A New Fairy Tale
Joshua Alan Sturgill
Awake in the World of Dreams
Brothers, when we left our tale, the King had fully disclosed his plan for the expansion of the Kingdom by force, and had offered the wandering Prince a position in the court. Our story is nearly complete. Perhaps we will tell a little tonight, and finish tomorrow. Remember the chief guard and the old priest in your prayers tonight. They were great-souled men, fierce and gentle, and it was through many more like them, unnamed, that our Kingdom was preserved until the time appointed for the overthrow of the King’s evil.
When the Prince found himself alone in the judgement room, he knew he must return to the Princess immediately and help her ensure the safety of her brother. He wondered if the young Prince was well enough to be smuggled out of the castle, and if a way could be found to hide him without the King discovering where he was.
The Prince considered all that he had seen and heard. The King had a great power—an evil magic it seemed—to which his own health was connected and to which he had recently attached the health of the young Prince. Images of pagan priests and diabolical rituals came into his mind. However, the King seemed to be acting alone, unaided by his courtiers or attendants.
“Exactly what has the King been doing in his Room of Inventions…?” the Prince suddenly thought. An urgent desire to look carefully into the Room seized him.
At that moment, the Princess appeared, out of breath, with a look of deep concern on her face. Before the Prince could ask, she gasped out, “my father has taken my brother under guard and gone into the Inventing Room with him and locked the door. As soon as they were inside, the sound of machines and the smell of chemicals reached into the hallway. I fear for my brother’s life—the look on my father’s face when he came to take him away was inhuman.”
“Then we have no time to lose,” said the Prince. “Can we get inside the Room?”
“The chief guard has keys to all the rooms of the castle. He was my mother’s friend and he has long been devoted to myself and my brother. He will open the Inventing Room for me if I ask.”
“Go to him now,” the Prince urged her, “and I will meet you at the door.”
They both rushed from the hall, the Princess to find the chief guard and the Prince to fetch his sword and shield from his own chamber. Up every staircase and around every corner, they felt that they had very little time and that the life of the young Prince depended on their speed.
The Princess did not have to search for long. The chief guard was waiting at her rooms.
“Princess!” he said with relief as he saw her approaching, “I am so relieved to have found you. The king was muttering under his breath when he came to take your brother away. I fear that if he continues with his experiments, he will fully lose his mind. Perhaps your father will pass beyond your help tonight into madness, but you can still save your brother. Indeed, you are the only one who can save him. Here are the keys to the Room of Inventions. Be prepared to see terrible things when you enter.”
The guard knelt on one knee and gave the key to the Princess and kissed her hand. “For your dear mother, the Queen,” he whispered. The Princess took the key and ran from the room, past hallways and stairs and windows. Just before she reached the evil Room, however, she heard a quiet but urgent voice call her name. It was the old priest, standing outside the Royal Chapel.
“Father, I must hurry,” said the Princess.
“Yes, my dear one,” said the Priest, “but what you are going to do tonight will put you in great danger.” The priest laid his hand on her forehead and gave the Princess a blessing of strong protection. “And take this as well,” the priest added, pressing a small golden Cross into her hand. “It is not by force but by prayer that we conquer the unseen…”
“Thank you, father,” the Princess said, suddenly tearful. Just then, the Prince came into the hall bearing his great silver sword and bronze shield. He knelt before the Priest and asked for a blessing as well. “May body subdue body and soul overcome soul,” said the Priest, “go now and save our Kingdom.”
The Prince and Princess stood for a moment before the door of the Inventing Room. The sounds from within were loud and ominous. Small puffs of acrid smoke emerged from the keyhole and around the hinges as the Princess fitted the key into the door and turned it with a soft click…
Brothers, the Prince and Princess did not know what they might see when they entered the Room of Inventions.The chief guard had once looked in and was terrified of ever doing so again, and the old priest had long fought the evil of the Room during his nightly prayers. Perhaps the King was unaware to what he had joined himself? Perhaps years of slow regress into his science had numbed him to the harm he nightly caused himself and his subjects?
Apart from the King, only one other had ever lingered in that dreaded Room, though he will spare you a full description of its evil. Tonight, however we must retire early. I am tired, and these memories are difficult to recall—not because they are too dim, but because they are too clear, even sharp in their painful clarity.
One more evening will suffice to complete the Tale. Until then, my brothers, forgive me. May God forgive us all.
To Be Continued…
All poetry and supplementary material: copyright 2020 by Joshua Alan Sturgill. All Rights Reserved.
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