It began with a happily ever after.

The witch was dead, the kingdom saved, the hero and heroine married and retired into blessed uneventfulness.

And Paul the pig boy was very, very bored.

Paul didn’t want peace, or prosperity, or progress. He wanted adventure. He wanted action. He wanted to live – and if that meant going out and maybe getting himself killed, he was just okay with that.

He knew just where to go, too – to the Forest of Blackest Midnight.

The hero had passed through the Forest on his quest, just like he had gone into the Darkling Bog and the Caverns Below. He had slain the monster that lurked in the Bog, and his lady had rescued him from the Caverns, and broken the pillars that supported them, and left them to sink them into the depths of the earth. The Bog was not a pleasant place, but the only monsters left within were mosquities and leeches. The Caverns would never be seen again. And all the other troubles and dangers the Hero had faced had been similarly dispatched in his quest to save the land.

Except in the Forest. The Beast Most Horrible had ruled the forest, and everyone knew the story of how the Hero had used every ounce of wit and skill to sneak past his territory undetected.

Which meant the Beast still roamed that land.

That meant adventure, and that was what Paul was looking for.

His parents tried to talk him out of it. It was certain death. He wasn’t a hero – and even if he was, he hadn’t been given any quest to go and find the Beast! He’d come up with it all on his own, and son, that just wasn’t how things were done.

Plus – he was a really good pig boy. He had a bright, promising future!

They talked, they cajoled, they forbade – none of it worked, though. Paul was a good pig boy because he was a stubborn as an oak tree. If he had been a part of a proper tale, they would have called it iron will and determination – as it was, they called him a foolish pighead, and gave him permission to leave their home – but vowed he would never be welcome back.

He didn’t mind. The first step out the door was the first step on his adventure.

The next step was going to be harder. Convincing his parents had been easy.

Convincing the hero wasn’t going to be nearly as simple.

To be continued…