MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A SPANDERY HOLIDAY!
TITLE: The Fable
Warnings: Bad language and M/M sexual situations.
Disclaimer: The Bee owns none of the characters used
in this story.
Summary: A new take on the old fable of Rumpelstiltskin.
Xander is held in the tower prison of the evil King Liam and has
been ordered to spin a roomful of straw to gold. Can he do
it? Is there someone who can help?
Author's note: This story is not betaed or spell checked by anyone but me.
If there are errors that you simply have to point out, feel free but don't be upset
if I don't care.
Thanks to Naughty Fae for the pre-read and encouragement
Spike was exhausted. He was hungry and yet, with the sun just moments away, he knew
that he was trapped within the walls of the castle. At least, while he was still in bat form,
he was safely tucked away in the crevice of the stone wall, hanging upside down with his
sharp claws embedded in the edge of the long, wooden ceiling beam.
He was mentally and emotionally conflicted by the force of his feelings over this odd
situation. Originally, he had just come here for a look and to satisfy his curiosity. But he
had found so much more and spending time with the boy had stirred all of the old hopes
and fears within him as he continued to remember that fateful time in his past.
He was twelve years old and embarking on a quest and a journey that would mark
his advancement into manhood. It was to be his proving and the first big step towards
his preparation to a time that would see him crowned the King of his land. It was not
a responsibility he took lightly or frivolously.
He had looked forward to this test. He had been faithful in his training in weapons
and honed his physical abilities. He had spent long days in the stables learning not only how
to ride expertly but also how to care for the horses. How to groom them, clean them and
monitor their health and well being.
He was not above shoveling shit, scraping hooves or hauling buckets of water. It was a
smart man who tended his steed. It could make the difference between sitting long in a
saddle or traveling on thin, worn, shoe leather.
He learned to hunt, kill, clean and cook wild game. It was a critical ability since on the
journey, he would be responsible for feeding his entire party and if any of them were to
go hungry, it would be his fault.
Chronologically, William was just a boy on the cusp of puberty but the weight on his
shoulders was that of a grown man, a warrior, and he dared not falter. If he failed, if he
showed any weakness, it would be a monumental misstep that would follow him all the
rest of his life and mar his reign as king. It would cost him the respect of both the court
and his subjects.
For young William this journey was even more critical than simply a test. It was a
destination with a purpose. It was a pilgrimage to a far-off kingdom to retrieve his future
bride. A young girl of royal lineage who would return with him to live within the walls
of William's castle. She would learn the ways of William's people and be trained until
the day she would advance from being his untouched consort to standing at his side and
lying in his bed.
Along with her personal handmaiden, Lady Darla, Princess Drusilla would be settled into
her own wing of the castle. She would be given a full staff along with every comfort
befitting a future queen. At the age of fourteen, she was two years older than William
but still considered an excellent match and a true asset to the sovereignty.
Some found her age to be a shame against her but the fact that she had not yet shed her
first woman's blood forgave her and gave her acceptance.
She and the future king would grow to know each other through chaperoned outings
and although they were to be ceremonially married upon their return to the castle, the
official, physical consummation would not take place until the crowned Prince reached
his age of majority at eighteen years.
It was critical that William complete this task successfully and, in theory, it should be
simple. Ride out, collect the Princess and return to the land of the O'Connors.
William knew that each of his successes and failures along the way of this two month
sojourn would be duly noted, recorded and reported back to the crown. Along with his father,
the king, every man woman and child in the land would know what had transpired on this
trip and the results of this proving would set the tone for his reign when, in the future, the
mantle of responsibility was settled upon William's head.
William did not take that lightly.
This was a test that Prince William was determined to do more than just accomplish. He
wanted to excel. He wanted his subjects to know that on the day he ascended to the throne,
their King would be a man of abilities and that the kingdom would remain in stable hands.
With all of this in mind, King Edward set the arrangements for his son's excursion
beginning with a week long celebration that saw the locals being invited to a fete on the
castle grounds. They feasted on bountiful tables of food and joyfully played at lawn
games. There were great barrels of drink for the men and fruit flavored waters for the
women and children. The celebration ran non-stop until the evening of the boy's
On the final sunset, while the subjects fell exhausted onto the lush, littered lawn outside,
inside the castle, in the great room, a small, private banquet was held. The Prince was
honored and wished well by his close family, friends and servants. It was a formal and
yet intimate affair. It was William's final night in the castle as a child.
At the first light of dawn, they would go.
It was, by most accounts, a small party making the journey. It consisted of Prince William,
his personal guards, Laurence and Warren, as well as William's older cousin Liam along
with Liam's men, Finn and Gunn. As the group's protector and guide, the court sorcerer,
Sir Rupert of Giles would ride with them.
They had ridden from the castle of William's birth on a bright sunny morning. The sky held
not a single cloud and the sun on the horizon was warm. It was early summer, after the last
of the torrential spring rains and before the heat of the season. The horses were the best
the castle owned and the men traveled light, bearing no excess provisions.
The early days of the excursion were lean and William's confidence took a beating. The
other's with him spent many a hungry night and when the game proved elusive, William's
skills were brought to question. Most of the party remained silent and bore their pangs
without comment with the exception of Liam who strongly voiced his insults and complaints.
Although only a year William's senior, Liam considered himself far superior to his cousin.
He had already begun to sprout body hair in a man's places and his voice cracked with the
change, but the differences between them went deeper than what showed on the outside.
Liam was ruthless and unscrupulous and because of that, he saw himself as far more suitable
to the wearing of a crown. It was an opinion shared by a small number of anarchists with
their own agendas within the castle.
Unfortunately, William's father was a man of peace who turned a deaf ear to the warnings
of his loyal subjects and guards. He chose to dismiss the whispers that echoed through the
castle corridors at night and he failed to understand that his kind nature was often interpreted
And in doing so, Edward had sealed the fate of his son, his crown and his kingdom.
Instead, Edward focused all of his attention on the arrangements for his son's adventure in
quest of manhood and the retrieval of a bride that the King himself had agreed to at the time
of William's birth. It was thrilling to watch his son practice with the crossbow and knife.
He had seen his boy sit the saddle expertly and drive his steed like the wind. While no
other provisions were to be allowed on this journey, Edward made sure that the weapons
his son carried were the finest the kingdom had to offer.
Despite a shaky start, by the evening of the twenty-eighth day of the journey, the small
band had fallen into a comfortable routine. Aided by the bounty of the region, William
had found his footing and was now achieving great success in his hunting of the fields
and fishing the streams. Recalling the lessons of his tutors, he knew which roots to dig
and boil for tea and which plants and mushrooms could be safely consumed when the
game was scarce. The mood was light, the weather cooperative and their bellies full.
With Lawrence and Warren at his flank for protection, William's confidence soared as he led
the procession towards the fortified castle of the future princess. By all indications, this
sojourn was to be pleasantly uneventful and would mark the beginning of a triumphant reign.
Unfortunately, one of the lessons not taught the young Prince was the detection of treachery.
In his overconfidence, he did not notice when his cousin, Liam suddenly stopped
complaining. William dismissed the times that Liam, Finn and Sir Giles wandered off,
away from the campfires with their heads together and their voices low. William
disregarded Lawrence's warnings and concerns. Instead, suffering the arrogance of
pride and youth, William focused only on his own accomplishments.
Until that fateful night.
When they were just two days away from their destination.
The morning had gone without incident. The weather was cool but not uncomfortably so.
The wind had pleasantly played over their faces and ruffled their hair as they rode atop
their tall steed. The evening before, they had come across a clear, deep pond and they had
all stripped down to their underclothing and swam in the wonderfully brisk, cold water.
Excitement and anticipation dominated William's attention. In just forty eight hours they
would be in the castle of his betrothed. Their entire party would be hailed and welcomed
like celebrities. They would be wined and dined for a fortnight after which they would be
given gifts for King Edward and the expanded party would begin the journey back home.
With all of this in mind, William noted when the sun was in the descending position and
he signaled to the party. "I'm going to ride out and find some meat for our meal."
The other's barely took note as William's back rose and fell in time with his horse's
retreating gallop. When he was all but out of sight, Sir Giles made an announcement of his
own. "The rest of you go on, I think I will give the Prince a hand." And he too tugged his
reigns and turned his horse into the East.
Within the hour, the Prince had spotted a huge wild boar and he used his horse to rouse and
drive it towards a rock cliff that left no means of escape. When he had his prey cornered,
he swung his leg over the saddle and he immediately dropped to the ground landing in a
crouch as both feet hit the sod with a firm 'thud'.
Ahead of him was a thicket of briars and thistle, It was a dense underbrush whose backdrop
was a sheer drop-off that prohibited his prey from evading this imminent confrontation.
William was thrilled. This was meat enough to fill all of their bellies both tonight and in
the morning. It would reaffirm that, despite his small, adolescent frame, he was a
capable, successful hunter.
Confidently, William crept forward. He gripped his weapons tightly in his hands. He could
hear the boar snorting and squealing in an ugly, threatening tone while the movement of
the rustling branches pin-pointed the hog's exact location. The Prince's stomach clenched.
His heart pounded as the cold adrenalin surged through his veins and the fine, white hairs
stood up on his arms and legs.
The fear was exhilarating! It honed his senses and it sharpened his skills. In his left hand,
he gripped his spear in preparation for the toss and lunge while his right hand had an iron
grip on his short knife for the cut and kill. He knew he had but one shot at the beast. If he
failed, the least that would happen would be that the group would go hungry. The worst
case scenario would see him impaled on the razor sharp tusks of the viscous, killer beast.
The Prince kept his body low. His feet stepped with a balanced stance in preparation for a
leap to either side while his head bobbed each time the movement in the briars shifted.
Each inch closer he came to the boar seemed to enrage the animal more and William knew
the confrontation was only moments away.
Suddenly, the thick, black beast exploded from the thicket. It charged forward with its
head thrown high and his ears laid flat back. Steam and mucus shot from its snout and
fury dripped from its mouth. The wild eyes of the animal seemed to glow supernaturally
and the bristly hair of its body prickled like the sharp spines of a porcupine.
When it charged, its loud screeching squeals were matched by the Prince's shouts as he
rushed forward to meet it head-on. He did not allow himself time to think, only react as he
called upon all of his training in this moment of ultimate challenge.
They locked eyes and the sounds of their screams sent all of the other wildlife scurrying
for safety. Without hesitation, William's arm rose high over his body. He took aim and
just at the moment that the wild beast bore down on him, William thrust the spear praying
that it would find its mark in the animal's throat.
In a flash, the Prince felt the spatter and smelled the stench of hot blood as it sprayed all over
his face. The sickening sound of the monster's death screech rented the air. Slamming to
the ground, the beast continued to kick and flail against as the last remnants of its life
spilled from the gash in its neck.
"YES!! YES!! Take that you bastard!!"
Wasting no time in celebration, William dropped to his knees and he plunged his short
blade behind the creature's ear. Then with one firm swipe, he effectively opened a wound
so deep and wide that the head was all but severed from the torso and the boar finally lay
still and motionless.
Only then, did the Prince sit back on his heels, gasping for air and allowing himself a moment
of gleeful celebrating over his conquest. He threw his hands high in the air and ignored
the rivulets of blood that ran down from his palms and dripped from his elbows. "Whop!
Whop! Whop!" Each exclamation was accentuated by his waving of the short knife that
was covered in the tissue and flesh of his prize.
But the young Prince was still an innocent at heart and one lesson he had yet to learn was
that pride goeth before a fall.
As he gloated over his accomplishment, he was unaware of the eyes that had watched the
whole battle. He was oblivious to the man who had quietly dismounted and secured his steed
far from sight to allow a silent advancement. Prince William was clueless even as the rock
came down against the back of his head knocking him to the ground and rendering him unconscious.
"Well, well, your Highness, good on you!" Sir Rupert of Giles casually walked around the
two fallen forms on the ground. He nudged them both with the toe of his boot and although
only one was dead, he got no response from either. "No sense in allowing this lovely kill to
go to waste, so, although I will be forced to take back to the others a story of your sad
demise, you will be pleased to know that we all ate well on our feast of sorrow."
As expected, Sir Giles received no response from the silent boy which was a relief. If the
boy had come around, the sorcerer would have had to do something much more permanent
and that was not his order. Liam wanted the boy to endure a lifetime of suffering and not
be afforded the peace of a quick death.
Wasting no more time, Giles hurried to where he had tied his horse. He quickly unbound
a cloth pouch that had been slung over the side of the saddle and he hurried back to the
gory scene of the carnage.
Crouching down, Giles opened his bundle and he retrieved a large piece of brown fabric
which he shook. It billowed in slow motion in the cool air and, with great flourish, Giles
draped it over the unconscious body of the crowned Prince.
The magician then extracted a glass vial from his pouch. With a squeaking wiggle, he pulled
the cork from the neck of the bottle and then he paused. If he did this, there was no
turning back. It would alter the future of the kingdom forever and in a way that would
benefit only a chosen few.
His traitorous actions would be viewed as mutiny against the crown and yet if he did not do
as he was told, it would be his own death that would be reported to the King. A king that
had been good to him. A king with whom he shared a secret. The secret of their
physical awakening as boys in the hidden corners of the castle. Before Edward accepted
the crown and Giles, the position of trusted court sorcerer, they had been lovers.
And yet, Giles would follow the cruel instructions of a man-boy who was already obsessed
with power. The truth was, Sir Rupert feared Liam O'Connor more than he loved King
Edward and because of that, Sir Rupert of Giles would commit the most heinous of offenses.
Wasting no more time on regret or second thoughts, Giles sprinkled the vile of powder over
the cloak. As he did so, he whispered a series of words that held no vowels or
coherent language. He watched as the dry flakes sparkled in the fading sunlight and
when the final word left his lips, the ground beneath his feet began to rumble.
The wind kicked up and the trees and bushes swayed. All of the birds of the forest burst
into flight to escape the dread they were feeling and somewhere, miles away, a pack of
wolves howled mournfully.
Giles stared at the body on the ground. For a moment, just as he was beginning to doubt
the validity of his spell, the Prince's body shuddered. It levitated a foot from the ground and,
in the blink of an eye, it shrank and transformed. Astounding even the spell-caster, the
Prince took the shape of a small brown bat whose wings were tightly wrapped around
him. Without the need of conscious flight, a sudden gust of wind lifted the tiny rodent,
spinning and buffeting him like a fallen leaf before it flipped him upside down and swept
him rapidly over the high tree tops and out of sight.
"Dear, sweet, mother of God." Giles stared at the spot in the sky where the bat had
disappeared. When he reconciled that, what was done, was done, he dropped to his knees
and he slapped his palms deep into the boar's blood before swiping and smearing it all over
his clothing and face. When he returned to the group, he would need proof that the Prince
Killed and ripped to irretrievable shreds by the tusks of the massive boar.