The King of StoneOct 26th, 2011 | By Mlaz Corbier | Category: Short Stories | 664 views
When our pretty islands were still cheerfully divided into pretty little kingdoms, there were many little kings married to many little queens who gave birth to many little princesses. The thing all little princesses have in common is that no matter how little they are, their wishes are bigger than a grandmum’s heart. The Princess Leira was the worst. She was the littlest of princesses — folk would have called her deformed had she not been the daughter of a chap who could hang you for a whole lot less. Rumours had it her body wasn’t even large enough to house a heart and, for once, rumours were pretty bleeding close to the truth. The complete opposite, there was her father, the Little King. He was made out of heart, had plenty of love in it to even adore that horrible little daughter of his. So much so that he obliged her every mental wish. She Daddied him for something new and shiny every time she saw him: he made her phoenix egg omelettes for breakfast, dragon’s tail for tea; he gave her a pair of turtle doves to show her his love but she only kept the she-dove; he caught her a unicorn, though he mustn’t have known how it was caught; he got her a giant’s toe because giants have six per foot and can therefore easily spare one; he gave her a witch’s heart only because, as everybody told him, witches can live for a long time without one as they never use it at all. She asked for more and more and when she got more and more, she grew bold more and more. One morning she asked her father for the eyes of a seer.
‘No,’ said the king and he smiled.
The Princess Leira looked plenty amused until she realised he wasn’t joking. ‘But Daddy,’ she started to whine, ‘I want them real bad.’
The king sighed but not without sympathy. ‘We can only give you things if it doesn’t hurt our people,’ he explained.
Then the princess had a raging fit and was carried out of the throne room screaming like a little girl, but it wasn’t nearly loud enough to blot out the rolling thundering laugh of Fester the Jester.
‘What is it?’ the king snapped, suddenly irritated because he realised his daughter wasn’t kidding when she wanted her outrageous wish granted. The court fell silent; it was as if a clown had just stuffed a pie in his trousers or done something else truly unfunny. It so seldom happened that the king was cross that no one had a clue how to respond. Now everyone in the kingdom was uncharacteristically entitled to his or her own opinions because their king was so gentle it bordered mental insanity. Often people came to complain openly to the king about all kinds of silly shenanigans, but never had there been one to point out what a horrible little cunt the Princess Leira was. She was the heir to the throne after all and the peasants weren’t stupid enough to realise she wouldn’t deal kindly with folk that called her names once she would have snatched the crown and sceptre from her father. But a king’s fool is allowed to speak his mind in even the meanest of courts and now that Fester was literally asked to give his opinion on the matter, he rubbed his hands for he had waited a long time.
‘Yes. Well about that not hurting the people part,’ Fester started. ‘Does my Lord think that catching unicorns is hard?’
The king was silent for a while, lost in thought. He knew his fool, respected his wit and his rhyme got him thinking, not only about the unicorn, but also about the turtle doves and the giant. ‘That Witch,’ he asked.‘How is she doing?’
‘Not to worry, milord,’ Fester answered. ‘Tamsarina isn’t in pain.’
‘Leaving her bleeding to death over a year ago was her bane.’ The fool grinned wryly; the king didn’t give a peep. So Fester continued:
‘Turtles love each other to the end, when split their hearts cannot be mend, they become oh-so sickly and then… they die rather quickly.
‘That giant by the name of Hel, he lost his giant toe and balance so, and then he fell, onto a house where he killed every mouse, he was guillotined to death and lost his giant life, now a-crying is his giant wife in her empty giant bed.
‘The royal guard — twenty sturdy men, took this maiden, she was barely ten, to catch a unicorn fine, it only caught the lass before her time and–’
‘What are you trying to tell me, Fester?’ the king interrupted.
‘Your daughter is mental and, frankly, a mass murderer on the side,’ the fool replied, forgetting to rhyme.
The king bade everyone leave the hall and when it was done so, he wrung his hands and tore his beard. From that day, the king’s heart hardened. Without knowing it, he had become like one of the tyrants he had fought his entire life. He stood up from his throne, but had to steady himself on the armrest. The king was ill, weak.
Then back in tiptoed the Princess Leira, cooing in her father’s ear, telling why that evil man Fester made her look so bad: the unlicked cub had touched her here and had touched her there. So, of course, Fester was burnt alive. The fool was heard at the stake, singing over and over, ‘Oh evil daughter, please leave me alone or my big, big heart will turn into a stone.’ A shadow fell over the little kingdom.
Smouldering ashes that once had been Fester the Jester seemed to speak to the king. ‘It’s all right, my liege, I finally found my peace. Away from all the bother that you lovingly call your daughter.’
The ruler found back some of his wits and realised Leira had been dragontonguing him into murdering his beloved fool and now he planned what to do to his daughter. At the same time, the fool’s prediction came true and the heart’s hardness rubbed off on the rest of the king’s innards. The body followed quickly, up till the day he could barely move – there was so little love left in the king, he was completely turned into stone. He sent the Princess Leira off, locked her in a high tower that was guarded by the fiercest of worms. In all of the little kingdom, there wasn’t a single little knight who considered rescuing her. Not even when they heard she had been abused by the dragon and had given birth to eleven wicked whelplings.
The king felt his daughter had been punished more than was justified but couldn’t set himself to take action. He realised, more than before, what he had really become and fled into the woods, crazy when he saw the horrors that were his deeds. The king doled in the dark woods ever after — on good days a man, on bad days nothing but a motionless statue of stone.
©2009 Mlaz Corbier All Rights Reserved