Athena in Progress

Blue Bell Knoll: A Fairy Story

Blue Bell Knoll: A Fairy Story

Once upon a time—because all good fairy stories start like that—there was a little girl. The little girl was blessed with hair as the night before dawn and eyes like the blue in your sky. She was tiny but not too petite but young enough to be born last and treated forever as such.

To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven

Her father was King Ivo, known affectionately throughout his kingdom as a silly drunk with good friends who managed to keep his kingdom afloat. He spied his puppet wife on a pedestal and urged the court magicians to bring her to life. Her mother, Mesmyra, was a beauty queen with a heart carved from solid ice.

This is because the little girl’s grandfather spent more time in his workshop creating beauty queens of all shapes and sizes than spending time with his wife. The little girl’s grandmother died, having never known the miracle of birth.

Her brother Prince Oomingmak chased after the nubile young maids in the country meadows and ate the stars sleeping in the heavens. Her eldest sister, Countess Charis, slept with the stars that fell from the sky, captured by her unique beauty.

The little girl thought her family was typical, having never been exposed to anything else.

A time to be born and a time to die

The little princess spent most of her days studying under a successive line of governesses.

They were usually banished from the kingdom when they succumbed to the throes of passion under Prince Oomingmak. The gracious girl spent hours making her sad mother smile with her playful words. She stayed as far away from her busy lush of a father. The little girl silently observed her ill-behaved sister.

The little girl was confused by the education she received from the governess, Crystalline, a progressive thinker. The little girl named Muse followed Crystalline to the outskirts of the kingdom. Crystalline lived in a hut and invited the child in for tea.

Muse’s curiosity got the best of her. What was happening outside?

Crystalline explained that the people here spent their lives bleeding into the earth to make it grow. Not everyone had the pleasure of a governess, servants, or food every day.

Such a thought intrigued Muse.

Crystalline offered to chaperone her back to the castle lest the King hear of her escapades.

But Muse shook her head and left.

Thus began the weekly excursions to Crystalline’s world, where people struggled to eat, keep their homes upright, and decide whether learning to read was worth it.

A time to pluck up that which is planted

Muse’s epiphany came in the form of her playmate, Solstice.

Wearing the colors of the royal family, Solstice knew who Muse was. But Solstice did not think twice and invited her new friend to dinner.

Muse watched in fascination as Solstice’s family spoke loudly during dinner. They made right messes of themselves. Muse was so blissful that after dinner, they played hide-and-seek by the moon’s light until they fell over from exhaustion.

Solstice’s family toiled away in the fields all day, gathered together every night for dinner, and played hide-and-seek in the twilight.

A time to kill, and a time to heal

Muse began spending more and more time away from her family. The dinners in the royal house were silent. You did not speak unless you were spoken to. They only ate as a family if the king was sober enough to commission their presence promptly at six in the evening.

Her beautiful mother, carved into life from sugar, sex, and woodland magic, smiled and did whatever the king told her. She never spoke a thought that belonged to her if there was space in her empty head for one.

If her brother weren’t too busy lying down with the stout farming maids and creating illegitimate heirs that would never see a penny of their birthright, he would arrive and last the whole dinner with a sour look on his handsome face. He could spend days surviving only on the stars he devoured, dripping down his chin like tears from a weeping angel.

And her dear sister was no better. She had outgrown Muse only months before, having discovered that a wink of her eye and a switch of her hips could have a fallen estoile falling over itself.

Muse did not know that her family was not typical.

A time to break down and a time to build up

But Solstice assured her that all families were different. The curious princess wanted to know more and begged for an audience before her father. Muse bravely presented her case. She asked to delay her coming out ball to research families and how they behaved in their kingdom and every kingdom she could find in her travels.

The king and his men merely laughed in her face, sending her away from their smoke-filled war room. She was due to receive her official title in a fortnight at her coming-out ball. The king’s advisors were leaning toward Muse, the Duchess of Whirljack. A stately title would help her marriage prospects to another blue blood. To delay such an action would be nonsense. It was entirely out of the question.

Within the next day, the king banished Crystalline from the kingdom for straying away from the conformity and pacification curriculum, a long-held tradition taught to the kingdom’s princesses. Muse was destined to marry whomever her father chose for her, and she was to want for nothing more.

Her sapphire eyes burned with sadness as she watched Crystalline escape the castle. Muse knew what she had to do. She packed a small carpet bag and left behind her selfish family like a thief in the night.

With Solstice’s limited magic, she saw Muse on the High Road leading away from her birthplace. Solstice ran as fast as she could through the Dark Wood. Between gasping breaths of air, Solstice asked to join Muse. Solstice was a child, and Muse did not want to be responsible for a child younger than herself.

But Solstice told her she was meant to follow Muse and would not leave her side. There was a reason they had met. Her vision confirmed it. Muse begrudgingly agreed, knowing her friend’s birthright, which often saved them from trouble.

They traveled for many days and nights together.

A time to weep and a time to laugh

Days and nights became weeks, months, and years. The king knew the sudden disappearance of his youngest was his burden. He spent so much time looking for his lost daughter that his kingdom fell into disarray and was invaded by their sworn enemies, the Athol-Brose. He died in the final siege of the castle.

Her mother died of a melted heart upon being told that her youngest daughter had fled their kingdom.

Her brother was run out of the kingdom in shame. He hid his heritage as best as possible while trying to find his place in the new world. But no one could mistake his blue blood. He was supposedly tricked into impregnating a princess from the Kingdom of Honey, a neighboring realm. They say his mother-in-law forced his demure bride to pretend that she was a country girl and seduce the prince. He was allowed to live by the Athol-Brose so long as he stayed away from his rightful kingdom and did not muddle with their affairs.

Her sister had a choice: marry the sword-swallowing prince of the Athol-Brose to bear heirs or take over the house of pleasure. She chose to bring back the house of pleasure. Her heart belonged to a faithful knight who fell during the final siege, and she would not love another for the rest of her life. 

A time to mourn and a time to dance

Muse and Solstice found that all families were different. No one questioned why these two young girls traveled together, but they were housed and fed the same, sharing stories, dinners, and chores.

A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together

One day, they came to Melonella, Prince Eperdu’s home. He was a handsome prince, as charming as they’re known. He saw a girl with cerulean eyes in his dreams. She had been a key player in his dreams of late. But he was confident that they had never met in real life.

When he saw the cerulean girl during his daily constitution in the crowded marketplace, he followed her and her companion, a red-haired beauty. It was in the pub when Eperdu realized who Muse was.

Over tall glasses of water – Muse had a natural disinclination toward anything more substantial, and Solstice always followed Muse’s lead – Eperdu broke the news of the dissolution of her kingdom.

Muse was frightened. She realized she had been selfish for leaving her family so abruptly, though Solstice reminded her that it took her exodus to learn how much they loved her.

Eperdu insisted on raising his kingdom’s army and helping her regain what was rightfully hers. But Muse knew the only way to restore her kingdom to its former glory was to unite her family.

Eperdu and Solstice followed her home.

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing

First, Muse went to the Kingdom of Honey to retrieve her brother. His princess insisted he adopt the rest of his illegitimate children, and they had eight children – two heirs and six adopted – between them. Her nieces and nephews greeted her with smiles, warm hugs, and gentle kisses.

Prince Oomingmak intently listened to Muse’s counsel. He was rightfully scared of taking on the brutal Athol-Brose. He explained to Muse that the only way he and his burgeoning family could live was to stay away at all costs.

But Muse argued that their family had become selfish and self-centered, which led to their downfall. Had his new family not taught him that?

His wife, Princess Elspeth, agreed. She joined in a life covenant through a nasty intrigue conceived by her mother, but they learned to love each other over the years.

As the head of the House of Honey, Oomingmak assembled his kingdom’s force in secret.

A time to get and a time to lose

Next, Muse, Eperdu, and Solstice went to Charis and her house of pleasure. Staffed chiefly by former slaves and her handmaidens, Charis broke down and cried when Muse stepped through her door.

Muse inherited their mother’s beauty in their years apart. For the briefest of moments, Countess Charis believed that their mother had come back from the dead.

Muse assured her this was not the case and charged Charis and her employees with a ruse.

A time to keep and a time to cast away

Two days after Muse visited the house of pleasure, word spread through the loyal people of the former kingdom. They whispered to each other that the prodigal princess returned, ready to demand what was rightfully hers.

There was a bright ray of hope shooting from layperson to layperson. Open warfare against their oppressors was punished with death, and the Athol-Brose confiscated and destroyed melee weapons after the final siege. Many laypeople instead hid their tools of war for a moment like this.

The Athol-Brose suspected an intrigue, routing the laypeople as needed. Capital punishment ramped up to no avail.

No one broke their oath of loyalty to the kingdom. And to each other.

A time to rend and a time to sew

The ladies of the maison de rendez-vous seduced top members of the Athol-Brose cabinet and any Athol-Brose soldier who visited for weeks after Muse’s initial arrival. The companions poisoned their vicious overlords with the oil of moonbeam, lethal enough if given enough.

The Army of Melonella and the Martial Force of the Distinguished Honey descended upon the weakened Athol-Brose kingdom, destroying the dredges.

Only one survived.

He was a child slave that Muse discovered hiding in between capes in her father’s closet. His keeper died protecting him by placing him there and telling him not to leave. The keeper joined the fight and lost her life in the process.

There was an innocence in his eyes that reminded her of herself.

She asked him his name, and he said he didn’t have one.

She adopted him and named him Ivo for her father.

A time to keep silent and a time to speak

Oomingmak refused to take his rightful place as the heir to the throne, saying that leading the Kingdom of Honey suited him more. The two kingdoms began a permanent relationship as allies and partners in commerce.

Charis continued to run the house of pleasure, saying she preferred to be the head of a different kind of kingdom. Through Countess Charis’s guiding hand and good works, companionship became prestigious in the kingdom and beyond. Only the most beautiful and educated women could work at the maison de rendez-vous.

Muse took her place on the throne with Eperdu as her king, Ivo as her heir apparent, and Solstice as her head of house. 

Muse invited Solstice’s extended family to live and work in the castle. Soon, the castle was filled with childish laughter that lifted the ceiling rafters as Muse gave birth to seven children.

A time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace.

Queen Muse was an outstanding host when it came to royal dinners. Her guests and subjects praised her remarkable skills in organizing such events.

The legendary banquets set the path for her legacy. Her keen attention to detail and exquisite taste in cuisine made every dinner a delightful experience for everyone in attendance.

Oomingmak and Elspeth always attended, bringing their brood. Charis loved spending time with Muse and her extended family, visiting whenever possible.

In this place, Muse felt the utmost sense of wholeness and fulfillment, the only time in her life where that was possible.

Published by Guilliean Pacheco

Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a Filipino-American full-stack writer by day and raconteuse by night. She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco and is an Anaphora Arts poetry fellow. She's also a member of AIR, ACES, IWW FJU, and Uproot. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally, if one could call living there normal, on Southern Paiute land. Virgo sun, Aquarius moon, Libra rising.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.