Into the Lands of Lore
The king and queen reigned in the Magical Kingdom, in a palace near the Enchanted Forest, beneath the hills of the Mystic Mountains, with a view over the Spectral Lake.
The king and the queen were blessed with a beautiful daughter. As their daughter grew up, she began wondering ever more about her surroundings. It seemed to her that there was nothing enchanting about the Enchanted Forest, nothing mystic about the Mystic mountains, and nothing spectral about the lake.
In fact, it was just a normal woodland, with some mountains and a dreary old lake at one end. The princess was saddened by this realization but knew she could hardly do anything about it.
She felt bad because the Magical kingdom was rather boring. Not nearly magical enough. She felt that every frog ought to turn into a prince when kissed, every girl a maiden ready to be rescued from an evil dragon, every farm boy an unlikely hero waiting to receive his magical sword from his very own Lady in the Lake.
Yes, the lake needed a few ladies too. And perhaps a serpent for good measure. And the woods: weren’t all enchanted woods filled with trolls and demons and wolves?
The king and the queen noticed that their daughter was a little weird. She kept numerous frogs in her room, constantly petting them and dressing them up; she refused to have her hair cut, claiming she needed it long in case a prince would want to rescue her from a tower, and she kept asking if they couldn’t move grandmother to a cabin in the woods.
When her grandmother died, the princess left a red cape in her coffin. When asked about it, she retreated to her room, sobbing.
As the princess grew nubile, there was another problem: she refused to marry any of the princes from the near-by kingdoms. When asked who she would marry, she said she would only marry him who would save her from a fire-breathing dragon.
And the years passed, and the princess turned into a spinster, much to her parent’s dismay. And she came to inherit the kingdom after her parents were killed in an avalanche in the Mystic mountains while they were travelling to the Amazing kingdom on the other side.
Her parents gone, she sank deeper into herself, and would speak to nobody. She just kept herself locked in her tower, and read books from the library. She was researching how to make her land more magical.
She studied for years before she came to a conclusion. She needed a warlock, a necromancer, a magician, a witch... anyone with occult powers. And she came down from her tower, her hair dusty and cobbwebbed, and she sent out an order to find such persons, and bring them before her.
A month later there arrived four ominous-looking people; a warlock, a magician, a witch and a necromancer. And as they arrived into the courtyard, they came upon the queen as she was bathing in the fountain, her servants standing around her, looking uneasily at the visitors, with a sorry look in their eyes. They were used to the queen’s strange behaviour, and they knew visitors were not.
The queen rose to her feet when she noticed the new arrivals, covering her nudity with her ample hair, not because she wanted to, but because she believed it to be courtly.
Slightly uneasy, the occult practitioners followed the queen into the palace, where she told them what she wanted done. She wanted pixies, she wanted ladies in the lake, trolls in the woods, dragons, knights in shining armour, man-eating wolves, dwarves, frogs that turned into princes and many other related things. And she wanted them all around. She would give them in return as much gold as they could carry.
The occult practitioners looked at each other, bewildered. They were used to exorcising ghosts and demons, conjuring up ghosts, demons and zombies, and foretelling the future. This was a new one. It was sort of a landscaping project, only with living and magical things.
The magicians discussed for a season how they would go about this . They figured they would take all lizards and turn them into dragons and make a home for them in the mountains; take all the populace and turn the males into dwarfs and knights and heroic farm boys; turn the women into fair maidens and trolls and send the rest to live in the lake after giving each a sword.
They could actually do all that, but not on the scale the queen requested. No. This task would take at least a lifetime. Just making a dragon would take a month; making a proper abode in the mountains would take two. And that was if they all worked together. And the queen had asked for more than three dragons.
They knew that would be unacceptable, so they mulled it over. How could they speed up the process? Then they came up with the solution: basically they needed only one thing...
The magicians worked for two whole years under the impatient eyes of the queen, who was growing weirder by the day. Princes had long since stopped coming to even glance at her.
Finally the device was ready, and the magicians presented it to the queen along with a golden couch and a magic wand. The whole arrangement looked beautiful, but the queen was skeptical: she had not asked for furniture, she had asked for her land to be made magical.
But the magicians assured her that if she sat on the golden couch and took the magic wand in her hand, then her lands would all turn magical.
The queen gave them a look out the corner of her eye, and reluctantly sat down and took the magic wand. The princess never rose from her place again. The expression on her face was beatific as, with each wave of her wand, she glided through the fairy-tale land of her dreams: from soap operas to Star Trek to NYPD Blue.
* * *
Having lost their queen, the peasants turned to the magicians for guidance, but the magicians wanted to live a carefree life in wealth and luxury. So they invented democracy for the peasants and took it back again by selling them political campaign advertising.
Copyright © 2005 by Bewildering Stories on behalf of the author