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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Alyea's Coat of A Thousand Skins - 1. Chapter 1

Alyea is royal princess who just can't find the life she desires with the rules her father sets for her. When she forced toward a marriage she doesn't want, Alyea devises a plan to stop her father's wedding designs. However, when she is trumped, Alyea runs away and ends up as a scullery maid. What is a princess to do?

The kingdom was rich with entertainment and beautiful people. It was a stunning place to visit and if you were lucky enough to live there, you would have the desire to see the kingdom’s princess. Well, to be perfectly honest, people usually lined the streets to see the fair Princess Alyea.

Alyea had long raven black hair, crystal blue eyes, pale skin, and lips as sweet as raspberries. Tall and attractive, there was just one small problem with the princess; she declined every suitor brought before her. Her father, King Pedrick, had begun hounding her daily to find a husband. There had been balls, festivals, and arranged meals, but all that had succeeded in doing was finding out how short the tempers of both King Pedrick and Princess Alyea were.

Finally, after yet another failed attempt to introduce Alyea to a proper suitor, the king and his daughter launched into another argument which led to Alyea storming out of the dining room and her father marching after her. The argument continued through the castle till they burst into Alyea’s bedroom.

“I don’t see why I should have to marry at all!”

“Alyea, a Queen needs a consort.” King Pedrick charged after his daughter till she turned and finally stopped. His arms were crossed as faced his daughter.

Alyea looked at her father in disgust. She was an intelligent woman, more than capable. Her father had made sure her tutors were the best in the land. She was better educated than half the advisors to the King himself. All she found in her father’s comment was that he was set in the past.

King Pedrick stopped asking her when she would agree to a ball or party to meet new suitors.

“Let us stop these games, Alyea. Your mother might have been able to get you to cooperate, but now there is only me. What will it take to get you do as I desire? Name your heart’s desire and within a month it shall be yours.”

Alyea was flabbergasted. Her father wasn’t going to let her put this off any longer. There had to be a way to request something, anything that would be impossible to accomplish.

“Anything I desire?”

“Yes, but once your desires are met, you marry who I choose for you!”

“But if you can’t meet them, then I marry who I want, when I want.”

“This will happen only if you win, dear.”

Alyea smiled and nodded her head.

“Father, I ask only for the night so I can consider what I want. Come tomorrow I will present you with list of my desires,” Alyea said gently.

King Pedrick sighed but nodded his consent. He turned and marched out of his daughter’s room, pausing at the doorway.

“Your mother and I married when she was a year younger than you are now. You are my only child, Alyea. I would like to see you married and have grandchildren before I pass on.”

Alyea watched as tears sprang to her father’s eyes at the mention of her mother. She bowed her head, for her mother’s passing hurt her as much as it had hurt her father. In the awkward pause that followed King Pedrick moved off, closing the door behind him.

Left alone in her room, she wandered over to the gifts her mother had left her. There was a small marble puppy no larger than her pinky but carved so cleverly that it looked as if it would move at any moment. Beside it was the small silver mirror that would show you the places of your greatest happiness. That just left the small gold ring her mother had worn constantly. These were the things she treasured most in the world. She sat down before them trying to figure out what she could request that would be impossible.

She sat all afternoon watching the sun slowly sink behind the mountains. The golden sunlight slowly slid to the pale blues of twilight, and ended in the silver of the moon shining above. This gave Alyea an idea. She sat contemplating exactly what she wanted to ask of her father, trying out different ideas in her mind as she sat by the window. As it got darker she noticed the distant farmers bringing in the lambs and horses. She saw the children playing with dogs, and the stray cats wandering freely. She could imagine the mice and other animals that lived wildly in the woods her father owned in the kingdom. Slowly a wicked smile crossed her face as all the parts of her plan fell into place.

Early the next morning King Pedrick arrived at Alyea’s door with kitchen scullions carrying her breakfast, two scholars, and the royal scribe. The King strode up to her door, knocked and entered with his entourage. To his surprise his daughter was already up and sat by her window looking quite content.

“We have an agreement, Alyea. Your requests shall be written down. The scholars are to make sure that whatever you ask for is real and possible. Therefore you can’t request something made up, like a flying horse.”

Alyea watched her father stand in the middle of the room, arms crossed, feet apart, with small smile, looking like he had already won this contest. She nodded her consent to his stipulation.

“I have five requests, Father.”

The scullions quickly set up a table and laid out breakfast for Princess Alyea, bowed and departed almost unnoticed. The scribe sat down near the table the cooks had set up and while the King strode across the carpet in anger, the scribe slipped a roll off the table, nibbling on it. The scholars stood near the doorway looking odd in their long robes watching everyone else.

“Is that all?” King Pedrick looked at his daughter carefully and stopped his nervous pacing. He knew her mind was as sharp as man’s. He carefully repositioned himself in the middle of the room so she would have to focus on him.

“Yes. Just five requests.”

“What is the first?”

“I desire a dress, as golden as the sun itself. It should reflect the beauty of the light it gives like the sun does.” Alyea smiled remembering the way the sun took on so many shades of gold as it slowly sank behind the mountains, figuring this would be a hard task to complete.

“A dress? Is that all for the first request?” King Pedrick asked incredulously.

“With matching shoes of course,” Alyea added as an afterthought.

He turned to the scholars who simply shrugged. Alyea assumed they would think this was an easy thing. The scribe simply wrote down Alyea’s description and added matching shoes.

“Your second request?”

“I want a dress like twilight, with the colors of the rich blues and blacks that fill that time of night. The sort of dress that takes one’s breath away,” Alyea started to say, but paused before adding, “with matching shoes of course, Father.”

“Naturally.” He glanced at his scholars who again shrugged.

“Are all your requests to be clothing, Alyea? You have never taken an interest in such things before.”

Alyea simply smiled; she wasn’t done with her demands yet.

King Pedrick sighed. He knew his daughter wouldn’t make this easy, but he was determined to win this.

“Do you wish to hear the rest or can I simply say I win now?”

“Oh, no. Please, do go on.”

“Well, Father, most of what I request is going to be clothing. My third request is for a dress as silver as the moon.”

“Fine.”

“My fourth request is that three dresses are not only made to fit me but all three must fit neatly into the bag on the bed.”

The scholars walked over and lifted the bag. The bag was barely as large as their hands. They figured their entire wardrobe would fit into the bag, so three dresses should fit easily. Alyea knew a man would not know of the petticoats, hoops, and other things that made up a woman’s outfit or how much room they took up. They looked at the King and simply nodded again. The scribe quickly wrote down the latest addition. Now all of the men sat looking at Princess Alyea as she sat smiling widely.

“You said you had a fifth request. Tell me what is it so I can finish this nonsense up and begin looking for a consort for you.”

Alyea arose and walked slowly over to where the scribe sat. She picked up a plate and took some of the breakfast the scullions had laid out for her. Then she moved back to her chair and set the plate alongside her on a small table. She knew she was prolonging this but she figured this would be the one item that put her over the top and made it impossible for her father to win this bet.

“I want a coat.”

“Is that all? A coat?” King Pedrick smiled widely thinking his daughter would be married off within the week.

“Yes, I want a coat made of skins. I checked late last night, Father. Your records are very good. You listed exactly what kind and how many of every type of animal you have in the kingdom.”

The King nodded and his smile slipped. He remembered ordering the count a year before. It had taken his men months to count and catalogue all the various animals.

“Your records state that the kingdom has one thousand various types of animals. I want a coat made with a piece of skin from each one. The list must be complete, none skipped.”

The King paled.

“Your Highness, for each skin that is about a week to tan or so. It would mean in less than a month a thousand animals must be caught, killed, skinned, and tanned.”

Princess Alyea sat slowly eating the fruit off her plate while her father heard the scholars explain.

“So be it,” King Pedrick growled out. He turned and watched as his daughter sat contently in her chair picking at the plate of food before her.

The scholars quickly moved toward the door. The scribe scribbled down the final notes and was heading toward the door when the King made him stop.

“Rodrick, I want this posted on every part of the kingdom. All seamstresses are to report to the castle. Send men out to other nearby kingdoms. I want only the finest here and they are to be here by the end of the week. I want every tanner found and brought to the castle. My personal huntsmen are to be sent out with a scribe who has the list of all the animals. As each one is brought down, make sure it is crossed off and given to the tanners. I told Princess Alyea,” he paused and looked at his daughter as sat munching on an apple. He sighed and continued speaking, “I told her that all of her requests would be done one month from today. Failure,” his voice became laced with steel,”is not an option!”

Rodrick quickly finished off the notice, bowed, and fled the room.

“You will have your demands in thirty days. Then you will be married.”

Alyea looked up and smiled.

“We will see. I don’t know why you insist on my marrying anyway.”

“The kingdom needs heirs.”

Shaking his head, King Pedrick left his daughter to her solitary meal while he went to make sure his orders were being carried out.

 

It was a day before the month deadline was to be reached. Alyea was heartbroken to see so much had already been completed by her father.

He had hired some incredible women. They came a few days after his decree had been made to measure her for the cloth they had been making. She wasn’t shown anything. However the rumors of the servants reached her, letting her know how incredible the fabrics looked.

Within a week she was presented with a dress that nearly blinded her for it radiance. A golden dress, soft as a feather, and cleverly made was placed before her. The dress, when folded up neatly, fit into the bag and took up barely a third of it. It was a dress of incalculable beauty, but it didn’t make her happy.

For as beautiful as the dress was it couldn’t distract Alyea from the horrors she had forced to be created. In the back corner of the palace grounds was an odd little tented area. But from trees, ropes, and nearly anything else hung animals of various sizes being gutted for their skins. The smell was that of a charnel house.

King Pedrick refused to see anything wasted. The meat was given to the poor and the hungry. The extra skin was made into boots, gloves, and other items. The bones were even used by different tradesmen. The animals might have been killed to make a coat, but it ended up enriching the lives of many though most didn’t realize it had been done as a way to force the princess to marry.

Alyea had watched as slowly each task had been completed. Week two brought her the second dress, made in the shades of twilight. The matching shoes were delivered as well. By the end of the third week, the final dress and shoes arrived. The gown was as silver as the moon, with sparkling stars woven into the very fabric it seemed. When the final dress arrived, it also found the many tanners packing up and the tent city being taken down. The castle grounds were raked and cleaned up.

Now with one day to go before the deadline, there were three dresses neatly packed into the bag, each more spectacular than the one before it. Down In the courtyard stood one lone tent in the back corner, with the master tanner still working inside of it. The only part of her requests now left unfinished was the coat. The princess realized it was coming down to a race to the deadline.

Early the next morning the King arrived with Rodrick, and two strangers.

“Alyea, I want you to meet Suzanna and Aiden. Suzanna was in charge of making all the clothing. Many helped weave and sew her creations. Aiden is a master tanner. He over saw every skin taken to make your coat. Once the skins were ready, Suzanna had your coat made. The last skins were given to her last night and your coat was finished moments ago.”

Rodrick stepped forward and opened the box he carried. He lifted her coat out and let if fall so she could see it. There were leathers and furs in every shade and hue. The coat was long enough that even on her figure it would drape to the floor. There was a high collar and a hood on the coat.

Alyea bowed her head.

“Your work is incredible,” Alyea sadly acknowledged.

Suzanna and Aiden bowed to the princess, both delighted at her praise.

“There will be a ball held in two days. There I will choose the man to be your husband.”

Alyea bowed her head in defeat. She hadn’t won but she had no intention of marrying either.

“Don’t look so sad, Alyea. You know I will have all the men there and choose only the one I think will make you happiest.”

Alyea nodded. In her lifetime she had met many men. From the richest prince to the poorest farmer, she wasn’t one to shy from anyone she encountered. While she found some to be very nice, and others to be cruel, none seemed to bring the rush of color to her face or the excitement that many other young women in the kingdom showed when meeting them.

That evening she retired early, sent her personal maids off and waited till she was sure everyone would think she was asleep. She went to the closet and packed the three dresses that had been made for her into the small sack. Then she slipped the matching shoes into the bag as well. Finally, she gathered the three treasures her mother had given her and packed them into the sack. Then she put on the oldest and plainest dress she had and over that slipped on her new coat. She paused by the fireplace and quickly darkened her skin with the soot and ashes. She tucked her dark hair under the hood of the coat and then sneaked quietly out of the castle.

She traveled all night and most of the next day, staying off the main roads and taking every back pathway she could find out of her father’s realm. As much as she loved her father she knew that once he made up his mind there would be no changing it. The first night she slept for a few hours in an old deserted barn. Early the next morning she was up and moving non-stop. It was only after traveling for nearly another day and half that Alyea spied a tree with large cleft in it. Hoping it would keep her hidden; she crawled into the cleft and fell into a deep sleep.

What Alyea hadn’t known was that she had passed beyond her father’s realm and into a new kingdom. It was in this new land that, while she slept, the King was presently hunting with a group of his men at the outer most limits of his realm. One of the huntsmen noted a strange creature asleep in cleft of an old tree.

“Your Highness, I’ve never seen anything like it. The beast seems to have many shades to its hide. It would be a most spectacular creature to display.”

The King sat back and thought. He wasn’t one who liked to miss out on the fun of a hunt, but realized that such a creature might be worth more alive.

“Very well. Give the order to try to capture the creature alive.”

The hunters slowly circled the tree and finally one was close enough to reach out and grab the creature. Alyea immediately woke and spotted the hunters.

“Help, please, I’m only a poor girl without a mother or father,” she cried out, shocking the hunters who expected to find a creature, not a girl.

The King rode forth and looked down at the odd girl.

“Do you have a name?”

Alyea thought quickly.

“I’ve been called Furs, Sir.”

“Furs? Well, if you have nowhere else to live, we shall take you back to the palace. There you can help in the kitchens. My cook is always begging for new help.”

Alyea nodded and followed behind the king and the hunters.

 

 

Alyea’s new life was vastly different from the one she had been born into. Here she learned hard work. The cook in the royal palace never bothered to take care of anyone. When he was informed by one of the huntsmen that Furs was now his latest helper, the cooked groaned.

“Just once I wish I could get someone,” he paused looking at Fur’s strange coat and dirty hands, “who might be worth my time. Still I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Alright, you work for me. No complaints, no back talk, and no breaks unless I say so. Let me show you where you will be sleeping.”

The cook didn’t expect Furs to last long and refused to give her a decent room. He found a small place under the stairs in the back of the servant’s wing. It barely had room for a straw mattress and a tiny slit of a window. This was her new chambers. Quietly Alyea slipped her bag under the mattress and began her new life as the scullery maid.

The cook didn’t use her so much as a helper as he did a slave. She toted wood for the stoves, cleaned out the ashes, wiped down counters, carried in buckets of water, and did whatever he didn’t feel like handling. However, the cook often disappeared and Alyea had learned much including cooking from her tutors over the years. Often times he would simply say, “Watch the food for me. I’ll be right back.” Then he would disappear for an hour or two. At these times Alyea began to practice her own style of cooking. She added spices to his bland food, prepared his vegetables in new ways, and generally began to make his food taste and smell better. The change in menu, soon reminded the King of his own youth and the parties he had attended. Deciding his own children needed to experience the pleasure of a ball he decided it was time to host one for his children.

King Marrod had two children from his deceased wife. The oldest was his son, Prince Andrew. Andrew was tall and thin, with light brown hair. He carried a book with him at all times and was about as exciting as ink drying on paper. Then there was Marrod’s youngest child, Princess Petunia. Petunia was nothing like her name would suggest. She was a woman who took an interest in most everything. She hunted, fished, danced, sewed, and she was someone who just hated to stand still. Her hair was long and blonde, her eyes a deep honey brown, and her skin was the milky white that drew everyone’s attention to her. In most ways, the two children were opposites in nearly everything, but they totally supported one another.

Knowing that both of his children were of marrying age, King Marrod decided it would be nice to hold a ball and see if anyone could capture the attention of his children. He would very much like it if they married and he got grandchildren. In fact, it was his mother, Lady Alexia, who suggested that a ball might be just the thing to attract a mate for one, if not both, of the royal children.

The cook wasn’t thrilled to learn of the ball. For him it meant more work, which meant more work for Furs. For days extra help had been brought in and food had been prepared. Pastries were made, roasts were cooked, salads were prepared, and savory soups were created. Then there finally came the night of the ball.

“May I go watch the ball for just an hour?” Furs had never asked for anything before.

The cook turned and looked at Furs. He could barely make out her eyes in the dark hood of her coat. He would have loved to say no but she had worked just as hard, if not harder, than he had for this ball.

“Fine, but be back here in one hour. I have work for you to finish up.”

Fur nodded and silently made her way back to the tiny room that was hers. Once inside she carefully locked the door. She removed her coat, the old dress, and washed herself completely. For the first time in months her own beauty could finally be seen. She moved then to the bed and carefully lifted it and took out her bag. She removed the dress as golden as the sun and slipped it on. She exchanged her shoes for the ones that matched her beautiful dress.

Carefully arranging her hair she slipped up the back staircase and to the back of the ballroom. She had barely entered the room when every pair of eyes seemed to turn toward her.

Andrew and Petunia had been standing on the opposite side of the room.

“Aren’t you enjoying the ball?” Petunia paused to adjust her gloves again before looking up into her brother’s face.

“Don’t ask me, I find this whole thing boring,” Andrew sighed as he watched another woman try to catch his attention.

“Well at least you aren’t being felt up by every idiot who walks by,” Petunia muttered. “I swear one more person grabs my ass and I’m going to … Who is that?”

Andrew and Petunia stared in wonder at the dark headed creature that sparkled like the sun. King Marrod stepped forward and slowly led Alyea over to meet his children. Andrew bowed and Petunia could barely keep her jaw off the floor.

A new song began and King Marrod was sure Andrew would immediately take the beautiful girl out and dance but instead, Princess Petunia grabbed the girl’s arm and took her out on the balcony.

“Where on earth did you find such a dress? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Alyea blushed.

“It was made for me as a sort of bribe.”

“Well I need to find someone to bribe me like that then.”

Alyea giggled.

Petunia blushed. “I’m sorry, that must sound rude.”

Alyea thought it was nice to have someone who she could talk to. She smiled happily. “Well, depends on what they want from you. I see that this ball is for both you and your brother.”

“My grandmother and father are hoping to marry us off. Andrew, I love him dearly, but I doubt anyone will ever strike his fancy.”

Alyea cocked her head. It hadn’t been the answer she was expecting to hear.

“What about you?”

“Let’s just say, I doubt I would find what I want in there.”

Alyea was about to comment when a small white dog came rushing over to Petunia. He ran around her feet and yipped till she reached down and scratched his ears.

“Aw. He is a cute little guy.”

“Thank you.”

Alyea watched the little dog playing at Petunia’s feet. “Is he yours?”

“ Yes, he was a gift from my grandmother. I call him Snowball because of his color.”

Alyea smiled and suddenly noticed how long she had been standing there talking. When Petunia turned to put the dog down she slipped back through the door and rapidly down the stairs. She arrived back at her room, slipped out of the golden dress and back into the clothing of Furs. She blackened her skin and face. Once her hair was again tucked under the hood she rushed to the kitchen.

“There you are. You were nearly late. I’m going to follow your example and go take a look at the ball. Tonight, you are to cook the soup for Princess Petunia. She doesn’t want much more than a vegetable soup. She complained earlier that there would be too much heavy food and she didn’t want to be stuck eating it in the dress she would have to wear.”

Furs nodded and set to work. She made the soup and put in some seasoning and left it to cook. She hurried to her room and took out her bag once again. Inside were the gifts her mother had left her. After seeing Petunia’s dog she couldn’t help but think that she would enjoy the small marble dog. She rushed back, ladled out the soup and slipped the statue into the bottom of the bowl. She had just set the bowl with the Princess’s initials onto a platter when the cook walked back into the room.

“Change of plans. All three royals will take the soup. I hope you made enough.”

Furs quickly took out two more bowls and filled them with the soup. The cook took the platter and had it sent right up to the royal chambers.

Furs and the cook slowly began the task of cleaning up the kitchen after such a party. The cook was falling asleep on a stool while Furs scrubbed out another large pot. It was then that guard arrived and took the cook to see King Marrod.

The cook walked into find the whole royal family sitting and staring at him. All he could think was that somehow Furs had screwed up the soup on him.

“Who made the soup?” demanded King Marrod as the cook trembled before him.

“I did, your Highness.”

“Your food,” Prince Andrew chimed in, “is always so bland. This actually tasted good.”

The cook looked dejectedly at his feet.

“Furs made the soup.”

“Furs? Who is Furs?” Princess Petunia looked bewildered. “What kind of name is that anyway?”

“Oh, you mean she is still here?”

“Yes, your Majesty. Furs still works in the kitchen with me.”

King Marrod looked at the cook and shook his head.

“Go back to the kitchen and send Furs here.”

The cook ran the whole way back. He found Furs just finishing her cleaning of the stoves.

“I don’t know what you did but they want you upstairs in the royal chambers now.”

Meekly, Furs went to the royal chamber. She entered and immediately spotted the whole royal family seated at the table.

“Did you make the soup?” Andrew asked looking at the odd colored creature before them.

“Yes, sir?” Furs voice was soft and hard to hear.

“Where did you get the figure you put in my soup, Furs?”

Furs looked at Petunia. She tilted her head and shrugged.

“What figure?”

King Marrod stood and walked over to Furs.

“Where do you live?” He demanded of the odd creature before him.

“Under the stairs.”

“What do you own?”

“Just the clothes on my back.” Furs raised her hands and showed the dark black smears from cleaning out the ovens. The king took a step back and shook his head.

Turning to his children, he shook his head.

“There is no way we will solve this mystery tonight.” The king sighed before turning back to the odd creature standing before him. “Furs go back to the kitchen and help the cook finish cleaning up.”

Furs returned to the kitchen and found the cook standing there waiting for her.

“They sent you back huh? Well, I’m not sure what happened but don’t let it happen again,” he huffed and walked out leaving Furs to finish cleaning up.

It was nearly a month before the King decided to have another ball. Again the cook complained but Furs helped to do it all. Again she begged to be allowed to go see the ball and finally the cook agreed to let her go but only for an hour.

Alyea rushed to her room. She washed her face and hands and again looked the part of a Princess. This time she took the dress that was the colors of twilight. The dress was in tones of blues, grays, and even the shiny stars of early evening seemed to shine within the depths of her dress. She slid the matching shoes onto her feet and hurried once again up the back stairway to the ballroom. This time Andrew and Petunia were both looking for her by the entryway to the ballroom and they couldn’t figure out how she had gotten past them. However, both immediately spotted her as the guests in the room began hush at her appearance.

“Henry, who is that woman?” Lady Alexia asked her son once she spotted Alyea.

“I’m not sure who she is Mother, but both of my children want to find out,” stated King Marrod with a twinkle in his eyes.

Lady Alexia watched as her grandchildren moved directly to the beautiful young woman and ushered her outside.

“Well I hope you plan to find out who has captured their attention.”

“Of course I do.”

Petunia and Andrew moved Alyea once more to the balcony and away from prying eyes.

“Well, I will wait here,” Andrew paused, giving his sister a look, “and give you two some time to talk.”

Petunia blushed but kept walking with Alyea.

“Is there some reason your brother is standing at the top of the stairway to the gardens?”

“He is just trying to make sure you aren’t trampled by the curious guests,” Petunia said as she tried to figure out how best to find out more about the mysterious woman before her.

“You know your roses would grow better if you clipped off the ends of dead flowers. I’d also tell your gardener to plant some marigolds to help keep away some of the pests.”

“You know about gardening. I’m impressed.”

“I know about some things. I did get a good education,” Alyea caught herself before she told about her father. “I know a little bit about a lot of things.”

“It sounds like you traveled a lot.”

“Not really.”

The two sat down on a bench in the darkness while the stars shone above. In the darkness the sounds of the music from the ball filled the garden.

“The garden really is beautiful,” Alyea said after a few moments, trying hard to keep her voice normal.

“I wish I could show you some of the places that have true beauty. There are places I have been that I love dearly, but that I am not often able to get to. A few are homes my grandmother owns.”

Alyea nodded and then noticed the music had changed again. She knew her time was growing short, but she was enjoying her visit with Petunia. Petunia stood and paced a few steps away, fingering the petals of one of the rose bushes Alyea had mentioned.

“You know, I’m really enjoying getting to know you. You are so different from everyone else I’ve met. I don’t even know your name.”

Petunia turned around only to find she was alone. Quickly she hurried back to her brother.

“Andrew, did you see where she went?”

“No. Isn’t she with you?”

The two quickly rushed back into the ballroom but Alyea had vanished from sight.

Alyea had realized she was going to be late and ran like the wind the moment Petunia had stood up. She hadn’t heard a word Petunia said. Seeing Andrew standing at one end of the staircase she ran to the other and hurried up it. She slipped in through another doorway and nearly flew down to the servant’s quarters. She took off her dress and shoes, pulled on her clothing of Furs, then quickly smeared soot and ashes on her hands and face. Moments later Furs walked into the kitchen to find the cook waiting for her.

“I swear you like to cut things close, Furs. Finish cleaning up here and make up another batch of vegetable soup. The Princess has demanded more again tonight,” he grumbled as he washed his hands. “I’m going to take a look at the ball and will back later. Don’t let anything happen to the soup!”

Furs set right to work. She cut up fresh vegetables, added spices, and set the whole thing on the stove to cook for a while. Then she raced back to her room again. She had planned to slide the mirror into the soup but she still used it now and then to check on her father. Instead she slipped the golden ring into her hand and headed back to the kitchen.

Again she ladled out the soup into three bowls this time, but into the one Princess Petunia used she slipped her ring. A moment later the cook came strolling into the kitchen.

“Add a fourth bowl to that. It appears Lady Alexia is staying with her grandchildren. Seems she is intrigued by some guest they were talking to.’

Furs simply nodded and ladled out another bowl. The cook called for someone to carry the platter up to the royal chambers and then set about helping Furs get the kitchen cleaned up. They had barely moved the empty casks of flour out of the way when a royal guard arrived and took the cook away. Furs realized what was happening and went right to work on the stove this time. By the time the cook came back, Furs hands were black and greasy.

Furs entered the royal chambers after the guard. This time four faces stared at her as she entered.

“What is that?” Lady Alexia demanded horrified by the creature that now stood before her.

“Furs, Mother. Let us handle this.”

Princess Petunia wasted no time. She stood and marched over to Furs, the gold ring in her palm.

“Where did you get such a thing? How could you afford to get such a ring?”

Furs stood mutely before them. Finally she shrugged.

“I’ve never seen it,” she whispered.

King Marrod walked over and looked over the Furs.

Shaking his head, he asked a familiar question.

“Where do you live?”

“Under the stairs,” came the soft reply.

Lady Alexia rose and strode over toward Furs. She stopped on the other side of her son and sniffed the air. Her nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Henry, send this creature away. There is no way it could know anything about either the woman at the ball or the ring. It is just too,” Lady Alexia hesitated while she searched for the appropriate words, “poor and filthy. Get rid of it before I lose my appetite completely.”

Furs returned to the kitchen to find the cook waiting for her.

“I don’t know what you do to make your soup taste so good but that is twice they have demanded to see you because of it. From now on I will do most of the cooking so I can get the reward.”

Furs caught many of the servants talking as they came into the kitchens in the following weeks. It seems a strange woman has appeared twice at the balls. The coachmen had been questioned asking what she arrived in but not one can remember a woman dressed as this one appeared to have been. Guards throughout the castle had been questioned, but other than appearing as if by magic in the ballrooms no one else seems to know anything about her. It seems the mysterious woman had captured the imagination of the king’s children.

The rumors about the mysterious woman began to die down only after it was announced that King Marrod had declared another ball. The castle was abuzz with the news. There had never been a time when there were three balls in three months. Everyone was excited and preparations were immediately begun. News circulated among the maids that both Andrew and Petunia were having clothes made for this ball so that they would not be forgotten at their own ball.

Finally the night of the ball arrived again. Furs had worked hard getting even more food prepared for this ball than the other two combined. Even the cook had to admit she deserved a break.

“You can go for your usual hour but then you must be back here, without fail and on time.”

Alyea returned again to her room, slipped out of her Fur outfit and washed herself thoroughly. Each time it had been harder to get away, but Alyea found she was drawn to the ball. This was the only time she got to see Princess Petunia. She would take her chances again. Quickly she dried herself and then she went to her bag, where she removed the dress as silver as the moon. She put on the silvery outfit and the matching shoes. Excitement warred with nervousness as she wove her hair into a beautiful braid and hurried upstairs to the ball.

When Alyea appeared this time, Princess Petunia nearly flew to her side. Prince Andrew strode over and the two immediately began talking to the young woman. King Marrod watched everything from across the room.

“You really are something, you know that? How can you keep disappearing on me?” Petunia asked as she looked over Alyea.

“My sister is getting quite upset with your disappearing acts. You might have at least told her your name or where she can find you.”

Alyea blushed and she heard Petunia catch her breath. Andrew paused and noticed everyone in the room was watching. He quickly grabbed both women by the arm and towed them out into one of the small rooms behind the ballroom.

“Look, I’m not sure what is happening between you two,” Andrew began his voice husky, “but I know whatever it is, I hope it happens to me soon. Talk and figure it out before you both drive me crazy. I’ll try to keep everyone out of here for a while.”

With that Andrew turned and strode back through the door, closing it behind him.

Petunia and Alyea stared momentarily at the door before Petunia began laughing. Alyea couldn’t help but join her.

“You realize he is right. I’ve sorta been thinking of you a lot.”

Alyea blushed again. Finally she found she was experiencing the rush she had always hoped to find with men at her balls her father had thrown in her honor.

“I see. Well, I’m here now.”

Petunia smiled. She was taken with Alyea and determined not to lose her again. She reached out and took Alyea’s hand in her own. Alyea just smiled and walked with her. The two sat and slowly talked about safe subjects. The beautiful weather that they had been having, the delicious food at the ball, and even the stunning outfits the other was wearing seemed to be things they could talk about without pushing the other away. While Petunia listened, she slipped her hand into the pocket of her dress and removed the golden ring she had hidden in it. Alyea became so focused on her conversation with Petunia she never realized that Petunia had slid the ring onto her finger. The two talked on and on for what seemed like the entire night. More than once Alyea found herself sliding forward as she watched Petunia talk. Suddenly she realized she was late.

“You really must forgive me,” Alyea began, “but I need something to drink. I feel really warm.”

“The room is warm, isn’t it? Come on, follow me. We will slip out get something to drink and then slip away so we can continue to talk.”

Alyea simply nodded and followed Petunia to the door. As they started out of the room people came between them as a new dance began. By the time Petunia turned around to look for the woman she had been with for the last hour, Alyea had vanished from sight.

Alyea was later than she had ever been before. She knew she didn’t have time to change. She quickly tossed her coat over the silver gown and raced down to the kitchens.

“You’re late! I want to go watch the ball for a while. Just finish the soup. Make sure there is enough for the King and the heirs. I understand the Lady Alexia wasn’t feeling well so she didn’t even come to the ball.”

Furs simply nodded and waited for the cook to leave.

There was no denying that she felt something for Petunia. She rushed back to her room and grabbed her mirror. It would be hard no longer being able to see her father but she felt Petunia would enjoy seeing the places she loved but couldn’t get to. She rapidly made the soup and placed her mirror into the bottom of Princess Petunia’s bowl. When the soup was done she filled each bowl and had it sent directly up to the royal chambers.

A few moments later the cook returned to find Furs cleaning off the tables in the kitchen. Furs looked up and seen the cook smiling widely. Curious, Furs wandered over to where the cook sat nibbling on a sweet cake.

“What has you smiling so happily?”

“The rumors are flying. The mysterious woman was back again and all the guards swear there is no way she left the grounds this time.”

“Really?”

“Yup. All the guests are being checked as the leave now. The last one was ushered out while I was there.”

Alyea stood stock still. She wasn’t sure what would happen if King Marrod found out the truth of who she was. Granted, she was a princess, but she had been hiding out from her father as a servant in King Marrod’s kitchen for the past eight months now. She wasn’t sure what sort of trouble this might cause.

A royal guard arrived and Alyea figured it was to take the cook away as had happened before, but that wasn’t the case this time.

“Cook, you and Furs are to come with me now.”

The cook stood and began to move but Furs froze. She glanced at her hands and noticed that she hadn’t had the chance to even cover them in soot and ash. She pulled her hands up and tried her best to hide them in the sleeves of her coat.

King Marrod watched the cook and Furs enter the royal chambers. Petunia sat looking heartbroken and Andrew paced the floor beside his sister. Only King Marrod seemed unmoved by his daughter’s obvious distress.

He looked at the cook.

“You didn’t make the soup did you?”

“No, I’m sorry I didn’t.”

“I didn’t think so. Guards, you can take the cook out.”

The cook looked back and couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was going on tonight.

“Does it even pay to ask her, Father?” Andrew looked as his father while he paced. “She will only tell you she doesn’t know. Truthfully, I want to find out what happened to the maiden from the ball. This silly stuff that always turns up in the soup doesn’t matter!” Andrew looked sympathetically at his sister and kept pacing.

King Marrod looked at his children and shook his head. He turned and had seen Furs trying to hide her white hand in the sleeve of her coat. He also spied the ring that had been found in his daughter’s soup bowl now on her finger. He looked once more at his children. Petunia sat looking like her best friend had died and Andrew paced beside her too distraught to do anything to help her.

“Sometimes I wonder about you both.” King Marrod then turned to Furs. “Come here child.”

Alyea took a tentative step forward and King Marrod reached out and grabbed the collar of her coat and tugged. The coat slipped open and silver dress below was seen. Petunia looked up in surprise while Andrew stopped and his jaw dropped.

Alyea went to pull away and her coat of a thousand skins ripped exposing the entire dress beneath it. At once everyone who had ever seen Alyea at the balls recognized her.

“You’re her,” began Petunia, “but how?” She looked bewildered at Alyea.

“How did you know, Father?” Andrew hurried over towards King Marrod.

“Just look at her pale skin and the ring on her finger. I think the time for secrets is over. Don’t you think you should explain everything now?” King Marrod looked at Alyea, cocking his eyebrow and tapping his foot impatiently.

Alyea blushed and nodded her head. She sat at the table and told the assembled group of her father’s desires for a family, her own promise, the creation of the dresses, her mother’s gifts to her, and the coat of a thousand skins. Then she explained how she had run away and how she had been living since she was taken into King Marrod’s castle.

When she was finished, King Marrod nodded. He looked at Alyea and then at his own daughter.

“Well, it seems the ball was a good idea, but I don’t think your father or I had any idea what our children were really hoping to find. However, before anything else is done I think it is time your father was told where you are. Then I need to have a little discussion with a certain cook I know about new employment.”

Time passed as it always does, and King Marrod sent a formal letter to King Pedrick explaining what had happened to his daughter. King Pedrick was relieved to find out his daughter was unharmed, but it took a while to arrange an official visit. In the interim, Princess Petunia and Princess Alyea became very close.

In fact, Alyea became close with both Petunia and Andrew. In Andrew she found a loyal friend, but in Petunia she found the love she’d always been missing. The bonds formed were felt strongly by all three.

Eventually King Pedrick arrived to see his daughter and was greeted by King Marrod and his family.

“I do thank you for finding my daughter.”

“Well, actually your daughter made sure she stayed hidden for a long time.”

King Pedrick looked at his daughter where she sat happily holding hands with Petunia.

“It appears that my daughter might have had her own reasons for wanting to stay.”

King Marrod smiled as he noted what King Pedrick was observing.

“If you will excuse me, I believe my daughter and I need to talk, privately.”

“Of course.”

King Marrod gathered his daughter and left Alyea alone with her father. Alyea sat and looked at her father as he paced back and forth.

“Would you kindly stop pacing?” Alyea’s voice echoed in the empty room.

King Pedrick stopped and looked at his daughter. His face turned red and there was a nervous tick in the muscle of his left eyelid and cheek. Alyea wasn’t sure if her father was going to scream or have a fit. However, a moment later his face relaxed and he walked over to where his daughter sat.

“Do you realize how much you scared me?” King Pedrick stared at his daughter a moment before finally sitting alongside of her.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you, but there was no way I was going to marry someone I didn’t want.”

King Pedrick sighed. He sat silently for a moment till Alyea reached over and squeezed his hand.

“So you really are in love with her?”

Alyea blushed and nodded her head.

“But, what about children? There has to be an heir to the throne!”

Alyea sat quietly for a moment.

“Well, Petunia and I can always take a child from the royal orphanage to raise.”

King Pedrick stared at his daughter, his face blank.

“Or, we could ask Andrew if he would be willing to let his sister and I raise one of his children as our own.”

“I suppose those are about the best options I am going to get.”

Alyea looked at her father as he sat there. He seemed different and older somehow. He was slow to move and answer her. Eventually he reached out and hugged his daughter tightly.

“I guess I’m just going to have to get to know this Rose of yours.”

“Petunia, Dad, not Rose.”

“Ah, well, Petunia then.”

King Pedrick and Alyea returned to their kingdom a week later with a promise that King Marrod would arrive with his family a month later for a royal ball to announce the bonding of their two kingdoms. Alyea quickly had Suzanne design a new dress for her that would remind everyone of petunias in bloom.

When the time came the ball was a great success. From the moment the two of them entered the room they were never more than a foot each other. The two kings watched happily as their children held each other close during the ball to celebrate their union, staring into each other’s eyes and smiling dreamily. Petunia and Alyea were inseparable, holding hands, and everyone could see how happy they were together. Eventually Lady Alexia walked up to her son and grandson while watching her grand-daughter sway in the arms of Alyea.

“Well, Henry, that is one of your children taken care of.”

“I know, Mother.” King Marrod looked over at his mother and cocked an eyebrow.

“I’m just saying, Henry, that Andrew should already be married.” She pointedly stared at Andrew who stood silently watching his sister and Alyea sway to the music.

Andrew shrugged. “It happens when it happens, Grandmother. I can wait.” Andrew let a small smile play across his lips as he father watched. Andrew winked and walked away into the crowds of people enjoying the ball.

So that is my retelling of A Coat of a Thousand Skins which is one of many versions of the Cinderella tale. So what did you think? Comments and questions are always appreciated. If you enjoyed the story feel free to click the like button.
Copyright © 2011 comicfan; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

On 12/08/2011 04:15 PM, Daddydavek said:
Nice twist to the fable. But really, Petunia?
Thanks for commenting Dad. Well, I wanted a name people would read and just think oh lord super girly name. Besides, I was watching Looney Tunes when I came to naming the second princess. Forgive me. :)
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Well I actually liked it quite a bit... I can not think of exactly which fairy tale princess story i read that it reminds me of, perhaps a bit of all of them. I feel sorry for King Marrod if Andrew ends up gay... perhaps both kingdoms... lol. But I liked it ^_^

It's a lot better then the Kinky King and the Kinky Queen of the Kinky Kingdom Story my mother wrote about me, and almost as amusing...

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On 12/09/2011 04:17 PM, Celethiel said:
Well I actually liked it quite a bit... I can not think of exactly which fairy tale princess story i read that it reminds me of, perhaps a bit of all of them. I feel sorry for King Marrod if Andrew ends up gay... perhaps both kingdoms... lol. But I liked it ^_^

It's a lot better then the Kinky King and the Kinky Queen of the Kinky Kingdom Story my mother wrote about me, and almost as amusing...

I'm glad you read it and even more happy to see you commented on it. Kinky King? Kinky Queen? Sounds like an interesting little tale. :)
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It's wonderful. I especially like that it doesn't get too romantic or melodramic, so the ladies get away without being overly cliched (or butched and femmed). Instead they're simlpy nice young ladies.

I was also chuckling at "Petunia", but I guess Looney Toons is still better than Tiny Toons (were they called like that? I haven't had a TV set in 15 years) with that Elmyra person. A princess like that would have been annoyingly comic I guess. And it is indeed a more suitable name than Rose would have been (that would have been too fairytalesque). And I loved that the king got the names wrong. That makes him a likeable fellow to me.

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On 12/10/2011 02:16 AM, Elisabeth said:
It's wonderful. I especially like that it doesn't get too romantic or melodramic, so the ladies get away without being overly cliched (or butched and femmed). Instead they're simlpy nice young ladies.

I was also chuckling at "Petunia", but I guess Looney Toons is still better than Tiny Toons (were they called like that? I haven't had a TV set in 15 years) with that Elmyra person. A princess like that would have been annoyingly comic I guess. And it is indeed a more suitable name than Rose would have been (that would have been too fairytalesque). And I loved that the king got the names wrong. That makes him a likeable fellow to me.

Elisabeth I am glad you liked the story. I figured you were right and hadn't been represented. I don't like to stero types in what is already a well defined arena.
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What a sweet little story. I like how accepting both Kings were of their daughters love. At first I thought they were going to suggest a threesome between the girls and prince Andrew :P but I love their solution to having a child. There are so many children in this world in need of a home. Very touching.

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On 12/10/2011 11:33 AM, K.C. said:
What a sweet little story. I like how accepting both Kings were of their daughters love. At first I thought they were going to suggest a threesome between the girls and prince Andrew :P but I love their solution to having a child. There are so many children in this world in need of a home. Very touching.
Aww. Thank you KC. You know me, I prefer sweet when I can get it. Life is dark enough most of the time. A little fun, a little common sense, and a lot of get out of my way allows things to be completed easily.
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Wow, thank you. it was the bestest girl on girl story i've read, (though there was almost no action :P ) can you write another one, please?

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On 10/03/2014 07:04 AM, nostic said:
Wow, thank you. it was the bestest girl on girl story i've read, (though there was almost no action :P ) can you write another one, please?
I always enjoy a change. I rarely do sex in any story I write, and if there is it is usually off scene. I was reading the original tale and hated the incest line that was there and wanted a way to alter it. Considering how many friends I have that are lesbian it wasn't hard to come up with. I might have to do something like this again. Thanks for the review Nostic. :)
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