Fairy Tales are the first fantasy stories, the first tales of heroes encountering the magical worlds and coming out on top or being corrupted and destroyed by the evil of the world.
These are five tales you may never have heard of which I hope will inspire your writing and art.
P.S. Please leave a comment and let me know if these tales are helpful and if there is something specific you'd like me to include in future posts.
"Devil and His Grandmother" (Dragon and the Three Soldiers)
Some soldiers are earning so little that they are starving to death. Unable to continue to survive in the military they decide to flee, but are nearly caught.
When they are at their most desperate a dragon comes and offers them a deal. He will make them wealthy for a few years but after that they must work for him. In that moment, starving and desperate they make a deal and then must work to find a way to escape their new 'fate.'
The Damsel Saves a Knight
Burd Janet loves a knight named Tamlane, and everything seems to be going well until he vanishes without a trace. Some time later he appears to her as a ghost and begs her to save him. He has been forced to become a knight for The Fairy Court and must be rescued by a brave human on Halloween night.
The Writing Prompt
Those taken into fairy land were often used as soldiers in the fairies armies, and huntsmen to remove magical obstacle the fairies could not. This meant that those captured by the fairies would come above ground during Halloween, Christmas, and similar days to wage war or hunt with the fairies. To rescue them a person had to search for them during a massive war of fairies and the strange weirdness of their wild parities.
A few things to keep in mind;
Humans were uncanny to fairies, that is we had magical powers such as the ability to use iron which would hurt them. Thus humans were often used as soldiers by the fairy court to attack other fairies, or at times to help the fairy court kidnap humans who were protected by magic so that the fairies couldn't touch them.
On Halloween Night the fairy pathways became an Other World. That is the landscape around them transformed. Some people who stumbled into the small glades would describe massive forests the likes of which they had never seen. Thus Burd Janet might have to travel a long ways through a strange land to rescue Tamlane.
"The Young Sage"
A Kalmyk Tale which as far as I know isn't available in English anywhere else.
A young man, abused by his brothers leaves home with his fathers blessing. The young man travels past the place where the sun rises, meets the water Khan to learn how to save a land from drought, cures a girl of her blindness, and takes revenge against his brothers.
In lore famine, drought, earthquakes, etc. were caused by giants or spirits in the Other World. Write about these beings that cause this trouble and about a hero who goes and seeks to put an end to the problem.
"The Serpent Wife"
A man marries the spirit of the grain whose natural form is that of a giant serpent, though when pacified she takes the form of a beautiful woman.
A few things to keep in mind;
It was fairly common for loners to become shamanistic figures across Eurasia, and many of these shamans lived by farming, hunting, etc. The same as everyone else in their society.
There are many tales of how these people married a spirit to gain their powers.
Of course another common tale is how they married a spirit, or were adopted by it (Such as Rome's founders who were adopted by wolves) in order to gain the right to rule over a land. Yet in this case the spirit (such as the serpent) always has to leave them for some reason to explain why it's not still around.
This serpent is very similar to the tales of the dragons in Asia which married people in their early lore.
"The Deluded Dragon"
The story of a poor man who tricks a dragon into thinking he is a great warrior. As time goes on the dragon grows more and more afraid of the man until at last he offers the man great wealth if he'll leave him and his wife alone.
Tell the story of someone who makes a dragon, devil, ogre, giant or some other monster his servant by tricking him. What does he do with this powerful servant?
Tell the story of a man who is taken in by a dangerous monster and most constantly work to deceive the beast in order to stay alive. In another tale a girl is kidnapped by a dragon, for example, and so must constantly trick it until she learns it's weakness. Once she learns how to kill the dragon she sends a message to her father via pigeon.