Heartless

Book: by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Inciting Event: Aethalbald, prince of the mysterious kingdom of Farthestshore, arrives in Parumvir at the head of an unforgettable band of Faeries from the Far World. He declares his love for Princess Una and proposes marriage to her. Una, however, finds Aethalbald stodgy and boring and refuses his offer. Aethalbald remains at Oriana Palace.

First Plot Point: Una meets Leonard the Lightning Tongue, a comical jester who seeks employment in Oriana Palace. The king hires him, and over the next few weeks Una falls in love with the jester. Her dreams of marrying him face an obstacle in the fact that he is not a prince.

First Pinch Point: Another suitor arrives to seek Una’s hand: the fat and cruel Duke of Shippening. Afterwards, Aethalbald leaves to deal with a threat posed by the tyrannical Dragon that has ruled the kingdom of Southlands for five years. He reminds Una of his love for her and begs not to give her heart away in his absence. One night, Leonard, enraged by the Duke of Shippening’s attempted wooing of Una, reveals his true identity to the princess: he is Lionheart, the prince of Southlands. He says he must go back to his kingdom to fight the Dragon and promises to return, asking Una to trust him. Una give him her mother’s ring, and Lionheart departs, taking Una’s ring—and her heart—with him.

Midpoint: Una pines for Lionheart while he is gone. The Dragon appears. He captures Una and storms into Oriana Palace, easily overwhelming any defenses with his poison. Una’s father and brother flee the palace, and the Duke of Shippening reveals his alliance with the Dragon and takes over the kingdom.

Second Pinch Point: The Dragon tells Una that Lionheart did not love her, but rather betrayed her in exchange for assurance of his safety. As proof he displays the ring Una gave to Lionheart adoring his claw. Una lets the Dragon kiss her, which transform her into a dragon after the image of the Dark Father. Furious and horrified at the change wrought within her, Una tries to attack the Dragon, but flees when she realizes his power is too strong.

Third Plot Point: Determined to find out whether or not the Dragon’s claims about Lionheart are true, Una flies to the Southlands. She arrives just before Lionheart’s wedding to wealthy lady. She appears to Lionheart as a woman and draws him away from the ceremony, demanding to know if he kept his promise and fought the Dragon. Lionheart refuses to give her a straight answer and tells her that he regrets his relationship with Una. Enraged, Una transforms back into a dragon and crashes the wedding before fleeing into the desert.

Climax: Una arrives in the Village of Dragons, where she languishes in despair. Aethalbald arrives in the village and is captured by the other dragons, who plan to sacrifice him to the Dark Father. Together, Una and Aethalbald manage to escape the village—but Una is still a dragon. Aethalbald reveals that she can regain her humanity, but must die to do so. Una agrees to let him kill her. His sword pierces her, and she dies as a princess.

Climactic Moment: Aethalbald raises Una from the dead, and the couple returns to Parumvir to confront the Dragon and end his evil for once and for all. In the battle, the Duke of Shippening is destroyed by the Dragon’s fire. Aethalbald stabs the Dragon through the roof of his mouth, and he dies.

Resolution: Aethalbald and Una are married and live happily ever after. Alone in a dark room, a guilt-stricken Lionheart convinces himself that betraying Una was his only choice.

(Submitted by Zachary Holbrook.)

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