Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Prince and the Desert Queen, part 6 (ending)

            The prince had to kiss the queen three times upon waking and three times before going to bed. He was made to sleep beside her every night, with his arms wrapped around her and her head resting near his chest. The prince was denied food and made to sit with his knees in the hot sand if he did not comply with the queen’s demands, if he mentioned Princess Clara or his old life, or if he refused the queen’s advances.
            One night, the prince decided to attempt escape while the queen slept; he didn’t know or care where he would go off to, if only it was as far away from Queen Lizana as possible. Taking advantage of the lack of courtiers and servants, he quietly slipped out of the palace and took off running. He ran as fast as he had when he had chased the peahen—an animal which would go on to be despised by him for as long as he lived. He kicked up trails of sand in his wake and the fine clothing that the queen had provided him was dusty and stained.
            The desert seemed to go on forever, and the prince wondered just how much of it was under Lizana’s reign, and how much was just empty desert. Perhaps she was not even a real queen, but a crazy, wicked sadist who came across a long-forgotten palace and decided it was hers. When the prince could no longer run, he fell to his hands and knees and crawled, ignoring the possibility of further bites and stings from the poisonous creatures in the sand. He crawled until his legs were numb, and then he was forced to drag across the sand until he finally collapsed.
            When the prince woke up, he expected to find himself back in the awful desert queen’s chamber, to see her glaring down at him with her icy blue eyes. “You tried to leave me,” she would say in that voice that was so like a snake. And then who knew what she would do to him for attempting to escape?  But he was not back in Queen Lizana’s chamber; he was staring up at a cloudless sky. Grass tickled the back of his neck and the palm of his hands, which were reddened by his crawl through the hot sands.  
            The prince staggered to his feet and beheld his surroundings. This was no desert, but a field. He looked behind him, and when he saw grass in place of sand, he jumped up and let out a joyous cry. He had escaped! He had made it out of Lizana the Desert Queen’s realm, alive, and unscathed except for his sore body and ruined clothes. He would never have to kiss her awful face or return her horrible advances or be denied food or made to sit with his bare knees in the hot sand.
           Prince Ephraim had no idea where he was now, or where he was supposed to go, or even if there was anywhere to go at all. All he knew was that he was free, and his desire to find his way back home to his kingdom, his people back at the palace, and his beloved princess motivated him to continue onward. To this day, Prince Ephraim still wanders through the world of the fairies, endlessly searching for the way back to his kingdom. 

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