Mirrors and Dwarves

Prince Ferdinand’s adviser on international relations came stumbling into his office. “What happened?” Prince Ferdinand asked.

“I tripped over this pile of paper outside the door. Who left it there? It’s quite unsafe,” the adviser said.

Ferdinand looked out the door. “More paperwork? And of course they just left it and ran off, the cowards.” He picked up the stack of papers and closed the door. “Please sit down. I hope you have something that needs my immediate attention. I’ve been trapped in here all week doing paperwork.” He dropped the papers on his desk with a sigh.

The adviser smiled. “Actually, I might. A neighboring kingdom is in an uproar. The queen regent and her stepdaughter have both gone missing. They’ve asked us for help in finding them. Failing that, they’d like our help determining a successor.”

Prince Ferdinand smiled. “That does sound like a challenge. Let them know I’m on my way.” He left the next morning, riding on his fastest horse.

Once he arrived at the castle, he asked to speak with the queen regent’s most trusted adviser. A page showed him into a room with a mirror. “When will the adviser be able to meet with me?” he asked.

The page opened his mouth, but before he could speak, a voice came out of the mirror. “If my counsel you will heed, no other adviser you will need.”

Prince Ferdinand turned. The mirror was no longer reflecting the room. Instead, a fuzzy, pale face looked back at him calmly. “That’s unexpected. A mirror adviser. Do you have to speak in rhyme?”

“No, but it sounds more impressive,” the mirror said.

“It’s not necessary,” the prince said. “I’m already impressed. So, do you know what happened to the queen?”

The mirror hummed for a moment. “She died after attacking the princess.”

“And the princess?”

The mirror hummed again. “She’s near death, but not dead yet. She’s in the forest with a group of dwarves. The royal huntsman knows which forest.”

Prince Ferdinand grinned. “That’s amazing. How would I find a mirror like this?”

The mirror smiled. “We’ll talk again after you save the princess.”

“Of course,” the prince said.

He found her in an impressive stasis chamber. She looked a little blue around her lips. With the dwarves’ permission, he opened the chamber and checked.   She had a pulse, but wasn’t breathing.

He sat her up and gave her a hard slap on the back. She coughed up a piece of apple and started gasping for air.   The dwarves cheered.

“You’ve saved her! How can we repay you?” one of the dwarves asked.

“Please tell me more about this stasis chamber. Is it some new form of technology?” Prince Ferdinand asked.

“That’s a secret of the dwarven kingdom. We could put in a good word with the king and maybe he’d be willing to discuss opening trade with your people,” the dwarf said.

“That would be excellent. Let me tell you how to reach me.” He pulled out some paper and scrawled out detailed directions. “Now I need to get the princess back to the castle. Her stepmother is dead and she has a kingdom to run.”

The princess fluttered her eyelashes. “I may need some help with that,” she said.

Prince Ferdinand smiled. “Lucky for you, you have a mirror adviser.”

Before he left for home, he talked to the mirror again. “So, could I make a mirror like this?” he asked.

“Not without risking insanity,” the mirror said. “There is one other mirror I am linked to. If you had that mirror, I’d speak to you when you called.   Simply using the mirror wouldn’t be at all harmful.”

“Where is it?” Prince Ferdinand leaned forward.

“It belonged to a rather scary old woman who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs,” the mirror said. It frowned. “I think she was crazy before she made the mirror, honestly.”

“I’ve heard of her. We recently arranged to provide her with sheep so she’d stop eating people. In return, she patrols the borders for us.   It came out of the defense budget.”   The prince scowled.

“I’m surprised she was allowed to go free.”

“There was some curse that would befall the nation if she was tried for her crimes. The legal department said our hands were tied somewhat, as long as she stopped eating innocents. Does she still have the mirror?” The prince asked.

“No, a young girl took it and threw it to the ground along with a comb.   They had protections that turned them into a lake and wood to hide them. The old woman never returned for them, so I believe you are free to keep them.   I’ll give you the coordinates to find them and the spell to return them to their original shapes.”   The mirror smiled.

“Will the spell make me crazy?” The prince raised an eyebrow.

“No, and I cannot lie,” the mirror said. ‘But you are welcome to check with your royal wizards first if you’d like.”

“All right then. I suppose I’ll talk to you again soon,” the prince said.

After arranging trade agreements with the new queen, Prince Ferdinand headed home. He stopped for the mirror and comb on his way. As he approached his home he sighed. He just knew the paperwork would be terrible. Well, perhaps the dwarves would come visit soon and he’d be able to escape his office for a day or two?