Mariposa the butterfly princess is foraging for food in the Darklands when she discovers the unconscious body of "Four" Wheeler laying in the forest. She revives him and he reveals himself to be a pirate who was attacked by moth warriors, the enemies of the butterfly people. Mariposa agrees to help him get home, but when they stop at the secret butterfly grotto to collect supplies for the journey, they discover to Mariposa's horror that her people have all disappeared. During their adventures together, they begin to fall in love with each other.
Suspecting the moths to be responsible, Mariposa and Four travel to the Golden Desert to investigate. There they find that one of Four's shipmates, Christabel, is still alive and being held prisoner. They rescue Christabel, but Mariposa, feeling jealous over Four's affections for her, leaves the two while she continues her search for the missing butterflies. Four and Christabel attempt to free their ship, the Mermaid's Bliss, which has run aground on an island, by using barrels of gunpowder. The resultant blast destroys the bow, and Mariposa is alerted by the sound of the explosion. A clan of pixies arrive and repair the hole in the ship using gold latticework embedded with bloodrock crystals.
Now suspecting humans to be responsible for the disappearance of the butterflies, Mariposa and company travel to Darkholm, Four and Christabel's home town. Mariposa and Four explore the local tavern, learning that the king of the nearby castle of Torlynn is shipping the royal treasure to a location in the Swordedge Mountains. Four pretends to bring Mariposa to the castle as a prisoner, and Mariposa is sent to the tournament to be executed by dragon beetles. Four intervenes at the last minute and helps her win the fight, and the two are ejected from the castle grounds. Meanwhile, Christabel converts the ship into an airship, allowing it to travel over the mountains. They discover that the king has been drawing people to the tournament arena to battle to the death, shipping all the proceeds to Forever the dragon in exchange for some of the dragon's promised lifeblood. Four realizes that the king was not surprised by Mariposa's appearance, meaning that he had seen butterfly people before—and that they were being held captive inside Torlynn Castle. They travel to the mountains and speak with Forever, who refuses to get involved, but gives Mariposa a jeweled sword as a parting gift. He also secretly gives Christabel a vial of dragon's blood, which she consumes, seeking to become stronger.
In desperation, Mariposa asks the moth people for help in attacking the castle and freeing the butterflies. The moth leader, Xarzuss, agrees on the condition that Mariposa must surrender to him. Four and Mariposa, along with the moths, ambush the castle and confront King Papillon. He takes Mariposa's jeweled sword, but the sword is cursed, and draws the moth arrows directly towards him, causing him to plummet out a castle window and to his death. Xarzuss continues his assault, determined to wipe out as many humans as possible, but his second-in-command Axziss puts an end to the bloodshed when she kills him. She releases Mariposa from her promise and the moths retreat. The few surviving butterflies are freed.
With no one to lead the people, the castle chamberlain Deorwynn offers the crown to Four, having impressed her during the tournament battle. He takes the throne as Torlynn's new king, and Christabel is appointed Minister of Science. Mariposa sadly returns home with the remains of her colony. Unfortunately, some months later, Christabel succumbs to the effects of the dragon's blood and dies. In the end, Mariposa finally returns to the castle and agrees to stay in the castle, becoming Four's new queen.
Jacket Copy (E-book Version)Edit
A bumbling adventurer named Four stumbles upon a voluptuous and scantily-clad Butterfly Princess who is not named Mariposa, and together the unlikely pair begin a quest in which they encounter giant insects, sarcastic dragons, and battle the elements in a flying pirate ship—and try really, really hard not to fall in love with each other. This hilarious send-up of the fantasy genre promises laughs (if you have a twisted sense of humor) and entertainment (if you're easily amused) and absolutely no sparkling vampires of any kind.
Jacket Copy (Print Version)Edit
The butterfly princess (who is not named Mariposa) has always been taught that humans are savage, fanged monsters who are responsible for some of the worst atrocities ever committed. When she finds a human male named Four, injured and lost in the woods, though, he’s so different from what she expected. In fact, he’s kind of cute. They strike up an unlikely romance and together they search for her entire butterfly clan, which has mysteriously disappeared.
Once Christabel shows up—the cute and ditzy pirate, and Four’s old flame—Mariposa realizes she has some serious competition. Mariposa has always had difficulty trusting humans, and the discovery that Four cares so deeply for Christabel feels like a betrayal. How can Mariposa win over Four’s affections when Christabel is so pretty, so perfect, so human? But, there are even larger problems at hand. If she fails to recover her missing people, Mariposa will remain the last of her kind in existence. Even if she succeeds, she will still have to choose between going back to live with her own people, or staying with the man whom she’s desperately fallen in love with...
The 2019 print edition of the book includes a modified version of the original cover illustration. In order to use the artwork, which originally had a landscape orientation, the author/illustrator went back to the original art elements from 2011 and added more content to the drawing, transforming into a portrait orientation which was more suitable for the dimensions of the book cover.
The inspiration for the story came from a collection of illustrations the author had created for his wife, each of them showcasing a then-unnamed butterfly princess character. With each new illustration, more details about the world in which the butterfly princess inhabited were invented, and eventually the story was written to incorporate each of these illustrations.
Several scenes from the book make direct references to the illustrations, each of them depicting the butterfly princess in a different setting. As an Easter egg, every time the word "picture" is used in the text of the story, one of the illustrations is being described.
The e-book was originally published online as A Butterfly's Tale (Kindle Edition), but after it became the first in an ongoing series, the title was changed to A Butterfly's Tale: The Lost Treasure of Torlynn.
In the series, Mariposa eventually meets data archivist Birthday Jones-Smith, who writes a book based on Mariposa's adventures. That book is, of course, called A Butterfly's Tale.