Once upon a time, in a land of mist and many dragons and rotten monsters lived a Princess. She went by the name of Petal. She wasn’t one of those posh, stuck up Princesses and she wasn’t really pretty and she wasn’t really clever, in fact she was just an ordinary girl with dreams and aspirations about...ya know...stuff.
The Queen, her Mother was droolingly beautiful but very uppity and suited the role of stroppy despot very well. It was what had led to her having had three husbands.
The first one, Petal’s real Father, had been a weak King. He’d stolen all the jewels and gambled away all the riches and was carted off to the dungeons where he’d eventually escaped and rode off to another town, never to be seen again. It had nearly destroyed the Kingdom but the Queen had worked hard at being bossy and strong and had very soon met a sailor. He would sail here, there and everywhere and bring back riches from different lands that he would woo the Queen with. Since she liked all things shiny, this was a good tactic and she soon fell deeply in love with him and they got married. But he was a fickle and shallow soul, in all reality and would sneak off and play with the wenches and make merry with the girls in the back of the stables. The Queen sent him off with a face like a slapped arse when she caught him chin deep in several petticoats in the west wing of the castle.
The third husband had been too clever for the Queen and he hadn’t really liked Petal all that much either. There had been so much arguing and raised tempers and if you didn’t know the answer to a question the King asked, he would have you whipped or writing lines in a locked cell. It made Petal very anxious and it also made the Queen more uppity than ever. The King eventually died from a bad mood and the Queen was left without a man to nag and berate so she turned her attention to Petal.
“Child.” She said, despairingly. “ You must make something more of yourself and become a strong Princess. I want you to help in the courts and learn the law and I want you to teach the people how to speak properly and I want you to learn about riches and finance. You are sometimes a very silly girl Petal, with a head full of gobbledegook and sausage sandwiches.” She said curtly.
Petal, the petulant princess just stood there with a sulky face as she was prone to do, even though she was thinking of rainbows and lollipops and all things lovely that lived outside the castle walls.
“ You must dress more beautifully and make pretty with your face and hair “ The Queen continued, looking petal up and down with disdain. “ I want a princess that I am proud of and that I can show off to all the world. For soon there will be many Princes riding here in Aston Martins and soft top Bentleys with diamonds and lush fur coats and they will laugh and scorn unless you do something with yourself!” The Queen slapped Petal on the right cheek, “Take your bottom lip off the floor!” She scolded.
“But I don’t want to do those things” Petal whined. “ I don’t want to know the law or count the money and I don’t want shallow Princes with jewels and alloys, these things are not for me, Mommy dearest.”
The Queen slapped her on the other cheek and gasped.
“But I want to paint and make pretty things. I want to tell stories to the world. I want to ride and ride in the fresh air to many different lands and learn new things about life. I want to find Puff the magic dragon and make him happy again. I want to meet my true love in a faraway place and he will have a beautiful mind and a warm heart and he will know me without knowing me because we are the same. We will dance in the meadows and kiss under the cherry trees and be married by moonlight . We will have 150 babies and feed them on tigers milk and green bananas and we will live happily ever after for ever and ever.”
“You are stupid Petal and I should have had a son!” She snipped. “ You are not a bard or an artist or a minstrel, you are a simple girl and you must become sensible and practical and stop living in castles in the air.”
“But ... This castle is on a hill.. “ Petal stated, obviously.
“ You will amount to nothing unless you heed my advice and heed my advice you will, because I am Queen.” Said the Queen and off she flurried.
Petal did as she was told as she was a people pleasing Princess and had learnt that upsetting people only made them mean and nasty towards her. But it didn’t last long because Petal got bored. Instead of counting the money and adhering to the ledgers she would make pretty shapes with the coins or see how high she could stack them before they fell down. The Queens accountants grew weary of her silliness and sent her off to the courts. Again, Petal grew agitated and found some of the rules of law, very stupid indeed.
“Petal, you cannot let this man go without punishment for he stole seven green apples from the market place!” Said one of the court officials.
“But he was hungry.” Petal replied wondering what all the fuss was about.
The court officials found Petal too wishy washy and ridiculous and sent her off to teach the people how to speak properly. Instead of teaching them in a manner best to cause narcolepsy, Petal decided to tell the people stories and teach them to talk with fun and laughter and excitement. The people learnt well and soon started story telling themselves. This made the Queen very angry and red faced.
“Petal ! You are filling the townsfolk's heads with nonsense and rhyme. Why can you not do anything properly and sensibly? You are useless! Go to your room at once!”
Petal felt very hurt and misunderstood. She lay on her bed and looked at the ceiling until the day turned to night. It was then she decided she would go on an adventure. Petal had dreamed of such things but had never really had one and figured it was time she did something about that. Sneaking out of her bedroom and past all the guards, Petal realised she was pretty stealth like and might make a very good magician. She made her way to the stables to find her horse, Chopper. Now Petal loved Chopper because he was a bit like her. He wasn’t anything fancy or anything to shout home about and he was a bit tatty with rat coloured hair and a tiny lot bonkers but he was the most lovable horse on the planet, she thought.
Off they rode into the night. Petal fell off a few times because she wasn’t very good at riding horses and Chopper would sigh, externally, in a neigh like way and wait patiently as she got back on board. Eventually night turned back to day again and Petal saw the wonders of the outside. The pretty flowers and woodland creatures and willowy trees and she smiled from ear to ear which really hurt her mouth as she was so very used to sulking. After a while and a few minutes more, Chopper and Petal reached the shimmering edge of a great big lake and an entrance to a cave. What a marvellous adventure this was turning out to be! She decided to go inside the cave and see what she could find.
To Petal’s shock and surprise she found a very large and indignant dragon. She nearly peed her pants in excitement.
“OH MY!” She exclaimed. “Are you Puff the magic dragon?” She hoped dreadfully that it was as she crossed her fingers for good luck.
“No. I am Gruff the not so magic dragon, distant cousin, 75 times removed from Puff. Sorry to disappoint.” He said gruffly.
“Do you know where Puff is and if he’s happy yet?” Petal inquired.
“He’s frolicking by the sea somewhere and I suspect that one who frolicks is generally in good spirits.” Said Gruff, impatiently.
“Oh. Well I’m very happy to meet you anyway, Gruff!” She offered politely, “I’m on an adventure and I never expected to meet a dragon. It’s all so very exciting!”
“No it’s not. It’s all so very unnecessary and a drain on my time, if I’m perfectly honest.” Gruff turned to look at her properly as he’d been trying to ignore her in the hope she’d go away. “ Ah, Petal, the petulant Princess, I gather you are here to seek meaning to your life?” He grumbled.
“Well actually, I was just going on a bit of a junket really, to see what I could find. “
“ Which is the same thing Petal. People only go on adventures because they are unfulfilled and can’t make head nor tail of what it’s all about. Your little jaunt has led you to me so I feel dragon bound to give you some inspiring advice. If I do so, will you clear off sharpish and leave me be?”
Petal sat on a rock and looked at the delightfully handsome and wise beast before her. He was a little bit stern but he was magnificent and Petal listened intently to his wisdomous advice.
Gruff gave a mighty roar type cough, shrugged his scaly shoulders and directed his fierce yellow eyes towards Petal.
“Beware of those who show and tell
And vexing souls, that always yell.
And those in silk and golden rings,
Who promise lots of shiny things.”
“Oh you mean like presents?” Petal interrupted.
The dragon sighed and set fire to a nearby collection of dried leaves. “Yes Petal, like presents and gifts. People are lured by all things material and pointless. It’s the way of your kind but it is a fools journey. Now please, dont interrupt me when I’m on a roll.”
“Oh. Sorry Gruff.” She smiled sweetly and nodded her head for him to continue.
“And those who are not what they seem
For they will shatter all your dreams
Pretend to share your point of view
When really they have faces, two.”
“Why are you speaking in rhyme ?” Petal asked the mighty beast.
“Oh for the love of all things mystical! Im a bloody dragon! It’s what we do.”
“Faces two... Hmmm .. You mean like REAL monsters?” Petal asked wide eyed and curious.
“These people are the real monsters, you walk among them. They do not live in fairytales but nextdoor. Are you starting to get this yet?” Gruff said flatly.
“Yes, yes..I’m listening.”
“ Whilst you keep your head up in the sky,
In kaleidoscopic, cherry pie,
Of heart and mind you must be sound
And make your way on solid ground.”
Gruff eyed the Princess skeptically. He wasn’t entirely convinced she was taking this all in.
“Look” he continued. “I suggest you go home and figure this all out. By the time you get back to the castle you will find that the Queen has met a new man. He is kind and arty, farty and because of him she will be nicer natured and will be besotted by his curly hair and fanciful ways. She will be so engrossed that you will be free to be the silly Princess that you are.”
“Oh. Wow. Lovely,” Petal smiled feeling all enlightened and a lot confused all at the same time. She raised herself from the rock and stubbed her toe on it as she made her way outside the cave and onto her trusty steed.
“Thanks Gruff!” She waved and smiled at the not so magic dragon.
“The only person that can stop you Petal, is you.” The Dragon bellowed his final piece of advice after her as she galloped through the forest. “And your Mother, she can be an arsey bugger.”
Labels: atozchallenge, doors, dragons, fanciful, magic, morals, mystery