Prince Norman had fallen stupidly in love with the Lady Isabella. His friends had noticed how this falling had occurred not long after the Prince had toppled from the roof of the castle’s outside toilet where he had been perching, in his own words, ‘to think about things’. He had landed on his head, and Pynne, the King’s physician, diagnosed a concussion. The Prince professed endless love and obeisance to the Lady Isabella, much to the chagrin of his immediate circle of chums, each of whom fancied having a crack at her themselves.

King Theo was checking his lottery numbers when Prince Norman knocked on the door, identified himself, requested an audience and, as protocol dictated, retired to his private apartments to await further news. Three days later the King’s Messenger delivered a King’s message. It said, “Come in, if you must.” The Prince informed the King of his desire to be joined to the Lady Isabella. The King told his son that he would think about it royally for a bit and let him know what he decided, but inside his head he was a bit miffed, because he fancied having a crack at her himself.

Queen Dolly had spies everywhere. It was the only way she had of having a clue what was going on in the castle, because her old man never told her anything. The Queen’s spies were a motley crew, and the variety of genders they identified as only served to confuse the Queen, who was determinedly ‘old school’. Word eventually reached her ears regarding the Prince’s designs on the Lady Isabella, and she was decidedly peeved, because she fancied having a crack at her herself.

The Lady Isabella was used to being mentioned in the same paragraph as Prince Norman but was becoming very fed up with the whole media attention palaver, and had long been of  the opinion that the Prince was a very large nincompoop. When she heard he had petitioned the King to be granted her hand in marriage she had to be physically restrained by Bruno, her manservant. The Lady was in the mood for some internecine warfare and, when she had calmed down, hatched a not especially cunning plan.

The last time the castle had been besieged it was by hordes of barbarians from the North on a day out to see how the other half lived. Only the oldest inhabitants of the castle remembered that time, and the horror. It came as quite a surprise when a lookout on the ramparts reported an approaching forest of debutantes wielding, as far as he could tell through his rather cheap telescope, cellphones all running an application making the sound of a whip being cracked. At the head of the advancing beauties could be seen the Lady Isabella, who was living up to her father’s assessment of his daughter: a bloody nuisance of the first water.

Speaking of water, to the question What shall we do to be saved in this world? for a King there is no answer but one: LOOK TO YOUR MOAT. And King Theo had always looked, instructing the Moat Master to ensure the water in the moat was deep enough so that it could not be waded, and well-stocked with eels and fish, because you have to eat, don’t you? Once they had tried stocking the moat with crocodiles, but with the cost of the beasts’ care and maintenance it had not been financially viable. The piranhas had been fun, but the other fish had objected. Enquiries had once been made regarding getting hold of a Kraken, but then someone told the King the Kraken was a creature of the sea and, crucially, mythical.

Prince Norman, staring from his window, was gobsmacked. He had never before seen so many beautiful young maidens, all clad in flouncy fabrics and diaphanous draperies. He was quite overwhelmed, and fancied having a crack at all of them. The King, watching from his window, was of similar mind, and dithering over whether to lower the drawbridge and allow the damsels into the castle. It would be a risk, but he was a King, and confident of his personal charms. Queen Dolly too was considering her chances with some of the girls she could see from her window.

The Lady Isabella and her troops mustered on the banks of the moat. We’re stymied, she muttered to those nearest her. We could swim it, said a blonde and shapely nymph at her side. And get our dresses wet? retorted the Lady, sharply. We could go naked, suggested the nymph. Lady Isabella gasped. In this weather? Plus that water looks disgusting. I wouldn’t be surprised if people piss in it from their windows. And anyway, then what? Climb the walls? So shall we go home? asked another lass, a brunette. Yeah, alright, said the Lady Isabella. This has been a bit of a waste of time, said a redhead to an ebony angel. I knew it would be.


Conrad Titmuss
Picture Nick Victor






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