The Storyteller

Written for Ki-chan.

Once upon a time, there was a storyteller that traveled over every corner of the kingdom, from tavern to tavern and from fire to fire, telling the most outrageous tales to all those who begged for entertainment. Most knew him as the storyteller, but a few knew him as Blue.

"Scamp, you're in for it now," Lisel hissed in his ear as he finished up the latest of his tales to the paying customers of the tavern he and Lisel had stopped at for the night.

"It's nothing we can't get out of," he scoffed off her concerns as he slipped down sleepily in his chair. Of course, Lisel was not easily dismissed, and she tugged on his shaggy brown hair. Hard.

"The king's men are here for you," she hissed again, this time emphasizing it with a kick to the shin.

"They are not," Blue laughed. How silly Lisel could be when she was in a snit. He might be a wonderful storyteller, if he did say so himself, but the king had men and women from all over the kingdom and from kingdoms far away that told much better stories than he could ever dream up.

"We're here for you, Storyteller," one of the King's Men announced loudly, startling poor Blue as they manhandled him to his feet. "The King wishes to have an audience with you."

They had to be putting him on and he said as much.

"Shut up, and go with them, Scamp," Lisel hissed for the last time, pinching his arm as he opened his mouth to protest. She was awfully bossy, but as his sister, it was probably her right.

He walked with the King's Men for a night and a day before reaching the King's palace. They escorted him to rich and splendid chambers where they informed him that the King was holding a gathering of storytellers from far and wide.

Now, Blue was a humble storyteller. Outrageous, yes, but not used to accommodations that didn't come with bleating animals or coarse hay. So, when he was called to the main hall the next morning to meet with the rest of the storytellers that had been gathered from far and wide, he kept to the corners where the shadows hid. With wide eyes, he watched as they talked amongst each other, and told outrageous tales with theatrical fervor in colorful costumes.

As he'd known, Blue could not compete with such bright characters.

"Loud bunch, aren't they," someone muttered at his elbow. Turning to look, Blue smiled softly.

"Maybe, but oh the tales they tell." He gave the handsome stranger a happy smile.

"I notice that you're not dressed as they are," the stranger tugged on Blue's shaggy brown hair, much the way Lisel often did to get his attention or tease him. "It was my understanding that each room had a wonderful wardrobe of costumes for the storytellers to choose from?"

Blue grinned at the stranger-merely a guard on duty to keep them all from ruining the palace halls he was sure. "I'm sure that they did. But I'm just a mere dabbler at tales," he shrugged awkwardly.

"I doubt that the King would invite a mere dabbler," the man muttered doubtfully. Blue favored him with another winsome smile.

"Maybe not, but I plan on taking advantage of it. I've never been to a palace before, you know," he rubbed his palms together, an idea sprouting in his head. After all, telling tales wasn't nearly interesting enough. "I don't suppose you'd let me wander off and explore," he gave the guard his most innocent look.

"By yourself?" The guard raised an eyebrow. "I don't think so."

Well, it had been worth a try. Blue sighed, leaning back against the hidden corner in the main hall, surrounded by the great storytellers of the world. The guard did not move on to guard the rest or mingle with the others. In fact, he stood next to Blue, frowning.

"Scamp," he finally muttered, resigned. "The moment I leave, I do believe that you'll vanish off to explore on your own. Best I take you, so that you don't get yourself into heaps of trouble later." The guard tugged on his hair again, and Blue struggled not to blush as he grinned.

"That does sound best," he murmured back solemnly, laughing as the guard muttered something under his breath and grabbed Blue's elbow.

"For my troubles though, I do demand something in return," the guard mumbled, and Blue stumbled to a halt to look up at the handsome man's blushing face.

"What?" he asked, suspiciously.

"I want a story," the guard grumbled, cheeks red as he scratched lightly at one and stared at the ceiling.

Blue laughed as he latched on to the man's arm and led him out of the main hall. A story for a guard that was as unremarkable as him? Well, that Blue could manage, and he happily launched into a tale of treachery, flying beasts and a prince who fell in love with a phoenix.

One by one, each of the storytellers from all over the world went before the King and the King's advisors to tell their grandest and most outlandish tales. And one by one, they were rewarded for their tale and sent back to the lands from which they'd come. Blue knew he'd be amongst the last to be heard, and for that he was grateful. His days were spent exploring the massive grounds of the palace, his tour guide, the handsome guard, Perry.

Each day, Perry would demand a tale for the trouble it took to escort Blue around the many marvels of the palace. He'd kept Blue from dunking himself in the palace fountains for a tale of a lonely beggar who became lovers with the dreaded beast of the forest. Growling, he'd put up with Blue insisting on climbing the outer walls in order to get a bird's eyes view of the kingdom. Blushing, he'd actually demanded two stories for the indignity of having to show Blue the royal bathing chambers and garderobes. Laughing, Blue had indulged him with one story before he'd pulled Perry into one of the baths with him, clothes and all. The other story had been told—albeit with a bit of a ribald flavor—as Perry had grumpily dried himself off and taken Blue through the servant's quarters in search of new clothes.

At night, when the storyteller chosen for the day wowed the King with their tale, Blue snuck out to see his sister and wowed her with tales of his own personal guard. The handsome—yet incredibly grumpy—man that indulged Blue's whims and made him laugh.

Lisel snickered and told him that it was about time that he fell in love as he'd told enough bloody tales about the subject.

Blushing, Blue had pulled her hair and scurried back to the rooms that had been appointed to him, the unworthy storyteller of the kingdom.

But as with all such things, the day came for which it was Blue's turn to tell his grandest, most glorious tale to the King. Perry had actually shown him the royal chambers that afternoon, but Blue's heart hadn't been in it. This, his grandest adventure ever, was coming to an end. And unlike the tales he liked to tell, there was no happily ever after for him with his love. His love didn't even know that he was Blue's love.

And so, it was with a heavy heart that he put on bulky velvets and the softest silks of the finest clothes that had been shoved in his hands by maids who despaired his ever figuring out how to utilize the clothes from the wardrobe he'd been given. He hung his head as he dragged himself to the pretty main hall where he'd first met his Perry.

"So, Storyteller, I've called all the storytellers of the land to my kingdom and have asked them all to tell their best tale. I have heard all sorts of fantastical things, of adventures in far off lands and of princesses and giants and prophecies. Now, I should like to hear yours."

Lifting his head, Blue stopped to gape at the King. For sitting on the throne in much the same kind of splendid clothing that the maids had tackled him down and forced him into, was his Perry. On his handsome, slightly grumpy head was a thin circlet of gold.

Whatever tiny hope that Blue had been harboring in his heart, of sneaking away from the taverns or spending time in fires close to the palace so that he could manage a moment or two with his Perry, was crushed in his chest at the sight. Through his despair, Blue could see that the advisors were waiting less than patiently for him to begin his tale, and drawing a deep breath, he started.

He told of a foolish little storyteller of no consequence at all, who had fallen for a palace guard. His story had no fantastical elements and no mention of exciting beasts or harrowing journeys. He merely weaved a tale of the silly little teller of tales and the small things that had made him fall in love with the sweet, but grumbly guard who had indulged his whims and shown him the many splendors of the palace.

Perry frowned at him, his grumbly face growing darker as Blue haltingly detailed how stupid the storyteller had been, pining for an unrequited love that could never be. And, unwilling to look in his king's face and finish the story, he stared at the splendid boots on his feet that were not his, and he ended the tale.

Princes, after all, did not fall in love with scruffy storytellers. And storytellers who dared to want more than their station were exiled to the farthest reaches of the world.

Not waiting to see the reception that such a tale would garner, Blue turned and ran, taking shortcuts through the halls that he'd learned from Perry. From his king. Racing over the palace grounds, he wished that this tale could end like his outrageous stories. If there was ever a need of an orge or a goblin or even a particularly mean looking goose to put him out of his misery, this was it.

Scrambling, he tried climbing up the outer walls that Perry had helped him over so many days ago. But without help, it was slowing going.

Perhaps that was why it was easy for hands to reach out and pluck him off the wall, pulling him back onto solid ground before they whirled him around. And he found himself face to face with his Perry.

"Silly storyteller," Perry grinned at him, tugging on Blue's shaggy brown hair. "You told the story wrong."

"I did not," Blue retorted indignantly.

"Then you did not finish it," Perry laughed, grabbing the sides of Blue's head and claiming his mouth in a deep kiss.

The End