Tickling Butterflies – The King’s New Ally

December 1, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

The King’s New Ally

(Containing a short but tragic tale in which two old enemies look at each other for the last time.)

 

King John the Cute glided through the white tunnel easily. The pangs and pains in his heart, already aching beyond measure, ached even more.

Soon, the white tunnel gave way to an opening. The king slipped through, and fell in the middle of his court in the palace in CapitalCity in the Land of All Legends.

The king fought through the pain and rose to his feet, looking around. The land was grayer than when he had left it. The Land of All Legends was almost as colorless as the planet Earth.

A crowd surrounded King John the Cute. Among them he quickly spotted the blindfolded Queen Sarah O’Connell, Prince Charming the Fifth, Minister Azriel Jones, Colonel Stone, the shadowy creature that had given Death back his arm, the king’s army, the prince’s army, and even Chariot waited above.

“My friends, it is good to see you all again,” said King John the Cute. “I believe I have found the cure to the sickness of the land. Now I must leave you all and die.”

Out of the crowd of people, Death stepped forward and faced the king.

“I am here to help you,” said Death and for the first and last time he shook the king’s hand.

The king’s body, bereft of its soul, fell to the ground, lifeless.

This has been the story of how the battle for King John the Cute’s soul began.

 

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – The Magic of Earth

November 26, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

The Magic of Earth

(Containing two inspirational stories about the magic of planet Earth.)

 

The old man wrote heatedly throughout the entire night.

Bubbles upon bubbles filled the café, until King John the Cute could no longer see the old man inside it. Bubbles passed through the walls of the café harmlessly, and as long as they did, King John the Cute knew the old man was still writing.

The sun rose on the planet Earth when the old man emerged from the café, notes in hand.

“I wrote it!” he exclaimed. “What an experience!”

King John the Cute offered his hand to look at the story the old man had written.

“There is something you must know,” said the old man while King John the Cute began to read the story. “If you had come to me only a few years ago, when I was a younger man, I would never have been able to write so well so quickly. Something in me had changed.”

King John the Cute looked at the old man. “Then the Fates have brought me to you at the right time. What change do you speak of?”

“Once upon a time, I looked at writing as magic, which it is. Writing wasn’t putting down words on a page or creating carefully constructed sentences. Writing was waiting for the inspiration to come and for a moment on the page to appear completely magical, better than anything I could have written. Ever since I could remember, there was this magical element to my writing, and I loved it.

“But since I did not control this magic, and since it did not come often, I was afraid that the magic was not my own, that I would lose it. I was afraid that everything I did may cause me to lose it: relationships, talking to people, hearing music, spending time outside my house. Anything may lead to a change in me, I believed, that would cause me to lose that magic.

“A sentence could only be magical once, and I would sit in my house for hours on end, waiting for the single inspiration of a single sentence. And eventually it would always come. And once it had come, I knew that if I did not write it down, I would never be able to duplicate the magic of that sentence, never be able to create another minute so magical in that instance in the story.

“But a few years ago, through events in my life which are too long to be told here, I learned that if I lose one magical moment, there is another around the corner. I learned that inspiration comes to me many, many times a day. I learned that my mind does magical things all the time, because it sees magical things around it all the time. I learned that there is no need to fear the loss of inspiration, because inspiration is endless and all around me. I learned that a magical sentence lost is quickly followed by a magical sentence gained. It will be a different magical sentence, brought about by an inspiration of another kind, but it will be magical nonetheless.

“You see, my dear King John, I learned that everything is magic. And ever since I have learned that life-lesson, I have been writing freely and openly and without fear, just as I have lived my life freely and openly and without fear.”

King John the Cute gently touched the shoulders of the old man. “Thank you for that story. It is a good last story to hear before my death.”

“What? You’re going to die now? How will we ever get the story published in the next few minutes?”

“Through magic,” answered King John the Cute, “through the magic in everything.”

The king handed the papers back to the author. “In a few minutes, you will have to read this to the world. Prepare yourself.”

King John the Cute turned around and faced the world. “Stones! Sand! Buildings! Roads! Glass! Winds! Everything and everyone around me! It is I, King John the Cute, and I have a task for every magical creature that lives on this magical planet! In a minute, my friend here will begin to read a story. You must convey this story aloud to all who would hear. And you must tell the magical objects near you to carry this story forth to all creatures around the world, who must in turn tell the story aloud to all humans present and then pass it on to the objects next to them. This story must be heard around the world within the next hour or all is lost!

“I know you have waited for me for many years. Now this is what you can do so I may fulfill the prophecy and my destiny and save my world, this world, and a third one. Do this for me! Do this for you! I decree it, for I am King John the Cute!”

“We obey!” “We obey!” “We obey!” these words echoed throughout the park, and quickly spread around the world. “We obey!” “We obey!” “We obey!”

“Now,” said King John the Cute.

The old man, astounded, looked down at the paper and began to read his story.

Around the world, high-rise buildings began to tell the tale of the birth of King John the Cute, and the prophecy hidden by him from his mother.

Around the world, the winds shrieked of Shadowy Secret’s birth.

Around the world, water gurgled of the frightening encounter between Death and John the Cute when the king’s name appeared on Death’s list.

Around the world, stones, radios, TV sets, books, flowers, dust specks, boulders, trees, roads, light bulbs, stamps, clouds, cars, airplanes, towels, glasses, shadows, scissors, raindrops, snowflakes, rainbows and all other objects in the world spoke the same story, aloud, and in unison, so that all humans could hear, and none could deny that around them everything was magic.

The story of King John the Cute and Shadowy Secret was heard not by dozens, not by thousands, not by millions, but by billions. The story was heard by all humans around the world, and the bubbles emerged from the humans’ minds, and united at a speed previously unseen on the planet Earth, to create a great tunnel that led to another world. So powerful was the creation of this tunnel, and so strong was it, supported by the imagination of billions, that it did not reach the Afterdeath, as all new tunnels do, but led to the Deepest Crevice, the spot where Shadowy Secret was born.

King John the Cute looked above him after the old man finished telling his tale. “I will not wait for the tunnel to form completely, for I do not know where it may lead. I will travel back through a tunnel I have seen before, a tunnel that will lead me back to my palace. It has been a pleasure, dear friend. Thank you for everything you have done. You have saved two worlds.”

“And you have saved me. Goodbye, and enjoy the Under World.”

For the last time, ten thousand butterflies minus one engulfed the king and carried him upwards. There, they thrust him into a tunnel the old man could not see, and the dying king vanished from sight. The butterflies flew on their ways, to busy themselves with other tasks.

This has been the last story of King John the Cute’s adventures on the planet Earth. This has also been the story in which mankind, in its entirety, learned that everything is magic.

 

(To be continued on Thursday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

 

Tickling Butterflies – A Secret Is Born

November 24, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

A Secret Is Born

(Containing the birth of a secret that is already born.)

 

“The first time we met,” King John the Cute began to tell the old man his idea to save the Land of All Legends, “I could see in the bubbles that came out of your mind that when you looked at the horrible lines that mar my face, you saw the stories behind them. You understood who I was. You knew where I came from. You instinctively felt the stories of my life. And that is important for my plan.”

“And what is your plan?” inquired the old man, his eyes still shining from the events of the last thirty hours.

“My plan is to open the second door,” answered King John the Cute. “My land is sick because the twin lands are uneven. I will soon die and be reborn in the Afterdeath. There, I must find a way to open the second door and to allow free passage back and forth. All those who had died must fill the old land and give it life. The lands must become even, and death must once again become a revolving door, but in a different fashion. The dead of my land must cross over to the lost land, and the dead of the lost land must cross over to my land. That is how evenness will be restored and how both lands will be healed.

“The problem is that only Death can open the second door, and Death cannot enter the Afterdeath, nor can he enter the lost land of legends. Therefore, once I am in the Afterdeath, I must become Death. I will be the other land’s Death. I shall open the door, and I shall let everyone live.”

“Ambitious plan,” said the old man. “I like it! How will you become Death?”

“I want you, who know my story so well, to change my story. In the same way that Doctor Dave Daniels had given the Original Monster powers he did not have, you must tell a fairy tale that will make me Death, but only once I am in the Afterdeath.”

“I am deeply sorry, King John,” said the old man, “but that is not a good idea.”

Desperation appeared in the king’s eyes. “Why do you say that?”

“I have read Daniels’ book, and he is not a writer, he simply put words on a page. This is why the Original Monster is now stuck in the Afterdeath.”

“What did he do wrong?”

“He forgot that stories have drama. You cannot simply ‘give’ a power to the story’s hero out of nowhere and expect the story to work out. That lacks story logic. Story logic clearly states that things will go wrong, imperfections will appear, enemies will surface, and previously unseen tunnels may bring you to the Afterdeath. In adding to a story, you must take into account that things will go wrong. Fortunately for you, I know how to follow and obey story logic.

“I will write a story about King John the Cute, but it will not be the story you asked for. It will be a better story, a story that will hopefully insure that when you die and will become Death.”

King John the Cute was about to thank the old man, when bubbles upon bubbles began to emerge from the old man’s head. The park was dark at night, and the king could not discern the content of the bubbles. As the bubbles emerged, the old man rambled on to himself, “The story has to be consistent with the rules of everything that has happened so far. I will not write a story that will contradict something you told me. No, I won’t do that. However, what I don’t know, I can invent and write about…

“The story can’t begin now… It has to begin long ago… It has to begin in the beginning of the story… I know! King John the Cute, I know how it will begin!”

“I am listening,” King John the Cute said, his own eyes sparkling brightly for the first time in a long while.

“The story will begin before you were born, when your mother, still Kate the Catty, had just found out that she was pregnant with a little boy. My story will begin with the prophecy of John the Cute. You have told me the prophecy, King John the Cute, all eight lines of it, and I cannot touch it. However, in my story it will turn out that there were two more lines to the prophecy. These two lines predicted the outcome we desire, but your mother never told you about them.

“Why did your mother never speak of those lines? Why…? Why…? I know! She was afraid! I will write the last two lines of the prophecy in such a way as to say that you will rule that other world… I will call it the Under World, because it lies underneath the Land of All Legends, just like half of Earth is underneath the other. I will have the prophecy say that you will rule the Under World, but your mother will think that you will rule the Underworld, which is the Afterdeath. That would be too horrifying for her and so she will never mention it to you.

“Good! Good! We are making progress!

“We have put a seed in the beginning of the story, a seed that contains the ending we desire. Now… We are not yet done… We must make sure that you will have any help you need to achieve that goal… Hmmm…

“All right, the next stage in the story will be immediately after you become king. Once you become king and your mother comes to visit you, she will be proud of you, as you told me she was. However, she will also become too horrified that your death is so near, and that you will become something worse after Death, that her secret of those two lines will burn inside her. It will torture her, and she will not be able to speak to anyone about it, for no one must know those awful two last lines of the prophecy except for her and your dead father…

“And so,” the old man continued, bubbles sprouting out of  his head like gushing water, “once she leaves you, she will go the deepest and darkest crevice in the land, and she will yell her secret into that crevice. Then, when she leaves, feeling slightly better, the secret itself, finally released but filled with clouds of frustration and swirling mists of fury, it will swirl closer and closer together, until it will bear the form of a human being. It will be a dark human being, a cloud of fury and frustration. That, my dear King John, that dark figure will be your secret helper.

“Let us name that figure Shadowy Secret, at least for now.” So many bubbles were coming out of the old man’s head as he spoke, that the park was filled with bubbles. King John the Cute could not see into the bubbles in the dark, nor could he see the park for all the bubbles.

The old man continued, unaware of the bubbles, “And since Shadowy Secret isn’t human at all and is not really alive, then Death cannot kill him. Yes, oh, yes! In my story, he will help protect you from Death, and so… Do you remember, King John, that a mysterious being that you know nothing about took Death’s hand, and thus Death was unable to touch you when your name appeared on Death’s list?” The king nodded. “You know nothing about that being, do you?”

“No.”

“Then I can write any story I wish about him. That being that stole Death’s hand, that was Shadowy Secret! Yes, I’ll write that he’ll steal Death’s hand, but he will never actually use it to kill anyone. Because he is a being of good, borne of your mother, and he is there to help you.

“Oh! I have it! And just as you are stabbed, Shadowy Secret will no longer need the hand. And so he will give it back to Death… But he will delay Death just enough to allow you to disappear from Death’s grasp and to reach Earth.”

King John the Cute looked at the old man and saw the story form in front of his eyes in a way he never conceived possible. The king realized that he comes from a land of stories, not a land of writers and imagination, and that there is a difference.

The old man continued, “Now, wait, something is missing. Shadowy Secret is there to make sure that the prophecy is fulfilled. To that end, he must raise the prince from the dumps, mold him into a man, and train him to kill you.”

“Why?” King John the Cute felt his chest, which had been burning with pain for days now.

“You are stabbed anyway, so what does it matter?” answered the old man. “This way it fits into my story, so that is how I will write it. Now hush and let me think.”

King John the Cute accepted the writer’s words reluctantly. The old man fell into silence. Bubbles geysered out of his head. By now, the bubbles filled the park to the treetops.

“Let’s work it out,” said the old man. “Shadowy Secret is stronger than Death and he is dark and shadowy. At the same time, he is there to help you with the prophecy, and yet… Ah! I know how you become Death!”

“How?”

“Shadowy Secret, you see, is Death. He is the other land’s Death. By which I mean that he is the power of Death. He will be able to cross over with you to the Afterdeath, for the ordinary rules of life and death do not matter to him. Once in the Afterdeath, he will blend with you and give you the shadowy and eternal qualities of Death. And thus, in the Afterdeath, you will become Death and open the door.”

“That is great!” King John the Cute leapt to his feet. “That is the story!”

“No, no, no,” the old man shook his head. “The ending is too simple. Stories do not work that way. I am sure that if I write the story in this way, then when you arrive in the Land of All Legends, something will prevent you from going through the door and entering the Afterdeath and dying as any other creature would. That is the nature of stories. Conflict comes and unexpected troubles arise. I have to write one more part to make sure that you succeed.

“I know! I will write that once you arrive there is a great battle. I won’t go into detail. I will write that all the forces of good in the land will fight by your side, including the strongest of them all: Shadowy Secret.”

“What or who will we be battling?”

“It doesn’t matter and I do not know. I will not go into detail. Something must have happened while you were away, I have no doubt, that will stop you from entering the Afterdeath. And the only way for me to make sure that you enter the Afterdeath is to say in the story that there is a battle, that Shadowy Secret used all his powers to protect you, and that the battle was won and you entered the Afterdeath. I assure you: this was Doctor Daniels’ chief mistake. I will not make the same one.

“Good! Now let’s have the ending: I will write that Death successfully delivers you to the Afterdeath. There you will be re-formed. You will touch Shadowy Secret, for you are the only thing that can make him disappear. Shadowy Secret will dissolve and re-form around you, giving the two of you together that which you did not have separately – the power of Death. You will touch the second door, and it will open before you. Then I will write that you will go through it, and that everyone in the Afterdeath comes out, and evenness ensues. There! Everyone else lives and dies and lives again and dies again happily ever after! The story will end and you will have your fairy tale!”

“Wait, wait, please,” said King John the Cute, his voice pleading. “The story cannot be over.”

“What is it, King John?” the old man put a hand on the tired king’s shoulder.

“Can you insert two more events into the middle of the story?”

“It depends. What do you find missing?”

“I want Shadowy Secret to go to my mother… I want him to tell her that she has misunderstood the prophecy, that I will be fine… that a great future awaits me… and that I will be happy… and that decades later, when she dies, we will see each other again…”

The old man thought about it, bubbles furiously forming from his head. “Yes. I can do that. A little scene in which Shadowy Secret hides behind a wall, pretends to be you? It’s been done before. I can do that. What is the other thing you need in the story?”

“I want Shadowy Secret to deliver a message to Queen Sarah O’Connell. I want him to tell her that when I return, I shall return to the palace. She must wait for me there.”

“Done,” said the old man. “I believe we have a story now that solves all of your problems.”

King John the Cute nodded with relief. “Indeed. I hope so. It fits my life’s story. Now you must write this story and finish it by the morning.”

“By the morning? Are you insane!”

“The story must be read or heard by millions of people across the world by tomorrow at noon, for I shall not survive a minute longer. Only when the story is heard by millions, will it become true in my land. It must become true before I cross over again.”

“King John, I believe I am eager and hot and excited enough now to actually finish it in time, but there is no chance the story can be published by that time, and certainly not read by millions.”

“Do not worry about that, for that is a problem I can solve easily. Please. Go and write. Will you be able to do it?”

“I will write a short story now, containing only these events. Once you are gone, I will write the entire saga, as you have told it to me. But for now: Yes, I will do it by morning!”

The old man produced a pen from his pocket and a small notebook from his back pocket. He walked quickly to a café at the edge of the park, and there he sat alone, and began to write.

King John the Cute sighed heavily. The burden felt heavier, and yet it was lighter. It would not be long now until the happy ending.

This has been the second story of the second meeting of the old man and the king, in which Shadowy Secret’s shadowy secrets were revealed plainly to the readers.

 

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

 

Tickling Butterflies – The Story of the Old Man

November 21, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

PART 14

THE BATTLE OF GREAT SACRIFICES

 

The Story of the Old Man

(Containing many endings to a story that is not yet over.)

Once upon a time, on the magical planet Earth, lived an old man who wrote stories. The old man had met King John the Cute once before, in a tale told elsewhere in this book of legends. During their fateful meeting, the king saw bubbles of ideas and imagination spring from the head of the old man. This spring led King John the Cute on an avenue of discovery that led him to the discovery of many secrets regarding the magical planet Earth, the Land of All Legends, and the lost land of legends.

The story of their second meeting begins now.

The old man sat in a park, looking at trees, seeking ideas for stories. The king descended from on high, carried by a chariot of butterflies.

“You again?” whispered the old man. “Who are you?”

“I am a fairy tale,” said King John the Cute. And the old man believed him, for the king had come on a chariot of butterflies. Bubbles of imagination burst out of his head, containing various stories of how a king emerges from an imaginary land of fairy tales.

“What is your name?” asked the old man.

“My name is King John the Cute,” answered the fairy tale. “What is your name?”

The old man told the king his name. The king said, “I have heard that name before.” The king searched his memory until, presently, he recalled. “I know! I have heard it from the mouth of Benjamin Miller! You are the one who wrote his story!”

“I do not know a Benjamin Miller,” said the old man, “and I have never written a word about anyone of that name.”

“That is strange. Benjamin Miller saw you writing his tale in a book called ‘Tickling Butterflies’.”

Dozens of imagination bubbles emerged from the old man’s head, showing various scenarios of various characters tickling butterflies. He said, “I have never written such a book. Although that is a good name for a book.”

The king was puzzled by the old man’s statements. And so he searched his memory for the story told by Benjamin Miller. “Benjamin Miller saw you write the book, but he did not see it happen in front of him; he saw it in the magic mirror.” Dozens of imagination bubbles emerged from the old man, all of which contained a magic mirror. The king continued, “Perhaps the mirror showed him the future and not the past?”

The old man sighed and no imagination bubbles came from his mind. “Please sit down, King John.” King John the Cute sat next to the old man. The old man spoke slowly, “I believe you that you are a fairy tale, because thousands of butterflies carried you to me and because I remember our last encounter and I know you can see that which is imaginary. However, I spend all my days with stories and fairy tales. And so the fact that you are real interests me more than the fact that you are imaginary. There are some real things I do not know and must know. I do not know how fairy tales could exist. I do not know why you come to me. And I do not know your story.”

“My story is a long and harrowing one.”

“I have all the time in the world.”

“I do not. My lethal wound will soon finish me. I do not believe that I have more than two Earth days and two Earth nights before I must return to my land to die.”

“You can leave whenever you want,” said the old man. “But if you want to speak to me, you will tell me your story first.”

The king hesitated for a second. Then, trusting the Fates that they have brought him to the right person, he told the old man his tale.

The king told the old man of his childhood, as the sun set around the two.

The king told the old man of the death of a king, of new friends acquired, and of the Happily Ever After Home for the Married; and as he did so, the moon moved from one side of the sky to the other.

The king told the old man of his adventures to a funny and ridiculous land and then to a grown-up and serious land. And as he did so, the sun rose over the horizon and advanced to the middle of the sky.

The king told the old man ancient and secret tales of magic, as told to him by Minister Vazir; he told the old man of the battle at the village of Panache; and then he told the king of all his adventures while on the magical planet Earth; and as he told those tales, the sun came down and darkness once more settled on the land. And when the darkness was complete, the king’s tale was done, although its ending was not yet told, for the king did not yet live it.

The king did not tell the old man the tales of Shadowy Secret, of Sarah O’Connell’s adventures while not in the king’s presence, the past stories of Perfect Paul, or what had taken place in the land while he has been on Earth – for the king did not know those stories.

For thirty hours, the king had spoken. For thirty hours, the old man had listened. For thirty hours, the two had not moved, had not drank, and had not eaten.

By the end of thirty hours, the old man’s eyes shone with excitement, while the king was thirty hours closer to death.

“And now I have come to you, because with the little time I have, only you can save my land.”

The old man laughed happily.

“Why are you laughing so happily,” enquired the king.

“Because I now know the end of my story,” said the old man.

“The end of your story? Not the end of my story? Surely, the end of your story is far away.”

“Hopefully, it is. But you don’t understand, King John, who and what I am. I am a writer. Everything I see is a story. Every object and person I see has a story, a past, a future… a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Everything has a story… including me. We all have many stories, depending on where we choose to put the beginning of the tale, but… as a writer, you see, I have always wondered what is my story?

“I have written many books, and I have sent them to publishers. And many times I have wondered, which story is mine? Is my story the story of the man who sends and sends his books to no avail even when he is at the end of his days? Will I spend the end of my days bitter, thinking no one has discovered me? Is my story that of the man whose talent is recognized towards the end of his days? Is my story that of the man who worked for his art his entire life, was never accepted, but is happy because he believes his art to have been good? Is my story that of the artist who is discovered after his death?

“But now, you see, I know which story I am in. Because I will write down the tale you have told me. I will add and embellish, I will even add fairy tales where you are not present, and in the end, I will send it to publishers. Your story is so good that it will become a fairy tale, for I am sure that it will sell millions. My stories will be… No, my story is of the man who is discovered late in life. And now I am happy.”

“That is good to hear,” said King John the Cute. “I am glad I have made you happy.”

“And now you want to tell me the favor that only I can perform, in order to save your land?”

“How did you know?”

“You are a fairy tale, after all. Tell me what it is you need of me. I will do better than my best.”

And so ends the first story (out of three) of the old man and the king and how they saved the Land of All Legends, the magical planet Earth, and the lost land of lost fairy tales.

 

(To be continued on Sunday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – A Mother and Her Son

November 19, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

A Mother and Her Son

(Containing the story of a strange reunion between two that have never met.)

 

Once, in the Land of All Legends, Shadowy Secret roamed the land. Born of Kate the Tigress’ secrets and anger and despair, he had come into being in the Deepest Crevice. Ever since, he had brought Prince Charming the Fourth out of his despair, helped the prince raise an army, stolen Death’s arm, and given it back at the strangest times without ever having used it.

Ever since the events of a story too great to be told, detailed elsewhere in this book of legends, Shadowy Secret was not seen by anyone who knew him. Indeed, Once King John the Cute had vanished from the land in the village of Panache, Shadowy Secret left the prince and his army, and walked in various and varying paths.

For months, he had walked slowly, but with intention, towards the farthest corner of the farthest shire in the Land of All Legends. Unbeknownst to him, a cloud was following his moves from afar.

Finally, Shadowy Secret’s journey came to an end, as he stood outside the house of the woman whose scream of frustration had borne him.

Afraid for the first time in his life, he did not walk in, but walked around and looked at the windows. Kate the Tigress was lying down on her bed, surrounded by beautiful flowers, fully awake. Suddenly, she sat up, hearing a noise outside.

“Who is there?” she shouted.

For two and a half seconds, Shadowy Secret hesitated. Then, masking his voice, he told her the truth, “It is I… Your son.” And it was true, even though Kate the Tigress did not know she had given birth to Shadowy Secret.

“John the Cute?” Kate the Tigress whispered in hope and fear.

Once more, Shadowy Secret hesitated for two and a half seconds. Then, his voice masked, he spoke like the king, “Yes. It is I, John the Cute.”

“Come into the house, then! Why are you sneaking outside?”

“I cannot come in and I cannot stay… mother. I only wanted to convey a message to you.”

“I am listening, dear son. What is your message?”

“I just wanted to say, Mother, that I know of the prophecy. I know of the last two lines, the two you did not tell me about.”

Kate the Tigress began to cry. “I tried to keep them from you, because they are horrible.”

“Mother, I know more about the land and its secrets now than I did a year and a half ago, when you left the palace for home via the Deepest Crevice. All prophecies have happy endings, mother. As does this one.”

“But how can it have a happy ending? It says you shall rule the underworld forever and never return to the land of the living!”

“No, mother, you misunderstood the last two lines. Though I will die, death will not be my end. The last two lines promise me a happy ending and they promise me a happy life. And we will see each other again many times, and you will see that I am living happily ever after.”

Kate the Tigress cried softly. “I hope you are right, John the Cute.”

“I am, Mother. I wanted to comfort you and say goodbye, because the next time you will see me will be many decades from now.”

“But I will see you?”

“You will see that I am living happily ever after. I promise. But now I must return to the palace, for there is a battle ahead, a battle I must win.”

“Thank you, son, thank you for coming!”

Shadowy Secret, a tear in his eye, turned around and entered the woods. When he exited the woods, he saw the cloud Chariot float directly above him.

“I heard your conversation with Kate the Tigress,” said Chariot.

“Aren’t you the king’s chariot?” asked Shadowy Secret. “Shouldn’t you be at the palace?”

“I am King John the Cute’s chariot and no one else’s, and King John the Cute is not at the palace.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I was confused after the battle at the village of Panache. I did not know what to do or what the prophecy required of me. Confused, I followed you. I heard your conversation with Kate the Tigress. I know who you are now. I should have seen it before.”

“My name is Shadowy Secret,” said Shadowy Secret. “And I am a shadowy secret.”

“My name is Chariot,” said Chariot. “I have heard of you before I have seen you. I have heard Death describe to the king how you stole Death’s arm. Death stood in front of the king and told him the story, even as King John the Cute’s name appeared on Death’s list. Had he still had his arm, Death would have claimed King John the Cute long ago. During our visit to the village of Panache, I saw you give Death’s arm back. From above it was very clear to see that you were delaying Death from touching King John the Cute once he had been stabbed by the prince. You knew the witch would save him and you knew she would only need a minute.”

“I know many things, Chariot.”

“Intrigued and confused, I have been following you ever since. Your walk seemed familiar to me during the last few months, but I could not place it, for you are all smoke and shadows. But now that I have heard your conversation with Kate the Tigress, it is plain to me who you truly are.”

“I am a shadowy secret,” said Shadowy Secret.

“Indeed you are. Come, climb aboard me and let me carry you to the palace.”

“I thought you were the chariot of only the king.”

“I am. And you are my king.”

Shadow Secret considered the cloud’s words for fifteen seconds, then climbed aboard. “You will carry me to the palace?”

“I will. I have heard it from other clouds that Sarah O’Connell is now queen, and that Death is training two armies to ensure that once King John the Cute dies, his soul enters the Afterdeath. They are preparing to fight a monster more powerful than Death. They will need you, for you are more powerful than Death, as well. If I had not been kidnapped by Farmer Moozik, I would not have followed you, and I would not have learned that the prophecy guarantees a happy ending to my friend, and that for his happy ending he must die.”

“Thank you, dear Chariot. You are wise beyond your young years.”

And so it was that Chariot carried Shadowy Secret to the palace.

This has been the story in which a mother bade farewell to her son. This has also been the story in which Chariot became convinced that he, too, must help King John the Cute die. This has also been the story you will want to read again when you finish this hefty book of legends.

Now read on, as we follow the further adventures of King John the Cute in the magical world of Earth.

 

(To be continued on Thursday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – The Pebble that Broke the World

November 17, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

The Pebble that Broke the Land

(Containing an alluring allegory of the pebble that changed the world.)

 

Once upon a time, in the Land of All Legends, during the time in which Death trained two armies to battle a curse creature more powerful than Death himself, Death felt a stirring in the air.

Death raised his hands, and the soldiers stopped their exercises.

Death looked around, for he thought he knew what was to come.

He looked aside. A pebble on the ground began to glow. The pebble’s glow radiated more powerfully until it blinded the soldiers. Then the glow broke apart into shimmering fairy dust, which danced in the air, in front of Death.

Death took out his list.

The fairy dust settled upon the list, and, with a last glow, became writing on the parchment.

Death looked at the new name silently. “I must leave the palace for a short while,” he whispered.

But when Death looked up, he saw that the Land of All Legends had lost much of its color. The sun, the sky, the woods, the stones, the creatures, and even Death – everyone and everything was now grayer and less colorful than before. Every Death was written on Death’s list with the stuff of the land itself. With each Death there was a bit less magic in the land. And since no new magical land and no new magical creatures were being formed at the Border of Nothing, this one pebble was too much for the land to bear.

The Land of All Legends had lost too much of itself, and now most of its color was gone. From this point forward, Death knew, with each new name on the list, the land itself would be closer to its own demise.

And so Death left the palace, and in his heart he wished that King John the Cute would not let him down this time as he had hundreds of years before. For even Death wanted the land to live.

 

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – The Prince’s Choice

November 14, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

The Prince’s Choice

(Containing a choice tale of a decision too great to make.)

 

This story takes place in the Land of All Legends, during the time in which Sarah O’Connell was temporary queen and Prince Charming the Fifth was temporary king. The time was the time in which the entire land waited for the return of King John the Cute, when Death worked in concert with temporary king and queen in order to kill the king when he returns.

Darkness was slowly settling upon the Land of All Legends. The Sun’s rays seemed less bright and the darkness of night seemed more powerful. The land was dying, and in the king’s palace in Capital City, two armies were being trained by Death to fight a monster more powerful than Death.

Minister Azriel Jones, the king’s Minister of Celebrations, stood in his chamber and looked through the window at Death training the two armies in the palace yard. When last we heard of him, Minister Azriel Jones had been taken prisoner by Prince Charming the Fifth and his army. But when Sarah O’Connell became queen and took her place on the throne, she convinced the prince to release the minister and to allow him to return to his work.

Prince Charming the Fifth entered the minister’s room, and Minister Azriel Jones stood upright. “Your highness!” he exclaimed. “I did not know you wanted to see me! I would have come!”

Prince Charming the Fifth waved his hand in dismissal. “I do not seek you.”

Somberly, the prince came to stand by the window and looked down. “In fact,” the prince said, “I do not know your name. Who are you and what do you do here?”

“My name is Minister Azriel Jones, your highness. I have been in this palace since before you were born, and I have served your father and King John the Cute in my capacity as Minister of Celebrations.”

Prince Charming the Fifth looked at him and said, “Ah. But what is your story?”

“I used to me the man with minus four friends, but now I just have no friends.”

“I do not understand.”

“I have always had problems making friends, and so my psychologist had me go through a process. He said I would have to gain four friends and lose them before I could have a real friend. King John the Cute was my good friend, but now he is gone, and soon he will be dead. Benjamin Miller was a very good friend, but now he is in another land, never to return. Minister Vazir had also become a great friend, and he is also in another land, never to return. Now, Queen Sarah O’Connell, though blindfolded and abrasive, has become my friend. But she, also, will soon die. And so I have gained four friends, lost three, and soon lose the fourth. I should be happy that I have climbed up the ladder to zero friends. However, I am sad, because I have zero friends.”

Prince Charming the Fourth nodded gravely. “As for me, Shadowy Secret was my only friend, but he has vanished and has not been seen in months. Besides, I am not sure we were ever friends, only loose allies. And now… after today… I am not sure I would want to be my own friend anymore.”

“Why, my prince? What happened?”

Prince Charming, who had long ago resigned himself to being called ‘prince’ until King John the Cute officially died, sighed heavily. He pointed to Death training the armies below, “Death spoke to me today. He and Queen Sarah O’Connell have come up with a plan to help bring King John the Cute’s soul to the Afterdeath and to protect him from the curse monster that is stronger and faster than Death. They are not sure it would work, but it is our best chance.”

“That is good.”

“Yes, that is good. Except… You see… Part of the plan is that there would have to be a soldier whose job it is to stand between Death, who has the soul, and the monster. There has to be one soldier who will act as a physical shield between the two and must protect Death with his life. But since that soldier is only human and the monster is stronger than Death, that soldier will only delay the monster and buy us a few more seconds at best. In the process, he will die. And when he dies, his dead body will keep on protecting Death and the king.

“So you see… Out of the two armies… It is up to me to choose who gets this job. It is up to me to choose who will surely die in the mission.”

“What did you do, my prince?”

The prince sighed again. “It was better to be a spoiled child in the bath than a prince who chooses who lives and who dies… What did I do, Azriel Jones? I chose a soldier. I chose my best and bravest soldier to protect the land… and to die. I chose Little Soldier Blue, because I know that he would survive the longest, and I know that he would give his life for me. So I chose him. Even though I would rather he live. I chose him. And now I am sad beyond measure.”

Minister Azriel Jones hugged Prince Charming the Fifth and comforted him while the prince cried. “I understand how tough this was for you. It is a choice no person should make,” said the minister. “All I can say is that I understand… and that I have seen such choices being made before by kings and generals during my stay at the palace. Shall I tell you about them?”

“Yes, please,” Prince Charming the Fifth cried.

And so Minister Azriel Jones spent three days and three nights comforting the prince and telling him about tough choices he had seen made before by kings and ministers and generals.

And at the end of three days and three nights, the minister and the prince were friends for life, and they remained so until the end of their lives.

This has been the story of how Little Soldier Blue was given the task to protect Death with his life.

 

(To be continued on Sunday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – The Imbalance

November 12, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

The Imbalance

(Containing a one-sided tale of a one-sided land.)

 

King John the Cute followed Doctor Dave Daniels with excitement, as the doctor led him to stand underneath the two, fused creation tunnels.

“Look above you, King John the Cute,” Doctor Dave Daniels pointed up at the tunnels his human eyes could not see.

King John the Cute looked up at the tunnels.

“You see two tunnels, King John the Cute. You see two tunnels, attached, bound together. Fused together, in fact. One is white, the other is pink. One is big, one is small. One leads to the Land of All Legends. Another leads to another, separate and lost land of legends. Both of the fused tunnels are stories of creation, stories of how the world was created. Both these stories created the worlds on the other side.

“Do you not see it, King John the Cute? Do you not comprehend what is above you?”

King John the Cute looked above and shook his head, for he did not understand. Doctor Dave Daniels continued with great excitement, “The two tunnels with creation stories – they should have been two separate tunnels, but they’re not! When the creation stories were told enough times, your world was born. But it was not born alone. Your world… was twins.”

“Twins?!”

“Twin worlds, King John the Cute! Twin worlds of legends! They were told together, and so they were born together! But there are many types of twins. On Earth, we have twins who are called Siamese twins. Siamese twins are two separate people bound together, fused together, by sharing an organ, like skin, a part of their stomach, or anything else.”

“This exists in my world, too,” said King John the Cute thoughtfully. “The first pair of twins I had met in my life also shared an organ. They were born with one shadow and had to share it during the daytime.”

“Well, I’m sure there’s at least one story there and I would love to hear it, but I will quench my curiosity for a while.” said Doctor Dave Daniels. “Now I see you understand me. These twin worlds are fused together by a single organ. My guess is that the organ that they are sharing is the Afterdeath.”

“The Afterdeath!”

“Yes! There are two worlds, but only one Afterdeath between them! Your Afterdeath should have only one door, but it has two. One door was touched by your Death, while the other wasn’t. Your Afterdeath has a second, closed door that Death has not touched. This other fairy world has a closed door that Death has not touched! The second door of your Afterdeath leads into the other fairy tale world!”

King John the Cute’s mouth opened with surprise. “Of course!”

“It makes perfect sense! Therefore it’s probably true!” exclaimed Doctor Dave Daniels.

“No,” countered King John the Cute, “it is quite beautiful, and therefore it is absolutely true!”

But the smile vanished from King John the Cute’s face. “But wait! How does this explain the illness that plagues my world? What is that illness?”

“Ah, but there is the true beauty of the story of the illness, King John the Cute. The two worlds were born together, small and healthy, with one Afterdeath.

“However, because of a sandstorm on the planet Earth, one world remained small and had no new creatures, while its twin grew larger and larger, with more stories, more creatures, more land, and even Death!

“An imbalance was created, King John the Cute. And the more time passed, the greater the imbalance grew. One world was heavy with continents and oceans and cloud worlds and creatures. The other remained as small as the Original Continent.

“The older the twin worlds grew, the more the imbalance grew.

“Soon, something changed, something moved, and your world could bear no more, carrying all the creatures and the continents alone. And so the tunnels that led to new creatures being created in the Border of Nothing, changed position. They twisted somehow, and began leading the newly born fairy tales immediately to the Afterdeath.

“And so new creatures were born… into the Afterdeath. They were never seen by the living and never claimed by Death. New creatures and new land were not being created on your world.

“By another circumstance of the times, the vampire which had seen only the Afterdeath and has never seen the sun, blocked the path so that none could leave the Afterdeath. Now the imbalance grew worse, for the Afterdeath began more and more populated. All the newly living came there, and all the newly dead did not leave. The Afterdeath must now be bursting at the seams from the lack of room. If something does not happen, surely something bad will happen to the Afterdeath!

“Do you see, King John the Cute?” shouted Doctor Dave Daniels. “It makes perfect sense! It has to be true!”

“No,” King John the Cute corrected him once more. “It has perfect beauty! It is true!”

The king looked at the doctor and said, “Come! We must leave the caves! I must breathe fresh air!”

Once the king and the doctor emerged into the clear air of the desert, as the sun was beginning to set, a dark thought settled on the king’s happiness.

“But Doctor Dave Daniels,” he said. “We now know what sickness plagues the land. But do we know how to fix it?”

Doctor Dave Daniels thought deeply and fixedly for fourteen minutes and fourteen seconds. “Perhaps we should start retelling the tales that were lost? Perhaps new stories could be created in that world. But, no, even if the idea works, it would not solve an imbalance of two hundred and fifty thousand years.”

“Indeed. Time works differently. Two hundred and fifty thousand years in your world is a few million years in mine. That is the size of the imbalance. It seems hopeless.”

Now it was the king’s turn to think. King John the Cute thought profoundly and meaningfully for fourteen minutes and fourteen seconds. At the end of that time, he looked up, and said, “I know how to heal the land!”

“You do?”

King John the Cute quickly explained his solution, and Doctor Dave Daniels listened, his eyes shining as if he was a child listening to his first fairy tale.

When the king was done, the doctor said, “I think that would work!”

“I must return, then, across the ocean, to meet the person I told you about! Doctor Dave Daniels, two worlds of creatures and fairy tales owe you a debt that can never be repaid.”

“It was my rare pleasure, King John the Cute. I wish you luck in all your endeavors. You have made my life more magical.”

“Chariot! We must leave for the ocean’s shore immediately!”

And thus it was that a chariot of ten thousand butterflies minus one carried King John the Cute away from Doctor Dave Daniels forever.

This has been the fourth story (out of four) about twins in this hefty book of legends.

 

(To be continued on Thursday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – The Tale of the Searcher

November 10, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

The Tale of the Searcher

(Containing written evidence of a man with no home.)

 

“Here is evidence,” Doctor Dave Daniels pointed to the farthest rock in the farthest corner of the farthest cave in the excavated caves, “of the second fairy tale told and lost in a tragedy two hundred and fifty thousand years ago.”

King John the Cute peered at the pictures. “I do not understand the story.”

“This is perhaps where my expertise comes in,” said Doctor Dave Daniels. “I believe that despite the fact that you come from a land of fairy tales, I know thousands of stories more than you. I have read every children’s book in every language that exists. I have read bad books and good books, old books and new books. I have read thousands of grownup tales and thousands of lyrical tales. I have read every ancient manuscript that exists. And I have learned to map and understand a story even when seeing small pieces of it, as we are seeing with these drawings.

“But more than that, King John the Cute, in all my years and in all the stories I have read and heard, I can promise you that no variation of this story ever existed. This story was truly lost forever, and never recovered, when the people of these caves died in the sandstorm.

“I shall tell you the story now. This story was not told from one picture to the next, but in one, big picture. This picture, if you look at it from afar, is a map. It is a map of the area – I would say about a hundred miles in each direction. You see here there is a cave with a few people. You can actually count the men and women and children. Here is another cave. Here, too, you can count a different number of women and children. And here, too. And here is the river, where surely they drank. And here is a small forest. And here is a mountain. This is a map.”

“If this is a map, Doctor Dave Daniels,” asked King John the Cute, “then how is it a story?”

“Look carefully at the pictures of the caves. All the caves are different, except for one thing. There is a person standing there, facing the caves, in each of the caves. Next to him is a dog – actually, considering the time of the story, it was probably a wolf or some other kind of animal. This is always the same person. And he is at every cave. This is the hero of the story.

“And over here, in the farthest corner, above the forest, do you see? That is a small mound and next to it lies the hero again. And next to him sits the wolf. The hero here is dead and buried, while the wolf lived and mourned his master’s passing.

“This entire map is the story of his life. This man was a searcher. He went from cave to cave and met with people, and they liked him. But he never had a home of his own. He never has a cave that belonged to him. This is a searcher, an explorer. He went from place to place, then back again, and as he did so, he created a general map of the area, which he gave to the people. This gave knowledge to all people of all caves. And so he was revered and liked enough to be written about after his passing.

“But when he did pass, he was not buried in any of the caves, not next to any of the families. He was buried alone, next to the forest, because he belonged to no tribe, to no cave. He was a searcher, and that is his story.”

King John the Cute sat down. The grief he felt in his chest at the loss of the searcher and loss of the searcher’s story made the pain in his chest ache even more. “That is beautiful,” said King John the Cute, “and therefore it is sad that his story did not continue to live on in a world like mine. That is both sad and beautiful.”

“No, King John the Cute, you are wrong. The Searcher did get to live in a world like yours, but the world itself was limited. The Searcher found himself in this other fantasy land. There, he no doubt explored the cave of the family from the first fairy tale. But surely he continued to explore further. The land itself was small, and he did not have much to explore. He did, however, find Death’s Door. No doubt, until his death, he tried a thousand different ways to open Death’s Door. And he died outside it, without Death claiming him, simply because he had lived too long.”

“Yes, what you say is true. Now it is sad for a different reason.”

“What I don’t understand, though, was why he could not open Death’s Door? He was dying, after all. And it was only a door.”

“If that Death’s Door is like the one in my world,” King John the Cute explained reasonably, “then no one opens Death’s Door except Death. Death opened the door for the first time in the Land of All Legends, and ever since it has been open. Only souls that Death brings can enter, and it used to be that anyone who was in could walk out.”

Doctor Dave Daniels listened with a grave face. “That explains it,” he says. “And that was also the last piece of knowledge I required to put the pieces of the puzzle together. King John the Cute, with your help and with the help of this excavation, I believe I know now what sickness plagues your land.”

King John the Cute’s eyes lit up in excitement, his pain forgotten. “Please. Tell me.”

This has been the story of the Searcher, a story not heard on the planet Earth for two hundred and fifty thousand years, two hundred and fifty days, two hundred and fifty minutes, and two hundred and fifty seconds.

 

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

Tickling Butterflies – The Tale of the Ancient Superhero

November 7, 2013

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:

 

The Tale of the Ancient Superhero

(Containing written evidence of an adventurer that never existed.)

 

“Walk with me further into the caves,” Doctor Dave Daniels led King John the Cute deeper into the excavated caves.

“I discovered a set of pictures behind these rocks,” Doctor Dave Daniels pointed at some rocks. He moved them, and underneath, pictures etched unto the stone of the cave were uncovered.

“A hidden story!” exclaimed King John the Cute.

“Indeed. I believe this story was invented and etched into stone by a kid. Look here,” he pointed at the first picture. “This is the first picture, on the right. Here is a person, possibly young, but you can’t be sure. He is holding a very large bird, three times bigger than him. At the time, there were no birds this big anywhere in the world. This is a fantasy tale.”

“I understand,” said the king, who was thankful, for he did not know such things about Earth’s history. “Continue.”

“To the left is the second picture. Here the hero of the story, the person from the first picture, is riding the big bird. I believe he has tamed the wild bird. In fact, I think they have become good friends. This is what usually happens in these kinds of stories.

“In this third picture, the hero is on top of the bird when it is flying. While the bird is flying, the hero is hitting many other people with his stick. The other people were probably some sort of bad guys, and the hero has used his bird to become a sort of hero, even a superhero of the time.

“This, no doubt, was a story of a young adventurer who has tamed a giant bird, learned to ride it, and fought bad guys with the aid of his bird. This must have been the first adventure story ever told by mankind!”

“Fascinating, indeed,” said King John the Cute. “So you believe this is the person Samuel the Brave found near that land’s Death’s Door.”

“No, I do not,” said Doctor Dave Daniels. “I believe the person near that land’s Death’s Door was the hero from the third story I found, the one I will show you next. This second story was not a fairy tale, but just a story. I believe it was invented by one of the children. Perhaps he told it only to himself, perhaps to the other children. But in any case, he drew it here, in a hidden place, like a diary. This was his story, and it was his secret story. The hero, the bird, the bad guys, they were never created in this other world and a tunnel was not formed because the story was never told enough times.”

“Perhaps that is also sad,” the king said thoughtfully. “There must be a reason for the existence of other worlds through stories. Surely you need us as much as we need you. A story that does not come alive in a land of legends is a hope unfulfilled.”

Doctor Dave Daniels thought about the king’s statement. “There is sense in what you say. I have never given the matter thought, but now I shall. But for the meantime, shall I show you the third and last story?”

“Please do, Doctor Dave Daniels.”

This has been the story containing written evidence of a lost adventure story that never became a lost fairy tale.

 

(To be continued on Sunday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!

 


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