The Reluctant Prince and The Sleeping Beauty.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining in the cloudless sky.  On a hilltop, a handsome prince and his old manservant, Sir Jont, both on horseback, peered down into the lush green valley.

Despite the pleasant weather, the prince was in a foul mood. ‘Are you sure this is the place?’ he barked.

‘Your grace, it is exactly what the fairies said nearly twenty winters ago,’ murmured Sir Jont, giving a low bow. ‘It is your destiny.’

The prince sighed. The word destiny irked him. His destiny at that moment, should have been a delicious liaison with a rather muscular footman called Staines at the back of stables, not riding on horseback to the forsaken and bleak place. ‘I don’t really understand what’s in it for me or why does Papa want this.’

‘Blame the fairies at your birth. It is already said, and since the place has been discovered, many have tried and failed,’ answered Sir Jont. ‘But if we succeed it shall bring fame, fortune and glory.’

The prince raised a cynic eyebrow. ‘But I have that already.’ 

‘Your grace, your father knows about the footman, the late night parties – gambling, drinking – and midnight visits to the treasury.’

The prince narrowed his eyes. ‘And?’

‘It is not for me to say, it is just…’ Sir Jont paused and looked at the deep forest. ‘He also mentioned a place in the dungeon and has order in place to make one of the footmen into an eunuch, Staines, I think is the name he mentioned.’

‘Very well.’ The prince shuddered at the potential fate of his lover. His father was a sadistic bastard, not of illegitimate birth, but a nasty piece of work, taking pleasure in inflicting toture on others. However, it was obvious his father knew about the prince’s discretions. ‘I guess it is another pointless princess adventure?’

‘The king likes to think of it as empire building. He is very keen on becoming an emperor. He says it’s his long term plan and legacy.’ 

Indeed, thought the prince, especially at the expense of others.

~*~

It was dark and eerie in the forest, the soil moist and damp. The prince shivered as he looked around. An owl in a tree, staring down. An odd rustle of leaves. There was nobody but him and the elderly Sir Jont.

After a while, the two companions discovered a large wooden door. Armed with his sword and a large machete, he pushed it open and marvelled at the sight.

Everything was frozen in time. As for the people,  at first he thought they were dead but realised they were in a deep sleep.

Exploring the castle,  he came to a magnificent bed chamber.  On the bed was a beautiful sleeping princess. For a moment, he wondered if she had a brother, as beautiful as her, then felt guilty about his footman lover in the dungeon. However if there was a handsome prince, just laying about, he wondered if he should be looking for him.

‘Your grace,’ said a voice, startling the prince. It was Sir Jont. ‘You’ve got to give her the magic kiss, that’s what the rules say.’

‘I don’t kiss women,’ protested the prince. ‘Does nothing for me…’ he added as an afterthought. 

Sir Jont sighed in resignation. ‘Your grace, it’s not about you.  You seem to have forgotten that poor fellow Staines in the dungeon, and your father also has a warrant out for the Grey Knight. The king is not to be trifled with, I know.’ Sir Jont held up his left hand revealing three missing fingers. 

The Grey Knight? That was his second lover? Did the kingdom have no secrets? The prince winced. It was just a kiss, but still…’Are you sure, it is I. My destiny?’

‘You are the chosen one.  I think a fairy told your father you’d bring him great power and wealth. That’s reason why he’s…’ The elderly man fell silent for a moment. ‘Well, he’s kept out of your affairs.’

He’d much prefer to kiss a moss covered wall, but the thought of his father holding his two lovers ramson was too much to bear. He squeezed his eyes and approached the sleeping woman on the bed.  

‘It’s got to be on the lips, your grace,’ declared Sir Jont, unhelpfully. ‘The lips need to touch.’

The prince held his breath  then swooped down and kissed her. Nothing happened. 

Then slowly, she stirred, blinked her eyes, then opened them. She looked shocked, and screamed!

The prince took a few steps back, and then glared at his servant in confusion. ‘Was this supposed to happen?’

‘No, your grace, it was supposed to be love at first sight. But at least she’s awake.’

The princess sat up. ‘Who are you?’ she demanded. ‘And what are you doing in my bed chamber!’

Before the prince could answer, he heard the voices, mostly orders. The chamber doors burst open with five armed guards, carrying weapons – maces and daggers.

‘He is an intruder!’ screeched the princess. Her eyes widened awake and flaming with anger. ‘Take them to the dungeon. They can both hang on the morrow.’

~*~

Deep in the bowels of the castle where the dungeons were located, a tiny cold cell held the prince and Sir Jont. They sat on an old bench. The stench of death and rotting waste lingered around them. \The prince shivered at his fate. ‘I thought I was the chosen one,’ he mumbled to Sir Jont who was also shivering.

‘That you were my grace but you know how it goes. Sometimes these things go to plan, sometimes they don’t.’

‘To think I saved their kingdom.’

‘Well, they don’t see it that way. The princess said she didn’t give you permission to kiss her, and she prefered girls. Also said you were trespassing – a stalker. Probably trying to kidnap her too.’

~*~

On the morrow, there was a quick trial. The princess dressed in white, looking demure and virginal, spoke in soft sobbing tones. ‘I stirred and opened my eyes to this man. He….he kissed me without my permission.  Plus he had very bad breath and body odour. Smells like a hog in a cesspit. He is a stinky poo.’

There were mutterings of shock and annoyance. Then cheers and claps when the sentence was announced.

~*~

On the afternoon of the execution, the courtyard was crowded. Blindfolded and hands tied behind their back, the prince and Sir Jont were led to the wooden plank. The crowds jeered, some threw rotten fruit. One large lady even managed to throw a bucket of piss over them. 

 The prince’s mind was in a very dark bad place, though once in a while his mind would wander to his two lovers – Staines the footman and the Grey Knight. What would become of them? He hoped his father showed them mercy.

A large hooded executor came forward and the crowd grew silent. But before they could take the prince and Sir Jont away, the large courtyard was invaded by a cavalry. His father’s horsemen led by the Grey Knight.  Among them was  Staines, the footman leading one of the prince’s prized stallions.

 Panic and chaos reigned. Screams filled the air, people ran. 

In one swoop, the prince jumped his stallion and swooped down to rescue Sir Jont. 

Moments later, they were galloping into the sunset. 

The end.

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