‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Soldier and the Box

I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

Here’s the story so far.

Enjoy the latest fairy tale:

The Soldier and the Box

(Containing the heroic tale of Colonel Stone.)

On the second day of his reign, once the celebrations had ended, King John the Cute came to Colonel Stone’s room. Colonel Stone had been King Charming the Fourth’s chief advisor, best friend, and personal bodyguard. He was the only one who had seen King Charming the Fourth pass his crown to John the Cute, and only through his reliable eyewitness testimony did John the Cute become king instead of Prince Charming the Fifth.

Colonel Stone had heard King Charming the Fourth tell the tale of the Fairy Tale Tree, and he knew that the future of the Land of All Legends rested on the shoulders of King John the Cute. Therefore, the colonel had sworn to serve the new king as well as he had the old king

“Colonel Stone,” King John the Cute said.

“Your highness,” Colonel Stone immediately stood at attention and saluted.

“There is no need for that,” King John the Cute waved at him. Colonel Stone stood at ease. “Tell me your story, Colonel Stone.”

Once upon a time, Colonel Stone told the new King, I had joined the king’s army. I had been seventeen and lied about my age.

You may not know this, but when you are accepted to the army, you are given a uniform, a gun, and a small, silver box. All soldiers carried their silver boxes with them, in their sacks or around their necks or in their pockets.

When I asked other soldiers what the empty silver box was for, the answer was always the same: “You’ll find out.”

One soldier even said, “You’ll find out. Or you’ll die in battle.”

I did not understand what they meant, but it seemed they all knew the answer to the secret and only I did not. In the same way, it also seemed that they knew the secret to being good soldiers. I was not a good soldier at that time, while everyone around me was. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I practiced with the gun, I could not be as good as the worst of my fellow soldiers.

One day, our platoon was ordered to attack a group of evil witches that had reportedly taken over a village called Panache. At the end of a terrible fight, our platoon was gone. I was the only survivor, and I had been taken prisoner by the evil witches of Panache.

They put me in a bamboo prison and planned on cooking me and making a potion of my remains. They said it would be a potion of great potency.

I had a few hours until sunset to live. It was during those few hours that I understood what the silver box was for. I understood that my emotions were getting in the way of me being a good soldier. I cared too much. I cared too much for the family I had left at home. I cared too much for the girl I loved. I cared too much for my own life. I cared too much for my future. I even cared too much for my enemies and did not want to hurt them too badly.

And so I put all my emotions in the silver box, and closed it tight. Now suddenly I had become a good soldier.

When the evil witches let me out of the cell to lead me to their cauldron, I attacked. I was ruthless and powerful. I was fearless and brave. Nothing would stop me except death.

I killed all but three of the witches there and used the respite in battle to run away with my life and report to my king. The problem, if you want to call it that, was that in the battle I had lost my silver box. To this day, if it hasn’t been moved, it lies right outside the village.

In the years that followed, I have tried to return to the village. But it does not appear on any map. And even though many have heard of it, I have met no one who knows where it can be found.

I have never recovered the box. I have never recovered my emotions.

And that, Colonel Stone said, is the story of how I became a heroic soldier and how I remain brave to this very day.

“Have you visited your family since?” King John the Cute asked.

“No. I have not had emotions that led me to do so.”

“Well, then, we must find the silver box and restore your emotions.”

“But your highness,” Colonel Stone protested. “I am a good soldier. I will serve you best without emotions.”

“The day you visit your family, the day you get your emotions back, you will become a person even better than you are now. And that will serve me well. Make it one of your tasks, Colonel, to find Panache…” For a second King John the Cute trailed off. He realized now that he had heard of Panache before. But as hard as he tried to remember where he had come across it, he could not. Eventually, he continued, “Colonel, find Panache. Together, we will retrieve your emotions.”

Colonel Stone discovered that the stunted, undersized emotions he had left were quite emotional at the King’s gesture.

“Thank you,” he bowed to his King.

The King smiled and returned to his chamber, to study the Fairy Tale Tree.

This has been the heroic story of Colonel Stone.

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

Do you like the stories? Share with your friends.

Secret Thoughts

Secret Thoughts, by Guy Hasson

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