Once upon a time and with surprising frequency, dragons kidnapped helpless princesses. As the ultimate romantic gesture, heroic princes fought the dragons and saved the damsels in distress.
At least, that’s the story you’ve been led to believe. But here’s a little secret: Sometimes the dragon saved the princess from the princes…
In the kingdom of Marshwood, everybody lives happily ever after – orphans, stepmothers, everybody. King Wesick is wise and beloved. Queen Mattea is beautiful and kind. Prince Nolan is handsome and brave, and his sister Littagale is smart and talented. But when it comes time for Princess Littagale to marry, suddenly the dragon Tor flies down from Mount Shadow, kidnaps the princess, and flies her to his dark lair.
“Oh, no! The horror! Who will save her?” cry the townspeople.
With great fanfare and the cologne of testosterone, princes from near and far arrive in Marshwood and vow to rescue the princess – in exchange for the honor of becoming her husband and inheriting the kingdom. The townspeople rejoice, place bets, and everyone waits to see who will defeat Tor and save Princess Littagale.
But what secret is Queen Mattea hiding? And why does Tor have a spa in his lair?
(Most fairy tales don’t start with a wedding, but here we are, once upon a time…)
Princess Littagale, a lovely nineteen-year-old, sat at a wedding reception table in Marshwood Castle’s grand banquet hall. Her gaze fixed on two spoons balanced on a diamond-studded salt shaker, and she held her tongue between her teeth in concentration. The spoons wobbled because of thumping from the nearby dance floor, but Littagale caught the utensils before they clattered onto her porcelain plate.
My angle was a bit off, she thought. I wonder if it would work if–
“Attention, please!” boomed a deep voice.
Littagale looked up from her spoon experiment and saw King Wesick, her father, standing beside the wedding band. He wore his finest blue dress clothes and a cape clasped by a gold chain around his neck. His red-brown beard was trimmed for the occasion, and his crown shone from polishing. He held up his hands for attention, smiling at the crowd.
She adored her father. He was the bravest man in all the land, or so they said. He was a kind, strong, and wise king. And Littagale felt he was an even better father than he was a king.
The lutists, flutist, and drummer near King Wesick stopped their play obediently, and the dancing lords and ladies also paused to look at the king.
Across the table from Littagale, elderly Aunt Maeve’s shrill voice deafly continued over the hush. “Prince Nolan doesn’t eat onions either! What is this family coming to?”
Cousin Opal quickly whispered in Aunt Maeve’s ear. Opal wore her usual armloads of jewelry, and a bracelet stuck on her plump arm as she shielded her whisper.
“Oh.” Aunt Maeve finally caught on and turned in her seat to face the king.
Littagale winked at Opal, who mouthed, ‘Oh, my stars!’ and tried to stifle a laugh. Then Littagale smoothed out her blue dress and sat up like a proper princess to listen to her father.
“Thank you all for coming,” King Wesick began, “I’m so happy that Mattea and I could host this wedding. I won’t be a windbag uncle, but I’m very proud of Jossop and know he’ll be an excellent lord of Beaver Hive.”
“Hear, hear!” cheered Jossop’s friends from their table.
The king smiled and gestured to Jossop’s new wife at the head table. “And Lady Scarlett, you are a beautiful bride and a wonderful addition to the family.”
“Hear, hear!” cheered Scarlett’s friends, not to be outdone.
King Wesick lifted his sparkling glass. “Let us toast to their happy new life together!”
Everyone lifted their glass high, and Littagale was especially careful not to spill hers.
If I stain this dress, Mom will feed me to the trolls, she thought with a smile.
She drank the red punch without incident. Then everyone clapped for the newlyweds. A few whistled. The rowdier bunch clacked utensils against their glasses, and so Cousin Jossop leaned in for a quick kiss with his new bride.
Where is Nolan? thought Littagale as she scanned the room for her stepbrother. He promised me a dance. He’s probably stuffing his face since Mom hired a caterer – we all lucked out there.
Queen Mattea, Littagale’s loving stepmother, had many skills. Cooking was not one of them. In fact, as children when Littagale and Nolan heard the news about two kids lured by a witch into a house of baked goods, they’d thought the risk worth the reward.
Ah, there he is! thought Littagale as she spotted Nolan.
Sure enough, her beloved stepbrother was at the buffet table. Nolan was a strapping young man, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, tall, and handsome. If you looked up ‘prince’ in the library scrolls, his picture would be there (literally, because he’d drawn pictures of himself in the scrolls as a kid). Nolan stood regally beside a few lords, but when no one was looking he swiped a chunk of cheese from a platter on the table behind him.
Littagale suppressed a laugh and turned back to the dance floor.
“And now,” said the court jester as he bounced near the band, “it’s time for more merriment! Would Lady Scarlett and all the single ladies please come to the dance floor?”
Oh, no, thought Littagale. If I hear that song one more time…
She slumped down in her seat and clutched the tablecloth. For a moment she considered hiding under the table. But, no. When she’d hidden under the table for her fifth birthday party it hadn’t gone over well, and now it certainly wouldn’t either.
Lady Scarlett, in her beautiful white wedding dress, carried her bouquet to the dance floor. A healthy pack of giggling, eager young women followed her.
One of the hopeful was Princess Beauty, from the neighboring kingdom of Oiho. She and Littagale had gone to charm school together but had never particularly gotten along. Beauty was as pompous as she was pretty, which rather spoiled her looks. She constantly brought up the fact that her godmother was a fairy, and she never let other girls forget her good fortunate. (Fairy godmothers aren’t actually all that common, despite what you may’ve heard). Most princesses’ godparents were aunts or uncles, and almost none had magical abilities. Littagale’s godmother had been her mother’s best friend, an elf who lived in Elsriliel Forest.
Littagale looked down at the sparkling ring on her finger. Her godmother had given her the ring when Littagale’s mother died at sea. She’d been too little to wear it at the time, but she’d treasured the ring as a keepsake all her life. She’d finally grown into it a few years ago. The ring wasn’t magical exactly, but it was made of elven silver and the shiny stone changed color with Littagale’s mood.
I’d rather have this ring, thought Littagale, than a fairy’s spell to dress me up for parties.
Tonight, Beauty’s dress-me-up spell gifted her with curls in her golden hair and a bright pink dress that shimmered with magic. As she walked by, she called, “Come on, Opal! You’re going to die alone unless you catch some luck!”
Opal chuckled good-naturedly. In her upbeat, nasally voice, she said, “You don’t have to do this anymore if you’re over thirty.”
Beauty, her enthusiasm for insults not to be put off, next faced Littagale. “Then you come, Littagale! He said ‘all the single ladies,’ and that certainly includes you!”
“I’m not a lady.” Littagale popped a cracker in her mouth and chewed loudly to make her point.
Beauty scoffed and – not wanting to be left behind – hurried to catch up with the other girls. Littagale watched as the dense crowd of girls jockeyed for position on the dance floor while Lady Scarlett warmed up her throw.
Just then, Queen Mattea arrived at the table. She was stunningly lovely, with hair as blond as her son’s and eyes as blue. Mattea pulled up the long, blue train of her dress before sitting beside her stepdaughter.
“Darling, you really should participate.”
Littagale made a face. “But it’s such an archaic tradition.”
“It’s the tenth century, dear. Everything’s archaic.”
“But I…don’t want to.” Littagale cursed herself for not being wittier on the spot.
Queen Mattea rolled her eyes like the awesome mom that she was. “No one wants to-“
“I caught it! I caught it!” Beauty held the bouquet and ran like a pink streak away from the dance floor.
Mattea sighed and pinched between her eyebrows. “…Well, no one except Beauty.”
Littagale chuckled, safe for the moment.
The band started up with a new, spirited song, and lords and ladies dashed back to the dance floor.
Taking a sip of her wine, Mattea smiled at Littagale. She rose from her seat, kissed the top of Littagale’s head, and whispered, “Have fun,” before walking to join her husband.
Littagale held her right hand up and saw that her ring’s stone was glowing bright pink, meaning she was happy and having fun. She smiled.
It’s a nice wedding, she thought as she took in the scene.
Cousin Jossop and Lady Scarlett looked happy and in love. Everyone around the grand hall was celebrating, momentarily free from the work of being lords and ladies. Nolan was scarfing down a plateful of food and laughing with his friends. The king and queen were now unabashedly leading a conga line.
Laughing, Littagale rested her elbows on the table and watched her parents.
That’s love, she thought. Theirs is a true fairy tale love story.
Littagale had heard the story a hundred times – everyone in the kingdom had. (Have you heard it? No?! Well, after Mattea’s first husband died, she returned with baby Nolan to her father’s mansion. Every day thereafter, she tended her father’s sheep in the nearby meadow. Still quite young at the time, she’d often sung and danced around the meadow as befitting a carefree damsel. Then, one day, the dragon of Marshwood, Tor the Intolerant, swooped down from the sky and snatched her up in his claws. Her cries alerted the townspeople, who stared into the sky helplessly as the dragon flew with his kidnapped lady to his lair high in Mount Shadow. Mattea’s father did the only proper thing in these circumstances and offered her hand in marriage to any man who could rescue her. Many men knew of Mattea’s beauty and attacked the dragon, only to be defeated. Wesick – prince of Marshwood back then –finally stepped up, challenged the evil Tor, and defeated the beast. Freeing Mattea, he led her down the mountain and rode with her to her father’s mansion. They’d been together ever since.)
They’re a perfect match, thought Littagale. I want that someday… But not now! Okay, it’s obvious my time for marriage is looming, but first I want to get away from palace life for a while. I want an adventure – why do princes get all the fun? All we princesses ever get to do is shop, sing, sew, and look pretty. I know I’m Marshwood’s heir and I’ll have to be queen someday with a king to rule beside me, but… Not yet.
Right at that moment, as if challenging her thoughts, Prince Deke Archwild came to stand beside her chair. He wore fine black clothes, and his blond hair was slicked back even more than usual. His teeth were a blinding white that was a little off-putting, and he’d doused himself in his usual gallon of cologne.
Littagale tried to be polite and not choke on the air around him.
Goodness, she thought. Why did father invite the Archwild’s?
Centuries ago, the neighboring kingdoms of Archwild and Marshwood fought a great war. The kingdoms were on peaceful terms now, and any tensions were released during tournament games. Deke was, in fact, a three-time tournament champion. Littagale knew perfectly well that he didn’t really like her, but he sure liked that she inherited the kingdom of Marshwood.
“Princess Littagale,” said Deke with an expectant tone, “Would you do me the honor of a dance?” He reached out a hand.
“No, thank you.”
His face twitched in confusion. “What?”
“I said, no thank you.”
“You can’t just… I’m…” Deke’s face turned red with anger.
Suddenly, Nolan burst in. “Sister, you owe me a dance!” He pulled Littagale from her seat and yanked her to the dance floor.
She tried not to burst out laughing at Nolan’s proud-of-himself grin. Without even thinking, she went into the goofy dance they’d created as kids. “Nolan, thank you, but I can handle Deke myself!”
“Oh, I know!” He wiggled his fingers by his face before twirling around in the dance. “But it’s my duty as your protective big brother to make sure you don’t punch Deke in the nose and cause a scene!”
Littagale laughed and clapped hands with him before sliding to one side.
She looked back and saw Beauty laughing at something Deke said to her. Littagale had a feeling she was the butt of the joke, but no matter.
Those two deserve each other, she thought, but they’re not going to ruin my night. Besides, I’m under strict orders from the Queen of Marshwood to have fun, and I’m nothing if not an obedient daughter.
Laughing, she continued to dance with her brother.
- “Wonderfully witty and charming in every way. Highly recommended.” – Wishing Shelf review
- “an unconventional fairy tale where the princess can take care of herself.” – LitPick review
- “I enjoyed reading this captivating fairytale and recommend it to princesses everywhere of every age. A few young princes might even benefit from this irresistible tale.” – Susan Sewell, ReadersFavorite.com
- “In a world where so many stories and so many tales seem suspiciously similar, A Fairly Fairy Tale is uniquely refreshing.” – Ray Simmons, ReadersFavorite.com
- “A Fairly Fairy Tale is an imaginative comedic treasure readers will fall in laugh with.” – Lesa McKee, ReadersFavorite.com
- “While A Fairly Fairy Tale is written for a preteen audience, don’t let that dissuade you from taking a look between the covers. This fairy tale rocks” – Jack Magnus, ReadersFavorite.com
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