Not all fairy tales have happy endings. Some end with a marriage, which could be a happy ending or a happy beginning, depending on how you look at it. Some end neatly, which could be a happy ending or a sad ending but is more often quite a boring one. Then there is this fairytale, which ends neither happily nor neatly.
The island of the Three Kingdoms, tucked away at the edge of nowhere and surrounded by violent sea on all sides, slightly resembles a crescent moon and greatly resembles the sort of place you could find silver-tongued elderly ladies with a tendency to cast enchantments and witty young men with a tendency to embark on valiant quests and declare themselves heroes. There are surprisingly high levels of hygiene and health and safety given the lack of electricity and standardised paperwork.
Several thousand years before the witty young men and the hygiene standards, the Three Kingdoms was merely a small, volatile, pocket of ocean. One afternoon the earth sneezed, accidentally spewing out a handful of magical creatures, a variety of poisonous plants and four strains of the common cold. The ocean viewed all these things as the unfortunate natural byproduct of a sneeze and made to clear them away, so the earth hastily spat out a spectacular island of mountain ranges and beaches and lush green valleys, offering its exiles a comfortable prison. Magic seeped through the earth and out into the sea, calling out for humans to come and look and stay a while. This was probably where things went wrong.
The islanders promptly set about harnessing the magic and taming the creatures and figuring out which plants could be eaten if cooked properly. They also named the Three Kingdoms the Three Kingdoms of something, but they kept claiming one another’s thrones via wars or marriages (or a war disguised as a marriage) until specifics faded away and all that remained were three royal families and three tenacious nations, mutually enjoying the eternal bonds of shared history and common culture.
Well, three royal families and three tenacious nations with a lot of shared history.
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Copyright © 2019 by Francesca Burke
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