A New Era
... ... ...... ...
... ... ... ...
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there existed a great King that had ruled over the land of Prenticehall for many years. During his reign, the ruler of the land, King James, had banished an evil sorcerer named Atraeu from the Kingdom because he had used his sorcery to steal gold and livestock from the castle of the King and the peasants of the surrounding land. The King was generally kind-hearted and forgiving, but recognizing the tremendous evil and power that the sorcerer possessed. The great Ataeu could influence, and use trickery and deception to anyone who he could get his hands on, and make them do anything he wanted. The King had no choice but to banish him to a place where his evil could no longer harm the inhabitants of the land.
Ten years had passed since the evil sorcerer was banished from the Kingdom. During that time, the King's only daughter had grown up to be a beautiful and graceful young woman, and sadly, the King himself had become quite ill in his later years. The King's wife had passed away a few years back, and he had no son to carry on his name. For that reason, he summoned his head knight, Sir John, to send word to the surrounding Kingdoms that his daughter will marry only the most fearless and bold among all nobility, and he who proves himself will be allowed to carry on the reign of the land as the new King.
There were many princes in nearby Kingdoms who would fight for the Princess's hand in marriage, but no person loved her so as one of the King's faithful servants, a stable boy named Robert Cassidy. Robert loved watching the Princess go out on rides in the pastures surrounding the castle. He loved the way her long, blonde hair flowed in the wind and he especially liked riding with her, when she would allow. But he knew they weren't meant to be together, for her blood was of a noble stature, and he was but a mere peasant boy descended from a poor merchant who lived in the village.
That night, the King had strange dreams of the sorcerer Atraeu. He dreamt that the sorcerer had sent an evil spirit to steal the King's daughter away from him. The evil sorcerer held his daughter ransom and would only trade her for complete control of the Kingdom. In his dream, the King eventually gave in and the sorcerer seized control of the Kingdom, turned all the peasants into sheep, and sent a band of evil spirits in black hooded capes to rip them apart with scythes.
Suddenly, the King awoke to see the knight, John, standing over him.
"Your majesty! Wake up!" shouted Sir John, "Your daughter has been kidnapped!"
The King's eyes widened with panic.
"That can't be! It was only a dream wasn't it?"
"A dream? No, Your Majesty an enormous, yellow-eyed dragon took your daughter away early this morning. We tried to stop it, but our forces were too weak!" exclaimed the knight. "I was just leaving to deliver the message regarding the marriage to the Kingdom of Eastbrooke when it happened! You must believe me. We tried to save her, but we were powerless against the flying beast!"
King James pondered what would become of his daughter in the clutches of the evil dragon. Terrible thoughts ran through his head. Would she be eaten? Or killed? Then the King thought back to his dream. He could only remember fragments of it now, but he struggled to remember more. He thought and thought and then it hit him! The sorcerer! He must have somehow given the dragon orders to kidnap the Princess! It's the only explanation for such a kidnapping by a dragon!
"The sorcerer has my daughter! I'm sure of it!" cried the King.
"You need your rest", responded the knight. "You are ill and not thinking clearly."
But the King was sure of it. "John," said the King in a weak voice, "You must round up your best knights and save the Princess. There may not be much time, so hurry. You must find her, you must!"
With that, the ailing King collapsed back into his bed and rested. Days passed, and the King was once again awoken from his slumber, this time by a ragged looking fellow in earthen clothing and a cloth cap.
"Sire," the boy started. "I have terrible news. The knights that you have sent to the rescue of the Princess were all slaughtered by the dragon not more than three hours ride from here! My father, a merchant in the village, observed the tragic massacre while on a ride near the Foothills!"
"Who are you, young lad?" asked the King. "I am Robert, your stable boy," replied the boy, "And I would very much like a chance to avenge the deaths of your knights, and save the Princess. I know I am but a poor stable boy in your service, and I ask for no reward, but I have fighting skills. I love the Princess, and her safety will be reward enough for me."
The King, now recognizing the boy's face and remembering seeing the boy sword fight for a pouch of gold in the spring Royal Fighting Tournament, remembered how he had bested most others of his age group. The skill this boy possessed in sword fighting made up for his weak appearance and lack of rank, the King thought, and so the King granted him permission to set out and save the Princess.
"My best knights are dead," said the King, "and I have seen you fight. If you want to risk the journey, and battle the sorcerer, then you may. If you return my daughter safely to me, you will have a reward, whether you ask for it or not. Our stronghold is weak with the loss of our protective knights, and we may not last long in a war against surrounding kingdoms without a ruler. So you may take my specially crafted sword and my strong suit of armor, and please, hurry find my daughter!"
With those words, Robert grabbed the armor, took the sword, mounted a horse, and rode off toward the wooded hills. He rode for many hours, eventually ending up at the edge of the woods by the time the sun had set. Not wanting to waste any time, he decided to try to make his way through the woods in the darkness, but soon realized he would not get anywhere if he kept running into trees in the pitch black. So, for the night, he thought, he would rest in the hollow of a comfortable tree. The woods were dark, gloomy, and teeming with strange insects and nocturnal animals. Robert had trouble sleeping because the chirping of crickets and movement of what he thought to be small rodents were distracting him. But thinking of the Princess, and remembering that he had to wake up and find her the next morning helped him ignore the noises that surrounded him from all direction, and he finally fell asleep.
Hours had passed, and Robert had been sleeping comfortably, when he was suddenly awoken by a bright light from above. When he opened his eyes, a bright blue, illuminated spirit with pitch black eyes appeared. It had gown, which seemed to flow like the Princesses hair on her daily rides, hovered above him. Normally, he thought, such a sight would scare the wits out of him, but he felt calm, as if it were just a dream.
"What do you want of me, spirit?" he asked, curiously.
"Follow the path, beyond the mighty oak." the spirit howled, and suddenly it was daylight, the spirit was gone, and the prince, now feeling very confused, was lying in a puddle of water under the shade of the tree he had fallen asleep in. The sun was shining, and as he looked up, he realized he was sitting under a mighty oak tree that seemed tall enough to touch the sky.
Robert was hungry. Realizing that in his haste he had forgotten to pack some food for his journey, he decided to get up and see if he could find some blackberries. The forest shone with all kinds of bright plants, exotic bugs, and many shades of green from the many varieties of plants and trees in this area. When Robert stood up, he noticed a blackberry bush on the other side of the tree, so he went over to it and picked some berries for breakfast.
The berries were ripe, and tasted good, and Robert went deep within the bush despite the thorns to get the best ones. While he was picking blackberries, he took a handful of seeds from a beautiful green and gold bush, which he had never seen before. "I'll plant these to please the King when I return," he thought. He spotted a path on the other side as he was within the bush, and remembered what the apparition had said about a path near the mighty oak. So it wasn't just a bad dream like he had thought! He ran out of the bushes and grabbed his sword and his knapsack and began down the path with his horse by his side.
Robert followed the seemingly endless path for days without any sign of the Princess or the dragon, and he was becoming very frustrated. But still, he trekked on, hoping to stumble upon some clue that would lead him in the right direction or any direction at all, for that matter for he knew not where he was or where he was headed. Just as he was about to turn back and give up, a strange looking Troll covered in nutshell jewelry jumped out of a tree and landed on the ground right in front of him.
"Lost, are you?" the Troll said in a rough, curious sounding voice.
"Yes," replied Robert, "how did you know?"
"Anyone who wanders this deep into the wood most certainly is lost." the Troll said. "You are on my land now, and you must pay a passing fee."
"I refuse your fee," protested Robert, "on the grounds that this is not your wood. However, I will pay your fee if you can give me some information on the Princess's whereabouts."
The Troll scratched his head, which was sparsely occupied by a few rough hairs. "The Princess, eh? Let's see... Oh, yes, there is a Princess being held by a dragon on a nearby mountain. Is that the Princess you speak of?"
"Yes! Yes, that is the one! Now, where is this mountain?"
"First, the gold." demanded the Troll. "I do not generally trust your kind to be truthful when it comes to such valuable matters."
"Very well, then. I admit I've not been completely truthful to you, and I apologize," said Robert as he took a ragged pouch out of his coat pocket. "But I do have these magic seeds. These seeds contain gold, which will sprout from within the seed. All that you have to do is plant them." He handed the seeds he had picked earlier over to the Troll.
The Troll examined the seeds. "Gold seeds, eh? I've always wondered where gold came from", he said. "A deal is a deal, and I will tell you how to get to the mountain. Just follow this trail until you reach a pond, and then walk west until you reach a mountain. You can't miss it." with that, the strange Troll disappeared.
Robert continued on along the path, wondering if the strange Troll had been truthful, or just deceived him to get his 'gold seeds'. But he wondered no more when he saw a beautiful pond surrounded by willows centered in the middle of the path. Some sort of insects seemed to be swarming about the pond, and upon closer observation, Robert realized that they were not insects, but fairies.
"Do you know where the Princess is?", he asked.
No one replied. Maybe the fairies can't talk, he thought. But then one of the fairies, a fair-skinned, blonde haired one, flew up next to him and started singing. The singing made him forget all about his worries. The music was sweet and soft, like the sound of wind through tall trees, but more composed. Robert collapsed into a deep sleep.
During his sleep, Robert dreamed of riches, fame, and glory. He dreamt only good things, and felt very comfortable in his surroundings and never wanted to wake up. He did not dream of the Princess at all, and for days he lay by the pond, until something snapped in his mind. "The Princess!" he thought, and he jumped up out of his sleep.
"I've lost much time and must get going," he said to himself.
Robert looked west and could see a very close mountain through the trees and atop the mountain sat a dragon guarding a dark cave. Robert realized that the Princess must be in that cave, and he ran for the mountain nearly all the way up the mountain until he was under a ledge just beneath the dragon. He was tired by now so he decided he would rest and wake up early to slaughter the dragon in his sleep.
Robert awoke early the next morning and scaled the side of the mountain until he reached the dragon that was sound asleep. Tiptoeing toward the dragon in his heavy armor with his sword in his hand he tried not to breathe loudly, but the dragon smelled awful. When he finally reached the dragon, he held his sword above the dragon's neck. The dragon smelled horrible, like rotting eggs and pepper before he could slice the dragon he sneezed and the dragon awoke, raised its head, and hit the sword which exploded into a million particles of silver-colored poisonous mercury. Robert was thrown free of the mercury-infested air and the dragon inhaled in his great panic, poisoning and killing himself instantly.
"You've saved me!" exclaimed the Princess as she ran out of the cave and into the arms of the stable boy. The two then made their way back to the castle being careful to avoid the troll, fairies, and deep woods where Robert had seen the apparition.
Upon their arrival, Robert and the Princess learned that the King and sorcerer died a week before, both on the same day, which meant the Princess was now the Queen. They also learned that the sorcerer had enchanted the dragon and made him kidnap the princess in retaliation for his banishment. But now with all that over, the Princess planned to marry. Though it was against the law to marry a peasant, the Princess (now the Queen) did it anyway and decreed it law that in marriage, no distinction separating classes was to be made. The new Queen, and her newlywed husband, King Robert, lived happily ever after and had many children to carry on the reign of the kingdom.
... ... ...