Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lonely Beauty, By Elena Valeriote

Note: A princess protected in a dungeon? Now that was some creative thinking! I also love the seven brothers angle.

It had been fourteen years to the day since the king and queen of the forest Allendale had been married. The wedding had been extravagant, as all weddings of royal members in the family Arboresque had been in the many centuries of their existence. Shortly after, a boy was born to the queen, Amaranthe, alleviating any pressure that she and King Cypress had harbored about producing an heir. Truth be told, the king and queen never had trouble with creating a son. So, seven boys later, on the day of their fourteenth anniversary, the couple was elated to finally be given a daughter. The girl was named Oriana, as pertaining to the queen’s family tradition of being named after a flower found in perfect bloom on one’s birthday.
Amaranthe immediately began planning the baby girl’s christening, determined to make it the most decadent and beautiful affair imaginable to honor her daughter’s loveliness.
The family’s royal staff went to work, each servant doing more than twice the amount of work they were usually assigned, but no one minded, for all were delighted with the baby and filled with devotion and respect for the family.
As a tribute to the family namesake, Armanthe demanded that the party be held outside and all the trees decorated as extravagantly as possible. Lace was threaded through branches, diamonds were hung and delicate lanterns were placed among the leaves, so that they glowed in the evening light and sent the diamonds’ reflections spinning in a show of glittering beauty.
Armanthe was summoned by the head of the organizational crew to assist in the creation of the guest list, but she decided that the party was too wonderful an event to deny anyone the privilege of coming, and decided that the forest would be free to all.
After much ado, the night of the Oriana’s christening arrived. Countless beings of all shapes, sizes, mortality, and race came. Smaller creatures perched amongst the branches, due to lack of space; every so often, knocking down a diamond. The centaurs were banished to the edges after stepping on too many feet and a clan of gnomes were sent away after knocking over a punch bowl onto the dresses of three princesses, but Amaranthe was convinced that nothing could ruin the evening.
Maybe Oriana’s christening would have carried on perfectly, had the dark fairy Agate not flown over the tree tops that night and been curious as to what created such a sparkle in the leaves that could parallel the night sky itself. She came down and alighted just a few feet from the Oriana’s cradle, where her brothers cooed in at her.
Having been alone her whole life, Agate knew nothing of love or happiness, and upon seeing Oriana, so overwhelmed with both at such a young age, she grew furiously jealous.
At that moment Armanthe turned around. Seeing Agate she shuddered, but faked a smile, saying, “how nice of you to come bless Oriana.”
“Oriana?” Agate smiled and walked over to a bush of the flower and plucked a bud. Her smiled disappeared suddenly and her voice shattered the air as she screeched, “This flower now possesses the essence of your daughter. It is mine to keep and should Oriana ever be happy enough that it blooms, I shall crush it and send her into an endless sleep.” As poor Oriana began to wail, Agate flew off.

Oriana spent the next sixteen years of her life in the dungeon of her family’s castle. Her brothers were not allowed to visit her and she began to believe she had only imagined them. She wore plain clothes and spent her time reading from textbooks or embroidering. The reasoning behind the manner of her life was kept from her, and knowing no other, she accepted it, and did not resent her parents, although she sometimes grew lonely and wished they’d visit her more often.
The night of her sixteenth birthday the door creaked open and shut. Oriana looked toward the dark stairs, wondering why her parents were visiting so late. However, the face that smiled at her from the glow of a candle was that of a stranger. It was a boy, probably a year or two her elder. He had blue eyes and golden hair, both sparkling in the light.
“Happy birthday,” he said, handing her a slice of cake.
“What?” she asked, bewildered.
“I thought you’d like company. I’m Prince Damon, a friend of your older brother’s.”
“So I do have a brother!” Oriana exclaimed.
“Seven,” Damon laughed.
And he stayed with her late into the early morning, relaying information to her about everything in the outside world. Oriana asked why she couldn’t be out there, but Damon didn’t know. Finally, he had to leave, promising he’d be back.
“How do I know you’ll keep your promise?” She asked.
He leaned in and kissed her, whispering, “that’s how.”
It was at this exact moment that the Oriana flower bloomed and was instantly crushed in Agate’s angry fist. Princess Oriana fell to the ground.
Damon went to the king for help, but seeing Oriana asleep, Cypress impulsively banished Damon.
For two years Oriana slept while Damon and her family mourned apart. Finally Damon could stand it no longer. He had to see her.
He stealthily slipped through the forest and climbed into her turret. Seeing her beautiful face, he was overcome with love and leaned to kiss her. At the touch of his lips Oriana’s eyes opened. “I thought you’d never come back,” she smiled.
“I’ll never leave you again. Marry me.”
And she did. Oriana never spent another moment alone; finally able to do the things she’d never been allowed, she was rarely found without a smile, Damon, and a brother or two.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this rewrite of "Sleeping Beauty!" At first glance, I was drawn to the title "Lonely Beauty." It's not very often you come along a fairy tale where the beauty is lonely. Most of the time the female characters can't get a minute to themselves because the ambush from men pining over their beauty. I found it interesting that the story revoloved around a forest and the characters were named after trees or flowers. I also liked that Elena added multiple creatures to the story. It made it all the more interesting. The most enjoyable aspect of the story was the dungeon. Many fairy tales have the princess locked in a dungeon or tower as punishment for being beautiful like Oriana has in this story, but I've never read a tale where the princess' own family locks her up. I thought that was a surprising new twist to the fairy tale.
    Whitney M.