The Dungeon 

Once there was young Queen who lived in a kingdom she ruled alone. She ruled as fairly and consistently as she could. Many of her subjects were pleased to do the hard work required to keep the kingdom functioning and their fellow subjects happy. Many of the subjects did their jobs, earned for themselves, and went about their lives in peace. There was one small group of subjects who tried to stir rebellion among the other subjects. They would often come together and attempt to take over the queen’s castle. One would distract the queen and her knights out in the forrest while the other scaled the castle walls trying to find a way in. It was a constant battle for the queen, trying to keep her kingdom running smoothly. She often feared that the rebels were those closest to her. She was afraid the servants on her castle were helping plan the attacks. 

One evening, as the queen was resting after a day full of battling the rebels, she became so distressed she could not sleep. Wandering the halls of her castle, she fretted. She found her way to a high tower where she stopped to look out over the village below. Something must be done but she feared it was not in her power to fix the troubles she was facing. 

She wrote to several queens in nearby kingdoms. They replied with letters of encouragement and carefully crafted jokes to assure the young queen of her power and goodwill. Those kind words pushed the queen through weeks of continuous fighting with the rebels. 

One morning, the queen went to the great hall to check in on her servants. One of the maids had paused in her work. She stared up at the queen with hatred in her small eyes. As the queen started forward to admonish the servant, a flash of light filled the room. All of the servents stopped and gaped. The light faded. The queen looked toward the source of the light. 

A beautiful woman stood in the center of the great hall. She was dressed in a silver robe that glittered like stars reflected in a waterfall. Her crown was fitted with thousands of diamonds. She faced the queen. 

“Salutations, my dear queen.” 

The woman’s voice was clear as a bell yet strange. She must have come from a far away land. She looked from side to side surveying the room. Her eyes paused for a brief moment on the angry servant girl before stopping in the queen. 

“I have traveled here to speak with you about the trouble that has fallen on your kingdom. Every good queen has a fairy godmother and I am here to help. Should there be any citizen who chooses not to follow your law, you may send them to me and I shall place them in my dungeon.” 

The young queen smiled to the fairy godmother and thanked her from the bottom of her heart. As the young queen approached the fairy godmother, the servant girl cried out.

“It is unfair! It is not fair that she sits quietly in this large house while we are forced to work!” The girl rushed forward, “I would rather be in a dungeon than in this castle!”

The fairy godmother smiled at the young girl, “you would choose to live in my dungeon rather than here in the light? Here in this beautiful castle where there is plenty to eat and warm beds to rest in? The dungeon is a cold, dark place. If you choose to go, that is your choice but know that if you stay you will stop stirring up trouble among the others in this kingdom. The choice is yours.” 

The servant girl smiled, “I will go to the dungeon.”

With a puff of smoke, the servant girl disappeared. The other servants looked at the spot she had been standing. They looked quite concerned. 

The fairy godmother spoke, “anyone else who wishes to live in the dungeon of my castle may but know that you will never be able to return to the splendor of this place. On the stroke of midnight three nights from this, I will return taking anyone who choses to go.” 

With that the fairy godmother smiled and nodded to the queen the disappeared. 

The young queen watched her servants carefully over the next two days. Some discussed the possibility of leaving. Most determined that life in the castle must be better than life in a dungeon. 

On the afternoon of the third day, there was knock at the castle door. An old woman stumbled through the door when one of the servants answered it. The woman asked if she could speak with the queen. She asked the queen for somewhere to stay and something to eat. 

“Of course,” the queen answered, “we have many beds here and plenty to eat. Please sit, I will have someone bring you dinner.” 

The old woman ate and rested. The queen looked in to make sure the old woman was doing well. 

The day went on and midnight came. The servants, the queen and the old woman gathered in the grand hall, awaiting the arrival of the fairy godmother. The castle clock rung twelve and she appeared. In the candlelight, the fairy godmother shone brilliantly. Her robe and crown sparkled silver and gold. 

“Salutations,” her bright eyes flashed around the room, “before I ask for those of you who wish to come with me, shall I show you something?” 

She reached out from under her robe and waved a magic wand toward the old woman standing near the queen. The old woman seemed to melt away. In her place, the servant girl stood. She dropped to her knees before the queen. 

“I am sorry. So sorry for what I have done. As a stranger, you showed kindness to me. The same kindness you showed to me as a servant before I went to the dungeon. Before I betrayed you. Please take me back. This place is far better than anywhere I have seen.”

The queen was unsure of what to say. She looked to the fairy godmother for advice. The fairy simply smiled and raised her eyebrows. 

“The choice is yours. She may come back to the castle if you please or she and anyone else who feels life would be better elsewhere may come back with me.”

The queen looked from the fairy godmother to the servant girl, “the choice is yours. If you chose to come back you may, but know that you are not free from the consequences of your choices. You shall serve the people of the town. Anyone who asks for help you must help. Anyone you see or hear in need of anything you will respond with kindness and care. If you choose not to, you go back to the dungeon. What choice will you make?” 

The servant girl looked up to the queen and the fairy godmother. With a relieved sigh she agreed. The next hundred years in the kingdom were years of peace and prosperity. The servant girl’s helpfulness and caring brought joy to the queen’s subjects. The queen ruled fairly but firmly with the fairy godmother supporting her and guiding her. 

Of course, mistakes were made but those who remembered that time in history chose to learn from those mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions. For those who can accept that their fate is their choice are the ones who succeed despite their circumstances. 

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