"I don't lie," Frederic replied to Prince Ulrich's distressed face almost too calmly for the situation. "Frederic von Dammsel. You can check my birth certificate, my social security card – I have plenty of proof."

Mr. von Royal's brows scrunched over his glistening eyes, his head shaking slowly, still in utter disbelief as he let go of his sword and dropped it to the floor. "No… no… but," he stood up, letting go of Frederic's delicate hand and clutching his own head. "I mean… I thought you'd be a girl… you're supposed to be a girl…"

Frederic shrugged. "You're not the only one who thought so. Trust me." He couldn't help feeling sorry for the poor misguided boy; he must have worked hard to reach the Damsel's Tower in Evelyn's castle. It was the best-guarded castle on Dwarf Street. But why on Earth would he bother trying, even without the knowledge of what was in the highest tower? Even the best princes that had lost their way in their past would have given up on Frederic after the third dragon battle (there were a total of five dragons guarding Evelyn's castle, each one of which Frederic knew well and greeted by name). "You probably went to the wrong castle."

Ulrich paced the room dazedly, his hand still clutching his head, eyes downward cast. "No…no…but…I can't believe it…" He still couldn't grasp the situation, as was apparent. The prince stopped pacing and looked at Frederic with his big, bewildered, yet distinctly princely eyes that heightened Frederic's sense of regret even more. "This is Number 7 Dwarf Street, right?"

Number 7? Not even Number 17… pretty specific for a prince that had lost his way. "Right," he responded cautiously, and stood up and stepped over to the window. "You probably meant to go to Number 17, right? It's just across the street." Frederic pointed out the window to a less-foreboding castle with a single dragon flying in circles around the Damsel's Chamber. "That's Princess Adriana's castle. She's been waiting for a prince to rescue her for years. Not too easy on the eyes with that snaggletooth, but she's, er…got a wonderful personality," Frederic said, and flashed a sympathetic smile at the pathetic prince. "And from what I hear she fancies swords a lot, so you'd, er…you'd have that in common with her."

"B-but…" Ulrich continued to protest the truth. Frederic turned and looked at him as he talked, and couldn't help but feel a twinge of pity for the poor sap; perhaps it would have been easier for Prince Ulrich if he had lied and told him he was a girl. "No… no, I'm at the right address. Number 7 Dwarf Street. The ad said specifically, 'Number 7 Dwarf Street. Damsel in distress awaiting saving.'"

Frederic shrugged. "Don't worry about it. It happens sometimes, a prince gets mixed up and–"


Specifically. Number 7 Dwarf Street. Ad. Damsel in distress. Saving. Ad. Awaiting saving. Damsel in distress. Ad…

"…What ad?"

Ulrich von Royal looked up, giving Frederic a curious, quizzical look to match Frederic's own look. "The… the ad," he replied, as if it would be obvious to the non-damsel. "The ad you made. The one in the new PQ."

Frederic's stomach shot into his throat. PQ. Prince's Quarterly. The magazine made for princes, by princes. Only the biggest names in the world of princesses needing saving had an ad in Prince's Quarterly, and only the biggest names in princes needing princesses to save read the magazine. What was a buffoon like this von Royal character doing reading a high-end magazine like…

Ulrich reached around and extracted a battered copy of PQ from his back pocket that had been folded to the Damsels in Distress section. "Look," he said, becoming considerably more level-headed, now intent on proving to Frederic that he was, in fact, a damsel, "here. I even circled it. 'Damsel in distress. Number 7 Dwarf Street'." He prodded an ad on a crumpled page of the magazine and held it out to show Frederic.

Frederic's eyes scanned the words immediately visible beneath Ulrich's finger. His eyes bulged. He read it again, and again, and he finally grabbed the magazine and held it closer to his eyes to give it one final read-over to make sure he wasn't seeing things:

VON DAMMSEL IN DISTRESS AWAITING SAVING! For the prince looking for something different. Always full of surprises! Boundless energy? Bulging muscles? I'm all yours! Number 7 Dwarf Street, Rosalia.

"'Von Dammsel', not 'damsel'," Frederic corrected the young prince, still crumpling his forehead at the page. "My last name is Von Dammsel. It looks like 'damsel' on paper, but it's got a soft 'a' like 'fawn' or 'lawn'. The ad neglects to say, however, that my first name is Frederic." Evelyn must have placed an ad in PQ without Frederic's consent… which he intended on chewing her out for later. And the poor prince had so stupidly fallen right into the trap forged by Evelyn's false advertising, expecting a beautiful damsel but getting… well, "something different".

The worst part was, the ad wasn't what perturbed him the most. What did put Frederic on edge was the fact that someone (he suspected Prince Ulrich) had circled the ad multiple times with shiny purple pen, as well as drawn large purple hearts around the ad, and written the phrase "SURE SHOT!" over it in the same purple ink. The poor sap, he really was serious about this…

Frederic looked up to speak, to apologize to Ulrich von Royal before shooing him out the window for the last time and then putting this silliness out of his mind, but he was appalled to see, as he looked up, that Ulrich had moved across the room and was now right in front of him. Bending over, his face was now even with his and mere inches away as he beamed almost madly, showing off his lily-white grin. It made Frederic uneasy, not just to have a confirmed idiot and madman quite literally breathing down his neck, but to be able to see his own shocked reflection in the prince's large, chestnut eyes.

"It's a spell," Ulrich muttered, his grin never faltering.

Frederic's brow furrowed again, and he backed away from Ulrich slightly. "Er… pardon?"

"Of course!" Prince Ulrich quickly filled the space Frederic had made, and grabbed tight onto Frederic's arms. "How could I be so stupid? It's a spell! It's a spell! It's a test of my devotion!"

Oh boy… Ulrich really wasn't grasping this concept yet. "What're you talking ab–"

"Oh, you poor, poor tormented creature!" Prince Ulrich bemoaned, his princely demeanor rushing back to him. "The vile hag that has placed you in captivity has cursed you with the body of a man!"

Cursed? That was one word to describe this situation… though it wasn't really Evelyn's fault, it was nature's… "Um, no, I don't think–"

The prince frowned, and thrust his head back. "Oh no! The vile hag has cursed the princess's mind and body! Not only has she transformed you into a man, she has deceived your mind into believing you're a man as well! Oh, what a tragedy to befall a princess so beautiful and pure!"

Tragedy? Well, that was one word for his unsavory Y chromosome… But if Prince Ulrich von Royal was so convinced that Frederic was a damsel turned into a young man, then what would he…

Prince Ulrich scooped Frederic's light frame into the air and over his shoulder, a hunter who had finally made his big catch. Frederic was powerless to stop him (now he regretted letting those old Tae-Bo tapes Evelyn had given him for Christmas a few years ago rot away in his closet), and could only gasp as he was hoisted up without his permission.

"Wh-what're you – hey!" He managed to sputter out, squirming pitifully as he tried to wriggle out of Prince Ulrich's strong grip; he didn't look nearly as strong as he actually was. "Put me down! I'm not a damsel, you imbecile!"

"Fear not, fair maiden!" Ulrich bellowed, and Frederic could see without looking the stupid grin on his captor's face as he scooped up his sword from the floor. "Once we leave this awful place I shall whisk you away to my grand palace, wherein we shall be wed and you shall be freed from this terrible curse!"

Frederic stopped wiggling. WHAT?!

"Frederic, are you alright in there?" Frederic heard a familiar voice on the other side of his chamber door. "You're certainly making a lot of noise…"

The door to Frederic's bedroom was opened just as Prince Ulrich was rushing to climb out of the window. Frederic looked up in time to see Evelyn von de Hagg enter the room with a mixed look of worry and annoyance on her face.

Frederic was rudely swung around as Prince Ulrich turned on Evelyn, brandishing his sword at her. "Stay back, vile hag," he spat heroically. "This beautiful cursed maiden is no longer under your control!"

"Evelyn!" Frederic yelled, craning his neck to look at her. "He's completely nutters! Help me!"

"Oh, you must be here about the ad," Evelyn said sweetly. "Well, he's all yours now. Have fun then, pleasure doing business with you."

"Evelyn, come on!" Frederic yelled frantically. "He's going to try and marry me! Stop him!" He wanted to be saved, yes, but certainly not married! It wasn't even legally possible, as far as he knew.

Evelyn waved sweetly with one of her twisted arthritic hands. "So long, Frederic," she cooed. "Don't forget to write. We're all so happy for you."

"Evelyn!" And with that, Prince Ulrich replaced his sword in its sheath, turned around, and leapt out the window, out of Evelyn von de Hagg's castle, the only world Frederic had ever known, and into one of the strangest and most controversial fairy tales Rosalia had ever seen.