The tower was not built for the princess. In fact, no one could remember the construction of the tower, only that it had been there for as long as someone had thought to take note of it. History remembered the last time it was used, though. It remembered the wizard, who was not born with the power that the princess was given, and the trick it had taken to lock him in the great tower. But that was well over a century ago, and the wizard had grown old in that tower and withered away. Some people think his essence still lived in the tower, making it greater than it had been, but the wizard himself nevertheless had died.
It was equipped with everything a person might need to live, with a dozen floors all combined by a great staircase. But it was not a normal tower, and when the king and his seventeen knights had mounted their horses to investigate a place to put his second-born daughter, it did not have a dozen floors or a great staircase leading to each one. Instead, there was only a small bedroom with a cradle, a kitchen stocked with food, and a toyroom filled with dolls that a young girl might play with. If the king thought it strange that a tower that had once held a wizard captive should now look the part to raise a child, he didn’t voice it, and his knights did not either.
Perhaps it was a lack of caring on the king’s part. Perhaps he was too wrapped up in his fear. Or perhaps it was the magic of the tower that confused him, and the rest of the country with him, that they did not wonder who might feed a princess, or play with a princess, or love a princess, if the only one who lived there was the princess. Either way, this tower seemed perfectly suited for keeping the princess who had already terrified them so.
Her name, though forgotten by all, was Ella.
The king conferred with his seventeen knights, and when they all agreed that there was no better place for the magic princess than this magical tower, they all mounted their horses once again and sped back across the land. They returned home to find the queen’s favorite dress turned from its usual light blue to a frilly pink, and the baby’s room had a living giraffe and a green chicken.
The king reminded his wife of the old magician and the trick that had confined him to his tower, and the queen understood. After several long nights of discussion, during which time the giraffe was led away and the green chicken was taken to the henhouse and laid bright purple eggs for eating, the king and queen finally decided that this was the best option for the kingdom, and even for their second-born who would otherwise be feared and avoided.
A carriage was drawn up, and the king and his seventeen knights escorted the queen, the princess, and the princess’s nursemaid to the tower at the edge of the kingdom. The queen cried, and the nursemaid cried, and the king cried, at the farewells, but eventually the princess was situated in the toyroom, and there was nothing else to be done. The child was happy, and the king and his queen and seventeen knights left the tower with only one backwards glance.
Do not shake your head, dear reader, at the child’s condition, for though she was lonely, she was well-cared for. Whether it was the ghost of the magician keeping the princess safe and caring for her when she was injured or ill, or whether it was the tower itself in all its magic, the child wanted for nothing.
As the child grew older, the tower grew back to its former glory. When the child grew bored of the toys in her room and explored the tower, the first room she found was the Blank Room. One floor beneath the ground, it was dark in a way that wasn’t even possible, but she found the darkness was nowhere near permanent. With a simple thought, the darkness transitioned into something amazing, and it became her favorite place to play. And, one day she found a new floor containing a library with children’s books. She learned how to read, and the library expanded, floor by floor, always giving her the information she needed.
The kitchen remained small, with some counter space for cooking. It expanded, for one short year, when Princess Ella found a cookbook in the library and convinced her to try making food with her own two hands. In the end, though, she only looked at the cookbook to decide what to make, and then her imagination did the rest, and the kitchen returned to its small size.
When she began reading adventure stories, another floor returned from the veil of nonexistence, one with empty space in the center and training equipment along the sides. She could run if she wanted, shoot arrows at targets, beat on silhouette of a human or bear or dragon with the “sharp” edge of a practice sword.
Princess Ella grew bored from time to time, so bored that she’d spend an entire day sleeping. Other days she ran up and down the stairs, content enough to laugh at each step. She was lonely, too, for the spirit protecting her in the tower no longer seemed so present now that she could walk and talk and make her own decisions.
But she was wrong about its lack of presence. On a particularly bad day for her, she was napping in her bed when she suddenly heard a sort of lullaby. It was quiet and haunting, with long notes suspending and then falling, echoing in her very heart. She followed the noise down, past the library and the fight room and the kitchen, all the way down to the Blank Room, where the music made her think of a lonely house in the woods, and that lonely house made her think of a witch like herself, and from there she discovered the wonder of not just playing in some pretend scene, but actually building an entire world from one idea. After that, the bad days continued, but not nearly so often, for Ella had a purpose, and it was one she clung to dearly.
And for those wondering about the parents who had left her, the tower erased her from their minds, and they continued to raise their eldest daughter to prepare her for taking their throne when they were gone. A marriage was arranged, and things were well. People remembered the tower, and knew of the girl within, but if they thought to go there to check it out, they never even packed for the potential trip, only let the idea stew in their minds until it fizzled out. The eldest princess remembered, and fretted, and loved her sister from afar, but was never given the chance to go and see her.
The tower, after all, was built to keep magic within it, and to allow something to come in would mean giving its magic an opportunity to get out. So Ella remained, and aged, and grew. And she practiced her magic, knowing someday something great might happen.