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skitty
February 14th, 2014, 01:19 AM
Last month, I retold one of my favorite fairy tales - a story from the Yellow Fairy Book. This is NOT going to be published in book form; I posted it on FF.net under the fairy tales section.

I'd like to hear what you think. What do you think is good, and what can I fix about it? (If you want to see the story I based it on, here it is: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/lfb/ye/yefb31.htm)

Here is the story:

There was a kingdom located in the midst of a great plain. The kingdom was ruled by King Adrian, who lived with his lovely wife Queen Natalia. The couple had one child, a son named Valerian. Valerian was a handsome boy with sunny blond hair that went down to an inch above his shoulders and soulful blue eyes. He enjoyed riding his horse among the flowered fields that surrounded his castle. He was also very kind and gentle.
One day, when Valerian was fifteen years old, he was on his horse, enjoying the breeze as he rode. His cape was blowing in the wind, and so were the large plumes on his hat. Then, suddenly heard the sound of crying.
"What could that be?" Valerian asked himself.
Valerian rode up to a ditch where the sound was coming from. He dismounted his horse and looked to see what was in it. To his surprise, he saw an old woman struggling to get out.
"I need some help!" said the old woman.
"Don't you worry," said Valerian. "I'm here to help. How did you get stuck?"
"My son," she said, "I set out to go into the next town at midnight to sell my eggs, and then I lost my way in the dark and fell in this ditch. I've been struggling to get out, but my old bones cannot climb out. You're a strong young man. How old are you?"
"Fifteen," said Valerian, "but I'm big for my age."
"You definitely look it," said the old woman, "and mature. Most kids your age wouldn't stop to help an old woman. They just care about themselves."
"I care about others around me," said Valerian. "I'll help you out."
Valerian got down on his knees and pulled the old woman out of the ditch. Then he lifted her on his horse.
"I'll take you home," said Valerian. "Where do you live?"
The old woman pointed to a hut in the distance. "Right there," she said. "Why don't you come home with me?"
"Sure," said Valerian.
Valerian brought the old woman back to her hut. The two went inside. The old woman prepared some stuffed peppers with wine. Valerian sat down and ate it up.
"Delicious!" he said. "Tastes even better than the ones the cooks at my palace make."
"Huh?" asked the old woman.
"I forgot to tell you," said Valerian, "I am part of the royal family. My name is Prince Valerian. My father is King Adrian. What's your name?"
"Pleased to meet you, Your Highness," said the old woman. "My name is Antonia."
"Nice to meet you, Antonia," said Valerian.
Valerian and Antonia talked for half an hour.
"I'm afraid that this reward isn't enough for your kindness," said Antonia. "Never before had I seen such a kind young land. There is something even greater that I must give to you." She took a deep breath. "Would you like to have the most beautiful woman in the world as your wife?"
Valerian's face lit up.
"Most certainly I would!" he said.
"I'll tell you who she is," said Antonia. "The most beautiful woman in the world is Princess Narcisa, the daughter of Aurelia, the Queen of the Flowers. She has been captured by a dragon and you must set her free." She took out a bell and handed it to Valerian. "This bell will help you. Ring it once, and the King of the Eagles shall come. Ring it twice, and the King of the Foxes shall appear. Ring it thrice, and the King of the Fishes shall be by your side. They will help you in any difficulty."
Valerian got up from his seat.
"I will set off at once," he said.
"Farewell, my son," said the old woman.
Valerian departed from the hut and rode off. He realized that this woman was a good fairy, and he put the bell in his pocket. That night, he went home to tell his father.
"Father," said Valerian. "I have heard of a beautiful maiden who lives far away. She is the daughter of the Queen of the Flowers. I plan to set her free and to wed her."
"Very well, dear," said King Adrian. "Just promise to come home as soon as you're done."
"I promise, Father," said Valerian. "I don't know how long I'll be gone. It might be three years or something...no, I'll miss you too much. I've never been away from home for that long."
Queen Natalia walked in.
"Don't worry, dear," said Queen Natalia. "You're growing up, and I think you're very responsible. We can trust you."
"We won't stop thinking about you while you're gone," said King Adrian. "I promise."
"I hope you don't think I'm selfish for leaving home just for a girl I've never met," said Valerian.
"I don't think so," said Queen Natalia. "You are doing the right thing by trying to save her. Don't regret it at all."
"Thanks," said Valerian. "I'll go get ready for the journey."
The next morning, Valerian got his horse ready. He put on a plain red tunic, white tights, and a red cap - he didn't want to get his flamboyant princely clothes dirty - and he put Antonia's bell in his pocket. Before he left, Valerian said goodbye to his parents.
"I'll miss you both terribly," said Valerian, "but I promise I will be back."
"We'll miss you too," said King Adrian.
Valerian hugged his parents. The king and queen kissed their son on his cheeks.
"Bye, Mother," said Valerian. "Bye, Father."
Valerian got on his horse and rode off into the distance.
As it turned out, Valerian was looking around the world for months. He searched the towns and the wilderness, but he could not find Princess Narcisa. And it was not easy for the horse, either. Traveling a long way where food was hard to come by proved difficult. Eventually, his beloved horse croaked. After the horse died, Valerian made a tomb for it.
"Goodbye, dear friend," he said as his tears fell onto the grave. Then he put a bouquet of white lilies onto the grave.
Not long after, Valerian turned sixteen. It was not fun having no one to celebrate his birthday with. He was walking in the woods, where he was cold. Eventually, he came to a hut where an old man sat in front.
"My word!" said the old man. "Are you in need of shelter?"
"Yes," said Valerian.
"Where are you from?" asked the old man, who found Valerian's accent to be very exotic.
"I'm from a kingdom far from here," said Valerian. "I need shelter for the night. I've slept in caves, under rocks, and in the streets."
"You can spend the night here," said the old man.
Valerian went in the hut. The old man saw that Valerian was shivering, so he prepared soup for him. Then Valerian then remembered the princess.
"Do you know where to find the dragon who holds Princess Narcisa?" asked Valerian.
"That I do not know," said the old man. "But go straight from my hut for a year and then you'll find my father's hut. He'll tell you."
"Okay," said Valerian.
Valerian spent the night at the old man's hut, and then the next day he set out. This road was quite grueling. Valerian had to endure rain and snow while walking this empty road on foot. He had to beg for food to get it, and he collapsed several times.
"Sometimes," said Valerian, "I feel like I'm forgetting who I am."
At last, soon after he turned seventeen, Valerian came to another hut where another old man lived. This man looked even older, and he was hunched forward a little.
"Are you the father of the first old man?" asked Valerian.
"Indeed," said the second old man.
Valerian sneezed.
"Sorry," said Valerian. "I have a cold. It must be the rain."
"You look a little pale in the face," said the second old man, "and your blond hair is losing its color."
The second old man let Valerian spend the night. The next morning, Valerian asked about Princess Narcisa.
"Do you know where to find the dragon who holds Princess Narcisa?" asked Valerian.
"No, child," said the second old man. "You should ask my father. Go straight for a year and you shall reach his hut."
Valerian felt a knot in his stomach, but he agreed to it.
So Valerian set out at once. He was feeling even worse, and by now he was reduced to wearing a ragged tunic with bare legs. He had no shoes on his feet. His hair looked almost white, and he was getting very weary. At times he cried, because he missed his mother and father, but mostly he tried to keep his head up and think of the princess.
On Valerian's eighteenth birthday, he had developed a bad cold. His skin was pale and he felt feverish. His face was all weary. But that day, he came to a third hut, where he saw a third old man. The old man was bent over and looked like a corpse. Valerian later realized that these old men were most likely supernatural beings.
"Oh dear!" said the third old man. "I must bring you inside."
The old man brought Valerian inside and lay him down on his bed. Valerian's eyes were half-closed, and he felt a little dizzy.
"You look sick," said the third old man. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," coughed Valerian.
"Lucky for me," said the third old man, "I have medicine for you. I hope you feel better after taking it."
The third old man walked over to Valerian and gave him a hefty dose of medicinal herbs. Valerian took them and fell asleep. That morning, when Valerian woke up, he felt different. His color returned to his face and hair, and he felt quite strong.
"You cured me!" said Valerian. "I cannot thank you enough."
"You're welcome, dear child," said the third old man.
"Now..." said Valerian, "I've been looking for three years to find an answer for this, but...do you know where the dragon is that hides Princess Narcisa? I wonder if you know the answer."
The old man was stunned.
"I do know, dear child," said the old man. "The dragon lives on that mountain over there." He pointed to a mountain outside his cabin. "But if you wish to see the princess, look on the mountain next to it. Climb that, and you'll find the dragon's old mother. She has a ball every night, and Princess Narcisa attends it. Her twenty-first birthday is coming up."
"Then I've got to be there," said Valerian.
"She misses her mother," said the old man. "She hasn't seen her in four years. Ever since her father died when she was a child her mother was all she had, and she wants to see her again."
"I miss my parents too," said Valerian. "I haven't seen them in three years."
"Go to the mountain right away," said the old man.
Valerian looked down at his clothes.
"But..." said Valerian, "must I go to the ball in these filthy rags?"
The old man thought of an idea. He looked into his chest and found some cloth. He quickly put together an outfit - a purple tunic, a pink cape, a purple hat with pink plumes, silver tights, and purple shoes - with the help of magic. Valerian took off his rags, washed himself, and put on the outfit.
"You look absolutely stunning!" said the old man.
"I keep thinking that this is a dream," said Valerian. "It's been so long since I've worn such handsome clothes."
"You're not dreaming child," said the old man. "It's all real. Now go on and find the princess!"
Valerian departed from the hut. He waved goodbye to the old man.

Valerian climbed up the mountain, and then found himself in front of an impressive castle. It was made of gold, with diamond windows. It was one thousand feet tall and Valerian looked like a grain of rice next to it.
"I better go inside," said Valerian.
Valerian opened the front gate and walked slowly inside. Then, all of a sudden, seven dragons rushed at him. Valerian recoiled in fear.
"A human!" said one of the dragons.
"What are you doing here, you lout?" asked another dragon.
"Well," said Valerian, "I had heard about the Mother Dragon. Someone told me that she's really nice, and supposedly she's the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world. I was thinking of entering her service."
"She is very beautiful," said the eldest dragon, "and very kind, and has a very nice voice. Right this way, young man."
The eldest of the dragons guided Valerian to the main hall, where the Mother Dragon was waiting. And, much to the prince's shock, the Mother Dragon was as far from beautiful as you can get - she had pinkish-brown scales covering her body, and she had three heads, loaded with many horns and warts. Each of her necks had a throat sac. Her voice was like the croaking of a thousand ravens.
"Why have you come here?" she asked.
Valerian knew that if he told the truth about what he thought of her appearance - that she was beyond ugly - she might gobble him up, so he decided that he had no choice but to lie to win her favor.
"Your Highness," said Valerian, "I am Prince Valerian, and I had heard so much of your beauty and kindness. I was thinking of entering your service."
"Very well," said the Mother Dragon. "To enter my service, you must take my mare out to the meadow and look after her for three days. If you succeed, you can go to my nightly ball. But if you fail, I'll eat you up." Valerian gulped at this last sentence.
"Sure," said Valerian.
Valerian took the mare out to the meadow. He watched over it for a while. Then, suddenly, the mare vanished.
"Oh no!" said Valerian. "The Mother Dragon will eat me up!" He sat down on a rock and contemplated his sad fate. He felt really bad about it, until he saw an eagle. "I think I know what to do."
Then he remembered his bell. He rang it once. A rustling sound filled the air, and the King of the Eagles swooped down.
"I am Aquila, King of the Eagles," said the eagle. "I know what you want from me. You are looking for the Mother Dragon's mare. I will summon all the eagles and order them to catch the mare." Aquila flew away, and then a whole flock of eagles swooped overhead. They looked among the clouds and found the mare.
Meanwhile, Valerian was wondering where the eagles were.
"It's getting late," he said. "I hope they found the mare." He then saw the flock of eagles bringing the mare to him.
"Here is your mare," said Aquila.
"Thank you, dear friends!" said Valerian.
"You're welcome," said Aquila.
Valerian rode back to the Mother Dragon and presented her with the mare.
"Excellent," said the Mother Dragon. "As a reward for bringing my mare back, you can go to the ball tonight. Here is a cloak of copper." She presented Valerian with a cloak of copper. Valerian put it around his neck. "Come with me."
The Mother Dragon led Valerian to the ballroom, where many dragons were dancing. Valerian looked across the room, wondering where the princess was. Eventually, he found her standing by the window. She was a radiant beauty, with a dress woven out of flowers, lovely dark blonde hair, and shimmering green eyes. She looked kind of sad.
"Excuse me," said Valerian, "but are you Princess Narcisa?"
"Indeed," said the princess. "What's your name?"
"I am Prince Valerian," said Valerian. "I've been looking for you for three years. I'm so glad I finally found you." He then saw her face. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," said Narcisa. She sighed. "I really want to go home. I've been here for four years, and I've gotten homesick. My mother must be worried about you. I'm sure your parents are worried too."
"They probably are," said Valerian. "I miss them so much." He noticed that both he and Narcisa had tears falling from their eyes.
"I don't know if I'll ever get home," cried Narcisa. "I feel like a prisoner here."
"Don't worry," said Valerian. "I have come to set you free!"
The two stopped crying.
"Want to dance?" asked Valerian.
"Of course!" said Narcisa.
The two danced to the beautiful music all night, and ended up having a lot of fun. Late in the night, Narcisa told Valerian about the mare.
"After three days," she said, "try to get a foal from the mare."
"Okay," said Valerian.
The ball ended at midnight. Valerian talked briefly to Narcisa before going to bed.
"I had a lot of fun tonight," she said. "Thanks." She kissed Valerian on the cheek.
"I'll see you tomorrow," said Valerian.
"I'll be there," said Narcisa.
Valerian was led to a dark bedchamber, where he went to sleep. The next morning, Valerian was with the mare at the meadow, and surely enough, the mare vanished.
"I know what to do," said Valerian. He rang his bell twice, and the King of the Foxes stood before him.
"I am Vulpecula, King of the Foxes," said the fox. "I know already what you want, and I will help you get the mare back." Vulpecula vanished, and in the evening a pack of foxes bought the mare back to Valerian.
"Thank you so much!" said Valerian.
"You're welcome," said Vulpecula.
Valerian brought the mare back to the Mother Dragon, who handed him a cloak of silver.
"I'll be seeing you at the ball tonight," said the Mother Dragon.
At the ball, Valerian immediately went to find Narcisa. She was much happier than she was the night before.
"I'm glad you came Valerian," said Narcisa. "With your help, I'll be able to escape this palace and return to my mother."
"That will happen tomorrow," said Valerian.
"Oh!" said Narcisa. "Tomorrow, wait for me with the foal in the meadow. We'll fly away together."
"But won't we get caught?" asked Valerian.
"We'll sneak out while the dragons are distracted," said Narcisa. "Then we'll get back to my mother's palace. If the dragons follow us, she will protect us with her magic."
The two danced until midnight. The next day, Valerian went to the meadow with the mare, and surely enough it vanished.
"I know what to do," said Valerian. He rang the bell thrice, and the King of the Fishes appeared.
"I am Pisces, King of the Fishes," said the fish. "I will summon all the fishes in the sea, and we'll find the mare, who is hiding in the river."
Pisces vanished, and that evening he and his fish friends brought back the mare.
"I cannot thank you enough," said Valerian.
"You're welcome," said Pisces.
Valerian returned the mare to the Mother Dragon.
"Excellent," said the Mother Dragon. "You are a brave young man. Now you shall be a servant to me - FOREVER."
Valerian was not bothered by this, for he knew that he would escape.
"Here is your cloak," she said, bestowing a cloak of gold on Valerian. "And what shall I also give you?"
"How about a foal of your mare?" asked Valerian.
Valerian received a foal of the mare at once.
At the ball, Valerian danced with Narcisa again.
"Tonight I am going to set you free," said Valerian. "You know the plan?" Narcisa said she knew it. "We're going to flee before the entertainment is over. Before midnight, we'll ride away on the foal. And then we'll go back to your mother's house. And another thing...if we succeed, will you be my wife?"
"I would love to be your wife," said Narcisa.
At eleven o'clock, Valerian slipped away from the ball and went to the stables.
"Listen," he told the mare, "you're going to wait with me in the meadow for Narcisa. Then we'll make our getaway."
Valerian mounted the horse and rode off into the meadow. He waited for half an hour.
"I hope Narcisa is coming," he said. Then he turned around and saw her running.
"Valerian! Valerian!" she said.
"Hurry!" said Valerian. "Get on! I'm taking you back to your mother!"
Narcisa climbed on the horse, sitting in front of Valerian. Then she and Valerian rode off as fast as they could.
But the Mother Dragon had noticed that something was wrong...
"Where is Valerian?" she asked herself. Then she realized what had happened. "He took my captive away! I must wake my son from his year's sleep and tell him to pursue him. Those two are going to pay for fooling me!" So she woke up the dragon, and he ran off.
Later, Valerian and Narcisa were riding through the woods, when suddenly, the two of them saw a huge dragon in the distance.
"We're being pursued!" said Valerian.
Valerian and Narcisa screamed, and they rode faster and faster. Eventually, they reached the Flower Queen's dwelling. They saw Aurelia, the Flower Queen. She was a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, a crown of flowers, and an elegant, colorful gown. and told them about the situation.
"Mother!" said Narcisa. "We've got to stop the dragon before he lays siege to your palace!"
"Don't worry, dear," said Queen Aurelia. "I'll stop him!" And with the help of her magic, she caused a forest of flowers as high as the sky to spring up around the palace. The dragon tried to break through the palace, but to no avail. He gave up and went back home.
Now Narcisa could have a happy reunion with her mother. Tears fell from both of their eyes.
"Oh, Mother!" said Narcisa, hugging her mother.
"My baby!" said Queen Aurelia.
"This is Prince Valerian," said Narcisa. "He saved me."
"He seems like a fine young man," said Queen Aurelia.
"Your Majesty," said Valerian, "I hope it's not too much trouble, but can I have your daughter's hand in marriage?"
"I will gladly consent to the marriage," said Queen Aurelia, "but during the winter, when it is cold and everything is dead, she must stay with me. You can have her during the summer. I hope that's not too much of a problem for you."
"No problem," said Valerian. "I must bring her home to my parents."
"I'll come with you," said Queen Aurelia.
Valerian, Narcisa, and Queen Aurelia went back to the palace where King Adrian and Queen Natalia lived. The two were worried about their son and thought that he had died. When Valerian reached the palace, the first thing he did was run to his mother and father and give them a big hug.
"I missed you so much!" said Valerian.
"We missed you too!" said the king and queen.
"I found the Flower Queen's daughter," said Valerian. "We are to be married."
"She'll make a fine queen," said Queen Natalia.
"We'll prepare the wedding," said King Adrian.
A few days later, a wedding took place. At the wedding, Valerian and Narcisa were dressed in the finest clothes. They looked radiant as they walked down the aisle and took their vows. Once they were pronounced man and wife, the two kissed each other on the lips and waved to the crowd. Valerian saw that Antonia had attended his wedding, as well as the three old men. He thanked all of them for their help. When winter came, Narcisa went back to live with Queen Aurelia, and once winter was over, she returned to Valerian. The couple managed to be happy, and they had children of their own. The coming and going continued all of Narcisa's life, but in spite of it she and Valerian lived happily ever after.
THE END

KindaNice
March 3rd, 2014, 09:06 AM
I haven't ready a fairy tale in a long while, and it was nice to read something easy and simple like that. However, I feel this particular tale misses one of the most important parts of storytelling: brevity. The summary of this story is "A handsome young prince hears about a beautiful princess held prisoner by dragons, and spends three years of his life to retrieve her so that she will marry him."

You could probably cut down the length of this piece by a quarter and add more meaning to it. There's a lot of repetitive dialog in here, but many of the characters motivations are unexplained.

Also, I only had to go 3 lines down to find the first grammar mistake. ("Then, he suddenly heard the sound of crying.")

Another thought I had was about the moral this particular story conveys. It worries me. A boy runs away from home for three years so he can find the most beautiful girl in the world. His parents encourage him to do this. And when he brings her back home, his parents essentially say, "Well, she looks good enough to me," and get the two married. This entire story is about placing physical appearance on the highest pedestal.

Finally, after I scanned the fairy tale in the link you shared, I am wondering what you tried to accomplish with retelling it. There seemed to be very little difference between yours and the original except for a large addition of dialog. Did you want to modernize the story, change its meaning in any way, or write the story in your own style? Some of the text is almost word-for-word the same in both versions. I'm all for recycling stories from the past, but the stories need to change through time, and be changed by the person telling them.

qwertyportne
July 13th, 2014, 11:26 PM
Yes, I think there should be some significant difference between this story and the original ~ which isn't all that original anyway. Perhaps a clever twist that both surprises your readers and gives them something profound to take home with them. But not something out of the blue. No, something foreshadowed earlier in the story that connects the beginning and the end and therefore provides a satisfying closure.