A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, actually not so long ago, there was a beautiful princess. Everyone in the kingdom loved her, and no-one more so than her parents, the King and Queen. Right from when she was a little girl, everyone knew she was destined for a life of greatness. She had an extraordinary aura about her, an energy that people were naturally drawn to. There was a lightness of spirit in her that made her a joy to be around. Her parents were very proud of their baby girl, and made it their mission to make sure she only had the best in life. She was given the finest foods, served on the most exquisite tableware. All her gowns were custom made, tailored to accentuate her wonderful curves, in colours that complemented her skin tone and eye colour. She had a private hair stylist who would attend to her every day, and her own personal photographer. The pictures he took daily were shared far and wide across the land, so that the people could delight in this jewel at the heart of the kingdom. For this is how she was regarded, as precious treasure that must be protected at all costs. She lived alone, in the penthouse of the castle, with stunning views out across the kingdom. When her parents were in town, she would take meals with them, and these occasions she looked forward to very much. But her parents were both very busy people. They were very conscientious in their roles as rulers, and spent a lot of time amongst the people, sorting out issues for them, and making sure the kingdom was running smoothly. The king spent a lot of time with his courtiers, strategising on what was best for the country’s future. The queen devoted a lot of hours to her charity projects, helping the poorest members of the kingdom. Like their daughter, they were well-loved throughout the land, and it was a prosperous time for all.
As Princess Kailua was given only the best of the best, it went without saying that this would apply to the Prince that she would marry as well. There were many princes from many neighbouring kingdoms that would have accepted her hand in marriage in a heartbeat. But her mother and father had had many a late night conversation on the subject, and they had a shortlist of only a handful of men across their entire galaxy who they considered deserving of their daughter. None of them lived even remotely close by, so she had yet to meet any of them, but Kailua was still young and her parents considered that they had plenty of time. So she lived out her days in her penthouse, reading, drawing, and taking walks around the castle gardens. They lived by the ocean, so she would spend a lot of her time walking by the shore or swimming. She wasn’t exactly idle, she kept active in mind and body, but It was an idyllic life, living in luxury, waiting for her handsome prince to show up so her life could begin in earnest.
However, maybe you are not surprised when I say, Kailua was not happy. She wanted for nothing, every person she met doted on her, and yet she rarely felt joy well up inside her, she always felt one step detached from her life, like an observer looking in. She knew she should be happy, and it wasn’t that she felt sorry for herself, she was very grateful for everything she had. She didn’t know why she wasn’t contented, but she figured it must be because she hadn’t met her handsome prince yet. Her parents put such stock on this, it was what her whole life was leading to. She figured that when she finally met him, he would be the answer to her dreams. Then she would feel complete and whole and engaged with her life. Then she would feel joy daily, for no reason at all, but for the pure exhilaration of just being alive. For now, she did her best to keep these darker thoughts to herself, and lived dutifully as the model daughter, protected from all the bad things in life, and revered almost as a goddess by those around her.
Now again, maybe you won’t be surprised when I tell you that nothing good lasts for ever, and peace and tranquillity never stick around for too long. There was an evil ugly troll who lived many lands away, his name was Kennald, and the news of Kailua’s exceptional beauty had reached him, and he was determined to make her his own. He was a big bad troll who made sure he always got his way in life, and he didn’t think that capturing Kailua would be a problem. He devised a plan which involved sending his dragon slave to swoop down on the penthouse, and steal her up from her bed in the night. He had a cloak of invisibility which he could wrap around the dragon to make sure she got close to the castle undetected. It was a long enough flight that there would be no way Kailua would be able to remember her way home, let alone find it. It was not a foolproof plan, to be honest there were a lot of holes in it, but Kennald wasn’t the greatest of thinkers, he was an act now, make a plan later kind of guy, who blundered his way through whatever situations he got himself in. He didn’t even know what he would really do with Kailua when he got her, but he enjoyed upsetting people, and mainly was revelling in the idea of how many people would be devastated if she disappeared.
So once he came up with his plan, Kennald wasted no time in putting it into action. He sent off Margot, his dragon, with the purple invisibility cloak tied around her face like a headscarf. He had GPS tracking on her and a cam, so he could watch her movements, which he did gleefully. He clapped when she landed on the penthouse roof. He chortled when he saw her kick down little pebbles onto Kailua’s balcony. He rubbed his hands when he saw Kaluia step out, disturbed by the noise. He sat tense as Margot swooped down and scooped her up in her claws. Kailua opened her mouth to scream, but he saw Margot spray the Silencer Spray he had given her, into Kailua’s mouth, so no sound could come out. He cheered as Margot launched from the balcony, and flew off into the night, high over the castle walls, and away from Kailua’s kingdom. Then exhausted from all the excitement, he went back to bed to rest, for she would arrive before too long, it would be a big day, and he wanted to be fully prepared for it.
Kailua was undoubtedly in shock. The Silencer Spray was maybe even superfluous, because the unexpectedness of the situation made her mute. The dragon wasn’t rough with her so she wasn’t hurting anywhere, but her predominant emotion was worry for her parents and her people, and how heart-broken they would be to discover her missing. When they landed at Kennald’s, he was there waiting for her, but to be honest he was almost as unsure how to handle the situation as she was. As I said, he hadn’t really thought through his plan, he was just intent on causing harm. And when she was actually stood there in front of him, the beauty of Kailua blew him away. He wasn’t prepared for how her quasi-divine presence would affect even cold, hard-hearted him. He glowered and roared a little as trolls do, muttered some dark threats concerning the extent to which he intended to do her harm if she chose to disobey him, and then threw her in his dank underground dungeon, the quite literal opposite kind of a home to her previous penthouse apartment.
Aside from it being in a basement, and very dark, so dark you could barely see, and without any luxurious chairs, couches or beds to relax on, or private assistants on hand to make things right, the other major difference was that Kailua was not alone. The troll, in the typical fashion of big bad evil trolls, had many prisoners down there in his gloomy, stinky basement. Some of them had possibly done him wrong at some point or another, but if you asked him, he probably wouldn’t be able to remember who most of them were, let alone why they were there.
There was Margot, the dragon, who we have already met. There was Andriele, the beautiful unicorn, Gerk, a hedgehog, a family of pink mice, and a whole gang of gnomes, fairies, and pixies. The dungeon covered the whole of the basement of the troll’s castle, which meant there was no shortage of space for Kennald to dispose of beings at his will. Of course, they were all very curious about the new arrival, and as it was so dark that they could barely see her, they weren’t intimidated by her beauty or making any false assumptions based on superficial impressions. They wanted to know who she was, where she came from, why she was there. Would anyone be coming looking for her? Did she notice anything on the way in that might help them out? Kailua answered their questions best she could, but she felt tired, sad and overwhelmed. She was used to being on her own, and wondered how she would cope in such terrible conditions with so many other beings. As soon as she could, she excused herself to curl up in the corner and quietly weep to herself.
It wasn’t long before one of the fairies sidled up to her and slid an arm around her shoulder. “Hey,” she said softly, “I’m Aya.” Kailua couldn’t help but smile at her gentle presence, and the two got to chatting. Kailua told her how she was most worried for her family and her people and how grief-stricken they would be right now. “You’re so brave, Kailua,” the fairy commented. “Most beings when they arrive here start getting angry at the troll. Or blaming themselves for something they had done wrong somehow to end up here. They get scared, they scream, they shout. But you aren’t thinking of yourself at all, you are only thinking of the people you love.” Kailua smiled again on hearing these kind words, and felt reassured by the fairy’s understanding nature. They talked deep into the night, learning all about each others lives, and Aya introduced her to the different characters and communities that inhabited this vast underground warren of a dungeon, helping her to feel at home as best she could.
They had no way of measuring time down there, but as the nights merged into days, Kailua got to make friends with many of the victims of Kennald’s irrational and petty wrath. Aya was her best friend, a sister who she confided in. She had such a special relationship with Andriele, who she cared for deeply. Sthroe was a cheeky pixie with whom she loved to share jokes until they were crying with laughter. With Gerk the hedgehog, she would have deep philosophical conversations on the meaning of life. She and Margot would plot ways to escape somehow when Kennald’s gnome slaves brought their food or when he sent her out on a mission next. Her companions thought she was brave, kind, caring, funny, and intelligent, and they appreciated her presence down there greatly. In the gloom, they could still detect her luminous energy, but the common desperation of their situation was a bond between them that brought them all together, so they didn’t see her as different in any way.
Kailua realised that for the first time in her life, she wasn’t waiting for her handsome prince. In a weird way, she was actually happier now than she had ever been. She even began to feel grateful towards the evil Kennald, because by locking her in this prison and distancing her from everything she loved, she had been forced to discover a new part of herself, and it was this inner strength that she had always been looking for. She realised now that it wasn’t her handsome prince that would unlock her heart, only she could work out how to do that, and she did that by sharing her love with everyone she met. She had been brought up to believe that her love was so precious it must only be shared with a very select few. She was right to believe that her love was a precious gift, but the idea that it should he locked away, only to be brought out on special occasions, and that only a small number of people were deserving recipients of her unfettered self-expression was what had made her unhappy. She was such a great and wonderful soul, that her nature demanded she share this energy with as many people as possible, as often as possible, in as many ways as possible, in order for her to feel fulfilled.
Was she ever reunited with her parents? Did she ever meet her handsome prince? Kailua’s life has taken a very different turn from the one that was predicted for her, and she cannot say how the story will end. But she knows that she doesn’t believe in Happy Ever Afters, for she has found her Power in the Now. And even if by some miracle she finds her way back to her family and the life she was born into (and we do believe in miracles, so we will imagine that being the outcome), it will be a very different Kailua that lives out the fairy tale, and so the ending cannot possibly be the same as the one that was originally written for her.