The Mortog Prince
LONG AGO, when the faeries were young, in the floating kingdom of Faerieland, there lived two faerie friends more beautiful than the rest. Illusen was an Earth faerie; she found beauty in the brightness of nature all around her and came to know the castle grounds by heart. Jhudora was a Dark faerie; she found beauty in the great dark wood and the coolness of its deep shadows and came to know its every secret. But also finding beauty in each other, they became fast friends. They exchanged lockets as proof of their eternal friendship, vowing never to remove them, and to their elders' amusement, they became nearly inseparable.
As they grew and went forth into their studies, they would sit together in their classes. When the days were boring, and the time seemed long, they would take out their writing tablets and assess the qualities of the boys in their class who were visiting from other lands. This one looked too old, that one sweat too much, another couldn't throw or catch a ball very well, and on and on. This was their favorite pastime.
Now it happened one day that a golden-haired Kacheek prince with beautiful kind eyes enrolled in their classes, and instead of finding fault or flaw in his character, they found none. They followed his every movement with their eyes and fell more and more deeply enchanted with him by the day.
One day near the royal castle, at the edge of the great dark wood, he came upon Jhudora all alone and weeping. "What troubles you?" he asked. "Your tears would melt the heart of a stone."
When she looked up at the sound of his voice, she seemed surprised and depressed. "Oh, it's only you," she said. "I weep because I've lost my favorite locket somewhere in the wood and I fear I'll never find it."
"Don't weep," said the kindly Kacheek prince, "I will help you find it."
Soon they were deep in the dark wood, out of sight, and after awhile they came out again, arm in arm, Jhudora wearing her treasured locket and a beautiful smile.
Illusen was not overjoyed to see her pretty friend arm in arm with the handsome prince, and ran away from the sight of them. But it was of no use, for in class she had to listen to them as they sat together, laughing and eating, as if Illusen were no longer even a companion. She ran home and tried to forget all about the perfect prince and the friend he had taken from her.
The next day, Illusen was sitting alone in the courtyard, crying. She heard the footfalls of someone approaching, and a voice asking, "What troubles you? Your tears would make the sun itself weep."
She stood up and hastily wiped away her tears, but when she saw that it was the prince, she went back to her seat looking very uneasy.
The prince noticed how quickly her heart was beating, and the locket she wore around her neck, so similar was it to Jhudora's. "Why are you so sad? You look as if a giant has just stomped through your prize garden and carried something precious away."
"Oh no," she answered. "No giant, but a horrid boy."
"And what did this boy do?" asked the Prince.
She answered, "He's responsible for the loss of my dearest friend. I never thought anyone could come between us and the promises we made to each other, but now that he is here, he comes before me in all things."
"You are young yet," said the Prince. "Promises are often broken."
At that moment, Illusen stood up so quickly, the Prince had to hop back on his heels. She clutched her locket and shouted, "My promises will never be broken! I will see the return of my truest friend!"
She delayed for only an instant, but pointed at the Prince and cried out, "For the deed you've done, and the hand you've won; a princely fee, a mortog you will be!"
Where once there stood a prince, there now was a fat mortog. And so Illusen did become ashamed, but feared everyone would be unwilling to believe her. She began to weep, and was afraid of the cold mortog, that nothing would hide her misdeed. She grew angry with herself, and determined to follow through with her promise to regain her lost friend, no matter what dark deed she needed to perform.
So she picked up the mortog and carried him into the great dark wood. Finding a corner of the wood with a cool, dark pond, she put him down. Summoning her strength, she shouted out, "Waters glint and fires' flame, hide the form and change the name. In a crowd, now hard to see; with your kind, now hidden be!"
And it came to pass that, the Prince with the beautiful kind eyes ceased to be and all at once became a mortog in a pond full of mortogs. It was a wicked spell, and no one but she alone knew what had happened to him. But she took comfort in knowing that she and Jhudora would go together throughout Faerieland, once again faithful friends.
Jhudora suffered great care and pain at the sudden loss of her prince. That he may have become lost in the great dark wood caused her trouble and anxiety. When Illusen was there to welcome Jhudora back as her ever faithful friend and help them both put the prince behind them, instead of being full of joy, Jhudora became suspicious.
As Illusen became more and more distraught over Jhudora's desire for the Prince's deliverance, she had gone part of the way in confessing her misdeed to her friend. Jhudora reacted as if something within her had snapped.
"I only meant to protect our friendship," said Illusen by way of an explanation.
Jhudora turned round on Illusen and cried, "But you're actions have broken my heart!"
To which Illusen cried, "You've already broken mine!"
Away to the great dark wood Jhudora ran and to the cool dark pond full of mortogs. There was no way to detect the prince among the mortogs number, so she threw her arms wide and said, "Duplicates shall disappear; vanished prince now harken here. With a kiss, your face will tell; break the curse and lift the spell!"
Each day she returned to the mortog pond to select one from its number and bestow upon it a single kiss. To her horror, she discovered that the non-magical mortogs had a tendency to explode. Each day she returned from the pond more soured and more angry than the day before.
The disharmony from Illusen and Jhudora's tainted friendship grew like a cloud around them. Soon it was known throughout all of Faerieland that something had conspired between the inseparable friends. Jhudora had collected other Dark Faeries of her kind to her corner, while Illusen gathered those Earth Faeries to support her on her side. As a result of their feud, the once peaceful kingdom of Faerieland had become divided.
The Faerie Council of Elders was convened and a decision was reached to bring harmony and unity back to the kingdom. Because they could not continue to live together, they would live apart. A race would be held to determine which would leave the floating kingdom of Faerieland forever.
On the day of the race, Jhudora approached Illusen for the first and last time since the loss of the prince. "Know this," she said to the Earth Faerie, "after this moment, I will forget that you and I were ever friends." And she tore the jeweled locket that was proof of that friendship from Illusen's collar. "Also," said she, "know that I will win this race for I will never live on the ground."
A greatly saddened Illusen took her place and the race began. As it happened, Jhudora won the race easily and was permitted to stay in Faerieland. Illusen, having learned her lesson about selfishness, prepared to leave Faerieland for good, but not without performing one final act to atone for her misdeed.
The next day, Jhudora returned to the mortog pond only to find that all the mortogs had vanished. She cried out in frustration and vowed she would find a way to restore the prince no matter the cost. To this day, she continues to collect items to find a way to break the mortog spell.
It came to pass that Illusen took residence in the kingdom of Meridell where she lives a quiet, reclusive life. She had taken all the mortogs with her, in an effort to repair her misdeed. To this day, she also collects items, hoping to break the spell she cast -- and perhaps, one day, restore her lost friendship. In addition, she gathers help from all over Neopia to kiss a mortog in order to discover the true identity of the prince.
So tell me, have you kissed a mortog today?