Read an Excerpt
Princess Dilly and the Kingdom of PilyBook 1: The Blue Bird
By Lilian Charvet
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Lilian Charvet
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA frozen silence filled the rocky castle as King Pily tossed and turned in his bed. For the past fifteen years, King Pily had been living in a nightmare. The entire kingdom was covered in a shadowy gloom, and his daughter, Princess Dilly, was nowhere to be found. But tonight, in a dream, King Pily was wandering around his courtyard. As the bitter cold winds howled, he could hear a voice, the voice he had been longing to hear again for fifteen years. He woke up and called out:
"The Blue Bird!"
In a speedy flash, King Pily slipped on his slippers, wrapped himself in a heavy purple coat that had been lying at the foot of the bed, and rushed to wake up the queen who was fast asleep on the other side of the bed.
"Wake up, my queen! Wake up!" King Pily shook the queen's narrow shoulders gently. "Wake up! Wake up!"
The queen struggled to open her eyes.
"Ooooohhhhhh?" she mumbled.
"Wake up, oh my dear queen ... At last, I had a dream."
"Silly, King Pily ... A dream, you said?" She opened her eyes wide as her small head sank deeper into her big, soft pillow. "There are no dreams in the Kingdom of Pily, not since ..."
"Hush, oooh, hush ..." Pily kneeled at the side of the bed, gently put his square hand on the queen's tiny lips, and whispered, "Don't speak of the past now. You know it's not meant to be this way forever." The King continued with some excitement. "Yes, it's been many years since she came to me ... but I told you, she is still A-L-I-V-E!"
"Who?" asked the queen.
"Though it seems she has been this way forever ..." Pily got up and started to pace back and forth.
"Who?" the queen asked again.
"The Blue Bird, of course!"
The queen struggled to sit up on her bed. Her pale face flushed, and her green eyes glistened. "The Blue Bird?! I thought you were talking about Dilly," the queen exclaimed, sounding a bit disappointed.
King Pily ignored the queen's last remark. "I always knew that one day something would happen, and I was right! She's still alive!" King Pily whispered, as he was afraid that even the shadows could hear him.
Over the years, King Pily had told the queen about his first encounter with the Blue Bird hundreds of times. She now remembered the first time the king told everyone his tale about the bird; he encountered disbelief in almost everyone he told. In the beginning, the queen, too, did not believe-only later to find out the truth.
Before this nightmare began, every morning the king would open the windows wide and watch the sun rising over the high mountain. But on one fateful day, when the king opened his windows, he found himself face-to-face with a giant Blue Bird that was hovering in front of the window. She was twice as tall as he was and as heavy as a lion. Her eyes were as deep as the clear blue sky. Her words were mesmerizing, capturing the king in a trance. As she spoke, the king could feel a shiver run down his spine.
"FROM THE BIG MOUNTAIN I CAME-TO STRETCH MY WINGS I DREAM."
Then, before he could respond, he heard a strange noise. Down in the middle of the courtyard, the earth shook and rumbled beneath the fountain, and a great piercing sound entered the palace. The water in the pool began to boil and bubble until finally it erupted, hot springs of water shooting into the air. The Blue Bird turned and flew away from the window, making her way to the fountain, and King Pily frantically rushed down the stairs to try to reach the courtyard. But just after he opened the heavy wooden door, a bolt of lighting struck the ground near him. When he looked up again, it was too late, for a great darkness had already started to spread throughout the kingdom, and he could no longer see what had happened to the bird or the fountain. Ever since, the Blue Bird's words rang over and over in King Pily's head, and he never stopped speaking of her.
"What a magnificent bird!" he would say. She was a bird of splendid colors with blue and sparkling green intertwining between her feathers. On her head lay an array of yellow feathers looking like a crown. But he had only a few glorious moments with her, and then everything started happening too quickly.
"Ohhhh ..." King Pily sighed.
"Why don't you go back to sleep?" suggested the queen, trying to bring the king back to reality. "There are still hours before morning."
But he still could not forget about the Blue Bird. After all, on that same dreadful day, his precious baby princess disappeared, never to be seen again. Since then, everything had changed. Icy wind and rain suddenly swept through the kingdom, layering everything in a thick frost. Outside, layers of dull ice covered the meadows, making everything look as if it were submerged in a deep, dark lake. The entire kingdom was plunged into a frozen silence with a dark and heavy grayness. No longer were the bright festivities of the kingdom enjoyed, and the friendly, colorful fields and flowers that would attract visitors from every village were no more.
Indeed, he did see the Blue Bird again, later that same day fifteen years ago; he found her standing in his courtyard at the edge of the fountain, frozen from head to toe. And there she remained until this very day. Time in the kingdom stood still, and so had their hopes and dreams. For fifteen years, the king seemed to be living in one everlasting nightmare.
"My dear queen! I have heard the Blue Bird's voice," the king insisted. "It was her! She was trying to tell me something ... something, something ... I don't know what for sure ..." King Pily scratched his chin. Then his eyes grew wide with excitement as a thought crossed his mind.
"You mean ... oh ... oh!" shouted the queen. At last, the queen started to feel tiny bubbles of hope dancing in her belly; any sign from the Blue Bird was a good one. "Ohhhhhhhhh! I remember the day the Blue Bird appeared, and my darling princess disappeared! Could it be? Can today be the day that we will see our princess again?" The queen jumped from her bed. "This is indeed big news! I can't go back to sleep now. Oh, my dear." The queen clapped her hands. "But ..." She stopped and looked around, as if trying to find something that wasn't there. Then she asked, "What are we to do now?"
"You better go ahead and get ready." King Pily smiled widely. "I'm in need of Lotus."
"Yes, dear." The queen pulled the bell and ran to her dressing room.
Now alone in his chamber and not knowing what to do with himself, King Pily paced the room back and forth. The room was dark and gloomy; only a dim light came from the dying firebrand in the fireplace.
Just then, Lootie the parlor maid, who was once Princess Dilly's nanny, knocked gently on the door and entered the room. Princess Dilly was just three months old when she disappeared, but upon the queen's insistence, Lootie still remained the chambermaid. She came every morning to stoke the fire and light the sconces before the king and queen awoke. But this morning was different; Lootie could feel the tension in the air.
Ohhhhh ... of course! She remembered. Today marked the fifteen years since Princess Dilly disappeared. Or, Lootie thought, since she escaped.
Lootie found King Pily lost in thought and decided it was best not to disturb him. Instead, she began to go about her daily duties. She pulled a long candle from a deep pocket in her apron and walked to the fireplace. She managed to light the candle from the dying ashes and then began lighting the sconces spread throughout the room. Looking around, she wondered why the queen was not in her bed.
The seven black wrought-iron sconces spread around the room were now giving off a bright light. There wasn't much furniture in the king's chamber besides the wooden, purple canapé bed that stood on top of a small but heavy, dark purple carpet. The rest of the floor was a dark wood. A small dressing table sat to the right of the bed, and large tapestries covered the cold, stony walls. On the west side of the room, in front of the tapestries, there stood a large credenza made from light wood.
At the end of the room, to the south, there stood four tall, narrow windows. The farthest window on the left was actually a disguised door that led to the king and queen's dressing room. All of the windows, including the door to the dressing room, were covered with drapes in an old shade of yellow that had once seen better days.
Now Lootie moved to the huge fireplace. There, from inside a small shelf carved into the left side of the fireplace, she took out a few new logs and added them to the fire. Then she pumped the bellows to bring the fire alive. When she was done, she pulled out from her pocket a white cloth and wiped her long fingers. Then she turned to the king.
"Anything else, Your Majesty?" she asked.
"Oh?" replied the king in a deep voice. "Oh? Yes ... Please, open the drapes."
Lootie opened her eyes wide in surprise. The king's request made her even more curious. Those hanging drapes were never open, not since the princess disappeared and the night shadows cast over the city. She walked toward the windows and slowly opened the heavy drapes. All of the tiny glass squares in the windows were covered in frost. For a few moments, Lootie and King Pily just stood there gazing at the frozen windows. Lootie felt a shiver.
"Anything else, Your Highness?"
The king didn't budge, for his thoughts were far away from the room. "Oh? Yes ... Lotus, call Lotus. And please hurry!"
Lootie bowed and left the room quickly.
King Pily waited for the door to close. Then, he approached the tall windows. With his right coat sleeve, he wiped the foggy glass squares. It was so dark outside, he could not see anything.
"Ohhhhh," the king sighed. The air from his mouth fogged up the frosted window in front of him. He still could not forget the sweet fragrance the wind once carried from the meadows every day to his room. Beautiful butterfly daffodils had once formed a fantastic sight in front of the Tanglewood Forest. The flowers were tall and creamy white with salmon pink crowns and thick stems. They would bloom all year long, and for some reason, the squirrels and deer would never touch them. How much King Pily tried to hold onto those sweet memories.
The Kingdom of Pily had once surpassed all other kingdoms in the amount of visitors and wanderers who would trickle in every day to see the land. There in the town square, the townsfolk would gather among the traveling visitors that came from every corner of the earth. How much King Pily loved the crowds, the sounds of the bustling markets, and all the excitement. Those were fine times indeed.
And now, the small village lay there at the foot of the mountain like a silent graveyard. The naked trees were mean looking, standing there like monsters, bearing down at the townsfolk who wouldn't even poke their noses outside their windows.
As the king continued to lean against the window, his breath fogged up the glass even more. He wiped the glass, squinting hard to catch a glimpse of the frozen Blue Bird, but to no avail. Poor Blue Bird, thought Pily. She couldn't break away from the shadows.
The king then wondered why the Blue Bird came to him. Who was she? Where did she come from? Was she trying to unveil the truth? He wondered if there was anything he could do now to help the Blue Bird and bring her out of her trance.
"I wish I could do something ... Only the Blue Bird knows ... only the Blue Bird," the king mumbled to himself.
A sudden deep voice interrupted his thoughts. Lotus, the head of the servants, quickly bowed in front of the king, before even catching his breath. "Your Majesty?"
"Ah, Lotus!" called the king to his loyal advisor who was standing in the doorway. Lotus was a short, stout man, striking in his white coat. His round spectacles hung on his nose, and his silvery hair fell shabbily on his round shoulders. It was clear from the look on his face that he did not understand what brought the king to awaken him at such an early hour. He raised his eyebrows, wondering what the king was looking at and what news the king had that he could not contain until noon.
"Oh, Lotus," said Pily, happy to see him. "After all stormy days, there always comes a rainbow. So, my dear friend, prepare yourself, for today I have big news!"
"News? My lord ... what kind of news?" Just then, Lotus realized that any news would be good news in their situation. "Forgive me, my lord," Lotus said regretfully. But the king paid him no attention, for his excitement began to bubble again.
"My dear Lotus. This is the day we have all been waiting for, the day when we would be given a sign, a clue ... Finally, the Blue Bird gave me a sign. I know she's still alive!"
"What? The Blue Bird gave you a sign?!" Clearly Lotus was still trying to make sense of this newfound happiness he saw in the king. What could the king possibly be preparing for so early in the morning, Lotus thought. All he really wanted to do was go back to sleep. "But, my lord," Lotus wondered, "the bird ... she is ..."
"Ahhhh ... mmmmm ..." the king mumbled. "I know. I know she is frozen, I know ... the Shadow Queen caught her. BUT ..." the king whispered suddenly, bending closer toward Lotus, ready to tell him a secret, "my dear Lotus, I don't think that the Shadow Queen has complete control over the Blue Bird. She is still alive! Somehow, we need to do something to help her! The Shadow Queen ..."
"Ahhh!" Lotus exclaimed, suddenly waking up. "My lord, you think the Blue Bird really is still alive?" Stumbling with excitement, his round spectacles fell off his nose and he struggled to catch them with his short fingers. Lotus suddenly started to realize what was happening. "But we need to be very careful, my lord. You remember what happened the last time we sent our men into the forest. Something very powerful lies in there, and it's beyond our control."
As always, Lotus tried to look after the king. Sometimes the king seemed like a child, mischievous and playful. Other times, he was smart and courageous.
"Yes, yes ... I know." The king paced the room back and forth in bewilderment.
"But, Your Majesty, do you really think that today might be the big day?" Lotus, the faithful adviser, tried to cheer up the king.
"Yes!" The king stopped pacing. "On this very day, the sun will rise again! It is upon us to spread the news throughout the kingdom. Hurry and call my advisers and all the palace folk into my court at once!" The king indeed sounded thrilled but also a bit wary.
Lotus scrambled out of the room in a hurry to go and do his bidding. Just then, the queen appeared from the dressing room. She wore a yellow dress. Her yellow curls fell on her frail shoulders.
"My dear queen, you look dazzling!" the king said, clapping his hands together.
The queen twirled around. "I am ready for the big day," laughed the queen. "After all these years, I cannot be more impatient to meet my child, Princess Dilly. What about you? Oh, my lord!" the queen shouted, suddenly realizing that the drapes were opened, revealing the naked windows. "The drapes!"
The king looked like a child caught in the middle of doing something mischievous. King Pily didn't say a word. Instead, he took the queen's hands and led her toward the foggy windows to take a peek outside. The queen could not help herself, for the temptation was too great. Supporting her dress, she bent down closer to the window, took a peek at the frozen valley, and whispered, "Oh, dear!" It was just before the dawn, yet still a heavy grey haze lay over the kingdom, and not a ray of light could pass through it and make its way to the palace. The queen pursed her lips together tightly.
King Pily looked disappointed. "Look at my kingdom. I wonder ..." He had not finished his sentence when Lootie the maid entered the room again, holding in her hands a stack of snow-white folded towels.
"Ahhhh, Lootie, would you please close the drapes! It gives me the shivers," the queen ordered the parlor maid. Then she turned to the king and said, "You must get ready; no doubt, one and all want to hear the news."
"Oh? Of course, dear." The king was relieved; this time, he knew the queen believed in the Blue Bird. He moved aside to let the maid do her work.
"Your Majesties." Lootie bowed before the queen and king as she walked slowly across the room toward the windows. "Everybody is wide awake and excited, I should say."
"Thank you, Lootie." The queen was glad to have Lootie standing at her side even though she wasn't so cheery most of the time. Lootie was in her mid-thirties but looked much younger, younger than twenty. She always wore a black dress and never had a happy expression on her face. But the queen paid no attention to this; after all, Lootie was the only one in the room when Princess Dilly disappeared, and since then, the queen in some way wanted to keep her near.
Excerpted from Princess Dilly and the Kingdom of Pily by Lilian Charvet Copyright © 2010 by Lilian Charvet. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.