Countdown to Fables #100: The Good Prince

Welcome to today’s entry to the Countdown to Fables #100, where on Tuesday and Friday I recap a story told within the pages of Fables.  This will happen up until issue #100 is released on November 24th.  If you’re new to the countdown, an archive of all previous entries can be found under our Special Features menu.  Today’s story is titled “The Good Prince.”  In this story, Prince Ambrose Flycatcher finally faces what has happened in his life, and sets out on a quest to fulfill his destiny.  The identity of the Adversary does appear in the recap, which is after the break.

The Good Prince
Issues #60-63, 65-69
Art by Mark Buckingham

In the Woodlawn Office, Prince Charming is complaining to Beauty and Beast about the state of the office with books piled everywhere.  Beauty tells him that Boy Blue was the only one that was able to keep Bufkin on task.  Prince says he’ll just threaten him.  Red Riding Hood walks through to visit Flycatcher, who has been depressed since regaining his memories.  Red Riding slaps him and tells that he actually needs to do something about his remorse instead of wallowing in it.  She tells him that real prince would not abandon his duties.  Prince Charming threatens to kill Bufkin if he doesn’t start doing his job.  Cinderella is interrogating Baba Yaga, but ends up letting her know that they have the Witching Well.  In a park, Prince Charming met with Hansel.  Prince hands him a book, and tells him that this is a list of everyone important to someone in Fabletown.  In exchange for finding out what happened to each of these people, Prince Charming with tell Hansel how many of the wooden heads there are.  Later, Beast tells Prince Charming that the Zyphers from Mr. North need more schooling because the observations don’t make much sense.  In the office, the Forsworn Knight said that the time is coming.  Flycatcher tells Beast and Prince Charming that he has to resign his duties as janitor because it is time he tended to his real family.  Kay and Frau Totenkinder have a conversation in which he tells her that he won’t reveal the real way she gets her power in this world, if she will tell the leaders what she really knows about the Homelands.  On The Farm, Stinky awkwardly wakes up Boy Blue.  On his way to breakfast, he runs into Flycatcher.  Fly asks Blue to train him on how to use the Witching Cloak and Vorpal Sword so that he may have his vengeance.

Boy Blue tells him that he will not help him because he doesn’t want Fly to have blood on his hands.  Boy Blue knows that Fly had nothing in his past life that needed forgiving by the General Amnesty.  Blue also tells him that what he wants to do would be impossible, because even with the Witching Cloak and Vorpal Sword armies would be able to overpower him.  Frau tells the executives that she has spies in the Homelands.  Through some means she enchanted a paintbrush used to paint the eyes of some of the wooden soldiers, and one pet owl.  Through the eyes of the owl, Frau had discovered that Geppetto and the Snow Queen were planning for war, and that they planned to take out all of the Fables.  Hansel’s mission was to figure out a way to get the wooden heads out of Fabletown before killing them all.  Bufkin, after getting scared by the Forsworn Knight, accidentally breaks the armor.  Frau tells them that it contained powerful magic and no one should be down here until the witches could figure out how to put it together again.  Prince Charming begins having war meetings, telling Mowgli to return to Baghdad and have King Cole sent home.  He says it’s also time to bring in Snow Whit and Bigby.  That night, the ghost of the Forsworn Knight, named Lance, appears to Flycatcher, telling him that he will guide him through the first part of his mission.

Lance tells Flycatcher that he is Lancelot of Camelot, and was an unbeatable knight, so long as he remained pure.  However, he lost his purity to Guinevere.  This caused him to finally lose in battle, and his actions split the round table.  Eventually, King Arthur forgave him, which shamed him even more.  He hung himself in his armor, which only made him die a slow death.  Fly understands that Lance’s armor is now his armor, and Lance will serve him in their path for redemption.  Prince Charming delivered an ultimatum to Hansel:  cessation of all hostilities with a formal treaty, 10 of the conquered lands handed to them, everyone on the list brought to them, anyone else that wants to migrate to Fable owned lands are allowed to, and Geppetto must sign the the Fabletown charter.  Hansel is outraged, and Prince Charming tells him that this is non-negotiable.  Prince Charming and Beast notice that Hansel didn’t say that this could lead to war like any other diplomat would if there wasn’t a war already being planned.  Back in the office, Lance cleans up Flycatcher, getting him looking like normal.  Fly asks the magic mirror to say good-bye to everyone for him, and allow them to see what he is doing.  In the penthouse, Prince Charming, Beast, Beauty, and Frau discuss what they are learning about Hansel’s group by seeing what the zephyrs are seeing.  Beauty asks Frau about going back to the office, and Frau says that the armor is finally being cleaned.  Lance puts the armor on Flycatcher, and it becomes brand new.  Flycatcher then pulls Excaliber from the stone, and Lance uses it to knight him.   Fly and Lance discuss what lands he’s supposed to be king of now, and Fly concludes that he has to retake his kingdom.  However, their trip first starts with a jump down the Witching Well.

Prince Charming visits with Snow White and Bigby Wolf to discuss the plan.  It consists of first taking out the gateways that connect the Imperial City to the surrounding lands.  In the Imperial City, the Emperor’s council discuss that the gateways would likely be the first target.  And they have the advantage of the cloud kingdoms, but uncertain how many magic beans they have.  Someone also tells Geppetto that Pinocchio is still missing, but they are tracking him.  With Flycatcher gone, the office is now clean, and able to be used.  Beast notices that the armor is gone, but Frau won’t tell him where it went to.  Beast calls his spies and gives the command to start telling all Fables and offspring of Fables living abroad to return home.  They also learn that Hansel and his convoy are flying out, and the zephyrs are following them.  Bufkin notices that Excalibur is missing.  Mowgli tells King Cole that he must return to Fabletown, and that he is to remain in his place to teach English to the best of their soldiers and generals.  Bigby and Beast travel around the country, reserving the services of private special ops training facilities.  They also buy up small arms.  After returning, Beast leaves again to visit Jack to confront him about movies, and get the money he’s made back (See “Jack Be Nimble”).  In the barren land under the Well, Lance finds Gretel, and he leads her back to Flycatcher, who has gathered a multitude of ghosts around him.  When they are near him, they return to a living form.  He asks for their service in return for leading them away from this barren place.  Trusty John is named Fly’s squire.  Fly also asks Weyland Smith to join him because he will have to rebuild many things.  Fly also allows Bluebeard and Shere Khan to join him.  Lance questions this, but Fly says that they do have some part to play in the future, even if they do plan on betraying him.  Back in the office, the magic mirror shows everyone what happened to Fly, and the people sent down the well.

Flycatcher continues to lead his group of physical ghosts, but his close allies begin to notice that his strength is getting weaker.  While their pains are false, his are real because he’s still alive.  They decide to carry him on the rest of their journey through the wasteland.  Meanwhile a group, now including Boy Blue and Rose Red are watching Fly’s progress on the magic mirror.  In the Imperial City, the Snow Queen tells her research sorcerers to examine the remnants of the beanstalk and figure out how to replicate it.  In her room, Frau tells Beast that she doubts Fabletown could win a war, but then it really isn’t a war between Fabletown and the Empire, but her and Geppetto instead.  Beast questions her motives, and if she’ll turn into another ruler, but she says that she actually cares for people here.  Two Fables, shown to be Snow and Rose, rescued her from the oven that Hansel had put her in.  Frau tells Beast that when all things are done, she plans to retire to the country, or maybe become young again and find romance.  In the office, Beauty questions Boy Blue’s punishment of hard labor on The Farm.  Rose says that she’s making it his duty to report on Fly’s actions, otherwise, no work will be done.  She has to accompany him because he’s a criminal.  The four Arabian females that stayed are trying to teach Prince Charming how to speak Arabian.  After a long journey, Flycatcher finally comes to fertile land, and soon after, his former home.  Bluebird and Shere Khan conspire to find someone that can restore them to life, and take out Flycatcher.

Lance, as a ghost, appeared in the Imperial Court to introduce himself and the Kingdom of Haven to the Emperor.  He tells them for now, his message is that they exist.  In Haven, things are quickly being built with everyone using their talents to help.  Shere Khan thinks the time to strike is now, but Bluebeard wants to wait.  Khan gets frustrated and tears apart Bluebeard’s physical form, changing him back into a ghost.  Fly comes to them, and Khan tries to attack Fly, but Fly turns him back into a ghost.  He then banishes both of them from his kingdom, telling Trusty John that he needs them to lead the Empire’s armies back to Haven.  Boy Blue uses the Witching Cloak to deliver many supplies to Haven.  He also delivers a message from Prince Charming, wanting to store armaments, but Fly refuses.  He says he must keep his journey pure.  Haven must remain neutral in the battle between Fabletown and the Empire.  However, he tells Blue that his upcoming actions will hurt the Empire.  Led by Bluebeard and Shere Khan, an army of the Empire comes to Haven.  Frau says for Fly to be careful, while everyone else watches from the magic mirror.

Flycatcher is greeted by General Hildebrand on the field of battle.  As a sign of what the Empire’s armies will be facing today, Fly has one of them slay Trusty John.  They split John in two, and Fly shows that he’s become a ghost.  Fly allows the damaged body to disappear, and restore flesh to the ghost.  Fly tells Hildebrand that his entire army is like this, and after time, they could kill all of the Horde armies, and their magic will not work in his kingdom, so they should just leave.  Hildebrand says they can’t just turn and leave, so Fly agrees to a battle of champions.  When the fight begins at sundown, Fly discovers that Hildebrand’s champion is a giant troll.  Fly battles him, using the flat of his sword to strike, much to Lance’s anger.  After some time, Fly has weakened the troll to the point that he has given up.  Fly will not slay him, but offers him a home in Haven, since he’ll be killed if he goes back to his army.  After the battle, Lance questions Fly’s tactics, saying it’s okay for a warrior to kill if his cause is noble, and he doesn’t want Fly risking his chance for redemption.  Fly promises that there won’t be a need for this type of action again.  Trusty John interrupts them to inform them that the Empire’s armies are attacking.  Fly transforms everyone back into ghost, and sends them after the horde armies.

Flycatcher’s ghost army sent the goblins scattering everywhere from the fear that was being brought up in their minds.  Boy Blue told a mouse that the Empire hunted down and killed any member of that army they could find.  Some returned to Haven to pledge their loyalty to Fly.  Armies with dragon support were then sent, but the dragons lost all their powers upon entering Haven.  In all, Fly had taken out 7 Imperial armies without shedding blood himself.  Tales of Fly’s deeds spread throughout the Farm and Baghdad.  Frau enters on Red Riding Hood sitting in Fly’s old room, and tells her that if she misses Fly, she should go see him.  In the Imperial City, Geppetto is repairing the Emperor, discussing with him how sometimes many need to die, so that the greater population may live on.  They then discuss Haven, and the Emperor wants to just ignore it, and not send another army to fight it.  However, Geppetto says that they’ve expanded too much, and need to be dealt with.  He tells the Emperor to gather all of his brothers, and create an army of nothing but wooden soldiers.  In Haven, Fly is umpiring a baseball game, when he’s told about another invading army.  He stops the game to deal with it, when he suddenly grows faint.  He tells them he’s alright, but this is his last battle, and his guiding visions end here.  They are to remain here in Haven.  Even without him, the ghosts should stay with physical form if they remain near Excalibur.  Alone and swordless, Fly walks out to meet the wooden soldier army, surrendering himself.  As they beat on him, he thinks of all of his friends, and lastly, Red Riding Hood.

As the wooden soldiers begin to attempt to kill Flycatcher, he begins to glow.  He tells them not to worry, this is just the magic in his armor, enhancing the magic of the sacred grove.  In the end, all of the wooden soldiers are turned back into trees.  Fly stumbles out of the grove, confessing to his friends that he didn’t expect to survive.  He tells them that the magic grove is not to be touched for any purpose.  Someone asks him if he will create wooden soldiers to conquer the lands, and he has a brief vision of him leading an army of wooden soldiers in his image, but it passes.  He says no, and retires to his quarters.  In Fabletown, Boy Blue is preparing to help move Red Riding Hood to Haven.  She has to get one more thing to take for Fly, his frog hat that he always wore.  While she’s getting it, Blue is left with Grimble, who constantly reminds Blue that he thought Red Riding was his true love, and he now has to accept that she is taken by Fly.  Red Riding finally returns, and they leave for Haven using the Witching Cloak.  When they reach Haven, Fly embraces them.  Red Riding tells Fly she’s staying in Haven and will do the queenly duties, until there was an actual queen.  Fly incredibly happy about this.  Flycatcher released the ghosts to do whatever pleased them, remaining or passing on.  He left the day-to-day stuff of running the kingdom to other people, while he enjoyed life.  Everyone recognized Red Riding Hood as the queen, even though Fly didn’t actually notice what was starting to happen between them.  And occasionally, Fly would use some magic he had borrowed from the Witching Cloak during an earlier visit by Boy Blue to teleport to new places, or back to the office to be just a janitor.

This story was Flycatcher’s epic.  His story isn’t completely finished, but as far as the war between Fabletown and the Empire, Flycatcher is out of the picture.  Before leaving the conflict, he managed to put a huge dent in the Empire’s forces, including eliminating all of the wooden soldiers that had given the Emperor a huge advantage in combat.  And Fly did this without spilling a drop of blood.  This was an important part of the story.  As Boy Blue stated, Flycatcher had done nothing that really needed covering by the General Amnesty.  It was very important for him to accomplish his goals of retaking his lands and gaining vengeance for his lost family, while at the same time remaining innocent and able to live out his life having not really changed all that much as a person.

Up next, Birthday Interlude


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