Once upon a time, Jack ruled well and wisely, and made many enemies. All the citizens of his kingdom loved him like their own father, and took a personal interest in all his family affairs. They had rejoiced when his daughter Rose married her wonderful husband Prince Joseph, and they mourned when his snippety, crotetchety, well-meaning mother passed away. She had lived a full, rich life ever since Jack had come down from the beanstalk, and though she often complained, unable to shake off those earlier years of constant misfortune and accustom herself to the splendors of her comfortable existence, she had always been inordinately proud of her son.
Yet, there were those who salivated to see his head on a platter. Jack had spent his life eradicating the evil around and in his lands, and there were many witches, goblins, dragons, werewolves, and other fearsome beasts who boiled hot in their revengeful hate against him. Including a whole family of giants who hated him for killing their evil uncle. (Except they really hated him for stealing the golden harp – they didn’t care about their uncle.)
They held a gathering in the dark forest, which was called so because daylight never penetrated through the deep foliage overhead, to decide what to do about this aggravating king.
“We should curse him!”
“Kidnap his daughter!”
“Eat him for dinner!”
Now, evil creatures do not have good imaginations. As they clamored loud for all these ill fates to befall the king, they did not stop to consider that everyone had already been tried, and failed. But the witches were cleverer than the rest, and putting their three heads together (witches always come in threes, just ask Macbeth), they hatched a plan. It was not completely original, but it had more potential to it than any of the other suggestions.
They gathered their forces together, and marched off against the kingdom of Jack.
As they marched they burned every farm and town they came across, so that they people fled to Jack’s castle ahead of the marching horde. They begged Jack to save them, and Jack rose from his throne, called his knights together, and rode out to meet the enemy. Every able-bodied man took up a sword to march behind their beloved king, while Queen Miranda and her daughter Rose stayed behind to care for the women, children, and elderly. (I think they had the harder job, but they liked it better).
The clash of blade against teeth, the meeting of two great armies, the cries of living and dying, were too epic to convey on a mere piece of paper. King Jack slew every giant that bent to kill him and Prince Joseph pierced the heart of every wicked witch. While knights Rojo and Verde killed the werewolves that jumped at their throats, Sirs Richard and George faced the fairies that buzzed against them like angry wasps. Terence and Corncob led the charge against the two dragons, and Serence devotedly defended the life of his king with every thrust and parry of his blade.
What the heroes did not know is that, while they fought with every ounce of their strength to protect the innocents back at the palace, the enemy had cunningly sent a small team to circumvent the battle and infiltrate the kingdom. While Jack killed giants on the battlefield, a witch, with a retinue of fairies, entered the palace, killed the guards, and stole away the queen and princess.
Successful, as Jack always is over evil, on the battlefield, Sir Serence told the King he should return home and leave the clean-up to the knights. “Reassure your people and the queen. We can handle this mess.”
Jack was grateful, and he and Joseph headed back to the palace accompanied by the wounded who could travel. Imagine the elation he felt, returning after a grueling day, after performing unsavory chores, to see his wife and daughter, and the weak of his kingdom, whom he loved with his whole being, to tell them they are safe – perhaps forever. The enemy is slain or fled, weakened and demoralized. Imagine how he anticipated embracing his beautiful, loving wife, who has taken such excellent care of his subjects in his absence. Imagine how he yearned to hold some little children in his arms, for every young citizen knew he cared for them like a proud grandfather. With these expectations, then, buoying his spirits, imagine his utter devastation when he returned to the palace to find the little ones cowering beneath tables, his knights all slain, and his wife and daughter gone.
“What has become of you?” he asked the young boy who threw himself against the king’s leather vest and clung while he cried.
“Someone came and took them away. An ugly hag and vicious pucks!” he wept.
As Prince Joseph herded the young ones into the room where the rest of the citizens had fled, fearing the worst for their little children, Jack realized the devious nature of the battlefield. He had been lured away from the palace so his family could be stolen from under his nose.
“What next, King-Father?” asked Joseph, his face white with loss, but his stance at attention. Wherever his wife was, he would find her again. With Jack beside him, he would not fear.
“Your majesty,” said John, a young soldier who had been wounded in the arm in the battle, “we can care for your people. Go. Find your wife.” All the lightly wounded soldiers nodded, rallying together for the king as he had always rallied for them.
Jack lifted his sword. “Let’s go.”
Chapter 2 Coming Soon…