A (very) short story

Nothing particularly to do with Reverie. Just a quick fun meander through fairy tales, if they took place in a world slightly closer to reality…

Imagine a world, very close to those you probably read about in fairy tales, or at least that was in stories you had read to you by optimistic parents when you were young, keen to pass on the moral in the story.

You know the kind of thing, good overcomes evil, true love conquers all, honesty is the best policy and most importantly of all… always be the third person (or animal or whatever), to try something. You could be the third (and always youngest) of three siblings to attempt a quest, the third pig to try building a house or the third and the biggest… and the beardiest of three goats crossing a bridge. Just make sure you are the third one and everything would be fine.

Of course, that means if you are the first or second to do something, then it is often the case that the story chews you up and spits you out without a thought, but parents have a habit of glossing over these details. The happy ending justifying the rather grizzly means.

But this world is a bit different. If we pause for a minute and take in a short scene, playing out as we speak, then I think you will see what I mean…

Tristan was the youngest of three brothers, and also a prince. This meant he had been brought up in luxurious surroundings and had never wanted for anything, which is often the way for youngest siblings and also, to a lesser extent, royal princes. Despite this he now found himself in an extremely un-luxurious position.

He was soaked to the bone, running short on food and currently facing a wide moat surrounding a dark and ominous looking castle. He wasn’t entirely sure how he had got himself in this position, one minute he was back at the palace, eating peeled grapes, tiny chickens and other princely food, the next he was here. It had just taken one message, saying that his older brother, Justin, had sadly failed in his quest to rescue some princess or other, (who had himself been following in the unsuccessful footsteps of the oldest of the three brothers, Keith), and Tristan had immediately felt the overwhelming need to go questing himself.

Now he was stood on the edge of an extremely sinister looking moat, which appeared to be filled with some sort of unpleasantly boiling lava rather than water. As he stared, steely eyed into the middle distance the drawbridge came crashing down, which he presumed was probably a good sign. This revealed the shadowy form of a large dragon, which was perhaps less good. The dragon then laboriously stalked across the thick planks of the drawbridge until it was within a few meters of him, staring down with a slightly cross-eyed expression as it tried to focus on the tiny (and surprisingly unafraid looking) human.

The fact that he had no experience of fighting dragons, or indeed anything, didn’t bother Tristan in the least, (although a voice at the back of his head kept nagging at him that it probably should be something to worry about… at least a little bit). Instead he was confident in the fact that he was a third brother, following in the footsteps of two older, more experienced siblings, one of whom had also been a master swordsman, the other a famous dragon slayer. He also had a good heart, (or so he was often told by various lackeys and servants), was of at least average intelligence and was wearing a particularly shiny breastplate with a picture of a rose emblazoned across it.

He was pretty sure that any moment now an ingenious scheme would occur to him and he would defeat the dragon, (possibly by solving some sort of riddle), save the princess and then live happily ever after.

It is true that he did live happily ever after. Or at least that the rest of his life, which was about the time it took for the dragon to breath in and then out, was happy. He spent it thinking about what a hero’s welcome he would get when he returned to the kingdom and was already mentally making a list of possible names for his third child (the names of child one and two seeming unimportant) when the white hot heat of the dragons breath turned him immediately, and fortunately for Tristan, completely painlessly into a pile of ash. Moments later and even that was gone, picked up in the breeze and scattered to the four corners of the earth.

And the moral of this first story? If you are attempting a quest which has previously been tried by two more experienced adventurers, who have both failed, the most likely outcome is that you also will fail.

In fact you are more likely to fail, as the attempts of the first two will have encouraged the evil king, necromancer or dragon to seriously reconsider their defences and generally up their game.

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