By: Yarol (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: Nope, can't claim any of them, oh that I could!
Once upon a time there lived a fair princess named April, who lived in a beautiful, but terribly sad kingdom. This was, alas, due to her father being a dishonourable idiot, with a dark and horrifying secret. He also was allied with monstrous ogres. Now it came time for the son of the baron of the ogres to wed, and the baron had made an agreement with the idiot King Eagle, that his son should marry his daughter. The Princess was horrified by this prospect and was forced to run away, or marry the terrible ogre.
With only the company of her horse, Nova, she traveled for many days and nights. With her flight all the beauty and health of the kingdom left with her. Her clothing becoming rags as she fled and her lovely hair became matted, tangled and grey.
After a long season of flight, Princess April finally reached a neighboring kingdom, and made her way to the royal castle. By then her appearance was such that she looked more like a wild animal, than a princess. Knowing that no one would believe she was a princess, she begged the castle's head cook to let her work in the scullery. And the kind-hearted cook took pity on her, and called her "She-bear" as that was what the princess resembled by then. The Cook let She-bear scrub the lower floors and clean out the pits.
Now, in that castle there lived three Princes, all brothers. The eldest was Prince Consort Saber, who was wed to the kingdom ruler, the lovely Queen Sincia. The middle prince was the (formerly) wild Prince Wilcox, who was married to a lovely commoner named Robin, who had tamed the wild Prince. And the last, and youngest was Shinji, who due to his fiery temper was known as Fireball.
HE resisted getting married with all his strength.
"No way! I ain't gonna do it!" he would shout, and throw his bowl of porridge (or plate of roast beast, or wine goblet, and on one memorable occasion a flaming cherries jubilee) at his oldest brother's head. And then he would stomp down the stairs to visit his dear friend, the Cook, who was the only one who knew that the Prince secretly wanted to marry, but all the princesses his brothers brought to meet him had seemed shallow and empty-headed.
One day, as he spoke with the Cook, he noticed an ugly creature scrubbing the kitchen's vast stone hearth.
"You there," He called, "She-bear, (he had found out the creature's name from the cook) what do you think of the Princesses that have come hoping to win my heart?"
She-Bear looked up from her toil and said, "I think you're a bit too hard on them"
"Really?" The Prince Fireball asked, he smiled maliciously, "Well, my dear She-Bear, " he smiled cruelly, "I think they're all just air-headed, fluff-balls with no other ambitions than to read and write bad romance novels! And if one were to turn up that wasn't, well..." he trailed off, thinking seriously.
"IF one turns up that isn't, shallow and empty-headed?" She-Bear asked, waiting.
"I would be proven wrong, and then I would marry you!" Prince Fireball answered impulsively.
The Cook gasped.
And She-bear was stunned to silence, then she asked, "Do I have your word on it?"
"Yes, my word as Prince!"
Then they let the subject drop, as the Prince Consort came looking for his brother to take him hunting. (Actually, the Prince Consort really wanted to go looking for the mysterious wild and noble horse that had been rumored to have turned up in the forest recently, but he wasn't going to tell anyone that, nor would he tell them that he had been the one to safely hide the fox that last scheduled fox hunt.)
Oh, but She-Bear had secretly fallen in love with the hot-headed Prince! And that night she bewailed her fate and that he would never meet a proper Princess. For although she had told him that he was too hard on them, she actually agreed in his assessment that most of them were nothing but airheads She cried and cried, and as her crystal tears pooled in the moonlight, they took form.
A solemn, wise figure of a magnificent King rose from that heart-broken puddle. She-Bear stared and stared at the towering, regal man standing before her, then the man spoke, "Dear Princess April, I am the spirit of the King Whitehawk, whom your father murdered and stole his kingdom from."
"Oh!" She-bear gasped, "I...I never knew!"
"However," the ghostly King continued, "I have long watched over you and found you to be a good, kind and honest young woman. I will help you win your Prince, and return you to your home, to rule long and wisely"
She-bear thanked the ghost profusely.
"I will give you these three chestnuts. On the night of the Fireflower Festival's first ball, take the first, and crack it open. Inside shall be a beautiful dress of blue. Wear that dress to the ball, and introduce yourself to the Prince. He will take an interest. On the next night, take the second chestnut, and crack it open. In it will be a gown of red, wear that to next ball. The Prince will find you irresistible. On the third night, crack open the third chestnut, and in it will be a gown of golden stars. Wear that and the Prince will fall hopelessly in love with you," then ghostly King faded from sight leave three unremarkable looking chestnuts.
So, the night of the first ball of the Fireflower Festival, She-Bear cracked open the first chestnut. There was flash of pale silvery blue light and she found herself cleaned up and dressed in the gown of blue.
This lovely Princess slipped into the Ball, and was immediately the center of attention. Prince Fireball was struck by her beauty and hoped like hell she had a brain in her head. You see, he had forgotten his promise to She-Bear...
Lovely Princess April danced the night away with him, and he found her conversation both intelligent and stimulating. But at the end of the Ball, this lovely lady disappeared and the Prince was left to ponder if he would be fortunate enough see her again. He thought he really might like her.
And She-Bear, very tired, was left to clean up the great hall for the next night's ball.
The next night, She-bear cracked open the second chestnut. There was an explosion of crimson light, and she found herself in a gown of scarlet (a bit too low cut for her liking, but she wasn't going to complain). She slipped into the ball and found herself again the center of attention. The poor Prince virtually had to fight through her throng of admirers.
But they talked and danced through the night again.
And again at dawn she disappeared.
The cook let poor She-Bear sleep in, as she seemed so tired and heart-sick.
The Prince spent the day searching high and low for the Princess April. He found only vague rumors, and half-baked suggestions of where he would find her.
The third night She-bear cracked open the third nut. This time it was as if she was bearing witness to the creation of the stars, and found herself dressed in the gown of golden stars. She looked down at herself and yelped, "AIAIAIIAIA! That's a little too much! I demand a little more coverage!" There was another flash of light (a slightly more standard flash of magical light),and she was redressed in the dress again, except it had a little more material this time around. And she again slipped into the ball
The Prince took one look at her and fell completely in love. He had finally met a Princess that was beautiful and had a brain in her head. They danced until dawn, and the Princess again disappeared.
Prince Fireball went wailing to his friend the Cook, who finally reminded him of his promise to wed She-Bear if he found a Princess with a brain.
Fireball was horrified! He looked at She-bear and threw his shoes at her with all his strength to drive her away.
Poor She-Bear felt her heart break. And since she couldn't bring herself to make him unhappy she left the kingdom. She wander hither and yon, completely unaware that someone else, an evil wizard, had been watching her, in addition to the ghostly king. And he saw through the muck and rags that disguised her. He, who once thought his heart made of ice, fell deeply and hopelessly in love with the gentle Princess.
In the mean time, Prince Fireball's brothers got wind of the promise he had made, and royally chewed him out for being so dishonorable as to try and welch out of a promise. The poor Prince Fireball felt terrible. He realized that although he may love the Princess, he had made a promise and he had been cruel to try and break it. To make matters worse the ghost of the murdered King Whitehawk turned up and told him that She-bear and his Princess were one and the same. However, since Fireball seemed truly contrite, he would help him find his lost love, and help her take the lost kingdom. He gave the Prince an enchanted arrow that would lead him to his lady love.
Unfortunately by now, She-Bear had been found by the wizard who saw true. He had cleaned her up and set her up in proper form. She as lovely as she ever had been, but she loved only Fireball
The Wizard, named Jesse Starbreaker, was furious. For although he was evil, he did truly love the Princess April. Starbreaker placed lovely April in his tower of Starlight, and gave her all the luxuries that were conceivable, but she still could not return his love.
However, back to Prince Fireball.
Fireball took the arrow and shot it into the air, and unlike a normal arrow, it hovered in front of him, then began to streak through the air. The Prince was baffled as to how to follow it until a magnificent horse appeared at the edge of the forest. It was April's beloved Nova. Nova gave the Prince a good nudge and nickered at him. Fireball caught the clue on the first try, and swung up on to her, wishing he had thought to the get his saddle first.
However, Nova was off and running, and there was no time to go back. Nova followed the enchanted arrow and raced over the earth as if she were flying. (There are some debatable points, if you talk to Prince Fireball that is, on whether she was actually flying) until they came to edge of a dark domain.
The arrow stopped at the boundary and would go no further. Nor would Nova step into the realm of eternal night. So the young Prince leapt off of Nova and walked into the dark domain, where it was cold and forever stormy.
But rising from the center of the dark land was a fabulous tower of pure light. Prince Fireball, being no fool (where else would a Princess be? he reasoned, completely forgetting that she had been under his nose the whole time when she worked in the scullery), headed for it. He found himself being buffeted by night-cut winds, but he persevered and fought through the storm until he reached the base of the tower.
Where he was greeted by an annoyed, but very handsome, Wizard, who asked, "What the hell do you want?"
"I'm Prince Shinji! and I am searching for the fair Princess April," Fireball stated, his chest thrown out and just daring the wizard to fight.
Starbreaker just looked at him, and threw a lightning bolt at him, tossing him into a large muddy bog.
"Why do they always have to behave like morons?" the Wizard grumbled. "is a little politeness too much to ask?"
But the Prince got back up again and came charging back. He called out to Princess April, demanding to know if the wizard had harmed her.
April looked down from her chamber, and shouted that she was unharmed and she had missed him terribly.
The wizard was noticeably irritated to realize this was the Prince that April kept babbling on about. So he captured the Prince in a spell and tried to fry him with continuos lightning bolts. The Princess was this and screamed, and screamed and screamed...making the wizard wish he had the time to go get his earplugs.
The prince also screamed, in a very high register I might add.
But finally, Princess April begged for Starbreaker to release Fireball and she would stay with him forever.
The Wizard stopped and looked up at her. He levitated up to her balcony. and stood before her and looked deeply into her eyes. Princess April felt as if he were reading her soul.
Starbreaker looked into her eyes, and broke his heart.
He realized that even if he kept her here forever, she would always love the Prince. And he if killed the Prince, all that he loved in her would die with him.
"Go now, take your Prince and leave me."
So April sprinted down the stairways of the tower, and out to her love. She helped her Prince to his feet and they ran as fast they could. afraid the Wizard would go back on his word
But as they reached the edge of the dark domain, they looked back. And watched the tower of starlight, all that had been good in the land, crumble. They heard the wailing death cry of the wizard as he died of his broken heart.
Princess April cried on the shoulder of her beloved, for although she had not loved the wizard, she felt sorry for having caused him such pain.
And Fireball lead April through the dying wall of darkness back to Nova. April wept again as she hugged her beloved horse, and swore that she would never leave Nova in the woods again. They both mounted the gentle horse and headed back to his kingdom.
But the ghost of the murdered King stopped them
"You must return to your home, April, and dethrone your father. He is slowly killing the Kingdom."
So the heroic pair changed course, and returned to April's home Kingdom. Where they found the land and people slowly dying of drought, famine and pestilence. The Pair snuck into the castle and found the King feasting on the stores of the Kingdom, while his subjects starved
The Princess was horrified that such a man was her father. She threw caution to the wind and confronted him.
He just laughed in her face and called forth the Ogre Baron's son whom she was to wed and stated that the wedding would take place immediately!
Prince Fireball's blood fired up, and he sliced the Ogre in two with his sword. He challenge King Eagle to a duel for the Princess and the Kingdom.
The King was astonished that such a pip-squeak would dare challenge him, but Prince Fireball insisted on fighting a duel of honor for his lady love. So, after a long and grueling battle the Prince had the King pinned to the ground and at his mercy
He looked to Princess April, and said, "My Love, what would you have me do?"
April stood straight up, and said, "were that man my Father, I would ask that you spare him, but my father would never have been so dishonourable as to feast as his subjects starved. I leave his fate to you, my heart."
The Prince looked down on the man, and sighed, "I've never killed a defeated man. Go! Leave this kingdom forever."
The deposed King knew enough to take him at his word and left, never to be heard from again. (Actually he was caught and eaten by the Ogre Baron for allowing his son to be killed, but we won't dwell on that.)
The subjects of the Kingdom demanded that April be crowned Queen immediately and as the crown touched her head, the land revived and the drought was no more. The happy couple sent word to Fireball's home kingdom that a wedding would take place. After some minimal teasing by the other Princes, Queen April and Prince Shinji were married and they all lived happily ever after.