Fantasy Flash Fiction posted August 6, 2009

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An Old-Fashioned Fairy Tale

The Quaffel Feather

by Janilou

For everyone who believes in fairy tales and dreams come true.

The dying king signed the parchment with a trembling hand. 

His faithful wizard, Zorn, held it to the light, and read, "To the courageous man, commoner or prince, who brings me a feather from the Quaffel, I bequeath the hand in marriage of one of my daughters and half my kingdom." 

"Rest, Your Majesty." He bowed and left the room, nearly bumping into his wife, Shimmer, who carried a bowl of steaming broth for the king.

"That smells delicious."

"How is he?" Shimmer waved her hand over the bowl; dumplings appeared.

Zorn sighed. "He won't make it through the night, but his daughters and kingdom will remain in our care until the Quaffel feather is retrieved -- a lifetime, perhaps."

Shimmer brushed a tear aside. "If only the deep magic wasn't forbidden, I would heal his illness in a wizard's heartbeat. A lifetime, indeed. Even if a suitor slays the hideous troll who guards his treasure, the Quaffel will devour him before he gives up a single feather from his golden tail. What will become of the princesses? At least, of Hilda?"

The king's daughters were as different as night from day. Heaven, the youngest daughter, was beautiful, but her older sister, Hilda, was not. While Heaven's days were filled with courtly pleasures and many suitors' attentions, Hilda spent her time wandering the gardens, befriending the beasts of the field, and even venturing into the woods beyond the castle. Never a kinder soul lived than the ugly princess.


Two weeks later, Llort, a tall, handsome young man with odd-colored eyes, stood before a cheering crowd.

Dazzle, the King's elf, held up the golden feather and silence fell over the loyal subjects. 

A solitary tear trickled down Princess Hilda's cheek.

Queen Anita spoke. "Tell us, brave soul, is the monster dead?"

"Nay, my Queen. The Quaffel lives."

She gasped. "How can this be? Hundreds have met their death in the beast's claws."

Llort acknowledged her comment with a nod, his gaze lingering on the princesses. "They died because they sought to take what wasn't truly given. I told the Quaffel of my quest, and the one I wished to marry. He tore the feather from his tail and offered it as a gift, in honor of the marriage of his princess friend."

Queen Anita frowned. "You can't be suggesting one of my daughters would befriend such a monstrous beast?"

Llort glanced at Hilda momentarily. "As Your Majesty knows, real beauty does not lie in one's physical appearance, but in the heart."

The queen nodded. "Spoken like a true prince. You are wise, as well as handsome. Choose your bride. Half the kingdom is yours."

"I wish to marry Hilda  . . . if she will have me."

Heaven sniffed, lifted her silken skirts, and flounced from the courtyard. 

Llort knelt on one knee, and extended his hand. "Would you marry me, dearest Hilda, friend of the Quaffel and his faithful troll companion?"

Hilda shook her head. "I cannot, for I love another. I'm so sorry, brave prince."

Llort's eyes whirled in a kaleidoscope of color. "Are you certain, my lady?"

Hilda stared. "Is it really you? Can it be true?"

The troll who looked like a prince nodded at the princess who looked like a hag, and they embraced.

The crowd, not privy to their conversation, roared and cheered, while trumpeters played.

The queen announced the wedding for the next day. 

Legend has it, a golden-tailed Quaffel swooped the wedding party, showering Llort and Hilda with thousands of diamonds so perfect they left the kingdom behind for Heaven and her future beau, and moved away to parts unknown. There, they lived happily ever after, where people accepted them, and their strange, feathered companion without questions, fear or discrimination.

Which proves only this; those who love with pure hearts get to live in a fantasy world the rest of us may only dream of.

Fantasy Flash Fiction contest entry


Contest Summary: Writers were instructed to write a fantasy flash fiction story that includes a troll, an elf, and two wizards (one male and one female). One of the required characters should be the star of the story, but each of them must play some role, no matter how minor. Required word count is 500 - 700 words.

This is just under 700 words.

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this product of a dream that had me scrambling out of bed one night to write it down before it vanished into the dreamtime galaxy!
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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