Tale #32: The Grief Stricken King

There lived a king who was being driven mad with grief.

He ripped out his heart, but the pain did not stop. He pulled out his lungs, yet still he screamed. He scratched out his eyes, but the tears still flowed.

It was only when he put a bullet in his brain that he at last found peace.

__________

Notes:

1. Written September 2016

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.

Tale #31: The castle was a prison in a sea of untouched snow

There lived a King and his daughter, alone in a castle in a land of endless snow.

“If you go outside you will die,” said the King.

“If I stay in here I will hardly have lived,” said his daughter, as she unbuttoned the door and stepped outside into a world she had never been allowed to know.

The King followed her to the door and pleaded with her not to go, and when she did not heed his cries he snapped an icicle from the eaves and hurled it straight into her heart.

“Go, then! Go!”

He wept. He went back inside. He sat on his throne.

She wept. She walked on. She walked away.

The snow before her whiter even than the sky. Her footsteps behind redder always than the last.

__________

Notes:

1. Written September 2016
2. This was the wintryest story I could find
3. The title was inspired by/derived from “There’s A River In The Valley Made Of Melting Snow, by A Silver Mt Zion

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.

Tale #30: The King’s Daughter And The King’s Son

There lived a King, and with his first wife he had a son. This son grew up to be a huge and monstrous beast. Everyone who saw him shuddered in horror at the look of him and cowered and hid in fear until he was gone. The King feared and hated him, too, and so he locked in him a maze and never let him out.

The longer his son remained locked away, the more exaggerated the claims of his ferocity and deformity grew,. And the further the rumours spread.

On lived the King, and with his second wife he had a daughter. This daughter grew up to be a kind and beautiful angel. Everyone who saw her quivered in delight at the look of her and called out proclamations of their love until she was gone. The King loved and coveted her, too, and so he locked her in his castle and never let her out.

The longer his daughter remained locked away, the more exaggerated the claims of her beauty and kindness grew. And the further the rumours spread.

One day, the King announced that whoever entered the labyrinth and slew his son would win his daughter’s hand in marriage and make of her their queen. For if none could slay his son, he would have weakened the kingdoms he considered his rivals. And if one could slay his son, his daughter would strengthen the ties between his kingdom and those that would be its friend.

Ten princes sailed forth from all the lands of the earth, and they came to the King’s island and accepted his challenge. For everyone had heard how fearsome the beast of the labyrinth was, and so they wished to show their courage. And everyone had heard how beautiful the angel of the castle was, and so they wished to win her love.

The first prince entered the maze. In the dark he felt his way, along passages of untold length for a time of unknown duration, and eventually he found his way to the centre, where beneath a burning brazier lay the King’s son. The prince stood over him and raised his sword, and the beast held up his hands in friendship and said, “Please, I mean you no harm.” But his voice was weak from all those years alone, and the prince swung down his sword and sliced a finger clean from the beast’s hand.

The King’s son howled in pain, and in his fear and desperation to get away he leapt to his feet and charged at the prince. He knocked him to the ground and under his heavy feet trampled the man dead.

Ten times this happened, and all ten fingers the King’s son lost, and all ten princes the King’s son killed. And ten times he cried at what he had done, for he wished to hurt no-one. And ten times he cried at what had been done to him, for he wished too for no-one to hurt him.

When none of the princes returned from the labyrinth, the King made plans for a great party to be hosted in the city. He announced that no-one had been able to do as he asked, for their Kingdoms were not as great as his own.

And he told his people that tomorrow he would enter the labyrinth. He would kill his son. He would take his daughter as his wife and make of her his Queen.

The King had his dressmakers create the most beautiful wedding gown for his daughter, and he dressed her in it, and said to her, “You are indeed more beautiful than any angel.” And he took her down to the entrance of the labyrinth and made her wait there for his return.

She had cried all week, while the princes had tried to kill her brother, and she had cried all night, when her father told of his new plans. And she had cried all day, when her father had dressed her in this dress and paraded her before his subjects as his Queen-to-be.

But now she vowed she would cry no more.

She unpicked a thread from her dress and tied it to the gate and made her way into the labyrinth. In the dark she felt her way, along passages of untold length for a time of unknown duration, and eventually, just as the last of her wedding dress unravelled, she found her way to the centre, where beneath the dying embers in the brazier lay her brother.

In the darkness he could not see who approached. He was too weak now to speak, and, his broken hands held up in front of him in fear, he waited in silence for the killing blow to come. His sister leaned down low, and took his poor hands in hers. And she kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear, “Oh, my brother, oh my poor brother, everything will be okay.”

To see him there before her, despite her vow, she could not stop herself crying. And at her kindness he wept too, and their tears fell down together and washed the blood from his body and he was made whole again.

With the last coal from the brazier, they set alight the thread of her dress, and they followed the flickering flame all the way to the entrance and the bright light of day.

The King’s daughter and the King’s son fled the castle of their father, and they fled his kingdom too and sailed out together across the sea. And all the while in the labyrinth the King was lost in the twists and torments of his own making, and he was never seen again.

__________

Notes:

1. Written in May 2016
2. First published in the kindle anthology Waiting for a Kiss: A Princess Fairy Tale Anthology, in April 2017
3. The second story in a row I had published where the title was a mangled version of a band’s name (in this case, of King’s Daughters And Sons)
4. Also this is a re-telling of the story of ariadne, theseus and the minotaur, obviously. It was inspired by a print of ariadne playing cat’s cradle with the minotaur that I have on one of the shelves in my room, by Minkee, which is the first thing I see most mornings

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.

Tale #25: The King And The Light

There once was a King who had ruled his kingdom for many years, and there remained no-one who dared to question him. Such was his power that there were none upon the earth who he considered his equal, and so one day he called down a star from the night sky and bade her walk with him. It was there, in his vast garden, that he asked her to be his wife.

“Where would I live?” she asked.

“In my castle,” the King replied.

The star laughed, and said she could not, for she was used to the vastness of space, and walls were not to her liking.

“Well then, if not in my castle how about in the fields of my kingdom?” he said, and he showed her the extent of his fields and the vastness of his domain. “All this is mine, and within it you can go where you please, for you would be Queen and none but me would dare stop you.”

But still she refused.

“Even your kingdom has borders. And borders themselves are walls,” she said. “Walls of another kind, yes, but they constrain all the same.”

“Then, if not my wife, my prisoner you will be,” the King said, and he called for his guards to capture her.

To this the star replied, “Wife, servant, prisoner, slave – what difference would it make what you call me? Without choice, the imprisonment is just the same.”

The King’s guards led her to the deepest and darkest part of the castle’s vast filthy dungeons, and there, in the smallest cell, they locked her inside. “Perhaps when this cell has dimmed the fire in your heart you will see the error of your ways,” the King said to the star.

To which the star said to the King, “It is not only me this cell holds in place, for you as well are bound by it.” But the King would not listen, and he left her there, glowing to no-one in the dark.

After a week, the King returned and asked once more for her hand in marriage. The star looked just as bright as before, if not brighter, and still she refused. “If a week is not enough to change your mind, then so be it,” said the King.

“And to you I say the same,” said the star. But the King would not listen.

After a month, the King returned for a second time, and asked her again to marry him. The star’s radiance was brighter than ever and she refused once more. “If a month is not enough to change your mind, then so be it,” said the King.

“And to you again I say the same,” said the star. But the King would not listen.

After a year, the King returned for a final time. “I have asked you three times to marry me, and three times you have refused. If you refuse me a fourth time, I shall abandon you here and you shall know nothing more but imprisonment for the rest of your days.”

By now the star was so bright the King had to shield his eyes against her majesty. “I have spent a year in this cage, hoping each day that you would come to understand that these walls have imprisoned you just as much as me. But you have understood nothing.”

The star reached out and took the King by the hand. “Look, I shall show you,” she said. And with that her brightness flared and the King’s castle was burned to the ground, and the people within were set free.

And then she shone more brilliantly than ever before, and every wall and building in the country was reduced to ash, although the people within were left unharmed.

And then her brightness exploded outwards once more and the walls and the borders of all the Earth were destroyed and everyone across the world was set free. And in the comfort of her light there was much rejoicing and a shared sense of kinship between all which would never fade.

The people of the world did give her praise, but they did not make a God of her, nor even a Queen, for her light had shown them that those that rule are another wall imposed upon the world, and the Gods themselves yet another.

To the King she said, “To you, and only you, shall I show a truly wall-less world, out beyond the binds of gravity.” And she bore him up into the immensity of space, and took him to the deepest and darkest part of her infinitely vast domain, and she set him down there in the darkness, where the only light was her own, for the rest of the stars were too far away to cast their light upon him.

“Now, my King, you are free.”

And she left him there in the dark, in the cold, far out beyond the walls of the world.

__________

Notes:

1. This was written in May, 2014
2. But was first published in November, 2016, in the anthology Liberty Tales, published by Arachne Press
3. You can see this story being performed by the actor Cliff Chapman at a Liberty Tales launch event here.
4. The illustration is by Holly English, the final of four illustrations she drew for these fairy tales.
5. The original title of this was The King And The Angel Of Light, but the angel bit got removed during the publication process.
6. I was really obsessed with the song not here/not now by the angels of light at the time I think

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.

Tale #24: The Lunar Queen

I heard a story that went like this.

A troubled king was beset on all sides with trials and tribulations that were beyond his capacity to control. Even his wife was critical of him. In his anger at her betrayal, he shouted, “If you believe you can do a better job than me, I shall grant you a kingdom of your own to rule. Then we shall see what manner of monarch you would make.”

Nevertheless, she continued her criticisms of his policies, and he had her banished from his kingdom and exiled upon the moon. He said to her, “I grant thee this kingdom of rock and ruin. Now let us see the great successes of it you shall make!” And he left her there in the vast ocean of dust that was now her domain.

The queen did not despair. “First,” she said. “I need air so I can breathe.” And so she spoke to the northern winds of the earth, for they blew harder than any she knew, and were despised by the people that lived there for their malevolence and unceasing destruction.

“The people of the north do nothing but complain about you, and have no appreciation of the support you grant them. Come join me here on the moon, and blow as hard and as long as you like, and let them pour their smoke up into a windless sky and choke beneath a fog of their own making.”

The north winds agreed to join her on the moon, and brought with them their birds and their bees, and so the queen had all the air she could breathe, and a great deal more besides. And the north winds had a whole world on which to blow, and blow they did.

“Next,” the queen said. “I need water for me to drink.” And so she spoke to the southern seas of the world, for they were deeper and wilder than any she knew, and were hated by the people of the south for the ships that they sank and the storms that they brewed.

“The people of the south do nothing but complain about you, and have no appreciation of the support you grant them. Come join me here on the moon, and spread you waters as far as you wish, and as deep. And let them pour their filth into their own soil, rather than down their rivers and into you.”

The south seas agreed to join her on the moon, and brought with them their fish and their whales, and so the queen had all the water she could ever need, and a great deal more besides. And the south sea had a whole world round which to flow, and flow they did.

“Now,” said the queen. “I need some land on which to live.” And so she spoke to the eastern mountains, for they were higher and harder than any she knew, and were feared by the people of the east for the barrenness of the soil and the coldness of their cliffs.

“The people of the east do nothing but complain about you, and have no appreciation of the support you grant them. Come join me here on the moon, and stand as high as you wish, and as proud. And let them try to grow their crops without the rains you squeeze from the sky for them.”

The eastern mountains agreed to join her on the moon, and brought with them their goats and their glaciers, and so the queen had all the land she could ever need, and a great deal more besides. And the eastern mountains had a whole world on which to stand, and stand they did.

“And,” she said. “I need some woods in which to walk.” And so she spoke to the western woods, for they were thicker and wilder than any woods she knew, and were hated by the people of the west for the monsters they contained.

“The people of the west do nothing but complain about you, and have no appreciation of the support you grant them. Come join me here on the moon, and grow as thick as you like, and as far. And let them try to build their houses and heat their homes without your wood.”

The western woods agreed to join her on the moon, and brought with them their flowers and their foxes, and so the queen had all the places to walk she could ever need, and a great deal more besides. And the western woods had a whole world on which to grow, and grow they did.

“And finally,” she said. “I need some friends with which to talk.” And so she spoke to all the women of the world.

“The men of the world do nothing but complain about you no matter what you do, and have no appreciation of the support you grant them. Come join me here on the moon, and live exactly as you wish. And let them try to live their lives without you.”

The women of the world agreed to join her on the moon, and brought with them their joy and their love, and so the queen had all the friends she could ever need, and a great deal more besides. And the women of the world had a whole world on which to live, and live they did.

Whatever happened to her husband I never was told.

__________

Notes:

1. Written September 2016

__________

Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like what you've read here please consider subscribing to our patreon. Cheers.