kindness to
himself than a lesson to the proud young Hari. Then he shrugged. Whichever
was the reason, neither were intended as a mockery of himself.

He was careful to accept the Prince's cloak before offering his own, so that
he could keep his wonderful tool concealed. Strangely, for the first time in
years, he did not conceal his 'blessing' to protect himself as much as to
ensure that the Prince's blue innocent eyes were not shadowed by the envy or
avarice that his tool always inspired.

Prince Tomai could not possibly truly be what he appeared, Kotay knew.
Experience had taught him that under the pretty pampered skin of every noble
lurked a darkness that sickened him. He did not doubt that Tomai hid a black
soul. Even so, he did not want to witness it.

The horses' slow amble eventually began to change to a nervous jog as they
realised that they were nearing home and its promise of a warm stable and
steaming oats. Several times Kotay had tried to offer his mount back to the
young prince but he had been constantly refused despite the young man's
obvious soreness. His fashionable riding boots were not designed for hiking
and Kotay imagined that there were a fair few blisters developing on the
Prince's feet.

"I will mount before we reach the city," Tomai had assured him quietly,
meeting his eyes so that there was no doubt in Kotay's head that the youth
had decided not to use his act of charity as a tool to shock his father.

It warmed Kotay's heart to see that sincerity in the Prince's sparkling blue
eyes. Feelings long dead within him began to blossom once more. Perhaps here
WAS a noble who had a truly fine soul.

"We are near to the city now. There is the chance of a patrol," Prince Tomai
said quietly, clasping Delta's reins to pull her to a halt.

Kotay slithered quickly off the mare and offered his clasped hands to help
the Prince mount.

Tomai landed in the saddle with a grateful sigh. His feet were truly
agonised but he knew that he had done a good thing in helping the beggar
man, and that was worth all of the blisters in the world.

"Hari," he said imperiously.

"Yes, my lord?" Hari replied wearily, wondering what the prince was up to

"Money," Tomai demanded, holding out his hand.

As a prince he was not allowed to carry coinage himself. It was expected
that all of his subjects would freely give him whatever he wanted. Tomai
always made Hari carry money for him instead. He didn't care what his father
said. Even if everything in the kingdom WAS his by right, he never felt
right about taking anything from a merchant without paying for it. After
all, the merchants had families to feed.

"You aren't giving him money too?" Hari asked in disgust.

Kotay stiffened, his pride stung.

"I ask nothing of you, my Prince," he hissed angrily.

"But I ask something of you, Sire Kotay," the young prince replied with a
small smile. "You were kind enough to allow me to share my horse with you,
good sir, and it made me happy. Would you be so cruel as to deny me the
happiness of knowing that you have food to eat tonight?"

Kotay flushed. He had indeed no money for food or shelter within the city
but he intended to work for his keep and he said as much to the Prince.

Tomai smiled and nodded.

"This is not a gift, good sir. It is a loan, between gentlemen," he replied,
leaning down off his horse to press a generously filled pouch into Kotay's

"But how do I repay you, your highness?" Kotay challenged.

Tomai smiled.

"In your life you will oft times come across those less fortunate than
yourself, Sir.  Give to them what you can spare, and in that way you will be
repaying me," he replied, then clasped his heels to his mare's sides.

She sprang forwards, eager to go home, and Kotay was left, clutching the
money helplessly.

"Your cloak!" he cried out, realising belatedly that he still wore the
garment of a prince, but Prince Tomai was gone.


Hari lounged lazily on the corner of Tomai's couch, watching his beloved
Prince prepare for the Dorvanian.

"I warned you," he purred. "I told you that your father wouldn't put up with
your behaviour forever. Now you are going to have to behave properly. You
new husband will no doubt expect you to behave with propriety."

Prince Tomai glared at him as he tugged a comb through his unruly blonde
hair. Strictly speaking, Hari should be doing it for him but he was too
angry to let anyone touch him, even his valet and friend Hari. He was going
to be man-handled enough by his new husband by all accounts.

"He threatened to disinherit me," he spat at Hari, still reeling at his
father's betrayal. "He said he would marry again and get a more suitable
heir unless I agreed to this marriage."

"Well Dorvan IS the most powerful Kingdom in the world and this will be a
wonderful alliance for Paris," Hari pointed out. "Besides, he wouldn't have
agreed if you hadn't angered him so badly over the Caldik Prime incident."

Tomai deflated a little. "It didn't cost THAT much, and the whole province
were affected by the drought. Without the irrigation system, thousands of
people would have starved Hari," he pointed out mulishly.

"Thousands of PEASANTS, Tomai. Don't get me wrong. I think you did a good
thing. You shouldn't have taken the money out of the treasury without asking
though," Hari said reasonably.

"If I'd asked, he'd have refused," Tomai replied.

Hari sighed.

"I swear, my Lord Prince. Ever since the day you gave that beggar a ride
into the city you have been getting worse. You can't keep giving money and
clothes to peasants. It's just not done. The gods made us noblemen for a
reason. You can't change the order of the world, Tomai. That's like telling
*Mars* and Venus to change their positions in the night sky. We are the
blessed chosen of the gods and the peasants were created to serve us."

"I don't believe it, Hari. It's an accident of birth, that's all. Everyone
is equal but some of us are luckier than others," Tomai replied firmly.

"Well peasants don't have arranged political marriages," Hari agreed sadly.
"But then again, it could have been worse. The King COULD have made you
marry Queen Kathryn of Janeway. She's been drooling over you for years."

Tomai shuddered. "Yeah, I guess. Then again, Janeway is far less powerful
than Dorvan so even a marriage to the third prince is a better alliance.
Besides, I think father is expecting that a man will take a firmer hand with

"Well little news of Dorvan reaches this kingdom," Hari replied. "No one
knows much about this Prince Chakotay except that he is rumoured to be
irresistibly handsome and the possessor of a fine asset. They say that so
many people sought his hand when he was your age that he left his kingdom
and travelled for many years."

Tomai sighed. He cared not one whit how handsome his future husband was. He
had only once in his life seen a man whose face had captured his dreams and
it had been the face of a beggar. Whatever his husband looked like, he would
not fit the needs of his heart. He cursed the accident of birth that meant
he had seen a man who made his heart soar, only to be irrevocably separated
by the unescapable burden of rank and position.

His actions at Caldik Prime had been partly because one of the villagers had
reminded him vaguely of the noble-faced beggar and he had been unable to
turn his back on the man's needs.

And now, his punishment was to be married to a man who would no-doubt be as
vain and empty-headed as all the other princes and princesses he had ever
seen. This Prince Chakotay would no doubt be sitting with his father right
now, being regaled with the details of Tomai's inability to act as befitted
his station. His father would want his future husband to take a firm hand
with him, lest he shame his people with his behaviour in his new country.

"I wish I didn't have to move to Dorvan," he sighed.

"You will return here after the King has passed on. You husband will become
the King of Paris," Hari pointed out.

"And HIS sons will inherit," Tomai hissed.

"Well, that is the way of the world, my lord. Hopefully he is a lover of
men, though, and he will only accept a female consort to ensure the throne
rather than to warm his bed."

Tomai flushed.

"I care not whether he shares my bed, Hari," he hissed. "I hate that I am
being sold to him like this, like I am no more than a hound or a horse."

Hari smiled sadly.

"You still dream of him, then?"

"What?" Tomai demanded, his face draining of all color.

Hari shrugged.

"I may not share your beliefs, my lord, but I DO care for you, and I know
that you have been haunted by that beggarman. I sorrow for you. Love is like
an arrow. It strikes without warning and without respect for rank. At first
I though it was lust. Even under the rags he was an uncommonly attractive
man, I admit. Yet you are a Prince, and he is a beggar, and that, as they
say, is that."

Tears sparkled in Prince Tomai's eyes.

"I know my duty and I will do it, Hari. I know the difference between
reality and fantasy. This is real life and there are no happy ever afters.
Thank you for keeping my secret though. Thank you for sharing my pain."

Hari sighed.

"I understand you more than you believe, my Prince, for I, a mere nobleman,
have loved above my station for many years," he confessed.

Tomai's eyes went wide with sorrowful understanding.

"I am so sorry, Hari," he whispered.

Hari laughed ruefully.

"I love a Prince, and my Prince loves a beggar. Which of us is more

Tomai smiled gently in understanding.

"I am glad now that you will stay here, Hari. It would be hard for you in
Dorvan. I pray that by the time I return you will have found a companion who
can return your affection."

Hari winked. "I have my eyes on young Lord Gerron," he admitted. "He doesn't
have your beauty, my lord, but he is less apt to give my money away."

Tomai laughed and hugged his friend.

"Come, my fate awaits me in my father's chambers. I may as well take a look
at the man who will curb my freedom."


Prince Chakotay hid a small smile as he listened to King Owen's list of
Tomai's indiscretions. He knew that Owen was only listing Tomai's faults in
the belief that Chakotay would correct them.

As a member of an inferior Royal house, Tomai would be expected to be
subservient to his husband's wishes. King Owen was obviously unaware of
Chakotay's own chequered history. Chakotay's own father had died during his
time in the enchanted forest and his oldest brother was now King.

Chakotay had taken the generous purse of money that Tomai had given him and
wrapped in the respectable cloak had managed to buy passage on a ship to

His return home had been met with a remarkable amount of joy from his
brothers and they had pointedly failed to question him greatly about his
absence, particularly when he had told them that he was finally ready to
assume his duties to his country and make a marriage for himself.

Paris was such an insignificant country that his father would have baulked,
yet since he now had two nephews between himself and the throne, his choice
of Prince Tomai as a husband was readily agreed.

He regretted the fact that poor Tomai had no idea of who he was marrying,
had no choice except to agree, and might be appalled at the idea that
Chakotay had once been a 'beggar'.

Chakotay's heart, though, told him that Tomai would welcome him and the more
that King Owen regaled him with tales of Tomai's 'unseemly' generosity
towards his subjects, the more Chakotay was convinced that he was worthy of
his own particular 'blessing'.

"Ah, here he is," the King pronounced. "Don't let his angelic features fool
you Prince Chakotay. He needs a firm hand, does Tomai. I always find the
occasional strapping keeps a boy in his place."

Chakotay forced himself to keep his temper in check. The idea that anyone
would lay a violent hand on the beautiful and sweet-natured Tomai incensed

Tomai turned white at his father's words. Gods forbid that his husband would
use the same discipline on him as his father often did. He could see that
Prince Chakotay was a muscular man from the wide set of his shoulders. He
wondered whether the dark hair obscured a face of cruelty and he shivered.

Chakotay turned slowly so that he was face to face with his intended spouse.
He saw the gorgeous blue eyes widen in shock, then narrow in confusion. He
saw the white cheeks flare with a blush of crimson red. Then he saw the tip
of a pink tongue run nervously over parted lips as the blue eyes followed
the lines of his tight fitting clothes.

"You're him," Tomai whispered, swaying a little in shock. "You ARE him."

Prince Chakotay ignored the confused look on Owen's face and stepped forward
towards the quivering blond.

"I am WHO?" he asked, his face creased into a soft smile so that dimples
formed in his cheeks.

Eyes huge with unmistakable lust, Tomai stammered, "The Woodcutter. It's
you. The legend was true. It was you, wasn't it?"

Chakotay released a bellowing guffaw of laughter.

"Oh yes, little one," he murmered lovingly. "I spent years in the enchanted
forest believing that there would never be a person wonderful enough to
share my blessing with. I believed it was a curse, a tease of the gods. Then
I met you."

"But, but you were a beggar, weren't you?" Tomai stammered uncertainly.

"And now I am a Prince. Do you see any difference in me?" Chakotay asked.

Tomai flushed. "Only clothes, my Lord," he whispered honestly.

Chakotay roared with delighted laughter.

"Will you marry me, Prince Tomai? Will you let me rest my treasure in yours?
Will you become the sheath for my axe so that it can finally fulfil its true
purpose, to bring pleasure to one who is worthy of no less than its full and
undivided attention?"

"Undivided?" Tomai asked carefully.

"No other sapling will be split by its stroke, I swear," Chakotay purred.

"Then yes," Tomai replied with a groan of desire.

And they lived happily ever after.

(With the help of a LOT of lube)

The End