Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
THE TRAGEDY BEGINS
The Convergence of Tales
(Containing a larger-than-life story, too big to be told.)
Dear readers, once every five hundred years a strange thing happens in the Land of All Legends. Once every five hundred years, nine separate stories merge and become one story, a tenth story, too big to be told by itself.
Once, when King John the Cute was king for only a year and a month and a day, such a convergence occurred. You are about to read an event that transpires only twice in a thousand years: a story of convergence. Please be seated, for frightening things are about to be told.
This is the story of a dutiful soldier who was living happily ever after in the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. Once, when King John the Cute had arrived to the home, the soldier and his wife told him the tale of the gift the soldier had left to his wife during his service to his country.
When the story was done, the king asked the dutiful soldier about the whereabouts of the village of Panache. The soldier knew that once upon a time he had known the village’s whereabouts, but its coordinates escaped him. But, being a dutiful soldier, he promised that on the day the king will most need to find Panache, he will be at his palace with the coordinates.
Eleven months later, the coordinates came to him during sleep. The soldier, true to his word, woke up, dressed in his uniform for the first time in many years, bid his wife a short adieu, and left the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, hoping to return once his duty had been fulfilled.
The dutiful soldier walked for seven days and seven nights until he reached the palace. The night was dark. The moon was not shining and the sun was asleep over the horizon. In his rush, he slipped on a slippery rock and fell into a ditch under thorny bushes. Worse, his leg had broken, and he could not rise nor walk, but only lie there helplessly, waiting for Death.
Nearly an entire day passed before he was discovered by the king and his loyal bodyguard, Colonel Stone.
“I know this man!” cried the king.
And so it was that the dutiful soldier relayed the coordinates of the village of Panache to King John the Cute.
The king, surprised and thankful, ordered that the soldier’s wound be healed by the palace’s doctor, gave the dutiful soldier a medal, hugged him, and ordered him to return home once he was able to walk again.
“Thank you, dear dutiful soldier, for this piece of news,” said the king. “Please send regards to your wife. Tell her you have helped save the Land of All Legends. As for the rest of you, we will leave for Panache immediately.”
This is the story of Prince Charming the Fifth.
For a year and five days, Prince Charming the Fifth plotted to kill the man he called King John the Ugly. When the prince’s father, King Charming the Fourth, had decided not to pass the throne to the prince, Prince Charming the Fifth had been but a spoiled child who liked to yell.
But during the last year and five days, the prince was so intent upon exacting his revenge on King John the Ugly, that he learned determination, leadership, and skill. With the help of his trusty but mysterious aide, Shadowy Secret, a cloud of fury and frustration with a strange object in his backpack, the prince had built the perfect army.
The army had been ready within six months. But Shadowy Secret had whispered in the prince’s ear that the time was not yet right to attack. And so the prince and the army waited impatiently.
Then, one day, Shadowy Secret, who knew everything there was to know about King John the Cute’s past, present, and future, whispered in the prince’s ear that it was time to go.
“The king and his party are leaving the palace for a village called Panache,” whispered Shadowy Secret.
“Where is Panache?” said the prince. “I have never heard of it.”
“I know it well,” said Shadowy Secret. “If we leave now, we will meet them there. It is time.”
Excited that the time has come to kill King John the Ugly and to regain the throne, Prince Charming the Fifth called forth his army. Together, they began to march.
This is the story of Chariot, the king’s cloud.
Chariot had been worried about his good friend the king for quite a while.
At first he was worried when he heard there was a prophecy that said that after two years on the throne, the king would save the Land of All Legends, but die in the process at the hands and sword of Prince Charming the Fifth.
Six months later, Chariot’s worries doubled when Chariot had been kidnapped and imprisoned by the old man known as Farmer Moozik. From Farmer Moozik he had learned that the Foreseeing Propheseers said that to save the Land of All Legends, the prince will deliver the killing blow, but Chariot must help him die.
During Chariot’s imprisonment, the loyal cloud’s worries doubled even further, when Farmer Moozik had said, “The village of Panache is the place where Prince Charming the Fifth will strike the blow that will kill King John the Cute.”
Chariot’s worries doubled once more when, after a night of revelations about the secrets of magic, a dutiful soldier reported to the king of the whereabouts of the village of Panache.
“Please, your highness,” pleaded Chariot. “The Foreseeing Propheseers said that Panache is where Prince Charming the Fifth will strike his lethal blow! You must not go!”
“Nonesense,” said King John the Cute. “There is still an entire year left. We will leave now.”
“I will not carry you to the place where you will die,” said Chariot. “I will not help you die.”
“Then we will go on foot. Come! We leave now!”
This is the story of Death.
Death had been robbed of his killing hand by the mysterious being known as Shadowy Secret. With Death’s arm ensconced safely within Shadowy Secret’s backpack, Death could kill no one, while Shadowy Secret could kill anyone with but a touch of the hand.
Death had come to his nemesis, King John the Cute, for help. Death hated King John the Cute, not only for defeating him in a race for King Charming the Fourth, but for another reason, a greater reason, a secret reason which he refused to reveal to a living creature.
As Death had been interrogated by the king, another name was added to Death’s list. It was the name of King John the Cute. Had Death had his hand at that time, he would have touched King John the Cute and claimed his soul. As Death told the king himself upon this occasion, Death’s first task upon retrieving his hand would be to touch King John the Cute and take his soul.
After being humiliated by the king and by Death’s first and only love, Sarah O’Connell, Death departed the palace angrily. Without his arm, he wandered the land aimlessly.
At the time of this story, Death came to the village of Panache. There, tired of his wanderings, he lay on a rock and rested.
This is the story of Sarah O’Connell.
Sarah O’Connell, the blindfolded woman with the broken-but-almost-almost-almost-completely-mended heart, had been given an impossible task by King John the Cute: to discover the secrets of the Afterdeath.
She had discovered two clues – one with the help of the Chicken, the other she found from a kind stranger at Death’s Door. Now she desired a third clue before reporting back to the king she knew as John the No Longer Cute.
After her visit to Death’s Door, she returned to the palace. At this time, the king and his party had not yet returned from the River Red Continet, as Chariot had only just escaped. In the palace, Sarah O’Connell consulted with Minister Vazir’s writings. A servant girl read to Sarah O’Connell from Minister Vazir’s writings, which chronicled the adventures of the king. There, she found the man she believed would give her the next clue in her quest for the impossible. The king had met a man called Loyal Luke in the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. Loyal Luke told the king a story of masters that lived and were reborn, again and again and again for a thousand years.
Hoping Loyal Luke would be able to reveal secrets from a time in which people returned from the dead, Sarah O’Connell began a trek to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. At the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, Loyal Luke no doubt still waited loyally till his masters, Perfect Paul and Flawless Farah, returned in their new incarnation.
Upon reaching the Happily Ever Home for the Married, Sarah O’Connell was given news by one of the guests that a dutiful soldier had left seven days ago to see the king, and that he carried with him the coordinates for the village of Panache.
For five and a half seconds Sarah O’Connell hesitated. Should she join the king in his quest, or should she continue in her own quest?
“John the No Longer Cute can take care of himself,” Sarah O’Connell said to herself. “I will give him the little help he needs by completing my own quest.”
And so Sarah O’Connell decided not to go to Panache and not to help King John the Cute with whatever may happen there.
This is the story of Kate the Tigress.
Kate the Tigress was born Kate the Catty. Her name was changed by a decree of King Charming the Fourth, who had seen her fight like a tigress for the life of her son, John the Cute.
But for all her strength, Kate the Tigress knew that she could not fight the impending death of her son. She had known this from before he was born, when three strange men had appeared and given her a dark prophecy.
She had lost her husband, Frank the Frank, because of the prophecy. And she had unknowingly and accidentally borne Shadowy Secret because of the weight of the prophecy. But at the time of this story, only a few weeks after the village of Bambooville was ransacked by an unknown army, Kate the Tigress woke up in her ransacked bedroom in her ransacked house, and knew that her son was in grave danger.
This is the story of King John the Cute.
King John the Cute had been born cuter than kittens and cuter than rabbits. But in his travels, he had lost his cuteness to the spell of a troll. And ever since, his face was marred and scarred by the worries of what he had learned and the weight of the tasks he must achieve.
He had learned much during the first year of his quest, and each of the things he had learned added lines to his face.
In his quest, he had learned of the village of Panache. He had learned how it was formed. He had learned that it was a village of evil witches. He had learned that Colonel Stone’s box with Colonel Stone’s emotions lay somewhere in the village of Panache. He had learned that a Seeing Propheseer, thousands of years ago, believed this would be the place that would help the king save the Land of All Legends.
The very last thing he learned was the coordinates of the village of Panache. To that very spot he traveled with the company of Colonel Stone (the soldier who had lost his emotions), Minister Vazir (the man from another world who wanted his mommy), Minister Azriel Jones (the man with less than zero friends), Chariot (who flew above), and Benjamin Miller (the seven-hundred-year-old man who came from another world). The king hoped to restore Colonel Stone’s emotions and to discover further secrets of the Land of All Legends, secrets that would help him save the land.
And so, on the day this story begins, the king and his party reached the coordinates of the village of Panache. But all they saw was an empty field, as far as the eye could see. Not a person, not a building, not even a creature were within view.
King John the Cute did not despair, for he had also learned that the village of Panache is magically hidden from view, so much so that even the Sun had not seen it for many centuries. The king in fact found hope, for he had learned during his year as king that doing nothing was doing something.
The king ordered his company to stand in place and do nothing, say nothing, and think nothing.
Shortly, doing nothing removed the magical field that protected the village. The field was now a village in a forest, and the king’s party was standing on a path leading to the village. The light of day was replaced by the darkness of night and the silver rays of the moon.
“This is the village I remember,” Colonel Stone whispered to King John the Cute.
“My king,” Chariot whispered from above. “Look over there!”
King John the Cute followed Chariot’s gaze and saw Death lying down on a rock. Death rose and looked at the king and his party.
“I do not come for you, Death,” said King John the Cute.
“I cannot come for you, King John the Cute,” answered Death.
“Let us explore the village,” King John the Cute told his party.
The party entered the village, five on foot and one from the sky. An evil witch came out from one of the huts.
“I know you,” King John the Cute said with surprise. “A long time ago you passed through Bambooville.”
The Evil Witch of Panache looked at King John the Cute long and hard. “Ah, yes. You are the supremely cute child who helped me recharge my wand. What happened to your face?”
“A spell from a troll. I am king now.”
“I care not that you are king,” said the Evil Witch of Panache. “But I do care that you helped me recharge my wand and stopped me from becoming truly, awfully evil. I promised then and I promise you now that one day I shall return the favor.”
“Then I ask you to return the favor now. A few years ago, this man, Colonel Stone, was taken prisoner by the evil witches of Panache. In his escape, he left behind a silver box containing his emotions. Return the favor owed me by returning the silver box and its contents to their rightful owner.”
The Evil Witch of Panache made a face. “That hardly seems like returning the favor, since it is a favor to someone else and not to you. Nonetheless, it is evil to give a soldier his emotions back, because it makes him a bad soldier.” She reached into her garments and pulled out a small, locked silver box. “Here is your box, soldier. Enjoy the emotions. They will hurt you.”
With trembling hands, Colonel Stone took the box. He opened it, and, with the king’s nod of approval, put his emotions back in his heart.
Suddenly, he grabbed his head and fell to his knees and cried. “Thankful,” he cried. “I am thankful to you, my king.”
“It is my pleasure, my friend. Thank you, Evil Witch of Panache.”
But before the witch could respond, her attention was caught by something happening behind the king. The king turned around and saw an entire army shimmer into existence behind him and enter the magical field of Panache. In front of the army stood Prince Charming the Fifth, a sword in his hand, now looking like an adult and not a child. Next to the prince stood a strange, shadowy creature made of clouds of fury and anger.
“This is a busy day,” said the Evil Witch of Panache.
Death quickly rose to his feet at the sight of the shadowy creature.
“King John the Ugly,” shouted Prince Charming the Fifth. “I have created an army to kill you. Once you are dead, I shall take back my rightful throne!”
King John the Cute approached Prince Charming the Fifth with his hand extended, “Prince Charming the Fifth,” he said. “I mean you no harm. I do not want the throne and I am proud of you for having created an army so successfully. All I seek is to save the Land of All Legends from its sickness. In less than a year I shall be done and I will die. Once I am dead, you may have the throne back.”
“Why don’t you die now?” growled the prince. With a quick movement of his arm, Prince Charming the Fifth ran his sword into King John the Cute’s chest.
King John the Cute gasped in pain and fell backwards on the ground.
Minister Vazir ran to his side and examined the wound of his bleeding king. “Your highness,” he said. “You have been struck lethally. There is nothing medical we can do to save you. There is no magical spell that will save a man so close to death. You have only minutes to live.”
“That is impossible,” King John the Cute tried to come to his feet, but fell backwards and into the arms of Minister Vazir. “I have almost a year left!”
“That is no longer true, your highness. You now only have minutes.”
Far away, in the farthest corner of the farthest shire in the farthest land of the Land of All Legends, Kate the Tigress gasped as she felt pain in her own chest. At that very moment, she knew that her son had been struck a deadly blow. Sitting on a bed upon which lay beautiful yellow flowers with orange streaks, Kate the Tigress wept.
This is the story of the village of Panache.
The village of Panache was older than most cities and villages in the Land of All Legends. It had been a village of good witches, until a giantess who was in love with a dwarf came off her cloud and accidentally stepped on the son of a good witch and killed him. The good witch, overwhelmed with pain and grief, had become evil and would from that moment be known as the Evil Witch of Panache.
All the witches in the village shared their sister’s grief, and they also became evil with grief and pain. Once the Evil Witch of Panache had finished her curse on the giantess, all evil witches of the village put a powerful spell on the village of Panache and made it vanish from plain sight. So great was their need to escape the world.
Only a few, like Death and a few kings, knew the way in and out of Panache. Not even the Sun could see beyond the spell and into the village itself.
Over the years, a few evil witches had left the village occasionally to perform evil deeds upon good people. At times, kings were angered enough to send armies and try and battle the evil witches in their own village. But these efforts had always been unsuccessful, and the village stood for centuries, unseen by the sun’s light, not fallen by the might of other armies.
At the time of this story, there was much activity in the village of Panache. In the middle of the village stood the Evil Witch of Panache. A few yards down the path, stood Minister Azriel Jones, then Benjamin Miller, then Colonel Stone. A few yards beyond Colonel stone, King John the Cute lay on the ground in Minister Vazir’s hands, bleeding to death from a deadly wound. A few yards beyond that, stood Prince Charming the Fifth, holding the bloody sword that had cut the king. Next to Prince Charming the Fifth stood Shadowy Secret, who had a backpack on his shoulder, and Death’s hand was in his backpack.
A few yards further still down the path stood an entire army. It was Prince Charming the Fifth’s army, ready for action, ready to slay the king – a task no longer necessary.
A few yards to the side of the king stood Death without his killing arm.
Above the fray floated the cloud Chariot, the king’s close friend.
At the second it became clear that the king would die of his wound within minutes, Shadowy Secret stepped forward. Turning his back to King John the Cute, he faced Death for a second time. Standing between the king and Death, he said, “Death, I no longer require your arm. Would you like it back?”
Death was astounded. But immediately he said, “Yes.”
And Shadowy Secret took Death’s arm out of his backpack and returned it to its rightful owner. Death put his arm back in its place and was Death once more.
This is the story of the Evil Witch of Panache.
More than a thousand years have passed since she had lost her child to a giantess and over the last century her pain and grief began to lessen. It had lessened so much so, that she stopped being a truly evil witch and was only an evil witch.
A few years before this story begins, the power in her wand ran out for five days and five nights, and she knew that if the wand’s magic was not replenished she would become truly evil once more. A small child who was cuter than the cutest kitten had helped her replenish her wand even though he knew it would help her perform evil deeds.
His kindness and logic touched her and she vowed to one day return the favor, even though he claimed it was unnecessary.
Now, years later, that same child stood in front of her, no longer a child and no longer cute. He was the king of the land and he had been struck a deadly blow by the son of the previous king. She then knew that the child-king only had moments to live. If she did not return the favor now, she never would. Out of the corner of her eye she saw that Death’s view of the child-king was blocked by a shadowy and mysterious being. She seized the moment when Death was not watching and approached the child-king.
“John the Cute,” she whispered to him. “No magic can save your life when you are so close to death. But I have a way of returning the favor I owe you.”
“I am listening,” said the child-king.
“In the village of Panache, we know of a world that has no magic, a world that works differently, a world where tales are told and shortly thereafter the creatures in the tales are born here. We witches frequently look in on that world, but we have also discovered a way to cross over. If you wish, I can cast a spell and put you in that other world.
“Wounds caused here are felt differently there. You will bleed much more slowly, and so you will be able to walk and talk. Time passes differently there. The five minutes you have to live will turn into a few weeks of life there. A few weeks in that world are a year in our world. But know that when you return, you will only have seconds to live. Shall I return the favor and transport you to that other world?”
“Yes, but wait!” gasped the child-king, for it was getting harder to breathe. “I will only go if Minister Vazir and Benjamin Miller travel with me.”
“That is too much! The spell will be too taxing!”
“I will not go without them!”
The Evil Witch of Panache growled and said, “Very well.”
“One last thing!” the child-king said and grabbed Colonel Stone’s collar. “Colonel Stone, in my absence Sarah O’Connell shall have the power of the king. For all intents and purposes, she shall be the queen until my return. When I die, Prince Charming the Fifth will become king in my place, for he is now worthy. But even though I disappear, I am not yet dead. I shall return to the Land of All Legends to die, and when I return, I shall heal the land.”
Colonel Stone cried out of love for his fallen king, “I will obey, your highness.”
“Then run! Run now and disappear from sight before the prince’s army realizes what has happened!”
Colonel Stone, tears running down his cheeks, nodded. The Evil Witch of Panache grabbed the king, “There is no more time! We must do it now!”
At that very moment, Death, no longer distracted by Shadowy Secret and having put his arm back on, approached the king, in order to touch him. But King John the Cute, the Evil Witch of Panache, Benjamin Miller, and Minister Vazir had all vanished from sight. And Death did not know where they were. He could not feel their presence anywhere in the Land of All Legends.
This is the continued story of Kate the Tigress.
Sitting on top of her bed, surrounded by yellow flowers with orange streaks, Kate the Tigress could suddenly no longer feel her son’s presence. It was not as if he was dead. It was as if he was gone.
Kate the Tigress had no explanation for this strange feeling. She could not even guess what it meant. But she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that the end has begun.
This is the continued story of Chariot.
When his king had been struck by the prince’s sword, he felt horror. He also felt that there was something he should do. But there was nothing to do.
Events moved quickly, and before Chariot understood what had occurred, King John the Cute had vanished from sight and from Death’s grasp.
Chariot watched silently, as Colonel Stone snuck through the bushes and escaped. Chariot continued to watch as the prince and his army looked around confused. Chariot watched helplessly as the prince took Minister Azriel Jones prisoner, and as Death left the village of Panache to go his own way. Chariot, unnoticed by anyone, continued to watch as the prince, his army, and his prisoner began to march towards the palace, and as Shadowy Secret began to move in a direction different from the one the prince and his army were taking.
Chariot remained alone above the village of Panache.
The king was gone. But what was Chariot’s prophesied part in all of this? What did the Foreseeing Propheseers see? What was he supposed to do? Chariot did not know.
This has been the intricate and layered convergence of tales, the kind of which happens only once every five hundred years.
Now, if you want to read the stories of what happened to King John the Cute on the planet Earth, read on…
(To be continued on Sunday…)
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