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:
Death and Shadowy Secret
(Containing the fearsome events that had taken place while Prince Charming the Fifth was doing other things.)
Once upon a time, in the land of the Land of All Legends, Shadowy Secret walked the land. Born of fury, frustration, and fear, Shadowy Secret was not a living thing. And yet, this not-a-living-thing had a clear purpose.
As is told elsewhere in this book of legends, Shadowy Secret had left Prince Charming the Fifth to battle the heat of the Lava Mountains for forty days and forty nights. Shadowy Secret needed forty days and forty nights because he knew this was the length of time it would take him to find Death and return.
And so, during Prince Charming the Fifth’s trial of fire, Death walked the land, taking souls from living creatures with the tips of the fingers of his right hand. Suddenly, Shadowy Secret stood in front of him.
Death did not recognize Shadowy Secret. Shadowy Secret was not a creature that could ever appear on Death’s list.
“Who are you?” asked Death.
“I am a riddle,” answered Shadowy Secret.
“I do not like riddles,” said Death, who did not like creatures who could not appear on his list. He reached out his right hand to touch Shadowy Secret.
Shadowy Secret felt Death’s cold hand, but did not die. “I am not alive and so Death cannot kill me,” said Shadowy Secret. “But let me show you something.”
Shadowy Secret turned around and produced the longest and sharpest sword the Land of All Legends had ever seen. With one quick swoop, he brought down the sword on Death’s outstretched hand.
Death’s hand fell to the ground, disconnected from its holder.
Death screamed in surprise and pain, and took two steps back as he grabbed what was left of his right arm.
Shadowy Secret picked up Death’s hand and looked at it. “Now I have the best weapon of all: Death’s hand. I can take anyone’s soul, while you can take none.” He put Death’s hand in his sack and said, “Thank you for this gift, Death.”
Death stared at Shadowy Secret and was too shocked to move. His deathly ability had just been stolen. His arm had been assaulted. No one had ever tried this. No one had thought it possible.
“Now I must leave you,” said Shadowy Secret. “I must teach a prince a few important lessons.”
“Stop!” Death shouted. Shadowy Secret looked at him.
“What am I,” cried Death, “without that arm? What am I to do without my abilities?”
Shadowy Secret shrugged. “You are going to have to find that out for yourself. I suppose you, too, have important lessons to learn.”
Once more, Shadowy Secret turned to leave. Once more, Death’s words stopped him: “You there,” said Death, holding his wounded arm. “You said that you are not alive and so Death cannot kill you.”
“That is true.”
“What can kill you, then?”
“That,” Shadowy Secret smiled, “is a shadowy secret.”
And with that, he turned around. And, Death’s arm peeking out of his bag, he walked quickly out of sight.
This has been the story of how the role of Death changed hands in the Land of All Legends.
A few days later, after Shadowy Secret shook Prince Charming the Fifth’s hand in a pact to slay King John the Cute, the prince asked Shadowy Secret, “What is that, poking out of your sack?”
“That?” answered Shadowy Secret. “That is a small weapon I picked up while I was waiting for you to learn your lesson. It is nothing you should concern yourself with.”
And that is the story of how Shadow Secret lied to Prince Charming the Fifth. And not for the first time.
(To be continued on Thursday…)