"A (not-quite) Traditional Faerie Tale" by DragonSilk

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My challenge submission. (I really hope I win).
It was difficult to shave it down to 750 words though. I feel like it's lacking some of my typical humor.

Please note, some of the words may be unfamiliar to you, they're probably the words/phrases that I had to include as part of the challenge. Microsoft word kept telling me that one or two of them were spelled wrong but I assure you, they aren't.

Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess who was the sole child of a wealthy king. When the princess reached a marriageable age many potential suitors flocked to the castle for a chance at her hand.

The king knew what kind of man he wanted his daughter to marry so he gradually eliminated many of the suitors. Some were far too old, some were simply too young. Others were too thin, too fat, too blond, too dark-haired, too tall, too short, and the list kept going on and on. The most embarrassing elimination had been the lord of a town by the coast. He had been a favorite of the King until one of the other suitors revealed that the lord had gained much of his wealth through contraband.

Eventually, it came down to four young men. Three of them were brothers, the princes of a neighboring kingdom, and one was a lord in his own kingdom. Many times the king compared the four young men but he was not able to decide which one would be better suited for his daughter. He was at his wit’s end, wishing for a mantic man to come by and tell him who to pick, when opportunity knocked. A dragon had come by and kidnapped his daughter. Knowing that his daughter would be safe, dragons rarely killed princesses, the king declared that whichever of the four suitors rescued his daughter from the dragon would become her husband.

Each of the four suitors was confident that he would be the one that rescued the princess. That night, they all sneaked out of the castle believing that the others were safe in their beds.

The next day, late into the afternoon, the youngest prince paused in a meadow to take a quick drink. As he drank his water he heard someone approaching. He quickly hid behind a tree at the edge of the meadow. His oldest brother emerged from the bushes and the youngest prince became worried. This meadow was near the dragon’s cave and he had thought that none of the others would have made it this far yet.

His worry increased ten-fold when the local lord emerged from the bushes as well. He wondered how either of them had made it this far and realized that he would have to hurry. Then his worry turned to serendipity as his brother and the lord began to bicker. He knew it would only require a lick and a promise to get them to fight and he began to form a plan. His planning was cut short, however, as his brother and the lord began to fight on their own.

Then his other brother emerged from the trees. The youngest prince was elated as the middle prince joined the fight to help out his older brother. It couldn’t have worked out better. He almost broke out into a song as he turned and began to head straight to the dragon’s cave.

It didn’t take long for him to reach the cave. The dragon was standing guard outside and, to his delight, the princess was deep inside the cave where she wouldn’t see what was going on. He approached the dragon, and if anyone had been watching they might have been surprised at how calm he was. His ataraxia was quickly accounted for as he took a massive, semilunar, gem out of his jacket and handed it to the dragon. The dragon delicately took the gem from the prince and studied it. Seemingly appeased she nodded her giant head and took off into the sky.

He called out to the princess, and as she came out from the cave, the prince was delighted to note that the rumors of her beauty had truth to them. The zeitgeist was that unmarried women should spend as little time as possible with unmarried men so he, and the other suitors, hadn’t even been able to catch a glimpse of the princess.

The prince handed her some of the halvah that he had brought with him. The princess grinned.

“How did you know that this was one of my favorite foods? It’s so sapid, unlike most, dull, tasteless, place food.”

The prince hadn’t known that. He had carried the halvah with him because it was praxis in his kingdom for a man to offer halvah to his future wife. It was supposed to ensure that they lived happily ever after.

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