(An Amethyst is a name for a light purple quartz stone; it is “semiprecious”.)
[This is a story I have told a couple of times to my niece, EM (who is seven and highly enamored of fairies), and which I promised her would be the next thing to go up on the blog. As usual, I’ve embellished as I’ve written it out, and I am looking for help with various bits and pieces—I’ll say exactly which ones at the end.]
ONCE upon a time, in a tiny kingdom by the sea, there lived a beautiful princess named Princess Amethyst. Actually, the kingdom was so tiny that the only people in it were Amethyst, her parents, and the servants in the castle where they lived. There was a huge forest which grew right up to the castle gates, and there were houses in the forest—actually, it was strange, because more than a few of the trees were growing right through the rooftops of the houses. But none of the houses were inhabited, and none of them had been inhabited since before Amethyst had been born.
Now, Amethyst loved to read, and as she grew older, she especially loved to read stories about other princesses in other lands, and she quickly noticed that every single one of these princesses had a kingdom which was larger than one castle. She was not a naturally envious girl, so at first this did not bother her at all; but eventually, she began to wonder if there might not be some other explanation for the fact that hers was the tiniest kingdom, people-wise, that she had ever heard of. Finally she asked her parents.
“Father, why are the only people in our kingdom the people who live in the castle with us?” she asked at dinner one night.
Her father looked at her mother and raised his eyebrows, and then turned to answer her. “Well, actually, the people in the castle aren’t the only people in the kingdom.”
“No. Three years before you were born, an evil witch came to our kingdom. She wanted our court magician to give her a spell for growing a special kind of fruit which would kill many people very quickly. When he refused, she started to fight him. The battle lasted for many hours. At the end of it, she cast a spell that would turn every person it touched in to a tree. The court magician shielded himself and the people in the castle, but he wasn’t able to protect the people outside of the castle. They all turned in to trees.”
Amethyst was riveted by this story. “What happened to the witch?”
“The protection spell which our magician cast also turned the witch’s spell against her. She turned in to a tree along with everyone else. The tree she turned in to is the only tree we have chopped down in the last twenty years. We chopped it down and we burned it, and we dug out the roots and burned them. It made a terrible smell, but we wanted to be sure the witch would be really gone.”
“What about the other trees?”
“Didn’t you ever wonder why the gardener position was the most important one in the kingdom? Do you remember that when our old one retired, we brought in a new one from another kingdom, one who had been university-educated in taking care of trees? He is in charge of taking care of our people. You also know that we have a rule that we don’t chop down any wood to make fires with. We only take wood which has fallen from the trees by itself.”
Amethyst had wondered why, in the very cold winter, her parents were always so careful about this rule. “Why didn’t you tell me before now?”
This time her mother spoke up. “Because we knew that once you knew about the curse, you would try to break it. That was part of the spell that the magician cast.”
“So, how do I break it?”
“We don’t know. You should probably ask the magician.”
The next day, she went to visit the magician. He told her that he didn’t know either, and that the only thing he could think of would be to visit the dragons who lived on the end of the archipelago which went out from their little castle-kingdom, and ask them. There were six other islands between the edge of the kingdom and the island of the dragons.
Amethyst went back to her parents and asked for a ship so that she could go out to the island of the dragons, so that she could ask them how to break the spell. At first her parents refused, because she was still so young, but she pleaded with them for a year and a day, and some time shortly after her eighteenth birthday (on which she had, very strangely, received no presents), her parents took her to the harbor and showed her a ship which they had bought with all of their savings, so that she could go visit the island of the dragons.
The very next morning, Amethyst set sail on the ship.
The first island they came to was the island of the queen of the fairies.
[Very sorry—I’m just going to have to post this, uncompleted. What do you think the name of the court magician should be? There are seven islands, but I don’t remember what is on five of them (this part of the story is approximately loosely based on The Odyssey)—what do you think there should be? I think that the gardener’s handsome son should come along, but I’m not sure what his name is or what role he plays. I also think that he might be younger than Princess Amethyst, but I’m not sure.]