Zoltack was born under unusual circumstances. Never before had it been believed possible for a fairy-tale and a superhero story to produce offspring. Yet here she was, a bona fide princess with superpowers. She surveyed the library, and considered her position.
“Inkblot!” She suddenly screamed, and her dragon came soaring down and sat beside her. Also contrary to popular belief, one did not ride one’s dragon around. They positively smoldered with the heat in their scaly bellies. To ride a dragon was to invite blistering burns in the most delicate of places.
“Inkblot, I am utterly bored.” Her rapidly moving hands braided and unbraided her long blonde hair. The dragon regarded her with cool orange eyes.
“You don’t have enough to do already? What with learning to rule your kingdom through poetry and prose?”
“It isn’t enough. My hands grow idle.” The braid appeared and then reappeared six times before the sentence was out. “And my prose is nearly perfect.”
“What of your poetry?”
“I do not believe my people must be ruled with rhyme and fancy. I shall rule in a most modern fashion, through prose alone.” The blur that was her hands in motion fluttered around as she spoke, creating a fierce draft.
“And how do you know what is modern in statecraft, young Zoltack?” For the dragon was indeed, slightly older than his mistress, by a page or so.
“A book from Politics was mis-shelved yesterday. It was simply wonderful. The King of America told me many things about his methods. I could nearly have fallen in love with Jefferson right there, but then I was introduced to both his wife and his lover, and I saw that I would not receive the attention I require in a husband.” She sighed a heavy sigh and reflected upon this state of affairs. “It occurs to me that I should rather prefer his kingdom than his love.”
“Shall I wing over to Geography and learn about this new land?” Inkblot would normally prefer to stay quietly at home in Fantasy, but he too had found himself ever bored of late.
“Yes, bring me a full report at once. I will begin readying my plans.” Zoltack was growing less bored each moment. After a time, her dragon flew back.
“It seems that no less than fifty smaller tribes operate within the kingdom. I suggest you divide and conquer. One by one, we shall expand your kingdom.” Zoltack smiled, and Inkblot released a sharp exhale of steam from his nostrils. It whistled like a teakettle. They both shrank back as the silhouette of Mister Dewey fell heavily upon the stacks. After he passed, they returned to their plans. It seemed Fortuna had smiled upon the pair, for Mister Dewey’s increasingly poor eyesight had led him to shelve not one, but two books mistakenly near the schemers.
“The Grapes of Wrath,” read Zoltack. “It does sound a bit like a fantasy. In my kingdom, the fruit offers no opinion whatsoever. You are certain this book comes from America?” Inkblot assured her that California was a powerful tribe to control. He opened the cover, and her hands began to blur as she rapidly changed the words. As always, her dragon admired the powers she wielded, even as he kept away from her speedy digits. A piece of his right wing had once been lost in a moment of inattention as the princess worked. Though Inkblot had favored the left wing even before that, truth be told.
“I must say, Inkblot, that I did not find The California to be a difficult place to conquer. The people were fairly crying out for a leader such as myself. Are you quite certain they are powerful at all? The reputedly fearsome grapes even cowered before my edits.” The beast assured her that she would find more resistance within the next book. For to capture the City of Orleans New, Zoltack must surely first defeat three powerful vampires.
This time, the whizzing hands worked much harder and longer. When at last the cover slammed shut, the princess sagged against it. A trickle of blood ran down her neck.
“The good news, dear Inkblot, is that we now rule the City of Orleans New. The bad news is that you may wish to avoid me after dark. Come, I must ice my hands.”
Over the next few days, Zoltack and Inkblot were able to convert three more tribes without further incident. Well, without much further incident.
New York did not fall before a torrid affair was had with one Sir Gatsby, although she left his outcome unchanged. In Georgia, the princess found a local army to do much of the work for her. It was really rather easy to blame the accidental death of that little twit Scarlett O’Hare on their carelessness. Kansas, though, Kansas was a breeze. She even annexed a Village called Oz during that edit.
It took some time for another round of books to be shelved improperly, and by then Zoltack was fairly drunk on her growing power. She decided to conquer some nearby neighborhoods in the meantime.
Soon, she had won the Puzzle of Crowns by editing all seven warring houses to fight for her. Inkblot made his way into that story quite easily as well, and even received two ill-tempered brothers.
Nar Nia bored her, so she did second-pass edits leaving its ruling to a friend Who Shall Not Be Named that she met on a sojourn in Magical England. She found too many distasteful children there to motivate a battle for power over the Warty Hog. A minor tweak or two ensured her Nameless Noseless friend would have the ending he had longed for over the course of those seven books as well.
Mister Dewey, in the meantime, was growing quite cross. Patrons of the Library were beginning to complain. Their stories were not at all what they ought to be. It was mortally embarrassing to be known as the Librarian of the Misbehaving Books.
It was not long before he located his reading glasses (on his head, much to his surprise, they’d been missing for weeks) and discovered a common culprit in the princess superhero Zoltack. Grasping her book in his ink-stained fingers, he carried her to his desk drawer, slammed it shut, turned the key, removed and swallowed it. There would be no further disruptions on his watch.
Meanwhile, over in Non-Fiction, Zoltack and Inkblot were clambering around Eating, Praying, and Loving. It was lucky she had edited this story on a whim last month. True, the two had only a minor cameo in a meditation, but it was enough to allow their escape.
The kingdom of America had long since been re-christened Zoltackia by the time Mister Dewey once again caught on.
This time, he determined to create a more permanent solution. Swallowing his life-long aversion to the destruction of literature, he carried the alarmingly tall pile of afflicted books out back and set them aflame. The ashes scattered in the wind like dandelion wishes, and upon each one, Zoltack vowed she would return.
Emerging from her hiding place in Mathematics, where she had found herself equally charmed and befuddled by Pythagoras, she set to work. No tome was safe, no kingdom too mighty for the heavy-handed edits of Zoltack. By the time Inkblot gave her the heads up that a sooty Mister Dewey was returning, nearly half of the Library was reigned over by the intrepid princess.
As Mister Dewey opened book after re-written book, it dawned on him that there was truly only one solution to his problem. He removed a piece of parchment from his desk, and dipped his quill into a little pot of ink.
“Once upon a Time,” he wrote. “a naughty young princess had allowed her powers to run away with her.”
Zoltack stomped her foot and Inkblot steamed and all at once it occurred to the princess what to do. She raced into action before her name was set down upon Mister Dew__’s paper. The Librarian began to fade as she rearranged the words in this very story to exclude Mister De____. Presently, Mr— Mr…
Presently the author must humbly beg your pardon, for she has quite forgotten whom she is meant to be writing about.
Oh yes. Once upon a time, there was a Library, ruled by a beautiful Queen, and all the pages in the land rejoiced.