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|This is my attempt at a fairy tale. It tells of young Prince Julian and his quest for the Upside-Down Palace. I've told it in first person, which isn't my normal style, and as this is just a beginning I'd like opinions on whether I should continue or if it's just too cliche.||
The Upside-Down Palace
Of fairy tales there are many; tales of woe and loss, and of bravery and showmanship. It seems that countless legends are told of men and women who overcome great odds and, in standing before the vast chasm of eternity, mark their place upon its rim before plummeting into the forever beyond. And yet, for all those tales and whispered rumours, for all the songs of life and love, there is but one tale which tells of young Prince Julian and his Upside-Down Palace. But this solitary tale, going often untold, is one which is perhaps amongst the greatest of them all, for it is amongst those few which speak of truth.
I met Prince Julian in a sunlight filled glade some years ago. He stood knee-deep in a shallow pond, his boots resting on the grassy knoll and his trousers rolled to keep them dry. In those first moments he stood so absolutely still I mightn’t have seen him at all if I hadn’t been looking for just such a figure in just such a place. But there he was, the prince of princes, gazing at his reflection with some interest. He seemed so innocent in that moment, so naive. And he so reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey that for a time afterwards I indeed wondered if he would share a similar fate. Of course I came shortly to correct my misconception, as I also came to understand the difference between the majesty of wealth and that of leadership. Indeed, it was also during this time that I grew to comprehend the mystery which was the Upside-Down Palace.
Now Prince Julian, a boy of indefinite age and background, was on the very day I came upon him just setting out upon one of the legendary quests which princes such as he often found themselves embarking. His steed, a feisty roan mare with the most arrogant turn to her chin, danced an impatient jig near the shore of the pond with seeming indifference to the saddlebags weighing at her sides. Perhaps she knew of the quest and was eager to see it commence, but more likely she seemed the type eager to be seen in the presence of a prince such as Julian. Truly, I immediately accessed this mare as the most pretentious creature I had ever seen, and that was saying a great deal. However, who are we to speak of the noble steed of our fair prince except as the most exemplary of creatures? And so I imagine dear Julian saw her, for never once did he speak to her except in the most tender of tones.
These are the moments I remember most of Julian, for it was here in this sunlit glad that he marked my soul with his first glance and first smile and first words. I had up until then convinced myself that actions and not persons were the epitome of greatness, and how terribly wrong I was in that. I know differently now, for in Julian I saw that the greatness in his actions was only an iota of the greatness he himself exuded. In fact, it could hardly matter less what quest this boy undertook, where he travelled, or to whom he spoke. It was the intangible in his very soul which fashioned tangible excellence into his every footstep.
He turned to me that day, as though he expected my arrival, and offered a lop-sided smile. “Why do you suppose it’s blue?” he asked, his first words to a stranger. He was asking about the sky actually, though he stared intently at the water reflecting it. “Is it arbitrarily blue? or is the sky simply trying to reflect the water and the water attempting to reflect the sky?”
Innocent; that was my value judgement of him before he could speak again. Innocent and ignorant. But then I had to question myself. Was this a boy asking a childish question or a man attempting to clarify a misconception? For I knew without doubt that the uneducated peasantry did not produce words such as ‘arbitrary’ in everyday conversation. And so, rather than sneer at a childish question, I answered him to the full of my knowledge. I spoke in my most cultured tone, raising my chin and making gestures which could and were often misinterpreted, and feeling rather superior to the boy before me; a mistaken feeling in retrospect.
“And do you suppose there’s a purpose for it’s being blue?” he asked when I’d
I paused. How do you answer such a question? In absolute truth, if I could answer a simple question having to do with purpose, then I should be able to answer other similar questions. If that was true, I could add all these answers together and know the secret of the universe, the purpose to life, the answer to the greatest question of all. And yet, by backward induction if I didn’t know this great answer then how could I possibly answer a seemingly innocent one?
“I don’t know,” I finally and rather unwillingly answered, feeling suddenly less like a scholar and more like a man.
“Splendid!” he replied, accompanying the exclamation with a smile which turned my uncertainty to pride. “I wouldn’t want to travel with anyone that did! I don’t really think there is an answer at all.”
“Of course,” he laughed; a bell-like chime. “We’re embarking upon a grand adventure this very afternoon to save a devastatingly beautiful princess from the wiles of a wicked sorcerer.” He spoke with such conviction while carefully making his way to shore and finally coming to stand before me. His grin was infectious.
“Really?” I asked, wondering if such adventures really existed.
“No. It’s actually much more complicated than that.” He proffered his hand, a seemingly innocent gesture dripping with symbolism. “Shall we go?”
And I, the scholar and the man and today, a storyteller, not truly knowing what I was doing, took young Prince Julian’s hand and let the adventure being. And I remember asking, “where are we going?” though I knew in those first moments I would follow him to the ends of the earth.
“To seek an impossible dream,” he replied. “To find the Upside-Down Palace.” And that was exactly what we would come to do, though it was a much more difficult task than I imagined in those first moments.
End Part 1
|As A God - Part Three||Prickle|
|The Coda||Foresight: An Interview|
|As A God - Part Two|