Lines of Succession, Part 5

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story is broken up into five parts. (To read from the beginning, start here.) Here’s the final part below.

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Conversation at table between the Crown Prince and the King became sparse, punctuated by lengthy silences. The only news worth noting seemed to be the progress reports on the development of the dubious future princess. The Crown Prince’s enthusiasm mounted as he observed the plain creature transforming into the young woman of his dreams. But a strange, magical spell had befallen the heir to the throne, which although not at first apparent to himself heightened the King’s concern, for the Prince represented the King’s only line of succession.

The bewitchment was a complicated one, seeming to depend entirely on the Prince’s words and occupations. For instance, on the evening when he announced to the King that his betrothed had developed fingers nimble enough to play the most difficult of piano selections, the Crown Prince’s own hands were suddenly beset by a painful, thickening arthritic condition. When he taught her to dance with the lightness of a day-old fawn, his feet instantly transformed into clumsy, stone-like objects, incapable of further movement. Hard as it was to transport his enormous hulk, the servants were forced to carry him to and from his quarters.Still, the Prince carried on his rigorous training. He trained her eyes to know the finest shades of color in the finest painted canvas, and thus his eyes fell dim. He trained her ears to distinguish the birdcalls and animal sounds in the surrounding forests, and thus his hearing all but ceased. And when the day came that his training had been fully accomplished, a broken, remorseful Crown Prince summoned his father to the bedchamber where he lay dying.

“Father,” he began, in a whisper, for his voice was nearly gone as well, “I have prepared my bride, but it has exacted all my strength and will take my life. I can’t even see how she has turned out. Tell me, Father, is she at all what I’d hoped?”

The King was reluctant to take more than a cursory glance at the garlic-breathing female he had met so long before. Lurking quietly in the draped shadows across the room, she was little more than a silhouette, but the King patted his son’s thick, gnarled hand. “She’s beautiful.” He spoke to reassure the younger man, but inwardly cursed himself for the lie on his lips. Lying now would not simplify matters later when he was forced to throw the woman out.

It meant nothing to the Crown Prince, for he had breathed his last. By the dim light, the King examined the younger man’s features. His face was quietly peaceful and his massive chest heaved no more.

“Bring the light closer,” the King ordered, preparing to hold his breath against a garlicky onslaught. The Prince’s prodigy stepped forward with a lantern. She handed it to the King, and though he didn’t look in her direction, he was suddenly flustered, for the air held a long-forgotten fragrance — not garlic but lilacs! The sweetness receded as the woman withdrew into the shadows. Wishing to mourn privately, the King said, “Leave us.” With a gentle rustling of skirts, she exited the room.

Minutes later, having said his farewells, having forgiven his son once and for all for his folly, the King emerged from the bedchamber. Again, the flowery scent of lilacs overwhelmed him. He turned to see the veiled woman standing timidly beside the door. Her eyes stared downward at the stone floor.

Impulsively, the King removed her discreet veil. A gasp slipped from his lips and he ordered, “Look up at me.”

When she raised her eyes to meet the King’s, he was filled with amazement. The incredible power that had drained his son’s life from his body had restored to the King the violet-eyed Princess whom he had loved and for whom he had grieved.

I hope you enjoyed this fairy tale in five parts.
As always, I invite your comments!

Renée