Author's Note

I love fairy tales, but the classic singing prince can be pretty annoying, and does anyone ever wonder about the poor animal having to lug him around? Well, I have. This is pretty off the wall, but I had fun writing it...so don't take it too seriously. Reviews are welcome.

Xander, The Horse

No one ever thinks about the poor horse in the fairy tale, no one ever thinks about his happy ending. I was bought by the prince fairly young, probably because I'm a white stallion. The other horses in the stable were so jealous, and I thought I was getting a good deal. Boy, was I wrong. Okay, so life in the royal stables is pretty good. We get plenty of fresh oats, got people hired to keep us nice and brushed, and the grazing is choice, I gotta say. Speaking of which, I get my choice of the mares, and I've had some pretty wild nights, if you catch my drift.

But there's no free lunch, dear human, nothing free about mine. I pay a pretty steep price for the good life, and that's in the form of one obnoxious prince, Edward. Oh, he's got all the humans snowed, but animals everywhere can't stand him. I've seen lab puppies turn vicious around this guy, he's that annoying. His parents think he's such a good son, the crowned prince, Richard, thinks he's a nice kid brother, and all the ladies of the land knock themselves out trying to get close to him. It's enough to make me throw up my oats, I swear. "Oh, your highness," they coo. "Tell us about your adventures." Then there's the: "Oh, you're so strong and you've got such a big sword." Now, that's a double meaning, even though I've seen the guy bathe, and there's nothing impressive about what he's packing in his hose.

And that's another thing, the way this guy dresses. I know he's a prince, but does he have to dress so girly? It's embarrassing to be out and about with him on your back. Okay, his older brother dresses nice, and so does senior, but nothing like this guy. It has to be silk with him, white silk if possible. When he's out 'roughing it' he'll concede to blue or purple, I guess 'cause it's royal enough for him. And he wears hose, which went out of fashion for every male in the kingdom about two hundred years ago. Don't me started on the shoes, they're practically slippers. Of course, he wears a cod piece, he's pretty insecure about the whole thing.

If I could talk to him, I'd say: "Look, highness, so you've got small genitals. It happens, it's not it's your fault. Quit compensating, you're a prince, and it's not the size that counts anyway. If you're no good in bed, size really don't matter." But he'd probably be too busy singing anyway.

Oh, yes, this prince sings, does he ever. It's not that he's got a terrible voice actually...but he's got no soul, let's put it that way. I mean, he's a complete dork when he sings, okay? It's almost one thing when I don't have to look at him, but when he's off my back some of the expressions he'll twist his face into, I've gagged on my grass a few times. And he doesn't know when to quit.

All right, you've got to sing once in a while, I get it, but this guy has no common sense when it comes to the time and place. When he's out camping, he sings over his gruel. What the hell is lyrical about gruel? I'll admit, coming up with rhymes on the spot might be impressive, if he hadn't sang over the tragedy of the rain the night before , or the majesty of the forest 30 minutes before that, or the longing in his heart for a girlfriend 20 minutes before that. Are you starting to see a pattern? I've seen this guy sing as he takes a leak, and his men don't have the urge to murder him? Amazing. Nope, everyone thinks the prince is dandy, but I've seen squirrels chuck nuts at him. He thought they were under a spell, which led to him (or should I say the soldiers hired to protect him) to spend all day trying to find the witch or wizard behind the evil madness. Hey, I never said he was bright. Actually, I say he isn't. He's dim as midnight.

But Prince Edward is never more annoying than when he's on a so-called quest of whatever kind. Maybe it's because when we're at home, I'm not stuck with him all day. I get to hang out, and enjoy the perks of where I'm living. I'm a white horse, and all the mares dig me. Some of the kids from the palace are sweet, I don't mind giving them their first ride. I'm a mellow horse, (especially for a stallion) so I usually get that job. It's kind of flattering, actually. Damn, why couldn't I get stuck with the little princess Grace? She's a cutie. But when Prince Edward's on a quest, guess who get's dragged along? Yep, the noble steed. Oh, goodie.

But not only does he sing on a quest, he whines on a quest. What does he have to whine about? He's the prince! Okay, so he's not going to inherit the kingdom, but he's still filthy rich, lives in a gorgeous palace, has hot babes throwing themselves at him, he's fairly good looking, he's waited on hand and foot, even on a quest. Sure, he's the only prince in the kingdom's history to not have a dog and he's got a little man complex, but you can't have everything. Anyway, he's probably gonna marry someone with a kingdom of her own, so he really needs to shut up. There's been a few times when I've been 'spooked' if you know what I mean. I'm fairly patient, but I've got my limits.

Of course, then he starts in about his 'horrible injuries' (a bruised butt and ego the only I've seen so far) but it was satisfying for a minute or two.

He complains most about his love life, something I don't get. Most of the girls in the kingdom would be happy to marry him. From what I've heard (horses hear a lot of gossip because they won't repeat it and people treat us like we're part of the landscape) the guy sure has gone through a lot of them in the bedroom. But nope, none of them are pure enough, beautiful enough, understand his soul enough. I mean the guy's as deep as a mud puddle, who's he to judge? His parents are fine with it; they're hoping he can catch a really big fish. Our kingdom's nice; we're a tourist kingdom, you with me? In other words, we don't have any novel natural resources; we don't have a big economy. It's pretty enough, but it's tiny and we're relatively poor. The kingdom hasn't won a war in...Gee, ever. The only reason we haven't been invaded, I think, is because it's not cool to take over countries anymore. It's just not politically correct, so as long that holds up, the royal family can relax.

Anyway, point being, the king and queen are anxious for their son to secure an alliance. Not that this kingdom's a real catch, but it's got a certain charm, an old-fashioned feel. Maybe if someone has a single daughter and no sons...they might be overtaken by the whole 'oh, our daughter's marrying a fellow royal' syndrome and forget the rest.

The prince thinks his mother and father are heartless for suggesting such a thing, but I don't think it's unreasonable. I mean, why else have him around? It's not like he's helping run the country behind the scenes, whipping the army into shape, or even picking up litter for crying out loud. Oh, sure, he supposedly has done all these great feats. Yeah, according to popular myth, he's slayed a few dragons, defeated some big bad giants, and rescued a couple of unicorns. Trust me, I was there, and he didn't do anything like that. It's all propaganda so the people won't wonder why the hell they're paying taxes so he can go through money like it's water. At least the other royals pull their weight. Even little Princess Grace picks up litter and helps groom the horses. So let the singing dork be useful. Maybe if he moves I can stay in the stables and be Princess Grace's horse.

Hey, a horse can dream.

So we're on another 'quest.' Basically, a quest is where he's goes camping while his family stages some heroic deed for him to do. Well, usually. This time, they're sending him to wake up some sleeping chick that's under a spell. Well, this ought to be entertaining, as in not at all.

By the time we made it to this other country, which is actually looking like one big ghost town, he's on song #305. We've been on the road four days, folks. This is animal abuse, really. Even his loyal body guards look like they've had it, although they feel guilty about it. For some reason everyone thinks he's so 'sensitive.' I think he's a big spoiled baby.

Oh, thank God, there's a lull, he's not singing. He's talking, so I'm not totally happy, but at least he's not singing. "What evil has happened to this place?" he asks the guy next to him, Lance. I look around, thinking it looks more like nap time than evil.

"I don't know, milord. I fear for your safety." Huh? Why? Am I missing something? Everyone's asleep. There's even a lady asleep standing up.

"I fear nothing, Lance. I trust in my courage and my wits." I can feel him shift into a heroic pose, but at least I don't have to see it. Oh, brother. That's large since I've never seen him fight in the seven years I've known him, or tax his brains over much for that matter. "And a princess awaits me. Could she be the one I've been searching for? Can she be the one to ease my loneliness?"

Then he's off to the races, singing about eternal love and something about moonlight. I'm numb, I really am.

"...on my good steed, I go off to perform a heroic deed..." Yeah, the jackass has never bothered to name me. Princess Grace calls me Xander, (I guess she couldn't quite get to 'Alexander') that's good enough for me. Oh, no, please don't let him hit the high notes...please don't...he did.

He finishes up the song just as we come to the edge of the courtyard. "Don't, my prince!" his right hand guy begs him. "You'll perish in that forest of thorns!"

Ah, another addition to the prince's bogus legend. I mean, sure, I see some briar in some isolated patches, the whole place is a bit overgrown, I'll admit. It's nothing a little gardening wouldn't cure. I glance at the guy who made up the lie on the spot, and I can see even he's trying not to laugh.

But the prince is dead serious; I can hear it in his oh-so familiar voice. "For the love of the princess, no risk is too great. I must free her from this cursed spell." Yep, he's in love and he hasn't even gotten a look at the chick. I'll bet you a bucket of apples if she's ugly, he'll fall out of love really fast.

So away we go, because at the end of the day, I'm an employee, one that can be sold, even if I do think the prince needs a personality transplant. Of course, we have to have singing as he 'hacks' through the big bad weeds. From the shadow on the ground, I can see he's waving his sword around, but he's got nothing to whack at. Sure, a couple of these suckers are prickly, but since it's my hooves on the ground, what's he got to worry about?

At one point, our hero actually drops his sword, but he doesn't miss a beat. Lance hurries to pick it up. "Here, milord, your snared weapon!" Hey, this guy's really good at make-believe, maybe he's the one that should go into politics.

"Don't interrupt me when I singing to my love," the prince lectures him, and I really would love to buck him into that patch of briar just yonder. The guy actually apologizes, and the prince has to start the song all over again. I guess he couldn't cut it short, oh, no. Apparently, he doesn't believe in humane treatment for horses.

"I'm coming my love, with an adoration as pure as the wing of a dove…" he croons, and I wish I could point out the lady probably can't hear him, even if she is awake. We're not even at the drawbridge yet, heaven help me. He's into the third stanza by the time we get there, and I wonder how long he'll drag the number out.

I glance at Griffin, the horse giving Lance a lift. He shoots me a sympathetic look, and bares his teeth at the obnoxious prince when nobody's looking. Like I said, us animals loathe Prince Eddie with a passion. Maybe the humans are getting drugged into liking him; it's the only explanation I can think of. Griffin's lucky, he's brown and his human doesn't sing. Damn my genetics.

So, finally we're at the entrance of the castle, I want to kiss the ground. That means he'll go in alone and I'll have a couple minutes to myself. He'll wake up the princess, and somebody will come around, cool me down, give me some oats, and I'll be able to get some sleep. But nope, Prince Edward must have figured I haven't suffered enough, because he leads me into the place. Doesn't he know horses don't have much control over their bowels or bladder? When we gotta go we just go, it's just what we horses do. Well, I hope the staff won't mind a clean-up, because I can't make any promises.

I've never actually been inside a castle, though I have peeked through the occasional window while giving the kids a ride around the courtyard. It's pretty nice, but give me a stable any day. So, me and prince Sing-a-lot go through the great hall, pass what I've heard referred to as the throne room. Everyone's snoozing, and missing his next ballad. Oh, yes, he's launched into another one. "…and my dear princess must wait for me to break the spell of slumber distress…" I try desperately to block it out, but it's no good. It'll like a drill in the skull, a little hard to ignore. It's like…oops, I hope they'll forgive the prince for the mess I made by the queen's throne.

Of all places she's taking her nap in the garden, placed on a bed underneath a cherry blossom tree that's in a full bloom. Dang, too bad we couldn't have made it to the grass just a minute earlier…Oh, well, at least the scene's poetic enough, and he's finally stopped singing.

Looking like something out a romance novel (I've seen the queen devour those things when she reads out in the garden or courtyard) the prince slides off my back, and pauses dramatically. His hat with the dorky feather is on perfectly straight, not even a little crooked. "At last, I found my future queen," he declares. Good thing she has her own kingdom, or she'd have to be content just being a princess.

Yeah, the sleeping princess is pretty enough, if you like the perfect blonde type. She probably has sky blue eyes too, which will lead to a lot of songs about blue in general. He makes his way over, stopping several times to pose dramatically. Several of his guys are watching behind us, (yeah, like they'd let him go anywhere alone. I'm surprised he doesn't have an escort to the bathroom) the horses discreetly sniggering, but nobody pays any attention. It takes a while, with the dramatics and all, but he makes his way over to his pretty princess.

"Awake, my beloved." Then he's smooching her, but I'm really not watching too close since I've discovered a sweet patch of grass. Oh, they really grow yummy grass here.

"My prince," I hear the princess say. Good thing he's not just an ordinary rich guy passing by.

So, that's my story, the story of a poor horse named Xander. I just hope I don't accompany the prince to his new kingdom. Don't they have white horses in this country? Princess Grace likes me, maybe she can pull some strings. She does have an impressive bottom lip when it quivers.

Wish me luck.