A/N This was just an idea that got hooked in my brain and wouldn't let go. The usual disclaimers apply, so please don't sue me. Thanks to Banadar and Cathode for thier suggestions and criticism. Speaking of which, all criticism is appreciated, but please make sure it is coherent; pointless rants hurt my brain. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Beckah Osbourne was hurrying through brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed, this isn't an unusual thing for a six year old to do, but her reasons were not the usual ones. Normally a six year old will avoid going to bed until the last minute and then rush, but Beckah wanted to get to bed early; and that made her very unusual. This wasn't a common thing, but then again, uncle Xander wasn't a usual visitor.
Her uncle Xander told stories, some of the best and most wonderous stories that she had ever heard. Beckah's friends, the ones that had met him, were scared of her uncle at first because he wore an eye-patch; they thought he was a pirate. But Beckah just told them that he wasn't a pirate, he was just her uncle, and after he had told one of his stories, all of her friends thought he was a great uncle and wanted her to share. She wouldn't though, he was her uncle, and tonight he would be telling her and her little brother Rupert their bed-time story, and those were always the most specialest wonderful stories of all.
Beckah's daddy didn't talk much, so stories weren't really something he did, and mommy told OK stories about faries and children; but she couldn't tell stories like her uncle. Aunt Faith once offered to tell bedtime stories about her life on the road, but Beckah's mommy had said no, and her mommy's face had gotten all red. Uncle Xander always told stories about brave deeds and monsters and knights and damsels. Sometimes her mommy would even sit and listen to uncle Xander's stories. She had once even seen her mommy crying during a story, but Beckah never told that she had seen.
She helped Rupert get ready for bed, because he could take forever, and she wanted uncle Xander to have lots of time. Once they were ready both the children tore into Beckah's room and got under the covers, snuggling down and getting comfortable. "We're ready for our story" she called out once she and Rupert were settled.
Her uncle immediately appeared in her doorway, and she had to giggle. He was standing there trying to look like a super-hero, but he was wearing a hat with bells on it, like a jester, and he looked silly. Secretly Beckah was also happy; because uncle Xander never wore his hat with bells unless it was a really really wonderous story. He bowed low, the bells making a light jingling noise "my fair damsel and young lord, I beg leave to tell the tale of the steadfast knight."
"Arise storyteller and give us your tale" Beckah said with a giggle. Her uncle had told her that this was the proper way to answer when he would ask to tell a story.
"Thank you oh fairest maiden in the land" uncle Xander said, and he walked over to their bed and he sat down and started his story.
Once upon a time, there lived a princess. She was beautiful, as all princesses are, but she was also a warrior, like a knight; and she was given a hard task. In her realm was a dark castle that many bad people wanted to use to do bad things, her task was to guard the castle and make sure that monsters never used it to hurt anyone. At first the princess was sad, because she was alone in her task, but then she met a wise hermit, and seeing the princess's sorrow said, I will help you with this task. And the princess was happy because she now had someone to help. And soon others chose to help the princess as well, a good witch and the steadfast knight.
"What does steadfast mean, uncle Xander?"
"It means that he was loyal and would always help" her uncle answered.
Now the knight was not the greatest warrior, nor the smartest knight, but his power was in his heart and his loyalty; he would never give up helping the princess in her task. You see, the knight loved the princess and vowed that he would always care for her and do everything he could to keep her from harm. Unfortunately for the knight, the princess didn't love him back, she cared for him, but did not love him. Despite the princess not loving him, the knight held to his vow and cared for the princess. They fought together to keep the castle away from the monsters and bad people, and along the way, the princess fell in love. He was a knight, but a darker knight. The steadfast knight didn't care for him, but because the princess loved the darker knight, the steadfast knight did nothing.
One day an evil magician tried to claim the castle as his own. He and the princess fought, and alas the princess was killed. But fortunately her two knights, the dark one and the steadfast one found her and brought her back to life. The princess then went and fought with the evil magician again, and this time she slew him. There was peace in the realm for a while and the princess and her friends were happy; but then something bad happened. The princess and her darker knight loved each other, but unknown to them the darker knight had a curse upon him, and one day it took effect and the darker knight became evil. The princess was upset, the darker knight now wanted the castle and he would fight the princess for it, but the darker knight still looked like the man she loved. With the help of her friends, the princess realized what she had to do, but unfortunately before they could stop him, the darker knight killed a friend of the wise hermit. With the help of the good witch and the steadfast knight, the princess fought the darker knight and beat him and exiled him to another realm.
"What does exiled mean?"
"It means that he was forced to go somewhere he didn't want to go, and not to come back."
"Oh, like someone making you run away from home?"
"Yeah pumpkin, something like that."
The princess was so upset at the exile of the darker knight that she went away for a while. Remembering his vow, the steadfast knight stayed and guarded the castle in the princess's absence. His friends, the good witch and the wise hermit helped him along with a wolf that didn't howl and a beautiful but grumpy maiden. Together they kept the castle away from the bad people until the princess returned. She did return, and they were all happy for a while, until a nasty but clever man challenged them.
"I built the castle" he told the princess and her friends "I know all of the secret passages and hidden doors, you will never stop me."
The princess and her friends were afraid that the clever man was right, but they were also afraid because the clever man had a princess of his own. She was beautiful, like all princesses are, but she was wicked and did bad things. The steadfast knight tried to make friends with the wicked princess, but she only laughed at him. After many small fights, the two princesses fought and in the end, the wicked princess could fight no more, but she wasn't killed, she just slept for a long time.
"Like Sleeping Beauty?"
"Exactly like Sleeping Beauty."
But they still had to deal with the nasty man, and the princess couldn't defeat his army, even with the help of her friends and the darker knight, who had come back from exile. So she called out to all the people of the land for help, and together they defeated the clever but nasty man by trapping him in a building and burning it up. Again there was peace in the realm and the steadfast knight cared for the princess and kept his vow.
The princess was sad after the nasty man was defeated because the darker knight went back into exile, but she soon met another knight. He was kind but dull and cared for the princess deeply. The good witch was also sad for a while because her companion, the silent wolf left her to seek its own kind; but she soon found another companion. This companion was another witch, but a quiet one and the two witches became very close friends. Also at that time the steadfast knight found a lady-fair of his own. She was a most unusual lady because she had been cursed, and had lived as an ogre for many years. The curse had recently been lifted, but she was afraid that everyone would see her only as an ogre. But then she met the steadfast knight and saw that there was room for her in his heart, she cared for him, and he cared for her. And together they fell in love and cared for each other. At this time the four friends had started to spend more time apart. They were still guarding the castle, but it seemed as though no-one wanted it anymore. But just when they thought it was safe, an evil sorceress tried to take the castle while they weren't looking.
They found out that the kind but dull knight had been working for the sorceress, but when he found that she was evil, he left her. But she still tried to use her creations to take the castle, but in the end the princess combined her powers with the good witch, the wise hermit and the steadfast knight and defeated the creatures of the evil sorceress.
Very soon after that, some holy men gave the princess a treasure and told her that she must guard it well, as well as she guarded the castle. She promised that she would and thought no more on it for a while. But then an evil and powerful queen came looking for the treasure, but was not sure what it looked like because the holy men had hidden it well. While the princess was fighting with the vile queen, the kind but dull knight left to seek other realms and the princess found a new companion. He was the darkest knight, but the princess cared for him, so the steadfast knight said nothing. She entrusted the care of the treasure to the darkest knight and this caused the steadfast knight to weep bitter tears when he was alone. He was sad because after all that he had done for the princess, she still trusted another more than him. For while it was true that the darkest knight was stronger in battle, he had no heart, and nothing worthy in him, but the steadfast knight kept his vow and said nothing. Finally the vile queen found out what the treasure looked like and took it for her own, but the princess took it back and knocked down the queen's tower. This killed the vile queen, but unfortunately it also killed the princess as well.
All of the princess's friends stood by her body and wept, because she had been such a great and noble friend. The wise hermit went back to being a hermit, but the good witch had an idea. We can bring her back, she told the steadfast knight. So the two witches the knight and his lady-fair summoned great magics and brought the princess back to life. For a while the princess was sad because she was no longer in heaven, but she was reminded of her promise to care for the treasure. She then took up the mantle of her calling again, but she sought out the companionship of the darkest knight more and more. This made the steadfast knight sad, but he remembered his vow and said nothing. He talked to his lady-fair and the wise hermit, and they both said that the princess should be left to make her own mistakes. The steadfast knight didn't like this, but he did what they said.
Soon after that, they noticed that some foolish but wicked men were trying to take the castle. They did not think that these men were a threat because they were so foolish, but one had a weapon that was too great for him and he used it. The princess was injured, but the companion of the good witch was slain. When she saw what had happened, the heart of the good witch changed. She looked upon the dark castle and her heart darkened with pure fury and she said 'I can use it to make foolish people pay for their crimes'. But the princess said that no one could use the castle, which was why it was her calling to bar all from entering, even her friends. So the two friends fought and even though the lady-fair and the wise hermit helped the princess, the good witch conquered them all. She walked up to the castle, ready to enter and do evil when she saw that her way was still barred. It was the steadfast knight. He looked at his friend the good witch and said 'I know that you are greatly sorrowed by the loss of your friend, but using the dark castle is wrong, and this you know.'
The witch, who had been his friend for years, looked at the knight and told him to get out of her way before he was hurt. He replied that she was his friend and that he belonged by her side, even if she was doing evil things. But she did not want him there, so she hurt the knight and knocked him down. But as she was about to enter the castle he looked at her and said 'I love you'. The witch looked at her friend and into his heart and saw that it was true, despite all the bad things that she had done and the hurt she had caused, that in his heart the knight forgave her and still cared for her. Then the heart of the witch changed again, and she was sorry for what she had done and she no longer desired the castle.
The hermit took the witch to a place to heal her spirit, so the knight was alone with the princess because the darkest knight had left also. And the knight was happy because he was keeping his vow and protecting the princess. Soon their friends returned and they were all happy, but the darkest knight returned as well and this made the steadfast knight sad. But soon there were trials aplenty. A great king had heard about the castle and wished to claim it for his own. Even with her friends and the people of the realm, they could not defeat the great king and the evil monk that fought at his side. But the hermit had an idea and he went and gathered princesses from other lands to help guard the castle. Many came to help, even the previously wicked princess that had fought against them.
"What does previously mean uncle Xander?"
"It means something that used to be."
"Previously wicked sounds silly, she needs a better name."
"OK then, what should we call her?"
"The poopy princess" Rupert called out.
Both Xander and Beckah laughed at Rupert's suggestion, so she became the poopy princess.
So they fought the great king, and the evil monk and their army of monsters. In the end the king was defeated and the monk killed, but many princesses died and the steadfast knight was hurt badly and his lady-fair was slain. Even the darkest knight died, but in doing so, he destroyed the dark castle for ever and all.
"So was the darkest knight good or bad" Beckah asked.
"I think he was bad, and just did good by accident" Xander answered the girl. "But there were times that he tried to be good."
"So what happened next?"
Without the castle to guard, the friends went their separated ways. The good witch went to seek the company of other witches, and the hermit set up a school so people had a place to learn. The princess took her treasure and visited other realms, simply to see how others lived and to look for other princesses. The steadfast knight and the poopy princess went to another land where there was another dark castle to guard, but this one was much smaller. The steadfast knight held to his vow and guarded the castle, but he was sad. His hurt was deep, and with the loss of his lady-fair he had no one to share his life with. Also, because the dark castle was no more, he believed that the princess no longer needed guarding so he let her leave.
Soon the knight felt even worse, because a minstrel came with news. The princess had found a prince. He was a great and lordly man in a far realm, both wise and kind. The steadfast knight knew that the princess would no longer need him to watch and care for her and with that news, part of his great heart went to sleep. Then the knight sat and wept the bitterest tears of all because he believed that despite all that he had done, the princess had never cared for him, and that his life had been meaningless.
Seeing this, the poopy princess confronted the knight and told him that evil was still abroad in the world and that the princess would always need protecting. She then asked if all knights so easily gave up their vows. This angered the steadfast knight, to have protected the princess and fought as long and hard as he had only to be belittled by the poopy princess, his blood was stirred to boiling. He stood to confront the poopy princess, but found her smiling, and soon he was as well, because for the first time in many days, the knight's heart was filled with something other than sadness. He fell on his knees and thanked the poopy princess for reminding him of his vows and told her that she was a true friend and great lady. The poopy princess blushed at the knight's praise and raised him up and said 'I shall guard this castle, for I have many to help me; go and fulfill your vow'. So the knight left and traveled to the far realm where the princess now dwelt with her treasure and her prince.
But when the steadfast knight got there, he was angered because he soon discovered that the prince was an evil man in disguise. He was planning on damaging the treasure in order to get the princess to do as he wished. The knight was angry but not foolish, he knew that the prince would kill him and the princess would not believe him if he told her what he knew, so he called on his friends once again. Together they confronted the prince and subdued him and sent him into exile far far away. They never told the princess what had happened, she only knew that the prince had left. The princess was very sad and she resumed traveling to far realms with her treasure and the steadfast knight. After many days her heart began to lighten and she became the beautiful and happy princess that the steadfast knight remembered.
At that time they were in a far realm with many strange animals when a young lord approached them. 'I have seen the treasure that you possess' he told the princess 'I ask your permission to care for it in your stead'. The princess knew that the treasure was hers to guard, but not to keep, and the young lord was a good man, and he cared for the treasure deeply, so she said that he could care for it in her place.
There was to be a ceremony when the treasure was passed on, and many friends and lordly folk showed up to see. And the wise hermit and the good witch and even the poopy princess came to the ceremony. Before the ceremony took place the princess said that she wished someone would care for her as deeply as the young lord cared for the treasure.
This caused the good witch and the poopy princess to laugh. 'Why are you laughing' the princess asked.
'Because you have always had that' the poopy princess replied. 'The steadfast knight has cared for you always and guarded you from many foes. I could only wish that he would look upon me with the same love that he has for you, but he does not.'
The princess turned to the good witch and asked if this was true.
'Of course' the good witch replied 'the steadfast knight has always cared for you to the very depths of his heart, even though you have never returned his love.'
The princess thought and thought and looked at all that had happened in her life and realized that her two friends were correct; the knight did indeed love her. And with that thought, her heart became enlightened and she realized that she also loved the knight, though she had never told him that. That she had never returned the knight's love shamed the princess. But he will think me a fool, the princess said to herself, if I suddenly come to him speaking of love. He will think that I am being flighty and do not mean what I say because I have said that I did not love him many times in the past. Alas, I fear he will not believe me. So out of fear of the knight's rejecting her love, the princess said nothing.
After the ceremony, the steadfast knight and the princess resumed their travels, and in this time the princess finally truly beheld the steadfast knight, and saw his love and loyalty and she beheld his great heart. But still she said nothing, out of fear and shame, and her heart grew heavy and she knew that she would have to soon risk all to tell him of her feelings or leave him altogether. But before she could make that decision, the two friends came across a strange princess fighting with a troll. The troll had knocked the strange princess to the ground and batted the princess out of the way. The troll was getting ready to kill the strange princess when he was stopped by the steadfast knight. They fought but the troll was too great for the knight, and the steadfast knight was badly hurt. Upon seeing her friend hurt, the princess became enraged and slew the troll, then fell on her knees at the side of the steadfast knight and wept bitter tears for she was afraid that he would die without knowing her true heart.
Though he was sorely hurt, the steadfast knight's great heart would not let him die. He was taken to a place of healing and soon his body mended, but he would not wake up. Many wise healers from all lands tried and failed to wake the knight up. All the while the princess sat at his side, dark and sad at her own foolish fear; fear that had kept her from loving this worthy knight. She wished that the knight would wake up, even were it only for a moment so that she could tell him how she truly felt. Finally the last and greatest of the healers tried and failed to waken the steadfast knight. Then the princess was heartbroken and she wept much and in her extremity threw herself in the sleeping knight's arms and said 'come back to me please, for I need you above all others. I love you and where would I be without my steadfast knight to guard me.'
As she was laying there she heard a voice say 'you will never have to know that my princess, for I vowed to guard you; and I am the steadfast knight, I keep my vows.'
The princess looked up and saw that the steadfast knight had indeed awakened and her heart swelled with joy and she told the knight of her love for him. He looked at her for a long moment and then said that he had never stopped loving the princess and vowed to love her to his dying day. And the joy of the princess knew no bounds. Soon the knight was able to walk and he left the place of healing, hopefully never to return. Then the princess and the steadfast knight were married, and they lived happily ever after.
Beckah tried to keep the tears out of her eyes because that was the bestest story that she had ever heard in her life and she didn't want her uncle to think that she didn't like it. Beckah knew that she could listen to that story every night for a year and still not get tired of it, but she also knew that uncle Xander didn't repeat his stories, so she did all she could to remember this one.
"Not all tears are bad" her uncle said with understanding and he gently wiped her face dry. Then, with the bells on his had jingling softly, he kissed her head and Rupert's and wished her good night and got up to leave the room. When he got up, Beckah saw her aunt Buffy standing in the doorway. Beckah was surprised to see that her aunt was crying; she had never seen her aunt cry.
As her uncle was pulling her door closed she heard her aunt say "where indeed would the princess be without her steadfast knight". Then Beckah saw her kiss uncle Xander as the door closed.