The Glass Princess image card

The following story is taken from 'The Black Book of Legends' written by Adjo Grymver in 2793.

Long ago there lived a princess. Her father, the king, ruled over the black island of Kuronaga with a mighty hand, and the kingdom prospered under his leadership. But the king was old, his hair almost entirely grey by the time his daughter turned 18, and he knew he did not have many years left. 

And so, he said to the princess that she must find a partner to rule by her side when she took the throne, as he had ruled for years without his wife and knew how difficult it was shouldering all the responsibilities of the kingdom by himself. 

The princess agreed, and the royal court sent out hundreds of letters to possible royal suitors over the coming season. But, although the princess was kind and lovely, and the kingdom grand enough for any person to want to lead, no one returned the letters.

The princess wept for three days and three nights, only allowing a single serving maid to tend to her. In desperation, the king sent his wisest advisors across the world to find out why. To find out how to change his child’s fate. 

Only two men came back with answers.

The first, a seasoned scholar with wrinkles in his clothes and dark rings under his eyes, informed the king that a young maiden on a distant green island had caught the attention of anyone who passed her by. Young eligible suitors waited on her day and night for the tiniest chance that they could have her hand in marriage. The king was told that she was more beautiful than the moon, her eyes sparkled brighter than the Sparx, and her voice was sweeter than all the birds in all the lands. It was no wonder, said the scholar, that none had accepted their princess’ invitation. 

The second advisor, a younger man wearing flashy robes and a faraway look in his eyes, said he might have found the solution to their problems. He had learnt of someone, more mystic than man, who could read the future. The blue islanders he’d talked to said that this man, this Baba Farseer, was the only one who could help the princess.

The King ordered the finest royal ship to be prepared for his voyage. He was going to find this ‘Baba Farseer’, offer him all the riches he wanted, and bring his daughter home some hope. 

The princess, emerging from her room with tear-stained cheeks, waved goodbye to her father from the docks. She wouldn’t see him for almost a year after that.


Two days before the princess’ 19th birthday, a flourish of trumpets sounded from the harbour. The princess, still suitor-less, raced to the incoming ship, her eyes brimming with tears once again for how much she missed her father. He too had missed his daughter - being apart from her for almost a year had done his health in and he was gaunt and sickly. 

However, he had come home with wonderful news! After weeks and weeks at sea, he had finally found Baba Farseer. The old mystic had accepted the treasures he’d brought and handed the king a pouch of glass. 

The princess took the pouch from her father, hesitant curiosity drifting across her face. When she opened the bag, she found tiny shards of brightly coloured glass glinting back up at her.

“Father, what is this for?” she asked, shaking the bag. The glass shards tinkled as they hit against each other.

“You must melt this glass in Sparx-boiled water,” he told her earnestly through rasping coughs, “And use that water to boil one cup of black rice.”

“Rice?!” the serving maid, who had become close to the princess throughout these past seasons, exclaimed in shock. 

The advisors gave her displeased glances for speaking out of turn, but the princess expressed her own concerns with these instructions.

“But… why father?” she asked as the carriage pulled them away from the docks back to the castle. 

“Baba Farseer saw your fate, my child,” the king heaved, “He said you must eat every grain of rice if you want to find a suitor… and if you don’t, you will be all alone when I die.”

The princess clutched the pouch against her chest, her eyes wide in fear.

And so, once they had returned to the castle, the king sent for their best mystic to melt the glass in with the Sparx-boiled water. Within two hours, the serving maid handed the princess a bowl of black rice. It shimmered, reflecting colourful spots onto the wall next to her. 

“You don’t have to do this, my lady,” the serving maid whispered when the princess gingerly lifted a spoonful of rice to her lips. But the princess was afraid to be alone, and if her father trusted this strange man and his strange requests, then she would too. 

She ate the entire bowl. 

The next morning when she woke, the princess felt lighter, like all air flowed straight through her. She inspected her palms and found her skin to be sparkling, much like the rice from the night before. Her handmaids all gasped when they saw her, hands covering their hearts. 

“Your Highness…!” one of them blinked in shock. 

The princess had a deep feeling of worry in her stomach and rushed over to her mirror, where she, too, gasped. 

The princess had always been a pretty sight, but now, when she looked into the mirror, she could scarcely believe what she was seeing.

Her skin was indeed sparkling, her lips a rosy red and her hair falling in soft, dark waves down to her waist. Even her nails were pinker than a seashell! She twirled in front of the mirror with a squeal of glee. Now, suitors would surely line up outside her bedroom door! She looked otherworldly, and for the first time in seasons, she smiled. 

The princess was radiant. 

For about two more days. On the third night, she went to sleep, a collection of answered letters at her bedside table, but when the sun rose the princess did not.

The serving maid who came to dress her for the day screamed for help when she saw what lay in the princess’ bed. Guards rushed in, and the king pushed them all aside to stare at the sight before him. His daughter, his only precious child, was as still as death. But more than that, her skin, her clothes, everything, had turned… hard. 

The princess had become the most beautiful glass sculpture in all of Lumina.


Calla sat at the foot of the glass sculpture, a damp washcloth held limply between her fingers. She stared up at the princess who had once been her friend and felt immense sadness as the girl reflected the dying sunlight off her shoulders. She came every day to the greenhouse where the king had placed his daughter, surrounded by flowers not even half as captivating as her, to shine the glass. 

The suitors who had expressed interest in the girl had long since moved on as the kingdom began preparing for another year without their princess. Today marked her 20th birthday. 

Calla wept, flinging herself down at the pedestal. Their king had grown worse and worse as the seasons progressed, and the kingdom knew he wouldn’t survive the year. She blamed herself, of course, for giving the rice to the princess. She should have known glass-boiled rice could only be evil. 

Ten ships had been sent to find Baba Farseer, to hold him accountable for turning the young princess to glass, but they all returned without him. It was then that the king gave up all hope. He couldn’t bear seeing his daughter’s sculpted form any longer, and shut her in the greenhouse at the edge of the palace grounds, forbidding anyone from entering. 

But Calla no longer cared what the king did or did not allow. She was her princess’ handmaiden. She would tend to her. 

As the days blurred into each other, Calla could only feel anger burning in the pit of her stomach. She was angry at the king for giving up, she was angry at Farseer for tricking them, but most of all, she was angry at herself for crying instead of doing something to help. 

But what could she do? She was one girl, not even a Sparx user, she was weak in the face of danger. 

No, she had to try.

Calla crept down to the docks in the middle of the night and stole a boat. She would find Baba Farseer, and she would make him pay.


One hundred days later, Calla, weak from hunger and delirious from thirst, came across another boat. 

It was in the distance (or, so she thought for how small it was) and Calla gathered the last scrap of energy she had left in her bones and muscles and blood, and rowed. 

A few minutes later, the figure sitting huddled on the seacraft became clearer. Calla’s arms, exhausted, dropped the oars and called out weakly. 

The figure turned, the bright blue robes he was swathed in fluttering in the salty dawn breeze, and Calla saw his face. His brown skin, worn thin by the wind, was either wrinkled or covered in his greying, curly beard. But his eyes, the parts that weren’t shadowed by thick, bushy eyebrows, were kind. He offered her a gnarled hand, and Calla, despite being told all through her childhood not to go with strangers, took it. 

In an instant, she found herself wrapped in his gold cloak with a cup of water in her hands. 

“Drink, my child,” he said, his voice deep and strong despite him looking as old as her king. And Calla drank.

The water was sweet and she asked for more. When she had drowned her thirst, her stomach rumbled, and the kind man gave her a hunk of spiced bread that was somehow as warm as if it had just been taken out of the oven. Calla ate.

“Who are you?” she finally thought to ask after the food and water made her eyelids droop with sleep. 

“After,” he answered. “Rest.”

And so Calla slept, and her dreams were kaleidoscopic as if she was seeing the world through a spyglass unlike any other. 

Across from her, the stranger tied her little rowboat to his and sang a song to the wind to take them across the sea. When she woke, she would have much work to do. But for now, the man tucked his golden cloak around her shoulders and let the girl dream.


It was night when Calla awoke. The thought that her boat had been taken by the unforgiving ocean startled her from her dreams. But the boat she was on was very different to hers, not in size, but in detail. The gunwale* had etchings of forests and mountains carved so intimately into it, and the bottom boards and frame of the boat were made from wood that seemed to reflect the stars. Her stolen rowboat looked like a child’s creation compared to the art that was the stranger’s boat. 

In reminding herself of the stranger, Calla snapped her attention to the figure tending to the lamp that hung off the stern and left a trail of golden light as the boat glided through the waves. 

“Are you still hungry, my child?” the man asked, knowing she was awake without looking at her. Calla shook her head. She was, but the thought of her princess, stuck as glass, not eating in a year, pushed that hunger from her body. 

“Who are you?” she asked again, and the man finally turned to face her. He wore a gentle smile (a familiar smile Calla thought, but didn’t dwell on) but gestured up at the sky above them instead of answering.

Calla tilted her head back and drank in the sky. In her one hundred days of sea travel, the night had never looked like that. All sparkled with gold, masses of stars dancing across it, and the blue-black depth of the world above her, unobscured by clouds or rain, seemed to be swirling.

“Are you… the world?” she asked in a voice that was mostly breath.

He laughed, the sound rumbling like thunder. “I am merely an observer of it,” he answered cryptically.

But Calla nodded thoughtfully. “I guess I am an observer, too.”

The stranger regarded her, his expression curious. “But you don’t want to be, do you?”

She felt her heart was suddenly known. Everything she was, everything she could be, it was known. Not to her, but to the stranger sitting across from her. 

“How did you-,” she asked, but the moonlight fell across the glass peeking out of his pocket. The rounded edge of a spyglass. 

And she knew.

“You’re Baba Farseer.”

Calla scrambled backwards till her back hit the bow, her fingers searching her own pockets for the blade she carried. Here he was. The man who destroyed her princess’ life for the riches of a king. He had taken her aboard his boat - who knew where they were now? All around them was water. She didn’t know what he would do to her when they reached land. If they reached land. Where was her knife?

“You do not seem pleased to have found me,” he noted, “And yet you have been searching for many seasons.”

“Yes, well, what do you think I came here for?” she hissed as her hand closed around the handle of the blade. “You turned the princess to glass! Our kingdom is on the brink of collapse!”

“Ah,” he simply nodded, frustratingly unbothered by the knife she was now pointing at him. “Then I am afraid that I am not the one you seek.”

“You’re Baba Farseer, aren’t you?” she demanded through gritted teeth.

“I am.”

“Then… Then, p-prepare to die!” She wished her voice hadn't sounded so shaky when she said that. She had pictured this moment- well, not this moment exactly, but it was close enough- a thousand times. She would avenge her princess. 

The man shifted in his seat and observed her with kindness. She made no move to attack.

“I am sorry, my child, but I am not the one who turned your princess to glass.”

Tears spilt from Calla’s brown eyes. “I-I know,” she choked, “I gave her the bowl. If I hadn’t… But you- you told her she had to!” 

Baba Farseer stretched out his hand, palm facing the open sky. Calla shook, her grip on the knife tightening for a second before faltering. She placed the blade in his leathery hand and he closed his fist around it, squeezing tightly. 

“Killing you wouldn’t fix her, would it?” she mumbled through her sobs. Baba Farseer smiled sadly at her and leaned forward to pat her shoulder.

“It would not. Nor would killing the one who tricked the king.”

At this, the serving maid lifted her head, eyelashes glossy from her tears. “The one who… but that was you, wasn’t it?”

Baba Farseer shook his head. “No,” he said and opened his fist. In the middle of his palm sat a bird made of silver and wood. Her blade transformed. 

The mystic handed her the tiny carving. “Your quest is not yet over, my child.”

Calla was surprised that the bird was so light. The evening wind could easily blow it away, but it stayed in her hands stubbornly. 

“Your knife, meant for harm, has carried your love and your sorrow deep within it,” Baba Farseer said. “When she awakes from her prison, hand your princess this bird, and all will be as it should.”

Calla’s thumb traced over the bird’s small head. The wood was smooth and the silver polished, but this was no gift for a princess. Suddenly, his words registered within her.

“When she… awakes?”

Baba Farseer nodded. “You must wake her up, Calla.”

“But, how?” her eyebrows knitted together in confusion. 

Instead of answering, the mystic held out his spyglass. “You may not wish to only observe,” he said as she took it from him, “But, for now, you must. Look through here, and your fate shall be revealed.”

And so Calla looked. She saw only the water at first. Worlds, and worlds of water. But then, the spyglass twisted in her grasp and she saw a cave. Large, and looming, but within reach. She knew, somehow, that it would only take her two days of rowing to reach it. Something that far away should take another season, at least, but for her, it would only be two days. 

“Look deeper,” came Baba Farseer’s voice from behind her. And she did. The cave, deep, deep in its cave heart, held a secret. A golden pickaxe. In her lap, she felt the bird flutter.

“I see it,” she whispered. 

Two days later, she stood in front of the cave.   


Calla had tucked the bird carving into the pocket of her dress, not trusting something as precious as that to be left in the boat. Baba Farseer had long since parted ways, leaving her with a final message: Courage, young one,’ he had said as his magnificent seacraft drifted onto the shore. ‘And you shall have your fate.’

“My fate?” she had asked, stepping out of the boat ungracefully, her satchel stuffed with that spiced bread and a canteen of water. “You’re mistaken, Baba,” she told him with a shake of her head. For someone supposedly so in tune with the world and its paths, he seemed to get lost, too, she thought. “Serving maids don’t have ‘fates’. It’s just not something we get.”

But the old man simply smiled, tapped his spyglass, and set sail back across the ocean. Calla knew she would never see him again, no matter how far she searched or how loud she called. 

Regardless, the bird safely in her pocket and the satchel securely at her waist, Calla stepped into the dark, cavernous mouth.

{This part of the story is often brushed over as if Calla’s journey through the cave to find the golden pickaxe (just like her journey across the sea) is not as important as what comes after, and so no one knows exactly what awaited the young girl inside. I could sit here and spin you a tale of my wonderings, but that would not be true to the legends, either (although, as lovers of folklore know, stories change continuously as the world around them turns). And I am not a legends-maker, I am simply a man who has loved this tale for years and years, and wishes to tell it the way it has been told to me.}  

When she emerged from exactly the same place she had entered, Calla felt the sun on her skin. It had been days, or moons since she had last seen it, and she was grateful that the darkness was behind her now. 

There sat her boat, waiting patiently for her at the shore. The bird in her pocket had kept her warm inside that cold maze of nature’s design, and her satchel was still quite full. But as Calla raced to the boat and began rowing back to Kuronaga, only one thing comforted her: the golden pickaxe. Her dress was ripped, her hair lay damp and limp at her back, her skin was pasty and her nails bit almost the whole way through - but she had the axe. 

And she knew what she had to do next. 


Day turned to night, and night gave way to the sunshine again as the black mountains of Kuronaga welcomed her home. Exhausted and crying, Calla crawled off the boat and was taken to the castle by a handful of the kingdom’s warriors. 

The royal court had learned of the girl’s thievery, and she was to be thrown in the dungeons. The dungeons, she heard as the warriors spoke, were full to bursting. In her absence, the king’s health had finally failed him and he was set to rest in the same greenhouse as his daughter. The kingdom was, as she had predicted, in disarray. 

Lost without their beloved rulers, the people had turned to waywardness in their grief, fearing the end was near for all. Many had left the island and those who remained hated the royal court more with each passing day. The home that she had once loved was no longer the same.

But then, neither was she.

Calla, dishevelled and weak, her heart broken over and over again, cried out to see her glass princess, just see her. 

The bird in her pocket made of silver and wood, born of love and sorrow, fluttered. The tiny creature flew out from the ripped fabric, confusing her captors. Calla clutched the pickaxe (she had tucked it into her bodice) and ran to the greenhouse. Her feet were numb to the sharp stones, her ears deaf to the bells ringing out for her pursuit, her eyes wet with tears. She had come so far. She would have courage.

The sight of her princess, of her friend, collecting dust and dried leaves in that quiet greenhouse spurred something else in Calla. Gripping the handle of the pickaxe, the serving maid swung.

When the golden pick dug into the glass princess’ shoulder, a bright blinding light burst through the cracks splintering along her sculpted form. She shook, light exploding from under the glass as Calla dropped the axe and stood back, her eyes wide. And all at once, the glass shattered.

Sprinkles of that colourful curse flew through the greenhouse. Calla and the warriors and members of the royal court who had caught up to her shielded their eyes with their arms. A few of them were nicked by the glass shards, but that was unimportant. Before them, as if she had just woken up from a long sleep, their princess yawned and stretched. 

“Good morning,” she said as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “Gosh, I feel as if I’ve been having the strangest dream…”

And all around her, her subjects wept. Their princess had returned.


In the weeks that followed, after Calla had recounted her journey and after the princess was made rightful ruler of Kuronaga, the serving maid and her friend sat in the greenhouse. It was one of those days when the crown felt heavy on the queen’s head and she missed her father more than anyone could possibly know. She came here often as of late, and her faithful handmaiden followed. The kingdom was prospering, slowly rebuilding itself to what it once was, but the young queen still felt… lonely. Her father was right. She would be alone.

“Your majesty,” Calla spoke quietly, the first of the evening stars making their warped appearance through the glass walls. She had been putting off this moment for as long as she could, her nerves making her knees tremble. But the mystic on the sea had told her to have courage. Calla took a deep breath. “There is something I’ve been meaning to show you.”

Her fingers uncurled around something she held in her palm, and the queen leaned in to get a better look. It was a carving of a bird. It was plain and small - nothing compared to the hundreds of ornaments and paintings and sculptures she had around the palace. But something about it called to her.

“It’s… lovely,” she whispered, marvelling at the life-likeness of the thing. 

Calla’s face beamed. “You like it?” she asked, soft surprise in her voice. When the queen nodded, Calla held out the bird to her, just as Baba Farseer had done. “It’s… it’s for you…”

The queen’s hand brushed against hers as she took the bird from her. Calla hadn’t been without it since she had met it (a part of her felt like she had always known it), but somehow, handing the bird to the queen felt not like she was losing it, but like she was sharing it. The queen cradled the bird in her palms, and in an instant, she knew.

Though her handmaiden had recounted her days at sea numerous times to the court, this was the first time that the queen understood. The pain, the heartache, the desperate plunge into the unknown world - all of it - was… for her.

She looked at Calla and it was written all over her face. She loved the queen. She truly, truly did. All the years of tender care, all the hours fighting to free her…

The queen felt it all in that moment. She wouldn’t be alone.


They were wed to the sounds of the palace bells that Calikoea**. Marching bands and morning doves played music as the people cheered for their new royal family. The queen and her princess consort would rule the island of Kuronaga for many, many wonderful years, and neither of them would know loneliness for as long as they lived. 

And Baba Farseer? Some swore he was the princess consort’s personal guest at their wedding, but others insist he was far away across the world reading another’s fate and setting another tale in motion.

But no one knows for sure. He is more mystery than mystic, after all…


The following note is from the author, found in an early draft of The Black Book of Legends.

'As a child growing up on a black island, this was the only story about Baba Farseer I’d heard. My mother would sit me in her workshop while she built these complicated appliances and tell me stories. This tale was by far my favourite. Growing up I loved it for the magic, the curse of the glass black rice and the strange wizard-like man traversing the oceans. But as I grew older, I loved it for Calla. She was, like myself, a non-Sparx user, and yet she accomplished things that everyone thought impossible. She had courage, and she had love, and isn’t that a powerful kind of magic, too? 

She made me want to find Baba Farseer, even though all my life I have been told that he is just a myth. This I never believed, and in doing research for this book, I may have found a shred of evidence to support my claims. 

There was a real princess consort from Kuronaga who was indeed a common handmaiden who married the ruling Queen Regent - but not because of a bird carving she handed her. There are records of a gift she presented to Her Majesty: the golden pickaxe. I was dumbfounded that such a thing exists! The Kuronaga Royal Archives is said to be housing the magical item, but there are no records that it was used to free the queen from an imprisonment of glass. In fact, there are no accounts at all that there ever was a glass princess. 

There are records (two written articles I managed to find on my travels in the Kiesah Sea) of a prince who ate glass, but he did not turn into a sculpture - he just got very, very ill.

Alas, I am getting away from the matter at hand. Baba Farseer must exist, for how would a simple serving girl find a golden pickaxe? The coincidences are too unlikely for it to be just that - coincidences. 

But fear not! I, Adjo Grymver, will find Baba Farseer. That much I am certain of.'

Adjo Grymver died in 2834. His memorials never mentioned meeting anyone by the name of Baba Farseer. 

*The top edge of the hull of a boat. **Lumina's winter.


Baba Farseer
Adjo Grymver