My Fairy Tale Academy series continues with the next installment:
The Monkey King!
In case you’re not familiar, The Monkey King is an ancient folklore tale from China. He is a monkey born from stone who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices. He fights the four dragon winds, rebels against heaven, is imprisoned and eventually helps a monk travel to the west and save some Buddhist texts.
My favorite retelling of The Monkey King (besides mine) is an anime called Saiyuki. I took a few tidbits from the show for my story. One of them is that Goku (the Monkey King in the show) is always hungry. Plus he’s funny. The whole show is funny. Check it out. And watch with the English dub. Trust me.
I also incorporated his three-section staff from the legends as well as the circlet/crown that keeps his powers in check.
The love interest for this story is none other than Aurora, but her story isn’t anything like the usual fairy tale, and she’s much more than a damsel in distress!
Official release day is Wednesday, March 6th!
Because I’m so grateful for all of you, I’ll have the price at 99 cents on release day. A sort of fan appreciation day.
Here’s the first chapter!
A strange weight pressed down on Saru’s eyelids. He fought to keep them open, but to no avail. The droning voice of the instructor went on and on, talking about things that literally lulled him into a stupor.
“We only have tales from a few of the ancient races. Some we know originated with the oldest fey, while others don’t belong to any particular race.”
Saru’s ears shut down, and for a moment darkness snuggled in around him. Maybe just a quick nap.
Then someone poked him from behind. His chin slipped off the heel of his hand, and his face almost fell onto the desk before he recovered. His eyes shot open and he took a deep breath.
Saru found the teacher staring at him with cold green eyes. He waited for the censure.
Instead, Master Aloon—a rail-thin human with a stubby nose and long blond hair, dressed in blue robes—sniffed once and continued with his lecture.
“For instance, we have the story of the Monkey King. A powerful being born of stone and resembling a monkey. Some stories make him out to be a trickster. Others describe violent tendencies if provoked. The fey take credit for his departure, but no one knows what really happened.”
A yawn overpowered Saru’s resolve to sit quietly, and he covered his mouth.
Several students around Saru sniggered.
With another poke from behind, a paper slid between his arm and his side.
A light hiss sounded as Saru pulled it forward and set it on his desk. He mentally wondered what it would say this time.
It could be another thinly veiled suggestion that he ask her on a date. Or it could be her congratulating him for almost winning the Assassination game, which he’d rather not be reminded of. Or it could be her trying to make fun of the teacher in order to impress him. Saru bet on the last before he opened the piece of parchment.
It crackled as he smoothed it. The words had been laid out with precision, and the handwriting could have come from a book.
Do you have a group for the project?
Saru took his own pen and wrote in sloppy letters. What project?
He handed the note back while Master Aloon wasn’t looking. The guy never stopped talking. Considering this was literature class, Saru saw a sort of ridiculous irony in the situation.
“Another ancient story we have is of the predecessors of the First Fey. The accounts differ so widely that many historians believe they are nothing more than fairy tales, or stories with morals to impart on young children.”
The parchment returned to Saru. The project he’s about to assign us.
Saru glanced over his shoulder and waved his finger in a circle.
Catherine sat up straight with her shoulders back. She managed to make the school uniform look extra good with her pleasing proportions and her long, golden curls. Her ruby red lips—glossy thanks to some potion she’d put on them—spread into a smile as she took the parchment back and wrote more.
Saru returned his attention to the teacher.
“Believe it or not, the merpeople have some of the oldest stories. The Kraken in particular has a fascinating history.”
Saru put his chin in his hand again and scratched at the golden circlet around his head. His bushy brown hair almost covered it, but no matter what he did, it itched. And he couldn’t get it off.
The note came over Saru’s shoulder, and he snatched it up.
We split into groups of four, then we pick a story and make a play of it.
A play? Saru frowned.
The teacher moved to the front of the room and held up a thick book with a painting of a tree on the front cover. “Tomorrow we will split up into groups of four. As a group, you will choose a story and make a production of it.”
Half the class tittered, while the other half slumped in their chairs. Saru joined the latter.
Master Aloon continued. “You will have two weeks before you perform your play. The group with the best production will have the privilege of presenting at the annual Peach Ball.”
That brought another titter of excitement from every girl in the room, and a collective groan from the boys. Saru shook his head and vowed to find a reason not to go.
The Academy was a place for the nobles of different regions and races to meet and learn the etiquette of court. Unfortunately, the dean felt that learning how to behave in public settings was important, so they had a ball every month.
Luckily, the first two had held some excitement. During the Welcome Back Ball, the human Prince Samuel had been exposed as a liar and all-around jerk. After homecoming, a handful of students had been attacked by briars and almost died, and supposedly Prince Adem had fought a bunch of trolls to save everyone. Maybe someone would go on a rampage at this one. At least it would break up the monotony of tedious dancing and practiced conversation.
“Come tomorrow with names of who you want in your group.”
Catherine nudged him from behind.
Saru ignored her.
“Get your book as you leave, and find a story you are interested in. This presentation will be fifty percent of your grade, so choose something you feel you can represent to the class.”
Saru was the first student on his feet, the first to grab a book, and the first through the halls and back outside.
He gritted his teeth. When would this girl figure it out?
The slap of her high heels on the cobblestones got faster and louder. Saru sighed and stopped. “What is it, Cathy?”
Princess Catherine of Danor—one of the highest-ranking human princesses at the Academy—pursed her lips at his use of the nickname. Somehow she managed to look positively radiant, despite how hard she’d run to catch up with Saru. Her green eyes narrowed just enough to catch his notice. “Saru, I think we should be in the same group for this project.”
Saru turned and walked toward the fountain. “And why is that?”
“Because you’re going to need a good grade.”
Unfortunately, she was right: he did need a good grade on this project. Without it, he might fail literature class and have to retake it.
Catherine continued. “And because I think we would work well together.”
What she really meant to say was that she thought the two of them should be the main couple in some sort of romantic tragedy in which they would have to kiss at least once.
“Do you?” Saru asked as they joined the other students heading for the cafeteria.
Despite her tiny figure and short legs, she managed to keep up with his strides. “I do.”
He huffed. Enough of a fall breeze blew that overspray from the fountain settled on Saru’s skin. Part of him wanted to jump into the fountain and get wet all over, but he’d tried that once and then spent the next month cleaning the stupid thing.
Catherine put a delicate hand on Saru’s arm. “Think about it.”
Saru kept his eyes peeled until he found his savior.
Catherine made a face.
Saru gave her his winning smile. “I’ll think about it.” Before she could grab him, he slipped into the crowd of students.
“Hey Saru,” a human third-year student said.
“Get in any fights with the pixies this week?” a centaur asked.
“Have you tried fighting them?” Saru asked with a laugh.
“Saru, are you going to try the Assassination game again?” a satyr asked.
Girls smiled at him. Boys waved or nodded. Saru fought the crowd until he got to Teth.
The half-woman, half-bird, and all-siren gave him a wry smile. She stood almost as tall as Saru. The upper half of her body resembled that of a woman with creamy skin and long, inky-black hair. Dark, shining feathers covered the lower half of her body, which resembled a bird’s, complete with taloned feet and wings nestled close to her back. Her eyes, the color of the sea, regarded him. “Still using me to ditch the princess?”
Teth had been the red team’s medic in the Assassination game, and Saru had grown quite fond of the siren’s sardonic humor as well as the ease with which she frightened off other girls. “She’s terrified of you,” Saru said.
“As well she should be.”
“That girl doesn’t know when to stop,” Saru said.
“Maybe if you stopped being so dashing,” Teth said.
“I can’t help it,” Saru said. “It comes naturally.”
Teth chuckled, and all the boys within hearing distance stopped and stared.
Saru shook his head; her powers didn’t work on him. They both found it refreshing. The two of them followed the crowd into the cafeteria.
Rows of long tables filled the space, and a buzz of noise came from the students already occupying almost half of them. Food lines had formed along the far wall. The aroma of spiced meat and roasted potatoes overpowered the subtler scents of bread, vegetables, and cake.
“Are you going to sit by us?” Teth asked.
Saru made a face. “And watch you and the other sirens eat raw meat? No thanks.” Besides, he knew they preferred their privacy.
“Who will save you from the princess?”
“I’ll think of something.”
Teth chuckled again and moved off to the window where they served the races who preferred uncooked meat.
Saru moved to the end of the line and grabbed a wooden tray. He saw the number of students between him and the food, made a face, and decided to go straight for dessert.
Several of the other boys eyed him with envy. Everyone else had to go through and get the nutritious stuff before they got cake, but Saru didn’t like living by the rules. Instead, he walked to the far window and set his tray down on the counter.
“One of each,” he said as he looked over the tables, trying to find someone to sit with whom he could stand but Catherine hated.
The person behind the window scoffed. “You have to get real food first.”