By Crystal Michallet-Romero
© 2/15/2007 Crystal Michallet-Romero
All Rights Reserved
Dedicated: To my wife, Jessica. Thank you for staying up late at night to listen to my new stories, which always seem to be floating through my head at the most inconvenient times.
Note to Readers: I have returned to school for my Masters degree and as it sometimes happens, I am usually inspired from one class or another to write a story. This lesbian fairy tale was inspired from my Children’s Literature course. For those of you familiar with fairy tales, you will recognize this rendition of Rapunzel, but from a lesbian point of view. It was written in the traditional style of Perrault or The Brothers Grimm, and owing to this, it might have some contents that may not be suitable for children. I will leave it up to each individual reader to decide if this story is suitable for the children in your lives, or if you may wish to censor certain aspects of it should you decide to read it to children.
As always, feedback is always welcomed:
My Space: http://www.myspace.com/crystalmichalletromero
Once upon a time during a storm filled night when the wind raged over the high tree tops and the water pounded down upon the Kingdom of Pannonia, a baby princess was born to the King and Queen. Upon first glance, the proud parents were captivated by the baby’s beauty and chose to call her Pareesa. For two days the mother and babe clung close to each other, but on the third day the Queen, always a weak and frail woman, died and left the baby motherless. The King vowed to always keep his daughter safe from harm and to keep her near as a reminder of the love that he once shared with his beloved Queen.
Throughout the seasons he watched her grow and on her fifth birthday he called for a soothsayer from a distant land. He wanted assurance that his lovely child would become a dutiful daughter, would wed the man of his choice and would remain close by his side in order that he could watch his grandchildren grow. When the aged witch arrived at the castle, she looked upon the smiling face of the princess. Her withered hands touched the girl’s dark hair as her all seeing vision took control. When it was finished, she turned to the King and with a ragged voice made her proclamation:
“This daughter you dote upon shall be your greatest disappointment for she will never be swayed by you, nor will she give her heart to any man. Instead, she will leave you for a place far away and you shall be alone all the days of your life,” the old woman stated.
Angered and disconcerted by her prediction, the King commanded that his daughter be locked within the highest tower of his castle, so that she would always remain with him. So valued was she that he placed her in the most guarded confines of his castle.
Years later in the distant land of Illyria there lived a King and Queen with three children. The two oldest were sons and the third a daughter. Despite protests from the Queen, the King treated all of his children equally. They learned to ride and hunt. They were trained in the art of the bow and arrow as well as how to fight with swords like valiant warriors.
One day while hunting, the eldest son was felled by a wild boar, and died from his mortal wounds. The King was bereft with grief, but knew that although his heir to the throne was dead his second son would be ready to rule the land. A season later the second Prince, while attempting to help his people during a raging storm, was swept away in the currents of a river and drowned. His body was found days later washed ashore. The King, unable to contain his grief and dismay locked himself in seclusion. Not even the Queen could coax him from his sorrow.
“No one is left to rule,” the King lamented. “All of my sons have been carried off to death and my kingdom shall be plundered without a strong ruler,” he lamented to his wife.
Aware of his dilemma, the queen kneeled before her husband and consoled him. Then, upon thought, she smiled to her husband.
“My King, my husband,” she said. “You have a ruler who can take over for you. You have a leader who will keep the lands from plunder, look to our daughter, Princess Shahla, whom you trained alongside her brothers!”
The old King thought over his wife’s words as his melancholy lifted.
“Yes, we do have a ruler, a leader trained by my own hands!”
Renewed of spirit, the King called all of his advisors to inform them of his decision for the kingdom. Upon hearing it, they scoffed and bickered. Their voices rose in anger and shouting was heard through the great hall of power.
“A girl as a ruler!” one scoffed.
“A woman to lead an army!” another spat.
“Never!” one proclaimed.
“The people will not hear of it!” affirmed another.
“There will be a revolution if this is allowed!” promised another.
“Princess Shahla has not even gone through a quest, better to marry her off to a strong warrior who has accomplished his quest and let him rule in your stead,” shouted a warrior who was already eyeing the princess standing beside her father’s throne, adorned in the regal clothes of her brothers.
When the shouting and bickering grew too loud, the King’s mighty voice roared them to silence.
“ENOUGH!” boomed his thunderously loud voice. “If Princess Shahla performs a quest, then she will have the unconditional confidence of the land and its people?” the King asked.
The knight who eyed her for his bride smiled ruefully as he stepped forward. “She must perform it alone, as your sons and all your loyal warriors have done,” the tall man stated. “And she has but a year and day to complete it, as is expected,” he spoke for all the men present, as they all nodded assent. “Only then shall we pledge our swords to her,” the leering officer gave his oath.
“Agreed,” said the old King without hesitation as he waved his daughter before him. The girl, being raised to be as strong and fearless as her brothers, moved confidently before her father and kneeled before the King.
“Daughter, you must perform a quest, as your brothers and all my warriors have done. You shall go to the cave of the crone, Homa, and ask of her, ‘what is my destiny.’ From her, you shall learn of your quest,” said the King to his daughter, Shahla.
Without protest, the Princess, next in line to the throne, set out for the cave of the crone. Although alone save the company of her stallion, she did not fear for she had the training of her father and brothers with her. At times she almost thought that she heard the whispers of her brothers guiding her down the path that they themselves once took. On the third day she reached the high peeked mountains where Homa was rumored to live.
After rigorously climbing up the side of the mountain, she reached the top of the peak and found her destination, a darken cave. Once in the presence of the oracle, the Princess of Illyria paid homage and asked, “What is my destiny?”
The wise old crone looked at the kneeling princess. Her head tilted first to one side, then another before she laid her leathery palm upon the Princess’ head. With eyes closed, the crone hummed softly to herself until she opened her eyes and looked upon the young princess.
“A destiny you wish a destiny you shall receive if you go to the dark forest and remove the forepaws of the Great Jahandar. Once you have them, go to the coast and take a ship out to sea. You must then retrieve a net from the water goddess Anahita. Only when you have the magical net can you then go to the land of Pannonia. In this land the King of Pannonia keeps his treasures locked within the highest tower. You must find his most treasured jewel and return with all of the objects in a year and a day to your father’s palace. There your quest shall be judged before his kingdom,” Homa said.
Princess Shahla took her leave of the crone and began her journey toward the dark forest and the dwelling of the Great Jahandar, a fierce bear. Although he had been seen throughout the land, so cunning was he, and so strong that no hunter was ever able to kill or capture the beast. Despite her trepidations, the young princess moved on all the while recalling the lessons of her father. When she arrived in the land of Jahandar, she thought of ways to hunt the great bear and knew that her size was no match for such a creature. With cunning, she dug a deep hole amongst an open clearing, and then with bow and arrow, she hunted a large dear. Once it was skinned, she hung it from a tree limb above the hole and covered the pit, lest Jahandar see her trick.
With great patience she lay in wait. A few times different beasts moved toward her kill, but she was able to cleverly chase them away. On the third day when the sun was setting, her trap worked and the great bear, Jahandar fell with a mighty roar into the deep hole. Without wasting a breath, Princess Shahla ran toward the hole with sword drawn. Although deep, she had made certain that the beast was able to reach out of the opening. When he did this, she swiped her blade evenly and removed his forepaws. Howling in anger and pain, the bear fell back into the pit and the princess jumped in, feet first with sword held high, and plunged the sharpened blade with all her might into the beast’s heart and ended his suffering quickly. She paid respect to the mighty bear and then took some of Jahandar’s meat to sustain herself on her journey. With the massive silver paws of Jahandar safely in a canvas bag tied to her saddle horn, she rode toward the coast.
Once at the coast she hired a ship to take her out to sea in search of the sea goddess, Anahita. On the third night at sea they were met with a gale storm which threatened to plunder the ship. Before it capsized, the great goddess Anahita rose from the dark waters and gazed down upon the people with anger in her eyes.
“What intrusion is this?” the great goddess’ voice dripped with rage.
The Princess thought quickly and spoke of her needs. At her request, the goddess laughed heartily, sending their ship tossing in the waves of her mirth.
“Why should I give to you a treasured net?” asked the goddess Anahita, as she dangled the kelp web in her hands.
Princess Shahla thought quickly. As she held onto the mast of the ship, she looked up at the deity and spoke in a soothing voice.
“Great Goddess of the sea, Anahita, allow me to give you a song. If you find it worthy, perhaps you shall reward me with a net made by your most skillful of hands,” her soothing words coaxed the great goddess’ ego. Pleased by the words of devotion, Anahita nodded as the seas grew still.
When the ship returned to calm and the seas gently swayed, the Princess of Illyria began a soothing song. She sang of the creation of the world, and the history of her people. She peppered the lyrics with praise for the goddess’, and placed the sea goddess above all others. When it was done the dark skies opened to a blue heaven and the goddess Anahita smiled down upon her. Well pleased with her, the immortal dropped the strongest net that contained all of her magic onto the deck beside Princess Shahla and allowed the ship to be on its way.
Once they reached the docks, the Princess took her stallion and began the journey to the distant land of Pannonia. Just as before, she spent the days of traveling devising plans that would enable her to complete her quest. When she reached the castle of Pannonia, she examined the massive structure at great length. On the third night of her arrival, she made her way toward the tower. In the dead of night, she looked up and saw its great height and almost grew despondent. But before she gave up, she removed the great claws of Jahandar from its satchel. With a short blade, she cut some strands from the magical ropes of Anahita and tied the claws tightly to her hands. With the sea goddess’ rope around her shoulders, and the mighty paws upon her hands she began the slow assent up the side of the tower. Jahandar’s claws gripped the side of the walls as easily as it had gripped onto the trees and before she knew it, Shahla was at the open window of the highest tower.
As the Princess of Illyria entered the dark room, she was careful to remain silent as she walked amongst the treasures. She marveled at the silver and gold strewn across the floors. Platters carrying jewelry of all kinds littered every table in the room. In great wooden chests were emeralds, rubies and gems of all color and shape. As she stood in the darkness with only a candle upon the wall for light, she tried to find the greatest treasure of the King of Pannonia when suddenly she heard a soft sobbing sound.
The Princess moved further into the room until she noticed a candle burning in the farthest corner. With sword drawn, she moved cautiously to the sound until she came upon a single bed where a young woman sat. The woman’s long dark hair concealed her face as her shoulders shook from tears.
“Why are you here? Why do you weep?” Princess Shahla asked.
Surprised, the young woman gasped in fear, then grew calm as she watched her intruder sheath her sword.
“My father placed me within these walls when I was but five summers old,” the young woman said.
“You have been here all that time, alone?” the Princess asked.
The girl nodded as she wiped away her tears. “At first, I had a nursemaid to see to me, and then a maiden to serve me, but…” the captive princess’ voice trailed off. “We grew to love each other and my father had her executed. From the window of this tower I watched as the executioner’s blade fell upon her, and never again has a woman stepped foot within this tower, save you.”
“No one then?” the Princess of Illyria asked in disbelief as she sat upon the bed by the young girl’s side.
“I am Princess Pareesa. I have been here now for twelve years. Five years ago, after he executed my…” the captive’s voice began to tremble with tears.
“Now, now,” Shahla tried to sooth her. “Go on,” she beckoned.
“Five years ago, my father, the King, began to send me company, men in hopes that I would give my heart to one, but I could not. None could capture my heart as my dear friend had,” the young woman lamented.
Princess Illyria looked around her at all of the jewels and gold. She thought of her quest and knew that her father depended upon her. Yet in the back of her mind she continued to hear her brother’s words of advice. Their encouragement led the way and pointed her on the path that she must take. Once her mind was made up, she made the offer, and the Princess of Pannonia eagerly accepted. Before the morning sun rose, the Princess of Illyria made a harness from the magical net of the sea goddess, Anahita. When Princess Pareesa was fastened to her back, Shahla placed the mighty bear claws upon her hands and began the decent down the tower wall. By morning, they were on her steed and riding from the land of Pannonia.
Later, when the King of Pannonia heard that his daughter was gone, he ran to the tower to investigate, but found no trace of his only child. Alone and surrounded by the vast treasures of his land, he wept uncontrollably. From that day forward, he mourned the loss of his daughter as he spent his remaining days alone surrounded by his loyal subjects and his hoard of treasures glistening.
Princess Shahla took Pareesa on the long journey back to her homeland. Along the way, they became friends as none others could. They reached the castle of Illyria a year and day after Shahla began her quest and upon entering the great hall, she presented her father and the wizen woman, Homa, the forepaws of the great and mighty bear, Jahandar, and then placed the magical net of the sea goddess Anahita next to the razor sharp claws.
“What of the King of Pannonia’s treasure?” her father asked. The oracle stood silently near his side.
“Father,” the princess lowered her head, afraid that she has failed her quest and disappointed her father.
“I bring to you the only treasure worth bringing,” she stated as she turned to the large double doors and announced in a loud, clear voice, “I present to you Princess Pareesa of Pannonia.”
Her father looked confused as the newly freed captive entered the room. When all saw her beauty, a quiet hum crossed over the crowd, and they began to respectfully bow before the Princess of Pannonia. As the young woman moved before the throne, her beauty and grace caused the King and Queen of Illyria to smile down upon the young princess.
“Well, I…” the King of Illyria stammered as he looked from his daughter, to the Queen and then the crone.
Homa, the crone smiled as she moved before the assembled crowd. With arms raised high she brought silence to the room before moving before the two young princesses.
“You have completed your quest as required, young Princess Shahla,” the elder mage said, and then turned to the crowd.
“I present to you, Princess Shahla, who shall be your next reigning Queen, and her consort, Princess Pareesa of Pannonia!”
With this proclamation, the crowd grew jubilant. Both the King and Queen rose from the dais and moved to the two princesses and welcomed them from their long journey. Although they had lost two sons, on this day they rejoiced at the addition of another daughter to their family.
Unbeknownst to them, Princess Pareesa came to them with child, and when the time came for the birthing, she brought two babes into the world, a boy and a girl. Princess Shahla claimed both the children as her own and together they would raise the infants. The King and Queen rejoiced in the presence of the grandchildren.
Many years later, the aged Queen of Illyria passed on to the other world. A few moons later, being so alone and mourning his one true love, the aged monarch of Illyria joined his beloved queen. On the third day, his only child, Princess Shahla, became the Queen over the land with her Princess consort by her side they ruled for many years and together with their children, they lived happily ever after.
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