Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
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The Princess and the Fairy King

by Col Cort

On the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventieth year of his rule, the aging Emperor called his knights into his golden throne room.

“I have no sons,” he said, “so whoever fetches me an apple from the Fairy King’s orchards will inherit my kingdom.”

“What about me?” the Princess asked.

She hadn’t been invited to the throne room, but she had gone anyway. That’s the kind of person she was.

“Girls can’t be Emperor,” knight with blue hair and blue armor said a

“Don’t be silly,” knight with red hair and red armor agreed.

“I’d marry you,” offered a handsome knight in handsome silver armor.

Nobody knew where the Fairy King’s orchard was, so the knights traveled for a year and a day without finding anything. The Princess spent that time in the library. She read dusty old books until she knew everything there was to know about the Fairy King.

“I’m going out to collect wildflowers,” she told her father.

She stole a horse and a sword on her way out.


The Fairy’s King’s orchard was on the back of an enormous sea turtle that swam lazily around the world. The Princess found it floating near a fishing village. The village only had three boats, and each one had been claimed by a knight.

“What about me?” the Princess asked.

“Girls aren’t good on boats,” said the knight with blue hair and blue armor.

“Don’t be silly,” agreed the knight with red hair and red armor.

“I’d take you, but my boat is too small,” offered the handsome knight in handsome silver armor.

The boats left, but the princess didn’t give up. She walked down a beach until she found a stranded humpback whale.

“If I can help you back into the ocean, will you take me to the Fairy King’s orchard?” she asked.

The humpback whale flicked its tail, and the princess spent the night digging trenches and carrying heavy buckets. The whale hummed lullabies as she worked.

The Princess had the whale back in the ocean by midnight.


The Fairy King was throwing himself an extravagant birthday party beneath the orchard trees, and the magical apples cast silver light across the dance floor. Platters of food and drink floated in the air, a trio of magical harps played elegant chords, and the King looked resplendent in his cloak made of spider webs and dreams. Everything was perfect.

“Let the party begin!” the King proclaimed. He loved parties.

The guests arrived by ones and threes, dropping out of the sky or appearing in flashes of light. It was quite the crowd. Tiny elves ran laughing through the branches, dwarves dragged wagons of ale, the wild wood sprites had flowers in their hair, and the winds of spring rustled in the leaves. The guests included godmothers and goblins, wise women and wizards, sorcerer lords and a pig herder who was secretly the son of a king.

“Do we have enough food?” the Fairy King asked, suddenly concerned.

“We can always eat the apples,” the Princess suggested.

“Never! Who would say such a terrible thing?”

“He did,” the princess said, pointing at the knight with blue hair and blue armor.

The Fairy King clicked his fingers and the knight turned into a blue toad.

“My apples are not for eating,” he said.

The Princess winked at a passing witch.


Later that night the knight with red hair and red armor climbed a tree and touched an apple. He was instantly struck by lightning and fell from the tree with a thump.

“What happened to him?” the Princess asked.

“My magic stops anyone from touching the apples on my trees,” the King said with satisfaction.

“Really?” asked the Princess.

“Strong magic,” added the Fairy King.

“So are you the Fairy King? I expected the Fairy King to be more… more…” the princess trailed off.

“More what? More what?”


“I’m impressive,” the King said, puffing out his little chest.

“Not very,” the Princess said.

The Fairy King was annoyed; what could he do to prove his power?

“I can dance,” he decided.

And so the King danced for his guests. No-one can dance like the Fairy King. He danced with wild abandon as meteorites fell in bright red lines across the sky, stars spun in spirals, flowers burst into bloom, and insects clicked in pleasure.

“I’ve seen better,” the Princess lied.

The Fairy threw his hands up in despair. What could he do to prove his power?

“I can sing,” he decided.

No-one can sing like the King of Fairies. He sang the loveliest song the world had ever heard, a song to break hearts and unite enemies, a song that turned coal into diamonds and frogs into handsome princes.

“I’ve heard better,” the Princess lied again.


“I have, sorry.”

The Fairy King frowned. What could he do to prove his power?

“I can get angry,” he decided.

No-one can throw a tantrum like the King of Fairies. Tempests formed, trees split, wine turned to vinegar, the oceans moaned and the Earth shuddered. The violence caused a single, perfect apple to fall from the orchard’s trees. The Princess picked it up before the Fairy King noticed.

“That was very impressive,” she said.

“Thanks,” said Fairy King said, pleased.


The Princess walked out of the party. Her path was blocked by the handsome knight in the handsome silver armor.

“Give me the apple and I can take it to your father,” the handsome knight said. “Then we can marry and live in the castle together.”

The Princess considered his offer. She had lived in a castle all her life, and she hadn’t enjoyed it. She took a bite of the apple and let the sweet juice run down her chin.

“Nah,” she said, and ran away to be a pirate.

That’s just the kind of person she was.

2019 Col Cort

Col Cort is eighty percent coffee, seventeen percent apples, and nine percent sure about his maths

Find more by Col Cort in the Author Index.

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