Digression first. Turns out my copy of Star Frontiers is copyright 1982. So I was mistaken or bluffing.
The Kingdom of Harmony and the Dragon of Discord
A Fairy Tale
by Lyse Clavington
Once upon a time, the Kingdom of Harmony was a fair land on a green hill. It was threatened constantly by the Dragon of Discord, but the King of Harmony always defended it with the loyalty of the Orchestra of Harmony, and with the aid of the Princess of the Fiddle, and with the help of the Prince of the Kingdom of Melody. And so in spite of the Dragon all lived happily.
Then one day an Evil Counselor came to the Continent of Music. He told the Prince of Melody that his tune was growing stale, and advised that he should seek for a new theme, and so the Prince of Melody set out for distant parts.
Then the Evil Counselor came to the Kingdom of Harmony, and telling one thing to one instrument and a different thing to another, he soon had the sections of the Orchestra bickering. When next the Dragon of Discord came to threaten the Kingdom the King was afraid, for the loyalty of the Orchestra was in doubt, and the Prince of Melody was nowhere to be found. The Princess of the Fiddle advised him to be true to the Music, but the Evil Counselor gained his ear, and told him that he could win the loyalty of the Orchestra back if he passed certain new laws.
So the King of Harmony implemented new polices, saying that each instrument would henceforth play whatever tune came into its heart, without regard to what the rest of the Orchestra might be playing. And the instruments were delighted, and played many wild tunes, and quickly made a great Disharmony. When the Dragon attacked again the King was defeated. Then the Dragon ensorceled the King to look like a dragon himself, and locked him in a dark dungeon, and the Kingdom was usurped by a Dark King wearing an emerald on his left hand. The Princess of the Fiddle was told she must marry the Dark King, and when she refused she was cast into an enchanted sleep.
So it was when the Prince from the Kingdom of Melody returned from distant parts, still looking for a new theme, that he did not recognize the Kingdom of Harmony. It was swathed in shadows, the sun only rarely peeking in, and he thought he was in a land he had never seen before.
Entering by the main road up the hill, he was set upon by the Percussion Section, who had become completely lost in their own sounds, and so they attempted to beat all that they encountered. At first he cut them down with his sword, but they rose and attacked him again, so he fled further into the Kingdom.
Meeting as he thought a poor beggar, who was actually the Evil Counselor in disguise, he asked what malady lay on the land. The Evil Counselor told him that an evil dragon threatened the land, and that the good king was at his wits end to find a champion to rescue the kingdom. For the Evil Counselor and the Dark King and the Dragon plotted to have the Prince of Melody slay his friend the King of Harmony, so that they might have the Kingdom forever.
So the Prince was sent to meet the Dark King, who asked him to destroy the brood of dragon eggs and thus save the Kingdom. But the glamour of a brood of dragon eggs had been cast on the Wellspring of Rhythm in the hope that the Prince would destroy it. But the knights of the Dark King were surly, with howling wolves painted on their shields, and the Prince was uncertain, and so went to one side and set upon a boulder to think about his situation.
And while he sat, pondering what to do, lo, the boulder spoke to him, and offered him sage advice. “Oh, Prince,” the boulder said, “if only you knew the true peril of this kingdom, you would not be in doubt.” And it laid out the whole situation. But the Prince was still uncertain, and seeing this the boulder said, “If you will not believe me, then seek the Princess of the Fiddle, in her enchanted sleep, and waken her by apologizing for the wrong you have done this Kingdom by listening to the Evil Counselor, and then she will tell you the same.”
But the Prince wasn’t sure that he wanted to listen to a rock, and so he went to see the clutch of dragon eggs for himself, to see if it was really just a glamour thrown on the Wellspring of Rhythm. On the way there he met Bruno, the Prince of Harmony, who had been enchanted to believe that he was the son of the Dark King. Bruno was accompanied by a troop of goblins, and he abused the Prince of Melody, and said, “I stand in defiance of my father, the Dark King, and as you serve him you may not come to the brood of dragon eggs, for if my father hates them they must be precious.”
So the Prince of Melody turned away, and came to what had been the Waters of Composition. There he found the Evil Counselor surrounded by his minions, the bullfrog men, who were croaking and cavorting in the Waters and polluting them. At last recognizing the Evil Counselor for what he was, the Prince attacked, but the bullfrog men were too strong for him, and he was forced to flee. Skirting the edge of the hill, he came to a field a black flowers, that had a heavy scent.
Among the black flowers grew the many reeds of the Woodwind Section, but the flowers muffled the air and all was silent. Occasionally one of the reeds would rouse itself long enough to take a deep breath from one of the flowers, but then it would go right back to sleep. The Prince attempted to waken one of them, but all he could get from it was, “Try the flowers; they’re prettier than music....” This seemed like nonsense to the Prince, but the scent of the flowers was strong, and it made the Prince woozy. Just as he was about to succumb, he saw the bullfrog men lurking nearby, planning to capture him once he fell asleep, so he made off once more.
He next came to the Village of the Strings, but it was abandoned. The Prince recognized the Village, and became convinced at last that he was in the Kingdom of Harmony, although it was much changed. He regretted not taking the advice of the boulder, and feeling that he had fooled up everything he went into the inn, and throwing himself on a table he wept.
But the boulder, being a worthy stone, had not given up on the Prince, and it sent three Spirits to comfort him, these being Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith and Hope began to search the Kingdom for any sign of the Prince, while Love went to the east end of the Kingdom to try to raise the sun. And at the inn Hope found the Prince, and said to him, “Do not despair, for you have allies in this place. Even now, my sister Love is seeking to waken the sun so that light can return to this land.” The Prince found this somewhat heartening, and hoping that it was true, he decided to go to the east end of the Kingdom to see for himself, and perhaps to help if he might.
On the way he ran into a company of the Dark King’s knights, with the wolfen shields, and when he sought to pass they stopped him and said, “Where now are you off to? The brood of dragon eggs is to the south; that is your errand.” He didn’t want to let them know that he had been tipped off, so he merely nodded, but they became suspicious and when he left they pursued him.
Thinking to escape them, he took refuge in a tower along the way, but they saw and laughed, for it was a tower full of evil wizards, who had been set by the Evil Counselor to pretend to be servants of the dragon, feigning that they were protecting the dragon’s eggs. The Prince of Melody didn’t know what to make of the wizards, who seemed evil and yet also seemed to oppose the Dark King, but just then the sun broke through the clouds for a moment, and shone down on the Kingdom. The wizards vanished, and out the window of the tower the Prince saw through the glamour of the dragon eggs, and sighted the Wellspring of Rhythm.
Thinking quickly, before the clouds could overcome the sun again, the Prince rallied all the servants in the tower, and showing them the Wellspring he got them to agree to defend it against the evil ones who sought its destruction. When a moment later the sun was gone, the wizards appeared again, but the servants rose up against them and bound them.
The Prince asked the servants where the easternmost point of the Kingdom was, but they didn’t know, being of the tribe of the Horns and thus thinking mostly about themselves, so they sent him to their kin, who lived nearby, but even though they lived in the east of the Kingdom they didn’t know it, also being Horns, and thus were unable to help him. Searching among their dwellings, he came upon a monolith, and he recognized it as the Ancient Metronome, although it was not in motion as it had been in happier days, but rather sat silent and foreboding in the darkness. Now he knew where he was, near the northeast corner of the Kingdom, but the darkness confused his sense of direction.
At the Metronome the spirit of Faith found him, and she chastised him for being wayward, and for having previously taken the advice of the Evil Counselor. She warned him also that the Wellspring was in danger, as the Dark King had discovered what the Prince had done at the tower of the wizards, and while the Horns there would protect the Wellspring from the east, other guardians were needed on the west, lest the Dark King send his wolfen knights to destroy it from that side. But Faith counseled that the Prince first seek Love at the east end of the Kingdom, for the Dark King would not act rashly, hoping still for an easier victory, and Love’s wisdom would be vital in countering the Dark King, the Evil Counselor, and the Dragon of Discord.
Taking this advise and following the direction he was given, the Prince of Melody sought the South east spur of the hill on which the Kingdom rested, and there he found Love striving with the clouds that covered the Kingdom. The spirit greeted him warmly, and said, “As many shadows lay upon the Kingdom, if you wished to restore Harmony you must first awaken the Princess of the Fiddle, by apologizing for your previous error in heeding the Evil Counselor. She sleeps in the Tower of the Archer, and will tell you much concerning the Kingdom’s peril.”
Returning toward the center of the Kingdom, the Prince came upon Bruno, guarding the brood of dragon eggs. Now he recognized him as the son of the King of Harmony, and he tried to reason with him, but Bruno would not listen. So at last the Prince of Melody said, “At least hear this, then. I am sorry for the role I have played in the fall of the Kingdom of Harmony, and I go now to make amends as I may.” Bruno was clearly moved by this, but would not relent in his enmity toward the Prince, and sent him on his way.
The darkness grew, and the Prince had much difficulty in finding his way. At the darkest hour, he came to the castle where once the King of Harmony had lived, but which was now the abode of the Dark King. Now the spell of the Dark King had a weakness, which was that in the darkest hour his wolfen knights must sleep, and so the Prince of Melody found the Dark King undefended, and slew him with his sword. Then, having regained his bearings by finding the castle, he quickly traveled to the Tower of the Archer.
The Princess of the Fiddle was fast asleep, but when the Prince sought to go to her to apologize, he was set upon by ogres that had been set to guard the Princess. The ogres were actually the knights of Prince Bruno, but they had been ensorceled along with so much else, but still they guarded the Princess.
The Prince of Melody fell upon the ogres with his sword, and cut his way through to the Princess. And as soon as he had apologized she awoke, and just then the sun broke through the clouds again. The Princess gave the Prince many sheets of music, which recorded the Symphony that was needed to free the Kingdom of Harmony, and she led him to the Village of the Strings, where Bruno was waiting for them.
When Bruno saw that the Princess was restored, he became more friendly toward the Prince of Melody, but was still somewhat skeptical, and so he set him a test, saying, “Go now to the west of the Kingdom, near where the dragon lies chained, and find my princely circlet and return it to me, and then I will believe that you are truly a friend of me and of the Kingdom.”
Just then the clouds overcame the sun again, and the Village was plunged into darkness, and Bruno vanished. But the Prince was undaunted, and reassured by the spirit of Hope he set out toward the west, but before he could go very far, he was set upon once again by the Percussion Section, who beat him soundly, and who drove him to take shelter in the Great Amphitheater.
Now the Evil Counselor had set a troop of actors in the Great Amphitheater to confound any who might come hither, and to serve as the gaolers of the String Section, who were imprisoned in the underworld there. The actors attempted to confuse the Prince, but he consulted the Symphony and realized their deception. Pretending to be taken in, he wandered about the Amphitheater, admiring its construction, until he came to a place where he heard the plaintive call of the Strings from the underworld. By a stratagem he distracted the actors, and going to the underworld he broke open the door and freed the Strings. As they attempted to flee, the actors fell upon them, and the Prince slew many with his sword, scattering the rest.
As the Prince returned to the Village of the Strings with the freed prisoners, the sun broke through the clouds again for a few moments, and Bruno appeared and thanked him for rescuing the Strings, but then asked harshly for his princely circlet. The Strings took the Prince of Melody to the nearby Tower of Healing, where all his hurts from the beating of the Percussion Section were tended. Then they gave him a uniform from the Bird’s Eye Messenger Service to protect him from the Percussion Section, and sent him west once more. But before he departed he spoke with the Princess of the Fiddle once more, and she told him to keep his eyes peeled for a pink flower shaped like a flamingo, and that if he saw such he should bring one away, but she would not say why.
When the Percussion Section came at him again, they saw the Fermatas on his shoulders, and they held. Then going to the Drumming Circle, the Prince saw that all the staves of music there were in disarray, with the notes all jumbled, as the Percussion Section had little need of notes, using only markings of rhythm. So the Prince set about correcting the staves, but at this the Percussion section attacked again, attempting to deliver a beating, but the Prince defended himself with his sword, and soon had the staves straight. Then the Percussion Section shook themselves, and realized that they had been under a spell, and they thanked the Prince and showed him the white bandleader uniform that they guarded, telling him that it would be his once he had brought the other sections back into Harmony. And they gave him a silver cymbal as a weapon against the darkness.
Going now to the high western peak of the Kingdom, the Prince found the ruins of what had been Bruno’s home, and there he fought a wild pack of sixteenth notes, a full measure, and gained possession of the princely circlet. In a nearby dale he also found the pink flower spoken of by the Princess of the Fiddle, and plucked one. It had a strange and refreshing scent. He returned to the Village of the Strings, but Bruno was not there, and the spirit of Hope told him that Bruno had gone back to the Wellspring of Rhythm, to defend it. Leaving the pink flower with the Princess, he departed.
The Prince hurried on along the Bass Line, one of the central roads of the Kingdom (the other being the Melody Line), and he came to the boulder on which he had earlier sat. Seeing his benefactor he stopped for a moment, intending to tell it all that had transpired, but the boulder shushed him, saying, “Time is short, and the Wellspring of Rhythm is threatened. Hurry you to the Sheet Music Library and there find what you must seek.”
The Prince hurried down the Bass Line, but just as he came to the gates of the Library he was attacked by bullfrog men, hurrying from the castle. He laid about him with his sword, and won through the gates, slamming them in the faces of the bullfrog men. But when he turned, he was suddenly set upon by the ghosts of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, and they were fresh from the grave and were terrible to behold, having been recruited by the Evil Counselor to prevent the use of the Library. The Prince’s sword was of little use against the decomposers, and there was a great chase up and down the stacks, until finally the sun broke through the clouds again and the decomposers were frozen, and the librarians came out from where they had been singing the blues in the jazz section and bound up the decomposers, and they agreed that they would guard the Wellspring of Rhythm from the west just as the Horns were doing from the east. And the spirit of Faith flew in the window, and stood waiting, and when the Prince inquired, she said, “The Princess of the Fiddle bids me say that the plight of the Woodwinds grows urgent, and she wishes you to go and consult with the spirit of Love and bring back a token as she directs.” The Prince said he would see to it as soon as he was able.
The clouds covered the sun again, and the Prince of Melody went to the Wellspring, still covered by the glamour of dragon eggs. There he met Bruno and gave him his princely circlet, and the spell on Bruno was broken and he realized all that had happened, and apologized for his previous surly behavior, and the Prince apologized again for having left the Kingdom in the lurch during the last attack of the Dragon of Discord, and Bruno said that was quite all right, but that there was still work to do and that they should both be about it. With this the Prince agreed, and he set off at once for the South east spur of the hill, where he found the spirit of Love.
The Prince told Love of his errand, that he sought a token to aid the Woodwinds. She directed him to the tribe of the Horns, saying, “In their keeping, in their Hall of Law, they keep a book on the mathematics of harmonics. Inspired by this book, you will be enabled to aid the Woodwinds.” So the Prince set out again, and as he passed the Ancient Metronome on the way to the Hall of Law, he again met the spirit of Faith, and she warned him, saying, “Take care once you have the book of mathematics in your possession, for the Evil Counselor will know of it at once and will send his minions to waylay you.”
The Horns were quite willing that he should take the book, after a certain amount of the prideful bickering that is common among their kind. Heading back to the Village of the Strings, the Prince took a roundabout way, hoping to avoid the minions of the Evil Counselor, but it did no good. He was set upon in a dark place by many bullfrog men and the remnant of the actors from the Great Amphitheater, and they tried to slay the Prince or take the book, but he hewed left and right with his sword and made good his escape, returning to the Village. There the Princess of the Fiddle advised him on exactly what he must do to waken the Reeds of the Woodwind Section, saying, “The bullfrog men have poisoned the Waters of Composition, so you must first cleanse them with the pink flower. Then the silver cymbal must be washed in the Waters, at the very center, to give them the song they must sing. Then, armed with the knowledge in the book of mathematics you must take the cymbals and use them to waken the Reeds in the very center of their field.”
After studying the book of mathematics for half an hour he took the pink flower shaped like a flamingo and the silver cymbal given him by the Percussion Section, and he went and wakened the Reeds of the Woodwind section. Afterward at his advice the Reeds set fire to the black flowers so that they should not succumb again.
And the sun broke through the clouds, shining brightly, and the clouds were banished from the center of the Kingdom, though they continued to linger to the east and to the west.
Returning to the Village of the Strings, the Prince of Melody sought the advice again of the Princess of the Fiddle, and the spirit of Hope, but Hope was not there, having gone to a rock concert that the Horns were throwing. The Prince said, “Well, my task seems mostly done, as the four Sections of the Orchestra of Harmony are now free again, and the Dark King is thrown down, and the Wellspring of Rhythm is protected. Why do clouds linger to the east and to the west?”
The Princess answered him, “The clouds to the west linger because the King of Harmony still lies in prison, and the clouds to the east linger because the Evil Counselor is not overthrown, but still hides in the castle that should belong to the King. Please take your sword, and slay the Evil Counselor before he makes more mischief.” So the Prince went and did this, and he fought a great battle with that last of the actors and the bullfrog men, and finally cornered the Evil Counselor by his throne and cut off his head, so that he would never again counsel anyone evilly. And the clouds to the east of the Kingdom were banished.
Then returning to the west, accompanied now by the spirits of Faith, Hope, and Love, he stopped at the Circle of Drumming to don the white bandleader uniform, and then he went to the western end of the Kingdom, where the Dragon of Discord lurked at bay, holding the King prisoner. And with the help of the spirits, and protected by the white bandleader uniform, he was able to slay the Dragon of Discord.
Then he struck the chains from the King of Harmony, and the two friends embraced and apologized to one another for their failures in their early dealings with the Evil Counselor. And the King of Harmony told the Prince of Melody that he could have any reward he named, and knowing that the King was soon to wed the Princess of the Fiddle, the Prince asked to be the bartender at the wedding.
And they all lived happily ever after.