The Princess and the Dimwit

by Hal Kempka

Princess Cleo gazed down on the multitude, and announced, "I am looking for a husband."

The crowd erupted in cheers. Recently, King Euripides had died a strange and untimely death. She was elevated to the throne, and would rule the kingdom for the rest of her days, if she met the monarchical contract’s fine print stipulation that she take a husband before her coronation, which was three weeks away.

“All prospective suitors must register with the lords of my court," she continued, "and pay 10,000 Grones as a nonrefundable deposit."

Word spread across the countryside, and within days, a line formed from the castle gates to the forest. Although she had issued a heavy tax on the land immediately after her father’s death, suitors in all shapes and sizes still deposited the required amount of money to court her.

Court scribes culled her suitors until a hundred deemed most worthy stood in the courtyard. She watched from the balcony, though from her vantage point none appeared worthy enough for her hand.

The Princess summoned Algorno, the castle wizard to concoct the same slow-acting potion as the one that killed her father. As a child, she developed an alliance with him to eliminate playmates that fell below her expectations.

"When my wretched husband to be is decided on," she said, "ensure the Vicar cleanses and baptizes him with the `holy water' you provide."

Algorno wrung his hands and curled his lips in a wicked smile. "I am bound to your service, your majesty."

That afternoon, the Princess summoned her scribes. “I am ordering you to determine who my betrothed shall be. And, you twits had better bring me the cream of the crop, although from what I’ve seen they are no brighter or better looking than you.”

“Yes, your majesty,” they said, bowing and taking their leave from her chambers.

Although they set out to satisfy her command, they suspected her complicity in the king's death. The one they selected must be someone they could trust, and they decided on Renaldo; a strapping young warrior from a clan on the Moors.

Renaldo was friendly and strong of body, but particularly weak of mind and easily manipulated. They groomed him in appearance, thought, and deed after easily convincing him of his opportunity to achieve something meaningful for the kingdom.

The wary princess however, ordered Renaldo secluded in the castle. The day before her Coronation, she watched from her throne as the Vicar anointed Renaldo with the holy water.

They were married the following day amid the royal pomp and circumstance. That evening, in order to witness the potion take affect, she summoned her husband to her chambers under the guise of consummating their marriage.

Upon his arrival, Renaldo presented her with a jug of wine provided him by the scribes as a token of his love. As he and his Queen sat before a roaring fire, she drank the wine and bragged of how she fleeced all the young men of the kingdom.

As the evening waned, the she grew sleepy, and harshly dispatched Renaldo to his own bedroom. The next morning, her Lady in Waiting discovered the Princess had mysteriously died in her sleep.

After succeeded Cleo to the throne, Renaldo relied on his trusty scribes for advice. He freed the land of the harsh taxes and laws established by the Princess, and beheaded Algorno for conspiracy. The kingdom flourished, and Renaldo eventually married and had children. Dull- headedness, however, still runs in the monarchy lineage to this very day.

© 2010 Hal Kempka. All rights reserved.



Hal Kempka has been published in magazines and ezines such as: Dog Oil Press, Fiction Flyer, Flashes in the Dark, Microhorror, Long Story Short, Shine Journal, and Black Petals, as well as The Beaches of Belmont anthology. He is a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, and lives in Highland, California with his wife and son.

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