Once upon at time, in a land far far away, lived a King and Queen named Rocky and Reba. Their land was called Dolyhir and it stretched as far as their eyes could see. From North Face Gully through Worzel Woods to Sheep Skull Lane. Rocky would often sit on his granite throne atop Bonsai Mountain, with Reba lying at his feet, watching over his land and all the animals that lived there.
One day Reba gave birth to 8 beautiful puppies, 5 beautiful Princesses and 3 handsome Princes. Rocky named the Princesses; Dotty, Bliss, Fizz, Brooke and Nala. Whilst Reba named the Princes; Harvey, Spot and Bear. All the animals in the Kingdom came to the naming ceremony, bringing with them sticks and shiny pebbles which they lay before the King and Queen as gifts for their newborn heirs.
However, the King of the neighbouring lands was not happy, he had no heirs of his own and was very jealous of Rocky. In a fit of rage he cast a spell upon the puppies, 5 puppies would be lost to the King and Queen, the rest would be cursed, never to be clean again.
The next day when Rocky and Reba woke Nala, Brooke, Fizz, Harvey and Bear had all disappeared. They were beside themselves with worry, where were their precious puppies? The other puppies were awakened by their parents frantic cries, only to discover they were covered in pond slime, pig dirt and mouldy straw.
Fizz had slept for hours. She was never an early riser. With her eyes closed she sniffed the air. She could smell her mummy and daddy lying next to her but not her brothers or sisters. Slowly she opened her eyes.
"Mummy, daddy, Spot, Bliss, Harvey, Dotty, Bear, Brooke, Nala, where are you?" She whispered.
But there was no answer. Strange, she thought, I can smell mummy and daddy on this blanket, they must be here somewhere.
Slowly Fizz descended the bank outside the house. Well she wasn't sure if it was a house or not, it was more like the 'hovels' her mummy had told her about, the places where the poor people lived, not princesses like her. She walked along the dry river bed until she came to a dam, climbed back up the bank and saw a lake on the other side. In the lake were gold and white animals, she had never seen animals like this before.
"Hello" she said, putting her nose as close to the water as she could. She didn't know if they could hear her when they were under water.
The gold and white animals ignored her so she put her nose right into the water and shouted "Hello" again. This time they swam away and hid under the plants.
"I think you frightened them away" came a voice from nearby. Fizz turned quickly but couldn't see where the voice came from nor who it belonged to. "You need to speak very quietly to them, the water makes your voice much louder" said the voice this time.
Fizz realised it was coming from under the bridge, she looked closer, into the shadow and saw the most hideous of creatures.
Fizz realised it was coming from under the bridge, she looked closer, into the shadow and saw the most hideous of creatures.
"What are you?" Fizz asked.
"I'm Fred" it said. Slowly popping its head out into the light.
"A Troll" Fizz squealed. "Daddy warned me about Trolls, evil, horrible, nasty creatures that live under bridges. They lie and steal and eat puppies whole" Fizz turned and ran away, she didn't want to be eaten, she wanted to go home.
Fizz ran back the way she had come, back towards the hovel. At the last moment she chose not to return inside but to run up the bank opposite and along a path.
A forest ran along the side, the trunks so dense she couldn't even squeeze her nose through. She tried to find somewhere to hide but there was nowhere. She followed the path for what seemed like ages.
Scared and alone all she could think of was her mummy and daddy, were they wondering where she was? Were they looking for her? She sat down and quietly cried.
Her cries were not quiet enough though, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw an Ogre, a very tall one. She wasn't scared at all, she knew what an Ogre was. Her mummy and daddy had Ogres, they were their servants. Was this one of her servants? The Ogre picked her up very gently and carried her back into the hovel where there was food waiting for her. After eating she curled back up onto the blanket that smelt of her parents and fell asleep.
It was a long time before the Ogre left Fizz alone to explore. Finally Fizz was able to go outside and try to find her family, she crossed the dry river bed and walked past the forest.
Eventually she came upon a gingerbread house. Her mummy had told her lots of stories and she knew she had to be careful in case an evil witch lived here. She very carefully scratched at the door, when there was no answer she grew bolder.
Walking around the gingerbread house she tried chewing on it. It didn't taste very nice. Suddenly there was a noise and Fizz froze. There was a witch living here.
"What are you?" whispered a voice above her. Fizz slowly raised her head so she could see who had spoken.
"My name is Fizz and I'm a Princess" she replied. "I'm looking for my family".
"Well you won't find them in here, my dear" the witch replied.
Fizz thought she was a very ugly witch, she had eight legs and was balanced on some kind of net. The witch had the biggest bottom Fizz had ever seen and she started to giggle. For some reason this made Fizz feel less afraid.
"Where did you leave your family? You really should be more careful." the witch replied. "Can I help you find them?".
"That would be nice of you. I didn't think witches were supposed to be nice, I thought they were supposed to eat little children." Fizz started to smile.
"I don't think I'm a witch, my name is Ariadne. I don't eat children." the witch replied, "I can't see your family from up here, why don't you try over there by the Glass Castle, may be they have seen them."
"Thank you Ariadne, I will try there later. I have to go back to the Ogre now before she notices I'm missing."
With that Fizz trotted along the road back to the hovel, she was feeling happier now that she had made a friend and knew that she could carry on looking for her family.
Rocky was sleeping, it was nearly dawn. The first sounds of the day roused him, then the smell hit him. Spotty always smelt like pigs, Dotty smelt of wet straw and Bliss smelt of stagnant water. He opened his eyes and the three of them looked as dirty as they smelt. His love for his pups would never wane but he did still wish that for just one day they could be nice and clean.
Reba suddenly stood up, she had heard a noise and it was coming from Skull Lane. Up walked the biggest dog they had ever seen. His nose was held high up in the air. He came alone.
"Who are you" demanded Rocky.
"I am King Reuben and I have come to claim a bride" the stranger replied. "I have heard that you have been troubled, Your Majesty, I rule over your neighbouring Kingdom and I too have been troubled. I have no heir".
Bliss stood with her mouth wide open, she had never seen such a handsome dog before. He was tall and very regal. His voice was gruff and so demanding. She was in love in an instant.
"That is your problem not mine" snapped Rocky.
"Ah, but it will be yours too. If you cannot find anyone to marry your pups then there will be no heirs to follow them and your lands will be fought over, just like mine will be when I pass", Reuben was very slick, he knew how to prey on another's insecurities.
"I am willing to chose one of your daughters to be my wife, our pups can rule both my lands and yours when we are gone. I can look past the disabilities they have, unlike others".
"I will give you a day to think on this proposal. I will come to the boundary between our territories, tomorrow at midday. You may choose which daughter will attend me". With that he turned and walked away.
Rocky turned and looked at his Queen, then to his daughters. He didn't know what to do. This King was right and worse still what would happen if he declined. He had heard of this King Reuben and he didn't think he was a good king at all. What Rocky didn't know was that it was in fact King Reuben who had cursed his family.
"Daddy, I will go". Bliss didn't want to sound too keen. "I will go and produce an heir, then he can rule both lands and Dolyhir will become a bigger kingdom. I will make sure he is brought up to be a good King like you are, daddy".
After many hours of debate with his Queen and Bliss it was finally decided. Bliss would go to become Reuben's queen. But there would be rules, if he was ever to hurt her she would come straight back home.
So the following day, at midday, Bliss walked down to the boundary to meet with her new King. She looked back at her family and said her goodbyes. As she left with King Reuben, the green slime and stagnant smell fell away with every step she took, her head raised up and she became a Queen.
Fizz wandered along the road until she reached the Glass Castle. It was very pretty and covered with plants. She popped her nose through the door and sniffed, there was no one there.
"Hello" she called. Pushing further into the Castle,
"Hello to you too!" a voice whispered back.
Fizz saw two pairs of large, round black eyes staring back at her. They belonged to two tiny little field mice.
"Oh how sweet" shouted Fizz, a little too loudly making the little field mice run for cover.
"Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you" apologised Fizz.
"You’re not going to eat us, are you?" asked one of them
"Oh of course not" said Fizz "I only came her because Ariadne said you may have seen my family, they look like me, only bigger".
"Oh no, nothing looking like you. There is lots of food here though" squeaked the mice.
"The Big One stores apples in here in the winter, do you like apples?"
"No thank you, is the Big One the Ogre? She’s my servant" with that Fizz turned and left.
Fizz was very sad, it seemed none of the creatures she found were her parents.
She had a look around the Glass Castle to see if there was any sign of other creatures like herself, but there was nothing.
She suddenly realised that some things looked smaller than they had when she first
arrived in this land. She didn’t know why. She also felt less afraid of everything.
Maybe I’m just getting braver, she thought. Or perhaps I’m growing up. The Ogre was feeding her very well.
Bliss walked into the castle with her head held high. She was now a Queen. As she looked around she realised that there were cages everywhere. Locked inside were all the female dogs, so many different colours, some with puppies and some without.
"I don’t understand" she asked "why are they all locked up?"
Reuben looked at her "Stupid girl, look around you, I have no mate. There isn’t a single dog here that looks like me. That’s what you are for. Now get in and shut up". With that Reuben shoved Bliss into an empty cage and locked it behind her.
"What? Let me out now" Bliss demanded. "I’m a princess and I will not be treated like this"
Reuben and his guards just laughed and walked away. Bliss didn’t understand, she was supposed to be his Queen. She was supposed to produce an heir who would rule after Reuben and Rocky, joining the two lands forever.
An Ogre came along, opened a grill near the bottom of the cage and threw in a bowl of food.
Bliss wasn’t hungry.
"You gonna eat that?" the voice came from under a pile of rags in the corner of the cage. A little dog ran out, ate the food and ran back again.
"You need to learn to eat what you’re given" the little dog said "they don’t give you enough"
The little dog had a very fat belly. Bliss thought she must have eaten a lot.
"My name is Bliss and I am Reuben’s queen"
The little dog just laughed "Yeh right. You are nothing more than a puppy mummy here. That’s what he wants you for. The Ogres come and take them away and you will never see them again" she said.
"That can’t be right, I’m a princess," Bliss was scared
"Your puppies will be wanted, you may get extra food, share some with me. I’m hungry" the little dog was shaking. She looked so lost, just like Bliss felt.
Bliss held her nose in the air "I’m a princess and I will not give up. My daddy will come, he will rescue me and set you all free. We must be ready."
The noise got louder, something was coming. The trees parted and a stranger walked out into the clearing.
"Well howdy there, purdy lady" said the stranger,. He had the most wonderful voice.
Fizz found her legs becoming very shaky and her mouth was hanging open. She quickly closed her mouth and sat down. Well, she was a princess after all.
"Hello" she replied "who are you? You look like my daddy, are you a king too?"
"No purdy lady, I’m not a king, I’m....well I’m not sure what I am now. I’ve been wandering a long time and have no home of my own."
Fizz felt her heart beating very fast, he was the most gorgeous stranger she had ever met.
"Why don’t you rest here a while, my servant provides the best food you will ever taste"
Fizz gave her best smile. It was a princess’s duty to welcome strangers and provide for her guests, and she was very happy to do so.
"My name is Princess Fizz, what’s yours?"
"Well purdy lady, I was known as Jesse J but no one’s called me that in a long time. I used to be a Knight. Until one day a fire came and destroyed everything. I nearly lost my life protecting the other creatures that lived in the kingdom. I got as many as I could away from the fire and made sure they were safe".
"A hero" sighed Fizz, looking into his eyes.
Fizz took her time showing the stranger around the land, she showed him to Ariadne and the mice before taking him into the hovel for dinner. The Ogre gave them the best food and plenty to drink. She laid a bed out for them to sleep.
He ran as fast as his legs would allow, the distance between them grew smaller.
Bear saw his dad and started running too.
"I found you, I’m home"
"Where is everyone?" Bear asked. "And what has happened to you two?" he said to Spot and Dotty.
Rocky told Bear the whole story. Then they had the biggest celebration the clan had ever seen. They ate and drank all day long and, when the evening came, they sang and danced.
"This King Reuben" Bear asked "does he own the lands below Sheep Skull Lane?"
"Yes" replied Rocky "Why?"
"I came past there on my way home. It was a horrible place. So many dogs, most of they were locked in cages. I saw puppies being taken away in large trucks. I didn’t like it at all".
"We must go there and see" said Rocky "Bliss is there, we must see if she is alright".
They checked all around, then crawled under the fence. They kept to the shadows until they reached his castle. It was ugly. They saw the cages and quietly ran along them.
"Bliss, are you there?" Rocky spoke quietly.
"Who’s that?" whispered a voice back "There’s no Bliss here, be careful there are guards everywhere, if they catch you, they will kill you."
Rocky didn’t like the sound of that. Where was his little girl? What should he do? There were so many dogs here, all female and very young. Many of them were nursing puppies or about to have them. They were all locked in.
"Are you looking for Bliss?" a very young dog asked from a cage further down. "The one that looks like you and Reuben? She is inside. He keeps her locked in the castle, she isn’t allowed out without a guard". They were just about to enter the castle when they heard a shout. The guards had seen them. There was no time to loose.
"I’ve got this lot" said Spot. He picked up a staff and swung it around taking down all the guards. Rocky and Bear charged the smaller guards. There was chaos as they all ran in different directions. Rocky raised his nose to the air.
"There she is" he ran to the cage Bliss was locked in. It was a struggle but he managed to lift the latch and let her out.
"We have to help the others" she said "open all the cages"
They were opening the last of the cages when Reuben arrived. Without hesitation Bear pounced on him, using his full weight. Reuben couldn’t move. Rocky and Spot pulled Reuben into a cage and slammed the door shut.
They ran outside with all the dogs following, with their help they managed to free all the other captive dogs and their puppies.
Rocky ran towards Dolyhir taking all of them with him. Once they were clear he turned to them all, held his head in the air and said
"You are all safe now"
Jesse J stayed, he became Fizz’s very own knight.
They loved each other very deeply. It wasn’t long before they had a puppy of their own.
They named her Precious.
Fizz and Jesse J watched their daughter play in the meadow, she chased the butterflies and smelt the flowers, she was such a happy little puppy.
Jesse J looked into Fizz’s eyes "Well my purdy lady, are you happy?"
"Oh yes" she replied
"Even though you never found your family?"
"I know I never found mummy, daddy and my siblings, but I did find my family. They are right here" she said, laying her paw on top of his. "I’m no longer a Princess of Dolyhir. I’m a Queen with my own King and Princess. I have my own land to rule and that land I shall name Berntoak".
Jesse J looked into her eyes and smiled.