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A Princess Story

by on January 11, 2011

Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a princess. As princesses in these sorts of stories are wont to do, she went out riding every day through the bustling villages and sleepy farms of her kingdom, accompanied by her faithful bodyguard, Colin the Mime-Assassin. (He had actually washed out of mime school some years ago, but fortunately discovered that he had an inordinate talent for throwing very sharp knives.) As she rode through the streets, her people always cheered and waved to her, for she had a very high approval rating in all the latest kingdom polls. The princess always waved back, with that little “Thank you for being here today” sort of half-wave often used by royal persons. But, though she waved and waved until her hand hurt from the exertion, she never smiled.

Then, one day, she saw a knight in clouded grey armor standing by the side of the road. He didn’t cheer, or wave, but only bowed politely. Then he straightened, looked up at her, smiled, and then stepped back and vanished into the bustling crowd. Day after day this scene repeated itself, until day thirty-two, when for the first time the princess smiled back. It was a slow, almost half-smile, that spread across her face and lit her green eyes like candles. Later, after the knight had returned home, he found a note stuck on his doorpost with a pin. Though he didn’t know it, the note had been stealthily placed there by Colin the Mime-Assassin only moments before. Colin was even at that moment hiding behind a nearby shrubbery, taking careful note of the knight’s reaction. He found the knight’s behavior most interesting indeed.

Now, that day happened to be a Tuesday, and on Tuesday nights the princess usually played a rousing game of chess with her father the king. They kept a running tally of games won or lost, and so far the score was 32 to 27 in the princess’s favor. On that particular Tuesday night, however, the princess asked if she might be excused, on the grounds that she had a headache. The king understood what she meant, and agreed felicitously that they could have their game another time. The princess gratefully retired to her bedroom, but not before she had made a small detour to a little door in the castle wall, which she quietly unlocked and left standing just slightly ajar. Then she went to her bedroom on the top of an otherwise unoccupied tower in her castle’s east wing, and waited.

The sun outside slowly dropped below the horizon, and night fell across the kingdom. It began to rain, a hard, cold rain that pattered noisily about the castle rooftops. The princess had hoped to wait with her window open, looking out dreamily at the moon, but instead she had to settle for huddling in a blanket by her fireplace. Then she heard a surreptitious knock on the door.

Quickly she ran to open it. The knight in grey armor stood there, although now he was wearing a plain dark cloak to keep out the rain. He stepped hastily inside the room, and she shut the door after him. Then they turned to look at each other. She had that same slow half-smile on her face as she had worn early that day.

“You know, my lady,” he began, making a polite bow, “I am not even sure that I know your name.”

“Caitlin,” she said. “And yours?”

“Charles,” he replied. “Isn’t that odd; both our names begin with C.”

The princess considered briefly, and nodded. “So they do. It can’t be a coincidence.”

At that moment, a violin started somewhere on the castle grounds, its thin, plaintive tones rising to meet them. “That’s my brother, Edmund,” she said shyly. “He’s very good. They say he’ll enter the music competition at the Christmas festival this year.”

“My lady Caitlin,” Charles said, stepping closer. “While I’m sure your brother Edmund is extraordinarily gifted, if you’ll pardon me for saying so, I didn’t come here tonight to talk about him.”

Princess Caitlin flushed demurely. “Of course. How silly of me. I do apologize.”

“A lady so lovely as yourself should never apologize for anything,” Charles said. “I should be the one apologizing. All this time and I haven’t yet inquired about your health.”

“My health?” Caitlin repeated quizzically. “Why should you inquire about my health?”

“Well, heaven is a very long fall from here.”

Caitlin’s left eyebrow arched. “Oh my. I have heard many things from my various suitors, but I can assure no one has ever said something as…interesting…as that.”

“Do you want me to go on?” he whispered.

“Oh, yes, please. It’s all very interesting. Though you don’t have to whisper, you know. There’s no one else in this tower at all, and very few people even in the east wing. There isn’t the slightest chance that anyone will hear us.”

Charles gave an altogether different sort of smile just then, and suddenly cold steel flashed in his hand. “Perfect. Then no one will hear you shriek for mercy before I kill you.”

“No!” Caitlin squeaked, backing away towards the window, a look of astonished fright on her face. “You…you can’t mean…but, why?

Now, Charles was a reasonably competent assassin, and he had been training for this particular mission for several years. He had so far done everything he should have; his plan, as far as he knew, was perfect. What he did next, therefore, was completely inexcusable. Instead of simply slicing Princess Caitlin through the throat and leaving to make good his escape, he did the worst thing any assassin or master criminal could do. He began to deliver a monologue.

“Well,” he began, “I suppose there’s no harm in my telling you. It’s a brilliant plan, really. In fact, you’re only a small part of it. Your role was to get me into the castle, which you’ve done admirably. Next I kill you so you can’t spread the alarm, then I go and find your king and kill him. After that, I set fire to the castle. In the confusion, I make my escape, go to the house of your best general, and then I kill him as well. Your country’s political and military leadership will be decimated, your army thrown into chaos, and thus your little kingdom will be no match for the army of Vladimir the Marauder when he storms across your northern border a week from now. All this has been worked out years in advance, and so you see there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop me.” He attempted to punctuate his last remark with a traditional evil laugh, but unfortunately evil laughter was the one thing he hadn’t practiced in his training for the assassination, and as a result it didn’t come out very well.

“You sound like a duck being strangled,” Caitlin remarked.

“Oh yeah?” Charles snapped. “Well I wouldn’t be making smart remarks just now if I were you, considering I’m about to cut your throat!”

Caitlin had kept on backing up throughout Charles’s monologue, until she bumped up against her wardrobe that stood with its doors hanging open just to the right of her tower window. Her left hand moved softly behind the door. “So what’s stopping you?” she asked.

Charles swore angrily, forgetting that it was most rude to use such language in the presence of a princess. Then he started towards her, his sword raised. Caitlin’s hand flashed out again from behind the wardrobe door, and now she had a small sword of her own. She held it balanced easily in one hand, in a pose that should have been a dire warning to her would-be assassin, if he had been at all familiar with classical forms of swordplay. Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t read any of the right books.

“Ooh, you’ve got a sword!” Charles mocked. “Shiny!” Despite his words, however, Charles was beginning to feel upset. He had the vague sense that something was going amiss, but he wasn’t sure just what it was. All the same, he decided to change his strategy. He had been intending to finish Caitlin off with a simple yet elegant slice across her throat; now he decided to take a more aggressive approach. Charles raised his sword above his head in a two-handed grip, wielding it like a club, then lurched forward with a roar. He brought his blade down upon Caitlin with a tremendous blow, which probably would have split her head open, if her head had still been there. It wasn’t, and neither was the rest of her. Charles paused in confusion. “What?”

It was the last thing he ever said.

The next day, Caitlin played her fatherΒ  in another chess game. Her queen lanced across the board, slicing in behind the king’s defenses and elegantly delivering checkmate. And as Caitlin watched her father tip the king over onto its side in defeat, she smiled.

Author’s Note:This story was written as part of the Chrysalis Experiment.

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14 Comments
  1. Yay! I will read this tomorrow at work πŸ™‚ Right now it’s sleepy time! hehe

  2. “Colin was even at that moment hiding behind a nearby shrubbery, taking careful note of the knight’s reaction.” heheh, I love your use of the word ‘shrubbery’ πŸ˜€ reminds me of Monty Python.

    Also love the ‘began to deliver a monologue’ part – that’s what all baddies do, right? πŸ˜› Someone needs to write a thriller where the bad guy DOESN’T do that. Love the ‘evil laughter’ reference too πŸ˜€

    The ending of the story makes me wonder what happens next. Like, does Caitlyn overthrow her father to become Queen? πŸ˜€ Or is she just happy with how things worked out?

    I like how the assassin’s last word was “What?” and how he was vaguely getting the sense that stuff wasn’t going according to plan. he’s pretty dumb isn’t he? lol

    Thanks for the fun read! πŸ˜€

  3. What a pity Caitlin didn’t have the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. πŸ˜›

    And as far as the ending, when I wrote the story, I’d meant for Caitlin to just be happy with how it ended, her father still being king and all. Now that you mention it, though, I could see where she might want to take over. I may bave to do a sequel. “Caitlin’s Revenge”, or something. Meh, heh, heh, heh…

  4. Winter permalink

    Hey – I really enjoyed this. πŸ˜€ The satirical tone is brilliant.

    Also, HOLY HAND GRENADE OF ANTIOCH FOR THE WIN

  5. Noice twist – I approve. The actual tonality of the piece is fun; it’s frivolous and shocking by turns. πŸ˜€

  6. I just loved this story.. it made me giggle at the writers group and reading it again made me giggle once more. I looooves it!!

  7. Love it. Thank heaven Charles turned out to be a pompous and under-prepared assassin.

    • Indeed. Of course, his real mistake was that monologue. If he’d only attacked her right then, he might’ve been defeated anyway, but it would’ve taken a bit longer, I expect.

  8. Yet another Massive series I didn’t know you had. I’ll make sure to have another window opened while doing homework for those moments of lost faith! ^_~

    • Yes; the Catrina Chronicles is probably my oldest and most long-running serial. Catrina’s my baby, so to speak. πŸ˜€

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