Meet Prince Liam – he’s one of the Prince Charmings you hear about in fairy tales. He’s the hero of Sleeping Beauty, but he’s never had the spotlight until now in this excerpt of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy.
Excerpt from The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy:
Art copyright © 2012 by Todd Harris.
Liam never doubted that he was a hero. If anything, he was a little too sure of it. You can’t really blame him, though; people had been treating him like a demigod ever since he was a young child. The adulation began shortly after the birth of Princess Briar Rose, the daughter of the king and queen of Avondell. In a rare instance of international communication, they announced that they were looking for a suitable prince to whom she could be engaged. When the princess came of age, she would marry this prince, forever joining her kingdom with his.
As it so happened, the kingdom of Avondell sat upon a seemingly endless chain of gold mines. Whichever nation managed to hook up with Avondell would become super rich. Gareth, the king of Erinthia, which sat just across the border (and therefore just out of reach of Avondell’s gold), wanted in on that. The treasure-hungry King Gareth suggested his then three-year-old son, Liam, as a worthy future husband for Princess Briar. Unfortunately, lots of other countries were itching for a shot at Avondell’s gold as well, and the competition for Briar Rose’s tiny hand was fierce. Little princes from around the world lined up to present themselves before the royal couple of Avondell—and each seemed to have a special skill. There was a tap-dancing toddler from Valerium and a baby from Svenlandia whose parents claimed he could “speak dolphin.” A four-year-old from Jangleheim absolutely rocked on the flügelhorn. And a five-year-old prince from Sturmhagen (one of Gustav’s brothers) demonstrated his ability to kick a chicken forty yards.
Afraid that little Liam wouldn’t stand out in the crowd, his father resorted to trickery. Just as Liam toddled out in front of the king and queen of Avondell, two masked assassins burst into the throne room. They were actually actors hired by Gareth, and each wore a cinnamon stick—young Liam’s favorite treat—tied around his boot. The two “assassins” positioned themselves between the preschool prince and the royal couple—and as soon as Liam excitedly grabbed at the cinnamon sticks on their legs, the actors proved how good they were at their craft. As the boy pulled and tugged at the sweets, the actors threw themselves around and howled in pain. They spun, flipped, and smashed into each other. To the rulers of Avondell it looked as if the three-year-old was beating the grown men senseless. When the royal guards reached the scene of the “fight,” little Liam was standing over two seemingly unconscious assassins, slurping happily on a cinnamon stick.
After that, there was no question as to which prince would be selected to wed Briar Rose. The king of Erinthia took his son home in triumph. The boy was treated to awards, parades, and festivals held in his honor. The two actors, by the way, were unable to prove their innocence and were locked away in an Avondellian dungeon for life, but King Gareth didn’t worry about that: He was going to be rich (well, richer—he was already a king).
Young Prince Liam thrived on all the attention, though he was unsure of exactly why he was getting it.
“Why does everybody love me so much?” he asked his father.
King Gareth didn’t want to tell his son the truth—that, for the most part, the people of Erinthia were as greedy as their king was, and they cherished Liam because they knew he would someday make their nation unbelievably wealthy by marrying into the Avondell fortune. Instead he told his son, “Because you’re a hero.”
Liam and a Melon
Art copyright © 2012 by Todd Harris.