The Misadventures of Princess Temporaria

By S Lynn Knight

Long ago, before the dawn of man, in what was known as The Age of Anura, or The Day of the Frog, the reign belonged to the wise and mighty Rana. King and Lord over all tail-less creatures which hopped, crawled, slithered or swam on land and water, which is to say, over all creatures.

But, The Day of the Frog or Anura, could be quite misleading because it wasn’t actually a day at all, but was a span of time before time knew itself as a linear measure of any sort, and it lasted…well, nobody really knows how long it lasted, but it was a very, very, very long time.

During Rana’s reign and even before then, the blue-green marble planet was the most magnificent in all the universe with Her sparkling, snaking waterways, reflective ponds and lakes, cobalt skies and brown soil so rich and nurturing everything which died was, at once, happy to fall back into Her arms. Pristine and beautiful right down to the last chartruse lily pad and fit for a Princess, if any sort of other worldly creature existed, thought Rana.

Who could say where Rana got the idea of a Princess, but the seed, once sown in the mighty frog’s heart, began to grow and he thought he could feel himself missing something or someone he’d never actually known.

Rana was a powerful frog and though his outward appearance seemed ordinary, as frogs go, he was anything but common. The King had a keen frog mind and a sensitive frog nose and of course, wonderfully large, clear eyes on either side of his broad handsome head with two perfect ellipses for breathing in and out upon dry land. Beneath the water’s surface his lungs magically exchanged oxygen and carbon dioxide through his skin. Add to all these fine features, a distinguishing bump in the shape of a heart right behind his left subdural gill which no other frog possessed. Inside this cavity he stored his two most precious gifts; imagination and humility.

The feeling he was missing something continued to grow and grow until it began to cloud his mind and cast a permanent shadow on his sunny days among his friends in and beside the royal pond.

“A remedy must be had or I shall go mad,” thought King Rana.

So, Rana created a dream script for himself and a plan to bring a Princess into being and this creature would belong only to him, lighting all his shadowy days.

Seven nights in sequence he instructed himself in the dream and then went to the Wise Tree Being across the pond for the final piece, a magical twig. On the next full moon he wrapped a fine woven net of frog fur around the totem like a cocoon and laid it upon the deepest emerald green lily pad to be found in his royal pond and went to bed.

The next morning, shivering and crouched atop the lily pad was a beautiful, extra long, two legged creature, illuminated by sun rays jouncing about on skin the color of cinnamon and cocoa. Rana was over joyed and instantly fell in love; thus feeling his dream and his kingdom had been made complete. His cool heart warmed to a temperature he’d never before felt in his entire two-thousand-give-or-take-a-few-hundred-year long life!

King Rana gallantly hop-led her from the center of the lake to the shore where her naked beauty was creating quite the chattering cacophony in the kingdom.

“I will call you, Temporaria, Princess Temporaria,” he regally announced.

At first, Princess Temporaria was simply happy just to exist and she basked in the King’s doting attentions and affection. Lazing in the sun on lush green lily pads, eating sumptuous meals of fly pie seemed like exactly the life a Princess should have, though she’d had no notion of life before from which to compare it.

As the newness of their relationship wore away, Temporaria began to feel differently about her situation and the King. After awhile, she commenced to complain first, about the pond, then its mosquitoes always sampling her blood, add to this, the cool water forever sloshing upon the lily pad which kept her butt in a perpetually cold and wrinkly state and you had the partial sum of her unhappiness. When she squatted low on the edge of the pond to speak to King Rana he could not fathom her complaints and so dismissed her summarily with a “Burrrrup up”.

In time, this really rubbed Princess Temporaria in quite the wrong way and she began to complain about more than the pond alone. She began to nag the mighty King about his frogginess. She had compiled a list of every little froggy detail she disliked about Rana and their marriage. One day, standing at the water’s edge after gaining an audience with the King, she petulantly unrolled a long scroll with feigned ceremony and announced each detested detail.

“I have simply grown weary of your frogginess, dear Highness” she began.

King Rana, eyes wide, let out a single slow “Burrrup up”, which to the untrained ear may have sounded common, but to the rest of the kingdom it contained the saddest note of all, the sound of a heart breaking.

“You spend your days hanging out with the low creatures and I asked you to see about making yourself taller and yet you do nothing but remain, a frog,” she huffed.

“I cannot understand you, half the time you’re mumbling and croaking to yourself. I’ve tried and tried to decipher the language of bips, urks, tweeks and whistles in which you speak, but it’s sooo harrrrd,” she whined.

“You’re diet is horrid, just horrid, King Rana, dear. You spend your days and half your nights carousing with your frog buddies then sleeping, and gorging yourself on fly pie. You’re constantly eating. Fly pie, fly soup, fly chowder and the occasional grasshopper goulash. Why can’t you eat more mosquitoes?” she cried.

“And a King belongs in a proper castle, not hopping and flopping about all hours of the night with the low creatures then sleeping in a shabby old lily pond all day!” she declared.

While neatly rolling up the score, in a low voice, she declared, “You’re just not the frog I thought you were,” then stalked into the forest.

When she was gone, King Rana, his heart aching in a way he’d never known, broke the silent reproach around him by executing a perfect backward leap with his perfectly muscled frog legs into the cool pond and disappeared beneath the surface.

(Two snails on the shore each held up a paddle with a glittering number six on one and a seven on the other. Everyone’s a critic).

Under the cover of his beloved emerald lily pads, King Rana reflected. He loved Princess Temporaria very much, and had on many occasions been tempted to change himself in order to please her. But alas, after deep reflection, he was surprised to find he loved himself, in all his froggy ways, more. He loved his froggy croaks and his moist, cool, rutty froggy skin, he loved his long, sticky, froggy tongue and his two muscular legs only a frog would have, behind him. He loved the musical sounds which emanated from him and were understood far and wide by all creatures. Most of all he loved his world, his Mother which was royalty incarnate and he was bound to serve. Then, he realized he’d never before spent a single minute regretting his frog body or his froggy nature and it was only since Princess Temporaria had come into his life did he ever experience a morsel of a fly eye of doubt about himself. All this was very troubling to the King, most troubling, to be sure.

On the surface of things, it looked pretty bleak for King Rana and Princess Temporaria, and it was bleak, bleak as bleak could be.

On land, above the King’s head, the Princess decided she must take matters into her own haughty, naive hands. She found the swarthy frog known as Oophaga, the poison dart frog, trying unsuccessfully to hide his brightly colored body in the seedier part of the trees surrounding the pond. She solicited from him a poisonous, but nonlethal potion which would instantly turn King Rana into the perfect Frog Prince. All the things she wished he could be, but was not. After sealing the deal with a bounty of fattened flies and headless grasshoppers she returned to her regal perch on the largest lily pad in the pond with one dart and one small vial of poison.

Fearing King Rana’s wrath if found to have betrayed him, Oophaga went immediately to the King and ratted out the Princess. Now, Oophaga was not especially fond of either the Princess or King Rana but he knew his King would have already deciphered Princess Temporaria’s plan through the telepathic kitchling powers he alone possessed, so he went immediately to advise him of the details surrounding the poison he’d prepared for the Princess.

Armed with the news Oophaga brought him, King Rana began to take counter measures to protect his frog nature and most importantly his Mother’s kingdom. Bidding Oophaga keep his long tongue in his mouth. Rana obtained from him a counter potion.

Knowing what he must do, King Rana switched the potion with the poison his beloved Princess had gotten from Oophaga with his own. Now, when she dipped her poison twig into the malefic vial all would be made right and forgiven.

The full moon came and Princess Temporaria was particularly obsequious to Rana before retiring to her own pad for the night and the King knew this would be the night, his night. He closed his beautiful shining froggy eyes and waited. Some hours later, when the higher pitched “Burrrup up” came from behind him he knew the deed had been done and his Kingdom was safe, once again, along with his handsome froggy nature.

Under a full moon he slept more fitfully than any King has ever slept before, dreaming all the while of his beautiful Mother safe beneath his webbed feet.

In the morning, on the lily pad adjacent to him there sat, in all her exquisite repose, Princess Temporarira with her glistening brown skin, her froggy legs and beautiful froggy nose.

*A cautionary tale about loving others just as they are- inspired by the fairytale The Frog Prince and The Grimm Reaper writing challenge.

s lynn knight 2016