A Girl In Majestica
Where else, but in Majestica, would a grand adventure like this
It is a place so beautiful and so enchanting as to be the mirror of
any child’s dream. It is here that King Alfred and Queen
Claire transformed a once-small village into the richest
and happiest kingdom in all the known lands. Now, though
it is true the king and queen live a fairytale life,
this royal couple know nothing of real magic. Not
yet, at least.
Majestica is hidden in the middle of a vast forest where certain
trees, called ticklers, grow so wonderfully tall that
even on bright, sunny days it is no easy task to see the
very tops. The soil supporting the ticklers’ bulging
roots is the darkest brown imaginable, almost black,
like chocolate cake, and it is so rich that it produces
the plumpest food to be found anywhere.
Majestica’s grapes are the size of apples; apples are the size of
turnips; and turnips are the size of watermelons. The
watermelons often reach fifty pounds and are so filled
with juice, they cause a proper soaking when carelessly
sliced. Not to be outdone, the average pumpkin is much,
much larger with the very largest on record
measuring in at exactly four thousand pounds. It took a
team of seven maidens to shovel out the innards to make
the pies (all three hundred of them), and you can be
certain each pie turned out sweeter than honey.
Speaking of honey, it should be noted that Majestican bumblers, who
have the happiest faces you have ever seen, haven’t any
stingers. The flowers grow so thick, you see, that there
is no competition, and therefore no need to be armed
like their wasp cousins.
Majestica’s crystal clear streams teem with cheeky trout who jump
and wink when they do not want to be caught. Countless
birds sing in the trees, and all manner of wildlife
fills the forests. Yes, to be sure, Majestica is as
beautiful as can be described: a place still free from
the dark Fear that has taken root in so many other
The guardians of Majestica are none other than the Knights
Triumphant and, not unlike the bumblers, these men have
no need to carry swords. Violence and war is not yet
known to Majestica. Instead, the knights are renowned
for their wisdom and great feats of strength. Most
importantly, whenever confronted with foreign hostility,
the Knights Triumphant make peace through negotiation
They wear the finest and lightest armour for decorative purposes
only, and wave glorious red and white flags. You’ll see
them at their best during the many festivals, or while
performing for local charities. They are always smiling,
always generous, and always impressing the rosy ladies –
even girls like eleven-year-old Molly Withers, who
pretends she is not yet interested in princes.
At first blush, Molly appears average in every way, but past the
hustle and bustle of Town Centre, through all the nearby
forests, and beyond the outer reaches of Majestica,
Molly is well known in secret circles. From softly
spoken whispers to dark debates, the word is spreading –
Molly Withers knows the Magic!
Molly is painfully oblivious to this, though, and spends most her
time doing very ordinary things, such as playing and
singing in the forests which surround her small home.
She also chases fairies knowing that she may never catch
one, as it is true no mortal in the history of mortals
has ever been able to catch one. Sure there are stories
of people catching other fairies in other
kingdoms, but no fairies are as quick and clever as
Majestica’s Pinkleton Dimple fairies. These sprites,
with their baby’s breath dresses, deep dimples, and rosy
little cheeks, can disappear and then reappear quicker
than a blink. Some claim to have even seen the same
fairy in two spots at the same time!
Despite their sometimes arrogant nature, Molly can’t help but love
the Pinkletons’ perfect little wings. Most of the time,
their wings are that certain shade of green which can
only be seen in springtime when leaves are first coming
into bloom. But, if the fairies happen to cross the path
of a female Unicorn, or if they hear a pleasant song,
their wings turn a golden hue. They can’t help but turn,
the same way someone blushes when flattered
unexpectedly. To see a fairy, all you need do is walk
among the flowers where they snore their lazy days away.
As much as Molly loves spending time in the forest, so too does she
love curling up with an old book under her favourite
tree. And what a tree this is. The trunk is thick,
thick, thick and to walk all the way around would take
you a full minute. Compared in height to the ticklers,
though, it is quite a bit shorter, shaped much like a
mushroom, and surrounded by a soft, springy bed of
special clovers. Each clover has four and a half leaves,
you see, which make them perfect to wish by.
Often alone, it is here Molly comes to read stories of dragons and
knights, wolves and grandmothers, and genies and their
magical lamps. She imagines these characters come alive
for her, and if she isn’t careful, they’ll leap off the
pages and escape. Molly also imagines that her tree is a
gateway leading to a world of leprechauns where voices
echoing from deep within its stump speak of rainbows,
lost treasures, and fat pots of gold.
But her favourite fairytales are those that end with princes
falling in love with simple country girls, and then
marrying them as the entire kingdom cheers with joy. Of
course these tales are the most appealing, because she
so longs to have someone take her away from her poor,
dull life, and tell her that there is real magic left in
the world. It’s not that the simple spells of the
Pinkletons aren’t amusing, but Molly wants to see and
feel something so magical that it would change her life
forever; something that would give her all she could
ever want; something as wonderful as the Golden Tree of
Molly has read several stories about the Golden Tree, but she’s
always been left with more questions than answers.
Whether it is fact or fiction remains to be seen, and
where in the world this tale first began, no one knows
for sure. But, according to legend, this Tree, with its
delicate golden leaves, has the ability to answer any
question imaginable. One popular version of the tale
alludes to the famed wizard, Engelbert the Great, who
used his unparalleled wizardry to devise a magical seed.
One cloudless night, or so the story goes, he planted this seed
where no one would ever think to look. Supposedly, the
trunk and branches grew on the very spot, but it did not
produce a solitary bud for quite some time. It is
rumoured, however, that three years to the day after it
first sprouted, Engelbert the Great returned to the Tree
and discovered it was full of golden leaves. He was so
delighted that he cast upon it a spell to protect it:
should anyone happen to find the Tree and steal even one
of those golden leaves, it would shrivel up and die.
Now, whoever took the leaves would be rich, but the secrets of the
Universe would be lost forever. Molly knew very well
what she would do if she were to find such a Tree. What
was a bit of knowledge compared to a lifetime of riches?
Yes, Molly spent many a day poring over old cobwebbed
books in the town’s library hoping to come across a clue
that would tell her if the Tree really existed and where
it might be found.
After one such excursion to the library, Molly was collecting
cabbage grass for dinner from Stankwater Swamp. And, as
was often the case, Charlie Gregg was in attendance.
Charlie was a little older than Molly and could be very
annoying when he wanted to. He was scruffy, with
chestnut brown hair, fiery blue eyes, and a scattering
of freckles on his cheeks which he did not like
because he felt it made him look like a boy. But a boy
he was, and typical (or traditional) of other boys his
age, Charlie enjoyed teasing girls. One of his favourite
victims, of course, was Molly Withers.
Being long overdue back home and rushing to finish her chores,
Molly was more agitated than usual when Charlie began
inflicting his torments. She wished she could make him
go away with a little spell of her own.
‘Frickity frumpity frog, be gone you mangy dog!’ she said with
hardly an upward glance.
Charlie did not disappear as Molly did not know any real spells,
but he did look comical now covered in the cabbage grass
Molly had just launched at him. Charlie calmly removed
the wet leaves from his head, as though he was quite
used to Molly throwing things at him. He then reached
into his pocket, retrieved two familiar flint stones,
and struck them together. Spark! Neither Molly
nor Charlie nor the barking bulldog frogs noticed that a
something was watching them from behind a fallen
‘You shouldn’t be here alone, you know,’ said Charlie making
‘Why is that, Charlie?’ asked Molly, standing knee deep in muck,
with more muck covering her arms, and some muck on her
cheeks as well. ‘Are you scared?’
‘Uh – no,’ Charlie faltered.
Whatever was watching them from the cover of the dark woods stepped
on a branch and it made a very distinct snap.
Charlie looked in that direction, but saw nothing except
dark rotting trees and a murder of crows shooting to the
sky, declaring cawww, cawww, cawww.
Almost protectively, Charlie stepped closer to Molly who didn’t
care if the whole woods came crashing down. She needed
to get this done before it was suppertime or her parents
would be mad. She had already spent too much time in the
library, and further procrastinated in the swamp by
chasing bulldog frogs, and skipping rocks.
Molly’s parents were William and Annabelle. They were both loving,
but had no time for Molly’s talk of magic and
fairytales. Yet, that’s not to say Annabelle had never
chased fairies before. She often did as a child. But,
somewhere along the way, like so many parents of their
generation, Annabelle’s childhood magic was replaced
with work and so-called maturity.
‘Everyone’s in the orchard getting ready,’ said Charlie, hoping to
change the subject, and it was a good choice too.
Tonight was All Hallows Ball and he knew Molly loved it.
She loved it almost as much as Christmas. She loved watching the
knights and their feats of incredible strength. She
loved seeing the skeletons fashioned from dried out
cornstalks that looked quite scary and real. She loved
how the Pinkleton Dimple fairies cast spider spells so
that the entire apple orchard was covered in magic webs
that shot little sparks of colour when you passed
through them. She loved the Ball’s singing competition.
She loved Grandma Jones’ oversized candy apples, though
she hadn’t had one herself in years. She loved the
glowing pumpkins and had already carved hers three days
Other girls her age carved happy faces, or kitten faces, or, heaven
forbid, pony faces, but Molly’s pumpkins were always
frightfully ghoulish. Whatever the matter at hand, make
it dark, or old, or scary in any way, and Molly would
The most spectacular part of All Hallows Ball, though, was the
outrageous costumes. Molly cherished the idea of having
one night a year when she could pretend she was someone
else – anyone else for that matter. If she had the means
to be whatever she wished, Molly would have dressed up
as a fairy princess, for she knew only the daughter of a
king or queen could ever be a princess in this world.
Despite all these wonderful things, though, Molly replied: ‘I am
not sure if I am going this year.’
One eye remained on Charlie, spying his response.
‘Then you are going to miss Priscilla singing,’ said Charlie, still
pondering the cause for the snapping in the woods.
‘Everyone knows she has the prettiest voice in all
Majestica. Looks like she might win the Majestica music
award this year, too.’
‘Prissy!’ Molly shouted. ‘Prissy! Prissy! Prissy? Why she is
‘First off, her name is Priscilla. She doesn’t like being called
Prissy. Secondly, she’s my age, thirteen, which makes
her only two years older than you. Everyone is going to
be there to see it too. The youngest girl to win –
ever!’ said Charlie being sure to emphasize the
‘ever’ because he knew Molly loved to sing, and he knew
Molly wished to win this singing contest just as much as
she wished to be a princess.
Now there can be no doubt Priscilla had a fine voice. She always
had the best singing instructors to give her lessons and
she could afford it because her parents were none other
than King Alfred and Queen Claire. Priscilla had the
best of everything. Her clothes were all handmade by her
very own seamstresses who used the finest materials
available. She owned a prize show pony which won the
admiration of all the schoolgirls. She even had her own
falconry which daily drew an audience of boys eager to
see them feed. Though Priscilla thought handling dead
furry critters was disgusting, she loved the attention
so much she’d throw piles of lifeless mice straight up
in the air for the falcons to catch and devour. The boys
would laugh, and Priscilla would bask in their
And, as if all these things were not enough, Priscilla was also
blessed with very fine looks. Her long blonde ringlets
bounced prettily as she walked and her big blue eyes
along with her perfect smile always made the boys fumble
their words, as if their mouths were stuffed full of
Molly recalled all this at once in a sudden flood of emotion. She
seriously wondered whether or not she would enjoy All
Hallows Ball this year. It was not as if she hated
Priscilla, but she knew very well that Priscilla would
brag endlessly if she were to win, and that might
‘I guess I’d win too, if I were as rich and as pretty as her,’
Molly uttered more to herself than to Charlie.
‘Well, I don’t really care who wins,’ said Charlie. ‘I can’t wait
to see the Knights Triumphant competitions. Knight
MacDonald is going to have a tug-o-war tonight with
Brut, the king’s horse! I bet MacDonald wins too!
Someday, I’ll win a tug-o-war contest with a horse, and
not just any horse. I am going to out tug a big hefty
Clydesdale and then I’ll be asked by the king to be his
number one knight!’
Charlie made one final spark with his flint stones and then skipped
up the path towards home, singing all the way until he
and his voice faded in the distance.
‘Charlie the Knight Triumphant has won again. Oh yes, what a knight
is Charlie. OH yes, Oh yes, oh yes.’
Molly was not amused. Knight or no knight, Priscilla or no
Priscilla, singing contest or no singing contest, she
was now very late. She knew her mother would be worried
and her father would be angry. Molly presumed she would
be punished. What if her parents decided not to let her
go to All Hallows Ball? Even if Priscilla was going to
win the award, Molly wouldn’t miss this night for the
world – not really.
With four pails of cabbage grass, Molly left Stankwater Swamp
behind. She left the lily pads, the bulldog frogs, the
dark woods, and the something that retreated into
the scummy water as soon as she was out of sight.
Not long after, Molly burst through the rickety front door of her
family’s small home declaring: ‘I’ve got the cabbage
grass for the stew, Momma, but I had to fight off
Pinkletons to get home as quickly as I did.’
Molly rushed past her mother who was standing over a wash basin,
and poured the greens out onto the counter.
‘It was so awful,’ continued Molly. ‘There must have been thirty,
no, fifty of them buzzing around my head all at once.
Half pulled at my hair, while the other half emptied the
buckets, and the other half tied my shoelaces together.
They stole what I first gathered so I—’
‘Three halves?’ her mother interjected. ‘Why, that is a terrible
amount of fairies, isn’t it? Good thing there wasn’t
four halves or you may not have made it to the Ball
Annabelle knew Molly was telling a fib.
‘You know, Charlie came by while you were out,’ Annabelle
continued. ‘I told him you were doing your chores as you
ought to be doing, and I also told him that you wouldn’t
want to be late for supper, as you surely would not want
to be late for the Ball.’
Annabelle couldn’t help, but smirk.
‘Funny little fellow,’ Annabelle added. ‘You always tell me you
don’t like him whatsoever, and he always seeks you out.
Perhaps he found you in Stankwater, did he? Must have
been dreadfully awful to fight off all those fairies and
Charlie, too. I suppose it’s a blessing you made it home
in one piece.’
Molly stood there embarrassed knowing her story was so flawed.
Three halves? Honestly. But, she was pleasantly
surprised her mother was in good spirits. Perhaps she
wasn’t going to be scolded after all. This pleasantry
passed, however, when her father came steaming through
the front door in a whirling storm of woodchips.
He was a big, solid man who hadn’t lost any of his youthful
strength. When he smiled, everyone around him smiled,
but when he was angry, his eyes lost their brown warmth
and turned a filthy red. This was a man you would not
cross for any amount of leprechaun’s gold. He would
sputter and curse the most awful things, and still he
had one of the warmest hearts in a man. It was obvious
he too had lost the childhood magic that many take for
Like so many others, William came to believe prosperity only came
to those who worked hard. But he also believed not
everyone could be wealthy, and not everyone could do
what he or she wanted, and not everyone was meant to
lead, and that most were doomed to a life of servitude.
After repeating these things over and over and over
again, he had come to believe that life was supposed to
be this way.
‘Imagine that,’ he growled. ‘Molly has finally returned with the
cabbage grass. Hmph! By the time they are cleaned, and
by the time we eat, and by the time we have cleared away
from supper, and by the time we have brought in wood,
and by the time we have fed the chickens, and cleaned
their coops, and by the time we sweep, and by the time—’
‘And by the time she does all that,’ Annabelle interrupted, ‘Molly
will have missed the Ball.’
Annabelle was nervous to cut him off like that, but she took a
quick breath and continued.
‘Now, I can think of no better punishment than to make her go to
the Ball straight away and have her applaud that young
Priscilla,’ said Annabelle hoping to soften the mood.
William stammered a bit more, though, stomping around
the kitchen, and muttering mild profanity to himself.
‘And when it is all over,’ Annabelle pressed, ‘she can help clean
up. I believe Miss Sullivan organizes the volunteers.
Yes, and Molly can ask to bring us home some leftovers.’
William relished the thought of free anything, but he also wanted
Molly to learn the importance of hard work. She needed a
role model; someone who could show her how to have a
better life than he had growing up. Maybe Gabrielle
Sullivan was just the person. Even though there were
several bizarre rumours that Gabrielle sought the
company of witches; even though some said she was not a
mortal at all, but a spirit; even though she had an
uncanny way of predicting the weather; and even though
no one knew where she had disappeared to for seven years
after retiring, there was no denying she was a very wise
and well respected teacher. Perhaps Gabrielle would take
Molly under her wing, and teach her the value of
schooling and hard work.
William faced Molly who hadn’t said a peep since he entered the
‘You be sure to find Miss Sullivan and you listen to everything she
has to say,’ he growled. ‘Help her clean the orchard,
and don’t forget to bring home anything we can use.’
William then retrieved his pipe from his dusty trousers and
returned to his wood shop outside. Molly’s head emerged
from her body like a cautious turtle. She turned to her
mother and saw that Annabelle’s subtle smile had already
passed. It was not replaced by anger, but rather a tiny
bit of sadness that crept in every time she got a
headache, and yes, Annabelle received more than her fair
share of headaches. Molly felt guilty knowing her mother
seemed to get headaches when things in the house were
stressful, and Molly believed things were mostly
stressful because of the way she misbehaved.
Annabelle reached into her apron and retrieved a ten cent piece
which she offered to Molly.
‘Now, you take this and enjoy yourself,’ said Annabelle handing it
to Molly. ‘I know it’s not much, but it will at least
buy you a candy apple.’
Molly took the coin reluctantly knowing her parents did not have
any extra money. She also knew that a ten cent piece
would not be enough to buy a candy apple as candy apples
have been twenty-five cents for years. But she wouldn’t
tell her mother this – not to save the world.
‘Sorry I was late, Momma. Can I really go?’ asked Molly.
Annabelle smiled and Molly was off lickety split to get washed and
changed. One full year had passed and it was time, once
again, to experience the splendour of All Hallows Ball –
apples or no apples.