The True Adventures of Jay B R Wokky — A Fairy Tale to Read Aloud
Once upon a time in a land far away, a prince was born. His three brothers and his sister gathered around their mother’s bed to see the new arrival.
His sister, Esther, kissed the baby’s head and begged to hold him.
The oldest brother, Matthew, groaned and said, “Not another one.”
The second oldest brother, Mark, yawned. “You got us up just for this?”
And the third oldest brother, Eli, said, “I’m hungry. Can I have some toast and hot cocoa?”
Their father, King Frances, said, “A snack sounds good, but first we’ll pick a name for the little guy.”
The children began to argue about what the baby should be named.
Matthew said, “He should be called Frederick, after our great-grandfather, who defeated the trolls in the last great war.”
“No way, we should name him Roaring Ron!” yelled Mark, who liked to watch wrestling matches in the town square.
Eli studied his new brother. “He looks kind of round and lumpy. Let’s call him Potato Head.”
However, their mother, Queen Natalie, just smiled and said, “His name will be Ezra.”
The prince’s name day was selected, and invitations were sent out to everyone in the kingdom, as well as to the royalty in the neighboring kingdoms, and also to all the powerful magical folk who were their allies.
But somehow one person did not get an invitation.
The dragon, Jay B. R. Wokky, lived in a set of caves high in the mountains. His mail box was exceedingly hard to get to.
Jay B. R. Wokky was an enormous green dragon who suffered from colds as well as allergies, and this year his allergies were even worse than usual. His nose ran, his head pounded, and his throat was scratchy. His ill health wasn’t helped by the damp, drafty condition of his home. No matter how high his servant built up the fires, it was always chilly.
Even worse, lately Jay found himself suffering from that terrible ailment known as writer’s block. His dream was to write a great novel, but his aspirations seemed doomed from the start. The area around his gigantic desk was littered with paper and broken ink bottles, and splatters of ink. Page after crumbled page ended up in the fireplace. He had never been known as a warm, congenial person, but now he became downright sulky and ill tempered.
One night Jay overheard a pair of gnomes talking. He discovered that everyone in the kingdom was getting invitations for the new prince’s name day, so he waited for his to come.
And he waited. And he waited. But it never came.
As the name day approached, Jay grew very angry.
“How dare they ignore me. I keep the East Pass safe for human travel. If it wasn’t for me, the land of Nelsonia would be overrun by hordes of toves and flocks of bandersnatches. The raths would destroy the whole kingdom. Not to mention the trolls.”
He paced back and forth, pausing every so often to sneeze and blow his nose. His eyes glittered with anger.
Jay’s servant was a thin, stooped, near-sighted gnome named Fritter.
Fritter tried his best to keep the fire burning, the bones and papers swept up, the cauldron of soup hot, and the books in the library organized and dusted, but it was all too much for one servant to do.
Usually dragons hired a whole team of people to take care of their caves and treasure for them, but Jay had ‘fired’ his last employees when they were caught stealing.
In apology, the king of the gnomes had sent Fritter.
“It will do him good to work hard for a change,” the king had said with a scowl aimed at the young gnome. “Don’t spare him.”
So Fritter worked from dawn to dusk, and sometimes far into the night. He had very little time to spend on his own interests.
Fritter was terrified of Jay, but sometimes he got the courage to say something. Now, he raised his head. “They’ve always sent one before. A letter will come, Sire. I know it will. Please be patient.”
“Silence! Go and fetch my dinner.” Jay aimed a kick at him. Fritter scurried back to the kitchen and began to slice the bread.
Finally, the name day came. Still no invitation had arrived. The sun rose above the mountains, and golden light filled the valley. Birds began to sing in the leafy, rustling trees.
Jay stood at the entrance of his cave and scowled. “I will not be ignored. The King and Queen of Nelsonia shall pay for this!”
With a great sweep of his wings, Jay set out into the sky.
Jay circled in the air high above the castle. His eyes were even better than an eagle’s, and he noted the details below him with growing anger. “I was right. Everyone was invited except for me.”
South of the castle in the meadow, a great feast had been set out on tables, with dozens of cakes, cookies, and pies for dessert. Colorful streamers fluttered in the breeze. To one side was a large wagon, painted blue with gold stars, and pulled by a team of four white horses. The wagon was piled high with colorful wrapped gifts.
A great crowd had gathered in the courtyard of the castle, spilling out the gates and down Main Street. People crowded onto balconies and leaned out from the windows. Some even sat on their roofs, waving flags and cheering. Above their heads blue banners with golden stars flapped in the summer breeze. The Royal Musicians sat on the West Balcony and played triumphant music.
A large stage had been erected in the courtyard, with comfortable chairs on a dais along the back for the royal family and special guests, and a raised platform towards the front where the baby nestled in a cradle. The royal family was dressed in their finest clothing, blue with embroidered gold stars along the edges.
Jay counted a witch, a wizard, two dwarfs, two elves, two gnomes, two fey, a pair of hobbits, a werewolf, a mermaid in a portable glass tub, and even a small giant among the special guests on the stand. The trolls and their allies were not represented, of course.
“How do you like that?” growled Jay. “They didn’t even prepare a place for me to sit.”
King Frances lifted the baby up so that everyone could see him. The sound on the stage had been magically amplified so that everyone in the town could hear. Even Jay, from high above, could hear each word.
“Friends and neighbors, welcome to our son’s name day. I present to you Prince Ezra!”
The crowd cheered and waved flags, and the musicians played a cheerful march.
“We shall now have the Presentation of the Gifts.” King Frances laid the baby in the cradle and went to stand by Queen Natalie.
The crowd quieted, for this was a familiar and enjoyable tradition. Whenever a child was born, his family’s friends and neighbors gathered together to eat and give gifts. If they were important people, they invited someone with magic to give a special gift to their baby. And if that family happened to be royalty, then each of the magical kingdoms was invited to send at least one guest, for their gifts were wondrous.
One by one, the representatives from the magical folk came forward and bestowed their gifts on the baby prince, amid great applause and cheering.
Timora, the Queen of the Fey, was the first to come up the steps to the cradle. “I bestow upon Prince Ezra one favor from the Fey, to be called on when he needs it most.”
Jay snorted. Everyone knew that the Fey were tricky, and their gifts had a tendency to go wrong.
Next came Bob, the giant. “I give to the Prince great Strength.”
King Winky of the gnomes stood up. “What’s strength without coordination? I give the Prince Agility.”
“Strength and agility are good,” said Brimhold, the dwarf. “But the prince will also need Courage.” The dwarves in the crowd cheered and banged on their shields.
Marin, a serious-looking Prince from the Elves, stood up. “Every man needs to be able to use his abilities for good. I give the prince Wisdom.”
Four guards brought the beautiful mermaid queen forward in her shell. “If ever the prince visits our lands beneath the sea, he shall have the ability to swim and breathe under water.”
Everyone gasped and cheered. Even Jay was impressed by that one.
One of the hobbits approached. “What is a life without laughter and song? I give the Prince a love of music and fun.”
MacQuire, the werewolf, stood and approached the cradle. Everyone watched uneasily, for their alliance with the human kingdom was recent. “I am honored to represent my people here today,” said MacQuire in a deep, rough voice. “I give the Prince safe passage through our lands, and if ever he is in need, he may call on us for help.”
The crowd cheered and clapped. MacQuire bowed and stepped back.
As each gift was given, Jay grew more and more angry. He should have been invited. He should be down there giving the baby prince his gift. Instead, the royal family had ignored him – insulted him. Jay ground his teeth together. Well, fine. There would be no good gift from him today. His anger grew into a red rage.
Finally, when there was just the wizard and the witch left, Jay couldn’t stand it anymore. He folded his wings and dropped from the sky.
The people looked up and began to cheer. “The dragon! The dragon is coming.”
But their cheers stopped when Jay opened his mouth and roared, sending out a flame that set the flags above the castle burning. Jay swooped over the castle walls and down into the courtyard. With a terrible bellow, he settled on the stage. He spewed fire, and the banners burst into flame. In moments, they were burned to ashes.
The crowd screamed in terror. All around him was chaos. Some people ran, trampling those who couldn’t get out of the way. Others covered their faces and shrieked in fear.
The guards drew their swords and swarmed up the stairs of the stage, but the dragon sent out a spurt of flame.
“Back! Back, all of you.”
The guards were forced to retreat.
The queen reached for her baby, but the dragon turned and used one of his wings to sweep her and the king off the platform. They landed in a tangled heap at the side. When the king had got himself untangled, he drew his sword and ran up the steps.
Jay burned a hole in the floor in front of King Frances. “That’s close enough.”
King Frances stopped, his face grim. “What is the meaning of this outrage?”
“You did not invite me to the naming. I would have given great gifts, but instead I leave a curse upon the prince. Ezra’s life shall be filled with sorrow. He shall be blind, and when he is sixteen years old, he shall die by the sword in the hands of an assassin!”
The dragon reached one of his claws down to rake the baby across the eyes, but at that moment, Ezra’s youngest brother, Eli, clambered up onto the platform. He drew his vorpal sword. Because it was a child’s practice sword, it wasn’t very sharp along the edges, but it had a needle-like point.
“You leave my brother alone!” Eli rushed forward and stabbed the dragon in the front paw. Blood spurted out of the wound and splashed onto Eli and the howling baby.
Jay bellowed in pain and jerked away. “No! Not my writing hand!”
Eli snatched his brother from the cradle and curled himself over the baby. The dragon held his paw and yelled as he lifted from the platform. His great wings hammered the air.
The guards, dwarves, and elves swarmed up the steps and fired arrows at the dragon. Jay twisted and snarled as arrows rained upon him. He flew upward, back over the castle walls. Then, just for spite, he swooped down over the meadow and fried all the cakes, pies, and other refreshments. He even set the wagon of gifts on fire. Then with a last roar, Jay B. R. Wokky departed for the mountains.
Eli held his wailing baby brother close to him, jiggling him and soothing him. In a moment his father was beside him.
The king smiled sadly down at Eli. “You saved your brother’s life. I’m so proud of you.”
Eli’s heart swelled with pride as he beamed up at his father. When the pain finally began to register, he looked down and saw blood spattered on his clothes, arms, and hands. His skin was bubbling. His lips trembled, but he stood tall and patted his brother on the back.
The queen reached them next and burst into tears. “Oh my poor babies!” When she would have reached down to take the howling baby, the king wrapped his arms around her and held her back.
“Don’t touch either of them. It’s dragon’s blood.”
Matthew, Mark, and Esther, who had rushed back onto the stage, stopped with horrified expressions on their faces. Esther screamed. Their servants seized them and pulled them back to safety.
Eli looked down at his wailing brother. One of the dragon’s claws had scratched Ezra from the top of his forehead, across his left eye, and down his cheek. The dragon’s blood had splattered him, and big red blotches were bubbling across Ezra’s face.
“Dragon’s blood! But that means…” Queen Natalie screamed. “No! Please, someone help them. Doctor? Where are you?”
The Royal Physician rushed up the stairs with his medical bag. His face paled when he saw the blood on Ezra and Eli. He looked at the king.
“Sire, if I touch that blood, I’ll die too. I’m sorry.” He turned, ran down the steps, and fled through the crowd.
Queen Natalie gasped. “Coward! Come back here at once. Guards, seize that man.”
But the doctor had already disappeared into the crowd.
Eli’s heart sped up. He was going to die? His arms, hands and face throbbed. The pain was getting worse. His baby brother kept crying. Eli looked up at his mother and was afraid. “Mom?”
King Frances shook his head. “I’m so sorry.”
“No,” said Queen Natalie. “I refuse to give up.” She turned to the magical beings on the stand. “Please, if you know an antidote, come and help them. I beg you.” She began to sob.
“Please,” said the king. “Is there anything you can do? I’ll give anything.”
The magical beings shook their heads.
“I’m sorry, Sire,” said Marin, the elf. “There is no antidote for dragon’s blood.”
The other magical beings nodded.
“We’re very sorry,” said the mermaid.
Queen Natalie began to sob. “No. There has to be something.”
“There is nothing we can do,” said the dwarf.
Eli felt dizzy. He sat down on the stage, still cradling his brother. His skin was burning. He was only eight years old. His brother was only a few months old. They were too young to die. He hadn’t even got to see if his dog, Cindy, had had her puppies yet.
Then Eli heard a rustle of cloth. A new voice spoke, a man’s deep voice.
“Actually, there is an antidote. I developed it myself. I would be glad to be of assistance.”
Eli looked up and saw a man with a long gray beard. He had a kind face and blue eyes, and he wore a wizard’s robes. In one hand was a black satchel and in the other was a long, stout walking stick. The man came towards them.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said to Eli.
Eli began to hope.
“Wizard Colin,” said the king. But he didn’t sound happy.
Wizard Colin knelt beside Eli and baby Ezra, laid his staff on the floor, and opened his satchel. He put on some white gloves, took out a blue washcloth, and began to gently clean the blood from the children’s skin.
To Eli’s surprise, as soon as the washcloth touched his burning skin, the pain went away, and the bubbling stopped. Soon baby Ezra stopped crying. When all the blood had been wiped off their skin and tattered clothing, Wizard Colin opened a jar of salve and spread it on their burns.
“How does that feel?” he asked Eli.
“It feels cold.” Eli looked in wonder at his arms and hands. “I’m all better. Thank you.”
Wizard Colin smiled at Eli. “You’re a very brave boy.”
The king and queen crowded near, and the people around them gasped and whispered to each other.
“It’s a miracle!” someone said. “They’re completely healed.” Someone else began to cheer.
“You’ve saved my babies!” The queen gathered both boys up onto her lap, wrapped them in a cloak, and hugged them. Tears ran down her cheeks. “Thank you so much.”
“Wait a minute,” said the king. “The baby still has a scratch on his face. And his eye… what’s wrong with his left eye? I thought your magic salve cured them.”
Wizard Colin put his magic salve, washcloth, and gloves back into his satchel, picked up his staff, and slowly stood up. He sighed. “I’m very sorry, your Highness. Your sons will recover from the burns, but I can’t restore the baby’s eyesight.”
The king scowled at him. “Why not? You knew the antidote for the dragon blood.”
“His eyeball has been scratched by a dragon claw. That’s not something you recover from.”
Timora, the Fey Queen, nodded. “And don’t forget the dragon’s curse. Poor little Ezra is going to die by the sword when he’s sixteen years old.”
Queen Natalie began to sob. “Can’t anything be done?”
The king beckoned for the other magical people to come forward. “Please, can any of you do something for my son?”
After examining the baby’s wound, they all sadly shook their heads. None of them had the power to heal the prince’s eye or to overcome the dragon’s curse.
“This is an outrage!” The king turned back to Wizard Colin. “What kind of wizard are you, anyway? Do something.”
A red-haired woman came and stood beside the wizard. “Your Majesty, there were only eight gifts given to the new prince.”
“Wizard Colin and I have not yet pronounced our gifts for the baby.”
The king tugged on his beard and frowned. “Who are you again?”
“I am Bernice.”
The king’s advisor leaned over and whispered to the king. “She’s here representing the witches. She and Wizard Colin didn’t get a chance to give their gifts to the new prince.”
“Well,” said King Frances. “If you can give us any hope, now would be a good time.”
Bernice nodded to Wizard Colin. “Go ahead.”
The wizard stepped forward. “I cannot take away the dragon’s curse, but I can soften it.” He bowed his head for a moment, and then turned and touched the baby’s head. “To Prince Ezra, I give this gift. With his right eye, he will have excellent vision, and with his left eye, he will see what no one else sees.”
“You mean he’ll see things that aren’t there?” The king yelled. “What kind of gift is that?”
Wizard Colin sniffed, offended. “I didn’t say he would see things that aren’t there. I said he would see what no one else sees.”
The king was in no mood for riddles. His new baby son had been wounded, and he wanted solutions. He wanted answers. He wanted a Cure. King Frances scowled at the wizard.
Before the king could lose his temper, Bernice stepped forward and curtsied. “Your Majesty, I will now give my gift to Prince Ezra.”
Bernice touched the baby’s curls. “The prince will not die. Instead, the sword which smites him will only wound him. He will be sent into an enchanted sleep until he is awakened by the kiss of a fair maiden. It will be true love’s kiss.” She beamed at the king.
Now the king did lose his temper. “What?” he yelled. “Enchanted sleep? A kiss from a girl?”
“Now, dear,” said Queen Natalie, “she was only trying to help.”
“I’ve had enough,” the king roared. “Guards, arrest these two! Take them to the dungeon.”
The guards seized Bernice and Colin. They took the wizard’s staff and satchel, and dragged them off the stage.
Eli waited for the wizard and witch to use their magic to get away, but they did nothing. They allowed the guards to take them away.
Eli frowned. “Mama, why didn’t the wizard get angry? And why is Papa so mad? After all, Wizard Colin just saved our lives.”
Queen Natalie sighed. “Your father has had a very trying day.” She looked up at her other children, who had gathered around her. “These two need a change of clothes. Let’s go inside.”
The festivities were over. The people went back to their homes and talked about everything that had happened. The servants worked hard to clean up the mess left by the dragon. The royal family went back into the castle for some time to privately mourn, and Eli proudly carried his little brother all the way to the royal nursery.
Meanwhile, Jay B. R. Wokky flew home. He landed on the doorstep of his cave tired, miserable, and cranky. He was met by his trusty servant, who had a big smile on his face and a large white envelope in his hand.
“Look, Sire, it came! Your invitation.” Fritter proudly waved the envelope in the air. “You see, they didn’t forget you after all.”
Jay looked at Fritter. He looked at the envelope. Then he opened his mouth, and a stream of fire flew out and incinerated the envelope.
“Owww!” Fritter grabbed his hand and began to suck on his thumb and finger. “What did you do that for?”
“I’m going to bed.” Jay stomped past the gnome into the cave. “Do not disturb me until I call for dinner. And it had better be a good one, or I’ll fry you as well.”
Fritter bowed. “Yes, sire. Delicious dinner coming right up.”
He looked down at the ground. A single corner of envelope had missed the flame and had fallen to the ground. Fritter stared at it thoughtfully and then put it in his pocket. When he got to his bedroom, he tucked the singed corner in his satchel, where he kept all kinds of things that might be useful.
Fritter hurried to the kitchen to cook a dinner for Jay that might make him feel better: perhaps a rabbit pie with baby carrots, new potatoes, fresh herbs, and a golden flaky crust. And for dessert, a chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries on top.
However, Jay was suffering from a guilty conscience, and the beautiful dinner Fritter prepared gave him a stomach ache.
Instead of admitting he had made a terrible mistake, Jay held his bad feelings inside. Day by day he became more irritable. Nothing pleased him, not the delicious meals Fritter made for him, or the warm, sunny spring weather, or even his favorite storybook. His writing hand swelled up and the pain spread up his arm to his elbow.
Jay had always been conscientious about patrolling the eastern mountains and destroying any monsters he caught trying to invade from Wonderland, but now he spent his days alone in the dark, lying on his treasure.
Fritter was very worried about Jay. He went down into the Tulgy Woods to visit a witch he knew, and there he heard what had happened at the prince’s name day celebration.
The witch, Connie, told him all about the salve that Wizard Colin had invented, which healed the burns caused by dragon’s blood as well as just about anything else. She offered to sell a jar of salve to him.
“Everyone in the kingdom is buying it,” said Connie. “Old Cecil can’t keep it in stock. It’s being called Miracle Mix. Maybe you should try it on the old grump.”
Fritter opened the small jar and sniffed. The salve had a fresh minty scent. “Cecil? I thought Wizard Colin invented this salve.”
“He did, but the guards took his satchel, and Old Cecil ended up with its contents. Cecil persuaded Colin to give him the formula. Besides, Colin and Bernice are still in prison.”
Fritter shook his head. “That doesn’t seem right.” However, he bought two jars from the witch.
“By the way,” said Connie. “A Bandersnatch raided Toffee Village last night. It took the mayor’s prize ram.”
Connie shook her finger at Fritter. “Sheep today, humans tomorrow. You tell that dragon to get out of bed and do his job. Soon the Tulgy Woods won’t be safe for any of us.”
Bandersnatches were not just a terrible nuisance. If they began to nest in their land and multiply, the humans would not stand against them for long — especially if the Bandersnatches developed a craving for human flesh. Now Fritter was even more worried.