Chapter one: The Court in the Green Castle
Once upon a time in a faraway land, with trees, and rivers, and deer, there lived a young maiden. She wasn't as beautiful as the Princesses of the land, and no courtier was courting her for she lived to the south, far from the court in the Green Castle, in a fortress for her family were guardians. While she may not have had the advantages of living in the court, her life in the south was not bad, for she learned hard work, and the value of friendship, honesty, trust, and loyalty. Although her friends were few, they were true.
One day, the court threw a ball in the midst of a planned three day celebration. It was time for feasting, and rejoicing and the giving of thanks. One of the Princesses had two courtiers, and all the invited people of the Kingdom were coming to see how things would play out between them. The maiden steered clear of both courtiers, but remained polite to everyone. Then that night one of the courtiers revealed the nature of his heart to her, and she listened, for she was a guardian, as he told her the lamentation of his true desire, to be with the Princess, and how he felt forsaken in favor of the other suitor. The next day, the other courtier approached the maiden and revealed the nature of his heart to her as well. She wondered why everyone chose to reveal to her, because she lived so far away from the castle and really had nothing to do with anything there, but perhaps this is why people chose to trust her, and after all, she *is* a guardian.
The courtier told her of his plan to woo the Princess, and that he realized that his wooing for the sake of potential was not as strong as the love of the broken hearted suitor, and had laid his claim aside in the favor of love. The Princess spoke to the maiden, and asked her opinion. The maiden was really confused, for three people (one of whom she'd never seen in her life before, for he was from a part of the land to the west, where no trees grow) were revealing their hearts to her. So she told the Princess as much as she could, not revealing what the courtiers had said, but reiterating that the one had been in love with her his entire life, and that it was not only obvious to all at court, but to those in her part of the forested fortress to the south as well. The Princess realized her true love, and they lived happily ever after.
Chapter two: The Pond
The courtier who gallantly laid his claim aside in favor of love began to call the maiden, immediately arousing suspicion in the fortress. But the maiden did not love the courtier, and so they remained friends. One day, the courtier was rejoicing in a nearby part of the kingdom when he invited the maiden to join him. This time, he told the maiden of a special pond in the land without trees where the animals could speak.
One day, the maiden followed the clues the courtier gave her, and made her way west, to the land without trees. It was very difficult for her, for she had lived in woods with lush greens and browns, where the horizon was a carpet for the sky, and the further she went, the less of her home she saw. Everything was flat, and one could see for miles across the landscape. There were hardly any trees. The land was appropriately named. Finally, she came to the special pond. It was beautiful. Like the desert oases she read about in books, she imagined she was at one now. It even had a fountain in the middle, circulating air to the fish who jumped and danced before the other animals. She had found them on a day of a great month-long festival, and was so caught up in the amazement, she missed the frog who was trying to get her attention. The frog knew many of the people there, and told her that he very much wanted her to meet his friend the turtle, who lived in his part of the pond, and that she could stay in their part of the pond during the entire festival. The frog decided that the maiden and the turtle should be as good friends as the frog was with everyone. But the maiden thought that the turtle was quiet, and didn't really like her. The frog visited her every day with stories about his day at the festival, but the turtle never did. In fact, the turtle didnt visit her at all, while the frong was there every day. So the maiden just assumed that he really didn't like her as much as the frog said he did. That was okay, and she still liked him for being a turtle, but she'd told herself a long time ago that she wouldn't let herself like anyone that didn't like her back so that was that. But she started to notice that the frog kept getting into all sorts of trouble, and the turtle didn't. But the frog always told her how kind she was, and the turtle didn't. And she liked to hear nice things, so she started listening to the frog, and told the frog all about how she missed how her old suitors used to bring flowers to her. The frog and the maiden became fast friends.
One day, she was sad, because it was nearly her turn to throw a fete for the festival, and she didn't know how. So the frog told her of a secret stash that only he knew about in the pond's bog beneath the birch tree. He told her it held lots of money, and that he could get it for her if she wanted. The frog told her that she was a very special person, and that he liked to help special people. One day when he visited he was very drunk and said some very honest things, but they agreed that they'd never talk about that again because the maiden was beginning to get very confused.
One day, the turtle finally came to visit. He had a lot to say, because he had taken a long time to cross from his side of the pond to where she was staying. She realized that she had been comparing the frog to the turtle, and she felt awful for doing that. She realized that the frog was always there because he could cover farther distances in one jump than the turtle could, and that the frog was always talking, but that the turtle took longer to say something because he was observing more, and that when he decided to say something it was usually more important.
One day the turtle came to visit, and she realized that it was very special because it must have taken him all day to cross to her side of the pond, and she paid close attention to what he had to say. She also learned that the turtle didn't visit her as often not because he didn't want to, but because he wasn't as able to as the frog seemed to be. Because he was a turtle, he took longer to decide things. He didnt jump ahead like his friend the frog, he watched, and gathered information before deciding who he could trust, and had decided that he could trust the maiden. So he told her about his secret stash in the bog beneath the birch tree, into which he placed one gold coin into whenever he could. Immediately, the maiden felt awful. This was the same stash that she almost used to fund her part of the fete! She was torn. How could she use the money as the frog's gift if the money was really the turtles'?
But the turtle had more. He'd brought her a present. A lily from the pond. It was beautiful, and she loved it very much. They sat on the bank of the pond and had a lovely conversation. And when it was almost time for the sun to set, the turtle set out for his home, so that he could get there in time before the moon came up. Once he was out of earshot, the frog bounded in. "You're welcome for your lily, maiden," the frog croaked. "But the turtle gave me the lily," responded the maiden, wondering why the frog said such a thing. "Only because I told him to. I knew how much you wanted them, so I had him get it for you."
Now the maiden was very confused. She liked the turtle, but if the turtle's gifts were truly sent from the frog, who was courting the maiden? Then one day, she decided to go home. She stopped by the turtle's house and invited him to visit her part of the kingdom whenever he liked. The frog bounded over, hurt, because he hadn't been invited, but the maiden wasn't courting the frog, and thought that in time the frog might be able to see that. On her way home, she realized that the frog was using the turtle as an excuse to keep her near the pond, because he... but she promised she would never speak of that again.
She was glad that the turtle accepted her invitation, and also knew that it would take him a long time to get there. But then she thought about the frog, and how the frog had offered her many a time to use his enchanted ring, which could take you anywhere you wanted to go, and had even said he would use it to visit her. She wished that the frog would let the turtle use the magic ring, so that he could visit sooner, but thought that if they were great friends, the frog would offer, and she wouldnt have to ask to use something that wasn't hers for someone else. but the frog never offered, and the maiden decided to wait for the turtle to do things his way, which was probably for the best. But, she thought, if you truly like helping people, why wouldnt you if you really could? So she wondered about the frog, and if what he said was true, or if he really did have a magic ring, or if he really did want the turtle and the maiden to be friends, or was that only so the maiden would be around the pond more so that the frog could visit her... But the turtle had given her hope that everything was going to be alright in the end, so she learned to put things from her mind, little by little.
And even though the turtle still doesn't say much, the maiden learned to appreciate him for being a turtle, and for being so wise. And she tried very hard not to doubt if he took a long time to get somewhere, because even though she didn't know it, he really was doing the best that he could.
And their story hasn't been written yet.