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Episode Five, Fairy Tale - "Once Upon a What?"

In our previous episode, brilliant detectives Beau and Trixie solved a jewel theft and murder while trying to find world famous thief the Baron, who had stolen their case files. After turning the murderer over to the police, they left for their office but were startled by an explosion...

"Look out - he's going to blast again!" peasant woman Trixie shouted.Beau swung his broadsword at the dragon, and Trixie dragged him behind a rock, missing the next flash of fiery breath.

"This isn't working," Trixie panted.

"What do you suggest?" Beau ran his sleeve over this forehead.

"What if we try talking to him?"

Beau snorted. "A fire-breathing dragon? Be my guest."

Trixie stood up. "Yoohoo!"

Beau couldn't resist peeking over the top of the rock to catch the dragon's reaction.

The dragon hesitated, hovering, and released a wisp of smoke.

"Hi, I'm Trixie. Listen, we're on a rather time-sensitive mission here, and we really need to get past you, okay?"

A blast of fire was the reply, and Trixie dropped down beside Beau, who muttered, "See?"

"I knowest all about thine quest, lowly handmaiden!" the dragon cried. "You are accompanying the prince to the high tower, where he will rescue and woo my lady fair!"

Trixie stood up again, dragging Beau with her. "You think he's a prince? This guy? Please! As if the peasant rags weren't bad enough - well, just look at him!"

"Hey!" Beau said.

"Well, I had assumed he was traveling in disguise..." the dragon said. "But thou mayest have a point..."

Beau shook Trixie's hand off his collar. "We happen to be two valiant peasants in pursuit of the wicked baron whom the king put in command over our village. He has modified our census scrolls so that the king will think more people live here and will raise our taxes. Being fiscal conservatives, we're opposed to this, so we have to get those scrolls back."

"Then thou willst neither woo nor wed my lady?"

"I don't planneth on it," Beau said.

"Wouldst thou then help me woo her?" the dragon continued.

"We're on a bit of deadline..." Trixie said.

"Unless," Beau said quickly, "you could fly us to the king's palace afterward. We'd save a lot of time that way."

As they scrambled awkwardly onto their new friend's scaly back, Trixie demanded, "Now how will we ever get to the palace ahead of the baron?"

"Come on," Beau scoffed. "How hard is it to woo one lady fair?"

Trixie glared. "Okay, not only should I smack you on behalf of all women, but don't you realize that we have to get this gal to fall in love with a big green dragon?"

Beau was silent the rest of the flight.

When they arrived at the stone tower in an isolated part of the forest, the dragon settled gently on the roof. "Thou must climb down the roof and through yon window," he said.

"Why can't you just deliver us to the windowsill?" Beau complained.

The dragon looked embarrassed. "My fair one is... perturbed at the sight of me."

"Just great," Trixie muttered, starting down the roof.

The peasants dropped onto the windowsill, startling a beautiful young woman combing her incredibly long hair. "Who are you?" she cried.

"Beau and Trixie," Trixie said. "We're friends of your - secret admirer."

"My what?"

"The dragon," Beau said. "Look, I'll just admit now that this is all my fault, and you two can just tell me all about how I'm such a lout, okay?"

"There will be time for that later," Trixie said.

The woman shook her head. "I want nothing to do with that fierce dragon!" she said. "All I want to do is get out of this tower."

"Why? Who are you, and how did you get here?" Trixie asked.

"My name is Rapunzerella."

"Sounds like a kind of cheese," Beau whispered to Trixie, who elbowed him.

The woman continued, "My evil stepmother imprisoned me here because I lost my shoe."

"Your shoe?" Trixie arched an eyebrow.

Rapunzerella shrugged. "What can I say? Some people are just evil. Anyway, my big plan was to grow my hair out-" She indicated her yards of tresses. "-and then braid it, cut it, and use it as a ladder to escape. But my stepmother, well, I forgot to mention, she's a witch."

"We gathered that from the whole shoe incident," Beau said.

"No, I mean a real witch. The pointy hat kind."

"Oh."

"Anyway," Rapunzerella said, "she cast a spell on my hair so that it cannot be cut by any blade. Now I'm doomed to stay here forever!"

"Hmm..." Trixie said slowly. "If the dragon could prove his worth by helping you, then would you consider at least going to lunch with him once?"

"I'm still not climbing on his back," Rapunzerella said quickly.

"No, I have a different idea," said Trixie. She helped the lady braid her hair while Beau went to get the dragon's attention. Soon, Rapunzerella's braid hung out the window and the dragon hovered nearby.

"Remember - just a thin flame," Trixie told him, holding firmly to the braid as low as she could reach. "And try not to scorch us, please!"

The dragon carefully singed across the braid until it broke off, uncut by any sword.

After the trio had secured the braid and shimmied down to the ground, Rapunzerella tossed her bobbed hair, exclaiming, "It's so nice to have it off my shoulders!"

"So now you'll give the dragon a chance, won't you?" Beau pressed.

"Well... I suppose I could give him a little kiss on the nose," Rapunzerella said.

The dragon lifted his head, and the princess kissed his nose. Lightning flashed, and in his place stood seven little men. "You've saved us!" the leader cried. "Long we have searched for a sweet lady to keep house for us as we go to the diamond mines every day. What do you say?"

"House sitting?" Rapunzerella said. "That sounds like a pretty easy job. Lead on!"

Beau and Trixie stared after them.

"Well, there goes our ride to the king's palace," Beau sighed. "I guess we'd better get back on the path."

"Might as well," Trixie said. "Today certainly can't get any weirder."

Suddenly, a nobleman leapt from behind a tree and hit them both on the head with a stick before they could react. When they woke up, they were in a dark dungeon tied together, back to back.

"Baron!" Beau cried, looking up at their attacker.

The baron laughed maniacally. "Now I've got you out of the way so that I can take your census scrolls to the king and raise your taxes higher than they've ever been! And even if you get out of those ropes, you'll never get past what I have in store for you..."

Giggling, he escaped while the peasants struggled against their bonds...

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