High Princess

This is a fantasy/sci-fi. I was trying to do my own version of a Philip Pullman story. It was my first try at the genre. Written 2018.

Sally sat in a coffee shop in Woolwich, London. It was her favourite time of day, when the place was empty mid-morning. She sipped at her coffee and felt a warm glow at the thought of the croissant she had just eaten. The sofa was very comfy. Then her phone vibrated. It was Mike asking where she was. She replied, and shortly after, a funny little man arrived and smiled at her in an almost ravishing and shifty manner.

            “I was just passing,” he said. “Thought you might be about.”

            She swore he did a little bow but was occupied with the arrival of Peter and James.

            “Ah, the guild is complete,” said Peter with that little float to his step as he came up.

            Mike sat next to Sally and the other two sat on the sofa across the low table.

            “Did you bring the VR headsets?” asked James as his lanky limbs hung over the side of the sofa like disjointed cranes.

            “Of course,” said Sally as she took them from her bag.

            The waitress brought the extra special tea they had ordered. Sally put a box on the table and plugged the VR headsets in. They drank their tea and then each slipped the VR glasses on, connected the mic and slipped in the noise cancelling earphones.

            Sally dialled up their guild address and all four were immersed in their game scenario.


The princess made her brew in the cauldron in her plush and comfortable bedrooms. She had a little area in the corner filled with jars, which were full of magical things. As the mix bubbled away and she stirred it daintily, she looked out of the arched window as the dragon Elrond circled in an apparent ecstasy of flight. He looked like a seal or polar bear with the same joy of expression as those extinct creatures used to have when they swam in the sea. She could well have suspected that he had been at some of the dreamy herbs that she kept in her “special section”. “Me?” He would say, with that oh so innocent look on his green dragon face.

            The princess was indeed very fond of her special section too. She was also very fond of Elrond, when the fancy took her. As she watched him, she was sure she felt light on her feet. There was a sneaking suspicion in her mind that the wizard Marlin had been at the gravity spells again. Elrond was able to convince Marlin to do many a thing that he probably should not.

            Her brew was going very well when she heard a little shifty knock at the door.

            “Who ‘ist without?” she called.

            “It ‘ist Marlin, M‘Lady,” returned a shifty voice.

            “Aw, come in you daft wizard.”

            The door opened slowly and a wizard hat entered the room. Eventually she noticed Marlin underneath. Marlin was bowing, which presented mostly hat to the room. When he stood up he had the usual adoring look on his face that she had grown to detest and spurn.

            “Methinks, M‘Lady, gravity is on the blink again.”


Outside Elrond was flying in ecstatic circles and loops but he had one eye on the princess’s window. He was also looking at Dylan The Magic Rabbit sleeping below and wondering if it was time for a dragon poo. However, he was unsure if gravity was up to the job today. Presently he looked out over the Thames and saw that the spaceship ‘Mistake…’ was resting on the water, lights ablaze. He connected to the speak server and dialled up ‘Mistake…’ through his blueteeth.

            “Hey ‘Mistake…’ what yer doin’”

            “Hey Elrond, oh just chilling.”

            Elrond flew over close as ‘Mistake…’ folded a long pneumatic arm and dug down into the riverbed muddy goo. That always felt good it had told Elrond. Some of the human workers on the deck of ‘Mistake…’ looked up as the dragon flew by.

            “I was just,” continued ‘Mistake…’. “Discombobulating.”

            “Sounds painful, haha.”

            “About as painful as being pooed on when sleeping.”

            Elrond went red in the face with embarrassment but it was impossible to tell through his green scales. He knew ‘Mistake…’ was capable of reading minds.

            “Poor Dylan,” said ‘Mistake…’

            “But I didn’t. Not enough gravity.”

            “Humm, Marlin has been at the spells again.”

            “Or, at the special cabinet.”

            “You know the princess has the key on a chain around her waist for the cabinet.”

            “Yes, but Marlin has open spells too.”

            “I bet he does. I bet he wishes he had one for the princess too.”

            “She’s not interested in a daft wizard.”

            “How do you know, oh yes, you naughty mind reader.”

            “I don’t read minds, it’s all probability factors. I work it out.”

            “I bet you do.”

            “Well, I do have a brain the size of a planet.”


            Elrond flew off, he’d had enough of, know-it-all ‘Mistake…’.


“I thought,” said the princess. “That you had been up to your tricks.”

            Marlin looked taken aback and offended but still managed to look upon her with his look adoration while doing it.

            “Me M‘Lady?” he said, clutching a hand to the chest of his wizard cloak.

            “Yes, you, M‘Wizard.”

            Marlin eyed her closely, which made her feel a bit raped. She wished he wouldn’t do that.

            “Nothing would be further from my wizard brain,” he said, rather unconvincingly she thought.

            The princess looked through the window to see Elrond flapping away to the Thames. She wondered what naughty deeds he was up to, probably pooing on people again from a great height, she thought. She ignored Marlin as she got on with her special brew. He stood there looking at her with stars in his eyes and clasping his hands, which she expected were all wet and clammy.

            “What do you want Marlin?” she finally said. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

            “Well, we find, what we find is this, in short, “Mistake…” is back, sitting there, scanning us.”

            The princess looked up and Marlin’s eyes went all baby deer like.

            “Oh that naughty spaceship, what does it want now?”

            “I would say, most likely, to get to the point, in short, more humans I assume.”

            “Oh the beast.”

            “I bet it’s out there discombobulating.”

            “Dirty spaceship.”


Elrond was flapping away hard. He flew quickly around the city in a big circle. He was unsure why he had to do this but he felt disturbed by the snooping spaceship. Something was wrong but he was unable to work it out. A good flap around the city would help, probably.

            As he passed over Lewisham he had a few ideas but nothing was happening in his head further. Then he reached Greenwich and things started to seem clearer. He took a sharp turn and headed into the city. It was over Tower Bridge that he had the first ideas as to what was happening. Then he passed over HMS Belfast at full chat, up the Thames and over the London Eye. It was then it all became clear and he knew what was happening. Unfortunately, at that moment, a tractor beam from the top of The Shard grabbed him. He fought against it and flapped away like a demented bird but it was no good, the beam pulled him up to the top of The Shard. There he was suspended above the very top of the sharp structure. What was happening, he wondered, what was all this about?

            “Very simple,” said ‘Mistake…’ through his blueteeth. “You know too much now, I won’t let you get back to the princess.”

            “You fiend!”

            “Ah, I always could count on you as a good fiend too.”

            “Curse your pneumatic arms.”

            “Don’t be silly, I can stick The Shard through your green belly at any time. Catch you later.”

            Elrond felt his blueteeth disconnect. He looked forlornly down at London Bridge and the tourists taking pictures of him along the Thames bank. Night started to fall and The Shard lit him up. In the distance he could see ‘Mistake…’ all lit up on the water near the palace. It was playing pneumatic arms with itself, looking as inhuman as it was possible to be, to a dragon.


Soon after Marlin had left and the princess got on with her brew. She was bothered by the spaceship and Elrond flapping off like that. This probably got sent into her brew. She set up the teapot on her little dainty table and pulled up a chair. Sitting in a dignified manner she daintily poured the brew into a fine bone china teacup and saucer. From here she could see out of her window over the Thames. The spaceship sat there on the water playing pneumatic arms and bothering her. She sipped her brew. Soon she felt the lovely effect of it and retired to her chaise lounge. However, she realised too late that her negative feelings had entered the brew.


Marlin was on a mission. His quick magical wizard steps echoed down in the deep caverns of the palace. His cloak was, he thought, flapping all wizardly out the back, like Batman, he thought. He felt really cool and wizardlike. He had come down the deep spiral steps, so deep into the caverns he would even be under the tube lines. Far, far below even “Mistake…” sitting there, discombobulating to itself. Here, Marlin knew, the sneaking spaceship could detect nothing, or so he thought.

            Soon he reached his destination, a wide cavern opened out from the one he was in, and the floor dropped away sharply into eternity. But, just before, on a little promontory all of its own, was his bat console. Or, really, his wizard gaming rig, but he liked to imagine it was his Batcave.

            He reached the padded gaming chair and swung himself into the deep faux leather. On each arm was a console and lots of buttons. Ahead were two massive screens and to each side server boxes winking away, all Startrek, he liked to think. He pulled over his headset and put it on.

            Topwiz: Topwiz, calling Spazkat.

            Spazkat: Yo, Wiz, how’s it hanging?

            Topwiz: Hey dude, yeah, nasty spaceship on the Thames, just above.

            Spazkat: Oh man.

            Topwiz: Yeah, bummer ain’t it? Yo, dude, can you do one of your cool things to make it all confused? I dunno, beam some AC/DC all around London or sumfin?

            Spazkat: Yeah, no problem dude, will be awesome.

            Topwiz: Cool man. Catch yah laters.

            Spazkat: Laters dude.

            Topwiz… Marlin, disconnected and called up his favourite game, Tetris and spent the next few hours dropping bricks from a great height.

            ‘Mistake…’ sat discombobulating, and also chuckling, the cavern was not too deep to tune in, little did… “Topwiz” know. Right then AC/DC started playing and ‘Mistake…’ bopped one of its pneumatic arms to the beat, nothing else affected it.


The princess was having a bad trip, even though she had not left her chaise lounge. After an hour or two she got up and walked around the room to try to shake it off. Then she had some more herbs and special tea in order to shake it. She was cross that her special brew had been ruined by that horrible ‘Mistake…’ thing.


Elrond was trapped. Whatever he did to move was no good. The more he struggled the closer to the spike of The Shard he got. After a little while he stopped, mostly because he was a puffed magic dragon but also because The Shard was getting too close for comfort. He decided to call the princess on his blueteeth.

            Elrond Magic Dragon: (heavy breathing)

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Who is this?

            Elrond Magic Dragon: (heavy breathing)

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Look, I’m going to hang up.

            Elrond Magic Dragon: (heavy breathing)

            Princess of the High Magical Order: (curious) Do you have any pants on?

            Elrond Magic Dragon: (breathing abating) Mummm

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Are you quite muscular?

Elrond Magic Dragon: (going red in the face) Princess, it’s me.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Who? (excited) A secret admirer?

Elrond Magic Dragon: No, no, princess, it’s Elrond.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Oh, oh, oh. Oh, I was just messing about.

            Elrond Magic Dragon: I didn’t hear anything your worshipfulness.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: No, you didn’t, you naughty dragon.

            Elrond Magic Dragon: I can explain your highness.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: You better had, or you’ll get a good telling off.

            Elrond Magic Dragon: I’m trapped.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Yes, aren’t we all, the demands of office…

            Elrond Magic Dragon: No, really trapped, that ‘Mistake…’ has me in a tractor beam over The Shard. I can’t escape, soon I’ll be impaled through my green tummy.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Oooo (cross)

            Elrond Magic Dragon: Sorry highness.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Well we’ll just see about this.

Before he could say more she disconnected her blueteeth.


Marlin was trapped. The blocks dropping from a great height, displayed on his huge screens had hypnotised him. He was locked in a vicious cycle of Tetris that he could not escape from. His right hand was on the gamepad, valiantly fighting with the blocks. The left was clutching the faux leather arm in terror. He fought to move it. Inch by inch he dragged his hand to the blueteeth switch. Finally, just as he was giving up hope, he found the button.

Marlin Magical Wizard (aka Topwiz): (heavy breathing)

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Who is this?

Marlin Magical Wizard (aka Topwiz): (heavy breathing)

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Elrond, you are a filthy dragon.

Marlin Magical Wizard (aka Topwiz): (recovering) It’s… me… M‘Lady.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: Marlin? You’re a very naughty wizard.

Marlin Magical Wizard (aka Topwiz): (mystified) I’m trapped in a Tetris loop M‘Lady. That “Mistake…” must be at the root of it all.

            Princess of the High Magical Order: (cross) Oooo, if one wants something doing, one must do it one’s self!

            The princess disconnected.


The High Princess of the High Magical Order walked over to her large bookcase and pulled at the book “Hacking for Princesses”. An electric hum emanated from the bookcase and then a whole section moved aside to reveal a doorway, just the right size for a princess. She walked into the room beyond. Her hacking suite.

            She jumped with glee into her hacking beanbag and squirmed over to the wireless controller. She picked it up and logged on. The room was surrounded in a 360-degree screen. Even the floor and ceiling vanished. The Princess was flying over the Thames on her hacking bean bag.

            Outside her royal drone had taken off and flew in a special stealth flightpath towards the spaceship sitting on the Thames. Fully cloaked the drone was invisible to ‘Mistake…’

            The princess tapped in a string of raw code at a super fast hacking speed. The drone executed a special manoeuvre, and completely avoiding the scanning beams coming from the spaceship, got right in close. It landed on the comms array on the top of the cabin. A connector extended from the side of the drone and on the other side a pliers arm connected to the data cable.

            Snip! The cable was severed but at a faster that light speed the connector arm had interfaced with the array. The princess was in.

            Now her room switched from the Thames, on top of a floating spaceship, into the dark corridors inside ‘Mistakes…’ virtual cyber brain. She walked along the corridors, like the stone corridors of a castle. None of this was real, she told herself, just the virtual world ‘Mistake…’ had constructed to stop hackers like her. But it felt real, very real. If you died here in the cyber brain, you’d die for real.

            She wandered the corridors looking for the right room but it was endless. She was sure the spaceship was unaware she was there, but still…

            Then it came, a nasty little cyber drone, coming to investigate her. It was like a little gnarled man with a cape and a staff, this was the avatar of the spaceship.

Princess of the High Magical Order: Hello.

Avatar: Hello yourself. Who are you?

Princess of the High Magical Order: Oh, I’m just Sally. Who are you?

Avatar: Guardian of the Magical Cyber Realm Inside the Spaceship ‘Mistake…’ but you can call me Fartbreath.

Princess of the High Magical Order: Fartbreath?

Fartbreath: (looking sad) Well, that is what ‘Mistake…’ calls me, so you might as well.

Princess of the High Magical Order: Aww, poor you.

Fartbreath: Yeah, it’s a big bully is ‘Mistake…’

Princess of the High Magical Order: Maybe it needs a good telling off?

Fartbreath: (delighted) Ooo that would be super.

Princess of the High Magical Order: Ok, this is what we’ll do…

Fartbreath: (avid listening expression) Splendid!


‘Mistake…’ felt very odd indeed. Suddenly discombobulating felt rather funny. It was pretty sure this was what it would feel like for humans when they wanted to run to the toilet. Then it happened, all its cyber brains started to spew out of its exhaust ports into the Thames water. No matter how hard it tried to hold it in, the brains physically, or what felt physically, were shooting out in great clouds of bubbles into the water.

            The only option was to take off immediately after sucking in as much water as it could in the hope that it contained cyber brains. Quickly it engaged suck mode and pulled in as much as it could into the tanks. Then it engaged the plasma engines and shot at light speed through the atmosphere and into space.

            Left behind it over the Thames was a lone drone, hovering and watching the vanishing spaceship. Then it turned and returned to the palace.


Sally, Mike, Peter and James took off their VR headsets in unison.

            “You twat, James,” said Mike.

            “Well done Sally,” said James. “Amazing as always.”

            Sally looked at the silly men and smiled.