. . . .

I've been writing sections of this story since August and I finally completed a chapter. So, for now I'm testing the waters and getting a feel of where I should go with it. I can't find spell check & it's been forever since I uploaded a document so there are probably spelling errors. ~T.

. . .

Princess Chichi awoke before the sun had a chance to rise. Excitement fluttered through her chest like butterfly wings, and her arms felt as delicate as the rose vines that covered her castle's walls as she stretched. She felt different, for today was her last day at the castle. Tomorrow she would wed Prince Blaze and live with him at his castle, and together they would rule over the people of his kingdom. She gently pulled back the covers, stepped out of bed, and hugged herself for warmth as the cold floor shot through her bare feet.

Two maids rushed into the room, sensing that the Princess was awake. One quickly placed two warm slippers for the princess to step into, and the other stood behind the princess, guiding her delicate arms through the fur robe's wide sleeves.

"Is the Ox King awake yet?" Chichi questioned. She saw the ignorance and panic appear on the maids' faces." Oh, nevermind." She pushed past the maids, the end of her fur robe flying behind her as she glided down the castle's halls in search of her father. She didn't bother knocking before entering his bed chambers. Surprisingly, the Ox King wasn't lying in bed, snoring, like the princess had expected.

Princess Chichi walked into her father's room, opened his curtains to let in the morning light, and turned to grab a rectangular object, a book, from beneath his bed. She wiped the dust from the leather book with her sleeve and smiled fondly at it.

. . .

At midday, Princess Chichi was sittting in her pavillion, poring over the pictures of her book when the Ox King sat down to join her for tea.

"You weren't in your bedchamber. " Chichi said softly, not looking up from the picture in her book. She had feared she wouldn't get the chance to spend some time alone with her father before her wedding, before she left her home forever.

"I had a lot of things to plan for your wedding, daughter." The Ox King took a sip of his tea, emptying his tea cup. He smiled." Do you think Prince Blaze will be happy with fourteen oxen as a wedding gift?"

'I don't know. I've never met him,' Princess Chichi thought, annoyed that her father would ask her such a thing." If my husband is as kindhearted as i hope he is, I'm sure he'll be more than pleased to have fourteen oxen." She paused, then added." Thank you, daddy. Every man in the kingdom will be envious of my husband's boistered wealth."

The Ox King lifted his daughter's chin with his chubby finger." My daughter, you are the most beautiful lady in the land. Our maids envy your fair skin; your small feet; your silky hair that shines like nightwater; your bravery that cannot be outmatched by any warriror. It is you who will make your husband's life richer. The oxen are just a bonus."

Princess Chichi smiled at her father with loving tears in her eyes. Her father always knew what to say to make her feel better. She couldn't bring herself to tell him that she feared her husband would be a cruel man, like the one she dreamt of last night, one that could never love her.

"Daddy, please tell me about the Monkey God." Princess Chichi handed the Ox King the picture book. It was a parting gift from her mother, whom was a talented painter as well as a beloved Queen, before she made her journey to the Otherworld.

The Ox King's eyes widened in surprised. The people of his kingdom regularly made offerings to the Monkey God at a temple far away, for he was an unpredictable god that could turn into a giant monkey and destroy countless villages when angered, but he was also quite the trickster; causing havoc in many villages he ventured." Speaking of the Monkey God before your wedding might cause bad luck, my dear. Wouldn't you like me to read a book about a different god instead?"

Princess Chichi snorted." Nonsense. I met the Monkey God as a child once, remember? He didn't seem so bad." The princess flipped the book open to the first page revealling two children: One was the Monkey God, a naked boy with wild black hair, hanging from a tree branch by his tail. Beneath him stood the Ox Princess, who timidly held out an apple for the Monkey God to take.

"Your mother died shortly after the Monkey God paid us a visit," The Ox King mumbled." She spent the last of her energy painting the pictures for this book." He turned the page, the next picture taking up two pages instead of one. On the left, the Monkey God sat on a tree branch above the clouds, staring longingly into the distance. On the right, a young lady who looked unmistakably like Princess Chichi, stared into the clouds from her balcony.

The Ox King observed his daughter as he turned the page. She had a dreamly look on her face. He realised that Princess Chichi had never glanced in a mirror before and had no idea what she looked like. So there was no way for her to know that the girl growing into a woman in the book was actually her. But the Ox King knew, and his body shivered as he continued turning the pages.

On the next page, the princess was surrounded by snow. Her eyes were shut and her red lips were blue. She was suffering terribly and the Ox King worried his wife foresaw their daughter's fate before she died and was trying to warn them.

Princess Chichi wasn't bothered by the picture, and skipped ahead a few pages. Blood gushed from the Ox King's nose, and he had to quickly cover his nose to keep the blood from spilling on the pages. Painted with warm, nude colors was the Monkey God, naked, passionaetely kissing an equally naked woman, his hand covering her breast. She in turn had her back arched as she held tightly onto the Monkey God's messy hair. They were laying on a bed of glistening gold.

"Now i remember why i hid the book in the first place!" The Ox King shouted, snatching the book away from his daughter." A young lady of your stature shouldn't be looking at filth like this! What would your husband say if he found out?"

Princess Chichi rolled her eyes." It's not filth, Dad. it's art."

"I'll see you at the dinner table. Prince Blaze should arrive by then." The Ox King clutched the book tightly and left the pavillion. He glanced over his shoulder, saw that Chichi was being escorted back into the castle, and stopped, flipping the book to the third page from the back.

The picture was of the Monkey God in his true, gigantic form. His eyes were a horrible red and pieces of the Ox King's castle layed in ruins at the Monkey God's feet. Dead bodies and small streams of blood coated the ground, lit up by the full moon. The Ox King turned to the last two pages, which gave him some hope, but at the same time, the last pages were the most unsettling.

"Maybe this is just a girl's fantasy book and nothing more," The Ox King said thoughtfully. After all, in the last picture, his daughter was a little girl again, and the Monkey God was a young man, giving her flowers to show his love.