This one is different in that I didn't write it. It was written by my friend Dave. That said, it's still part of the universe.
THE LOVE CROAK
Koko and her friend Marl are walking along a street in Enchanted City on a winter afternoon, fresh from the end of a shopping spree; spellbooks, groceries, new brooms, and plenty of candy spill out of their bags. During their walk, they come across the sound of crying as they pass a regal-looking carriage. It turns out to be a frog in a crown bawling his eyes out. The frog is startled by the girls' appearances, and they convince him that they are nice sorceresses, not mean witches like he thought.
After a bit of prodding from the two girls (mostly Marl), he discloses to the girls that he is a royal prince from a nearby kingdom on a journey back home. He had been traveling to nearby castles in search of a bride to return home with, but had been transformed into a frog by a mean witch shortly before his first appointment, and since then has not had any luck in winning over any princesses. Most unfortunately, only the kiss from a princess can break the spell. Koko and Marl want to help, and brainstorm a dating game show to weed out bad matches and find the most compatible bride for him without having to reveal his frog identity.
A week later, a giant marquee displaying "LOVE CORONATION TONITE" flies high above the local tavern filling up with eligible bachelorettes from all walks of life: princesses, farmgirls, debutantes, scholars, brutes, etc. Behind the stage curtain, Koko and Marl are going over the itinerary with the prince. Jodo (wearing black clothes and his red hat) is seen setting up the last of the scenery. The prince confides that he's very nervous about the success of the event. Koko assures him that turning back to normal is the primary goal of the event, though getting hooked up is quite the bonus. However, Marl says it's more important for him to do what makes him more happy. Koko scolds Jodo for still wearing his brightly colored hat despite being set crew and supposed to be wearing black to hide better, but house lights dim and he gets to pull back the curtain before Koko can swipe the hat.
Koko begins to excite the crowd for the chance to be onstage. She starts by having all ladies stand up, then sit down as she calls out traits to disqualify people with ("If your parents are peons, sit down" etc). Marl acts as the lead usher, standing in the crowd and keeping track of who sits and who remains standing. Once the remaining crowd is pared down to three women, they are called to the stage. Contestant One is droopy-looking middle-aged woman, crass and bombastic. Contestant Two is a sour-faced girl who has been in a few scraps in her young life, but lives a happy, full life. Contestant Three is the most generic princess you will ever see: an attractive and courteous young adult who is boring as can be.
As they take their seat, a small cart draped by another curtain is pulled onstage by Jodo. Behind it sits the frog prince, hidden from everyone. Koko announces the "mystery bachelor," and a hand pops out from behind to wave for the adoration from the crowd (merely a prop arm). Koko explains the rules: the "bachelor" will ask a question, then ask each contestant to answer. After several questions, the "bachelor" will then choose a winner, who will have the chance to kiss the "bachelor" and go with him on a full moon date.
The prince starts with an easy question: preference in music. The crowd reacts enthusiastically to Contestants One and Two's answers, but lukewarm at best to Three's answer. The subsequent questions, answers, and reactions begin to take pattern. The prince tends to react to Contestant One's rowdy answers with cautious excitement, Contestant Two's childishly worldly replies with understanding, and Contestant Three's mushy, non-committal responses with tepidness.
The final 'hypothetical' question of the night is "If I were a prince cursed to the form of a frog, and only the kiss from a princess would break the spell, and you were a princess, would you try to break the spell? Also, what would you be princess of?" Contestant One says she'd be too uncomfortable living the high life and wouldn't care much for keeping her position so it wouldn't matter if she would or wouldn't kiss him. Contestant Two says that she would kiss him because it's gross and awesome, which is what her dad says she is princess of. Contestant Three mentions that she is the princess of a nearby kingdom, and that she would always help any handsome prince in need.
After a moment of mulling it over, the prince chooses Three. She approaches the curtain, and with her eyes closed begins to lean in. As the curtain rises, the frog prince is revealed, also leaning in with his eyes closed. They kiss (to the dismay of everyone in the tavern, save for Marl, Jodo and Contestant Two) and a cloud of smoke poofs around the frog prince. As the smoke clears, the prince is revealed to be a disfigured human who is very frog-like in appearance - disproportionately long limbs and a wide head that attaches directly to the torso. The prince and princess open their eyes, and are dismayed at the fact that they already know each other. The prince exclaims he should have recognized her blase attitude (that he doesn't care for), and she should have recalled the frog analogy to the same person (the prince) she refused long before his journey because he was ugly. As the princess storms off, the prince turns to One. She warmly smiles and says that even though she lost and doesn't deserve it, she'll still attend the date with the prince. When she asks what night the next full moon is, he explains that he meant four weeks, a full lunar cycle trip to his kingdom for a few days, then returned back home. One can't miss that much time from work, so she politely declines. Two, on the other hand is totally pumped to go on a month-long adventure with such a freakishly awesome dude. The prince dejectedly resigns to his fate of babysitting a 12 year old kid for the next month, and thanks Koko and Marl for their help. Jodo runs off to help his friend Contestant Two get ready, leaving Koko and Marl to clean up the mess their shenanigans made at the tavern, with a hefty bounty in hand from the Prince.
©2013 Charles Brubaker