‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The King’s Chariot

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 King’s Chariot

(Containing the story of a happy journey of a cloud and a king.)

 

On the first day of his reign over the Land of All Legends, King John the Cute climbed to the highest spot of the palace.

There he stood and called down the first cloud he saw.

“Cloud,” he said. “There is another cloud, a friend of mine that had brought me here. Do you know him? Can you ask other clouds? Can you tell him his friend needs him?”

For an hour, the king stood at the highest spot of the palace, and asked the same of every cloud that passed.

On the second day of his reign, King John the Cute climbed to the highest spot of the palace, and for an hour asked every cloud in the sky the same question.

And so he did on the third day of his reign.

And so he did on the fourth day of his reign.

And so he did on the fifth day of his reign.

And on the sixth day of his reign, his friend, the Cloud, arrived.

“My friend,” the Cloud said, looking at the king’s crown. “I see many good things have happened to you.”

“With good things comes great responsibility,” answered King John the Cute. “And the responsibility weighs heavily upon me. I am to save the Land of All Legends. I am to find out its secrets when I have hardly seen any of it. And I only have a short time to do it.”

“That is, indeed, a heavy burden,” agreed the Cloud.

“I need a friend in the palace, my friend. I need help from one who is truly my friend. Will you help me? Will you stay? Will you advise me?”

“I will be more than that, my friend the king. I will be your chariot. Wherever you need to go, I shall bring you there quickly.”

“Thank you, my friend. I have one more request. You have seen the Land of All Legends as I have never seen it. You have traveled it across and in zigzag. I need a tour of the land that I am to serve.”

“Then climb aboard me.”

And so King John the Cute climbed aboard his friend, the Cloud. And as he did so, he deemed that the Cloud’s name from now on shall be Chariot.

And now begins the story of the king and his chariot’s journey over the Land of All Legends.

“Over there,” Chariot said as he flew over a forest, “is the EverlastingForest. That big building in the middle of it is the Happily Ever After Home for the Married.”

“What is that?”

“When people are living happily ever after, that is where most of them go.”

“Hmm…” the king said to himself. “Then there must be old people there, people who have seen many mysteries.”

“There, at the end of the EverlastingForest, is where the giant rats live. You should stay away from there.”

“And there,” said Chariot, “is the Sea of Journeys. There you will find heroes journeying back home, and heroes setting sail for long journeys towards war. There you will find monsters on islands and sirens that tempt sailors. The Sea of Journeys is a dangerous place.

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, “to the Land of Quests, where long and hard quests are taken. There are many mountains and forests, dangers and villages, maidens in distress, towers, and witches. At the end of the Land of Quests you will find mountains of gold, lairs of dragons, and a mountain with a magic eye atop it that must be destroyed.”

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, as it soared higher than any cloud has ever been, to float above clouds the size of continents, “the Land of the Giants. Here giants live happily on top of the clouds themselves. Occasionally, they get visitors from below. Sometimes, a giant falls off a cloud. But mostly the giants are peaceful people.

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, “at an island I know nothing about. It is told that no one can enter and even less people leave.”

“What is that island?”

“I do not know. I am afraid to go near it, because every time I try, they squirt water at me. Still, the only thing I know is the island is called the Land of No Respect.”

King John the Cute nodded to himself, remembering the place.

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, “at the Continent of Talking Animals. This is the Land of the Pigs. And here is the Land of the Wolves. And here is the Land of the Animals that Live Together.”

“Now we arrive, “said Chariot, “at the River Red Continent. This is a land of legends and creatures like no other. It came into existence a thousand years ago, and for a hundred years, more and more strange creatures appeared. But stranger than the creatures are their stories, which are nothing like any of the stories of the people and creatures I have ever met. Only one sentence about the River Red Continent is passed on from one generation of clouds to another. It is a disturbing land, full of grown-ups.’”

“Why is it called the River Red?”

“I do not know, my friend.”

John the Cute remembered the place, and asked Chariot to continue.

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, “at the YellowLand. The YellowLand is completely desert, filled with strange legends and angry gods. Clouds are not allowed at the YellowLand unless invited by one of their gods.”

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, as he flew over a doorway hidden in a cave, guarded by a ferocious plant, “over Death’s Door, which leads to the Afterdeath. When Death, any Death, collects souls, he brings those souls here and passes them through the door. There, in the Afterdeath, the dead spend the rest of their lives… Well, the rest of their deaths. A man cannot walk through those doors, for only souls pass and bodies do not. It is rumored that even Death cannot walk through Death’s Door.”

King John the Cute nodded to himself, remembering his own encounters with Death. Here, he thought to himself, King Charming the Fourth must be waiting for their fourth meeting.

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, “at the FeudalLand. This is where all the castles and the princes and the lords reside. This is where stepmothers behave badly to their daughters. This is where princesses are cursed, and where evil witches roam freely.”

“ ‘Evil witches?’” King John the Cute echoed. “Is this where the village of Panache is?”

“ ‘Panache’? I have never heard of such a place.”

“Panache is a village of evil witches.” King John the Cute remembered the story of Colonel Stone’s escape from the village and of his promise to return to him the box with his emotions. He also felt that he had heard of Panache from another source, but could not remember where.

“I am sorry, my king. In all my travels, I have never seen or heard of a place called ‘Panache’.”

King John the Cute committed to memory Chariot’s words and asked him to continue.

“Here we arrive,” said Chariot, “at the Original Continent. This is the first place that ever existed in the Land of All Legends. In the beginning, there was only this place, and the rest of the Land of All Legends did not exists. That was a long time ago. Now, the Original Continent is empty. Everyone upon it has died. It is rumored that the people who lived here were primitives and could hardly talk and knew nothing of technology or magic. It is said that they had to fight monsters and tigers, lions, mammoths, and other mighty mammals. As you can see, they lived in caves and not in houses. Traces of the fires they made tvo stay warm can still be seen around the caves. I find it sad to look at such a big place, where no one survived. I find the Original Continent sad.”

Upon hearing Chariot say ‘the Original Continent’, King John the Cute suddenly remembered an encounter he had had during his childhood. An adventurer had spoken to him about the Original Monster, believing the monster to be still alive. If by this time that adventurer had found the Original Monster, King John the Cute must speak to the monster. If the Original Monster had been here from the beginning, he must know more secrets than anyone alive, he has seen more sights than anyone alive. King John the Cute flexed his brain, and remembered the name of the adventurer: Magno the Magnificent. He nodded to himself, then asked Chariot another question.

“Chariot, you say that in the beginning there was only one place, only one continent. Then where did all the other places and islands and seas come from?”

“That is where we are going next,” answered Chariot.

“Now we arrive at the Land of the Good which borders the Land of the Evil. In the Land of the Good, only good creatures live, who do their best to have a noble life. In the Land of the Evil live warlocks and wizards. It is a place where curses are formed and evil is born. And where the two lands borders there is always war of one kind or another.

“Now we arrive,” said Chariot, “at the farthest reach of the border between the Land of the Good and the Land of the Bad. This is where the land ends. It ends, as you can see, not with water, not with a shore, not with a cliff, not with a wall. It just ends. And there is nothing beyond. No person or creature or cloud can pass beyond, because there is no beyond.

“This Border of Nothing,” Chariot continued, “is where new places and new creatures come from. One day, entire lands appear out of nowhere and the Border of Nothing is pushed back. Lands and continents, princesses and witches appear out of thin air, pushing back the nothing, creating more land and more creatures.”

“Are you saying that people are born by appearing in this place? But I was born from my mother.”

“People are born in two ways, my king. Some, like you and me, come from their parents. But some simply appear out of nowhere. It has always been so in the Land of All Legends. In the beginning, there was only the Original Continent. Everything else you have seen today has appeared over the centuries. Creatures that are born from the Border of Nothing can then give birth to new people or creatures, by being their mothers and fathers.

“But the strange this is,” Chariot continued, “as I have heard told from all the clouds, is that for six hundred years now, no new creatures have appeared at the Border of Nothing. No new lands have been created for six centuries. The Land of All Legends is now what it is. Nothing new has appeared in generations. We are now what we are.”

King John the Cute recalled King Charming the Fourth’s warning that no new creatures or people are being born. He must have meant that not only are they not being born, but also that none are being created at the Border of Nothing.

King John the Cute fell into a dark mood as Chariot began to journey back home. The problems he had to face seemed too big for a single person to solve. He would have to contend with magic, history, and the nature of the Land of All Legends. He would have to learn the secrets of the forces that create this land, and once he did he would have to find a solution to the great number of dead and the lack of new life that has come to the Land of All Legends.

It seemed impossible.

At the end of the journey, Chariot brought King John the Cute back to the palace.

“Thank you, my friend Chariot. Thank you for this educational journey. And thank you for becoming my chariot.”

“It is my pleasure to help you,” said Chariot. “And therefore let me be clear: Because it is my pleasure, this is not the favor I owe you for rescuing me many years ago. That favor is yet to be repaid.”

Having said that, Chariot rose into the sky, and waited above the palace until the king would need him again.

This has been the story containing King John the Cute’s first glimpse of the entirety of the Land of All Legends.

 

(To be continued on Tuesday…)

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation

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