Readers of Children's Fantasy may recall Frank L. Baum's (of The Wizard of Oz fame) book: Queen Zixi of Ix or The Story of the Magic Cloak. In it, the fairy queen Lulea decrees that a magic cloak that grants wishes to its owner be woven and given to mortals, with the usual predictable sad results. It's actually a lovely story, worthy of Baum or C. S. Lewis, with a message for adults as well as children.
However, I always felt that the ending of this story didn't do one particular theme (or Lulea herself) justice. Indeed, Lulea was the one who was most clearly at fault from the beginning, for her very naivety. So I wrote the following story, which one can think of as being the "missing last chapter" of Queen Zixi of Ix although it can stand on its own, by reviewing really all you need to know from the previous chapters of the book at its very beginning.
Lulea was still more than a bit peeved when she returned to her own special grove, deep in the enchanted woods. Making the magic cloak had been something of a lark, but deep inside she had thought that her cloak would bring happiness to those who wore it and made the one wish that its golden, magical thread would grant. Instead, the fools who had worn it had, more often than not, wished for something completely frivolous and been surprised when their ill-framed desires suddenly confronted them in the flesh, so to speak.
There had been the foolish counselors of the new boy-king. One had wished for a long reach (granted, as an accordian arm that had been instrumental in saving the kingdom from invasion). A second (by birth a short man) had wished to be ten feet tall and lived in constant pain thereafter as he struggled to find clothing, furniture, and food to fit his suddenly huge frame. A third (a servant) had wished for servants of his own, but didn't know what to do with the six he was granted, who would wait on him night and day but not lift a finger to help him with his own duties.
The worst, of course, was the Witch Zixi of Ix, who had used her magical arts to live to six hundred and eighty three years of age (if the records could be believed). Her form, to all eyes that beheld her, was that of a buxom maid of perhaps nineteen, and she was, for the most part, as good and wise as she was old. However, her magical arts could only alter her appearance, not the underlying reality of her age, and whenever she walked before a mirror it reflected her true self, a decrepit, wizened crone who looked more like the mummified remains of some ancient queen dug up by an ill-advised archeologist than a living human being. This, this witch had tried several times to steal the cloak from its rightful owner Fluff (who had unknowingly squandered her wish by desiring to become ``happy' for a while). Finally, she succeeded, and immediately set about trying to wish her physical form to match the form that others saw...
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