The Forgotten Princess

Althea, the fay. Althea of the fay. That's what they call me now. But long before, I was known by another name. I am also Keara, the forgotten princess and this is my tale.

You may wonder why I say the forgotten princess, for princesses are seldom overlooked. Of course, I had all the playthings, jewelry and fine dresses befitting a princess but I was not gifted with looks nor a ready wit. On the other hand, my older sister, Clara was favored by the fates. She was beautiful, intelligent, kind and many other things.

My parents, King Clarence and Queen Catrina ,of the small but wealthy land of Dereina, showered all their loving attention on her. They doted on her, brought her to many places and taught her the arts of ruling a kingdom. I was acknowledged only when necessary and for the rest of the time, I was left to the hostile servants.

I was not, however, alone. On many nights, when the moon and the stars were brightly shining through my window and when the wind was whistling merrily through the trees, the fay or the faerie folk as they are often called, would visit me.

No one knew about these clandestine visits. The fay were very mysterious people. They held many secrets and knew how to keep them. They were beautiful, but in an unearthly way. They had high cheekbones, expressive eyes, lustrous hair that had different colors, pale skin, tall bodies. Each of them had a special mark, perhaps a glittering golden moon or a misty cloud, What I liked most about them however was their wings. All of them had majestic wings, sometimes colorful, sometimes a pure white, depending on their personalities. Secretly, I coveted them and dreamed of the day when I'd have wings as splendid as theirs.

The fay were practically my family. They visited me because they felt a special bond towards people who felt alone and were neglected. I knew them all, Cian, Oneida, Natane, Amir, Medea and others who treated me as their own. I knew their ways and participated in all their rituals. I sneaked out with them under the moonlight and danced to welcome the seasons. I joined more serious happenings as well. I was there when they gave magic to the earth, the magic that brings forth music, arts and literature, the things that please the soul.

As the days passed, as the forests grew, as the flowers blossomed, so did I. My previously stringy black hair lengthened into silky ebony tresses, my freckly skin grew smoother, and my previously muddy brown eyes cleared into a warm hazel shade. Even if I could never outrival Clara's long golden hair, tall and slender form and sparkling blue eyes, I was still pleasant to look at.

My parents began to take more notice of me. They brought me to balls, presented me to the Court and introduced me to influential people but it was too late. I was practically one of the fay then and unused to all the shallow human habits. My parents did not care about their people. The members of the Court and the Royal Advisors were rich and constantly outdo each other just to get into a better position of power. They got all they could from the poor and never gave back.

Days passed and the visits of the fay lessened. I felt hurt and confused, but I made a decision. I belonged with the fay but I could not be part of both the human and fay worlds at the same time. I had to choose one.

It was a bright and sunny day when I approached my father. The day did not match my mood. My insides were in a turmoil but my resolve was hard. "Father," I said,"As your daughter, I would want to ask something of you."

"Keara, what is it you wish?" "

I do not want to be a princess anymore. It is not my destiny. I was born to be something else."

"Something else?! "he bellowed,"You were born as Princess Keara and you will not disgrace the royal family by stepping down from your exalted position!" "Exalted?" I contested, "Father, it is anything but! This world is riddled with all the warfare and squandered money, but you are too blinded with pride to see it. I am weary of the ways of your court. You show your favor only to those who are of any use to you. You are not fit to be king! "

"ENOUGH!" he raged. ,"I shall hear no more of this nonsense. I could charge you with treason, I thought you had changed from your old peculiar ways, but I was mistaken. You will be locked up in the highest tower of the palace with only the company of only a single maid. You will still be called Princess Keara, but you will no longer have the privileges of jewels, gowns and fine foods. Be glad that I have not given you a worse sentence."

For me, the sentence was not so unpleasant. The tower overlooked a spacious green garden with a lone pear tree by the window. It bore many fruits and many animals were attracted to it. Each day, I would ask my only maidservant to pick some pears from the tree, lay them in a silver bowl and give them to me.

The name of my maidservant was Rachael.She was a poor child, only nine years of age. She had a curious and endearing nature. The bleak days were made brighter whenever she told me about the little village where she lived before soldiers invaded the village. We shared stories, even make-believe ones, and that got me through my imprisonment. However, the thing that we did most often was, dream of escaping. I often looked for a way out, but the walls were impregnable and we were heavily guarded.

Gradually, the fay visited more often once again.They were the same as ever, mysterious and no one else would even sense their presence. At first, during those nights, I would send Rachael away before they arrived but I began to trust her more. It was strange for me to feel that way, so trusting, so open, but it felt good. I introduced her to the fay and they welcomed her with warm smiles and kind hearts. Rachael brightened with their presence. She laughed more and seemed to forget that she was taken as a captive.Slowly too, I began to be more like the fay. I grew taller, my face became more aristocratic-looking. The fay even said that I had indeed proven myself to belong to the fay, I even had a mark of intertwined roses at my left wrist. But the one thing I really coveted, the regal fay wings, I did not have.

I often wondered why this was so. One night, I asked Medea, the wisest and oldest fay, "If I had indeed proven myself to be one of you, then why do I not have wings? If I had wings, I could flee from this depressing tower and roam the worlds with you, spreading the magic of music and happiness to all." She answered, "You must do one more thing first." "What thing?"I asked. "You have to do act completely, purely because of love for another human being. It could be any kind of love, as long as it is love." I made a cry, "Could you not help me with that?" She sighed, as she touched my bowl of pears."This time, only you can help yourself. I can only tell you this. Love is like these pears. They are made sweeter and more helpful if shared with others."

I pondered a lot over the words she said. I was unsure if I could do something like that. I did not trust humans so much even if I was born one. I felt betrayed. My family showed no signs of wanting me back and my exile in the tower was nearing a year. I thought and thought, but no answer came to my mind. "Love?"I thought "What can I do?"

Rachael, who hardly ever left me, and I had been in the tower for so long that we had a daily routine. Each day,when the guards and everyone else would be napping, she would open the windows and attempt to reach for some pears that would grow so temptingly near the windows.

On a leisurely morning exactly a year after I was imprisoned, I was just sitting by the window, contemplating over what Medea said while Rachael was gathering some pears. One particularly large one was just out of her reach so she clambered onto the windowsill to get it. However, she lost her balance and nearly fell off the window. She was dangling perilously and I had no time to think. I reached out to grab her, but she was too heavy for me so both of us plunged out of the window.

"Oh no," I thought as I embraced Rachael,my friend "This is the time of my death. Well, at least, I died saving a friend." Then, suddenly, I realized, I was not falling. I was fluttering gently above the ground while supporting Rachael. "R-Rachael? What happened?"I asked. She did not answer,but she just smiled and looked at my back. I craned my neck to see and there,at my back, was the most beautiful pair of wings I have ever seen. They were a prism of colors, intertwined intricately and twisting to form elegant shapes.

"I have wings!"I exclaimed. I was so full of joy, I wanted to twirl about in the air, but common sense told me to put Rachael down first. When I alighted, I saw all the fay gather about me. Medea approached and embraced me, "Well, Keara. You are one of us now. I give you a new name, Althea, the healer. You have healed your own wounds of mistrust with the remedy of love." "I can go with you now,"I exclaimed."You, all the fay, Rachael and I shall finally be all together. "I'm sorry."Medea said sadly,"Rachael belongs in the human world. She must stay here."

"Then,"I replied,"we must help the kingdom, revolt against my father and find someone wiser to rule over the kingdom."

"No," Medea said emphatically,"We must not resort to warfare. Only the effect of time, persistence and love can wear the evil down. Revolution will only cause death. And now, Althea, your destiny awaits you."

I had to leave Rachael, my dear friend back in the human world as I started my life as one of the fay. It was a bittersweet beginning, but Medea was right. After some time, I realized that no matter how much I care for a person, I cannot make his or her happy ending. It is all up to them. The most I can do is to spread love and happiness to do my own part in helping this world. And so, I have my written this story, to make you, the reader, happy and to show you that love is something precious and something that should be shared.