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Silas and Serenity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Once upon a time, there was a young gardener who was in love with a beautiful princess. The two would often meet secretly in the castle garden after the sun had gone down to speak together. They had a friendship so strong that the sea itself could not fathom its depth. But one day a beast came from the ocean, a great worm with darkness for eyes and malice in its heart. In the shadow of night he stole the princess and took her to his lair where he guarded her day and night, killing anyone who approached. One by one, brave knights fell to the beast, and all who challenged its power were laid to waste by its wrath.

At last, the gardener came forward to challenge the creature. Armed only with the power of true love, a great battle ensued. Finally, after an entire night, the young gardener struck down the beast and sent it crashing back into the black waves from whence it came.

Reunited, the two happily embraced and returned to the kingdom knowing that love conquers all.

That is how the story is told today, but there is more to it, more than even the young gardener himself ever suspected.

So let us begin this story anew, for it is not about the young hero. No, this story is about the sea serpent Silas and the princess Serenity.

***

Rays of light bounced over the rolling waves as the sun began to peek over the horizon. As it swept into the cove of an island, a beam landed on the eyes of a golden sea serpent coiled up on the beach. Silas blinked and shook himself awake with a snort, "Well, here I am again. Another fine morning."

Stretching his tail, Silas slid into the water, letting it wash over his scales and depression. How many mornings had he awoken like this, how many days had he wandered the sea from island to island, cove to cove? He let out a sigh that sent thousands of bubbles swirling in the water.

"Well, aren't you looking bright and peppy this morning," Silas turned, but saw nothing. "Down here," said the voice in annoyance. Looking down, Silas saw a shark, its black tail swishing back and forth.

"Oh, hello," said Silas dully.

"What's the matter?" huffed the shark. "I haven't seen a face that glum since Odysseus got a good look at the Sirens." Silas rolled his eyes at the shark's attempt at humor.

"Well, to be honest, I guess I have been feeling depressed," he sighed.

"Ah, the old big blues," nodded the shark "You know what you need?"

"What?" asked Silas.

"You need to eat a few humans. It's a load of fun."

"Eat humans?" Silas almost gagged on the words. "That's revolting, just thinking about it makes me want to vomit."

"All right, all right. You don't have to eat them, you overgrown goldfish," snapped the shark. "The real fun is scaring them, anyway."

"Scaring them?"

"Of course," replied the shark with a toothy grin. "There is nothing funnier than watching a human dash out of the water screaming bloody murder at the sign of a dorsal fin. It's hilarious."

"I don't know. It sounds questionable to me," Silas said.

"Oh, come on," urged the shark. "It's easy. Just go up onto the beach, roll around and drool. That should send them running." When this did not convince Silas, the shark gave an exasperated groan. "All right, I'll make it simple for you. There is a kingdom not too far. Just pick out a maiden near the water and growl at her. Maidens scare easily. You shouldn't have a problem. Come on, it'll be fun."

"I'm not sure," Silas replied, doubtfully.

"You overgrown suckerfish," snapped the shark "You've got the nerves of a guppy." And with that the shark turned and disappeared into the open water.

The conversation continued to irritate Silas like a bottom feeder nipping at his gills. He could scare a thousand people if he wanted. Turning west, Silas set out for the kingdom the shark had described. "Who knows?" he said to himself. "Maybe scaring a human would be fun, and besides, it's not like I have anything better to do."

It was noon when Silas spotted the kingdom. It seemed small, with a great castle overshadowing the town as trees made their way along the coast leading down to the sandy beaches.

Silas had slipped into the cove when a small sound tickled his ear. He could hear someone trying to smother her sobs. Looking around, Silas spotted a boulder jutting out over the water. On top, crying a river of tears, sat a well-dressed young girl with long golden hair. Well, thought Silas, there doesn't seem to be anyone around, and the shark did say to look for a maiden. Quietly he swam through the water toward the girl who was too preoccupied to notice the giant yellow sea serpent. "Okay, here goes," murmured Silas, working up a good saliva. Crashing out of the water with a roar, Silas bore down on the girl, rolling his tongue and trying to look as vicious as possible. For a split second the girl's face twisted in surprise, followed by an ear-splitting shriek. Then, before Silas could react, the girl reached behind her, grabbed a large spiked mace and pounded his nose.

"Ow!" yelled Silas drawing back and coiling his tail around his swelling snout. "That hurt."

"Good," snapped the girl, brandishing the mace. "It's supposed to."

"But you're a maiden," Silas pointed out, confused "Aren't you supposed to run off screaming?"

"I don't believe this," cried the girl, slamming the mace into the ground. "First my parents, then the townspeople, and now a dragon."

"I'm a sea serpent," Silas replied stiffly, "and what are you talking about?"

Plucking the mace out of the ground, the maiden turned to face Silas. "Not that it's any of your business, but I am Princess Serenity of Thornwood. That's my kingdom over there, if you hadn't figured that out already."

"Well, Serenity, what is the problem?" asked Silas, ignoring her rude comment.

"Oh, nothing really," she said sarcastically, twirling her hair. "Only my parents have become over-controlling and when I run off just to get some privacy I get attacked by a dragon."

"I'm a sea serpent," replied Silas, with a tinge of annoyance. "But I'm sorry about the attacking part."

"It's all right," said Serenity, waving him off. "This has actually been the most excitement I have had all week."

And that is how Silas and Serenity met. It didn't take long for them to become fast friends. Every day Silas would meet her on the beach and the two would talk for hours. Silas would tell Serenity stories of his travels and in return Serenity would tell Silas about life on land. This continued until one day, when Silas went to their usual meeting spot, Serenity never came. Day after day Silas returned looking for her, but the princess was never there. Finally, a week later, while Silas was swimming through the shoals, he saw Serenity stomping down the path to the beach. "Serenity, it's good to see you. I was beginning to get worried." Silas's pleasant mood faded when he saw the dark expression on his friend's face. "Was it something I said?"

"No, it's not you," answered Serenity crossly. "You will not believe what my parents did." It turned out that Serenity's absence was because of a surprise trip with her mother to the neighboring kingdom. Serenity had been happy to take a vacation until she met Hubert. The neighboring kingdom, it seemed, had a brown-haired, green-eyed, exceedingly handsome prince who was looking for a princess.

"I'm 16," Serenity shrieked at her parents, "I can't get married."

"Oh, come, dear, you should be happy. He's a very handsome lad," her father replied.

"And as shallow as a puddle," snapped Serenity.

"I don't see what all this fuss is about," said her mother. "Your great cousin Rose was married at 16 and she didn't complain."

"What are you talking about?" fumed Serenity. "Cousin Rose was asleep for a hundred years because of some fairy's curse."

"Well, you can hardly count all that," mumbled her mother.

"That is enough, young lady. Unless you have someone else in mind, you are going to marry Hubert next month," her father shouted.

When Serenity finished her story, Silas asked, "So, do you have anyone else in mind?" A deep rose blush settled on Serenity's cheeks. "No, well maybe, sort of."

"Who?" asked Silas in delighted surprise.

"Our gardener," Serenity finally replied. "I'm not ready to marry him, but still he's kind, funny, understanding." A frown settled on Serenity's face. "It's hopeless, though, Mother and Father would never approve. Oh, sometimes I wish I had gone to that festival instead of cousin Marjorie."

"Why, what happened to your cousin Marjorie?" asked Silas curiously. Se-renity gave a sarcastic snort. "Her parents were going to marry her off to some duke until she went to the spring festival and was kidnapped by a troll. Her boyfriend ended up rescuing her, so her parents let him marry her."

"Why would they do that?"

"It's some unofficial rule," replied Serenity waving her hand. "Every time a princess is kidnapped by a dragon or ogre or cursed by some witch, the man who saves her gets to marry her."

An idea was beginning to form in Silas's mind. An idea so crazy it just might work. "So, you're saying that the only way your parents would approve of your friend would be if he saved you from some hideous creature, say, a sea serpent, perhaps?"

Serenity's eyes widened. "You're not suggesting ..." her voice trailed off.

"Why not?" asked Silas. "I could fake your kidnapping, and if this guy is as good a friend as you say, he will come after you. Then I would take a fall and your parents would have no choice but to approve of him."

"But it may take days, where am I supposed to stay?" countered Serenity.

"There is a cave not too far from the beach," replied Silas thoughtfully. "It's not a palace, but it should be comfortable."

"But what about you?" argued Serenity.

"What about me?" said Silas, somewhat puzzled.

"There are going to be other people trying to get me back. Knights, dukes, lords, they will all come to fight you. What if something happens to you?" Silas' eyes narrowed and he stretched himself to his full height, letting the sun make his golden scales flash. "I could take on a couple of knights and their little metal toothpicks in my sleep. And unless you have a better idea, the only other option is marrying Hubert."

That convinced Serenity and in a few days, the two were ready to set their plan in motion.

After Serenity moved a few of her things into the cave, Silas swam through the kingdom's harbors and beaches roaring furiously and thrashing about. In a matter of hours the royal family realized that the princess had been taken and by the end of the day, the king had declared whoever slew the beast and returned the princess would be given her hand in marriage. The first knight arrived the morning after the decree. Silas woke to see him stumbling down the beach toward the cave, dragging a sword that appeared too heavy for him.

"Fiend from the depths, prepare yourself, for I am Sir Frosterburn, Champion of the Northern Mountains, and I have come to claim the princess, Serenity. Now have at me, beast!" cried Frosterburn.

"Please don't kill him," Serenity had pleaded with Silas while the knight spoke.

"Don't worry, I have a plan," Silas assured her. Leaning into the water, Silas took a huge gulp. Aiming carefully, Silas spat the water straight at the knight. The knight could only stand speechless as the torrent of water blasted him off his feet. When he regained his senses, he did not wait to see what Silas would do next. Turning on his heel, he left as fast as he could.

In the days to come, three more knights arrived to battle Silas. One Silas warded off by spitting water, the second chose to think twice when he saw just how big Silas was and the third was catapulted backward into a sand dune when Silas accidentally sneezed on him. On the fourth day, while Serenity was eating lunch, the sound of clinking armor began to drift over the dunes. Minutes later a tall knight emerged. He was clad in golden armor with a gleaming sword. On his head was a helmet from which white feathers protruded.

"Oh no," moaned Serenity.

"Who is it?" asked Silas.

"Hubert," moaned Serenity. Striding down the beach, Hubert stopped in front of Silas and drew his sword.

"Prepare yourself, Worm, for I am Prince Hubert of Roxwood. Protector of the weak, destroyer of evil, champion of the bold, butcher of the ruthless, lord of all the ..."

Wham! Silas didn't give Hubert a chance to finish. With a quick swish of his tail, he sent Hubert sailing through the air to land with a splash in the shallows of the cove.

"Is he all right?" Serenity called from the cave.

"Don't worry," Silas called back. "A brain his size should take in relatively little air. He will be fine." Sure enough, a few minutes later Hubert staggered out of the water and limped away.

Silas was about to return to sleep when Serenity called out to him, "Here he comes."

Silas could smell the gardener before he saw him. The mixture of earth and manure wafted down the beach and across the sands. When he appeared Silas saw that the gardener was nothing special. He was tall and stocky with twisted, uncombed hair and tattered clothes. But his eyes were ablaze with purpose and his jaw set with determination. Silas knew that this was truly the man they had been waiting for. He had no weapons, just a shovel, but he stood before Silas and called, "Sea serpent, you have stolen someone very precious and I have gone too long without her. Know this, you may kill me in battle, but I will not leave this place without the princess."

"That's my cue," whispered Silas and he lurched forward with a mighty roar. The gardener took a step back but quickly ran forward swinging the shovel with all his might. The shovel broke on impact with the golden scales but Silas let out a horrific shriek and coiled himself together, thrashing about in the waves. Rolling around in the waves, Silas let out a convincing gurgle letting his long red tongue flap about.

"Could you speed it up?" hissed Serenity. So with one final splash, Silas disappeared under the waves. When he was done with his performance, Silas slid behind a boulder to see what happened next. The young man was in a sort of daze. Running to him, Serenity gave him a fierce hug, then half walked and half carried him in the direction of the kingdom.

The next day Silas found Serenity waiting for him on the beach when he arrived.

"So how are things at the castle?" he asked.

Serenity smiled "Well, we managed to persuade my parents that we're too young to get married, so I won't be holding a wedding anytime soon. That was quite a performance the other day."

"So does this mean you're going to live happily ever after?"

"You know," said Serenity after a moment, "I rather think I will."

And they did.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Amolatina This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 19, 2010 at 9:24 pm
Thats really a cute fairy tale.
 
SpecialK said...
Feb. 12, 2009 at 5:00 am
That was adorable! What a sweet fairy tale! I enjoyed it so much. Keep writing!
 
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