Once upon time there lived a handsome young king named James, who lived in a beautiful, glorious kingdom. However, he was deeply impoverished; James planned to make a critical alliance to finance his kingdom, and most importantly feed his starving people.
One fateful morning King James left his kingdom to make a pilgrimage to a neighboring kingdom to negotiate a match with King Robert. It was such a simple plan; marry Robert's goofy daughter and save the kingdom. It made perfect sense to everyone in the kingdom, especially his royal advisor, Gareth.
King James trotted carefully though the village. A strong wind lifted his red hair as he waved and smiled at his subjects. He eyed the tattered clothing covering their frail bodies. King James knew in that instant that he would do anything to save his kingdom, even make a match with Robert's horrible daughter. A small smile formed on his handsome face; yet, it did not travel to his emerald green eyes. His bright head turned to Gareth.
"How about a drink at the tavern? I fear I will spend my life drinking my supper to bear life with her."
Gareth laughed in delight, "Yes, a drink will do us well, milord. The roads are quite dry." Gareth didn't envy his best friend; James had few choices in his life as king. He was planning to pledge his life to a spoiled, shallow princess. Gareth frowned sadly as he looked at James' serious face. The king and his party headed toward the local tavern to enjoy a goblet of mulled wine.
Rumpelsliltskin watched the beautiful young girl walking in a huff in a green meadow, sunlight playing across her golden hair. He could read waves of burning anger in her sky blue eyes. She pulled a thin ratty shawl across her ample soft bosom as a deep frown marred her beautiful face. Rumplestiltskin ignored a wave of desire; he had other matters beckoning to the hall of destiny. He waved a silent goodbye as the girl stomped towards the center of town. In her fury, she didn't view the handsome man with dark hair shrouded in black.
"Another day, perhaps, furious beauty."
Rumpelstiltskin turned his horse toward the Wizard Council. His father sent a summons demanding his presence at the next meeting of the council. As usual, his father moaned and groaned over the fate of the world. War, famine, and destruction were always on the horizon. Of course, Rumplestiltskin and his siblings must use their magic to save humans, such a lovely thought.
A large man with ruddy cheeks, deep blue eyes, and a wild wave of blonde hair caught the king's attention when he stepped into the tavern. Mostly, because he was the only person that didn't drop to their knees in a deep respectful bow.
The man kept sipping and laughing as the tavern fell to deafening silence. King James arched an auburn eyebrow as he listened to the man's claims.
"Well, my girl, Eleanor is as beautiful as a summer's day. Her golden hair like flaxen, sky blue eyes, and soft pale skin." He took a deep sip of mead. "Her beauty matches her sweet nature like a young robin."
The king frowned in annoyance. He reached a strong hand to grab the man's shoulder to end his ceaseless bragging.
"My girl is blessed with the ability to turn straw into gold." His blue eyes widened, "Can you imagine a simple miller... like me with such an exquisite creature?"
King James dropped his hand as he stared at the fat man's shiny bald head. A woman who can spin straw into gold. Her skill could save the kingdom. No, he must be lying. James opened his mouth to question the man when the tavern door was flung open. Brilliant sunrays assaulted the inhabitants' eyes as Eleanor stood in the doorway.
King James' emerald green eyes stole over her figure trembling with anger. His eyes roamed over her soft curves encased in a tight cotton dress. Her long fingers twisted in front of her as she stepped into the smelly tavern. She brushed past him; her delicate fingers tapped the burly old man's shoulders. His head turned slightly; his wide smile dropped from his face. King James wanted to laugh when he lowered his eyes in deference.
"Ellie, my girl-"
"Father," Ellie's hands dropped to her trim waist, "The wheat is ready... has been for days. We have orders to fulfill."
A chubby finger pointed to the assembly group of ruffians. "Just having a drink with-"
Ellie's hand flew into the air. "Just having a drink, Father? You smell like you had several drinks. When I have been home, sitting, waiting, sorting! Get to the mill, now, Father. It's time to be a miller."
The miller's head moved side to side. He gave his daughter a hopeful look until he noticed that she tapped her foot.
"Okay," he muttered. He slowly trudged to the door.
Ellie looked at the tavern owner. "Place it on your bill," she replied sadly. "We'll pay in the morning. I'm going to have to spend all night working to pay it." Ellie sighed.
She loved her father deeply. Sometimes, he drove her mad. He was a lazy, lay about. He would assure her doom. She rushed out of the tavern; unaware that she caught the attention of the King.
King James watched the beautiful girl dashing past him. Her presence left the smell of roses. He ignored a wave of desire as he thought of the fire in her blue eyes.
"James, do you think that it's true?"
James' brows knitted together as he pondered the miller's comments. The girl did say that she could pay the bill in the morning. She would have to spin all night.
"I don't know."
James walked towards the tavern owner. He accepted bows and curtsies from his people. The tavern keeper's hands shook in fear as he deferred to his king.
"Sire," he whispered humbly. "Welcome to my humble tavern. Would you care for a drink?"
James smiled politely. "Mug of ale, please. I have one question."
"Does the girl pay her father's debt every morning after she spins all night?"
The kindly tavern owner shook his golden head. "Oh, Ellie is the best girl; she pays in full every day after he has a drinking binge."
The tavern keeper thought about a new bundle of better fabric woven by Ellie. His wife loved her fabric; so he accepted fabric as a payment for her father's drinking habit.
King James brought the cold mug of ale to his sensual lips. He gave Gareth a serious look. "Send a messenger to King Robert's kingdom. Tell him that I must postpone my arrival. Then, bring the girl and her father to the palace in the morning."
Gareth nodded at his sovereign. King James felt confident for the first time in weeks as the cool ale coursed down his parched throat. That girl could answer all of his problems, and save him from a lifetime of discontent with King Robert's daughter.