Illustrated Fairy Tales

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Story & Illustrations by George McGinn ©

A Story of Power and Unrequited Love


1. Ginger Haired Prince

Once upon a time, there was a Great and Good Empress who ruled over a vast Empire known as Numyuta Noomoonboo. Her name was Fhanwhar'mai. She had no daughters but many sons. The youngest was Prince Hector. He was at the very bottom of the line of succession, but had a crowning glory of ginger hair. The Great and Good Empress adored him; so much so that she made him prince regent of a small and faraway kingdom called Lanaland. The Great and Good Empress Fhanwhar'mai made it clear to him that he would rule Lanaland on her behalf and that if he were a successful prince regent, she would make his position hereditary to pass on to his offspring.


2.People's Prince

In his new role as regent of Lanaland, Prince Hector became known as the people's prince for he enjoyed meeting ordinary people. At the start of each morning, he would go out on to his palace balcony and, with a twinkle in his eye and an impish smile, wave to the cheering crowds. He also supported many charitable causes spreading kindness and goodwill to all. He loved his people whom he never begrudged for all their needs and it filled his heart with joy that they loved him back.



Prince Hector waving from palace balcony


3. Eligible Bachelor

Although a young man, he was aware of the importance of creating an heir as soon as possible in order to secure his line of succession for the future. If he did not, then his position as regent would be dissolved upon his death. News of his romantic availability (and his fabulous wealth) swept through the empire. Women travelled from far and wide and descended upon Lanaland in the hope of becoming his bride and mother of the heir apparent. Highborn women would present themselves to him at formal functions. At one such event, which was a débutante ball, one hundred woman queued around the palace walls to see the eligible bachelor. As the queue dwindled, the Prince grew weiry and exhausted having found not one débutante to be a suitable bride. However, nothing could have prepared him for the three stragglers who joined the queue at the last minute.

'The sisters Princesses Selma, Ursula and Colleta.' announced the palace doorman. Prince Hector was speechless. He did not even think to ask where they came from for what occupied his mind was that they were the ugliest women he had ever set eyes upon. Walking up the central aisle of the ballroom towards the Prince, they left an acrid vapour trail which quickly cleared the dance floor as the other débutantes and their partners held their noses in digust. The Prince, being a kindly man, concealed his feelings, but his guards manhandled the three hideous hags forceably removing them out of the ballroom. They were told to be on their way and never to return. As they were escourted out of the palace gates, the three sisters looked back scornfully.

Those not of royal and aristocratic stock and further down the social pecking order had to find more inventive ways in which to obtain the attention of the Prince. For example, they would just happen to appear out of nowhere in front of him whilst he was carrying out mundane chores.


Prince Hector at débutante ball


4. Love Struck

And it was during one of these mundane chores that the Prince had the misfortune of meeting a humble peasant girl. Whilst being conveyed in a sedan chair from one palace to another (a mundane chore in the life of a royal ruler), Prince Hector was interrupted by a beautiful and naked young lady who was lying in the path of his vehicle. The Prince stepped out and went to the aid of the apparently distressed maiden.

'And who are you?' said the Prince.

'I am Miss Marionetta Deadlove' replied the maiden. 'I was attacked by an outlaw and robbed of all my possessions.'

'Well, Miss Deadlove' said the Prince 'May I help you up off the road?'

He picked her up by the hand and wrapped his cloak around her naked body. He looked into her big blue eyes. In a split second, he was smitten by her beauty. However, he failed to notice that her lolloping hand was as hard as wood and that her eyes were flat and lifeless for they had been painted onto a vacuous head made of papier-mâché. It also escaped his attention that she dangled from glass-like strings which disappeared into the branches of the tree above. Perhaps, these unusual traits about the petite lady were hidden in plain sight because he was blinded by love. Or perhaps he was under a curse. Marionetta was, indeed, beautiful on the outside, but she had no soul and was, therefore, dead from within.


Prince Hector rescues Miss Deadlove


5. Marriage

Drunk on love, Prince Hector got down on one knee and proposed marriage to Miss Deadlove there and then. With her loose clacking mouth, Marionetta accepteded his romantic proposal. Without further ado, the Prince bundled the clickety clackety body and limbs of his betrothed into his small sedan chair and asked his porters to take them to the nearest church.

On their arrival, they were greeted by the priest who said he could not possibly conduct the service without blind-siding the Great and Good Empress Fhanwhar'mai whose consent was required in accordance with strict Royal Protocol. Acting out of character, the Prince started moaning and pulled rank.

'I am your sovereign!' yelled the Prince. 'I order you to to marry us and you are not to tell a soul or you will face serious consequences.'

'But your Highness' said the cowering priest 'You are not the sovereign and you have no witness to validate the marriage'.

'You dare to challenge me?' said the Prince with a grandiose sense of entitlement. 'I am above the law. You will be my witness.'

The priest felt threatened by the tone of the Prince, who had always been such a jolly fellow, but complied under the threat of duress. As soon as the ceremony was over, he secretly deployed a messenger to bring the matter to the attention of the Great and Good Empress Fhanwhar'mai.


Prince Hector proposing to Miss Deadlove


6. The Empress' displeasure

Many weeks later, word of the unauthorised marrige reached the Great and Good Empress Fhanwhar'mai who was much displeased by her son's disobediance and so set off with her courties on the long journey to Lanaland.


7. Independance

Meanwhile, Prince Hector indulged his puppet wife in all its whims including a wish that he make it Princess Regent. Mesmerised by his new companion who was now his royal equal, the Prince could not resist any of her wishes which escalated to a demand for Lanaland to be totally independent of his mother's empire. In no time at all, Lanaland was declared an independent kingdom over which the Prince and the Puppet Princess now ruled as King and Queen. The royal couple set about planning a major celebration to commemorate their coup d'état of the thrown of Lanaland. The event known as the Royal Coronation would need meticulous planning and so a date was set for it to take place in the coming weeks. It would also be used as a platform for the Now King Hector to introduce his new Queen to the ordinary people of Lanaland.

It was the day of the Coronation. King Hector walked out on to his palace balcony acompanied for the first time by his wife whom he had kept under wraps since his illicit marriage.

'May I introduce my new wife, Queen Marionetta' said Prince Hector.


Queen Marionetta Deadlove walks onto palace balcony



The married couple on the palace balcony


8. The Rebellion

With mouths wide open, King Hector's subjects were aghast at the sight of the Queen as she walked out onto the balcony for what they saw was not a woman but a little wood puppet. They saw the flat painted features on its face; the deep wood grain on its heavily laquered arms and legs; and, of course, the glass-like strings which tugged on its stiff limbs and disappeared infinitely into the clouds above. Furthermore, it had not gone unnoticed that Prince Hector was not looking himself. His famous shock of ginger hair was falling out in clumps and his once endearing smile was now a tight grimace as the toxicity of the curse of his love for his wife took its toll on his physical health. And it was not just his appearance which alarmed everyone. This once kindly Prince had developed an uncharateristically cruel streak. He begrudged the crowd for its failure to embrace his new wife and so ordered his armed guards to surround and intimidate them into cheering. Fearing that evil was at work here and that their Prince was under a spell, the crowd was unperturbed by the military confrontation and began chanting 'CUT THE STRINGS! CUT THE STRINGS! CUT THE STRINGS!'.

'Oh, you are all so ungrateful!' moaned King Hector who was oblivous to the meaning of the chants for he could not see the strings. He went on: 'Is it because she is so beautiful that you envy her?'

'She's a puppet, you ginger whinger!' shouted a woman in the crowd, but the Prince was tone deaf as a result of the curse which distorted both his perception and hearing.

One member of the crowd broke free and climbed up onto the balcony. He pulled out a pair of scissors and tried to snip the strings. However, the strings were magical and remained untact. The puppet Marrionetta whose cover had been blown jumped up onto the balcony wall where it balanced itself in a gravity defying manner. The assailant was apprehended by the Prince's guards.


Man attempts to cut the puppet strings with scissors


The puppet was not so lucky the second time round as another member of the crowd clambered onto the balcony and put a burning match to the strings which went up in a puff of smoke. Only it was not the match which set fire to the strings but a beam of blue light which had been fired from behind the crowd. In that instant, the curse had been broken. Without its support, the lifeless puppet fell head first over the balcony. Still in a daze, the Prince looked over and saw a heap of broken wood on the ground. The puppet's vacuous head made of papier-mâché lay in many pieces.

'She's just a silly puppet!' the Prince exclaimed in total surprise. He no longer had any feelings for it.


9.The Witches

'Look up there!' shouted someone in the crowd. Everyone looked to the sky and saw three witches fleeing from a mysterious cloud on their broom sticks which were all on fire.

'I know who they are!' said Prince Hector who immediately recognised the witches for they were the three hideous débutantes his guards had escorted out of the ballroom. It dawned on everyone that the witches were the puppeteers who had concealed themselves in the cloud from where they articulated the puppet using long strings. When set on fire, the strings had acted as a fuse igniting the witches' broom sticks.


The witches with broomsticks on fire


10.The Empress

'What is all this commotion!' shouted a boomingly authoritative voice from the back of the crowd. All heads turned in the direction of the voice and when every one realised who was speaking, they all bowed and courtesied for it was that of the Great and Good Empress Fhanwhar'mai who had just arrived after her long journey. In her hand, she was holding a magic wand still smoking having zapped the puppet's strings which could only be destroyed by magic.

Prince Hector blushed heavily (not uncommon for a man with fair skin and ginger hair).

'I can explain everything Ma Ma' said the Prince.

'No need!' replied his mother the Empress. 'For you have fallen foul of my three sisters - Princesses Selma, Ursula and Collet.'

Prince Hector replied that he was unaware of the existence of his aunties and scrunched his nose at the thought they were vying for his affection at the débutantes' ball. The Great and Good Empress explained that her sisters were banished from the empire many years ago long before he was born for an unspeakable crime they had committed. Ostracised and living as outcasts, the sisters used their magical powers for evil in order to find a way to take over the Empire. They saw an opportunity to use Lanaland as a springboard for a general attack at a later date.


'But I did not know that you had magic powers, Ma Ma!' Exclaimed the Prince.

'Well, I prefer not to use or even talk about my powers which have been passed down the maternal line of the family for centuries. In any event,that is a story for another day', said the Great and Good Empress Fhanwhar'mai who joyfully threw her arms around her favourite son who, in turn, had his eye on his mother's beautiful new lady-in-waiting.

The Great and Good Empress


This story is still in progress.

Pop back another time.

~The End~
Stories & Illustrations by George McGinn ©