Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was princess, who sat upon her throne as a flower sits upon its stem. She was fair to every man who came to ask for her hand, gentle to every woman who came to present her child to be blessed. She accepted all who came, not caring for any flaw they held. No fairer princess could be found. This princess now, it is she who holds our story, captivates our minds. So come and join with me as I tell this tale, of the princess and the king.
She passed her days in a gentle gaze, watching softly the breeze drifting over the meadows. Always would she stare out there, as birds flew and clouds wandered across the sky. It was in these moments that she most beautiful. Her gold hair would drift across her face as opal eyes sat gazing in their sockets. A smile would come over her face, not of happiness, but contentment. And she would just stare as time passed around her. Staring, such a harsh world to use for the beautiful sight that her eyes portrayed when she went into that inside world.
A man one day came to her, dressed in rags, dirt covering his face. He did not come to ask for her hand, just said he had to come to see the beauty for himself. People shed away from him, letting their noses meet the clouds. Mutterings could be heard around the room, that would make any person embarrassed to be the object of his attention. But she just took his hands in hers and kissed him on both cheeks. He left with the words thank you in her ears.
Her beauty, the reason for his said coming, was known beyond the land. Princes came, claiming from lands so far another year would pass before they returned home. She would thank them with her heart, sit by them as they ate their meal. Show to them a room and inquire whether it suited their standards. And, though no request was made, in the morning, they would return their thanks and leave. She would stand at her window, and watch the hooves steal her suitors away.
And so it became said that the man who choose to stay into the next night, would be the one she choose. So more men flocked to her side, but each morning they would leave, and not a word would be said why.
One day she sat, gazing from the window, long gone into that inside world. Not a thing but her knew what awaited the inside of her eyes, but always she entered and when drawn from it, she looked even the more beautiful. On this day she sun grew tall, the trees reached to meet the bright expanse above. But on this day darkness spread across the land. On this day she slipt into that inside world, and did not return.
Despair gripped the land, as her parents sent word to the farthest reaches, for some way to break her from this spell.
Men returned, hoping to believe a kiss would break her from the trance. But no one knew the right way. They didn't dare move her from her chair, the window always open to let the breeze cover her face. Each passing day people's grief became more stricken, hope soon was lost. They did not know where she had gone, only what they saw.
And then one day, as rain began to wash the sun away, the castle came to ruins. The King had gone, the Queen in his hand. Servants, cooks, stableboys, all beyond the castle walls. And the only one who remained, the princess, locked in her world. The walls had broken, the stones were crumbling, and though they combed the area precisely, no trace of the princess was left. Soon, she was all but forgotten, her parents no longer remembering her name.
This narrator now, must pause in their tale. You may be wondering what curse beholds this castle, which knight will send his kiss to awaken her. But I must quell your curiosity, for surely it is bore. The curse is one that captures not the people, but the princess. There will be no knight to break the curse, but only one little thing. And now again I must welcome you to this tale, of the princess and the king.
Whilst on the outside the princess remained at rest, her mind twirled in that inside world. Not one being on the outside knew what lay in that inside world. And now, it is time, for that inside world to be uncovered.
From the moment her mind slipt into that inside world she saw the changes in the trees, the change in the sky. It was not brighter, not a sight clearer, but more real. She rose as she did, taking her hands from the demeanour position in her lap. Her golden hair swayed in their caress behind her, her smile changed to happiness over contentment. And her eyes, they were no longer opals but…
This was that inside world, the place that had captured her when she had first discovered it inside her.
She glanced down at her garbs, spinning in the lightweight current that flowed around her. Rags now covered her. It was always the same at this moment. There she would stand, looking at the door that would soon pass her into the land outside. And so she took those steps, and felt the softness seep through her thing soles. No one here would recognise her, no one would spare their breath to let the word princess escape their lips. No one bothered with this golden-haired girl.
And it was not because she did not like royal life, that she walked so freely in that inside world. It was because only here would she find the one she searched for. She searched for the man in rags, the one that had come to see her beauty. The one who had whispered in her ear, how to escape to that inside world. And she had done what he had said, and found this glorious sight before her. But now, another question plagued her lips, one that she felt, only he could answer. Why did each man leave after only one night? For in herself she did not know, how could she know when she did everything she could to keep them there. Except enter their rooms whilst they slept. So she searched for the man, searched in that inside world where she hoped to find him, knew she could find him. Because it was him, who had taken her hands in his, kissed her on both cheeks, and shared with her the secret of that inside world.
She walked now in this world, past the trees, through the mountains. Time grew at her hands.
Until she meet the prince. Riding on his steel steed, robes flowing smoothly from his body, and the golden crown slipped over his head. She stopped as his approach came, slipping herself into the trees. But still he stopped before her.
She sunk into a low curtsey, hearing no rustle from her bare garbs.
"Why does a girl wander alone in such a place, where no town comes for miles." His flow was soft, but held the decorum that one prince should.
"I have no horse to carry me so I must carry my own feet."
He looked at her, then said, as stately as she had before; "No woman should walk so far alone, come, I will take you to the next town." And he took himself from his horse, presenting his hand to hers.
"I am sorry, but I had rather use my own feet. There is a satisfaction in gaining distance by one's own means." She looked away, glancing at the dirt beneath her feet.
"But easier it would be if you came with me surely?"
"Easier yes, if it was the next town I was going to, but since I am not, nay." She wished for that inside world to take this prince away. But still he would not falter.
"Then where do you go?"
She sighed, one he did not hear. "I am looking for a man in rags, he helped me once and I wish to see him again."
"But mustn't you wish to get to the town before nightfall."
She saw the harshness in his voice gone now, all stately actions removed as she allowed him to help her on his horse.
He gave it time till he first spoke, glancing over his shoulder at every bumped they turned.
"Do you have a name?"
"Everyone has a name." She moved her eyes the other way, not allowing his sight to meet with hers.
"Can I entreat on yours."
"A name isn't more than a word, what does it matter."
"I must call you something."
He was looking back at her now, trying to catch her eye as she did better to avoid it.
"Call me what you will."
"I cannot call you a name that does not belong to you.
And so she rode with no name as the prince wondered who this girl was that sat upon his horse.
They arrived at the town before nightfall came, her begging leave at the nearest inn. But he knew that she would not stay there that night and so entreated himself to come in. And in that fashion he ordered two rooms, and that night she sat at his table, whilst people came with awe around him.
She watched the way people would enter, glance around, spy him, sit themselves at a table. Then, with a cautious look, they would come and ask for his grace. And he would give it to them, thank them, and they would leave.
Each time he would apologise to her, and take up the conversation again. But she preferred to just sit, and watch the people come.
That night she retired, intending to leave whilst the sun had not yet set. But when she went to thank the owner she found the prince resting against the wall, talking calmly with the one she had come to see.
"Thank you." He shook the owner's hand, and led her outside to where his hors awaited.
"I am going a different way to you." She said.
"I want you to come to my castle with me." He said it blunt, no harshness, no softness, just truth.
She was shocked at such a statement, but still acted with dignity. "And what would I do there highness?"
"You would stay with me."
"I am sorry, but I must find this man."
He shook his hair, despair almost, but not desperation. "I can have a thousand men sent to search for this man. In two weeks they can have scoured every inch of the man. Just come with me, and I promise, you will find this man."
And it was this fervour that put her on his horse.
Each night they would reach a town, watch as people came, leave in the morning.
In three days she saw the castle in her sights. Rising up with its torrents of stone, beauty surrounded its every corner. She could not hold the gasp that escaped her lips.
"It's quite magnificent," escaped her lips as she found she could not keep her admiration.
They entered with golden gates with a flourish, a silver trumpet sounding as the doors paved their way.
But she did not enter. He took her hand, pulled her gently along, but she would not enter.
"What is wrong?" He questioned upon her. "Do not be embarrassed."
But she did not feel embarrassed, she felt like this was where she was meant to be. So she entered with his hand, and was lead through the extravagant halls with pictures hanging on every wall.
He whispered to her all the way, not sparing her a moment to catch her thoughts.
More doors opened, here and there, until a room came to their sights. Upon the walls lay engraving in the stone, and before them lay two thrones of gold.
"I must find this man." And though she did not know why these words come from her lips, they did, and she knew they fitted in the echoes of the walls.
But he did not say anything, and instead, just took his hands in hers and kissed her on both cheeks. And in those actions, without words, she saw the man in rags. The man who shared with her that inside world.
And this time, he whispered in her ear; "Reality is better than the imaginary don't you think?"
It is time now, for this narrator to close in their tale. But first, there are some things that must be said. The princess was never in royal state, left to wander the land of her mind. That inside world the princess held, was in our turn reality. Whilst she fluttered in her outside world, each time it would mould to her mind. No man stayed past the morn because there was no morn to sta. But now, in this world so real, her prince had come, and by certainty, they lived happily ever after. But he was no longer a prince, but a king, to sweep her off her feet. And when he was found, the curse was lifted on that outside world, and all were left alone. She had no need to live a life away from reality. Now you may wonder how I know of this tale. Maybe you think I am the king, the princess maybe? But no, I am none of these. I am the stableboy, that followed the king as he rode his horse, that listened to the story the girl told as she swept him away. That is how I now relate to you this tale. And so now I must conclude, with an adieu in my voice and a farewell in my hand, this tale of the princess and the king.