Magic and Mayhem – A reimaging of the 12 Dancing Princesses

I’ve read quite a few versions of the 12 Dancing Princesses and even remember watching a TV movie or two. Basically, it revolves around a mystery. A king has 12 daughters who he locks up every night only to find that their dancing shoes are worn through every morning. He asks them where they go. The eldest tells their father that they never leave their room. How can they? He locks them in every night. So, he proclaims that the man who can figure out where they go gets the eldest as his wife. Of course plenty of eligible nobles try and fail, but a wounded soldier is able to follow them with the help of a wisewoman, who cloaks him in invisibility. He follows them to an underground kingdom where the girls dance with enchanted princes every night. After falling in love with the eldest princess, he tells the king the truth and marries the princess.

Call me crazy, but what kind of deal it that? Getting locked in your room and then when you try and have a little fun you’re sold to a snitch? I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to Happily Ever After? because when you look at these stories it’s hard to see the up side. So I tried to write a story that would give these princesses their much deserved happily ever after.

Part I

An expectant hush pervaded the room. All that could be heard was the crackling of a stoked fire and the snoring of a lone drunk sleeping it off in the corner. The new arrival walked purposeful to the man who held himself slightly apart. Those around him instinctively took a step back in deference to his importance. Their visitor’s light tread faltered slightly when she reached the king, but she held her expression as blank as possible.

“What news? Is it done?” asked the king neutrally. The emissary wasn’t fooled seeing how tightly he held on the back of his chair.

“You have a fine daughter,” replied the woman and barely had the words out before the cheers and well wishes were declared in chummy unison. Movement suffused the space as men smiled and patted each other on the back. In a mass they all converged on the king, still gripping the back of the chair waiting for the woman to finish her task. She had yet to move and set his mouth in a grim line waiting for her next words. “And an equally fine son,” she continued in a whisper.

A burly man with a scarred face was about to clap his hand on the king’s shoulder, but quickly stopped his approach when he heard the words uttered. Another whispered in the corner to a confused witness, “It’s the prophesy. It’ll always have its say, it will. No matter how many children the king has it’s always twins, a girl and a boy.”

“Why should that make a difference? The queen is in good health and sons are always a blessing to a king with a large kingdom and enemies to spare,” replied the stranger.

“Not when the enemies are inside. The prophesy states that one of his son will inherit the kingdom while the king still lives,” he replied and didn’t have to add that a son inheriting a kingdom from a living king must have committed an act of treason to do so.

The happy bonhomie of a few moments ago became a stilted silence. Even the fire dimmed slightly. The king finally released his grip on the chair.

“Thank you, Bronwen. I will see the queen momentarily. Someone fetch the court sorcerer,” he said and exhaled audibly. No one met his eye as he sought another glass of wine and the solace of the hearth. It did little to save his mood.

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