Bedtime Stories #2

I like to tell stories, as you might have guessed if you follow this blog. And I am happy to report that my toddler daughters finally like to listen to me tell stories. Each night at bedtime, they get the next installment in their own continuing adventures. Yes, they are princesses in the stories (and my wife and I are the Queen and King), but I would describe them as Adventure Princesses. Note: Janie and Serena are pseudonyms, as the princesses wish to retain their anonymity.

Click here for Bedtime Stories #1.

Once Upon A Time…

Janie and Serena are princesses who live in a giant sandcastle on the edge of an ocean. Although the ocean crashes against the base of the castle, it never washes the castle away, for it is a magic castle that can withstand the waves of time. The King and Queen also live in the sandcastle, but the needs of their kingdom often keep them busy. To the west lies an endless ocean. To the east there is a tall mountain range. To the north, there are grassy plains as far as the eye can see. And to the south, there is a vast desert.

Left to their own devices, the princesses often go on adventures…

Over the Lava River

Serena and Janie were bored one day, and since the giant playground in the cloud kingdom had been closed to them, they decided to follow rumors of an awesome playground to the south. They trudged through the hot desert for what seemed like forever, until the sand gave way to stone and the stone to rugged mountains where steam vented up through the ground. Finally they reached a cliff edge, and far below it, a river of hot lava. On the other side of the river there was another cliff face, and past that was the playground they sought. The only way across was a rickety wooden bridge, but this didn’t stop Janie from running across it and drawing Serena in her wake. Halfway across, the ropes of the bridge began to snap, one by one, and the two princesses had to half-run, half-climb the collapsing bridge. They only barely made it to the far side, and now there was no way across the chasm and thus no way to get home.

“What are we going to do?” Serena asked.

“Let’s play first and worry about it later,” Janie said.

Serena shrugged, smiled, and ran off into the playground with Janie at her heels. They played for most of the day and it was not until near sunset that they started to ponder how to get back home.

“Yup, there’s really no way back across,” Janie said, eyeing the river of molten lava far below.

“I think there is,” Serena declared. “To the swings!”

Janie followed her to the swing set, which was perched right at the edge of the cliff above the lava river. They both got on and started swinging with all their might. At just the right moment, they leaped out of the swings and soared over the river to the other side of the chasm, landing in a tumble but coming up safe and sound.

swingnight

“That was great!” cried Janie. “Let’s do it again.”

“It’s time to get home,” admonished Serena. “We’ll have to come back here and fix it later.”

“You mean rebuild the bridge?” Janie asked.

“No. I mean build another swing set on this side so we can swing back across!”

Janie laughed. By the light of the full moon, they crossed the desert and made their way safely back home.

The Rainbow Forest

It had been raining for days, and Serena and Janie were suffering from a huge case of boredom. They were watching the rain outside their window, when suddenly the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and a rainbow appeared. One end stopped right at the base of the Sandcastle.

rainbowatsea

The princesses smiled and set to tying their bedsheets together. Once this was done, they climbed out of the window and down their bedsheet rope to the beach below. It was a short jog from there to the base of the rainbow, which angled far up into the sky.

“Where do you think it goes?” asked Serena.

“Let’s find out!” said Janie.

They ran up the rainbow until they reached the top, where they found a rainbow forest. It smelled sugary, and Serena plucked a rainbow leaf from a rainbow branch and touched it to her tongue.

“It’s sweet!” she cried. She took a bite. “It’s candy!”

“No way,” Janie said. But when she tried one, too, her eyes lit up. “It is candy!”

Not only that, everything in the forest atop the rainbow was edible, and the girls promptly gorged themselves on rainbow twigs and bugs, rainbow mushrooms and moss, rainbow butterflies and hopping rainbow frogs. By the time they were done, their stomachs were queasy from all the rainbow candy they had consumed.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Janie moaned.

“Let’s go home,” Serena said, clutching her stomach.

They staggered back home, opting to knock on the front door rather than make the climb back to their room. The Queen answered the door, looking down on the girls with one raised eyebrow.

“Did we learn anything today?” the Queen asked.

“Yeah,” Janie said. “Rainbow twigs are goods. Bugs, too. Mushrooms and moss, ditto. But butterflies and frogs? Not so much.”

Serena held her stomach with both hands. “I can still feel them fluttering and hopping around!”

The Queen smiled and said, “I guess you won’t be doing that again.”

“Nope,” said Janie. “At least, not until we get bored again!”

The girls giggled and ran into the Sandcastle. The sigh behind them was either the Queen or the closing door.

Commentary

Another story about a playground! If I didn’t steer the requests elsewhere, I think every story would involve a playground. I forgot to write the rainbow forest story down right away after I told it, and then I forgot it entirely. I only knew that there was a story about a candy forest at the top of a rainbow because I mention it in a later story (yay continuity!), but I had to reconstruct the details almost a month later for the written version of the story.

Image credits

Night Swinging” by shadowbrush, CC BY-NC.

Rainbow at Sea” by edwick, CC BY-NC.

Bedtime Stories #1

I like to tell stories, as you might have guessed if you follow this blog. And I am happy to report that my toddler daughters finally like to listen to me tell stories. Each night at bedtime, they get the next installment in their own continuing adventures. Yes, they are princesses in the stories (and my wife and I are the Queen and King), but I would describe them as Adventure Princesses. Note: Janie and Serena are pseudonyms, as the princesses wish to retain their anonymity.

sandcastle

Once Upon A Time…

Janie and Serena are princesses who live in a giant sandcastle on the edge of an ocean. Although the ocean crashes against the base of the castle, it never washes the castle away, for it is a magic castle that can withstand the waves of time. The King and Queen also live in the sandcastle, but the needs of their kingdom often keep them busy. To the west lies an endless ocean. To the east there is a tall mountain range. To the north, there are grassy plains as far as the eye can see. And to the south, there is a vast desert.

Left to their own devices, the princesses often go on adventures…

The Giants’ Playground

One day, Serena and Janie were bored and they begged their parents for something fun to do. The King informed them that he and the Queen were too busy, but the Queen took pity on them and gave them some magic beans.

“Plant these and you will have an adventure,” she told the princesses.

“Some adventure,” Janie said. “This is probably a trick to get us to eat our vegetables.”

“It can’t hurt to try it,” said Serena.

They planted the beans in the garden, and seconds later the ground began to shake and tremble. A beanstalk shot out of the ground and into the sky, widening as it grew, until it reached the sky and was so wide across that Janie and Serena could not encircle it, even by holding their hands together and stretching as far as they could.

“Let’s climb it,” said Janie.

Serena agreed and they climbed the beanstalk up into the clouds. Once they made it above the clouds, they were surprised to find that they could walk on the fluffy white substance. They bounced along until they reached a giant playground made of clouds. The clouds were easy to climb, so they spent the day scaling the giant slides and swings and stairs of the playground, laughing and screaming in delight.

After a while, their shouts of glee attracted giant children, who were none too pleased that Serena and Janie were using their playground uninvited. The giants chased after Serena and Janie, who fled across the clouds and down the beanstalk.

When they reached the bottom, they looked up in fear. Would the giants chase them down? But no, the beanstalk lifted up out of the ground and disappeared into the clouds above.

“And don’t come back, neither!” came a booming voice from above the clouds.

Serena and Janie shrugged. The giants’ playground had been fun while it lasted.

dinosingrass

Of Dinosaurs and Rocketships

One fine, sunny day, Serena and Janie were playing in the sand outside of the castle when they heard cries from the North. A villager ran up to them from that direction and reported that there were dinosaurs running rampant in the fields, eating up all of the villagers’ food.

“Dinosaurs?” asked Serena.

“There’s only one thing for it,” said Janie.

“Rocketship time!” they agreed.

They rushed back into the castle and headed for the rocketship hangar. Once inside, they fired it up and took off, soaring out of the castle and above the grassy fields. It didn’t take long to find the dinosaurs, a dozen of them at least. While Janie piloted, Serena dropped the grapple claw time after time and plucked the dangerous dinos off the field and into the rocketship’s cargo bay.

Once they had collected them all, Janie asked, “Now what?”

Serena, looking out of the cockpit, saw the full moon above them. “I’ve got an idea,” she said with a glint in her eye.

Janie followed her gaze and nodded. “You got it, kid,” she said.

And that’s how dinosaurs ended up living on the moon. This solved the villagers’ problem but caused some problems of its own. Those are stories for another time, however.

Commentary

The versions of the stories shared here remain basic but are more polished than those told at bedtime. Telling a story while two toddlers bounce around their bed, giggling and yelling, is not easy, and I have to hit the highlights to keep their attention. I do take requests as to what they want the story to be about, so playgrounds figure prominently in many of these early entries because, well, my daughters like the playground.

A lot of the characters who show up are based on their toys, shows they watch, or games they have seen me play. The dinosaur request must have come from some cartoon or another, but putting them on a rocketship to the moon simply tickled my fancy, so I ran with it.

Finally, I’m not trying to create a world out of whole cloth here. Much is borrowed or reinvented. The goal is to have fun.

Click here to continue to Bedtime Stories #2.

Image credits

The sandcastle image is my combination of this sandcastle picture taken by starryeyez024 and this beach picture taken by dgphilli. Both images are CC BY-NC.

The dinosaurs in the field image is my combination of this picture of dinosaur toys taken by ewanmcdowall and this picture of a field of wheat taken by freefotouk. Both images are CC BY-NC.

The Only City Left: Part 49

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)

At the end of Part 48, Allin is remembering a fairy tale his mother told him once. In it, a princess was forced to marry a monster, who locked her up when she tried to steal his magic.

The Only City Left: Part 49

Locked in darkness, the princess would surely have gone mad if not for secret and risky visits from the monster king’s younger brother. Each day, he snuck in to spend some time with her and share the light from the orb that had transformed him into a monster. Knowing that the monster king had dispatched his other brother without a second thought, the princess asked the younger brother why he risked seeing her. He lowered his head and did not answer, but it was clear that he was in love with her.

In the times when he was gone and she was alone in the dark, the princess thought of him often. He was a monster and had not stopped his brother from committing countless evil acts. But where the monster king reveled in his crimes, his brother seemed ashamed of what he had become. Despite her misgivings, she slowly found herself coming to love the younger brother in return, for he was the only light in her dark world. Because of this growing love, the princess entrusted the younger brother with the secret she had kept hidden all these months: she planned to have her revenge on the monster king for his many misdeeds.

At first, the younger brother tried to talk her out of her plan, not out of any love for the monster king, but out of fear for the princess. The monster king was too powerful to fight. All who had tried to knock him from his throne had perished in the attempt. The princess would have none of this, though. She would not spend the rest of her life in servitude to the monster king, not when there was any chance of escape.

She asked the younger brother why the king’s magic orb had not worked for her and he explained that the orb alone did nothing. It only worked on those who had been cursed with a monster’s bite. Even then, the orbs would only work for those who know the magic words to unlock their light. The princess asked the younger brother if he knew where extra orbs were kept. As she suspected, there was a trove of them, and the younger brother reluctantly admitted that he could get her one.

“But it will be useless to you, unless…”

“Unless I, too, am cursed,” she said, and bared her neck for him.

When the month was over, the princess emerged from her dark prison as the perfect picture of submissiveness. The monster king was well pleased at the effect his punishment had produced. He would brook no misbehavior from his subjects, much less his wife. She obeyed all his commands and made sure he stayed in a good mood, for she feared him becoming suspicious and punishing her again before she could put her plan into action.

A few nights later, when his younger brother came to visit, the monster king was in such a boisterous state, he invited him in despite the late hour. He ordered his wife to serve them drinks while they regaled each other with stories of conquest. The princess could see how nervous the younger brother was, so she made sure to stay nearby and offer the monster king sweets and heady drinks whenever there was a lull in the conversation. The longer the younger brother could keep him talking and drinking, the better their chances of success would be. Soon, the king began to yawn and stretch his great arms above his head. The princess knew he would next demand that his brother leave so that he could sleep. The time was ripe to enact her plan. She could only trust that nerves would not prevent the younger brother from performing his part in this dark play.

The princess offered the monster king one last drink, and at the same time begged him to tell a story of when he and his brother were young, for she (truly) could not imagine them at such an age. Well into his cups and feeling benevolent, the monster king readily agreed to this nostalgic request, curiously glossing over any reference to their other brother as he told his tale.

While the monster king was thus engaged, the princess took a step back and produced the magic orb that the younger brother had given to her while she was in prison, which she had kept hidden until this moment. Speaking the magic words, she transformed into a foul monster and felt the great power of which the monster king oft boasted.

So shocked was he at his wife’s transformation that he lost the power of speech. Instead he roared in anger and stood up, ready to punish her severely for her crimes. He was in such a rage that he did not notice his younger brother move in behind him until he looked down and saw a great blade piercing his chest. When the blade was pulled back out, he turned around and asked, “What treachery is this that my own brother would wrong me so?”

Any doubts the younger brother had were erased upon hearing those words from the mouth of a fratricide. Both the princess and the younger brother took their revenge upon the monster king. They fatally wounded him, but before he succumbed to his many wounds he managed to call out for his guards. The princess and the younger brother were forced to flee before they could watch the monster king die, but as the princess was now a monster, too, they blended in with the other monsters and were able to escape the Garden unmolested. The End.

Mom didn’t like interruptions during the telling of tales, but once the story was over, I was allowed to ask all the questions I wanted.

“You didn’t say they lived happily ever after.”

“No.”

“Well, did they?”

“More or less.”

I was old enough to know that meant “not really.”

“Did the princess stay with the younger brother after they escaped?”

“Yes, I believe she did.”

“Why? I mean, he wanted to lock her up in a dungeon at first, too, didn’t he?”

“He did, and that wasn’t the only terrible thing he had done or would do, but the princess fell in love with him anyways.”

“I don’t think she really loved him.”

“No?”

“Sounds to me like she needed his help. Which is cool. But if it were me, I would have split after they escaped. All the brothers were messed up.”

Mom smiled and looked at the door. Still no Dad. She looked back at me and said, “Maybe that would have been the smarter choice, but things aren’t always that simple, Allin.”

She grabbed her backpack, stood up, and said, “Now let’s go find your father. I’m tired of waiting for him.”

* * *

Continue to Part 50.

1/20/13 Notes:

I printed out the first complete draft of The Only City Left recently and am in the midst of doing a red-pen edit and then making those changes in the master file. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time to be in this phase of the project. I’ve also started throwing out ideas for Books 2 and 3. Fun times.

For a quick way to show support (one click; you don’t need to sign in), please vote for The Only City Left at topwebfiction.com.

If you have a little more time and don’t mind registering first, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. 

You can also share The Only City Left by clicking on any of those handy social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

All these methods help to bring in new readers, which is great for moral support. Thank you for reading!

#

Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.

The Only City Left: Part 48

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)

At the end of Part 47, Allin is lost in memory again. This time it is of a fairy tale his mother told him once. But is there some truth hidden in this story?

The Only City Left: Part 48

The princess could not believe her eyes. Gone. Everything she had known was gone. Her husband could only stand by and watch as she kneeled in the ashes of the Garden and wept. When she had cried herself out, her husband suggested that they return to his home and inquire of his brothers if they knew aught of the Garden’s fate. Numb, she let herself be led away.

Upon returning to his home, however, he was astonished to find that it too had been transformed. Unlike the princess’ home, it had not been destroyed, though. Instead it had been turned into a mighty fortress that was patrolled by monstrous guards. In fact, everyone seemed to have become a monster. Seeing this, the princess and her husband sought to flee, but before they could do so, they were captured and brought before the fortress’ ruler. This turned out to be none other than her husband’s older brother, who had become the most powerful monster of them all.

“Welcome home, Princess,” said the older brother.

“I have no home,” she said.

“And yet I have named my kingdom the Garden, in honor of your town, which I destroyed.”

This only confirmed the princess’ suspicions, for who would destroy a peaceful town except for a monster?

“What has become of you, brother? What madness has seized you?” said her husband.

“No madness, only power. The power of the Fifth House,” the monster king replied. “I offer this power to you as well, brother, but in exchange, you must give me your princess.”

“Never,” said her husband, which was an act of defiance at once valiant and unwise, for the monster king lashed out at him and in the next instant he lay bleeding on the floor.

“Dispose of him,” the monster king said to his nearest guard.

As he knelt down to drag her husband away, the guard caught the princess’ eye and she saw in that monstrous face a hint of familiarity. This was the younger of the three brothers, she was sure of it. Once the two brothers, one living and one now dead, were gone, the monster king made the princess an offer: “You made the wrong choice when last we met, your highness, so let me make my intentions plain this time. You can become my bride now or you can share the same fate as your husband, your parents, and everyone else in your town.”

The princess considered his offer carefully, for the monster king was obviously a cruel man and life with him might be worse than death. In the end, she accepted his offer, vowing to him to ever be faithful while on the inside promising to have her revenge on him. The monster king cackled in glee and pulled the princess to him. She found him repulsive but hid her true feelings behind a mask, and the monster king was pleased.

Days passed and turned into months, and all the while the princess pretended to be a dutiful wife and servant to the monster king, who was either blind to the revenge that burned in her heart or did not feel threatened by it. She spent every minute of every day searching for clues as to how the older brother had become the monster king, but even though she was a princess and his bride, she was treated as the lowliest of servants and no one would speak to her of matters of import. She would have gone mad during this time if not for acts of kindness from an unexpected source: the king’s surviving brother. He had vowed to protect her if she chose him as her husband, and even though she had not, he was not angry with her.

The younger brother found moments throughout each day when the monster king was away or distracted, and he used these to talk to the princess. Each of these moments became a light in her otherwise dark existence. Eventually, she convinced him to reveal to her the secrets of how he and everyone else in this new Garden had become monsters. He spoke to her of powerful beings that had visited his older brother and made a bargain. The beings, who belonged to a distant kingdom called the Fifth House, gave the older brother a magical orb that allowed him to change into a monster, and more orbs to change others as well. In return, he and everyone he transformed would owe the Fifth House a favor, to be collected at a later time. The older brother accepted this bargain and, with his new monstrous powers, forced everyone he knew to accept it as well. The younger brother explained that without the orbs, the monsters would appear human again, but that the monster king had forbid them to change back unless under his direct orders. Not everyone agreed with the monster king’s rule, but he struck such fear in everyone’s hearts that no one defied him.

There was no room for fear in the princess’ heart, however, as it was already full to the brim with her plans for revenge. Armed with the knowledge shared by the younger brother, she set out to procure one of the orbs for herself, for what chance did she have to fight back against monsters unless she was as powerful as them? The orbs proved to be difficult to obtain, however. Each person who had one guarded it closely, and though the princess suspected there must be a trove of them somewhere, she was not allowed to explore the Garden on her own.

One night, while the monster king slept, she risked taking his orb, which he wore on a necklace. She slipped it off his neck and he became human once more, but when she put it on, she did not change.

The monster king awoke to find her wearing his treasure, and he might have killed her there and then were it not for her quick tongue. She convinced him that she was only fascinated by the beautiful light the magic orb gave off and had wanted to wear it to look more beautiful for him. He accepted this, and in his benevolence he chose not to kill her. Instead her punishment for stealing his light would be thirty days spent locked in a lightless cell. Her screams and tears as his guards carried her away pleased the monster king greatly.

* * *

1/13/13 Notes:

Continue to Part 49.

For a quick way to show support (one click; you don’t need to sign in), please vote for The Only City Left at topwebfiction.com.

If you have a little more time and don’t mind registering first, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. 

You can also share The Only City Left by clicking on any of those handy social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

All these methods help to bring in new readers, which is great for moral support. Thank you for reading!

#

Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.

The Only City Left: Part 47

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth. (Click here for the Table of Contents.)

At the end of Part 46, Allin’s grapple gun jammed (remember the nutrient jelly in the backpack?) and instead of heroically flying up into the air and away from danger, he fell into the dark, watery abyss.

The Only City Left: Part 47

Memories are funny. Some that you wish you could forget are always popping up to remind you of something stupid or embarrassing that you’ve done. Others slip through your fingers like water, and no matter how tight you grip them, they dribble away and evaporate. Sometimes, like when you’re plummeting blindly to your death amidst a deluge of water, they return.

Much of my childhood seemed monotonous. I had no friends besides my parents, and the three of us were always on the move: a never-ending family hike. For Dad, this was simply The Way Things Were, and he didn’t allow me to complain about it. Mom at least recognized that for a little kid it was a dull existence. She would sometimes tell stories to pass the time, and I would hang on her every word.

One time, when I was about 8 or 9 (age being a fuzzy concept in a dying city with no night and day), Dad was away on some mission of his, so on top of the normal boredom, there was the added dullness of staying locked in the same room for days on end, waiting for him to return.

“Mom, tell me a story,” I asked for probably the hundredth time in half that number of hours.

She sat on the floor facing the door, the lantern coil on her chest providing the only light in our cupboard-sized room. She rubbed it absentmindedly and hummed some private tune to herself, nodding her head to a beat only she could hear. She had been doing this for hours, lost in her own world, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I would burst out of my own skin if something didn’t change soon.

“Maaaaahhhhhmmmmm.”

“Huh?” She seemed genuinely surprised to hear my whine, as if I had woken her from a deep sleep. “What is it, hon?”

“When’s Dad coming back?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then tell me another story. I’m bored.”

She looked at me with her piercing blue eyes and for a moment I thought I was in trouble. Then she smiled and patted the floor next to her in invitation.

“So you want a story?” She looked at the closed door across from us for a few more seconds and then turned to me. She rested her arms on her knees and her chin on her arms and said, “Have I ever told you the story of the Princess and the Three Brothers?”

“A princess? Why can’t it be about a prince?”

“Because some stories can’t be controlled, and this one wants to be about a princess. Do you want to hear it or not?”

I did, even if it was about a princess. Anything was better than slowly going insane while she sat humming that tune.

You’ll be happy to know, this was no ordinary princess. She didn’t live in a castle, and nor were her parents the rulers of a vast kingdom. But that was okay, because the days of rulers and vast kingdoms were long past. The princess was happy to live in her own modest corner of the city, where her parents led a small but happy community in the day-to-day tasks of ensuring that everyone had enough food, water, and light to survive. It did not escape her parents’ notice that people now needed the same type of tending as the plants they grew, so they called their small community the Garden.

For many years, life was simple and peaceful in the Garden, and the young princess grew to be a young woman whom many thought beautiful. Word of the princess must have spread beyond the Garden, perhaps spoken of by one of the many traders who passed through hawking their wares. One day three brothers came to the Garden to meet her. They were known to the people of the Garden by reputation only, through tales told by those same traders. So it was that the princess and her parents knew that the brothers were a disreputable bunch, rowdies, trouble-makers. The princess was none too happy to learn, then, that each brother intended to ask her hand in marriage. Her parents, however, counseled her to hear the brothers out and see what they could offer her (and by extension, them) in exchange for her hand.

The oldest brother vowed to take her away from her tiny, provincial town. He promised that if she married him, she would never have to work for anything ever again. He boasted that he was strong enough that he could take whatever she wanted from those who were weaker.

The middle brother vowed that if she married him, he would take her on a tour of the world that was so thrilling and far-reaching, she would never wish to return to the insignificant portion of it she once called home.

The youngest brother vowed that if she married him, he could protect her from any danger, but he would need to keep her locked away in his dungeon to make sure she stayed safe.

Her parents urged her to pick one of the brothers as a suitor, for they feared that the brothers would not be pleased if they were denied, and would take their displeasure out on the Garden. The princess was terribly upset that her parents were willing to trade her for the safety of their town, but she obeyed their wishes. Since she was angry with her parents, she chose the middle brother, since his promise was to take her as far as away from her town as possible.

The oldest brother and the youngest brother were not pleased with her decision, but what could they do? She had chosen the middle brother and that was that. They returned to their territory, the princess said a terse goodbye to her parents, and the middle brother whisked her away on the honeymoon he had promised. It was an exciting trip, but also a sad one, for though her husband was more kind to her than she expected, she did not truly love him and he could not help but realize this. He asked if she would prefer to return to her home, and in a fit of homesickness, she said that she would very much like that. But when he brought her back to the tiny portion of the city she had once called home, they were both astonished to find that the town destroyed and its people vanished. The Garden was no more.

* * *

Continue to Part 48.

1/6/13 Notes:

For a quick way to show support (one click; you don’t need to sign in), please vote for The Only City Left at topwebfiction.com.

If you have a little more time and don’t mind registering first, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. 

You can also share The Only City Left by clicking on any of those handy social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

All these methods help to bring in new readers, which is great for moral support. Thank you for reading!

#

Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.