By Moon Shadow Magic
"Tell me about the Prince," begged the boy for the umpteenth time in umpteen evenings.
The man didn't even bother to sigh. His adopted son was obviously determined to come to terms with his parents' fate, and hearing about the heartless Prince who could defeat the Monster Raven- especially at bedtime- seemed to soothe him.
Of course, they both knew the story by heart. D. D. Drosselmeyer, local author, had had the knack of taking old tales and legends, songs and traditions, no matter how obscure or incomprehensible, and forging them into new shapes. Well, maybe not new; but there were always twists and meanings that made sense of things half- remembered from childhood. His best books were always a satisfying read... until the last chapter, of course. Not a one had a happy ending for anyone but Drosselmeyer, who seemed to have enjoyed tragedy in a disturbingly twisted way. The last few stories he'd written managed to seamlessly weave the calamity in with the story, but even Charon could see how contrived his early efforts were.
Which meant that what little Fakir heard had to be edited. Heavily. And on the fly. The boy was sharp, and told Charon about each tiny variation in the retelling that he caught. He kept his foster- father busy, convincing the boy that stories needn't always be set in stone word- for- word. Most importantly there were endings from other versions of the story, versions that Charon had heard when he was young, far more suitable for a small, traumatized boy to hear than the obvious conclusion Drosselmeyer had had in mind but hadn't set down on paper.
But Fakir was waiting for his foster- father to begin. Thank goodness, he'd had a busy day, and despite his eagerness there was a certain glazed look in his eyes that told Charon that they'd never make it as far as an ending tonight. The book fell open to the beginning of the story.
"Well. Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of the Swan far away, a Prince was born to a great King and his beautiful and powerful Queen. Now, the King was no longer in his first youth, and the rejoicing he proclaimed throughout the land was like none ever seen, for the Prince was his first child and the hope of the Kingdom. And he was christened Siegfried, as were many of his royal line, with great ceremony and with the blessings of every good and holy person that the King could gather from the corners of the realm
"The young Prince grew, as boys like you always do. From his mother he learned courtesy and chivalry, and he learned of certain powers that only a Prince of his blood could invoke; for the beloved Queen his mother was of an ancient and mysterious line of enchantresses. From his father came the arts of great kings and princes: how to bend others to his will, to command armies as easily as he commanded his servants, to endure both the blessings and the privations of the hunter and the soldier. Swordsmen from Italy taught him the sword, tall Switzers of the Guard taught him how to fight with long weapons and how to climb, French masters instructed him in dance, and there were German poets and minstrels, and horse- masters from Hungary and Spain, and..."
"But what was he like?" interrupted Fakir. Well, it was too soon to expect him to have dropped off yet.
"What was the Prince like? Well, let's see..." Fakir liked Drosselmeyer's description of the Prince best, even more than the list of subjects and teachers. "He was a true Prince, beloved by all his subjects because he loved all his subjects. If he saw any suffering, he never hesitated but gave every bit of aid he could, no matter what the cost to himself."
"Ahh." The child always liked to hear that. Always. Then, "Did he have friends?"
There was an answer to that, too, although Drosselmeyer had put it differently. "He had many friends. There were many sons of nobles of his age, and the Prince knew them all, and played with them and learned with them and from them all.
"But one boy in particular was his companion, the orphaned son of a bold knight." One of the first things Charon had told his new charge was that his birthmark, a jagged- edged patch covering half his torso front and back, meant that he was the reincarnation of the Prince's knight. He'd regretted it very quickly. Fakir still believed it, and now Charon had to add a little embroidery to the tale each time he told it. Drosselmeyer hadn't really given the character much depth. "As they grew, the son of the knight guarded his Prince faithfully. As the Prince would go to any lengths to protect and comfort his subjects, his friend would have given his own life to keep his Prince from harm. And when both boys were grown enough, it was the King himself who rewarded Prince Siegfried's friend by giving him armor and horses and golden spurs and a sword, and making him a knight."
"What did the sword look like?" A yawn made the last words unintelligible. The familiar ritual was finally having an effect. Still, Charon had to leave in the details of his trade; the sword he'd always used for this story hung on the wall downstairs, and Fakir would check to see that it was still there before breakfast.
"Oh, like a good blade for a knight in plate. Flat diamond cross- section, stiff and pointed. The hilt had a simple guard that flared a bit at the ends, and there was a purple amethyst set in the pommel."
"Ahh." Then, "What was the knight's name?"
A bit more embroidery. Drosselmeyer had used the name but discarded the legend and Wagner's opera except for the bit about the swan.
"Well, when he was growing up an orphan, before the King found him and discovered whose son he was, he lost his proper name, and no one remembered it. But the Prince, and then everyone else, called him Fidelius, which means Faithful. Then, when the King knighted him, he gave him the name Sir Lohengrin. Now, Lohengrin- the first Lohengrin- was the son of Sir Parszifal, who was a knight of the Round Table, and afterward became lord of the secret realm of Mount Salvat and a keeper of the Holy Grail. Lohengrin was a mighty knight and a defender of the weak and oppressed, just as his father was. And when he ventured forth from Mount Salvat, he was pulled in a boat by a swan, and he was called the Knight of the Swan. And of course Prince Siegfried in our story is also the Prince of the Swan Kingdom, so the King honored the new knight with that name. Do you want me to stop now?"
"No, not yet." Another yawn. Charon felt safe in skipping ahead to another of Fakir's favorite bits.
"After that, Prince Siegfried and Sir Lohengrin roamed throughout the Kingdom, righting wrongs and battling evil men and monsters, but ever seeking word of any who could tell the Prince of the mysterious Princess Tutu. One day they heard of a learned hermit who lived in a cave in a deep and dark wood. It took them days of searching, but in the end they found the wise man.
"The hermit asked the Prince to tell him what he had learned, not from his father, but from his mother. The Prince answered: 'The Queen my mother taught me how a knight and a Prince must act. She taught me to love all of my people of whatsoever degree, and to respect the Church and all women, and never to be cruel to man or beast, and never to despise a task however lowly that must be done.'"
"But the hermit knew of the beautiful and powerful Queen, and said: 'She taught you more than all these, for she comes of an ancient and mysterious line. You are right not to speak of such things lightly, but if you tell me what you know, I will add thereunto.'"
"And so the young Prince saw that he must open his heart to the old hermit, and he said: 'Mother told me of a dark and dangerous magic, and it weighs upon my soul; for she said that, if I faced the greatest need to defeat the greatest enemy, I could fall upon the sword of the Swan Kings and shatter my own heart, and that my heart would imprison my enemy. Yet we have ranged far and wide across the Kingdom, and have vanquished every foe be it man or monster, and no such need has come.'"
"'Pray that it never will come!' replied the hermit. "And yet, there is a greater evil than any you have faced that gains strength even as we speak, and has done so since you were christened with the blessings of every good and holy person in the Kingdom; for as you were blessed, so there were curses that never lit upon you. These have conjoined and become powerful, and have taken a shape, although I know not yet what that may be.' And then the hermit led the Prince to a great book upon a carven stand, and opened it to a picture of a beautiful winged woman."
"'And yet, I will tell you of this power of yours. That it is forbidden to all, even unto you who can use it and live, you have been taught. But, once used, there is one who comes in aid.
"'She is a Princess, beautiful and clever and strong, and is called Princess Tutu. She takes the form of a swan- maiden, appearing as a white- winged angel, and only she may gather your heart piecemeal and return it to you, even as she cures the ills of the people.' Then the hermit spoke long and earnestly of the princess in the book, until the Prince spoke.
"'Where is she?' the Prince asked the old man."
"'Nobody knows that,' answered the hermit."
"'But she appears to people as an angel, and saves them by healing their hearts of their greatest ills.' The Prince sighed. 'I wish she would become my princess and rescue my people from their distress.' He thought her picture was the most beautiful image he had ever seen."
"'Dear Prince, your desire is meaningless,' the old man said, and simply smiled."
Fakir had not stirred for the last page and a half. Charon risked a pause, and looked. The little boy slept.
Gently the man rose and left the room, one finger marking the place in the book. Fakir had made him promise once to read the tale to its end, but they had yet to make it past the first fight between Prince and Raven, and Charon was fairly certain that he'd never heard the bit about the knight being torn in two or the Prince losing his heart. Drosselmeyer's unfinished masterpiece, tragic and turbulent as it was, still held passages that could hold Charon entranced. Right now, without proceeding to the parts about the Raven, he wanted to finish the chapter about Princess Tutu and her beautiful shining countenance.
Author's Notes: Written for the May 2014 dA Club Tutu contest "The Prince and the Raven." This takes place maybe a year or so after Fakir has gone to live with Charon, and before he finds Mythos.
My 'Hermit' is an extrapolation from aorphiusrex's much- appreciated translation work on the readable text that appears in the Princes Tutu anime. It was posted in June 2010 to the Princess Tutu community on LiveJournal. The pages in question appear in AKT 5, and are from Prinz und Rabe.
Disclaimer: Princess Tutu and all related characters and elements are the property, copyright and trademark of HAL– GANSIS/TUTU and Ikukoh Itoh and no ownership or claim on said property, copyright or trademark is made or implied by their use in the work(s) of fan fiction presented here. This fan fiction constitutes a personal comment on the aforesaid properties pursuant to doctrines of fair use and fair comment. This fan fiction is non-commercial, not for sale or profit, and may not be sold or reproduced for commercial purposes.