The Humble Princess

~An Original Fairytale~

Once upon a time, a floating Kingdom drifted in an unearthly expanse of sky. At the time, this Kingdom lived in peace and harmony under the rule of the King and Queen. The Kingdom was a very beautiful place; buildings were made with solid gold and everything was decorated with the finest jewels and riches. The King and Queen were very generous people, offering services to their people whenever the need arose. Thus, the people were very happy under the established monarchy.

For generations, the floating Kingdom was left content and peaceful. One day, a beautiful Goddess with transparent wings visited the Kingdom. After a warm welcome from the King and Queen, the Goddess was treated like the guest of honor. For several weeks, the whole Kingdom gathered together for a huge feast every day. She was so delighted and moved at the kindness of the people that upon her departure, she gave the Kingdom a most astonishing blessing.

"To my dear friends of this floating Kingdom, you have shown me and kindness of your hearts," said the goddess, "Please accept these special gifts as a token of my gratitude."

With the wave of her gold staff, a brilliant light engulfed the whole Kingdom and each and every citizen was surrounded with a swirling gust of wind. The King and Queen, who were standing right in front of the Goddess, were alarmed at first. But after the gust of wind had vanished, the two looked at each other to find the most gorgeous white wings extended from their backs. In fact, every person in the Kingdom had been the gift of these magnificent wings. The King and Queen were about to thank the Goddess only to find that she was nowhere to be seen.

And so, the Kingdom changed forever because they have discovered the wonders of flight. They could fly as far into the East, the West, the North, and the South as they pleased. They discovered lands they have never seen before, and creatures they've suddenly discovered; however, the floating Kingdom never wanted to conquer these strange new lands. And because of that, the other kingdoms of these foreign lands accepted them warmly with open arms.

Generations later, a Temptress disguised as a beautiful maiden paid a visit to the floating Kingdom. The Temptress was equally as powerful as the Goddess but used her powers for evil. Everyone in the Kingdom knew that Temptresses were up to no good, but because she was in disguise, no one doubted her. One day as she was walking among the palace, a nobleman fell in love with the Temptress at first sight. Mesmerized, he told her that he would do anything for her in exchange she would love him back. With a coy smile, she answered, "Claim me a kingdom of my own."

So the nobleman, blinded by infatuation, convinced many men on the East side of the Kingdom to attack and conquer the nearest piece of land. Soon every man on the East combined into one army and flew toward the nearest Kingdom with weapons of destruction. The peace of the floating Kingdom had been broken. Enraged, the King and Queen commanded the nobleman to call back the men to break the tension between the two nations, but to no avail. And so, the King and Queen went on a journey to find the mysterious Goddess as a desperate plea for help. When they had found the Goddess, she shook her head in disapproval.

"The nobleman had been visited by a Temptress. And so, he invited temptation into your Kingdom. Using the gift I had given, he had abused his power for selfish reasons. Thus, he and his men should be punished."

As she tapped her staff on the ground, the floating Kingdom started to crack in half. The people of the East side of the Kingdom became alarmed as their wings suddenly disappeared from behind them. And with a deafening roar, the Kingdom's East side split apart from the West side and tumbled into the depths below. The King and Queen began to sob for they had lost half their Kingdom. However, the Goddess said, "Rest assured, their lives have not been lost. I merely placed them to live among the Sea where no person has the ability to fly. They will live like ordinary, worldly people and there, they can establish a kingdom of their own. However, they will never be able to fly again. That is the price they have to pay for abusing the power of flight."

And so the Kingdom became two lands separated for eternity. The remaining, floating land that still was able to use the gift of flight became known and the Kingdom of the Air. The banished land that was filled with wingless people became known as the Kingdom by the Sea.

Hundreds of years later, the story of the Goddess and Temptress became no more than a children's fairytale. For all those years the two kingdoms never disturbed one another's peace. Only until the birth of a fated prince did these kingdoms ever made contact with one another.

In the Kingdom of the Air, the King and Queen gave birth to a son, with wings far more beautiful than the princes of the past. This Prince grew up to become a person of noble and charming character. And when the time was right, the Prince must choose a princess to become their bride in order for the monarchy to continue.

The time came when the King became terribly ill. On his death bed, the King turned to his son and said to him, "I may not live much longer in this condition. It is nearly time for you to marry a princess and take over the throne." Near tears, the Prince knew that he had to find a princess quickly.

For many months, the prince journeyed far and wide to many, many kingdoms in search for a beautiful princess to wed. And many princesses he did find, but none did he bring back with him. The Queen was most certainly getting impatient with the Prince.

She said to him, "Son, what is taking so long? The King has been in and out of deep slumber, and it can be any moment where this kingdom will live without a proper king!"

The Prince replied, "I have made my haste, mother, but I cannot find a princess whom I can love with my whole heart."

"Nonsense. There are many princesses out there that have the quality of becoming a fine queen."

"But none with as much compassion as I seek," the Prince interjected, "A fit queen must be able to love her people just as much as she is fit to rule them."

The Queen sighed, defeated. "I do not know what to do then. You have tried every kingdom, have you not?"

"I have tried all but one, mother. The Kingdom by the Sea."

The Queen scoffed. "There? There's no need to check there. Since The Fall, we haven't had contact with them for centuries. There's nobody there but sinful, wingless people," she replied, recalling the old children's tale.

"You really can't hold prejudice against them because of an ancient legend, can you? Please mother, let me journey to the Kingdom by the Sea. There is no law that forbids me to marry a princess of that kingdom, is there? This may be my last chance."

Because of the Queen's compassion, she sighed and kissed him goodbye. The next day, after restocking for a day's journey, the Prince flew to visit the Kingdom by the Sea.

Little did the Prince of the Kingdom of the Air know, there were not one, but two beautiful princesses who lived in the Kingdom by the Sea. Not only were these princesses sisters, but they were fated identical twins. All throughout the land, the princesses were cherished and admired for their beauty. However, their looks were so identical that only few could tell them apart. But the King and Queen could most definitely tell them apart not by their looks, but by their distinct personalities. The older princess, who was born merely minutes before the younger, held a proud-like air about her. She often held her head higher than most people and was gifted with wittiness and confidence. Yet the younger princess was known to be meek and humble. When she was younger, she was often scolded by the King and Queen for her clumsiness and awkwardness. On the other hand, the Proud Princess was always praised because everything she did she always did better than her younger sister.

"We are always very proud of you," the King and Queen would tell their older daughter "Your charm and wittiness will one day benefit the Kingdom when you become queen." Then they would turn to the younger daughter and say in a kinder tone, "We admire you for doing your best. Work harder so you can be just like your sister." And so for many years, although she was just as beautiful as her sister, the Humble Princess felt as though she was always in the shadow the Proud Princess.

It wasn't long before news came that the Prince of the Kingdom of the Air would be arriving to the Kingdom by the Sea to seek marriage of a princess. The King and Queen grew more excited than ever before, for it had been centuries ago that the Kingdom by the Sea had ever come in contact with a person from the Kingdom of the Air, especially one of noble birth. The news of the Prince's visit spread like wildfire throughout the land and the people also became excited. And so the morning before the Prince's arrival, the Queen gathered up the twin princesses and dressed them up in their finest gowns.

"The Prince from the far Kingdom of the Air has come to ask a princess' hand in marriage. He has journeyed far hoping that he shall marry one of you," the Queen said as she looked at her two daughters, "Please be on your best behavior and show the utmost respect for the gentleman."

The Proud Princess did a perfect curtsy, saying, "Do not worry, mother. I shall show him my best character so as not to pass my chances on wedding the Prince of the Air."

The Humble Princess also did a small curtsy, saying in a soft voice, "I will also do my best, mother."

And so the princesses were escorted into the royal chamber where the King and Prince were making polite conversation. The Prince had his wings folded and tucked behind his back so as not to disrespect the King.

"Your majesties, the princesses." On cue each walked in made a respectful curtsey.

The prince was in fact surprised to be greeted by not one, but two identical princesses. The Prince remained speechless for he had never seen such beauty shared among two before. Seeing the Prince's reaction, the King was amused and clapped a hand on his back.

The King said, "N'er did I see any maiden more beautiful than my two daughters. I'm blessed to have such fine princesses as my heirs." He liked to boast about his daughters, especially the Proud Princess.

Next came a great feast in honor of the Prince's visit. There the royal family sat, surrounded with the most delicate china and silver platters filled with an array of colorful foods. After a bountiful feast, the Prince said to the King, "Your daughters are most certainly beautiful. But alas, I can only marry one. I request to seek shelter for one week in your palace so that I may try out a test of character."

"A week you shall receive," replied the King, "I will have you escorted to the finest room where you are welcome to stay and come and go as you please." And with that, the Prince stayed for seven days.

For the first three days, nothing much came about. The princesses would meet with the Prince from time to time because they were forced by the King and Queen to show off their talents. The Proud Princess was more than happy to do these tasks, whereas the Humble Princess would reluctantly obey.

"Would you like join me and my sister in some poetry reading?" And thus the Prince would listen as the princesses would recite their poetry. Every word that the Proud Princess would read was like music to his ears; her voice was smooth yet punctual, and she did not fail to bring the emotions to her voice. Her quick and flawless reading made it obvious that the Proud Princess was a very quick-witted intellect. On the other hand, the Humble Princess had a voice so soft and often stumbled on her words. Her words were so broken that she would often stop to start all over again.

Then the Proud Princess would ask the Prince, "Would you care for a round of fencing?" And so, when it was time for the princesses' bout, the Proud Princess out-shown her sister. With powerful, quick thrusts of her blade, the Proud Princess would parry and lunge, making her blade dance. Of course, she would win her bouts against her clumsy sister.

Once more, the Proud Princess would ask the Prince as she batted her eyelashes, "Prince, my sister and I have prepared a song for you. Would you care to listen?" And so she would take the Prince to the drawing room where the Proud Princess would show off the most gorgeous voice the Prince had ever heard. The meek, Humble Princess would quietly accompany her sister on the piano. The Prince was so mesmerized by the Proud Princess' beautiful voice that he could do nothing but gaze.

On the third night, the Prince was utterly weary. It was obvious that the elder princess out-shown the younger one in skill and character. He recalled the elder princess' intelligence in poetry reading; her quick and powerful moves in fencing; and her lyrical voice when singing. She had all the outstanding qualities he was looking for—enough so that she should have stolen his heart. But he couldn't feel any natural feelings toward the Proud Princess. He then recalled his father, lying sick in bed, which reminded him of why he journeyed to the Kingdom by the Sea.

"I must fall for her," the Prince would tell himself. "She is obviously fit to become queen. I will just have to be patient and perhaps I will grow to love her eventually."

On the fourth day, the Prince found one of the princesses asleep under a tree. Because they were so identical, he could not figure out at first glance which princess she was. As the Prince approached her, the rustle from the grass underneath awoke her from her slumber.

"I'm sorry to have interrupted you, princess," the Prince apologized. The princess starred, wide-eyed and embarrassed. "I apologize, my Prince!" she sputtered as she attempted to stand. However with her heavy petticoats, she tripped on the root of the tree and began to fall forward. With a quick reaction from the Prince, he caught her to keep her from falling over completely. With an embarrassed beat red face, she smoothed down her enlarged skirt and dusted herself off muttering with apologizes. The Prince could tell right away that it was the younger Humble Princess.

"I do so very much apologize, my Prince," the Humble Princess said near tears, "Did I soil your shirt? I will send my servant to wash it right away. Or perhaps I could find you a new one. But of course, it may not be of the same quality…"

"Nonsense! There will be no reason to do that," the Prince answered.

And then he said again, "From your words, I can guess you are the younger princess?" The Humble Princess starred then gave a sheepish smile. "You are quite the guesser. Either that or you can tell me apart from my sister due to such rash actions."

The Prince chuckled and said, "I have gotten to be familiar with your sister these past days. Yet, I haven't really gotten to know you yet. Tell me, princess, what do you like to do in your spare time?"

The Humble Princess struggled to come with a direct answer, "Well, I like reading poetry… and playing the piano…"

"I'm sure there are more, truthful answers than that," the Prince teased, which made the Humble Princess grimace at his remark.

The Prince apologized and said, "I'd like to know what you really like to do. For instance, what have you been doing before you took your nap?"

At this, the princess blushed crimson. However, she did not want to lie to the Prince so she decided to tell the truth, not matter how foolish she sounded. "I was running."

Alarmed, the Prince answered, "Running? From what?"

"Nothing," she replied, "Just running and enjoying the beautiful day. When I run, I feel free. And I feel so thankful for having been born in this Kingdom. It's the most wonderful feeling to run in the fields. Haven't you ever ran before?" Catching herself, the Humble Princess covered her mouth. "I apologize, my Prince. I have asked such a rude question. Of course you have. It was silly of me."

"I haven't actually," the Prince replied, "It's because of these." And with that, he unfurled his pearly white wings from behind him. The Humble Princess gazed at its beauty. "Flying is much more efficient than running in my Kingdom. I barely use my legs to run." And with that, the Prince tucked his wings back in and started to take off his shoes.

"May I ask what you're doing?" the princess asked.

"Why, I'm going to enjoy this fine weather. Would you care to join me?"

The Humble Princess was taken aback at first but then also took off her shoes, exposing her bare feet. She lifted her skirts with one hand and with the other took the Prince's hand. And then off they went, running through the meadows ahead. The Prince suddenly felt the most exhilarating feeling; the wind whipped the face of the Prince and Humble Princess; the wildflowers seem to spring to life as their feet padded against the soft, soft grass; the cloudless sky seemed to shine so bright that it would put any jewel to shame. Before long, the sun began to set, and the prince and princess went back and laid against a willow tree, completely exhausted. As the Prince gripped the princess' hand, a sudden stir filled his heart. Yes, it was not obvious at first, but the feeling was there. The Prince was beginning to fall in love with the Humble Princess.

Little did they know, the Proud Princess was watching from the palace above. In a rage, she began to curse and mutter to herself. This was not supposed to happen. She worked hard to so that she was certain to capture the Prince's heart. She was the one that deserved to be loved by the Prince and deserved to be Queen of a powerful kingdom, not her sister. She realized time was running out and as the seventh day drew closer, he would have to choose one of them. Gathering her amenities in a woven basket and engulfing herself in a cape, she made her way into the Enchanted Forest.

Now everyone in the Kingdom by the Sea knew that deep inside this Enchanted Forest lived a Temptress who would prey on weary travelers. Nonetheless, she was infamous for granting powerful wishes, in exchange for a task one would have to complete. The Proud Princess was so desperate that she would do anything for the Temptress, as long as she ends up wedding the Prince and becoming Queen of the Kingdom of the Air.

The Temptress lived in a cave so deep that light could not penetrate through. And so, the Proud Princess, gathering up all her courage marched deep into the cave until she spotted a figure from among the shadows.

"Ah, my child, it's about time you arrived," said a slippery voice. There, the Temptress greeted her in a chilling tone. Now the Temptress wasn't ugly; in fact, she was absolutely gorgeous, a fine trait to have for luring people in. They say that those who do not know the power of a Temptress are often alluring by her beauty then killed and eaten as soon as her long sharp fingernails traveled into their throats. However, the princess wasn't swayed by her beauty for she knew fully well that she was working with a powerful evil being. With a cautious tone, the princess replied, "How did you know I was coming?"

"I have an ability to feel the emotions other people are feeling. And you, my dear, are wafting with jealousy," said the Temptress as she fans her long fingernails through the air as if her feelings were some type of odor.

"I am not jealous!" cried the Proud Princess.

"Oh, well if that is not jealousy you are here for then I do not know why else."

"I'm here to set things in order," said the princess boldly, "The Prince of the Kingdom of the Air has fallen for my sister. I feel that at her current state she is not fit to be Queen." She crossed her arms and glanced away. "I just fear for the sake of her and the future Kingdom." Because she was so proud of her status, she did not want to admit that she was simply jealous of her sister. However, the Temptress saw right through her. Smiling, she pretended to play along.

"Oh, well that's quite a problem, isn't it? The Prince must be so blinded by love that he forgets to find a more suitable princess." Then, in her ear, the Temptress whispered, "I personally think that the Prince should have fallen in love with you, my dear. You're perfect to fit the role as Queen."

Her words made the princess' ears perk up, liking what she was hearing. Turning away shyly, the princess said, "Oh, do you really think so?"

"Of course! Why, everyone in the Kingdom thinks that you should be the one to marry him and not your little sister. Even Your Majesties the King and Queen believe that you should be the one. The Prince is the only one blinded enough not to see it."

"I've sought you out for help then. What can you provide for me before the seventh day so that this tragedy won't pursue any further?"

Rubbing her chin thoughtfully, the Temptress said, "You know that you will need to do something for me in return."

"I am fully aware. Just name the task you ask me to fulfill and I will see if it is worth the risk." The Temptress turned her back on the princess for a brief moment and sneered. "So she was not any desperate, dumb-witted princess!" the Temptress thought, "I will have to be careful with her…" She then thought of an idea and turned around.

"I will make you a deal and reverse the order. I will grant your wish first. And if your wish has been guaranteed, I will then ask you for the task. If you do not do my task when the hour strikes six the next day, you will lose that wish."

The princess thought it out for a quick moment. Being a virtuous princess, she responded, "The task cannot require me to kill anyone, understood?"

"Of course, princess." "Then it's a deal."

Rubbing her hands together, the Temptress uttered an incomprehensible spell and a huge purple light spilt from her hands toward the Proud Princess' heart. For a long time, the Temptress' eyes were squeezed shut as if trying to concentrate. Then with a last gasp of air, the Temptress' eyes flew open and the eerie light ceased.

"I have read into the future," she said in a chilling tone, "and it has been prophesized that the Prince will in fact, choose the younger princess on the night of the seventh day. However, this charm I have placed inside of you will guarantee that on that night, he will instead choose you to be his beloved bride. No matter how infatuated he is with your younger sister, in the end, he will choose you. Take care, princess, and don't forget the task you will have to do for me in return."

Now the fifth and sixth day proceeded as normal. The Proud Princess, although guaranteed she would win the heart of the Prince at the end of the seventh day, still liked to flaunt her abilities in the presence of the Prince. And still as meek as ever, the Humble Princess did not do much as to steal glances at the Prince.

On the night of the sixth day, at the stroke of midnight, the Humble Princess suddenly heard a rapping at her bedroom window. Curious, the princess climbed out of bed and opened the window, surprised to find the Prince drifting aloft with his beautiful wings shimmering in the pale moonlight.

"You have surprised me, good Prince. What brings you awake and at my window at this hour of the night?"

"I never thanked you for the good evening spent with you several days ago."

"Twas' nothing. You need not thank me," replied the Humble Princess, blushing shyly.

"In return, I would like to show you one of the most treasured things I like to do." The Prince held out his hand. The princess answered, "But, I am not properly dressed."

"You needn't be," said the Prince. The Humble Princess, hesitant at first, finally took the hand of the Prince and placed her barefoot feet unto the window sill. And then, putting the other hand on her waist, the prince and princess both leapt into the night sky. At first the princess was very frightened, for she was not used to being lifted off the ground at all. But with the Princes' strong hands, she felt reassured that he would guide her safely. To the Humble Princess, floating in the sky was the closest thing to experiencing Heaven. The chilly wind stroked their faces as the Princes' wings guided them aimlessly among the twinkling stars.

"You know what I haven't seen yet?" the Prince said as they glided thousands of miles above the land. "I haven't seen the Sea. I have always wanted to go." And with that, his powerful wings glided the two down to the great expanse of water, which was once blue now black to reflect the night sky. They were swooping so low that the cold water tickled the princess' toes making her laugh with delight.

It was hours until the Prince glided the princess back to her bedroom. The couple couldn't help but smile, for they had such a wonderful time together.

"The view tonight was so beautiful. I admire how far your wings can take you." And with a sigh, the princess said, "I wish someday to have wings so that I, too, can share that wonderful feeling once more."

"Perhaps in the future, princess, we can always fly away together." And with a warm kiss on the princess' hand, the Prince departed into the night.

On the seventh and final day, the King and Queen decided to throw a ball in commemoration for the Prince's last stay. It was on this night that the Prince had to choose a beloved bride and take her back to the Kingdom of the Air. The whole day, the palace was being prepared for the Kingdom's finest ball. The finest tapestries were being hung; the intricate chandeliers were being lit; every piece of furniture had been polished and dusted clean. In the kitchen, the chefs scurried about in order to serve the most delectable foods served on silver platters. The finest orchestra was hired for the evening. The princesses were busy all day trying to make themselves look presentable for the Prince. Both wore the finest, most elaborate ball gowns in the entire kingdom. Each princess was decorated with the sterling silver and the rarest of jewels. And atop each one of their heads, a silver tiara sat, glittering with thousands of gemstones.

When the clock stroked six, the large silver doors of the palace were swung open and every citizen arrived in their loveliest gowns and dashing waistcoats. The Prince himself looked handsome in his finest uniform he brought over from the Kingdom of the Air. The princesses looked simply ravishing as they stepped out into the foyer. Every eye was on these beautiful twins, each bowing or curtseying respectfully as they walked by. As soon as the Prince turned to greet the twins, his gaze met the princess on the left. Although the public could not tell, the Prince knew that the princess on the left was the Humble Princess for her gentle, soft eyes gave her away.

Before long it was time for the Grand Waltz. The Prince turned to the Humble Princess, stretched out a hand, and politely asked for a dance. Shyly, she graciously accepted and before long, they were gliding on the dance floor. "You are the younger princess, are you not?" the Prince asked.

"Why, how did you know which one was me?" the Humble Princess answered, quite happy that he answered correctly for the second time.

He answered, "Because you're extra beautiful tonight. You simply caught my attention." The Humble Princess was so happy that she didn't trip on her heels like she always did during her dance lessons. All around them, the other guests made room for the couple so that they could waltz across the entire floor. Among themselves they whispered, "Is that the younger or elder princess? Surely, it is the elder princess because she is dancing so beautifully!" The King and Queen atop their throne watched the prince and princess dance, delighted. Because of the princesses' gracefulness, they assumed that the Prince was dancing with their elder daughter. "Why, they look like they're treading on air!" the King exclaimed to the Queen, "I'm sure he will pick our elder daughter." Meanwhile, the Proud Princess was watching her sister meticulously among the crowd. She remembered the spell that was placed upon her and smiled coyly.

When the clock stroke midnight, it was time for the Prince to decide which princess was will choose to marry. The King and Queen, the Prince, and the twin princesses stood atop a balcony overlooking the crowd below. A sudden hush filled the room.

"Tonight," the Prince's voice echoed through the large halls, "I will choose the princess whom I am to marry."

In an attempt to take the Humble Princess' hand, suddenly his hand froze. The Prince starred confusingly at the princesses for a brief moment before he announced, "The one whom I will marry and cherish will be the elder princess." And with that, he grabbed the Proud Princess' hand as a rupture of applause reverberated throughout the walls. The King shook the hand of the Prince and embraced his elder daughter. The Queen stood, joyous and applauding. And as for the Humble Princess, all she could do was watch the happy couple, choking back all her tears. For she had loved the Prince ever so deeply, and now she had lost him. For the rest of the night, the Humble Princess sobbed without a wink of sleep.

The next morning, they had made plans for the wedding that was going to take place that very evening in the Kingdom of the Air. The Prince had sent for his finest men atop white Pegasuses to escort the royal family to his kingdom. With difficulty getting out of her bedroom, the Humble Princess also reluctantly prepared for the journey.

After a joyful ride atop the Pegasuses, the Prince had finally come back home to the Kingdom of the Air with a blushing bride. The Queen of the Air welcomed the family warmly and showed them into their most lavishing royal palace. The King and Queen of the Kingdom of by the Sea could not help but gap at the magnificent winged people that scattered throughout. The Queen of the Air had the most exquisite pair of wings; on each pearly wing was amassed of glittering jewels and aligned with gold emblems. All around the walls, ceilings, and floors was pure solid gold.

Everyone was happily getting ready for the big wedding ceremony, all except the Humble Princess. Even as she struggled to smile, she still looked noticeably beautiful. Although her heart couldn't bare it, she decided to find the Prince to congratulate him privately. And so, she meandered through the grand hallways attempting to find her Prince.

Meanwhile, the Proud Princess was brushing her hair in the mirror, admiring how beautiful she looked in her white wedding dress. Anyone could tell that her face was aglow with excitement; finally her dreams had come true. Suddenly, she almost stumbled backwards in shock when her reflection in the mirror disappeared. Suddenly, a glowing swirl of murky, purple clouds started to form in the mirror, and then the reflection of the Temptress appeared.

"Are you satisfied, my child?" the Temptress asked the Proud Princess.

"Yes, I am," the Proud Princess answered in a delighted tone. She could hardly control the excitement in her voice. "It is all thanks to you. I am forever in your debt."

"Do not forget the task I have yet to lay ahead of you." And the princess' eyes grew wide as the Temptress took out a crooked dagger and placed it in her hands.

"You told me, I shouldn't have to kill anyone!" the Proud Princess cried.

"You are not to kill anyone. Before the clock strikes six o'clock this evening, you are to cut off the wings of the Prince and give them to me. He will not die from losing his wings. Don't worry, dear. The spell is so powerful that even if you cut off his wings, the Prince and even the whole Kingdom will still love you."

The princess stuttered, "You-you're going to use those wings as…"

"So I can have the power of flight, silly girl. That is the only way to obtain that power. Your wish is a heavy price to pay and so this is merely a fine trade." Seeing the princess shaking, satisfied she reminded her, "Remember, before six o'clock this evening. Otherwise, the prince will revert back to loving your younger sister. And we don't want that, do we?" And with a puff of smoke, the Temptress disappeared, reverting back to the reflection of a frightened princess.

Sooner or later, the ceremony was about to begin. Tucked under the Proud Princess' skirt was the dagger that the Temptress had given her. The Proud Princess touched the smooth hilt of the dagger which felt icy under her skin. Suddenly, the Humble Princess approached her sister, sadder than ever. She could not find the Prince anywhere in the enormous palace. Being ever so loving to her sister, the Humble Princess embraced the bride saying, "You will forever receive my blessing, wonderful sister. I wish you all the best in your new Kingdom." The Proud Princess merely stiffened in her sister's arms, for she had felt the sharp blade of the dagger graze the fabric of their skirts. The Humble Princess stepped back, quite confused. "What is that tucked in your skirt, dear sister?" But before hearing an answer, the Proud Princess turned on her heels and dashed away. As she was turning, the Humble Princess managed to catch a glimpse of light reflecting off of something shiny.

The ceremony took place as scheduled. The Proud Princess walked down the aisle of the dazzling, golden church, attempting to hide all her nervousness. Little did she know, the Humble Princess was suspicious of her sister as she eyed her meticulously. All of a sudden, it was if all the senses of the Proud Princess vanished as the clock slowly began to chime six o'clock. She was running out of time. With a shaky hand, the Proud Princess withdrew the dagger and began to walk briskly toward the Prince's wings. Concerned, the Prince was about to ask her what was wrong, before his eyes grew large with fright. The princess lifted the dagger above her head, preparing to strike when all of a sudden…

"NO!" cried a voice. At that moment, the Humble Princess pushed the Prince to the ground as soon as her sister slashed the dagger through the air, barely cutting of inches of the princess' hair. And as the last chime of the clock finally ceased, the whole audience filled with silence. It was the Proud Princess who broke the quietude as she dropped the jagged dagger, crumpled into a heap, and started wailing, "No! The spell is broken!" The Humble Princess as well started breaking into sobs while the Prince looked around, very confused. "My princess," he said to the Humble Princess, "Why are you crying? What is going on?" The Queen picked up the dagger and told the appalled crowd, "I have seen this dagger before. This elder princess has visited a Temptress and has been tempted under her influence." Gasps and whispers broke through the crowd for it was a great terrible sin in the Kingdom of the Air to be a captive of temptation.

The Queen said once more, "I will have the royal family be escorted back to the Kingdom by the Sea. The eldest princess has been banished from this Kingdom. She will not be allowed to set foot in the Kingdom of the Air ever again." And with that, the Proud Princess, still moping in misery, was escorted out the door.

Meanwhile, the Prince helped the Humble Princess up to her feet. "Mother," he called out, "I want to marry her instead."

The Queen gasped, "The younger princess? Are you sure, my son? She might have also once worked with a Temptress."

"I know she has not been tempted. She is kind and pure-hearted. I love her with my whole heart," said the Prince as he gazed into her gentle eyes. The Humble Princess beamed back with tears of joy. Seeing the love between the two, the Queen noticed what they had had been pure all along. Extending her arms, she said, "Very well. I give my blessings to you, dear children."

The prince, showing true ecstasy, lifted the Humble Princess and twirled her around. Then he scooped her up and shared a long, heart-warming kiss. Then suddenly, after breaking from his lips, the Humble Princess became enveloped in a glowing light. Blinding at first then fading slowly, the beautiful light vanished, and the princess' back spurted beautiful white wings. Misty-eyed, the princess said in disbelief, "Wings… I really have wings!" And never was the Humble Princess any happier than she had felt that day.

The Humble Princess wasn't humble anymore for she had earned the title of Queen. All around the people rejoiced at the new King and Queen of the Kingdom of the Air. She ruled the Kingdom with the compassion of her heart, which made all the people around her happy. She'd often miss her sister, so from time to time the new Queen would journey back to the Kingdom by the Sea for a visit. The Proud Princess was truly sorry for what she had done and because of the Humble Princess' kind heart, she easily forgave her. The Proud Princess would one day come to rule over the Kingdom by the Sea, and so she attempted to learn how to rule the people with compassion, not with merely authority. But because of her treacherous deed, the Proud Princess never was able to set foot in the Kingdom of the Air ever again. Meanwhile, the Temptress of the Enchanted Forest seemed to have disappeared, for no one for generations had ever seen her again.

As for the Humble Princess' new wings, it was like she was born to fly. Often the people of the kingdom would hear the Prince call to his princess, "Come! Let us fly. Let us fly together until the end of all time!" And hand in hand with synchronized wings, the prince and princess lived happily ever after.

The End