The Princess wanted so badly to flee the underground basement of her mother’s castle. Her whole life she had the door in front of her to leave. But, scared of the unknown, she had always stayed inside. Until finally one day, she could no longer stay.
She gathered her pet bird, Babagoonosh, a gift from her father after her mother locked her away. The Princess knew her father did not want her to be lonely. Babagoonosh was her most treasured gift and best friend.
Once the Princess opened the door to leave, she was instantly surrounded by wood walls that lead to tunnels of other villages and kingdoms underground. All cursed, just like her and forbidden to live above ground.
She came across a Mad King on her travels who told her to stay for dinner. The Mad King was very rich, owning the finest materials in the land. He had rugs made of silk and gold piled so high the Princess could barely see the top. It was a grand castle but he too lived underground.
At dinner, the Princess waited for him to explain. He took his time and studied her. He eyed her dress made of imported fabrics. He could see her hair had been washed and well maintained, surely by a proper lady’s maid. He saw her big eyes, much bigger than they should be. They were icey blue. He saw her bird on her shoulder. His one tallon holding on to a lock of her blonde hair.
He understood she must be the Princess of Galleheay, the one who was terribly cursed – although no one knew for sure what the curse took away from her. It was only said that her mother exiled her to the basement of the castle and gave her a doorway that lead to the Underground Kingdom.
Suddenly the Mad King felt he had nothing to lose.
“I will tell you the truth, Princess. All these riches I stole from a King. I killed him and his Queen does not know I did it. Or at least I do not believe she does…
It took her two years to find that all of her riches were missing from her castle. For she has so much, she didn’t even realize that anything was missing at all!
When she did find out that it was missing she killed everyone in the village who could not afford guards.”
The Princess’s eyes grew wide.
“Do not worry Princess,” said the Mad King.
“She needed me to help her see that she has more than she could ever want. That she held on too tightly to things and not people.”
“But those innocent people!” exclaimed the Princess.
“Yes,” said the king. “They are all gone now.”
“Tell me Princess, who is this friend who clings to your shoulder?”
The Princess turned to Babagoonosh and kissed his beak, “This is my best friend,” said the Princess, “Babagoonosh.”
The Mad King studied Babgoonoosh. He went to reach for him and Babagoonosh attacked him, instantly taking his hand off in one swift peck of his beak. The Princess stood quickly, took the Mad King’s hand from Babagoonosh’s beak and handed it back to him.
“We really must be going now. Thanks for dinner.”
The Princess walked quickly back to the tunnel and kept walking. On her way she saw many people, beggars on the dirt floor covered in rags and fairies with torn wings buzzing around the wood walls. She could hear the Mad King’s men after her and knew she would be caught.
When they caught her and Babagoonosh, the Mad King had them kneel on the floor in front of his throne.
“You took my hand,” said the Mad King.
“I gave it back to you,” said the Princess.
Suddenly Babagoonosh flew away.
The Princess squinted and bowed her head.
Frustrated, the Mad King screamed, “Look at my hand, Princess!”
The Princess looked up but did not look at his hand. Growing increasingly angry the Mad King asked, “Why will you not do as you are told Princess? Look at my hand!”
“I have no sight,” said the Princess, “I do not know where your hand is. Babagoonosh is my eyes and he has flown away. Surely you must understand.”
The Mad King nodded. He did understand. He, for one, knew what it was like to lose something of importance.
“Princess, I will let you go because I am the Mad King and surely I am mad after all. But you must promise you will leave the underground. You are no longer welcome here and you must leave…
But Princess, before you go, you must tell me why your sight was taken from you.”
The Princess replied, “Mad King, my sight, you see, was taken by my mother. A witch told her I would lose my father in the most brutal way. So my mother took my sight so I would never see it happen. But when she did I could no longer play with the other children of the castle. I could no longer see the flowers in the garden. I was too different. My mother worried sick over me and never let me out so I would never be hurt…
Eventually she told me the safest place to be was the basement of our castle. She told me over and over that it was the safest and I believed her, for I always believed my mother. She told me that I would have a door if I ever wanted to leave but I didn’t want to leave, Mad King, because my mother told me it was not safe.”
“When my dad gave me Babagoonosh, that same night a witch came in from the unlocked door and asked me if I would like to see again.
I thought of all the beautiful flowers I longed to see again, surely Mad King, you must understand?”
The Mad King nodded, then, remembering the child could not see, replied, “yes,” for he did understand.
“I wanted to see the beautiful fabrics from across the oceans that my Papa would bring back and so I said, ‘Why yes, Witch, bestow on me sight, I wish to see.’ But the Witch said I’d be able to see, but not through my own eyes. She gave Babagoonosh my sight. I see from his eyes.”
The Mad King looked at her puzzled.
“Princess, surely you know that if the Witch cursed you underground once you go above the curse will be reversed.”
“Yes, Mad King, but my mother took away my sight.”
The Mad King grew annoyed. “Princess, go above ground, do not be afraid for I will give you a dog to protect you. He will help guide you.
Your mother should never have taught you to be fearful. You are a Princess and a strong one.
Take the passage that Dogalaya the Dog will show you and when you go above ground demand your sight back.”
Dogalaya guided the Princess above ground. She could not see a thing but felt the sun once she arrived.
The first thing the Princess did was find her mother. She demanded her sight back from her Mother and stood her ground. Her wish was granted. Once she had her sight back she asked about her papa.
“The Mad King killed him and took all our jewels. The only thing I have left to offer you is that cottage over there,” she pointed off in the distance.
“Go Princess and live there for I can no longer protect you. You must protect yourself.”
The Princess explained to her mother that the cottage was more than a useless, washed up old building. It was all she could ever want… it was home.
With her sight back, the Princess was so happy she went to the cottage, saw Babagoonosh, and kissed his beak as she cried tears of joy. Suddenly Babagoonosh transformed into a handsome man, about the same age as the Princess, with golden locks and a masculine strong face.
The Princess understood now that this was meant to be. She spent her nights with her Prince eating the most colorful meals by the fireplace in their cottage.
The Princess realized that life is surely blessed and perfect when the simple things are not taken for granted. Material things come and go, but family, friends, a home with good food, and of course good eyesight, are enough riches for any Princess, in any land.