Crystal (A Short Fairytale)
I was no hero, no great warrior built to crush skulls with one hand whilst drinking flagons of ale with the other. I was a nobody, but somebody had to save her and everyone else was dead.
The heroes had entered the castle with flashing swords and raucous battle cries. Not one came out, not whole anyway. The powers that held the princess were formidable, more so in their own domain, a dark and inhospitable tower of polished, black rock. Obsidian, one hero had called it. His tomb had said the next.
When the last of them rolled down the hill head over… well, head because that’s all the evil ones left, I decided to act. I couldn’t bear the sound of Crystal’s tears — that was the princess’ name — as they tinkled through those stalled evenings. Only the dawn chorus silenced her, unless that was her, too?
I climbed the hill during a terrible storm when no one else dared venture out. Good, I preferred a quiet send off, the pause between thunderclaps and jolts of jagged light a balm to my fear. I crept up the vicious incline, slunk around the side of the castle to a wall of sheer, wet stone and found what I’d hoped for: climbing ivy would be my stairs. And so I climbed and climbed and climbed.
By the time I reached the open window of Crystal’s tower room, my fingers bled and head pounded from the storm, but I’d made it. Little old me had done what no other could and not a fly or rat or bat knew. My elation was short-lived.
She sat on a simple chair of carved mahogany caught in profile by the light of a single flickering candle. She gleamed, her secret truth revealed.
I dragged myself inside to the crunching of something underfoot. The stone floor was more shale beach than walkway, a million tiny crystals glistening like two dimensional stars. The princess sat immobile, whether she even knew me there I could not testify, but I hoped. Yes, I hoped.
The devils that imprisoned her would never lose their prize for Crystal was as her name; she sat there a sculpted glistening statue. Not a hair stirred on her head, not an eyelash batted, only the tears that dropped like raining diamonds gave any sign of sentience.
I left her there. I kissed her on the cheek and deserted her for to have moved her would’ve shattered her. I left her with a handful of tears in my pocket and shame in my heart.
When I returned cut, bleeding and tired beyond belief, I took some comfort in the fortunes I’d have to come. Alas, all my pocket held was water, her tears already spent. They didn’t even tinkle when I poured them to the floor.