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 BATTLE OF GREAT SACRIFICES
The Story of the Old Man
(Containing many endings to a story that is not yet over.)
Once upon a time, on the magical planet Earth, lived an old man who wrote stories. The old man had met King John the Cute once before, in a tale told elsewhere in this book of legends. During their fateful meeting, the king saw bubbles of ideas and imagination spring from the head of the old man. This spring led King John the Cute on an avenue of discovery that led him to the discovery of many secrets regarding the magical planet Earth, the Land of All Legends, and the lost land of legends.
The story of their second meeting begins now.
The old man sat in a park, looking at trees, seeking ideas for stories. The king descended from on high, carried by a chariot of butterflies.
“You again?” whispered the old man. “Who are you?”
“I am a fairy tale,” said King John the Cute. And the old man believed him, for the king had come on a chariot of butterflies. Bubbles of imagination burst out of his head, containing various stories of how a king emerges from an imaginary land of fairy tales.
“What is your name?” asked the old man.
“My name is King John the Cute,” answered the fairy tale. “What is your name?”
The old man told the king his name. The king said, “I have heard that name before.” The king searched his memory until, presently, he recalled. “I know! I have heard it from the mouth of Benjamin Miller! You are the one who wrote his story!”
“I do not know a Benjamin Miller,” said the old man, “and I have never written a word about anyone of that name.”
“That is strange. Benjamin Miller saw you writing his tale in a book called ‘Tickling Butterflies’.”
Dozens of imagination bubbles emerged from the old man’s head, showing various scenarios of various characters tickling butterflies. He said, “I have never written such a book. Although that is a good name for a book.”
The king was puzzled by the old man’s statements. And so he searched his memory for the story told by Benjamin Miller. “Benjamin Miller saw you write the book, but he did not see it happen in front of him; he saw it in the magic mirror.” Dozens of imagination bubbles emerged from the old man, all of which contained a magic mirror. The king continued, “Perhaps the mirror showed him the future and not the past?”
The old man sighed and no imagination bubbles came from his mind. “Please sit down, King John.” King John the Cute sat next to the old man. The old man spoke slowly, “I believe you that you are a fairy tale, because thousands of butterflies carried you to me and because I remember our last encounter and I know you can see that which is imaginary. However, I spend all my days with stories and fairy tales. And so the fact that you are real interests me more than the fact that you are imaginary. There are some real things I do not know and must know. I do not know how fairy tales could exist. I do not know why you come to me. And I do not know your story.”
“My story is a long and harrowing one.”
“I have all the time in the world.”
“I do not. My lethal wound will soon finish me. I do not believe that I have more than two Earth days and two Earth nights before I must return to my land to die.”
“You can leave whenever you want,” said the old man. “But if you want to speak to me, you will tell me your story first.”
The king hesitated for a second. Then, trusting the Fates that they have brought him to the right person, he told the old man his tale.
The king told the old man of his childhood, as the sun set around the two.
The king told the old man of the death of a king, of new friends acquired, and of the Happily Ever After Home for the Married; and as he did so, the moon moved from one side of the sky to the other.
The king told the old man of his adventures to a funny and ridiculous land and then to a grown-up and serious land. And as he did so, the sun rose over the horizon and advanced to the middle of the sky.
The king told the old man ancient and secret tales of magic, as told to him by Minister Vazir; he told the old man of the battle at the village of Panache; and then he told the king of all his adventures while on the magical planet Earth; and as he told those tales, the sun came down and darkness once more settled on the land. And when the darkness was complete, the king’s tale was done, although its ending was not yet told, for the king did not yet live it.
The king did not tell the old man the tales of Shadowy Secret, of Sarah O’Connell’s adventures while not in the king’s presence, the past stories of Perfect Paul, or what had taken place in the land while he has been on Earth – for the king did not know those stories.
For thirty hours, the king had spoken. For thirty hours, the old man had listened. For thirty hours, the two had not moved, had not drank, and had not eaten.
By the end of thirty hours, the old man’s eyes shone with excitement, while the king was thirty hours closer to death.
“And now I have come to you, because with the little time I have, only you can save my land.”
The old man laughed happily.
“Why are you laughing so happily,” enquired the king.
“Because I now know the end of my story,” said the old man.
“The end of your story? Not the end of my story? Surely, the end of your story is far away.”
“Hopefully, it is. But you don’t understand, King John, who and what I am. I am a writer. Everything I see is a story. Every object and person I see has a story, a past, a future… a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Everything has a story… including me. We all have many stories, depending on where we choose to put the beginning of the tale, but… as a writer, you see, I have always wondered what is my story?
“I have written many books, and I have sent them to publishers. And many times I have wondered, which story is mine? Is my story the story of the man who sends and sends his books to no avail even when he is at the end of his days? Will I spend the end of my days bitter, thinking no one has discovered me? Is my story that of the man whose talent is recognized towards the end of his days? Is my story that of the man who worked for his art his entire life, was never accepted, but is happy because he believes his art to have been good? Is my story that of the artist who is discovered after his death?
“But now, you see, I know which story I am in. Because I will write down the tale you have told me. I will add and embellish, I will even add fairy tales where you are not present, and in the end, I will send it to publishers. Your story is so good that it will become a fairy tale, for I am sure that it will sell millions. My stories will be… No, my story is of the man who is discovered late in life. And now I am happy.”
“That is good to hear,” said King John the Cute. “I am glad I have made you happy.”
“And now you want to tell me the favor that only I can perform, in order to save your land?”
“How did you know?”
“You are a fairy tale, after all. Tell me what it is you need of me. I will do better than my best.”
And so ends the first story (out of three) of the old man and the king and how they saved the Land of All Legends, the magical planet Earth, and the lost land of lost fairy tales.
(To be continued on Sunday…)
You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!