“Truest love’s kiss!” Emily gasped. “We have one last chance!”
“Love is the most powerful of all magics,” Celeste agreed, “but not one of us has a true love along.”
“I do,” replied a thunderous voice from above.
“What was that?” cried Celeste.
“The voice from the riddle!” exclaimed the king.
“No,” Emily said slowly, for she now recognized the voice. “It’s my dad.”
The three captives heard footsteps coming from the stone stairway. A man stepped into the shadows of the cold dark dungeon and swiftly knocked the prison guard out with an empty chamber pot that he'd found on the floor.
“Daddy!” Emily cried. “You found me!”
“Of course I did, Emmy. I always do.” He checked to make sure the guard was okay, then came over to the bars that separated him from his daughter.
“But I’m not your true love,” Emily whispered, “Mommy is.”
“Ah, but that is the most common mistake about true love. The strongest, truest love of all is not between a beautiful young princess and a charming prince, but the love of a father for his daughter.”
Daddy stepped forward and gently kissed his daughter’s forehead through the bars of the jail cell. Suddenly the dark dungeon melted away and the four of them were flying through the air, over the castle, over the drawbridge and the wall, and the forest, until they landed back in the royal garden where Emily had first entered the story.
The sun was rising and the magic in the garden seemed to sparkle, welcoming the king and princess, who were very glad to be home.
“Well, I guess this is the end of your magic princess story,” said Celeste, sadly.
“How do we get back?” Emily asked.
“I think you know.” The king answered. “Good night, Emily.”
Edward and Celeste turned to go back inside their castle, while Emily and her father walked towards the magic fountain in the center of the garden. Daddy took Emily’s hand. “Are you ready?” he asked.
Emily nodded, hypnotized by the water in the fountain, which had begun to swirl quite quickly.
“And the kings and their princesses all lived happily ever after. Good night, Emily.”
Daddy kissed his sleeping princess gently on the forehead and switched off the soft incandescent glow of the lamp beside her bed.