Once upon a time......
There was a kingdom that belong to a powerful and wise family. It was a wonderful, and a merry kingdom, and it's people were content and happy with the royle family, for they rule with fairness and kind words. The only time they have ever seen them angry is when there is a war or when trickery is among their home. But the King was growing old, and could not go on with the kingdom on his shoulder.
So he turned to his son, Prince Edmond, to continue his rule as long as the King was his adviser and he stayed by his books. For three years, Edmond ruled his kingdom well but he soon grew lonely, and felt that it was his time to marry.
But he didn't want to marry just a princess, he wanted to marry a woman for who she truly is. So he locked himself into the library and thought on how he could see the real beauty in the woman he is looking for. For three days, he looked and read every book about true love until he found one that seemed to answered his questions.
And so, he turned to his mother and asked her to make arrangements to meet princess, duchess, and mayres daughters in a ball that will apper in every end of the month. Where then he will look for his fucher wife with not just by looking, but with three tests he prepared.
His mother arrange the ball and sent out invitations to all the single noble daughters everywhere. And as soon of the end of the month came by, so did the ball. The first ball went beautify. The music was lovely and the food was mouth-watering. The guest however were more or less thoughtful. Yes, the ladies were very beautiful and easy on the eyes, but as every one of the noble woman took the test, he turned them down.
For 5 months, he looked for the 'perfect' wife, and for 5 months he went back to his sanctuary with his head held down and sorrow beginning to grow in his heart.
Until the end of the 6th month....
It was probably the most magnificent ball that the Queen had ever thrown. The décor was more spectacular, the food was ever tasteful, and the music had never been played more wonderful. Edmond was in the ballroom, waiting for the guest to come. No sooner than later, they did come. The woman came in their elegant dresses made with the finest silk, each of their hair was well crafted that was appealing for the men, and their make-up matched their beautiful, dazzling faces, not one was the same. They came in, delightfully smiling and eager to meet the Prince that they have heard that he was so hard to win. After 20 minuets, everybody settled in and got to know one another, Edmond was about to announce his test for all of the noble.
“Announcing her highness, Princess Lilly.” Called out the announcer. They all turned to the new comer and gasped at the new lady. She is indeed a princess, but her looks were not one. She was far, far from beautiful.
Her hair was made well, but the color and texture was homely brown, her skin was pail with freckles on her shoulders, arms, and her cheeks. She wasn't as tall as the other women and her arms were a bit uneven. Lillys face wasn't at all lovely. Her cheeks were too chubby, a lump apper awkwardly over her right eye, her eyes were the color of dull brown and she had a poor overbite.
Dispit the ways the crowd gazed at her in an rudely fashion, she had a smile that showed that she was more than happy to be here, even if her teeth were unflattering to look at. The Queen greeted her as she did for the other guest. She walked up to her with her pleasing smile, and curtsy for her. “I thank you for coming here to the ball, Princess Lilly.” He said handsomely as he smiled at her. “ThaNk yOu for...iNvITinG mE.” She reply back with an uneven voice and curtsy for her, almost graceful but yet clumsy.
The noble ladies cringed at the sound of her uneven, crude voice, and shy away from her when she walked over to mingle with the crowd. They turned their backs to her when she was about to enter a small group, they whisper awful things about her behind her back, and worst of all, some of them had the gall to talk to her face to face that she wouldn't win the Prince heart because she was too lame for him. Lilly, however, brushed aside the hateful comments, the nasty whispers, and the shunning. She continue to walked about, talking to the gentlemen.
At first, they were frozen with fear, confusion, and a bit of anger. They did wanted to get away from her, but when she started to talked about how much she knew about how wild flowers attracted a centern kind of animals, and how it can be used for adding a bit of flavor in a meal. The men found it a bit fascinating, but still wished to be with other people.
Then, the trumpets were sounded and the whole ballroom was silent. The Prince was in the door way, gazing around with his stunning green eyes. All of the women almost swoon to the ground, for he is quite magnificent to gaze at. Lilly smile her widest smile as he looked about them. “I thank you all for coming to my ball, my ladies.” He said, bowing to all of them. Every girl giggled behind their hands and fans as do Lilly. “But as you all may know, this is not your one-of-a-kind ball. Tonight, I will give you a test. This test will show your inner beauty to the world. If you pass this test, then you shall become my queen.”
They all gasped in excitement and in wonder at the test. Of course, most were thinking that they will win the test because they feel they are the most beautiful of them all. Lilly looked down and fiddle with her hands with a bit of concern. 'Inner beauty? What does that even mean?' She thought when the trumpets were sounded again. “If you all would come with me, I will show you all to your first task.”
With out a moment to lose, they were all following him, no nobel lady was left behind. Soon, they were in the plaice garden, all eager to begin. There were rows and rows of flower beds that were bear of flowers. On the side of the soil was small buckets small grown flowers and sprouts. “For the first test, you will need to plant these flowers. There will no time limit.” And with that, he stepped to the side and allow the women to start. There were rushing about, most of them wanted to stay near the Prince as close as possible, others who knew how to plant flowers were running to the best bed they could find. The rest stood on the side lines, turning up their noises in thei air at the thought of really doing a 'peasants work' as one of them say.
Lilly took her time, slowly awkwardly walking to bed to empty bed. Then she founded one and began to plant. There were princess and other nobles that knew how to garden while others were confused and left guessing to know what to do. Lilly notice her neighbor contestant was doing poorly. She walked over to her and helped her with out asking. The duchess looked shocked by this gester, for she was one of the girls who whisper awful things behind her back. “What about your bed? Don't you care about winning?” She asked rudely to her. “No...I HavE pLEnty oF tIMe...” “But, why are you helping me? You are not suppose to.” They DiDN't sAY ThAt...” The duchess was surprised she even remembered the rule. Later on, she gave her a hand.
Soon, all of the beds were filled with small roses, daisies, tulips, and other flowers were all planted. The Prince walked down each rows, inspecting the bed of flowers. When he got to Lillys garden, there was hardly any flowers in it. He saw her standing next to her neighbor, and her bed were filled with flowers all neatly planted. The duchess walked up to the Prince and said, “Prince Edmond, please let her take my place, for it was her that did all the work.”
Edmond was taken back by her request. “You know that if you do, you would never continue to take this test.” he stated out to her. “I don't deserve to go on, for I was rude to your guest, and she is the better player than I am.” A small smile appeared on his handsome face as he bowed politely to her. “Very well. If that is what you want, you may join the other ladies who did not planted all of these flowers to the ballroom.”
Lilly ran, or hobbled, over to her, hugged the duchess and muttered thank you. The duchess was taken by this sudden act. Then, slowly, as if she had never had gevin a hug before, she raised her arms and hugged her back and went back with the other losers. The other nobles were shocked by her selfless act. Non of them had ever seen such an act that lead one kindness to another.
The next test was in the the treasure room. There were lots of necklaces, rings, and crowns in different shape and sizes and with all kinds of jewels on it. “For this next test, you will choose one accessory from this room that is one of the most valuable item of all. The time again is limited, you have one hour to find the most valuible item. Begin!” he bellowed.
No sooner when he said it, every one rushed to the piles of jewelery and other objets. Almost imettuly, every single women think they founded the most preshuse item. Most of is was ether a crown, golden cup, or a necklaces. Some were clever that others. They picked out paintings of the past Kings and Queens, swords, and clothings. Almost everyone was done except for two princess.
Lilly and Princess Kenna, and she was beautiful. Most people would say the most beautiful of all. She had golden, red hair that ran down her slender back like a flowing waterfall. Her skin was the most creamiest color anyone who could have imagine it. And her face, her face was the most beautiful thing of all. Her cheeks were not too round, and not to narrow, with a light touch of natural blush. They eyes stood out from her lovely, long eye-lashes like a beacon in the darkness, for they were lightest blue that could only be shown with a light glimmering from a crystal.
Oh yes, she was beautiful, but on the inside, she was hollow, cruel, and heartless. And everyone who knew about it, was kept silent, for she made them to hold their tongues with an evil glare from her beautiful eyes. Even thought she is cruel, she is intelligent. She saw though the tests that the Prince had thrown at her and had made her way up top in order to win his hand.
Kenna looked around her, making her dark, purple dress swirl around her gracefully. 'Where,' she thought. 'where is that blasted item? It is too obvious to be a jewel, the paintings are the second to go, and the swords are too prideful for this family. So what would the be the most valuable of all?!' she thought angrily in her head. Meanwhile, Lilly observed quietly as she gazed with her brown eyes reflecting off the shinning piles around her. Then she spotted something that stood out form all the others. It was a book, a very old book. With the book covers edges chipped and flawed, the cover color were faded into nothing, and the pages were yellowed with age.
She stumbled over to it and picked it up with her longer arm with ease. She stood up, open it, and read what was inside. “Once upon a time...” It began. She smiled her unflattering smile and closed the book. She turned around and walked awkwardly back to the crowd. Just as she reached to the Prince, Kenna appered right beside her with a small, red old blanket in her arm.
Edmond took one look at their findings and said with a smile. “You two have passed the test.” The women behind him silently groaned in disappointment. He walked over to Kenna and lifted the blanket with a gentile handling. “This was my grandfather as a child. It had passed down from my father to me. I hope I will be able to pass it down to my heir.” He gave the blanket to a nearby servant and turned to Lilly and lifted the heavy book to her. “Now this book, this book was my great-great-great-great-grandfathers storybook. He loved it so much, that after his childhood was all gone, he kept the book and read it to his child, who then read it to his child, and so on and so on, for in every one of these stories were filled with adventurers, light, and lessons that I have learned from.”
Edmond gave the book to the servant carefully and announced to the crowd. “you may all go back to the ball and wait for the answer of these two ladies.” and with that, all of the bacherlets slowly turned around and chatted away to the ballroom, leaving them behind. Edmond turned back to the two women and said “The last test will be hard for you two, for it is only for the most hardest one of all. Are you willingly enough to go and take it?” He asked kindly.
Kenna gave a pretty smile at him and said her lovely voice “I am more ready than ever before.” Lilly only replied with her uneven voice “I wIlL dO my BeSt mY LoRD.” And with that, Edmond lead them to an empty hallway with only torches on the wall for decorations. Soon they were lead to a double door that was in a dull clay color. “Behind this door lives a creature of imaginable power. If you confer it, despite it's harsh behaver, then you have won the test.” He said. “I'll go first.” Said Kenna bravely as she marched up to the heavy doors and pull at the handle to open it.
And she dissapear behind the doors and it closed behind her. It was now silents in the hallway, and Lilly couldn't help but look at the handsome prince. Edmond stood by her, looking straight ahead of him. Her heart leaped at the sight of him him, so when he turned to look at her, she turned away with her cheeks burning with blush. “How are you this evening?” He asked. She looked back at him and looked up at his eyes. His green eyes held so much kindness that only she had seen from a few people in her life. She then notice something else, he didn't asked that question out of politeness, it was real kindness. There is a differints between the two.
“OWWWWWWW!!!!” Came a screeched behind the doors. They turned to the opening door and out came Kenna with a small cut on her arm. Blood was gently leaking out of her wound, staining her beautiful gown. Even with the imiged, she still looked the most fairest. “Oh, that...that...creature was on the post when I first lay my eyes upon it. I walked right up to it, offering all of my love to the dear thing when it cut me with ones of its tolens at me!” She cried as she ran towards him.
“Princess Kenna, I do apologizes for that, but you did except the test and I wish that I could heal you. But All I could do is provided you with this bandaged.” He took out a small roll of bandages and gently wrap her left arm. She sniffed and smiled at him as she leaned against him. “Oh, you are too kind to me. Will you please take me back to the ball? I'm feeling a bit fatigue with hunger.” “I'm sorry, but no. I must see that Princess Lilly goes though the test herself, and make sure that she is not too injured. If you do want to continue on with this test.” He said to Lilly, who stood away from the scean.
She nodded bravely, causing Kenna to roll her eyes and say “As you wish, your hindness.” Lilly walked up to the open door slowly and looked right it. The room walls were a painted red. Like the hallway, there wasn't anything in it, except for a bird perch with the most wrinkliest, featherless bird Lilly had ever seen. It had beady, dull, black eyes that had an emotion of an angry old crone, its wings did had some feathers that were sickly yellow left, but not enough to lift it into the air, and on it feet were the tolions that had a bit of Kenna blood on it.
Lilly had never seen such a bird in this conditions. It look sick, almost dying. 'No wonder the Prince requested us to give it some comfort.' But why would it attack Kenna?' She wondered as she untied a long green sash from her waist, not caring if it got dirty. As she stumble over to the strange bird, it made a hiss noise, like how a goose would hiss. Slowly, she raised the sash up to it sides, but before she could wrap it wound it, it slashed its claws at her. She backed away, scared for its deadly cut.
“It'S...IT's aLRigHt...I'm GoInG TO...HeLP...YoU..” oh how she wished she had Kennas sweet, soft voice instead of her studering, uneven voice. She raised her green sash again. The bird hissed at her again, this time, caught her sleeveless arm. “OW!” She yelled, tears threaten to spill out of her dull eyes. But despite the treatment, she raised the garment once again, and quickly wrapped around the bird. It trashed and hissed even louder as Lilly tried to hold the bird close to her. As she did, it slashed at her again and bit her little, pudgy fingers till it drew blood.
No matter what, she wanted to help this poor bird. It wasn't for the hand of the Prince, it was for this birds illness. 'Just what have that man did to you?' she though nursisly and she successfully wrapped the whole sash around the bird. The green was no longer the only color as her blood socked it and her dress. She did not care for it and gently rocked the bird back and forth. Lilly conquered up breeds of birds raced though her mind to see if they would mach this sick bird, but non fit it.
She then started to sing a lullaby to it. The bird slowly stopped trashing and gazed at her with its beady eyes. She looked back and saw a smile in them. While in her arms, the bird begins to grow hotter and hotter until Lilly felt like her arms would burn off. Sweat began to drip down her brown as she looked at the bird with a worried expression. 'Just what is going on?!' she thought. Her reaction made her to run back out and call Edmond for his help, but no sooner she had taken five steps away from the perch, the sick bird crumple into ashes in her arms.
As you could imagine, she was stunned. More than stunned, shocked. 'How?' she thought. 'How did this happen.....and....and...' she wept, clutching the sash full of ashes closer to her bosom and cried. Her tears felled on the remands of the bird as she walked out of the room with dread and sorrow. Once outside, she looked up at the Prince, the handsome prince who stood near the doors with a soft look on his face. Kenna was no where in sight. “I....I....I fAIld SiRE....I trIEd to Giv...GIvE it ComFeT....BUt...” Edmond said nothing, but walked up to her, gently took the ashes away from her, and wrap his strong, lean arm around her shoulders.
“There there, do not fret, for all is not lost.” He said to her in a gentle voice. She looked up at him with a questingly look on her miss-hap face, her right lump almost hidden from her unkept hair. “HoW...?” “Follow me dear.” At any other time, she would have blushed madly. But now, she was hurt by the loss of the dead bird. They walked together side by side, Edmonds arm never leaving her once.
When they got to the ballroom, the ladies and the men were all chattering away the night, Kenna was surrounded by men who were giving her comfort with sweet words and offerings of the ball food. When the door man announced the prince return, they stopped talking and looked at the doorway. They were shocked by the sight of the Prince, who still had his arm around the unattractive princess and holding a blood-socken sash, and the princess dress a bit trashed. He lead her though the crowd, men and women parting like the red sea, and lead her right up to where the thrones were. The duchess the Lilly had helped earlier was filled with worry.
He then turned around and said in a loud voice to the awaiting people who were desperate to know who is the winner and what was going on. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great honer, and pleasher to announced to you, that Princess Lilly had passed the tests.” Everyone gasped and looked at each other in confusion. “Therefor, as the winner of the tests, she shall be my Queen.” Now everyone was shocked. Her?! The most ridiculous princess who ever lived to be his bride?! But before anyone could speak out their thoughts, Edmond continue to speak.
“She had pass the Garden test, which was meant to see if she is caubile of hardmanships, to see if she understands how her people work and knows of their daily struggles. Not only that she had passed, she also help out another woman who claimed to have been nasty to her. Thus, proving herself to be kind to all.” The duchess smiled at Lilly and waved at her gently. “The Treasher test was to see if she understands the important of valuables. To see if she knows her way of what is truly dear to us and what is junk.” “BuT....bUT SirE....tHe BirD....it...it..” “I'm surprised you didn't recognize a magical creature.” She looked shocked. “It...IT wAs...” “The Last test was to see if you were kind enough to look pass the old and scary. You were crying over his ashes even though he was harsh to you.” He said to her gently. Her face held confusion, her lump hid her right, brown eye. “That bird you were giving comfort too is very magical.” She notice that he said “is” and not “was”. “WhAt Are YoU...” “Here, it is beginning.” He said, unwraping his arm around her and held up the sash.
It hung there in the air for almost a minuet until it began to shack. A red glow was growing inside the sash, and steam was coming out of it. Then suddenly,
The sash was burned to the ground and the Prince backed away so the Lilly could see the show. What she saw took her breath away. Flying in front of her was a Phoenix. It is five more times bigger then she first saw it, its feathers bore blood, red that covered its whole body, and the wings and the tail feathers are filled with golden sparks and orange glow. On its swan like neck held a beautiful head that held a black beck that looked like coral and its eyes,
Oh the eyes are no longer dull with life, but filled with happiness, love, and wisdom. The colors were bright yellow, as if God had dripped two drops in his eyes from the Sun. It wasn't bright enough to hurt anyones eyes, in fact, it looked wonderful to stair at it. Its caw was simply marvelous to lisson to all day. Tears of wonder almost came out of Lillys eyes.
The Phoenix flew above the awe-struck crowd before turning around and flew back to the prince and his new-found bride. Edmond stick out his arm and it landed gently on his deep, blue sleeve arm, minding its beautifully carved claws as to not injer him. “This little friend was with has been with my family for hundreds of years. He was there since the very beginning of our kingdom and has guided us with his pressens. Like all Phoenix, he lives for 10 years before he turns old and crumbles into ashes. But only if he was given a proper nest, which no woman has given him. Except for you.”
Lilly couldn't help but let the tears fall from her eyes and she smiled at the beautiful bird. “I'm...jUSt GlaD tHaT hE iS alRIghT...” “Now that is said and done, will you be my wife?” He asked her with hope in his voice. A few people in the crowd snapped out of their daze and started to protest, all stating that she is not beautiful enough to be his bride. Edmond turned sharply at them and said in a stern way “She is beautiful to be my bride, for even without this test, anyone who can truly see that she is kind, intelligent, and thoughtful. These Test were to determine all of that. It was to revile her True Beauty which cannot be seen on the outside, but what can be seen on the inside by God.”
Everyone fell silent with shame hanging over their heads. Lilly however, smiled even more at his words. No one outside of her family had ever said such nice things about her. And she knew from her heart and mind that he was speaking the truth. “Yes.” She said, her voice nearly quiver with joy. Edmond smiled at her and kissed her lovelnly.
The next week, they were married. The wedding was magnificent and everyone was joyous for the newly-wed. Edmond and Lilly loved each other very much with all of their heart, soul, and mind, and they had ruled their kingdom well and good. Their children both had their traits, as well as their wisdom. For many years, they have lived for a good long life with each other.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.