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 Story Seeker
(Containing the story of the one who seeks stories.)
“The Land of All Legends is sick,” King John the Cute explained to Doctor Dave Daniels. “I do not know the cause of it. I do not know exactly when it began, but I do know that for five hundred of our years, new creatures have not been created in the land. I have discovered that the tunnels created in your world when a fairy tale is born no longer lead to the Land of All Legends, but to the Afterdeath.”
“That is strange and worrying,” said the doctor. “Yet it seems more like a symptom of a disease than a cause. What else do you know?”
“I know that Death’s list of the dead is created by the stuff of the Land of All Legends itself. The more people die, the more they do not return, the more the land dies, because new land is not being created.”
“The life of the Land of All Legends is the material that brings death?” echoed Doctor Dave Daniels. “That seems like an important clue.”
“And I know that Death was once a revolving door in the Land of All Legends. Those who died, returned. But now the path back to the land of the living is blocked by a fearsome monster called a vampire. And so the Land of All Legends becomes emptier and emptier. Soon, it shall die.”
“Quite curious,” said Doctor Dave Daniels, deep in thought. “Before I tell you what I think, I would like to hear why you have come to me. Why do you think I can help?”
“I seek information about my own land,” answered King John the Cute earnestly, even as he felt the pangs of his wound grow slightly more painful. “I seek information that does not exist in my land. You have studied the human side of fairy tales and you know much about my land. Perhaps you have learned something in your studies, a fact that will help. Quite soon I will die, for my fatal wound bleeds more and hurts more. You are my last hope. I have no more stones to turn, no more avenues to explore. After you, I can only depend on the Fates, and the Fates cannot be leaned on. I am the last hope of my kind, and you are my last hope.”
“That is too much weight to put on the shoulders of one man,” said Doctor Dave Daniels. “And I understand now the lines that are etched on your face. Still, I shall ignore the weight and do my best to help you. Indeed, you come at a most providential time, for I have come to Africa and to this mound to explore a theory I have about fairy tales, a theory that resembles the illness you speak of.”
“You have a theory? Please, let me hear it.”
“To hear my theory, you have to understand my personal story.
“All my life, I have been obsessed with stories. Stories are magical to me, they are unique and special. And now that I have seen the Original Monster and have gotten a glimpse of all the stories that live in the Land of All Legends, I understand that the truth was more magical than I had believed.
“I have learned stories, I have explored stories, I have probed stories of all kinds. But the stories that seemed the most magical to me were the first stories. There was something even more magical, in my eyes, about the first stories, in particular the first fairy tale that had ever been told. I wanted to feel what the first humans felt when they were compelled to tell a story again and again and again… I wanted to feel what they felt, which I could only do if I learned what that story was.
“Then I recovered writings on a wall belonging to an ancient tribe of humans. Before humans could write, they drew on the cave walls and on the ground. And one of those cave walls survived, telling a beautiful and powerful story… the story, as I learned later, of the Original Monster.
“Once I had met the Original Monster, once he told me who he was, and once he told me tales of his land and brought me proof of it, I had believed I had uncovered the mystery I had sought all my adult life.
“I was caught up in my excitement. I decided to write the book, which the Original Monster supported because he thought it would save his world. I was completely engulfed with feelings of joy and fulfillment in writing the book and in seeing the response once it had been published. My joy was even greater, when I saw the Original Monster being sucked into the sky against his will and disappear in front of my eyes.
“But then… Much time has passed… When I was alone, I had time to think.
“A thought nagged at my mind. It had taken me quite a while to discover what it was… But finally it crystallized and I could see it clearly. At first, I realized that the story of the Original Monster was not the first story ever told. It was the first fairy tale ever told. It was the first story told enough times to become a fairy tale. There were other stories, surely there were, stories that were not told often enough, that did not survive more than a million retellings. But surely there were other stories…
“And then I began to think that perhaps there were other fairy tales, earlier fairy tales, fairy tales told often enough by other tribes in other places on Earth. It is true that at the time the story of the Original Monster was drawn on a wall, the human race was gathered on a small piece of land in Africa, but they were not all together in one place.
“It made sense to me, you see, it made sense that there were other first fairy tales… Fairy tales that the Original Monster had never seen… perhaps even some that had come before him.”
“I do not understand,” said King John the Cute. “If there were other fairy tales, where were they? Why did he not see them? Why did no one else see them? Where can I find them?”
“My story is not yet done, King John the Cute. By the way, there must be a story behind that name of yours, but I will not bother you with it now. You see, my fairy tale friend, the more I thought about it, the more I saw that it had to be true. Because when the Original Monster appeared in the Land of All Legends, the sun was already there, and trees were already there, and the ground was already there… In fact, the whole world was already there.
“I realized that before there were fairy tales about monsters and people, there were stories about creation. Every culture has a story of creation. In fact, most ancient cultures had two very different stories of creation that did not agree. I have studied our ancient cultures and I know it to be so. Before the story of the Original Monster, there had to be a story about how the world was created. In fact, there had to be two very different stories.”
“But how could two stories of creation exist within one Land of All Legends?” asked King John the Cute.
“Ah. That is my point, my friend. They can’t. I suggest that one story of creation, told enough times in one part of Africa, created the Land of All Legends. Meanwhile, in another part of Africa, another story of creation told enough times, perhaps at precisely the same time, created another land of fairy tales. I came here to check my theory, King John the Cute, that there is another Land of All Legends out there.”
This has been the story in which King John the Cute first heard the idea that there could be more than one Land of All Legends. But the story is not yet over.
(To be continued on Sunday…)
You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!