The Unfortunate Adventure of Prince Charming Part 1

A dark mist hung around him, wrapping and entwining between his legs and whispering awful stories of those who had come before him. Aside from that it was not different from any other swamp this journey had forced him to cross. It was not that the snakes and spiders within scared him, it was more that they terrified him, but Prince Charming by name he was bound to a quest in search of a princess to wed.

Not that there were not perfectly normal princesses living in easily accessible castles, as his father put it, "it is high time we did things the old fashioned way, where a prince would risk his life for love," though his father failed to mention how risking his life on the off chance that he would find some strange princess, had anything at all to do with love. What if he did find one and didn't like her, what then? Does he put her back to wait for some other prince who has a delusional father?

He brushed aside a hanging vine and longingly thought of his nice cozy castle and of a warm glowing fire and perhaps a cup of hot tea, the picture almost allowed him to forget about the sludge that was somehow seeping through his boots.

"By the time I find this princess she'll want nothing to do with me the state I'm in."

He wondered if his father had thought of this as some sort of character building journey and if that was true then what was he supposed to learn? If it was that trudging through swamp that came up to his knees as something slithered against his leg, did not fit his character well, he could have told his father that before he'd left.

His mother had told him it would be good for him and that he might enjoy it after reading all those adventure books. Sure that would have made sense except he read those books so that he wouldn't have to go on the adventure so that he could stay home and always have a hot meal waiting for him. He wasn't crazy after all.

The night began to frighten away the orange haze that daylight had cast upon the miserable swamp. He wouldn't say it would an improvement but he was getting awfully tired of seeing orange.

"I wonder if they're worried about me, or if I'm lucky enough to turn back now and they'll be so happy to have me back that they'll be like normal royal parents and throw me a ball with which to pick my bride. I would surely welcome that after this charming little adventure."

What right has my father to talk of quests anyway? The fellow has barely ventured beyond the castle walls even when he had his youthful weight and eagerness about him. He kicked at the sludge surrounding him in frustration. Welcoming the showing of muck with a grim smile at his own foolishness.

"Was I too cocky father? Is this all some grand lesson I'm supposed to learn?" Though he could never remember a time when he didn't admit whole heartedly that he was the biggest klutz in the kingdom or even a time in which the whole kingdom would not have agreed with him.

He had hoped along the way to see villages and maybe tour a bit of the countryside. But whether the countryside had disappeared in the few years he had not ventured beyond the inner realm of the kingdom or that his sense of direction had simply deteriorated, he had seen nothing but one swamp after another. He wished for something new to happen something exciting, something to make him enjoy at least one bit of this forced excursion.

Then it happened. Of all the perfect times for something new to happen this was it1 He got an idea, a marvelously simple and useful idea that anyone else would have thought of days ago. He would climb one of the nearby trees hanging vengeful vines upon him.

He heaved up and grabbed the nearest vine hoping it would support his weight enough for his slippery grime covered boots to get some sort of grip on the slippery grime covered tree. Needless to say he slipped once, twice, perhaps more than he cares to have mentioned, and was thoroughly covered in whatever it is that makes up swamps, before he got anywhere near the top of the tree. He peered out from the top of the scraggly tree hoping the narrow treetop would hold him long enough to get his bearings. He looked all around finally seeing something familiar in the distance.

A castle! By the looks of it, and how much he recognized it he knew he had been there before. He leaned forward hoping another inch or two would clear things up, surprisingly they did clue him into a very sad fact that caused him to promptly slip and fall straight down back into the muck.

After more than a week of travel he had no more than manage to circle the few miles of swamp that guarded the rear of his very own castle. He realized that next time a compass would be more useful than a couple of stuffed teddy bears, but they brought him comfort and they doubled as miniature pillows. He found himself blushing for no one, thinking both about the teddy bears and the fact that he had been doing nothing but traveling in circles for a week.

He resigned himself to the journey, both because now he felt he needed to prove himself and because he felt he could not withstand the taunting of his brothers if they ever found out about all this foolishness. He took his sword and made a mark in the tree, cheerful that he had finally found a purpose for the long pointy thing his father always made him wear around his waist.

"It makes you look more daring and princely my son, I never want to see you without it." He scoffed his father must have read every adventure book in the library in order to conceive just how a prince should be, regardless of how he was as a prince. He focused on the fact that kings always seemed to be short, rotund men with a kindly if misguided personality.

He sighed and headed out from the tree he just marked praying he did not see it again.