Actions

Work Header

Not Quite A Fairy Tale

Work Text:

Once upon a time, there was a young prince. This young prince lived with his mean old aunt and uncle and didn't even know he was a prince. He cooked and cleaned and worked all day. He was a smart boy despite the fact the he wasn't allowed to go to school with his cousin. He was happy not to go, anyway; his cousin was mean and 'playing' with him was never fun. The young prince's favorite part of the day was watching his overweight cousin trudging off to school with the other children. At night he would lie still and quiet in the darkest corner of his family's little cottage, and hope and pray that his uncle didn't notice him that evening. True, his cousin and his cousin's friends could be mean and horrible to the prince, but they were children. The prince had long since learned not to do anything to anger his uncle. Once, his uncle had given him a beating with his belt every night for a week because he had forgotten to wash the back stoop. Another time the prince had been given nothing but water and stale, moldy bread to eat for a fortnight because he had spoken out of turn. Yes, the prince knew not to anger his uncle.

The prince prayed for someone to come save him from his plight. He prayed for his parents to be alive, to find, and to take him away from these horrible people. He prayed for a friend. One day, he got his wish. One morning, which was no different from any other morning in the young prince's life, as the young prince set about making breakfast for his family, a large man banged on the door to the little cottage. The prince watched as the man towered over his family, yelling at them and pointing at the prince. Several times, the young prince heard the words "prince," "birthday" and "ashamed," but could make little else out of the man's deep, booming voice. The man turned to the prince and asked him, in a shockingly gentle voice, to gather his things and told him that he was leaving his family. The young prince was more than happy to oblige, and as he had no things to gather, he said good-bye to his horrible relatives and walked out into the bright sunshine.

 

The boy did not know where the man was bringing him, and he didn't care as he happily trailed behind. Anywhere was better than the small cottage he had lived for too long in. The man strode happily through town, occasionally asking the boy questions that he could not answer, such as what he did for fun, or what his favorite toy was. The boy told the man he had never had a toy in his life, and the man happily told him that that wasn't true. He had once had many toys, but that was for telling about later. The boy followed the man into a large building, up a rickety staircase and into a small plain bedroom. He sat on the small lumpy bed as the man rummaged through various bags and trunks. He watched as the man pulled out a small round package, wrapped in sparkly red paper with an overly large gold bow, and handed it to him. The boy looked at the man in puzzlement as he stuttered about birthdays and getting something better but not knowing what he wanted, and getting something different at home. The boy gingerly tore open the package at the man's urging to reveal a small orange ball; his first birthday gift. It was perfect, as the boy told the man when he thanked him. He could never have gotten anything better.

The man blushed and quickly stood and began to shove everything in the room into the many bags and trunks. He told the boy that they would be going home tonight, and if they were going to make it in time for supper they had better get a move on. The boy followed the man through town and onto a large busy road, all the while beaming at his new gift. Home was at the end of this road, or so the man told him, and many people were waiting for them. It was a very long road as it turned out, and the sun was beginning to set before they came across another town. This town was larger than the one the boy lived in, and nestled in the trees at the far end was a beautiful castle. The man pointed at the castle, turned to the boy, and told him that was home, before bustling down the road and into the town. The road cut straight through the town, and as they passed, people pointed at the man, and then the boy, talking excitedly amongst themselves. Several people called out greetings to the pair, men raised their hats as they passed, and women curtsied. As one little girl ran up to them and hugged first the man, and then the prince, the prince blushed. He had never been the center of attention before, and people had never been happy to see him.

They made their way through the town and to the castle gates, which opened majestically before them as they passed. The boy followed in awe as the man made his way down the cobbled path, up the marble steps to the large ornate doors. One door swung open, and the men inside, dressed in soft, red, uniforms, complete with swords, bows, and quivers full of arrows, bowed deeply. The man thanked them gleefully and lead the boy into the glowingly beautiful entrance hall and trough a large archway, before he too stepped to the side and bowed, leaving the boy to stand alone in the center of a large throne room. The boy looked up to see a pleasant looking old man with twinkling blue eyes sitting on a large, extravagant throne, a stern looking woman seated next to him. And as the old man announced to the room that the prince had been found, the young boy fainted.

 

Several weeks later, after many welcome feasts and celebratory balls, the young prince was finally able to think about all that had happened. He had awoken to find himself in a large comfortable bed, with a nurse bustling around him, muttering about his health. Once she had been assured that the young prince really was fine, and had only been a bit overwhelmed, he had been ushered into a sitting room where he was told everything would be explained. And, oh boy, was it! The prince had nearly fainted twice during the long conversation. As it turned out, the old man with twinkling blue eyes was his grandfather, the stern woman his grandmother. They had been looking for the young prince for many years. Robbers had killed his parents and the prince had been left with the people he was raised by, not his family at all, when the nearest town didn't know what to do with him. If the boy thought that finding out his uncle was not even related to him and that he now had a family was a lot to take in, what came next would be almost impossible to process. The old man was not only his grandfather, but also a king. His father had been a prince, his mother a princess, and he himself was heir to the throne. When the prince had prayed for a happy life, he never thought he's get one this grand. As it turned out, the man who had so generously given the young prince his first birthday gift, was only one of the many people looking for him. He was one of the stable hands, and had taken care of the prince's mother's beautiful and unique pets. They were very good friends, and the large man had never given up hope of finding the prince.

After that first conversation with the king, the prince was brought back to his rooms. They were huge, with soft, plush red carpeting, beautiful shining dark wood furniture, a large four-poster bed, and windows that let the sun in at all hours of the day. The prince dropped his jaw in awe when he was told these were to be his own personal rooms; they were bigger than the entire cottage he grew up in. Immediately, the boy turned to his grandfather and told him he would not be able to live here. When the loving king asked him why ever not, the prince answered that he would never be able to keep all of his rooms clean, and if he could please have something smaller. He was a small boy after all, and could barely keep up with his chores before. The king then laughed, and the boy noticed that the twinkle in his eyes seemed to get impossibly brighter. That was when the boy learned that he would not have to clean, that there were people here that would clean for him. That was the first of many surprising things the boy would learn about his new life.

The next day, the prince was introduced to his new schoolmaster. The man was tall and thin, with curly, tawny colored hair, streaked with bits of gray. He had many scars across his face and hands, and he looked old and tired. But his eyes, which nearly matched the color of his hair, were youthful and full of joy. The prince soon learned that the man had been a friend of his father's. They were almost inseparable when they were younger, and only one man knew the prince better: the court jester. The moment the young prince met the jester he liked him. He was a handsome man, with long soft black hair and clear blue eyes. He was bursting with energy, always quick with a joke or a song, and he entertained the young prince for hours with tale of his father's many exploits with the man. The schoolteacher and the jester gave the young prince the grand tour of the castle, not forgetting all the secret passageways and the many hidden rooms, and before he knew it, the young prince was falling asleep on his feet. It had been a long day, and tomorrow would begin his lessons, so regretfully the prince bid his father's friends good night and made his way to bed.

There were to be other children in the young prince's classes, as the king felt that the young prince needed to make friends his own age, and for once the prince was happy to be around other children. The moment he entered the bight classroom, the young prince was surrounded by several bobbing heads of red hair. There were two older boys that looked so alike, the prince thought he was seeing double at first, a much younger girl who was rather pretty and very quiet, and a boy about the prince's own age. The twins talked quickly and animatedly, throwing their hands about the air, and very nearly knocking into everything within arm's length, asking questions about every possible thing. The prince tried to answer their questions, but really didn't know what to say and before he had even finished talking, one of the other children would start asking things. The young prince was beginning to become overwhelmed again, so he gently slipped away from the excited mass of red, and sat down next to a quiet girl with bushy brown hair. The girl was very smart, reserved and polite. She did not hound the prince with questions, nor did she seem the tiniest bit interested in the fact that he was the long lost prince. The prince enjoyed that. The prince looked around at the rest of the class, as the young girl explained who everyone was. The group of redheads were all siblings, and all of them were known for their fast tempers and their loud mouths. In the corner sat a beautiful girl, with dark hair and almond eyes, whom the bushy haired girl explained was a visiting princess from a far off land.

The young prince's gazed flitted across the room as the bushy haired girl explained that the students had split into four distinct groups when the year began. When the prince's gaze fell on the last group of students, he saw the most beautiful person he had ever seen. Yes, the redheaded girl was pretty, and the dark haired girl had a certain exotic allure, but the boy who commanded the last group of students was more than beautiful; he was angelic. His blond hair fell soft and smooth across his pale forehead. His sliver-gray eyes swept sharply across the room and landed on the young prince. Under that sharp, judging gaze, the young prince felt uneasy, and he watched in awe as the pale boy gracefully made his way across the room, flanked by other students who all looked clumsy and dim in his wake. The pale boy didn't walk, he glided with a grace the young prince knew he would never have. The epitome of everything royal and refined, the pale boy represented everything the young price had never had, and would never be.
After the pale boy chose a seat in the very front of the classroom and finally turned his gaze away, the young prince returned his attention to the bushy haired girl. She told him that the pale boy was one of the local aristocrats, and spent most of his time and energy making sure that everyone knew how rich and powerful his family was. Suddenly, the schoolmaster entered the room and called the class to order. The red headed boy plopped down in the seat next to the young prince as the lesson began, apologizing for the way he and his sibling acted earlier. They had been overexcited, the redhead explained, and didn't mean to make him nervous. The prince could tell that he was going to be good friends with the redhead, and couldn't wait to see what having a friend would be like.

 

The weeks wore on, and the young prince formed a bond with the redheaded boy and the bushy haired girl. They spent all their time together, the girl explaining things about the new world the young prince had been thrust into, and the boy more than willing to help him work off his extra nervous energy with a good game of football or some such. The prince had friends, and a family, and for once in his life was happy. It had turned out that the pale boy believed himself to be better than everyone and had been appalled when the young prince had chosen to become friends with common people such as the family of redheads. The young prince soon realized that beauty truly was only skin-deep, and that a friendship between the pale boy and himself was not forthcoming. The young prince knew what it felt like to be looked down upon, and he refused to do that to anyone else, and he would not be friends with someone who did.

And so it was, that exactly a month after the birthday that changed his life, the young prince once again found himself standing out side the classroom, arguing with the pale boy about his behavior. The pale boy had a flare for insults that the prince could never match, and after one too many snide remarks the young prince was ready to forgo the verbal spat and hit the boy. Just as the young prince balled up his fist, the pale boy said the one thing that could have stopped the young prince in his tracks; the pale boy spat that the young prince had no idea how to be the heir to a throne, and ought to be gotten rid of just like his father. Quickly the prince turned on his heel and stalked down the corridor to his room. The boy was right; he didn't know how to be a prince. He didn't know how to be anything more than a scullery maid, and he didn't have his father to teach him. The young prince stormed into his room and locked the door before collapsing on the plush bed in a fit of despair.

Later that night, while sitting at a feast in honor of the exotic dark-haired princess, who would be returning home in the morning, the young prince was struck with an idea. As he watched the jester flutter around the room, singing songs and telling stories, the young prince realized that even though he didn't have a father to teach him how to be a prince he had the next best thing. The jester loved to tell stories about the adventures of princes and knights, and he had known the young prince's father well. If the young prince listened to his stories and learned all he could from them, he would soon know how to act like a prince. He decided he would begin the very next day.

After several weeks of listening to the jester's tales, the young prince had learned much about princehood. He had learned that princes were brave and strong, caring and charming. The young prince figured he could do that much. Princes found kingdoms in need or damsels in distress and battled dragons and evil wizards and broke spells and curses to save them. That was going to be a bit harder to pull off. The young prince didn't know how to find these people in need, and the stories never covered that. How could the young prince find his adventure and live happily ever after if he didn't know where to look? And so, the prince turned to the same place he always did when he didn't know something; his friends. The prince told his friends that he needed to find an adventure, he needed to help people. The red haired boy jumped at the chance to fight dragons and win over beautiful women with his daring, but the bushy haired girl was a bit skeptical about the whole thing. She didn't see why he had to do all these things; they were dangerous, and the young prince could easily find a beautiful woman and live happily ever after right here at court. But the young prince knew he couldn't do that. It was a process and he needed to go through it to get the right product. He explained to the girl that it was a science; he couldn't cut corners anymore in this than he could in his classes. And that she understood.

So with the help of his friends, the young prince set about finding his adventure. The bushy haired girl suggested that he ask his grandfather if he could sit in court with him. There were always people asking for help in court, and he needed to learn how to do that anyway. The young prince was told he was more than welcome to sit at court with his grandfather, and the next day he found himself dressed to the nines and sitting beside the king and queen as they answered the kingdom's requests. It was all dreadfully boring, and no one seemed to be in any dire need. The young prince didn't understand why people needed to bother the king with disputes over farm animals and wells; after all, he was a busy man and must have more important things to do. It was several weeks later, when the prince had almost given up hope of finding his adventure, that a man stumbled into the court, dirty and worn down, declared that a neighboring kingdom was in terrible turmoil, and proceeded to pass out on the floor.

 

The young prince had finally found his adventure. The bedraggled man had fought his way to the foot of this benevolent king in a last hope of saving the kingdom he called home. In this kingdom, several years ago, the king had died and his brother had taken his place. The new king was an evil man, who was on a quest to make his kingdom the purest in the land. He had begun by killing off all magical creatures within his borders: giants, elves, fairies, even werewolves and vampires, who were mostly human and kept completely to themselves. Soon, the magical beings that had not been killed fled the kingdom to save their lives, but the king was not yet happy. The king then began to rid his kingdom of those humans he felt unfit. First peasants were targeted, followed by merchants and laborers. Again, the people fled to save their lives, and this angered the king. The king closed off the borders to the country to keep those he did not want out, and to keep his nation within. The last straw had been when the king had captured the last remaining member of the royal family and locked them away to prevent an uprising. Yes, the young prince had indeed found his adventure: an evil king, a kingdom in dire need, and a damsel in distress.

The young prince had told his grandfather that he was going to go off and defeat this evil king. His grandfather had agreed that someone needed to go and that the young prince would be a perfect choice, but he needed training to fight an evil this strong. And so it was that the prince began training to battle his way across a foreign land and into the clutches of evil. The weapons master was a strange man. At first the prince was worried about how much he could learn from this man. The master looked as though he wouldn't even be able to wield a sword, and the prince couldn't understand how he could aim when one of the man's eyes refused to look at the same thing as the other. But soon the prince realized that the man really was a master at his trade, and was working hard to keep up with the rigorous exercises. The prince learned everything about battle, from stealth, to archery, to jousting and sword fighting. The training was hard and several times the prince found himself in extreme amounts of pain, his wounds being tended to by the palace nurse. At times, the prince wanted to give, up, but then he would think of what the pale boy had said, and of the man who nearly gave his life to call for aid, and the princess waiting for someone to save her, and he would pick himself up and start again. And finally, after what seemed an eternity, the young prince was deemed fit to fight by the weapons master.

The prince was sent off with a gallant feast, larger than any he had seen before. It seemed the whole kingdom wanted to wish him luck, or at least keep appearances. The prince mounted his horse, waved good-bye to his friends and family, received a parting sneer from the pale boy, which he answered with a beaming grin, and set off. The kingdom was very far away, and it would take the prince several weeks to journey there, but he would be safe until he reached the border between the two lands. His trek through his grandfather's kingdom was pleasant. Many people were happy to help him, offering him lodging and supplies, and even extra training along the way. Before the prince knew it, he was making his last stop before venturing into the unknown territory.

Tired and sore after a long day of adventuring, the young prince trudged into a quaint little inn. The sign above the door indicated that the inn served food and offered actual beds, rather than palates of straw for sleeping on. The inn was small, warm and inviting. Many people sat at the tables, engaged in quiet conversation and sipping their drinks, and there wasn't a free table in the room. The young prince would have to share a table with some one. He chose a small table with only one person seated at it. A young man about the prince's own age with short dark hair and a slight frame looked around the room with discretion. Had the prince not been trained in observation himself he would not have noticed the young man's measured gaze. The boy was dressed in an over sized tan jacket, a brown tunic and dark gray trousers, and he blended in with the other patrons seamlessly.

The young prince walked over and asked to sit quietly, not wanting to draw attention to himself. Not everyone would be friendly to a member of the royal family this close to the border and the prince didn't want to take unnecessary risks. As the young boy looked up to offer the seat, the prince thought something seemed a bit off with him. There was nothing outward that seemed to be amiss about the boy, but something about him wasn't sitting right with the prince. Deciding not to investigate further and instead to allow the boy his secrets, the prince ordered his meal and room and patiently awaited the bar maid's return. He did not attempt to make conversation with the boy next to him, but rather joined him in watching those around. At length, after the maid had returned with his food and room key, the prince wearily stood to make his way off to bed. Just at that moment, someone called out from the crowd. A man stood and pointed in the direction of the prince, calling for his friends to "stop him."

For a moment the prince was afraid that his royalty had been found out, but with out warning, the young man still sitting at the table the prince had just stood from, stood and bolted for the door. It was a gallant effort, but the young man was not fast enough and soon a large man just out of reach of the door was holding him. The prince watched in horror as several men approached the boy with knives. Every moral fiber in the prince screamed that this situation was wrong; the boy was outnumbered and unarmed. He had no way of defending himself. The prince had to help him. Gathering up his courage the young prince quickly made his way between the detained boy and the armed men. He tried to reason with them, really he did, but men with too much to drink and not enough brains were hard to bargain with, and when the prince knew that he would have to fight, he grabbed the only thing close at hand. Now armed with a rusty old umbrella, neither the prince nor the boy were at any kind of advantage. So in a last ditch attempt to save the day, the prince jabbed the man holding the boy in the side, thwapped him on the head, grabbed hold of the boy's hand and dashed out the door.

The prince had no idea where he was going, but as he dashed into the darkened woods he knew he had to get the boy and now himself, as far away from the inn as possible. They did not have to run blind long, as soon the boy caught up and even over came the prince, leading him skillfully through the strange wood. After running full speed for what seemed forever, the two were forced to stop and allow their burning lungs to fill with much needed air. As they collapsed in a small clearing, breathing heavily, arms and legs sore with effort, the prince placed what was off about his companion. As the prince watched the heaving chest of the person he had just saved, he noticed something; breasts. The young man was actually not a man at all. He was a she. She was a girl. The prince was flustered, and through gasping breaths, foolishly spouted this new discovery. The girl glared at the prince and casually flung back that she knew she was a girl, thank you very much, and she had not missed that he was indeed not a commoner, but the prince, himself. The young prince blushed and scolded himself. If he could not even hide his heritage from a common girl, how was he to hide from an evil king?

But the girl did not allow him to wallow in self-pity long. She climbed to her feet before offering a hand to the young prince, mentioning that they had to be going if the prince was going to breech the borders that night. The prince wearily agreed and had pulled himself to his feet before he realized what the girl had said. No one knew what the prince's journey was to be, except for the king and his advisors, and the prince's personal friends. If the evil king knew that the prince was coming to fight him, the biggest advantage the prince had would be lost, the element of surprise. How did this girl, on the outskirts of the kingdom, know the prince needed to cross the closed borders?

The girl explained to the prince that she had been waiting for him. She was told by the weapons master that she was to help the prince disguise himself and cross the borders without being detected as a threat to the evil king. The weapons master had long since trained the girl, who turned out to be even older than the prince, though she most certainly didn't look it, in the art of disguise, and she could help him turn into anyone he wished. Also she could help him hide in the shadows and amongst the trees. The prince followed the girl to a small stream, where he watched as she splattered mud across her face, hands and clothes. She turned to the prince and explained that after they crossed the border, she would help the prince to pose as an aristocrat so that he could spy on the evil king before making his move, all the while walking in a meandering path away from the small stream. As the prince opened his mouth to protest her involvement, she disappeared into the foliage. The prince searched for her with every tactic he had, visually, through scent and sound, even trying to draw her out into exposure, but the girl was gone. The prince conceded his defeat and called out to the girl that she could come along, but she couldn't help him if she couldn't be seen. The girl stepped out of the shadows to his left. She looked even more like a part of the forest now, with leaves and twigs in her hair and stuck to her clothes, and the prince had no doubt that she could make herself into anything she wished.

They ventured further into the forest and towards the border as she quietly explained how they would cross the borders by simply not being seen. They splattered the prince with dirt and grim, much as the girl had done to herself, and when they reached the border they stopped. The girl explained that from here until they were past the guards and deep into the foreign kingdom, they would rely on their camouflage, stealth and the cover of darkness to hide them. The pair slipped easily past the guarded border, and by the time they stopped for rest they were deep into enemy territory. It took several nights of travel to reach their goal. They had encountered no one in the lush forests. The trees nearly radiated magical history to the prince, but there was a distinct lack of life in this forest. The quiet unrest left the prince uncomfortable, and his short-hairs standing on end. He was more than happy when the forest broke to show a large castle surrounded by a poor, dirty, mean looking town.

At this point, the second portion of their plan had to be put into play; the prince must turn himself into a lord and the deceptive girl into his lady. They stopped at a shoddy old inn on the outskirts of the city. Once inside they washed and gathered their high-class garments into their bags and headed out. The people at the inn would not be allowed to see them dressed in their finery for fear that someone would sell out their hide-away. The prince and the girl, dressed to the nines and looking every bit the pompous aristocrats, made their way to the castle and inside. Getting into the palace proved easier than anyone would have thought; as long as they looked and acted the part, no one questioned the new arrivals. After several days of visiting the castle, the prince felt he had a handle on the basic workings of the king's day: his schedule, his priorities, the location of his quarters and where he took his meals. But what the prince had not been able to find out was the location of the captured heiress, and even after several weeks of spying, the prince was no closer to his goal.

Eventually, the prince grew tired of waiting, and really it didn't take him all that long, and decided to take a more direct approach. One day, while watching the evil king hold court, and order the death of several new sections of the community, the prince stood up and announced to the king and court that he was there to save the missing princess and stop this evil king. At the same moment the price's lady pressed her head into her hand and muttered about impulsive young men out to save the world, and so forth.

Immediately, the king's guard sprung at the young prince, swords flying. Amazingly, through pure dumb luck, the prince managed to accidentally thrust the end of a broken arrow into the nose of the biggest man there as he pulled the arrow from his arm. The man also happened to have the largest sword in the guard. The prince watched the king out of the corner of his eye as he slipped out a small dark doorway, but now armed with the overly large weapon, the prince quickly managed to cut down the remaining guards, with a bit of help from his lady friend. Once there were few enough guards remaining for the girl to hold them off herself, she shouted at the prince to find the evil king and save the princess. Not wanting to leave her, but knowing that he must, the prince nodded his head and stormed determinedly into the small passageway the king had fled through.

The passageway was long and dark, twisty and turny, and slightly slimly as well. It seemed almost to the prince to be like a snake's lair, but he wouldn't let that get to him. He liked snakes, and even if he didn't, somewhere at the end of this tunnel his damsel in distress was waiting for him. The tunnel seemed to continue forever, but eventually the prince found himself standing in a wide, open, cave-like room. The prince wished he had stayed in the tunnel when he saw who the other inhabitants of the room where. There before him stood a truly sinister looked woman, with dark hair and light eyes that shone with a malicious delight, she almost looked like the evil, female version of the court jester back home. On her own, she wasn't really all that scary, but the large, blood-red, fire breathing dragon behind her proved to be another story. The prince, knowing that he had no time to let his fear over come him, plowed forward. When he had to jump out of the path of the dragon's fire-breath, the tip of his large sword pierced the dragon just so in the chest, causing the beast to turn sharply, engulfing the evil looking woman in flames before collapsing. With one dragon down, the prince knew that he was progressing smoothly through the process of princehood. Soon he would face off with the evil king and save the kingdom and princess.

There was only the one entrance to the cave-like room, which the prince had entered through, but having nowhere else to turn the prince crossed back into the dank passageway, but he did not end up where he was expecting. Rather than finding himself returning the way he came, the prince found that the passageway had been replaced by a wide, smooth, and well-manicured dungeon corridor. There were cells on either side of the pathway that held all manner of beast and man, but the prince paid them no notice. He made his way down the corridor with great intention, pausing only long enough at each door to make certain that the heiress was not hidden within.

In the very last cell on the corridor the last thing the prince was expecting: the pale boy. As the prince hissed through the barred door, he watched as the pale boy first recoiled from the voice. But with recognition came hope, and soon the prince was staring into the pale silver-gray eyes he had once so admired. The prince told the pale boy not to worry, that he would get him out of the dark and dank cell. To the prince's great surprise, the pale boy refused to accept the prince's help. As the pale boy began to tell the prince that he needed to continue the journey, that just on the other side of the corridor door stood the pale boy's parents, and that they were going to try to kill the prince, the young prince raised his large sword and smashed it against the heavy lock on the cell door. The prince looked up to see that the pale boy had become even paler, and when the prince explained that he was sorry for frightening the boy, but didn't have time to convince the boy to be saved because there were other people waiting their turn in that area. At that the pale boy flushed, just a bit, and told the prince in slight awe that that was very princely of him. The prince beamed at this. A compliment from the pale boy was indeed something to be treasured, but the prince didn't have time to bask in its afterglow.

The prince told the pale boy that he needed to get to safety, but that the prince would not be able to bring him there because he had to venture further into the realm of danger. At this, the pale boy's typical sneer returned, but without much of the animosity behind it, as the pale boy asked if the prince truly believed that he was going to leave him there. After all, the prince was still new at being a prince, while the pale boy had been playing the role for many years. The boy declared that he was going to accompany the prince to make sure he stayed alive long enough to save the world.

And so, to avoid further arguments, as the prince knew just how stubborn the pale boy could be, together the boys mustered their courage and prepared to face the pale boy's parents. When the prince opened the door to the room he had expected to have to dodge something; a curse, an arrow, flaming balls of ice… something. He did not expect the pale couple to be sitting peacefully in comfy green armchairs. He also did not expect the tall pale man to turn towards himself and the boy calmly and mention matter-of-factly to his wife that their only child had betrayed them and joined the prince's cause. He really didn't expect to hear the refined woman swear under her breath before ordering her husband to continue as planned. After all, it had been his stupid idea and she most certainly was not going to take part in this foolishness anymore than necessary. The tall man stood gracefully and had barely began his speech about someone telling the truth and someone lying, when the pale boy dismissively asked the man which door his wife would lead them to. This time, the man swore under his breath, and out of nowhere two doors appeared on the wall behind him. The man pointed to one of the doors, and the pale boy grabbed the prince's hand and dragged him to the opposite door. The prince began to ask what had just happened and why there weren't going to the door the pale boys father had motioned to, when the pale boy held up a hand and silenced him. The boy explained the normally he would not be so forward and would in fact treat the prince with all due respect, but if he did not stop his useless prattling the pale boy was going to be forced to find another way to shut him up! The prince had no idea what the boy was talking about but decided to quiet down anyway.

And so, the prince allowed the pale boy to lead him to the mysterious doorway, and just before the pale boy's hand wrapped around the shimmering doorknob, the prince stopped him. Obviously frustrated, the pale turned and glared at the prince, demanding to know what was wrong now. Raising his head just a little, the prince positioned himself between the pale boy and the door, explaining that as a prince he could not let someone he was saving enter a potentially dangerous room first. The pale boy gave the prince a very uncharacteristic silly little grin as the prince grasped the doorknob and thrust the door wide.

Upon entering the room, the prince was quite glad that he had forced the pale boy to stay behind him. There, standing tall and proud, draped in glorious robes of the darkest, thickest green velvet, stood a man. This man, with his long dark hair, coal colored eyes, Romanesque nose, and almost translucent skin, was obviously the most dangerous being the prince had encountered on his adventure. This is not to say that the man was ugly, however. No, this man had a certain allure to him, a subconscious calling to the rebel in everyone. On that level at least, this man was very attractive. But it was that attraction that the prince found so dangerous; surely, when a person's only appeal is to the rebel in you, they can bring forth nothing good.

And so, keeping that thought in mind, the young prince steadied himself as the man opened his stern mouth and began to speak. The tall man asked if they were the ones sent to save the last of the royal family, and if they were, would they please stop cowering like that, as he was most certainly not going to harm them. The boys gaped at the man. The prince did not understand. If this man was not going to hurt them then he couldn't be one of the evil king's followers, and if he was not one of the king's followers, then there was only one person he could be, and that was beyond contemplation. And so, since he did not have his trusty friends to turn to now, the prince did the only thing he could think of to do: he asked the man who he was.

The man smirked and raised one eyebrow at the boys before him. Several brave knights and princes had come to save the missing royal, but not one of them had thought to ask the tall man who he was. They had all just assumed that he was one of the evil kings many henchmen and attacked, their swords bouncing uselessly off the magical boundary around the man, their bodies immediately burned to ash at the contact. And so, these two boys were the first to make it this far. The man let his voice ring out across the large barren room, announcing himself as the last heir to the throne. When the boys heard this, the pale boy immediately wanted to test the man. And so, he asked him question upon question about the history of the land and royal family. After one particularly long and involved explanation from the man, the prince leaned over to the pale boy and asked if the man had been right. The boy elegantly shrugged his shoulders and responded in a whisper only the prince could hear that he had no idea.

At this, the prince once again lost patience and decided that he would believe the man, if for no other reason than because there was nothing else to do. The prince called out to the man that he believed the tall man, and if he wished the prince would save him and take him back to his kingdom where they would live happily ever after, or really, if the, man wanted they could stay in his kingdom, but the prince had to return the pale boy to their home before he could return to live happily ever after with the tall man, unless, of course- At this point, both the pale boy and the tall man realized that the young price had begun rambling and lifted their hands to cut him off in nearly an identical fashion. The pale boy shared a slightly amused look with the tall man before speaking to the bewildered prince. The pale boy told the prince that he didn't really want to go home, as his parents would surely be disowning him soon. The tall man turned to the boys and told them that if they would like to they could stay with him, though the only reason he offers is because it's proper fairy tale etiquette. The moment the boys answered that of course they would stay with him, the magical barrier around the tall man disappeared and a truly evil looking man stepped out of the shadows.

The evil man was in fact the evil king, and as his serpentine voice exploded across the room in a harsh, high-pitched cry of "No---!" he melted into a small pile of goo at the prince's feet. The pale boy buried his head in the prince's shoulder as the tall man explained to the boys that by accepting the tall man, the boys had broken the curse placed on him by the evil king, and there for had severed the evil king's last ties to this world, effectively rendering him dead. The tall man then turned and headed out of the room, calling to the boys over his shoulder to follow him to their new quarters. And as the young prince followed the tall man and the pale boy through the twisty turny hallway back up to the castle proper, he knew that they would all live happily ever after.

 

Or at the very least, the boys would. The tall man on the other hand would spend many nights reminding himself that no matter how immature and annoying the boys proved to be he could not rid his world of them. And as several small, fluffy, round pillows flew over his head as the boys engaged in yet another pillow fight, the tall man reminded himself that it must be true love. After all, the fairy tales don't lie.